Thursday, 29 May 2014

'I was Born Gobby'


Well, I missed out blogging last week – I think, because Corrie had started to depress me. This week it’s been going all guns blazing, with five nightly episodes set during the same, dark and dangerous night.

It’s all been a bit fraught, really.

Emily stuck to her sweet sherry in the Rovers, even when offered something stronger, during Tracey and Rob’s engagement party. Earlier in the day she’d taken a rather large consignment of Tina’s clothing in bin bags for her charitable causes. Tina was having a big clear out, but Emily didn’t think there was anything strange about that. Young ones don’t make clothing last, do they? They don’t hang onto anything.

Norris was agog with goings on. He knew that all the furore in the backroom at the Rovers was to do with Peter telling Carla – at last – about his ongoing affair with Tina, and how he’d almost – very nearly! – ran away to Portsmouth with her that very day. Carla went bananas – tooting her foghorn like crazy - and Norris was relating every single word he could pick up to the others in the bar.

Best moment in the whole recent slew of episodes: Peter – quivering, equivocating, simmering in his own alcoholic sweat – and being told that he’s a jellyfish. What an insult!

Everyone’s been having an overly-dramatic time. Even if they’re not being pushed off rooftops or having their skulls smashed in by handy crowbars. Even if they’re not slipping out of their own party to drive a vanful of stolen goods halfway across Manchester. It’s just one of those weeks when everyone’s sub-plot comes to a head and gets twined into a noisome fugue with all the other strands. So, while Tina overbalances on the edge of a rooftop (it was the weight of her gigantic earrings that swung it, I think) across the road there’s another long storyline reaching its climax as Anna decides to come clean to Owen about what she was forced to do with his sleazy boss. That scene went about as well as could be expected, with Owen turning in a performance rather like William Shatner’s in ‘Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock’ when he finds out what the Klingons have been up to.

It’s one of those hectic, bloodthirsty, ratings-hungry weeks on Corrie when they try to be Eastenders – a bit like the week with the crashing tram in 2010 – when you’re not quite sure who’s going to survive the special episodes unscathed. I must say, it isn’t my favourite kind of ‘event televsion’. It’s all infidelity and murder and sneaking around. I’m more on the side of the characters who seem to be the heart of the Street, to me – Norris, Emily, Mary and Kirk. They’re the kind of old fashioned characters, who’d never dream of running about with deadly weapons or stolen consignments of hairdryers or checking into mucky hotels for dubious purposes…

All the same, I can’t help feeling for Tina. Her sense that time was running out. She had nowhere to go. It was a singularly cruel ending for a character, I think. And it was compounded by her strange resurrection on Wednesday night. There was a touch of ‘Fatal Attraction’ in some of those moments: the way she rose up from the cobbles in order to give another monologue – ‘I was born gobby, me’ – it was almost uncanny.

There are two more nights of this stuff left.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Latvia or Bust

Latvia or Bust

Carla went to hospital and had her scan, but she had to go by herself. Peter is off the wagon and dancing alone in rough Manchester boozers to Thin Lizzy. When Carla gets the snap of her baby in the womb, she’s startled to see that it seems to be smoking a fag and drinking a vodka miniature.

Elsewhere Izzy has confessed to nicking a hundred quid from the money they raised on the fun run in Hayley’s memory. She only did it out of desperation, hoping to pay it back fast. She gets a hard time from the other girls in the knicker factory for going as low as it’s possible to get. Julie has a face with a tragedy-stricken look at the best of times, but standing there waiting with the gigantic cheque (of the type Terry Wogan always has on Children in Need) she looked even more stricken than ever. And I must admit, though sometimes it seems as if the actress playing Izzy seems like she’s in another show to the rest of them (being less deliberately over-the-top) she was acting her heart out in these scenes where she confesses and apologises. It was actually quite touching.

Which is more than I can say for the rest of her family. The Windasses are getting dull: we need a breath of fresh air.

I enjoyed seeing Todd getting punched in the face by Tyrone in the Rovers. It’s spoiled by the fact that Tyrone’s just being twisted round crazy’s Maria’s little finger.  What I could do with is another slanging match out in the street and a few more tart rejoinders from the joyous Sean.

