Friday, April 14, 2017

The Tangled Web - Review:-Friday 14.04.2017

Five out of ten. Better than the rest of the fare this week, but the show is still getting research wrong and retconning.

First of all, Easter in the United States is not Spring Break, irregardless of what Wikipedia says. "Spring Break", for university students, occurs in the first or second week of March - nothing to do with Easter. It cannot coincide with Easter holidays, because a late Easter, what we're having this year, would coincide with the period of late revision, thesis writing/research and finals study because the university term finishes the first or second week in May.

"Spring break" lasts a week. The common ritual for students is to head to the beach somewhere. If you're on the East Coast, you go to Florida and party for a week. If you're on the West Coast, you head for Mexico. Anywhere in between, and you take your pick.

The Easter holidays for primary and secondary school students vary from state to state. Some states give you a week, some give you Good Friday and Easter Monday. Michelle would have been familiar with Easter as Easter, being a secondary school teacher (again, liberally spreading the "aint'ts" about tonight - Jean had better grammar than Michelle).

Easter in the US is about going to church (if you're Southern - Michelle would have been surrounded by Bible bashers) and the Easter bunny. It's Easter Egg rolls and chocolate. It's nowhere near as important as Christmas or Thanksgiving ... but it isn't Spring Break, or as Michelle, teacher of English and presumed Head of her department before her fall from grace, it ain't Spring Break. 

Secondly, writer Richard Davidson setting up Michelle as Martin's childhood hero? No. Just no. In fact, Michelle actually got that right about Mark being a hero to Martin - or rather, he stepped into the breach as a father figure for Martin, certainly, after Arthur's death,but if anyone were a hero for Martin as a child, it was Arthur, and certainly not Michelle.

IIRC, when Martin was a toddler, Michelle went to share a flat, purchased or rented by Den for Sharon,with the stipulation that Michelle share it with her. When the shit hit the fan after Den's presumed "death," and when Sharon found out about Vicki, Michelle returned home to live for a couple of years before she then shared a house with Rachel the lecturer.

Martin was Michelle's little brother. Nothing more and nothing less. She looked after him from time to time, but it was never established that he was particularly close to her or that he depended on her as a substitute for Pauline when she was busy. (For a start, the Martins, pre-James Alexandrou, rarely spoke a word, but the one thing that was established was that Martin was particularly close to Arthur, and after that, to Pete Beale.)

Michelle was never pushed as an icon to Martin. In fact, I don't recall Martin ever visiting Michelle in the US until he married Sonia. Pauline visited frequently, staying weeks at a time, and Martin was left in the care of Mark and whatever wife he had on hand at that moment, most likely Ruth.

Please stop pushing the idea that Michelle was a reverential,admired and influential figure in Martin's life. She wasn't. In fact, he handed her her arse in a telephone call, after Pauline's death, and she demurred coming to the funeral. It was as much the sort of telephone call DTC gave Zainab when she called after Shabnam's stillbirth and told them they were all disgusting.

The Wrath of Sonia. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I hope Stacey's pregnancy is normal and uneventful. It's clear that the baby will come at Christmas or the New Year (again), and I hope it's just a little bit dramatic and nothing tragic or sensational. No post-partum psychosis, no major rows with Martin, nothing. The last time was so dramatic and sensationalist, albeit well-acted, I don't think we need anything overtly OTT for this.

She and Martin make a nice couple, and -contrary to whatever it is that she show is pushing- there are couples who remain together. Pauline and Arthur did. I did enjoy their scene in the pub - both excited for the child, yet Martin worried about Stacey putting her mental health at risk yet again, whilst Stacey took responsibility for herself.

I'm no fan of Jean's, and I never have been; but I was glad to see her and actually glad that SOC seems to have toned down her screeching. Jean cooked dinner, and for once, it wasn't SAUSAGE SURPRISE. In fact, "sausage surprise" was never menitoned. And a quieter, more articulate Jean is actually a pleasure to watch.

