Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Sheer Level of Awfulness and Stupidity - Review:- Tuesday 11.07.2017

It's difficult even to want to watch the show at this time, and for someone who's been a viewer since Day One of the show, that's saying a lot about the quality and the calibre of the thing at the moment. It's been through bad patches before - in fact, although many laud the arrival of John Yorke as yet another Messiah moment, the show started to go downhill, in some ways, from the beginning of his tenure.

Sure, he gave us "Who Shot Phil" and "You're Not My Muvvah", but he created a lot of problems from which the show still suffers to this day. Things went downhill after that, and during his time as Head of Continuing Drama at the BBC, Yorke foisted us with Kathleen Hutchison, Kate Harwood, Santer and his merry man DTC and, ultimately, Bryan Kirkwood. Grabbing his coat as he left the Beeb for another job, he appointed Lorraine Newman full-time as EP, whilst looking over his shoulder.

The thing has been in freefall since Kirkwood, and now it's spiralling out of control.

When the most interesting thing at the moment is the creepy love situation, involving Lauren, Steven, Abi and Josh, as badly written and acted as it is, then the show is certainly in trouble.

Because, Of Course, New Zealand Has Open-Door Immigration (Not). Here's my opinion, and it's by no means a fact. The show is not a charity. I know Jacqueline Jossa is the breadwinner in her family at the moment. I know she's lumbered with a prat of a husband, who got thrown off a scummy, scripted reality show for bad behaviour. I know he threatened to cut his ex-girfriend and the mother of one of his children to ribbons if she took up with anyone else, all the while he was loved up with the fragrant Jacqueline.

But that doesn't mean she's entitled to a job on this programme, especially since the boat sailed on her character ages ago.

She was the worst actress on the show when we got the gurning, the funny voices and the windmill arms, and she's the worst now that she's supposed to be eliciting our sympathy as the victim in all the decidedly weird love scenario. As an actress, she's incapable of presenting Lauren as a multi-leveled character, someone who is flawed in her own way, yet sympathetic. The problem lies with her inability as an actress, but also with the fact that absolutely everything Abi has said about Lauren in the scope of this storyline is true, and people remember this.

She was as unlikable as the go-to girl under Kirkwood and Newman, as she is as the reluctant victim under Sean O'Connor. DTC didn't know what to do with the character, and I can't fathom why he even brought her back, or where she will go when this brouhaha eventually ends.

Abi's eventual suggestion to Lauren, who has now decided, after an afternoon spent in the park with Josh, that she doesn't love Steven and doesn't want to be with him, is to run away to New Zealand again. I'm still wanting to know what the hell happened between Peter and Lauren in New Zealand. It's never been addressed at all, and Ian's shown a curious lack of curiosity, himself, in finding out the plight of his oldest son. In this episode, we got a hint of Lauren using Steven as a shoulder to cry on,and then suddenly realising that they were a couple. In fact, when Steven spun his yarn about Peter being a drunk ages ago, Lauren seemed shocked. How could you not know someone was a drunk or even suspected of having a drinking problem if, not only that you lived with them, but that you were a recovering alcoholic, yourself?

At least we know that Peter Beale hasn't been re-cast yet, as they still have a picture of Ben Hardy in the Beale living room.

The gist is this: Lauren, having now decided that she doesn't love Steven, wants to end the relationship, yet she cannot find an appropriate opportunity to tell him (standard soap trope). It's pretty obvious that she envisions a life with Josh, believing that he'll walk away from the financially advantageous arranged marriage with which he'll soon be encumbered. Otherwise, she'd never think of ditching Steven. That would mean, as Max sorta kinda callously pointed out, losing a roof over her head and free child care in the form of Ian and Jane.

Steven, on the other hand, has convinced himself that Lauren has spurned Josh's advances because she loves him. He knows about her abortion, but she doesn't know that he knows, and he's forgiven her for that. He's even forgiven her for her dalliance with Josh, because Steven had convinced himself that he loves her unconditionally.

Then, there's Abi. 

Stop saying this is "dark Abi" or even that she's a poor man's cut-price Janine. She's not.

This is who Abi has always been. There has always been an undercurrent of simmering resentment of Lauren on Abi's part. As a child, it was always Lauren who discovered Max's foibles and infidelities and made him suffer in Abi's eyes. It was Lauren who sided with Tanya. Remember Tanya attempting to throw Max's pictures and clothes out when she exiled him to Hastings? It was Abi who fought his corner. 

Things took a turn for the worse in Abi's life when Lauren was drinking and Max and Tanya had to devote all their time and attention to her, right in the middle of Abi's A-Levels and her attempt to go to uni. Since then, her jealousy and animosity towards Lauren has run amok.It can be said that Abi casually hates her sister, because just as she views Stacey as one of the elements who destroyed her childhood, she views Lauren, with her selfishness and self-absorption, as the same.

Abi loves Steven. For Abi to snake Lauren's boyfriend from her would be the ultimate triumph, especially for him to realise what a selfish, self-centred little bitch Lauren was. If anything, Abi has brought out the devious, psychotic side of Steven. He coldly tells Abi that his devotion to Lauren is long-term, yet he'll keep her on the side for a bit of fun. In other words, whenever Lauren's behaviour frustrates him, he'll use Abi as a walking, talking rubber doll as a means of expiating some angry sex.

He's happy to use her, and that's pretty much of an insult to Abi, which is why she manipulates Lauren into absconding to New Zealand, rather than facing Steven down with the truth. Max, on the other hand, is telling her coldly to shut up and put up with Steven - but I think that's because Max knows more about Josh than he'd care to let on...

