Friday, 29 July 2011

State of the Street - July 2011

July was full of Barlows which is never a bad thing. James proved to be quite the opposite of his upstanding father and pillar of community grandfather and gave charities a bad name. He dragged Sophie down with him too. Everyone is shocked that Christian Sophie could possibly steal from her father but she did have every expectation of returning the money. Remember, it was only meant to be a short term loan to help get the new house for the shelter, so she thought. It also shows up how young and naive she still is. It also showed up Kevin as the obnoxious bully that he his. Ok, he's allowed to be pissed that he lost that much money, who wouldn't be? But he could be a little more understanding of his daughter after the initial shock wore off. He treated her like she was a habitual criminal and he also took it out on Ken and Deirdre and Peter which wasn't called for.

As for James, he's a sneaky so and so isn't he? corrupting young teenage girls, scamming his grandfather, threatening children, lurking on the doorstep with shifty eyes waiting for the postman and being completely unrepentant. Tracy's suspicions twigged though, and as awful as Tracy can be to her parents, if she catches someone doing the dirty on them or on her kid, they won't know what hit them! James had better hide the statues and other heavy objects.

And Tracy is after Steve as well. As always. But this time she made serious inroads. What is it about Steve always turning to a woman to make himself feel better after losing the one he really wants? And with Tracy of all people? You might know. And knowing how Tracy feels about him, you would think he'd know better if he has no intentions of being with her properly. It's no wonder she continues to have feelings for him if he's giving her signals like that. Scarpering off to London with Amy is not that nice but it's certainly understandable after him using her like he did and then dumping all over her when he thought she told Becky about their one night stand. Her reputation preceded her and she probably would have in yet another confrontation with Becky eventually.  I'm not saying I'm warming to her at all because I'm not. But even so, to be fair, she didn't deserve this.

The month was full of Stella too, interacting with the junior Barlows. Yes, she is indeed Leanne's birth mother and said she'd had a baby too young, had to get away from Les (that, I *do* believe), with him and his family keeping her away (that, I don't). A bit of a retcon there, methinks but all in all, ok, we'll just tuck that to one side. It seems like Stella has a lot of regrets and Leanne isn't so quickly inclined to accept her mother back into her life so easily. Those cracks in her and Peter's relationship that they patched over are showing the strain, too. It takes a miscarraige for Leanne to crack and accept her mother's comfort. I saw that coming but it was touching just the same. It doesn't mean it's going to stick, though. They may get to a good place eventually but it won't be for awhile.  As always, Jane Danson never ceases to amaze me. She and Chris Gascoyne were the powerhouse stars of the month.

There's been a lot of stick about Michelle Collins' accent but I don't find it all that awful, not to my Canadian ear. I can't say I think highly of her acting though. She feels a bit stiff and any attempt at emotion is just painful, for me! I just don't understand why actresses (mainly) feel the need to get face lifts and Botox. I suppose the pressure is great on them and the competition fierce but I would much prefer looking at a normal aging face like Sally Dynevor or Helen Worth or Anne Kirkbride than one that's barely able to crack.

But I digress...

I just wish this all wasn't going to lead to another round of Peter and Carla but I suppose, there really is unresolved stuff there and it isn't going to make Frank very happy either. More conflict. I hope Peter doesn't start drinking again but it would be realistic if he slips. It happens more often than you think in real life.   

Carla has already made her play for Peter, taking advantage of his vulnerability. Leanne had thrown him out of the hospital room, he had serious doubts about the baby anyway and he wanted a drink badly. He was tempted, that was quite the snog they shared, but he really does love Leanne. Unfortunately he's also got Ken's genes. This could be bad. Looks like he's going to be struggling with his demons for awhile, especially if Leanne can't stop pushing him away and now he's given Carla a bit of a ray of hope no matter what he says to the contrary.

Right. So Jerry's selling his house, the one that Anna lives in and rents, and she told Owen. Who couldn't see this one coming? Owen buys the house and next thing you know, he's sniffing around Anna and the month nearly ended with a snog! I bet Faye isn't going to like that. Frankly, though, I think Owen and Anna make a better looking couple than she and feckless Eddie. At least Owen is a bit more stable and successful. Drawback is his temper. But maybe Anna would soften him a bit. Mind you, that temper was of good use when he had to kick down Izzy's door when Gary freaked out. What amazing stuff it was watching Gary break down, heartbreakingly sad, too. 