Jean's been nothing in the past, if not prescient, and she was able to recognise the palpable tension in the room between Martin and Michelle. I'm actually glad Martin was blunt in telling Jean exactly what Michelle had done - especially, after Jean was waxing lyrically romantic about teaching being a profession by which adults are able to encourage and change young people's lives. It's also a front for anyone unstable enough to either promote or be enticed into having sex with underaged children as well. Martin was honest enough to share with Jean what Michelle had done, and how she had, literally, pimped Preston out to Rebecca. Jean is family, and this is a family secret, and Michelle needs to hear this, simply because she did it.

It will become family history, and it's the sort of thing that could hurt families for years. As much as she would like to do so, Michelle cannot sweep this under the carpet.She broke it, she owns it. And, frankly, Stacey was stupid for thinking that Martin should be able to put all of this behind him on the premise that they might need all the emotional support they could get if Stacey had a psychotic relapse with this child. Jean isn't far away, and Kathy would willingly help. I'm surprised that Stacey doesn't understand the depth of what Michelle has done in her inappropriate behaviour. Neither she nor Martin actually know that she's only recently been trying to contact Preston again. So, yes, that was one big mistake on Stacey's part, inviting Michelle to that dinner. Such a breach would normally take a long time to heal, if ever; but I deplore the fact that TPTB are now trying to push Michelle as some sort of fixer, who rushes in with a verbal rescue to whoever happens to be on the receiving end of a pasting, as well as carving a retconned history of her being the unattainable ideal of the Fowler family.

She simply wasn't. To begin with, the viewers had no idea what she was doing in the US, after she met and married Tim. We never even knew Tim's surname. He was never given one. Michelle worked for a year as a research assistant for a visiting professor at an Alabama university, so she must have had a T-1 visa, which is good for a year. Then she married Tim. After that, she was just someone Pauline or Mark or, lastly, Martin visited from time to time. We never heard of any teaching career (and she would certainly have had to have put in at least two years at university there, plus do a practice supervisory teaching course to be licenced). All we knew was that she was married to Tim, that he had adopted Mark, that she never returned for either Arthur's or Mark's or Pauline's funerals or even to retrieve her wildchild daughter who'd nicked her credit card, dropped out of school at 17 (a crime for which Michelle would have been punished) and scarpered to England.

The English teacher with no command of grammar came in with SOC, along with the underaged boyfriend, the general character assassination and the Chicken Little look. And Pauline certainly never held her up as an example to Martin. Pauline was pragmantic and practical enough to mention Michelle's name, often with a shrug or a raised eyebrow as if she, herself, could never figure out the motive behind Michelle staying in the US. She certainly never pushed her as a hero for Martin.

As for the climax of the piece, with Sonia rushing in and shouting the odds about Rebecca being bullied and accusing Martin and Stacey of neglect and accusing Martin of being an unfit father, bullshit.

This is the same Sonia, who emotionally blackmailed this same Rebecca when Rebecca was fourteen, putting the dampers on the girl's opportunity to have a scholarship to a music school by telling her that, only by staying with Martin and Sonia would Rebecca be able to save Sonia's marriage. This is the same Sonia, who psychologically and passive aggressively bullied Rebecca in that creepy doughnut scene when she thought Rebecca had scuppered Sonia's incipient romance with Tina. This is the same Sonia who went for months ignoring Rebecca while she romped the beds with Tina, being her priority. This is the same Sonia, who allowed Tina to bring Silvie into their home, unbidden, who even brought Tina into their home, unbidden, when Carol lived there, without so much as by-your-leave and with no regard for her young daughter.

This is Sonia,who would leave Rebecca with Martin for weeks, ostensibly, whilst she cared for Carol, but when she was bopping about the Square, nicking bottles or wine from the Vic with Tina, necking them in the street and snogging Tina,when she was still Martin's wife.

And, curiously, throughout all of this, I'm feeling no great empathy for Rebecca, merely annoyance. The continuous looped story of her bullying has been disturbing, albeit badly enacted because of bad writing and the inadequacies of the actors; and I can appreciate that a person might want his or her mother in situations like this, but it certainly wasn't as if Rebecca were abandoned and left to fend for herself. She was surrounded by responsible adults whom she could have approached. If anything, Martin was overprotective as a father, something for which Rebecca resented him in all her high-blown adolescent wisdom and something for which Stacey castigated him. Before the bullying storyline, all we got was Rebecca preening and ticking Martin off about how she was an adult (at sixteen), how he couldn't tell her what to do, and how she wouldn't listen. This was the same girl, who was allowing herself to be pressured into a sexual relationship with a horny boy well before she was ready. In fact, she often spoke to Stacey about this and got good advice -if she felt she wasn't ready for a sexual relationship with Shakil, she shouldn't enter into one or allow herself to be coerced. When Rebecca was worried about losing Shakil if she refused to sleep with him, Stacey told her that he wasn't worth the bother, if that were the way he behaved.

