Posts Tagged ‘Soaps’

Just a Thought: Death of Danielle

April 6, 2009

Finally, the soap storyline that seemed to have been limping along for several years  is finally over. Danielle finally popped her clogs last Thursday and that interminable mess of an Eastenders plotline drew its final breath after an almightly, squealing whimper – wafting from the squealing lips of Ronnie Mitchell.

Danielle arrived in the Square back in the 1930s, and since that day we, the viewership, have been left bewildered by the pointlessness of the writers’ insistence on drawing her story out for decades. We ground our teeth to splintered nubs through completely arbitrary occurrences, watched as Danielle’s character was put through the mill for no reason whatsoever and, ultimately, watched her die (in an eerily familiar death scenario) on Thursday with the story unfulfilled and women screaming in the street.

The BBC have received complaints – many of them asking for Danielle to return to the Square (as a zombie, one presumes) – so I’d like to add to the list of complainants with this post.

The heavy handed treatment of the paedophile plotline lasted about three weeks, whilst the tedious comings and goings of what would usually be a minor character dominated every episode, and I’m a little bit miffed.

Can we go back to tattoos on Adam Woodyatt’s arse and Minty trying to get it on with Josie Lawrence as soon as possible, please?

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WWM Weekly Bastard: Trevor Jordache

March 25, 2009

Shifty off Bread

Over the years, television’s thrown up its fair share of shitbags, bad eggs and turds. We like to call these people ‘Bastards’, and in the first of a new weekly series, we here at WWM turn our sights on that bastard Trevor Jordache – Brookside’s very own Satan made flesh, who slithered onto the close in 1993 …

Tracking down the family he’d abused to a safe house, Trevor used his lovable Irish charm (or: bare-faced lies) to worm his way back into his wife Mandy’s affections, and then quickly set about destroying not only her life, but also the lives of his two daughters, Rachael and Beth.

He took to the bottle, sexually abused his youngest daughter in her bed as his wife slept next door, drove his eldest daughter (who he’d also abused as a little girl) away from home and beat and humiliated his wife Mandy so badly over the course of a year that there was only ever one way this disgusting Irish ratbag’s storyline was going to end: murder.

And what an entertaining murder it was too! First Mandy and Beth tried feeding Trevor weed killer, but that only gave him a stomach ache. Then the two desperate women tried grinding up aspirins in his milk. Catching them in the act, Trevor roared, ‘Yis bloody pair o’ bitches!’, and set about beating his daughter to death. And so, with Trevor otherwise engaged, poor, put-upon Mandy did the decent thing and stabbed the bastard in the back.

Then it was only a matter of burying him under the patio, getting found out, going on the run, ending up in prison, Beth dying of a heart defect whilst banged up, Mandy being acquitted, Trevor’s mother trying to kill her, blah blah blah …

Trevor was the most appalling example of a wife-beating drunken child abuser soap has ever seen. Even Little Mo’s tormentor Trevor (what is it about that name?) couldn’t come close … primarily because he didn’t diddle kids. It is for that reason that we at WWM are proud to announce Trevor Jordache’s inaugeration into the WWM TV Bastards Hall of Fame. Trevor – we salute you, you complete and utter bastard!

Have YOU got a favourite TV bastard? Tell us who it is, and they could appear as a half-arsed filler article in a future edition of your Super Sunshine Watch With Mothers …

NewsGush: BAFTA for Brown?

March 24, 2009

June Brown Dot Cotton Eastenders BAFTA

So, Dot Cotton (or June Brown, if you’re one of those fools who thinks Eastenders is real) has been nominated for a BAFTA. Which is exciting.

Isn’t it?

Well – it’s nice Dot’s got some recognition, but generally I think we’ve decided that awards ceremonies are overlong, boring slag sessions in which those with no talent heap more praise on egos already tottering with adulation-overload.

Here are the main categories, and the nominees.

Best actor
Stephen Dillane – The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall (Channel 4)
Jason Isaacs – The Curse of Steptoe (BBC Four)
Ken Stott – Hancock and Joan (BBC Four)
Ben Whishaw – Criminal Justice (BBC One)

Best actress
June Brown – EastEnders (BBC One)
Anna Maxwell Martin – Poppy Shakespeare (Channel 4)
Maxine Peake – Hancock and Joan (BBC Four)
Andrea Riseborough – Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley (BBC Four)

Best entertainment performance
Stephen Fry – QI (BBC Two)
Harry Hill – Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV1)
Anthony McPartlin & Declan Donnelly – I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (ITV1)
Jonathan Ross – Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (BBC One)