When in doubt, Corrie storyliners – send everyone out on the cobbles and get them shouting at each other. Get all this subterfuge and subtext out in the open and let them have a good scrag fight. Corrie always had a touch of pantomime about it – with verbally-quick characters slagging each other off while everyone crowds round to watch. Those are the moments worth waiting for. Just something to let the viewer know that the programme isn’t taking itself far too seriously… something it’s been veering close to of late… with all the wincing and issue-related stuff. Luckily, last night, we had Aunty Beth preparing to jet off to Latvia, where she’s going to have her boobs enlarged.

The scenes with her lovely, caring family trying to talk her out of it were delightful. Again, Kirk quietly nabs the week’s best line. He describes how his bust-obsessed girlfriend did a collage to show him how she’ll look after surgery: sticking her head onto Pamela Anderson’s body. ‘But she got the scale all wrong and it looked like something out of ‘The Fly.’’ But still, he stands back and lets her zoom off to catch a flight to the Baltic States in order to satisfy her urge for transformation.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Relieving Herself During the Fun Run

Luckily, the Bank Holiday episodes saw Corrie’s more gruesome sub-plots taking a breather. We got a break from Peter, Tina and Carla’s horrid triangle and the menacing texts from crazy Maria. The only good bit with Maria this past week was her getting wind that Marcus was back in town and starting another shouting match on his doorstep. It was worth it for Marcus in his underpants alone.

Most of Monday’s episodes was about the fun run, with many of our favourite characters queueing up to run 5k in memory of Hayley. You could see the row between Steve and Lloyd ending up more or less where it did, with poor old Lloyd in the hospital. I was more concerned – I must admit – about Julie (is that her name? The slightly daft one who’s Eileen’s sister?) when she ducked into the bushes, desperate for the lav while her friend kept a watch out for her. Something went awry with the sequencing of scenes, because it seemed like she must have spent about forty minutes relieving herself in the undergrowth.

Thank goodness there was no funny business with Nick. He did his run and everything was fine. Cal even let him reach the finishing line first. But Cal’s in a funny place right now, having done the dirty deed with Leanne and then backed off a mile because he’s decided he thinks she’s tacky (or something.)

Someone please stop Dev from over-acting. Or just acting at all. Please. His completion of the fun run has to go into the top ten of Dev Alleran’s stupidest moments. He’s increasingly like someone from the Muppet Show.

Oh, and wasn’t Rita brave? The way she girded her loins and hardened her heart when she took Dennis Tanner into the back room of the Kabin. He was miserably contrite. He thought he was on the point of her taking him back. But she gave him a week. And she never wants to see him again.

(Whenever Rita comes on I think about when my Mam came to visit us once, and we were having her birthday dinner in Taurus on Canal Street. She was saying, ‘Doesn’t the DJ look just like Rita Fairclough?’ And it turned out that the DJ was wearing one of her actual frocks. He’d bought several of them at a charity auction.) I love the fact that Rita is rocking the drag queen look these days. She’s really embraced it. I think it’s what keeps drawing Dennis back to her bat-winged embrace.

We need more of Mary. She rarely gets enough screen time. The Corrie storyliners have got to get onto this. She is a wonderful comic creation. Every new scene brings revelations. Her sudden blaring foghorn voice when the race began was brilliant last night. They need to get her embroiled in a proper story, I think. She’s a character of the old school, and I hope they don’t let her remain a marginal comic figure, elipsed the dullish and melodramatic lives of the Street’s bedhopping misery-gut characters.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Non-Speaking-Extra Dirty Protest Hen Night Hits the Bistro

Fiz has got every reason to look cross and thwarted. Even though Tyrone’s quite innocent, Maria is deliberately trying to snag him back. She’s sending those fake, menacing texts just to soften him up and then she’ll strike. She at least has the decency to look a bit appalled at herself now and then.

Whatever did soap writers do before texting was invented?

More hideously contrived scenes ensued. Fiz arriving in the Rovers just as Maria is getting a hug from Tyrone and then storming out.

It’s one of those times that no one is with who they want to be. Now, I know that, until late last year I’d been very on-off and spotty with my Corrie viewing for a while… but I’m sure I remember storylines in which covert carrying-on was going on between Leanne and Nick, Karla and Peter, and Fiz and Tyrone. Eventually they all ended up together and seemed to have got what they wanted. Now, all three couples are looking elsewhere and creeping about furtively, getting up to stuff with someone new. It kind of takes the novelty out of it all, when you realise that they’re on a kind of infinite cycle with this infidelity stuff.