Fiz is in the nick. She's at the end of her rope and all the circumstances are loading up. Sally is having a field day but everyone else is supportive. The police say that Colin had a fractured skull, I can't remember... did Chesney witness when that guy came to the house in a rage looking for Colin? That would lend credence to Fiz's story. Some people are sick and tired of Fiz and her moaning but I continue to enjoy the storyline. Of course Fiz is always upset and crying, wouldn't you be? Is it a predictable story? Of course it is, it's a soap standard, whoever gets arrested is very rarely the actual guilty party and is either cleared in the trial or set free by some other circumstance. Guilty people always pay. Everyone out there is now shouting Tracy Barlow's name. But she did go to jail for several years so she didn't get off completely even if the verdict was turned over on a technicality. Since Jennie McAlpine isn't leave the show, we'll be in for the summer of Fiz and into the fall as we start to see what life in the Big House (copyright J. McDonald) is like for her.

There's Gail and Kylie wars brewing and it's dead funny. I knew I was going to enjoy seeing Kylie wind up Gail. I really think David and Kylie should move in somewhere on their own, they must both get a salary from the salon, enough to pay rent. If Tina the barmaid and Graeme the window cleaner could afford the shop flat, surely David and Kylie could. 

So Audrey has a new fella. But she's still got better dress sense than he does. I like that she's got her own storyline and I even think the storyline is a good one for her to have. I just think it would have worked better if Marc didn't have such a very deep voice! I do wonder why so many  tv shows have cross dressers with such awful sense of style and terrible wigs. There's no excuse, you know. There are shops that sell women's clothes in larger or taller sizes and they're very nice and very stylish. Audrey could at least take Marc in hand there. They got together properly on her birthday. Makes a change from last year's when Gail found out Lewis was a male escort!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Gary Windass breaks apart

Last year, we saw Gary Windass go off to Afghanistan and return, having lost his best friend, with a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress. He was edgy, he lost his temper easily, and was volatile. He freaked out in small, confined spaces. But eventually he settled down. Or did he?

But did he? He found love with gently Izzy but more and more, he feels the need to protect her, especially as he sees her as more vulnerable in a wheelchair. There are bad things and bad people out there and he wants to keep Izzy safe. But Gary has gone from over protective to manic about it and this week we saw him over-react to her mugging by keeping her helpless in the flat. He figured that if he just kept her inside, nothing bad could happen to her.

Poor Gary, but I'm glad they haven't completely forgotten the Traumatic stuff from his stint in the war. You could see him breaking apart little by little. He'd get all emotional then shut down completely and act like nothing's wrong. Then he'd lose his rag again and it wasn't even a matter of being controlling, it was trying to keep her safe after his whole world had blown apart. Heartbreaking to watch him even go so far as to close the blinds to keep out the light and the rest of the world, watching through the slats for the enemy. then his eyes are glazed over and he's confident she'll marry him and everything will be ok. He was completely gone by that time. Brilliant camera work, shaky, hand held, giving you that unstable feeling, just like Gary's tenuous hold on reality. Then swift cutting back and forth, like an action film, or shattered pieces flinging around the room.

In the end, Izzy's dad, Owen, broke down the door and Gary, too, broke down. For once, Owen actually realized straight away that Gary was in trouble, not a danger. I don't mind admitting I was in tears by the end when Gary begged for help.

We've blogged before about how amazing actor Mikey North is and he just continues to amaze me more and more. He did a lot of research into this type of situation, meeting with soldiers who've been through it, and it shows. Kudos also to the writers and storyliners who didn't let this drop and fade away. If he doesn't get any awards for his performances, there is no justice.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Defending Corrie

There's been so much garbage in the media lately about Coronation Street - low ratings, bad accents, too many gay characters, and all of it's pure rubbish. As reported on t'other blog, ITV has stoutly defended it's flagship soap. Some question why they even need to. I reckon it's because the media, once they've got something in their grip, don't want to let it go and they all pick it up and run with it. Nothing better to do, I guess.

I've been enjoying the show of late.

Do I like all the characters? No, but then I never do. I've never liked Norris Cole. I've never warmed up to Michelle Connor. I don't like Eva Price so far but it's early days yet. I've not always been too fond of Kevin Webster. There's some characters that have always been kind of pointless for me, but partly, that's because the writers never really did much with them so they never really gelled.   (Chris, Cheryl, Russ for a start but they're clearing out soon anyway, and Tommy has never made much of an impact either.)  Since the Graeme/Xin debacle, Tina is getting on my nerves. I can't stand Tracy Barlow and I hate that they've brought her back. Mary seems to have lost her quirkiness of late. I don't like Owen but I'm hoping that Anna will soften him up a bit.