Best comedy performance
Rob Brydon – Gavin and Stacey (BBC Three)
Sharon Horgan – Pulling (BBC Three)
David Mitchell – Peep Show (Channel 4)
Claire Skinner – Outnumbered (BBC One)

Best single drama
Einstein and Eddington (BBC Two)
Hancock and Joan (BBC Four)
The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall (Channel 4)
White Girl (BBC Two)

Best drama serial
Criminal Justice (BBC One)
Dead Set (Channel 4)
The Devil’s Whore (Channel 4)
House of Saddam (BBC Two)

Best drama series
Doctor Who (BBC One)
Shameless (Channel 4)
Spooks (BBC One)
Wallander (BBC One)

Best continuing drama
The Bill (ITV1)
Casualty (BBC One)
EastEnders (BBC One)
Emmerdale (ITV1)

Best factual series
Amazon with Bruce Parry (BBC Two)
Blood Sweat and T-Shirts (BBC Three)
The Family (Channel 4)
Ross Kemp in Afghanistan (Sky One)

Best entertainment programme
The Friday/Sunday Night Project (Channel 4)
Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV1)
QI (BBC One)
The X Factor (ITV1)

Best situation comedy
The Inbetweeners (Channel 4)
The IT Crowd (Channel 4)
Outnumbered (BBC One)
Peep Show (Channel 4)

Best comedy programme
Harry and Paul (BBC One)
The Peter Serafinowicz Show (BBC Two)
Star Stories (Channel 4)
That Mitchell and Webb Look (BBC Two)

Best single documentary
A Boy Called Alex (Channel 4)
Chosen (Channel 4)
The Fallen (BBC Two)
Thriller in Manila (More 4)

Best feature
The Apprentice (BBC One)
Celebrity MasterChef (BBC One)
The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing (BBC Two)
Top Gear (BBC Two)

Best international show
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (More 4)
Dexter (ITV1)
Mad Men (BBC Four)
The Wire (FX)

Best specialist factual
Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery (BBC Four)
Life in Cold Blood (BBC One)
Lost Land of the Jaguar (BBC One)
Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press: The Machine That Made Us (BBC Four)

Best current affairs
Saving Africa’s Witch Children – Dispatches (Channel 4)
Mum Loves Drugs, Not Me – Dispatches (Channel 4)
Omagh: What the Police Were Never Told – Panorama (BBC One)
Ross Kemp: A Kenya Special (Sky One)

Best news coverage
Channel 4 News (Channel 4)
News at Ten – Chinese Earthquake (ITV1)
Sky News – Canoe Man (Sky News)
Sky News – Mumbai (Sky News)

Best sport
Cheltenham Gold Cup – Denman v Kauto Star (Channel 4)
ITV1 F1: Brazilian Grand Prix (ITV1)
Olympics 2008 (BBC One)
Wimbledon – The Men’s Final (BBC One)

Best interactivity
Bryony Makes a Zombie Movie (BBC Three)
Embarrassing Bodies Online (Channel 4)
Merlin (BBC One)
Olympics 2008 (BBC One)

Are there any of those who you think, rather than being praised, should be pulled from the airwaves? Are there any on the list who drive you to exhibit psychopathic fury?

Shall we have our own awards ceremony?

One’s already started on Twitter, called The #Twaftas. How about The WWMAFTAs, 2009?

Songs From The Shows – The Soaps

March 4, 2009

Ever noticed how theme tunes are constructed so that you, the viewer, can sing along at home?

We have.

That’s why we bring you the first outing in a pointless series called Songs From The Shows, in which Napoleon and myself aim to illustrate how to join in when your favourite theme songs kick in.

First up – The Soaps. Here’s Coronation Street:

Can you see how it scans and marries into a thing of beauty?

Let’s have a listen to Eastenders:

Amazing, ain’t it?

Any requests?

Eastenders – 10.12.08

December 10, 2008

Eastenders bosses saw sense, eventually. Rather than drag out the paedophile story until Christmas day for a freaky, festive finale, they opted to have Tony leg it a couple of weeks early. They also spared child-of-the-damned Lauren from his sneaky clutches, mercifully. Not sure how, but Lauren manages to be a realistic character, despite the fact the girl who plays her is somewhat dead around the eyes. Saying that, having your Dad cheating on your Mum with a girl less than half his age and then having your Uncle shack up with Mum as soon as she’s separated, dated an ex-squaddie half her age and tried to bury Dad alive in an urban forest, I suppose your senses might be a little numb.

Tony went out with a bang in an episode focused on Pat’s house. For one of the poorest threads in Eastenders history, it was surprising that the game was upped and the revelation episode was, in fact, genuinely affecting. If you didn’t see it, you won’t believe it, but Patsy Palmer – that shouting, rust-headed, walking mardy put in a bravura performance for once in her life. Bianca and Whitney’s interactions were horrifically believable, and Tony’s blank-faced nastiness went down well too.

