Friday, 28 March 2014

Being Touchy

I’m glad Kevin has decided to stop getting at Tyrone so much. It just wasn’t fair, after everything Tyrone’s had to put up with. Sally reminded Kevin of everything, in a great long litany in Roy’s Rolls. Not just that business of Kevin’s affair with Molly (who got crushed by a tram, cursed during her dying breath by a vengeful Sally) and Kevin taking his infant son from him – but there was all that to-do with being accused of beating up his girlfriend. The mad one, the policewoman who gave birth to Ruby. Remember? And I’d forgotten all that. Then there was his getting back together with Fizz – which, while a good thing, must be hard work, what with Fizz acting all kind of noble and good these days. She takes umbrage quite easily and makes those funny cooing noises when she’s happy. And, above all, you have to remember that Tyrone has Margi Clarke for a mother. All in all, he could do with being cut a bit of slack.

Then we had more of that whole storyline about Phelan, the menacing Scouser bandit who’s stepped out of ‘Brookside’ circa 1989. Almost twenty minutes devoted to the saga of the stolen tiles and faked invoices and ‘doing a foreigner’. Gary, I have no patience with at all, since he’s the cause of the whole palaver, as far as I can see – hitting the gangster with the plank in the first place, and then leaving him for dead. Plus, he goes about in the same checky, fleece-lined hoody from Primark that I bought some time after New Year in their sale, and he’s put me off it, frankly. When I wear it I feel like I’m on a building site as the sun goes down, hunting for a half-dead psycho in the sand.

Then there was Gail acting all twitchy about being home alone at night. She’s nervy from disturbing Les Dennis pawing through her nick-nacks, and she fears he might come back. She was hanging out at the Bistro, guzzling their white wine, and Nick started suggesting she get some therapy along the lines he’s had to get over his anger issues / brain damage. Usually her Nick can’t do wrong but this time her eyes flared red from underneath that fringe. How dare he suggest she needs treatment? She put him down sharply, and he, of course, winced, as is his wont.

Gail’s always taken everything so personally – that’s what I was thinking, watching this snippy exchange. That’s been her problem, all along. She’s touchy. I guess that’s comes of having Audrey as a mother. I can remember the episode Audrey first turned up – a brash, tarty Brummie, desperate for a man. Even Elsie Tanner – Gail’s surrogate mum - raised an eyebrow when Audrey dredged up for Gail’s 21st / engagement party in 1979. Gail went on like Audrey was the cross she had to bear. An albatross in a raincoat with flapping arms and a shrewd eye.

I realise, as I write, that I could go on about Gail’s touchiness for quite some time.

Monday, 24 March 2014

He's Sensitive to Atmospheres

It was all about anxiety in Corrie tonight, whether it was Tyrone confessing to Kevin about the cupboard full of neglected paperwork at the garage, or kazoo-voiced Karla attending her stepfather’s funeral in an outfit complete with a silver crucifix hanging upside down, like something out of The Exorcist.

Everyone was facing up to their fears, it seemed. Poor Gail was terrified  in her own home by an intruder who looked like a careworn version of Les Dennis, one-time host of Family Fortunes. Actually, the intruder seemed even more anxious than Gail did (‘Take anything you want! Don’t murder us!’) Perhaps he thought Gail might corner him and force him into another of her horrible marriages.

Kylie came to the rescue, pounding down the stairs half-dressed as Uma Thurman (apparently for a Quentin Tarantino-themed erotic fantasy game she and David were rashly planning) and she chased Les Dennis down the street. Fizz failed to get the licence number of Les Dennis’s van, and this is the kind of thing that gives me anxiety – being called upon to be able to focus on a moving licence plate and memorize it. Fizz was hopeless at it, too.

Later on in the Rovers she was giving Tyrone a stiff talking to about letting the paperwork slide, and really, both she and Kevin were both a bit short with the dumpy tyke, I thought. After all, wasn’t it Kevin who had an affair with Tyrone’s wife Molly (who later got crushed under the tram crash) and who took away the son Tyrone thought was his own? Some of these people have short memories, it seems, and that’s a bit anxiety-inducing, too.

