Friday, May 12, 2017

Inching Forward - Review:- Friday 12.05.2017

Surprisingly, this was the best episode of the week. Even the lather-rinse-repeat bits concerning the bullying storyline, the Queen of the Square's self-inlicted problems and Michelle's continuous whine had tiny sparks of progress.

Having seen the spring trailer, it looks as if lots of things are on the agenda to happen - how much of it is hype, I don't know; but I did notice something tonight, which made me think of the Taylor family they're about to introduce.

Yes, I know they're chavs,and Sean O'Connor's version of the Millers from bygone years. More to the point, they could be interpreted as being yet another offensive stereotypical representation of a particular dynamic, as they're obviously the idea some luvvie writer, who lives in Islington or the leafy suburbs of the Home Counties has of what violent and shiftless chavs are like, but they are different in an important aspect to the show's representation today.

The mother and the kids are all decidedly ordinary. Not in their dynamic, but in their presentation of the sort of people you'd pass in the street and not think about, much the way the show was in presenting characters when it first started 32 years ago. Teenaged Sharon was plump and pink with a poodle perm. Teenaged Michelle had acne scars. Robbie Jackson was beyond plain. For a long time, the most attractive woman on the show was Kathy Beale, and that was in a working-class, down-trodden way. 

I thought about this as I watched the flawlessly constructed Travis, with his piercing blue eyes and mature square jawline, which has adult structure and is probably in sync with the actor's real age of 21 - in short, another adult, playing a child. The actresses who play Sniggle and Snaggle are, respectively, 23 and 22 years old. All three of these people don't even look like teenagers. Their features are too refined and mature; instead, they look like adults at a bad fancy dress party, whose theme is St Trinian's.

But that's not the point.

They - and that includes the spiffy likes of Louise, Rebecca and Shakil - are supposed to be representative of attractive young people. The people we are about to see, in appearance, are, in reality, what life is all about. That's what EastEnders really used to be like.

And this is why I can't buy into the suspension of reality that sees a woman who's formerly been the pragmatist's pragmatist (Denise), sit starving for literature's and pride's sake, when we see close-ups of her expensively manicured fingers, be-decked with bling jewelry that's worth a good few bob; it's why I can't buy into the fact that the most nuanced and multi-layered character in the show's history has morphed into a whining,self-pitying mess, who's really become nothing more than the show's ubiquitous educated, middle-class professional in a postion of trust, who turns out to have been an abuser.

I'm welcoming the Taylors. They might not be pretty, and they may be offensive class stereotypes, but they are probably a lot more realistic than the catwalk models pretending to be high school students and the designer-ridden actresses aping at being poor.

The Mattress Bounces Back. The backdrop to all of this was Ollie's Square-wide birthday party, with Whtiney at the centre of proceedings. Judging from the spring trailer, when it's not about Queen Denise this spring/summer, it's going to be about Crown Princess Whitney, who looks set to fall into widdle Mick's arms just about the time Linda decides to return to the Square.

Before I delve into ripping Whitney to shreds - because I hate how TPTB are depicting her as pure and noble in her "suffering" - I just want to comment on the adorable toddlers currently on the show, a couple of whom (Louis and NuOllie) are real troopers. Louis can't stop talking, so much so that he actually makes up his own dialogue; and it's obvious that he sees his dad off-camera, judging by the amount of times he's shouting out "Da! Da!" All credit to Aaron Sidwell, a young dad, himself, for handling the kid so well, and the little boy is obviously at ease with him. And how cute was the kid who played Ollie, singing "Happy Birthday" to himself? Then there are the kids who play Arthur, Matthew and fashion-plate Pearl, who's the most beautiful child on the show, but who always manages to strike a look of abject terror anytime Kim comes anyplace close to her. Even Kim's child is terrified of her.

Whitney is all over the place, and it offends me how TPTB have her go on and on about having loved Lee and how she thought they were perfect as a couple.I almost gagged a maggot when she remarked to Woody that even though she "tried" to help him, she wondered if she could have helped him more.