Do I like all the storylines? No, but then that's also normal. I never enjoyed the immigration story and am very glad that's over. I'm not too happy about the return of Dennis Tanner only because they've really not done much with him and I'm afraid he'll get fed up and leave. I've never been all that keen on Chesney and Katy's romance and the direction it's taken. (Oh, and now Fiz is in the nick, have they moved into the house? If so, have they given up the flat? There were murmurings but it's all confusing me.) So far, Sean has had minimal struggle dealing with a little boy, even with Marcus' help. Chris and Maria have not clicked, either but that's nearly over.

As always, most of the actors do an excellent job, whether I'm enjoying the storyline or not, whether I like the character or not. There are always weak links, but everyone has different opinions on what they are. I have never felt that Kate Ford is a strong actor but she's apparently a very nice person so perhaps she is better than I think?

Michelle Collins seems to be a bit weak on the emotional scenes but perhaps that's to do with the chemically frozen features that seem to be increasingly common in women of a certain age although, thankfully, Corrie doesn't seem to have many. I don't mind her Northern accent at all, and since I was only ever an occasional EE watcher, I don't see her as Cindy Beale. And anyway, wasn't that a lot of years ago? Surely she's got past that typecasting now? I'm looking forward to seeing how she and Leanne get on. I think it was a great move to make her Leanne's mother and there's lots of emotional potential there. I really like Leanne and Peter and I feel emotionally invested in them as a family. I'll not like that they seem to be throwing Carla into the mix again but conflict is what soaps are all about. I just cross my fingers that the younger Barlow family will manage to stick together.

I've been enjoying the Stape, and now, Fiz storyline. Some people hate that she's moaning and crying all the time, but wouldn't you if you were in her shoes? Her life has completely crashed around her. She married an asshole and he's done nothing good for her and left her holdling both the baby and the blame. We all know she won't be convicted because it's soap law and as soon as John walked away from the 6 storey fall (oh, come on, it's a soap, you really do have to expect these things!) I knew he'd eventually come back to confess and keep her from jail. That's predictable as well but I'd have been disappointed otherwise. My only fear is that when he does that, Fiz will soften and bleat "See? He does love me!" and forgive him because he's the father of her baybeh! Stupid woman. I hope she gets angry. Really angry, and gives him the telling off of his life. I'll help.

I'm enjoying Sophie's misadventures with the homeless shelter. It seemed harmless enough but then it took a twist and turned out to be a scam. Angry  young man James is about to be revealed as a scam artist. Maybe his father Lawrence was right about him all along! He certainly won't be surprised to hear his son is about to try to rip off his newly found grandfather. I don't think he'll get away with it, though.

I'm eagerly waiting for Brian the teacher to come back into Julie's life. I think he's one of the best new characters. He's feckless and silly and a real classic Corrie bloke and I think he and Julie are absolutely made for each other. I really like her and this will give them more airtime. I love how she's forging ahead and has determined that Dennis Tanner is indeed a relative while Dennis is quite clearly not quite enthralled with her and her antics but is bemused and slightly exasperated in conjunction with much eye rolling. I think the two of them could become quite good mates in the end, though, don't you?

I'm loving the arrival of Roy's mother to put the cat in amongst the pigeons. We've needed the gruff older battleaxe as Greek Chorus, acidly observing the comings and goings from one of the key neighbourhood meeting points. She will be developed and has already shown that there's a bit of a kinder underside to her. She's no Blanche. But then, Blanche was no Ena. I think, in fact, Sylvia is probably closer to Ena's character than Blanche was in some ways. Little by little, they're having her make "friends" with a few of the older characters who are including her in their circle at the Rovers. There were rumours of a romantic triangle between Dennis, Rita and Emily but I rather think Sylvia may replace Emily in that, if it happens, though I still have a hard time wrapping my head around Dennis being old enough to date women in their 70s as his peers!

The breakdown of Steve and Becky, while it saddens me, was probably inevitable. He is attracted to women like her but they are loose cannons and very self destructive. Has he not made a connection to the fact that Tracy has been instrumental in both of his most recent marraige blow outs? Steve is weak and spineless, he always was. It's frustrating seeing him buckle under the least little bit of pressure from any of the women in his life but that's who he is. I never used to like his character but the actor has come along so well and about the time he and Jim started the building business, about 10 years ago or a bit more, I started to come around. As Steve matured (and I use that term loosely!), the actor has really settled in and Steve is now one of my favourites in spit of, or probably because of his flaws.