It was Tim – Sally’s new beau - who was described as being ‘sensitive to atmospheres’ as they came to share an alcove in the Rovers with Tyone and Fizz. Sally was wittering on about making spring rolls for tea and what a faff on her special oriental platter can be.

I don’t need to hear anymore about Tina and Peter and their stolen afternoons of awkward conversations and clammy sex and sprayed-on sweat in Manchester hotels or about Karla believing she’d be a bad mother and looking at old photo albums with her mardy sister. We were meant to be feeling the pathos as she dithered over a termination, but I was distracted by her overly-vivid description of her mother’s smelly house coat. ‘Underneath my expensive clothes and gobbiness, I’m just as common as she was.’

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Male Members of the Cast

What kind of fool would leave their luggage out on the street anyway?

 Oh, Kevin’s back. Right.

No sooner than he’d landed back on the cobbles Kev left his bags unattended outside his old home. He was getting a bit of welcome-back-to-Weatherfield succour from Rita in the Kabin. And it was at that precise second that his daughter’s homeless girlfriend happened by, and found herself too tempted by the abandoned holdall. I can’t think of anything less appealing than what Kevin Webster might have in his hand luggage. Sticky engine parts, perhaps.

Kevin was back from Germany in the series and back from real life tribulations, which seemed to be flagged up by the warmth with which other characters greeted him. It was a Friday night episode full of contrivance, though – from the bag-snatching to the scene where he got Sally’s new boyfriend Tim in a headlock, thinking him a burglar, after finding him fiddling with her digibox under the telly. These scenes actually made me warm to Tim, for the first time.

Elsewhere, Peter Barlow is being just downright sinister, winning back his secret girlfriend Tina’s trust, and peering over her shoulder (past her huge earrings.) He’s smirking to himself in that back ginnel we’ve seen so much of in recent weeks.

I felt for poor Stella. Putting herself out there for the sake of the bloke who’s about to open the gym. (I forget his name. When he’s with his mate Dev, the two talk like characters who think they’re in Scorcese’s ‘Mean Streets’.) He let her down reasonably gently, but immediately started prowling round after Stella’s daughter, Leanne – eventually propositioning her in the kebab shop. Leanne regretfully turned him down – wincing. She winces a lot. So does her estranged, brain-damaged husband Nick. They have spent months and years wincing at each other. When they were separate, when they were together and when they were separating again. They wear expressions like they’re trying to eat pickled onion crisps while they’ve got mouth ulcers.

Nick’s brother David and his skanky girlfriend were, meanwhile, trying to find the time and space to have dirty sex. Audrey’s salon seemed a likely place, and we were treated to one of those scenes where a young male actor pretends to be in the nude, standing behind a jumbo can of hairspray or a pile of towels. And then they get an unwanted interruption, this time in the form of Dev, who did some of his splendid over-acting. That’s twice that such a scene’s been played in Corrie this week – with Todd and Marcus it was high-drama, and here it was sheer comedy. But all the while I couldn’t help wondering what it is David reminds me of – with his strange hair and aggrieved expression. It’s something out of Dr Seuss, I’m sure, or Maurice Sendak.

We seem to be having a bit of a resurgence of male characters in Corrie. For years they’ve been a bit overshadowed by the larger-than-life ladies. But just recently they’ve been coming to the fore – hitting each other with planks of wood, getting up to saucy shenanigans and starting up gyms. Men never have an easy time of it in Corrie – which is always a Matriarchal society, in essence. The men tend to wind up as bloated eunuchs, mass murderers or officious blimps. A bit like in antiquity – ‘I, Claudius’ or something. I’ll be interested to see what happens with this current crop of blokes.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

No Better Than They Ought

I love the way – and I may be imagining it – that Corrie rewards long-term viewers like myself. I’m someone who’s watched it from infanthood and even kept up during my years as a student. In recent years I’d given up – sometime before the 50th Anniversary and I only returned to watching properly when they started to gradually kill Hayley off. I gave up for the reason a lot of people give – too many Hollyoaks type characters and crap sensationalism. Anyhow, Hayley’s magnificent last few months brought me back and I found that the Street was still itself, underneath all the flashy, silly gubbins they’d been piling onto it.