Leanne and Kal are keen to get together. I’m not sure I believe in their ardent attraction but it’s been quite nicely built up. Nick seems to have intuited that something is going on. He’s been wincing even more frequently and trying to get Leanne to go on holiday with him. Then he blew up in the gym, where Kal was pushing him too hard during a work-out, and he wound up punching hapless Steve in the face. (Poor Steve – once a predator and wheeler-dealer, now in the Jack Duckworth role of jovial, henpecked cellar-man…)

Worst moment of the week was surely Kal getting roped in to be the topless waiter at the screamingly awful hen night scene at the Bistro. A horde of pissed-up non-speaking extras crowded around his naked torso, cooing and pecking and smearing it with chocolate sauce. He wasn’t quite as muscled and buff as the script promised, but the actor gamely gyrated around with the non-speaking extras in their deelie-boppers. It was a hideous scene. It was a scene as grisly as any featuring Tracey Barlow trying to be sincere.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sometimes I miss my perm

Simon’s acting up because his dad’s been whisked off to rehab by Carla. He keeps crunching the stapler on his dad’s desk in the knicker factory, just to aggravate Carla as she tries to catch up with spreadsheets on Easter Monday. Finally she loses it with him and shouts in his face about what it’s like to be an alcoholic. Si runs off to cry on both Leanne, his dad’s previous wife and Tina, his dad’s girlfriend-with-the-earrings. He has three surrogate mums and when they all surround him at once it strikes me for the first time that they’re meant to be like the three women in The Witches of Eastwick. This casts Peter in the Jack Nicholson role – he looks kind of devilish, but he never seems to quite enjoy all the debauchery enough.

Across the street, Maria is getting up to funny stuff, too. By accident she’s ended up cyber-bullying her best friends; sending menacing texts under the guise of Tyrone’s crazy ex-girlfriend. She can’t stop and she can’t own up to it. David Platt finds out and taunts her in Audrey’s salon (a tiny establishment, stuffed with cans of hairspray, towels and non-speaking extras) He can’t believe she’s doing something so nasty. It’s like something he would concoct. And he also can’t believe that she’s not enjoying being nasty more than she is.

This is what happens when characters get bent out of shape by the demands of plot. A friend of mine commented on this recently – about characters doing things slightly out of character in order to fit with the story line. It was like Steve last night – bringing in his cack-handed birthday cake for Michelle and then, all of sudden, losing his temper and yelling at Tina in front of everyone. For someone as practiced in keeping secrets by acting the buffoon, it seemed a strange move and it looked a bit contrived. (I do hope this means they’re pushing this sordid tale to its climax.)

Then there’s Deidre, flirting in the pawn shop with Tony. She was just back from some women’s action group, where she’d eaten a lot of custard creams and, next thing, she’s inspecting the plainly hot electrical goods that sinister Tony is fobbing off on Tracey and Rob. Deirdre is often given comedy lines these days that sound like writers just making jokes at the character’s expense. Last night it was ‘I do miss my perm sometimes,’ and it feels like they’re turning her into a caricature of a tanned, tipsy cougar with a rasping voice and a melodramatic past. She was handling an oversized hair dryer and Tony was being suggestive about getting a load of his nozzle and the comedy felt a bit forced, but so did the plot-laying. Are we about to see a bit of smut flaring up between Deirdre and Eileen’s ex – just before Ken returns to the Street..?

All I could think about was the hair dryer and, as a long-term viewer, was willing Deirdre to have nothing to do with it. Ken’s got a history – as bad as Bluebeard’s – of wives at number one Coronation Street being finished off by dodgy electricals. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

'That's a nice bit of Brie, that...'

Corrie’s become a bit of a horrible place in recent episodes. We’ve had to watch as poor Anna succumbed to the evil Phelan and visited him in a hotel in the middle of Manchester. A bargain had been struck in his gleaming, antiseptic kitchen – he made her lunch and ate with his mouth open, making the most awful noises. Hearing him eat was almost as awful as imagining what subsequently went on in that hotel room. (Though Anna appeared to keep her anorak on during the whole, sordid business.) This dreadful storyline seems set to run and run…

Elsewhere, even the young lesbian lovers weren’t having a nice time. Made unwelcome in the hostel by wholly unrealistic drama school yobbos and a stroppy social worker they bedded down in a city centre doorway for the night, with Maddy demonstrating the correct way to tie carrier bags round your feet. Sophie’s a bit of a misery-tourist, I can’t help thinking.