I miss Liz but since she's barely been on screen for over a year, her parting was less of a wrench that it would have been. I wish she'd have been able to go off happy with Jim, though. That made me a little sad.

Although I hated the Molly-Kevin affair, as did we all, you have to admit it had a lot of far reaching consequences. I'm very afraid that Sally will soften towards Kevin and take him back. After what he's done, she really shouldn't and I don't care how much history they have. She may be a shrew, a snob and a pain in the arse, but Kevin doesn't deserve her and he doesn't deserve to get his whole family back after his betrayal. I shall be very disappointed if this happens. I love Sally always sniping at him and cheer every one of her backhanded remarks at his expense. I do find it hard to believe that he and Tyrone could possibly continue to work together.

In a real world, Tyrone would have sold his share back to Kevin and left. It would have been too difficult working with the man and too hard to see that hated man bring up the baby he thought was his. It's not the real world, though, so sometimes things just have to be accepted. I'm glad they're going to give him a new love but i don't think it will be smooth sailing and so it shouldn't at first.

One last thing I'm really loving (yes, I know this is rambling on!) is Kylie and David. I always enjoyed Paula Lane, I think she's a fabulous actress and the character of Kylie is great! One of those you like to hate because she's so gobby and full of attitude. Perfect for David who really gets her. And I love her battles with Gail, the mother in law that is a carbon copy nearly, of her own ex mother-in-law, Ivy, the woman that couldn't let go of her children because her own life was empty. I've always liked Gail and I'm just chuffed that she's still getting great storylines. It looks like Helen Worth is having a lot of fun with this one!

There's a lot more that I like about the show, lots of characters, and other storylines but I've run on long enough for today. Watch this space!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Praising Dennis Tanner

ITV, Thanks for bringing back Philip Lowrie as Dennis Tanner. Now for heavens' sake, DO SOMETHING WITH HIM or you're going to lose him!

While I only "know" Dennis via videos of old episodes, I'm absolutely tickled to bits that they've brought back this classic character. I think it's amazing that we've now got two on screen characters from Episode 1.

Dennis Tanner was always a "Jack the lad", a cheeky charmer and he's lost none of that. Though we don't see too much of him, what we do see is absolutely magic. Philip Lowrie is such a natural, and he's slipped right back into character as if he's never left it. That's a gift and the RADA trained actor certainly has it in spades. The episode where Dennis and Rita discussed his mother, Elsie Tanner, and her final days was magic. It was only a little scene but Lowrie put so much into it that I really believed Dennis was going to cry at one point. Grief over a lost parent doesn't leave you, even over time and that was more than evident.

We're supposed to see some sort of triangle between he, Rita and Emily according to spoilers and I hope they follow through on that. I always thought that Emily had a bit of a crush on Dennis back in the day though he was a good 10 years younger. He's younger than Rita as well but by the time you are all pensioners, it doesn't really matter.

Dennis was homeless and Rita's giving him a place to get back on his feet. I'm sure he must get a pension but knowing Dennis' propensity for schemes, he probably got way over his head in debt, leading to his bout of living on the street. I'm a bit baffled as to where Rita found all the clothes he's been wearing but perhaps he's had them stored somewhere or been carrying them all about with him in bin bags. He was only homeless for about 6 months apparently so likely was able to stash his belongings somewhere or other.

I'd like to see him rent one of the older flats that are still empty such as Janice's or the soon to be empty Tina's over the shop. I'd like to see a bit more interaction between he and Ken. They were polar opposites in the day and didn't have a lot in common but surely they could find common ground now. They would have a shared childhood, after all, though Dennis would have been the younger of the two. (Linda, his sister, was Ken's age, and Elsie's oldest)

I'd not like to see the character wasted. Do something with him. Give him a storyline other than winding up Norris. You can't keep a man like Dennis down for long, give him a new scheme to get involved in. Having him be a relative of Eileen and Julie is great so I hope they do establish that. It gives him more of a connection and more characters to play off. Dennis hasn't mentioned that he ever had any children so this would give him a proper family even if they are not closely related. He could make friends with Jason. The lad could use a father figure, someone to confide in. Let's have some of the other neighbours reminisce about Elsie with him. Gail lived with Elsie, after all and Deirdre knew her as well.

Come on, ITV, give us more Dennis please!!

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