I say ‘went down well’, but that’s hardly the right phrase. The thirty minutes left the audience nauseous as Bianca had what was occurring spelled out to her multiple times. When Tony’s amusing attempts to wriggle free failed (causing a cheer in my house), Bianca ran to the toilet to vomit copiously, just as I popped a roast potato into my mouth. Don’t they realise this is tea-time telly?

When Bianca pleaded with Tony, asking her to reveal if he’d touched little Tiff, he stalled when asked ‘why not?’. I can’t have been alone in wondering if he was going to specify the girl’s hair colour as the reason for his not advancing on her. It was even possible that he might have used the ‘Paedogedden’ reason given by Simon Pegg on Chris Morris’s Brass Eye special that he simply ‘didn’t fancy her’, but he left it, vaguely, at ‘that wouldn’t be my style’.

Making light of it is easy, so I’ll stop as this was actually a moving episode. Bianca’s character reacted exactly as the audience has come to expect – at first entirely selfishly and then, ultimately, believably sympathetic. It reminded us why she’s got such a strong role in a leading soap.

Tony was chased off at the end after making a crucial but mistimed return to the scene of the crime to pick up his passport and it’s genuinely good to see the back of him. At first the whole plotline was little short of comical, before turning more credible as Tony began to ‘go off’ his young prey as he watched her mature.

Despite Chris Coghill’s good showing, I’m glad we can move on from the era in which Eastenders became Beastenders.

All that revolting conversation at a time when me and the missus are settling down to dinner. What kind of time’s that to be airing such nastiness?

It’s a bloody disgrace.

EastEnders – September ’08

September 17, 2008

On Friday night, a new story-thread began in Eastenders. Bianca’s other half – Tony – was released from prison after doing a 12-month lump of bird.

We’ve been hearing that he was locked up for a beat down on a young man who was trying it on with Whitney – Bianca’s 15 year old, ironically-named daughter. The news was always delivered suspiciously when discussed, paving the way for the big-eared lunk to make himself known as one of the dodgiest characters ever to tread the hallowed paving of the Square.

I watched on catch up, and as a result had already read an article in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine about discussions the Eastenders bosses had implemented to ensure the story is handled with sensitivity. The actor who plays Tony came across very well in interview – well aware of the danger such a part might mean for him. Whitney’s parents, the article pointed out, asked that she isn’t required to do any publicity for the plot line. A wise move. The overall impression was that this was all being handled with kid gloves (if you’ll pardon the pun) and with a depth of psychological precision that would ensure the topical subject matter wasn’t treated lightly.

Yet again, it’s a case of not believing everything you read.

I’ve seen Friday, Monday and Tuesdays’ episodes now and, if I’m not mistaken, Eastenders appears to have turned into the imaginary paedo-sitcom someone dreamed up in our comments section last week (with tongue firmly in cheek, I ought to add).

Chris Coghill is a good actor – there’s no disputing that. He carries off the persona of a grown man stuck with the maturity and inclinations of a 14 year old boy with something approaching aplomb. Shona McGartney as Whitney is also pulling out all the stops – believably experiencing those rushes of love and resentment that are pretty much on tap when you’re that age. But despite the skill displayed by the staff, there are some real problems going on here.

Whitney looks (at the very least) 16 years of age – like a young adult. After a bit of googling, I find that the actress will be celebrating her 18th birthday next month. She doesn’t look like a child. In a cursory (and disturbing) piece of dialogue, Tony said ‘you don’t look like the 12 year old girl I fell in love with’ before asking her to remove her make up. Fair enough, there’s something interesting going on with the story here, in terms of Tony not being able to bear his prey growing up. But really, it feels like we’re dealing with a Woody Allen here, rather than an Ian Huntley. It renders the really taboo scenes as slightly less powerful. These scenes now look sick, but not illegal or utterly depraved. Because Whitney is evidently a young adult.

The aspect that really lets the whole thing down is the plotting. This being Eastenders, narrative devices are worn proudly on the sleeve – and the ‘Romeo and Julie’ school play issue arose at a suspiciously inconvenient time for Tony. He’s flustered as a result of Whitney participating (and probably having to kiss one of Ian Beale’s hideous offspring), so it’s been pure panto round at Pat’s gaff. Whitney’s literally chased around the house by Tony, who increasingly resembles Frank Spencer to the point he might he might, at some point, turn to the camera and gurn when Bianca tells him Whitney’s at rehearsals.