Maria’s still obsessed and going crackers over Marcus; the girl with the hooped earrings is still in love with Peter and her texts send him scuttling for the vodka he squirrels away on top of the kitchen cabinets. There was a slightly contrived moment in which Steve and that Andrea were discovered in an awkward clinch on the settee in the Rover’s back parlour, where they were supposed to be studying together. They were found to be using two ‘dirty kebabs’ for some unguessable purpose.

But nothing in this whole horrible week was worse than Phelan noisily masticating brie at his kitchen table as he explained to Anna what the word ‘malleable’ meant…

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Why Muck About with Yourself?

So the flats that Owen and Gary are building are actually called ‘The Mill’? And so, last night, someone actually got to say the immortal line, ‘There’s been some trouble at t’Mill?’

How did they manage to hold off that line for so long – or have I missed it?

The trouble was that evil Phelan had hired a very insidious individual called Clive to take over as foreman, and put even more pressure on the Windass men. Clive didn’t have many lines: he just smirked and smoked cigarettes not very realistically next to containers that had ‘NO NAKED FLAMES’ stencilled on their sides.

This must have been what gave Owen the idea. Owen’s near breaking point – his masculinity impugned, his occupation gone. He thought that he’d bring all their troubles to a head by burning the whole Mill down. This, while the rest of the family were out enjoying their youngest, mardiest daughter’s school play – ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ (As opposed to ‘Potential Arsonist Upstairs in the Luxury Apartments.’)  Luckily, Anna was in time to stop him, grabbing the matches and shouting at him.

I’m looking forward to an end of the Windasses’ troubles just so that Anna can buy herself a new anorak. She always seems a bit tightly buttoned up in the one she’s got. Or maybe it’s just that we see her taking it off and putting it on a lot? She’s either getting ready to leave home, or leaving work at Roy’s Rolls. It’s soap shorthand for a busy, hard-working life – the rapid buttoning of an anorak.

On the other hand, shorthand for a leisurely life in Corrie is two visits to the Rover’s bar in one day. Audrey was doing a lot of propping up of said bar during bouts of hairdressing last night. When there was a kerfuffle over who was going to pick up Maria’s child, she hissed at Marcus that she would normally step in, but she’d already had three G&T’s. Later that night she was back for more. Is this just sloppy scripting, with Audrey required to be in the same place twice over an extended period of time, or are they turning her into a lush on purpose? I wouldn’t be averse to that idea, actually. I’d like to see Audrey behaving badly.

But maybe we have enough characters going off the deep end? The girl in the huge earrings looks like she’s out for revenge, glaring balefully from the bar at Peter and Carla as they (mystifyingly) spent the whole day getting a horrid, wrinkled, ginger-haired man as drunk as they could (I never understood why they were doing this. Was he more likely to make a jumbo purchase of fancy knickers from their factory?)

Also, Gary is reaching a dangerous point, too – and is set to go doo-lally. He was trembling at the bottom of the Windass garden and you could tell things were bad because when Anna went out to check on him, his point of view was all handheld camera-work. Which is a very bad sign.

Also, Maria is on the tipping point. I mean, I know she was betrayed by Marcus and she saw more than she bargained for in the Show Home, but I wonder if she isn’t taking it all too far? It seems a bit rough never to let Marcus ever again see the kid he’d been helping her bring up. Maria’s getting a bit bitter and twisted, up there in her flat. Even Audrey (who went round – after a good amount of gin) seems to be on the point of losing some sympathy for her.

Luckily, there was Kirk talking sense before the evening’s episodes were over. His girlfriend Beth Tinker is still sore over the ‘spaniel’s ears’ jibes in her local paper and last night she revealed her intention to blow her five grand reward money on having her boobs enlarged. She sat in the bosom of her family in a spangly top, unashamedly telling them where her nest egg was going. Kirk – bless him – told her that no woman’s value was down to mere appearance. He’s like an idiot savant – somehow hitting upon just the right thing to say. But no one is listening to him, usually, and the fools just plough on regardless.

Kirk is the hero of the street these days, I reckon – warning folk against ‘mucking about with themselves.’ He wants everything to stay calm and carry on, and nobody going daft or doing anything rash. He’s a very wise man, I’d say.