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.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Rough Boozer

I’m trying to work out the topography of the Street. How close is Peter and Carla’s flat to Tina’s? Would it be possible for him to blame their simultaneous pregnancy on the thinness of the chipboard walls? Possibly his extraordinary potency has enabled him to render both up the duff with one single shot? Could he use this as a defence?

Peter’s not doing himself any favours. Last night he fell off the wagon spectacularly in a rough Irish boozer and Steve had to come and rescue him. Steve’s never been known for finding the most sensible solution to anything, and his curious plan here was for the two of them to get a room. I think the intention was to get Peter sober before taking him home to Carla the next day. But there was a hilarious unintentional subtext. Peter seems to be insatiable. Who next? Emily?

Meanwhile at the Bistro it was Ladies’ Night. They were having a designery jumble sale and raffle to celebrate Hayley and raise money for charity. Sally was snooty about Beth’s donated garment and I felt my heart go out to Beth, who’s done a lot to reprieve herself recently – not least beat up that mugger after bingo. When her picture appeared in the Weatherfield Gazette lately and online readers’ comments were scathing about her ‘spaniel’s ears’ breasts and scraggy hair, I really felt for her. They’re finding a way to humanize this latterday Janice Battersby character. (Kirk absolutely shone in his reassurances to her about the bitchy comments – telling her that he thinks spaniels’ ears are great. In fact, he finds all dogs’ ears sexy.)

I have to say I was glad when the girls sang ‘New York, New York’ to Stella and waved her off. Nothing against the character especially – she grew on me as time went by. But for a while there we had a surplus of tragic, faded blondes on that street. They hung around in designer tops behind the bar like those vultures in the Disney version of ‘The Jungle Book’, never quite knowing what to do with themselves.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I Wish We'd Never Gone to that Flaming Soup Kitchen

Everyone was in a huff. Last night’s were quite arduous episodes to watch, actually. When Carla actually smiling for once is Corrie’s cheeriest moment you know that something's gone wrong. Sally was furious over furtive lesbian antics under her roof. Stella’s daughter who-isn't-Leanne was cross after being told her mother was jetting off to New York, while she had to go and live above a kebab shop. Rob was incensed because Peter’s put his rent up and probably also because he's always wearing too tight trousers.

And the woeful Windass family (what an awful name!) were more miserable than ever. Even Roy coming round with leftover chicken and mushroom pie from the cafe couldn't cheer them up. The predicament they're in with Phelan means that they're short of cash. We know that because there was a scene that told us this three times. Last night’s were the kind of episodes that hit you over the head with their subtexts...

Mostly last night it was all about Peter doing his relay race between Carla and the girl with the huge earrings. That silly man is going to do himself a mischief. He huffs and puffs his way round those back alleys, snapping a tab end in and out of his gob and he couldn’t look shiftier if he tried. He was keeled over beside his precious ginnel by 9pm. This, after learning from both wife and mistress in the space of an hour that they are both - as Carla hooted with her usual finesse - up the duff. I groaned out loud. It was all way too contrived. It was all so predictable my mind was taken off the drama by the way High Definition draws unfortunate attention to extra dark nasal hairs. Peter’s seemed particularly noticeable when he was lying on his settee, Carla draped over his chest and acting. I wonder if he dyes them?