Did Rebecca listen? No. She was silly enough to keep the nude pictures of himself that he sent her, and she showed them to Louise -and we all know what happened there. And, eventually, she slept with him, which began the tortuous bullying storyline. In fact, so convoluted was her brief sexual foray with Shakil, that I don't think she was sure that he dumped her or that she dumped him. At that point, Louise was experiencing jealousy,but she was also supportive of Rebecca dumping Shakil when Rebecca learned that, basically, Shakil wasn't ready to be joined at the hip in a serious relationship.

It's not the fact that Rebecca had no one in whom to confide; she had ample people - Stacey was a willing listener, Kathy would have been more than supportive, and her father as well. It's simply that she wouldn't say anything. In fact, when the mess with Preston began, she begged Michelle not to tell Martin that she'd slept with Preston. All we've gotten has been weeks and weeks of cartoon badness from Sniggle and Snaggle and Rebecca crying,crying and crying again. And now she tells Sonia she couldn't cope anymore,and there was no one in whom she could confide. Once again, Rebecca does something in a cack-handed way, and there are repercussions - Sonia, taking the moral high ground and accusing everyone of all sorts when she didn't even know, herself, that Rebecca had been having sex before Preston entered the scene.

And once again, Rebecca makes herself scarce in all of this, after Sonia makes her grand entrance, shouting the odds, because she simply knows that everything of which Sonia is accusing Martin and Stacey is false. Many times, both of them, especially Martin, tried to talk to her, and she simply wouldn't do it. But the most incongruous part of this tale tonight was Louise. 

I gather that she was uncomfortable in facing Rebecca, but her rationale that everything that had happened with the fake cat poo (it was mud), had been a joke. What? A cruel joke, especially considering that the entire incident had been filmed and uploaded online. Does Louise seriously expect Rebecca to laugh about that and shake it off? Did she laugh when Keegan catfished her and put the entire conversation online? Short answer? No. Equally useless for Louise to have said, after the fact, that she would never have allowed them to feed Rebecca shit. Well, she shouldn't have allowed that either, but saying that is one thing; she knows that, had she tried, those girls would probably have beaten the shit out of her.

As for Sonia wanting to take Rebecca back with her (please, please), it's doubtful that anything different would have happened had Sonia remained in Walford. She was often too engrossed with Tina and with her own "amazing tits" to give her daughter a second thought.

When First We Practice to Deceive. So Steven loves Lauren, and Lauren is bored by Steven. She feels the slightest trickle of moral compunction at the thought that she's leading Josh on - she fully intended that he show up at that club that evening - and she's conflicted. She is bored by Steven,but maybe with her track record and observing her father's behaviour throughout the years, she's cognizant of the fact that there's more to be lost in playing around than there is to be gained.

Lauren is the mother of Ian Beale's grandson. Surely, she would know from Peter and also from Steven how tenacious Ian would fight for any of his own,including custody of his children. Steven has bonded with Louis, and he's being used by Lauren as an unpaid babysitter while she runs around, arranging semi-trysts with a man in whom she's interested, even lying about not really wanting to go out and putting the blame on Whitney wanting to have an evening out.

Lauren, Whitney and snorting, giggling Abi looked like what they were - three chavs out on the make. Whitney pulled, and silly Abi,who was originally denied entry, scored with a much older "promoter" only to puke all over him, scuppering their evening all together.

We get the requisite situation where Whitney and Lauren talk at each other again,whilst Ian suggests to Steven that the one thing Lauren needs now is another baby, when she can't even look after her first child.

In other action, Dot tells Ricky and Amy the story of Easter and only succeeds in confusing them, leaving them to wonder if Ronnie and Roxy will rise from the dead and rescue this show.

The Vic is empty and failing.

And Ian sells the chippy - wanna bet Max's "company" buys it. 

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