Posts Tagged ‘Tony’

Eastenders, 2009

January 6, 2009

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Regular readers may well roll their eyes at the sight of Eastenders in the headline again, but as anyone who tuned in over Christmas will tell you, the sitcom has drifted from regular melancholy into the absolute zero of acute depression.

A few of the current threads seem designed to make viewers slit their wrists. They may as well slot split-second banners in the film reels saying ‘END IT NOW’ in a bold black font, just to kick the public that little bit further into the pit of despair.

So, put on your party hat, pull out your party poppers and get down with us as we celebrate the most miserable Eastenders threads of 2009! (so far).

Dotty, Dot and the Non-reformed Nasty Nick

Even casual viewers will know a bit about Dot’s blighted past where her son is concerned. He’s tried to poison her, always stolen from her and is generally a complete, drug-addled bastard. So, at Christmas time – a time for giving – writers decided to bring back the malevolent offspring. For one episode he was convincingly reformed and I expected a slow-building but subtly well-written build up to his dastardly intentions. Instead, by New Year, a hundred heavy-handed hints made the blatantly obvious oncoming conclusion plain, meaning we’ve months of watching Dot tragically kid herself ahead as dramatic irony looks wearily on from the side of the stage. Happy new year.

Max, Tanya, Lauren and Lies

At the centre of last year’s Christmas-time borderline-incest infidelity scandal, this story is running and running. And running. Then meandering a bit and now faltering to some sort of conclusion. After alcoholism, a confusing bit with a gun and an intentional road crash, Tanya’s banged up in the least secure prison in Britain, where it seems to be perfectly legal for a woman on trial for attempted murder to socialise, unobserved, with the bloke she’s accused of trying to kill in her cell (not even through the bars, as might be a bit more realistic). Everyone knew young Lauren had done the driving when she admitted as much, and I don’t think I’m far wrong when I say that every viewer is probably hoping young Abby (the little shit) gets put away for life in some weird twist of fate in the next couple of weeks.

Sean, Roxy and Jack’s Three-Way Disaster

Poor Sean had mended his wicked ways when he discovered he had a daughter – and the fact she was premature even seemed to strengthen him. He was almost completely sane by the time he found out (on Christmas Day, round the table, naturally) that the kid wasn’t his. It was it’s mother’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s. This resulted in lots of laying about depressed in the launderette, baby-kidnapping, falling into an icy lake and tons of screaming and wailing. I think we were meant to feel sympathy for Sean – which was misjudged really, considering most viewers are still reeling from the period of time in which Sean was dealing coke, being a complete sod to everyone and physically torturing much-loved character Gus. Good riddance Sean then – even if he was a well-acted figure of fun.

Bianca, Whitney and the Sex Offender

And now to possibly the most depressing story of the bunch. We all know Whitney was abused by her adopted mother’s boyfriend. Well, Bianca found out, Tony got arrested and now we’re having to suffer the consequences – a damaged teenager, Bianca at a loss, Ricky looking confused (plus ca change…) and lots and lots of crying. The only light at the end of this particular tunnel came with the recent arrival of Janine Butcher (Godbless her), the best ever Eastenders pantomime villain we’ve had for a while. A good move by bosses, bringing her back. Last night she delivered a nasty line to Bianca when told she’d upset  Whitney: ‘Oh – is that my fault? But I’m not the one who bought a paedo into the house?’.

What an awful woman.

So, if these four tales of warm, hard-grafting East End types from the working classes don’t fire up the cockles of your heart, I’m not sure what will.

Oh!
Knees up Muvva Brown! etc…

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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.

Just A Thought – EastEnders

September 25, 2008

Have you noticed anything familiar about the storyline that’s unfolding in the Jackson household at the moment? No? Then let me enlighten you …

1999 – Carol Jackson returns to the square with a new man in tow called Dan. Carol has had several children, all by different fathers. Carol is blissfully happy until she discovers Dan has been fucking about with her daughter behind her back. The shit hits the fan.

2008 – Bianca Jackson, daughter of Carol, returns to the square with a new man in tow called Tony. Bianca has had several children, all by different fathers. Bianca is blissfully happy until she discovers Tony has been fucking about with her step-daughter behind her back. The shit (presumably) hits the fan.

A coincidence? A lesson to us all that the child is destined to repeat the mistakes of the parent?

Or just the lazy sods that write EastEnders recycling exactly the same fucking storyline a decade later and hoping nobody will notice?

You decide.

The Friday Question: Best TV Balls Up

September 19, 2008

It’s brilliant when stuff goes wrong on TV. Whether it’s a live broadcast that wasn’t planned to perfection – as above – or just a flawed concept that never should have seen the light of day, TV history is riddled with horrendous production mistakes.

For me, the current Eastenders paedophile sitcom debacle is the most interesting televisual mess we’ve got available – providing shake-your-head moments every time the ill-judged script gets rolled out by actors who deserve better.

Through the ages, unplanned material can be pulled from the archive and now stored forever on Youtube as a reminder to our childrens’ grandchildren that we were rubbish at making television.

So what’s your favourite TV balls up? 

Is it on Youtube?

LINK IT.

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.

Skins

April 4, 2008

Skins 2 

Lordy me. 

LORDY ME.