She did fucking jack shit to help Lee. In fact, she caused a lot of his problems, and she certainly aided and abetted his self-esteem issues. From the moment he was diagnosed as having depression, she did nothing constructively to support him. Rather than encourage him to see a counselor or at least take his meds, she reckoned that all Lee needed was for her to move into the Vic and live with him - conveniently, at the time Bianca was moving to Milton Keynes. 

As Lee struggled and resorted to emotional episodes and drink, she constantly berated him. It was then that she started whining to Mick. It was also during that time that her attraction to Mick first manifested itself. As I recall, it was Lee finding out from Babe that she'd tried to kiss Mick that drove him to get drunk and sleep with a desperate Abi - and subsequently, that night, propose to Whitney.

The only time during her entire relationship with Lee where she was totally honest was after her miscarriage, when she admitted to Lauren that she couldn't bear the thought of living with Lee's time bomb depression and having to walk on eggshells around him, fearing an emotional episode. Basically, she viewed his mental health problems as a form of weakness;and it was then that she started building up an image of Lee in her mind as Mick, her real superman, with her as a sort of Linda figure - which is why, essentially, she wanted to get away from Linda and strike out on their own.

From the moment they married, she put Lee under enormous financial pressure. So much so, that he resorted to lying to her about the sort of job he had. Faced with a crushing self-esteem issue and under pressure to live up to his idolised father, Lee couldn't cope; and all he got from the people who should have been supporting him the most is Whitney whining behind his back to Mick and Mick constantly berating him to "man up" and subsequently, belittling him, accusing him of not being good enough for Whitney.

In the midst of all of this, we know there's been a surreptitious kiss exchanged between Mick and Whitney, witnessed by Denise, and if this will surface in the future, I don't know, but it should.

The whole message imparted from the Lee debacle is that anyone with mental health issues needs to be sent away, to a place where they have no familial or emotional support and left to their own devices. Only now it's turned into the lie that Lee walked out on Whitney. Lee, as I recall, wanted to reconcile with her, but during that dinner at Beales' when she started whining on and on about them being like MIck and Linda, he realised that he could never live up to her idealised view of what she wanted.

We know she wants Mick. We also know that the only reason she's sulking now and playing the victim is that it's Lee, who's moved on. Lee dumped her, and Whitney's always been the one who's done the dumping. Her first instinct after learning of the divorce was to grab her phone and ring MIck. But with Mick not there, it's any port in the storm, and that port is Woody, who actually is a really, genuinely nice guy.

The scene on the Tube to Watford between Whitney and Woody made me want to puke, the way she was laying it on for him as she being the victim, suffering from Lee's abandonment, yet at the end,smugly surmising that when she lost Lee, she felt as if she would lose his family too, but she hasn't. Because she's still there, at the Vic, and Lee is someplace else. The Carters - widdle Mick, especially - chose Whitney. Well, Mick determined that she would stay. Johnny's too stupid to think otherwise, and even he parrots the "big, bad Lee" line. Tina wasn't living in the Vic at the time and can be just as gormless. I daresay Shirley looks at Whitney, when Mick's around, with a jaundiced eye; but he's not around, and they've all had to participate in the grand deception in order to keep the Vic. And I know the penny will drop for Linda when she returns, based on the bitchy way Whitney manipulated her the last time she visited.

Of course, now when Mick returns, Whitney will reveal that of all the people in the Vic, she was the only one fighting his corner; and Linda's decision to sell the freehold will give Mick leeway to shit on her from a great height.

But until then, Woody will do. He's a nice guy, he's personable, he likes her and he's attractive. And because she's given her seal of approval to him, the rest of the family follow suit. When Mick returns, the mattress will do the dumping once again.

I have a feeling the show wants the audience to perceive of Whitney as a sympathetic figure, but I can't invest in someone so sneaky and hateful.She really is nothing more than an opportunistic little whore,who inevitably fails to take responsibility for the havoc she wreaks.

Beetle-Browed Jack. Just think, come the autumn in the West End, our Charlie will be singing this:-

Well, Charlie's not throwing away his shot, although Max's version of sly Aaron Burr manipulating from the sidelines is something to watch.