And, of course, there's Josh, who can't get to Walford quick enough when he finds out Lauren has rung in sick. Again. She's off work sick more than she's there, and since she hasn't been there very long, she should have been sacked.

In many ways, the short scene in the café between Abi and Josh was just about the best in the show, and that's saying a lot because the rest was pretty mediocre.

Josh was obviously hanging around Walford, intent upon texting Lauren from the café for a meet-up, especially after what she'd confessed to him previously. Abi is suitably and coyly bitchy, especially after Josh is silly enough to admit that he'd come all the way to Walford after learing that Lauren was ill, to see if she were OK - translation: to see how the confession to Steven went.

It's Abi who puts the existence of his fiancée back into play before warning him off Lauren. She obviously believes Steven's version of the two of them patching things up at that point, but again, rather stupidly, Josh lets slip a remark to the contrary of what Lauren told him. This leads to Abi's manipulation of a very cowardly Lauren.

I have to ask: these girls, although much younger, were around the Square when Steven was wreaking havoc as a mentally ill teenager a decade ago. Abi was very young, but Lauren and Lucy were thick as thieves. It certainly was during this time that Lucy made that celebrated remark to Lauren about Jane and Tanya being two girls who found two ugly men with spare change in their pockets and married them. So Lauren would certainly have known all about what Steven had been up to and how Ian dealt with him. Lucy would have told her, yet both of them seem oblivious to that. In fact, Abi thinks Steven is just about the nicest guy in the world.

Go figure.

Speaking of Stupidity, Jay and Ben Are Dumb and Dumber. Ben and Jay are officially more stupid that Minty and Garry. Ben comes from a family of dodgy types who know just what crimes they can and can't get away with.

Credit card fraud is an easy crime to prosecute. So not only do they go on a spending spree and leave their new purchases scattered around the front room of their house for all to see, they shoot off, leaving the dodgy credit card on the coffee table to be found by Donna. Donna was right - credit card fraud is, indeed, a criminal offence, and both boys have previous convictions. Found out, they are looking at serious prison time - which, actually, wouldn't be a bad thing as they've both become pretty superfluous anyway.

In the meantime, Donna, who owes 3 weeks' pitch fees, is reduced to hanging about the market like a bad smell, joining Martin and Kush in leveling banter at Felix, the new guy on the market, who's trying to sell antique French wine crates for 28 quid a piece. I found it pretty insulting and caricaturish that O'Connor even had a character like Karen Taylor even contemplate buying one of those crates because "it'll do for the newborn." You'd think someone with as many kids as she has, and with an older daughter with two children, there'd be someone who'd find a crib for Bernadette's baby. This is the 21st Century; people don't double up dresser-drawers as beds for babies.

Also Donna's remark about "one time this market meant everyone looking out for one another" was incongruous. Donna has been on the market for a grand total of 4 years, and since that time, she was in direct competition with Kat and Bianca and made their lives hell. Coming from a character like Martin or even Kathy or Ian, that line would have resonated. And in real life, no one would have given a monkeys' that Donna couldn't pay her pitch fees. That's business, and that's their lives. She should have taken Kush's loan and shut up.

Teenaged Angst. Spare us from this shit, please. Adults playing children. Cartoon bullies. A bad actress trying to deliver Shakespeare's lines even worse than someone of her ilk would deliver them. Jasmine Armfield over-acting. Again. The MAN who plays Travis trying his best to look like a 16 year-old, when his face is so fully defined that there is no way he could be mistaken for one. Just look at the kid who played Bernadette's babydaddy. THAT is an adolescent.

This is not some C-Beebies' tripe about bitchy teenaged girls or a lesson in bullying again. This has now gone on far too long, and it's beyond boring.Also, Sharon has seriously swanned off to Italy (obviously to pave the way for King Phil's return) and left Louise and Dennis under the care of Michelle again? Seriously? Really? After everything that happened the last time?

The Mandatory Denise Storyline. Denise continues to offend me, and she should offend any self-respecting person viewing this tripe as well. Only a few weeks ago, we were asked to sympathise with a woman so inherently stupid that she walked out of a job she should have been sacked from, only to realise she needed a job when she was down to her last ten quid. She gave her Food Bank allotment away. She was reduced to living on scraps from rubbish bins.

Now we see her literally smack her lips at receiving a thick envelope filled with twenty-pound notes, totalling hundreds, as a bonus for spending the days gossiping with her tactless, tasteless, nouveau riche sister as they plan a holiday for themselves and Denise's Oedipally-obsessed toyboy.

The aim of the storyline is to dissuade Carmel, who thinks she's back in Denise's good books again,from accompanying them on holiday. With the Fox Non-sisters, we see just how far male role models on the show have sunk. Vincent, who was allowed to order the drinks in Spanish tonight, and Kush are so emasculated, it's a wonder there's still a bulge left between their legs. Kush is utterly dependent on Denise telling Carmel not to come on the holiday. Not only would it upset him, he can't bring him to tell her, himself. He doesn't want to upset Mummy I, while he doesn't want to miss out on sleeping with Mummy II.

She's starting on the council reception job - even with a criminal record and a less than salubrious resumé from The Minute Mart, as well as compounded atrocious grammar - and she promises the hoi-polloi that she'll get to the bottom of what the council are plotting.

And we know the next big storyline for her will be her GCSE grade. 

I hope she fails, and I hope John Yorke ditches Diane Parish.

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