Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Place Where Nothing Happens - Review:- Tuesday 18.04.2017

Ah, the ubiquitous single scene, not needed, not important, says nothing except to pack a sucker punch into the argument that SOC's just happened to create a strong, independent woman with no dependence on or need whatsoever for a man in the slightest. A scene coming after another that socks a double whammy of patronising sexism coupled with condescension toward a disabled person, but heavy - very heavy - on the overt sexism.

Actually, that scene showing the worst kind of patronising sexism, involved a gay man, Ben, and a disabled character who happens to be a woman, Donna, with Ben sneeringly suggesting that, because Donna, who didn't know the technical names of the tools she needed to fix her boiler (implying that because, as a woman, she wouldn't know them), she was patently unfit and incapable of undertaking such a task, laughing at her, sneering openly in her face before skipping away, throwing a gloating remark over his shoulder about giving him a call, when she needed his help. When her motorised wheelchair jams, up pops another male - this time, Kush - who cushioned his implied sexism with the usual blanketed concern ... Everything all right? ... prompted Donna to proclaim her independence by asserting that she didn't need "some fella" doing things for her...

And here comes the so-called ubiquitous appearance. We knew it even before it happened. Once Donna's wheelchair jammed, there she was, at first hovering in the background, but just visible enough that the viewers saw her. She wasn't a part of any storyline (such as they are these days) in that episode -nothing to do with Rebecca's eternal dilemma, nothing to do with Louise and Sharon, nothing to do with Sylvie's death, nor the arrival of Woody Woodward ...

But there was Denise. Because, according to Sean O'Connor, we need to see her. In every episode. Even if nothing happening remotely pertains to her. The appearance, I gather, was to inform every viewer of a fact that I suppose we were all chomping at the bit to know - that Kim and Shrimpy won the Ms and Mr Walford competition; but the two lines of dialogue uttered by her, put paid to the fact that this isn't the much-heralded strong, independent woman, forging her own way in the world, neither dependent nor beholden to any man. Because, after Donna departs, she slithers like a female serpent, allegedly oozing sexuality (because that's all she ever oozes with Kush, considering that their entire relationship, on her part, is horizontally inclined) and coos provocatively ...

Denise: Well ... (significant pause) I wouldn't mind that ...
Kush: What?
Denise (breathlessly): Some fella "doing stuff" for me...

Two things:-

1. This - This! - is what I mean by over-exposure. There was no need, whatsoever, for any appearance by this character in this episode. Indeed, there's no need for any character to appear in every episode. But there she is, inserted incongruously, in an episode that dealt with (a) Rebecca's bullying and Louise's resolution,(b) Sylvie's funeral, the introduction of Woody Woodward and more Carter woes, and (c) the preamble to what is probably going to be Donna moving into Ben's and Jay's house ... just to remind viewers that she's there. This is the sort of thing DTC would do with various Carters, usually Mick, slip him into a scene with a line or two of dialogue about nothing, just to remind people that he was there and, for DTC, the star of the show.

2. Please stop telling me that Denise is some strong, independent woman who's finding herself now and who needs no man to define her. She isn't. She "needs some fella doing stuff" for her - basically, fucking her; and to keep Kush around doing that,fulfilling her sexual needs, and, thus, defining her, ultimately, as a woman who needs a man in her life for her "needs" (remember the exercise bike which came into play when Lucas was off getting his sexual kicks from killing?). Stop all this everywoman/strong woman/intellectual schtick, because she's none of that. She's just another horny, middle-aged woman with pretensions, like many of the rest on the Square - like Carmel, except she's doing what Carmel can't - fucking Carmel's son. She just isn't as up front and in your face with her needs as Carmel is. In short, she's a fraud.

Until tonight, there had only been one youngish woman who could truly be said to be strong, a character who could stand on her own and act of her own accord, and not determine her identification by dint of whatever man with whom she was sleeping - Janine. 

But after tonight, I'd say her natural successor, in strength of character and determination, is Donna.

Not Denise. That one superfluous scene revealed that she is, without a doubt, overexposed and over-used as a character.

And did I mention that her insinuation was an insult to women in general, asserting that the little woman just had to have a big, strapping man in her life "to do stuff" for her? This is the 21st Century, FFS! Someone slap Sean O'Connor.

And So the Bullying Storyline Is Resolved Off-Screen. Like everything else. It's moved on now to the intricate discussions and negotiations as to why and how Louise should apologise to Rebecca. 

Look, Louise is realistic enough to admit now that what she's done was wrong. She doesn't want to apologise to Rebecca, not because she doesn't think she should apologise - she does- but because she is certain that Rebecca won't accept her apology.