What’s happening in Skins at the moment, eh? Or more correctly, what isn’t happening in Skins? They are busy little bees at present. In a quick rundown we currently have:

  • Jal’s pregnancy to fit-Skin Chris, shortly before he is swooshed off in an ambulance with a secret brain tumour of the hereditary kind.
  • Sid and psycho-Skin Cassie are back together after Cassie’s flirtation with being an accidental prostitute and a lesbian. A lesbitute if you will.
  • Tony and Michelle restarting their relationship after Michelle and Sid’s short-lived romance – key phrase “You’re the only man to ever make me come, Sid” – poor old Tony having that broadcast on E4.
  • Anwar finishing his relationship with gay-skin Maxxie’s stalker, Sketch, after looking in a mirror and realising she’d been cunningly turning him into the Asian version of Maxxie, blond locks and all.
    Maxxie with a new boyfriend, cue scary looks from Sketch.
  • Effie, Tony’s fifteen year old sister, adding to her pocket money through the medium of drug-dealing.
  • A-Levels. 

I am a bit worried about the A-Levels thing. Does this mean that series three (and there will be a series three; they are currently inviting all and sundry to open auditions on the Skins website. Could I pass for an 18-year old Bristolian? Maybe one who’s had a very hard life) will be set in halls of residences around the country? The Skins must never leave Bristol. Never. Maybe they could all go to Bristol University and UWE. That would solve it nicely. Sorted.

In my last review, I pondered which ageing comedian might be wheeled on next, after appearances from Harry Enfield and Bill Bailey in the first episode. Well, the casting people should be patting themselves on the back. Not all ageing, and not all comedians, but so far I’ve spotted Josie Lawrence, Peter Capaldi, Josie Long (playing a Careers Adviser, which is sort of what I do, and I love her, so it is obviously a sign of our impending union) and Shane Richie (playing the drama teacher directing the school’s production of ‘Osama: The Musical’)… the list goes on. Well it sort of stops there, but still more impressive than *spits* Hollyoaks.

In other Skins-related news, I was in London with some drunk people recently, and one of them pointed at me and shouted “CHRIS FROM SKINS” in my face. I was momentarily quite chuffed, until I remembered I am a thirty-year old woman. I can sort of see the resemblance though in a round-faced Somerset-farmer kind of way… maybe I will go to those auditions after all.

Skins. Episode one

February 13, 2008

Before I start, I want to point out how annoying it is when you are intending on writing a review of a programme that you have watched goggle-eyed since episode one of the first series and then some Johnny-come-lately wanders down your driveway and jumps on your FUCKING BANDWAGON especially when they are one of your favourite reviewers in the world and you fancy them a bit, and therefore find yourself in the position of wanting to touch your usurper inappropriately while spitting bile into their eyes.

Despite Brooker encapsulating everything that is great about Skins in 700 neat and well-chosen words, I shall continue, pointlessly but unbowed, like Scott tootling onwards after Amundsen, but with less frostbite. Follow me onwards to the South Pole (Bristol).

Nearly a whole year has passed since series one of Skins finished. A hollow, Skinsless pit of a year. The worst year of my pathetic little life. But now it is back! Hurrah! Hang the bunting! Call the local DJ! etc etc. The last series ended with Tony (teenage arrogance given flesh) being knocked over by a lorry after doing the Machiavellian life-messing thang on all his friends and… one sec. Sorry, I know I’m incapable of writing a review of Skins without shoehorning in a few mentions of their myspace sites, but what the fuck? Tony’s PARENTS have posted a message on his profile. His parents, no less.

We like to thank [sic] everyone for the flowers, cards and well wishes you’ve sent. The thoughtful messages have been a real comfort at this very difficult time.
Best

Jim and Anthea Stonem

Maybe da kidz have a different type of relationship with ma and pa than I did as a teenager, but is it really believable, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, really, that said kidz would tell them the password to their myspace site? I think not. There’s also a video of him in a coma on the profile, that I assume they’ve posted as well. Which is completely understandable of them, and not disturbing at all.

Anyway, onwards and downwards. Last night’s episode started with some urban dancin’, and I mean like really proper DANCIN’ from gay Skin Maxxie and some other equally implausibly beautiful teenagers (I grew up in the West Country, and people look weird down there, not all shiny and even of teeth. Even of tooth perhaps, at a push). One of them took her top off and had a see-through bra on. Saucy. Maxxie went home where his dad (Bill Bailey) practices country and western dancing with his dog. He gave up his dog dancing dream to join the construction trade, did Bill, and he thinks his son should do the same.

Tony is all spazzed up from his accident and upsetting his father with his frustrated anger at the world (Tony’s dad, incidentally is played by Harry Enfield – I wonder which ageing comedian will be invited to star next? Please, please, please let it be Russ Abbott). Max’s mum does Tony’s flies up for him. It looks like she is giving him a blow-job. Ho ho. There is a rave. Michelle gets it on with two blokes but only ‘cos her head is all messed up like, due to Tony. Sid takes acid and misses his girlfriend who is being taught the bagpipes in a mental asylum in Scotland.

There is more dancing as teens dripping in sweat take their tops off and rub against each other. ‘Chrriiiiist’ wheeze a thousand equally perspirant old men around the country.

Maxxie gets it on with one of the Asbo-homophobes who hang round his estate. Everyone goes home. It is college in the morning. Tony finally manages to sign his own name meaning that he can register for the new term (nice Somerset touch: that was an actual requirement when I was at sixth form).
 So yes, mock away, but it was great. I missed you Skins. Welcome back my loves, welcome back.