We have a new Jimmy! Not as weaselly and come-onish as the original one, but then Jack isn't Roxy, and it's ironic that Jimmy represented Roxy in the custody battle between her nd Jack for Amy. He's still vaping,but he actually was quite fair in his assessment: Charlie is Matthew's father. He was married to Ronnie at the time of Matthew's birth, he's his biological father, his name is on his birth certificate, and he looked after him exclusively for the first nine months of his life.

I'm still Team Charlie here, who's doing everything by the book, and who also was telling the truth about Dot, I reckon, which is why I'm finding it very hard to fathom Dot suddenly switching her allegiance from Charlie, her grandson, to Jack, who has sometimes treated her appallingly.

Charlie looked after Matthew exclusively during his time with Ronnie - initially, because she was in a coma and then recovering, and subsequently, when she was bored of him and bored with being a housewife and romped the floors with Vincent, who had a wife and child, himself, at home. In fact, Ronnie only woke up to Matthew's existence when Charlie decided to take him. 

Although what Jimmy said was true about Jack in relation to Matthew, it wasn't true that Charlie had walked out on Matthew and may do so again. Charlie was forcibly removed from Walford and threatened with death if he returned. In fact, Dot absolutely knew something was amiss at the time, and I recall her having a go at Ronnie, and telling her that Charlie had told her in their one brief telephone conversation that he was frightened to come back. Dot knew Ronnie was a liar, and we endured all that stuff and bother after her death,where Dot blathered on and on about Charlie needing to come back and claim his son, about Matthew needing to be with his father, and now,she's offering comfort to Jack and basically disapprove of Charlie's intention. At least, she did offer the suggestion that maybe Jack should talk with Charlie, and perhaps they could come to some sort of arrangement which could benefit them both and Matthew.

Jimmy's premise for Jack's fight is habeas corpus - he has Matthew,and possession is 9/10ths of the law. 

Jack is his own worst enemy, even willing to confront Dot when Charlie told him what was essentially the truth - that Dot had rung him and told him that Jack was having trouble coping and that Charlie needed to sort his child out. Charlie wasn't making that up, but if Jack confronted Dot, she would be sure to tell him that Max had enabled her contact with Charlie, and that's a revelation Max can't afford to be revealed.

Charlie played everything pitch perfect, but beetle-browed Jack had to have that confrontation. Kudos to Charlie for telling Jack some hard home truths about Ronnie. Charlie knows, and Jack knows as well, that Ronnie was a killer. In fact, he doesn't know at all about her second killing. But even if Charlie told all of that, Jack and Jimmy would contrive to make it sound as if Charlie were mad. Still, it does Jack no favours that he pulled a punch on Charlie with no less a witness than Honey.

Max has a bone to pick with Jack, dating back to their childhood. Jack was the golden boy, who got everything and who took everything from Max as well.Max's revenge means confronting his demons and transferring them onto Jack to suffer.

The Patron Saint of Doormats. Sharon makes a habit of forgiving and supporting the women who sleep with her various husbands. So, tonight, she calls on Denise to voice her concern that no one has seen her for days in the Square.

Denise is such an ungrateful person, I find it so incongruous that so many people care about her. All of a sudden, to suit this storyline, she's become the conscience of "the community" because we've moved on from bin collections to the closure of the community centre now, and based on her unjustly mouthing off at the local mayor, Denise is now featured, not only as the intellectual scribe of the community, but also its civic soul -when prior to this reincarnation, Denise hadn't ever given a rat's arse about "the community" unless something impeded her progress.

Sharon's visit is out of the "concern" of the community (odd, especially when Denise used to sneer at most of them and since her "education" has become even more pedantic), even thinking to shake her out of her lethargy by telling her that Kim had taken over the community centre crusade - but only because she needs a place to plop Pearl while she's getting her nails done. (I have to say, Tameka Empson should wear more yellow; it really is her colour).