The inclusion of Sid ‘RICKY’ Owen in this mess just increases the sense we’re watching a sitcom from another dimension. If this were a film, the tagline would be ‘Ricky loves Bianca, but Bianca loves Tony and Tony loves…. Bianca’s daughter!’ Surely there’s a better way to handle this than by making the twisted man/child relationship part of some freakish love quadrangle? Why not go the whole hog and bring back Wellard – get him involved?

Fair play – there is the defence that it’s a topic nobody ever talks about and it needs to be discussed sensibly. But the problem with that argument is that it IS a topic people talk about – all the time! It’s a subject that’s constantly in the news. It’s a political hot potato. It’s a point of anxiety for many, many people.

So maybe trivialising it even further – via the lightweight medium of Eastenders – really isn’t going to help matters much.

Jean Slater

July 21, 2008


boomp3.com

 

In the absence of a proper article, a brief and shoddily-made tribute to everyone’s favourite fictional schizophrenic.

Normal service will be resumed…

EastEnders – 15.5.08

May 16, 2008

Christian Clarke

Surely the EastEnders Stereotyping Department are missing a couple of tricks with the character of Christian?

OK, so he’s got the fag-hag friend, the Kenneth Williams sneer, the tight-fitting clothes, the beautifully decorated flat and the penchant for dancing on tables with a flower behind his ear, but where are the Barbara Streisand albums, the framed Judie Garland prints and the leather cowboy hats? Why isn’t he singing ‘I Will Survive’ every ten minutes? How come he’s not sat at home, bursting into tears as he watches ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ for the umpteenth time? Why hasn’t he mentioned Bette Midler once in the entire time he’s been in the show?

You see, if you watch EastEnders for any length of time you’ll realise that, with the possible exception of black people (though I wouldn’t take that as gospel), the show doesn’t ‘do’ foreigners, minorities, the mentally ill or people of a different sexuality very well at all. They can paint you a picture of a wheelin’, dealin’ car dealer so well that the character consumes the actor playing him, but hand the EastEnders writers a gay man, or an Asian, or an Oirishman and they fall to pieces.

In the case of homosexuals, the character will be either boringly worthy, flamboyantly over the top, or a predator that ‘turns’ a previously heterosexual character into ‘one of them’. Hand them an Asian, and the usual overbearing mother/tyrannical father type soon comes to the fore. Dump some of the characters in the Emerald Isle, and yorr soon lookin’ around for de feckin’ liddle people and de fairies, begorrah, begorrah.

At present, my point is illustrated perfectly by the Masoods. The Masoods are such a cardboard cut-out of an Asian family, it’s as if the writers have a checklist:

  • Overbearing mother? Check.
  • Daughter who wants to have fun, yet who mum wants to see married to a good Indian boy with excellent prospects? Check.
  • Son who is expected to be an academic whizz-kid? Check.
  • Father away in India looking after elderly family member, because that’s what Asians do? Check.
  • Monstrous bullying uncle disgusted by the un-Islamic behaviour of his brother’s family? Check.

This lot comes hot on the heels of the mistake that was the Ferreira family, whose specaility was a monstrous tyrant of a father and a sister who was going off the rails by dating white folks. The whole family was so badly written, so one dimensional, and so shamelessly stereotypical, that they were all hastily culled from the show (a fate shared by the DiMarcos – a woefully underwritten Italian clan who always seemed one line away from saying ‘Oh whatta mistaka to make-a!’ over the pasta bowls).

Indeed, the writing was on the wall the moment the Ferreiras arrived on the square – the dad’s an overbearing Asian bully, yes, but he’s an Elvis impersonating overbearing Asian bully. As if that disguised the usual paper-thin ‘Asian issues’ agenda.

They do it time and again. The Fowlers visiting Oirland episodes garnered so many complaints from real, breathing Irish people that the BBC was forced to issue an apology. Their portrayal of Asians has been an ongoing thorn in the show’s side for over twenty years; and don’t even get me started on the mentally ill – Stacey’s manic depressive mother is a veritable masterclass in how not to write a manic depressive, but is a useful road-map for any aspiring writer who wishes to portray a one-dimensional, Monty Python-style loony.

You wonder, sometimes, where they’re going to plant their great clodhooping feet in it next. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a trip for Garry ‘n’ Minty to India – the hapless mechanics chased around the streets of Delhi by bearded turbaned thuggees, falling in love with the Maharani, and befriending a comedy ox-cart owner called Babou – “Oh, goodness gracious me, Garry! You are werry funny man, bud bud, ding ding!”

Or perhaps, just perhaps, they might try hiring writers with a knowledge of the world that isn’t restricted to wheeler-dealers, happy-go-lucky stall holders, and tarts with a heart of gold. On the evidence of the latest set of stereotypes, they could certainly do with them.