It's past that ... She says with certainty, and that's Louise's roundabout way of admitting that what she did was wrong. I actually like her dynamic with Sharon, because, in the absence of Lisa and in the show's determination to beat Lisa's concern for her child into nothing, Sharon and Louise seem to have bonded for real. At least, Louise is being realistic, and remorseful, about what she did, acknowledging to Sharon that she is probably the last person Rebecca wants to see now.

I don't understand her remark to Sharon about Sharon building bridges with Sonia. To begin with, there never was anything concrete in a way of any sort of friendly relationship between Sonia and Sharon. During Sharon's last stint on the show, the time in which she was with Dennis, after their marriage, Sonia was married to Martin and living with Pauline at the time, but Sharon's interaction in that dynamic was mostly with Pauline. Besides, the onus, in this instance was on Sonia.

I also wasn't keen on that scene between Sonia and Louise in The Minute Mart. I hate scenes like that. Louise has done wrong. She's acknowledged it, and she feels bad enough as it is. I get it that Sonia is angry with Louise,but what is the point in having a go at her, verbally berating her. She's told the girl that she was on her way to see the head teacher about this situation, and Louise tells her that the Head knows all about the situation. Sonia throws the broken guitar up at Louise, guilt-tripping her. That was one situation that bothered me immensely - not because Louise stood in the room and looked increasingly fearful and concerned, but did nothing for obvious reasons; but what I couldn't understand at all was why Rebecca chose not to tell either Martin or Stacey about what happened. Indeed, when it was actually happening, Stacey was downstairs. Why didn't she scream out for her? Stacey would certainly have put the fear of God into those girls, at least.

Some of the wind was taken out of Sonia's sails, however, when Rebecca rang to ask that she keep Louise's name out of what she told the head. I don't know why the Head chose to act upon Sonia's words now. Sniggle and Snaggle were questioned about the situation regarding Shakil's pictures, and they lied through their teeth. You know they'll lie through their teeth now. The girls have been careful that, since the sexting situation, all of their tormenting and bullying has taken place off school grounds and outside school hours - in other words, outside the school's remit. The awful trick of making Rebecca eat mud, whilst saying it was catshit, was tantamount to assault, and Sonia would have been well within her rights to have gone to the police. At least, Rebecca had proof on her phone.

And Sonia's last scene where she apologised to Sharon for overreacting the day before, but left her with a threat was needlessly arrogant and stupid on Sonia's part, promising to "come after" Sharon, if Louise bullied Rebecca again. This was after Louise admitted that she'd waited all day to be summoned to the Head's office. The threat to Sharon was stupid. Sharon didn't know what was going on with Louise and those girls any more than Sonia knew what was going on with Rebecca; and I put it to you that she wouldn't have been any the wiser, had she been in Walford. Sonia's actions embarrassed Rebecca this time around,and for all Sonia bleated on about her and Rebecca being able to talk before was pure bunkum. Rebecca is a teenager. They have ways of keeping secrets from parents.

The fact that Louise now knows that Rebecca stressed to Sonia the importance of keeping Louise's name out of the bullying situaion shows that Rebecca at least noticed that Louise wasn't actively taking part in whatever happened, was cognizant of the fact that Louise had warned her of Michelle's deception with Preston; this gives Louise the gumption to face Rebecca with an apology, even though I don't think Rebecca will be quick to accept Louise's apology. With the end of the bullying storyline (and thus, Sniggle and Snaggle), the smug, chin-jutting Rebecca has returned. 

This looks as though Sonia is going to Kettering for good (Good!), but we got the first mention of the impending return of Robbie, who suddenly seems to have been living with Sonia and getting on her nerves, it seems. I thought he was driving cabs with Terry in Milton Keynes, but it seems that he's Walford-bound.


Has the Penny Dropped for Steven Beale? Apart from Donna and Tina, the only other character I'm liking at the moment is Steven Beale, whose segment began today with yet another community project beginning in Walford. Saint Denise fostered the Fayre on the Square, and now Jane's pet project is "Walford in Bloom" - everyone puts out a window box and/or a hanging basket, after Jane's fanagled Stacey into planting daffodils about the Square.

What is it with this producer and his continuous meme of community spirit? Is this yet another venture that will end with - yes, you got it! - Denise winning the competition for best window box and best hanging basket? Will she stand a nude Kush on her doorstep and garland him in roses as her decoration?

You have to wonder.

But this was all about Steven, who's now cognizant of the fact that Lauren is bored with him. At first, it starts as a suspicion on his part, especially with her obsession with just sitting around on her lazy arse, in a house where she, effectively, does nothing, pays no rent, has free babysitting, staring at a phone, waiting for a job interview. 

Do we all remember that Lauren has no academic qualifications? That she never completed her A-levels and barely got her GCSEs? The "web designer" malarkey was a load of crap, and now she's been given this job lead by a bloke she met over a photocopier, who fancies her and who tipped her off for the job (knowing she had no experience or qualifications whatsoever), and who'd expect to be repaid in kind, if she got the job.