Because you’ve got characters in it for decades, they can be developed with beautiful slowness – and long-term viewers will suddenly realise that, for example, when Gail gets shrill and goes harping on, she’s turning into her own dreaded mother-in-law of the 1980s, Ivy Tilsley. The script never tells us that – but it’s there. Gail is turning into everything she hated and feared when she was 21. It’s why she drinks so much white wine. She’s another dessicated busybody telling everyone how they should be living their lives, oblivious to her own craziness and faults.

Deirdre is naturally evolving into the perfect replica of her wonderfully, drolly wicked mother, Blanche, and everyone can see that – because there’s still a photo of Blanche on the sideboard, from which she stares with myopic disdain.

I also think that Sally is becoming Hilda Ogden who, of course, was never any relation of hers – but was one of the first people Sally knew on the street, back in the early 80s. It’s like a duck hatching out and latching onto the first thing they see. (Sally even looks a bit like a duckling.) She was sweet and eighteen, but the image of Hilda was imprinted on her subconscious, plus Sally ended up living in the Ogdens’ house for many years, somehow absorbing the very essence of Hilda. (I imagine the famous exotic Murial (sic) was still behind the Websters’ wallpaper – leaking its ineradicable commonness like something malign out of Edgar Allen Poe.) Sally has endured a life of ludicrous melodrama – and is becoming someone whose essentially kind heart is counter-balanced by a whiny voice and a nasty mind.

Perhaps it’s the houses themselves that imprint themselves on the lives of their present owners? I was thinking this during scenes at Eileen’s last night. There she was, telling Marcus he had to go, and glowering at her son Todd. She had a houseful of men in their pants and t-shirts, and she was up to her elbows in sexual shenanigans amongst the young. Eileen looked peeved by it all, at the same time as sort-of understanding how these things happen. Just as, thirty years ago, Elsie Tanner presided over the same house, then filled with young women, and she was being protective and matriarchal, but fully aware of how, inevitably, some people end up no-better-than-they-ought-to-be.

I’ll have to think more about this business of possession, and how the old characters imprint themselves on the next generation. Behind the Rover’s bar, it’s plain to see that Shaun is turning – perhaps quicker than he’d like – into Betty Turpin. He even nods and tuts sympathetically, folding his arms and looking scandalized in just the same way (‘Pardon me for having an opinion!’ he burst out last night, or somesuch, caught in the crossfire of an al fresco fracas, just as Betty would have done.) These are the kind of echoes and things that this long-term viewer – who feels very welcomed back to watching the show, incidentally - loves to pick up on.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Show Home Shenanigans

Todd (mysteriously transformed by time spent living in London into a very nasty character) has pursued Marcus relentlessly and last night waylaid him in a show-home. They were doing things that undoubtedly had the switchboards jammed when interrupted by surprise arrival of Maria and Audrey - Audrey, of course, who couldn't help flashing back to the way Todd treated poor old Sarah Lou. Maria very upset that this might mean she doesn't get her dream home with a garden and special kitchen sink. 

Meanwhile, Roy has turned his flat into the old Sheffield to Manchester railway line complete with papier-mache hills, and has popped Hayley's ashes into the cupboard under the telephone table in the hall. 

There's the ongoing and now rather dreary sub-plot to do with Peter Barlow's affair with the girl with the vast earrings, complicated now by the fact that orange-faced, kazoo-voiced Karla seems to be - rather resentfully - up the duff. 

Sally's daughter's lesbian homeless person seems to have moved in and Kevin's on his way back to the Street, which he will find transformed to about three times the size and brightness since its relocation to Salford Quays. 

Rita is still looking woebegone since her Dennis zoomed off into the night in a sports car with Sue Johnson dressed as both Thelma and Louise (what a mistake they made, making her character so dislikable.) I'm sure I've missed some plot points and nuances, but that's the recent gist.