Prior to Sharon's Good Samaritan visit, Denise was pictured with a table-full of books - are GCSE courses really so intense these days? - and a leaflet about benefits. Yet more than anyone heretofore, Sharon seemed to have touched a nerve, actually reminding her that it's really OK not to be OK or even to seek help and support. Of course, Sharon was talking about moral and emotional support, with no idea that Denise didn't have common sense enough and too much pride to have provided for herself with a job or means of support before intentionally making herself unemployed and unemployable.

And now we're left with her realising the cupboards are bare and now she has to apply for benefits.

On the other hand, we have Michelle, whose sermon by Martin has given her a reality check and she's reduced to looking at adverts in the window of the Minute Mart. She's still enough on her self-righteous high horse to insult Honey inadvertantly by remarking that the only thing that seems to be on offer is a job as a temporary sales assistant in what she describes as a "poxy corner shop." Is she really that tactless?

I'm glad Martin didn't apologise for telling her the truth, and she actually does apply for a retail job, and justifiably gets handed her arse, in the nicest of ways, by Honey. At least, as Honey says, she provides for her family, whilst Michelle mooches off Sharon.

Is That a Bit of Progress That I See Before Me? And now for the part where we have adults pretending to be children. Even the very talented Bleu Landau, playing Dennis, is, himself on the cusp of adolescence, playing a 10 year-old, whose voice is beginning to crack.

Travis is stating his case, and he suggests that Rebecca approach Dennis, who was at the party and thinks he may have seen something. Once again, Landau runs rings around Jasmine Armfield and the rest, holding out giving Rebecca any information until she gives him a doughnut. Although he saw Travis bring Louise a drink, he didn't see him put anything in it, and remembered that Snaggle was hanging around the kitchen at that time as well.

Of course, when Rebecca, who used her party trick throughout this episode of throwing her head back and delivering her lines nostril-first, marched around to the Mitchells, the minute Louise said it was a "bad time" for her visit, you just knew Sniggle, Snaggle or both of them would come marching through that door. In this case, it was Snaggle, who was Sniggle-less - well, there's a first time for everything.

One thing noticeable about this confrontation - it's said that bullies work well in numbers,strength in numbers being more intimidating; and this time, rather than taunting Rebecca or throwing barbs and snide comments Rebecca's way. Of course,she was trying desperately to cover her arse, but without the braying Sniggle, her method of meeting Rebecca's accusations was to sit down with Louise and Rebecca at the table and state her case, even going so far as admitting that probably Travis didn't really spike the drink, after finally admitting that just because he was found at school the next day with an empty vodka bottle was no proof that he had spiked the drinks, that Dennis had only seen him fetch a drink for Louise. As much as Snaggle will admit is that someone else must have spiked the drink, and that probably wasn't Travis. We all know who that "someone else" was.

The real progress that was made in this was Rebecca leaving Louise with a home truth upon which to cogitate - the fact that Louise doesn't really like either of these girls, and that she's only cleaving close to them in pseudo-friendship as a means of self-preservation; because she knows that if she turned on them, she'd openly be their next victim. For the moment, Sniggle and Snaggle are playing Louise's protectors in order to save their own arses. They committed a big crime in spiking Louise's drink.

The sooner this is done and dusted, the better.

Oooh,Psycho Killer, Oooh Qu'est-ce Que C'est ... Considering the clips from the trailer, I'd say we are witnessing the beginning of Steven's own breakdown, his paranoia and insecurity of his own position in the Beale family in juxtaposition to his desperation to hold onto his relationship with Lauren.

In a way, it mirrors Ian's own insecurities in his relationship with Cindy originally, especially when she started pulling away from him to return to Simon Wicks, Steven's natural father. Ian attempted suicide; Steven, who has a history of mental instability, has let his insecurities get on top of him, and I have a feeling this is all going to get messy.

He was clearly hoping that Louis would contract chicken pox from Amy, who isn't contagious anymore, as a means of guilt-tripping Lauren into coming home. Neither Ian nor Jane are buying his concern, however. 

This is all going to end in tears, and I'm actually enjoying Aaron Sidwell's performance. What I don't want to see, however, is Lauren, like the unholy Whitney, being depicted as a victim and creepy Josh, the sexual predator (who has the ubiquitous topless scene on tap in the future, I see) as her hero.

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