She's not only bored with Steven, she's bored with her son, and she treats Steven like a servant, intimating that if she worked full-time, he'd be left with childcare. She's with Steven out of convenience. I don't know what happened with Peter in New Zealand - obviously, it's taxing the writers' integrity to come up with a storyline, much less a re-cast, that follows the uneven continuity of what's been said about Peter's disappearance from the scene - but Steven stepped into the breach. 

He's another one who reminds me of Janine, in his feelings of being on the periphery of a family dynamic, which at the same time attracts and repels him. He craves Ian's acceptance and love and hangs on his every word. Ian suggests another child is what Lauren needs, without even knowing that Lauren is probably having second thoughts about the child she has now. Steven points out that Lauren chose to have Louis, but does he realise that Peter plucked her from a waiting room in an abortion clinic, where she had gone for a termination. They left, hand-in-hand, for New Zealand with a baby toy. 

Now she's saddled with a child she clearly doesn't want. With no qualifications, she's willing to use a man, sexually if need be, to further her ambitions, whilst using another man to act as her unpaid servant, bringing up her son. In many ways, this mirrors the Ian-and-Cindy situation, except Cindy wasn't ambitious. She just didn't love Ian, and cheated on him repeatedly.

Her telling Steven she didn't want another child -specifically,that she doesn't want his child, but then softening it by saying that she didn't want another child ...for a long while ... was cruel in the extreme. Steven is another male character dealing with rejection issues - being rejected by Ian as an adolescent when he was sent to New Zealand after being discovered as the culprit who sent hate mail to various residents of the Square, then again, after returning to torment Ian and his family and between all that, being rejected by his birth father for being gay.

Steven's gayness is something that needs to be addressed, because the fact that he was outed as gay during his last stint a decade ago, has been neatly buried - or should we say, closeted. Is he closeting himself, again, like Ben did when he returned from prison as a means of presenting himself as the dutiful son of Ian, who picks up the recalcitrant son's leavings and assumes responsibilty for them?

You do get the impression that Steven might have some well-hidden self-esteem issues,and he does have a history of mental illness. Lauren, a Branning, will always be selfish and put herself first. She's a bitch, who needs to be handed her arse. I don't know where this storyline with PhotocopierMan is going - whether he's married and the wife eventually shows to put her in her place, or whether there's an affair and an abandonment of her child (please, let her leave!) or whether, as some have said, this is a prelude to a rape storyline, I don't know. I just feel that since her return Jacqueline Jossa has phoned in her performances. Whether she's got a gripe about being back-burnered and not being the go-to girl she was under Kirkwood and Newman and - to a degree - DTC, or whether she genuinely just isn't that good an actress, I don't think the producer knows what to do with the character. She's too young to be a mother and too old to be an ingenue, and simply, too stupid as a character on the whole.

In that respect, I hope Steven goes fucking loopy on her. The Beales - and Steven was raised as a Beale- always are possessive of their own, and they would fight to keep Peter's son within the family dynamic.

One Leaves, One Arrives. I admit, the only thing I'm worried about in this episode is Lady Di's fate. You just knew, from the fact that the kitchen ceiling in the Vic was beginning to bow and was leaking in several places, and the fact that that poor dog was shut in her crate all morning long, that something bad was going to happen to her.

The Carters are so damned dumb.They don't deserve an animal. Well, at least the combined dumbness of Johnny and Whitney don't. Dog crates aren't meant for the animal to sit, shut in, all of the time. Usually, they're for sleeping and the odd nap during the day, but a dog isn't meant to be shut in for lengthy periods - like keeping her shut in during a long funeral service and burial. She usually has the run of the flat and is fine.

Dumbarsed people.

Sylvie's funeral was as you'd expect it - sparsely attended because she really wasn't known in Walford at all. Really, it was the backdrop to the latest Carter catastrophe and the introduction of the new bar manager - the aptly and aesthetically named Woody Woodward, the boy from Blue.

I'm not familiar with the band or the actor, apart from hearing about what a total asshole he is in certain respects. That said, I wasn't offended by him. Early days, he seems OK as a character and someone who may fit in. Shirley and Johnny both knew him, and Shirley hates him,which probably means he's competent. Since he'll be living at the Vic - after the latest incident with the collapsed roof is solved - he'll probably end up sleeping with Whitney. He looks a bad boy, and that's just her type.

I just hope nothing's happened to the dog.

Oh, and I thought Shirley was supposed to be in prison for yet another three weeks.Are we to assume they let her out early because of Sylvie's death and funeral?

Dumb and Dumber. Ben and Jay as a comedy act, still cadging free food from Kathy in the caff. Really?

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