Sunday, 30 October 2011

State of the Street - October 2011

The buried fact of Jason and Tina owning the flat over the Kabin has finally reared it's ugly head but only so that John Stape would have a place to tie up Rosie and try to persuade her to testify to his crimes so Fiz will get off. Yeah, right. It was contrived of course but then you could make the argument that a lot of the Stapewich Chronicles was. Now, after yet another kidnapping,  Rosie can be smug and bray that she told them all so, yet again. Because it's all about Rosie, right?

It was kind of funny watching John and his flow charts and diagrams and explanations, trying to teach Rosie all the facts surrounding all the murders and crimes. Yet again, though, John continued to blame Rosie for it all, didn't he? She was to blame for his downfall. It wasn't my fault, M'Lud! Why didn't John just write a letter and send it to the judge or something? That would be too easy.

Except now it's all over but the legalities. It's so frustrating watching a trial when the testimonies all get twisted and turned around on the testifiers. You can see the case building up and you can see all the people that mean well have what they say turned into a death sentence when we all know Fiz is innocent. Innocents don't usually get sent down but Fiz was convicted on circumstantial evidence on the same day John's car crashed, persued by enraged Kevin Webster (but then, when isn't he enraged?). He manage to gasp out his confession to Fiz and hold his baby before he died and the lawyers are going to have to hash it all out but you know Fiz will walk free. There's too much reasonable doubt.

Fiz blamed herself. And in a way, she's right. She got sucked in by Stape and he manipulated her emotions. If she hadn't taken him back, she wouldn't be in this position.

Kevin thought he was in there with Sally after spending one night with her. He made up with Pam and let her take Jack for the night so he and Sally could talk. Of course he thought she was going to take him back and he got a shock. He thinks it's only because he told Sophie and jumped to conclusions but of course he is again not accepting responsibility and he's using guilt, bringing the girls into it as well. I do get the feeling Sally's conflicted but in my opinion, I really think she needs to be apart from Kevin. I'm not altogether sure Jeff is the right one but he might be ok for an unserious relationship. A bridge, so to speak. Now Kevin's back to glaring at Sally from the garage or across the Rovers. I don't want them to get back together but in true soap fashion, that could still happen after the long game.

It seems Tracy is having twins and Steve, probably out of excitement, thinks it's a good idea that he and Tracy give it a try together. He just doesn't want her to have an abortion or run off with Amy. And she's being all mature and reasonable, making out she's a changed woman. Now we all know that's bollox and she's a nightmare, evidenced by her throwing Becky's infertility in her face. Poor Becks, I do feel sorry for her. She may have been somewhat the author of her own misfortune, with her jealousy and stealing the money to pay Kylie off after the crash but it takes two and Steve isn't completely blameless in their breakup either.

Where *is* Kylie anyway? And David? They've dropped off the face of the earth and back into the forgotten storyline cupboard after one visit with Max awhile back. Presumably, she's still visiting the lad. Is David as well? He should be so he's not a stranger for Max. Inevitably, Kylie will probably get Max back. I predict a Christmas joyous return.

Carla hit rock bottom, and is dragging herself back up. It's hard for her to keep relying on people, she's not used to that. Now she has to battle Frank in a he-said she-said rape charge and she's got to battle his mother in the factory and Frank is doing everything he can to get his revenge to ruin her. I don't think Carla is going to give in though, she's risen from the ashes before and she'll do it this time. Frank raped her and he will pay for it. Setting up on his own, nicking her laid off workers, taking business away. Will Frank be able to ruin Carla altogether? Of course not. She'll fight him tooth and nail and she'll come out on top in the end, I'm sure of it.

In the meantime, Peter keeps sniffing around her and to me, that's really sending mixed signals. How on earth is Carla supposed to move on if he keeps hugging her and caring for her? Under normal circumstances, if they'd only ever been just friends without either of them having feelings for the other, it wouldn't be a problem but her feelings are well known and he shouldn't be encouraging it, not just for her own sake either but for the sake of his wife! I can't blame Leanne for going off on him. Her jealousy isn't unreasonable this time around. He's got form.

Why did Eileen have to get involved with yet another loser? It's too bad because I did like Paul but chronic losers in love are never going to be happy. The storyline has a twist, though. His wife his Alzheimer's. So it's ok to carry on with someone who's wife keeps forgetting all about her husband anyway? That's pretty low, isn't it? I mean, I can see how hard it must be for him and how lonely he feels with his wife physically there but not. Still, though, he should have been up front about it. It's a tough spot to be in and purists would say he's married and that's an end of it. But sympathetically, and emotionally, that is one man that badly needs a mate. Eileen's right, though, they'd end up in bed. And because this is a soap, she'll justify it through her sympathy for his plight and that's exactly what will happen.

And in case you've been away, or hiding in that storyline cupboard, you already know we've lost Betty Driver at the age of 91. She will be missed very much. Betty could steal a scene with a raise of an eyebrow and a reshuffling of her blouse over those matronly bosoms and light up the bar with a laugh. Her character's death will be written into the show and we'll have a proper sendoff for her on screen. I shall start stockpiling hankies now, I think I'll need them.

So all that hullabaloo about bringing Pam and Bill back on the show to what... shove them back in the cupboard again after Bill has a heart attack? What the heck was that about? Was that putting the spin on the bad publicity because they were unceremoniously let go? TPTB (The Powers That Be) didn't want to seem like they were being callous so they tossed the fans a bone? Will Bill and Pam be back? I'm guessing probably not or only briefly if we are to see a wedding. They'll have the ceremony and fade away yet again. Why bother? Well I know why. It was contrived so that Sally could give Kevin a pity shag giving Kevin a reason to leap to all sorts of conclusions.

Sally, luv, cut out the dead wood. Kevin is dragging you down. I think these two are going to be the Ken and Deirdre of the future. Don't know what to do with them? Get them back together or split them up. Surely there's more to them than that? Maybe they should have put Sally together with Paul the fireman, dealing with his tough marital situation. Or maybe Anna could have developed sympathetic feelings for Kevin instead of Owen? What would you do with these characters if you wouldn't put them back together?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Goodbye Mr. Chips

I can just see the writers in the back room of a pub somewhere in deep Salford, a bottle of the hard stuff on the table, a laptop open, and pissing themselves laughing at all the twists, turns and bizarre little details they've come up with while writing the saga of Stape. This was their final shot, the worm at the bottom of the bottle of tequila.

For those that don't know, there were two classic movies (based on a book) about a much beloved teacher called Mr. Chips, the name John used to book the flat viewing. The most famous of the two was called Goodbye Mr. Chips. Brilliant!

We've seen the end of John Stape. For real this time. I always knew he'd be back after that swan dive off the hospital roof, but I actually thought he'd do the right thing and turn himself in. Or, if he was that concerned about going back to prison, (or the psychiatric ward) why didn't he write a letter? He certainly spent enough time documenting all the timelines on charts! But noooo. John had to commit one last crime and kidnap Rosie, who of course would go along with any scheme he would dream up. Wouldn't you?

Ludicrous of course. And contrived. But oh, so appropriate for the ending of a story with more twists than the F1 track in Monaco. "Pour another round, lads, what else can we dream up to do with John Stape?"

I have to say it irked me to no end seeing John hiding behind a tree when Fiz arrived at the courthouse. I called him more names than can be uttered in polite society. He skulked and lurked and you could see the madness in his eyes but that's not why he couldn't persuade himself to do the right thing because when has he ever?

Everything he's ever done was self serving. I won't go into the history because I've done that many times. You can tell he'd gone completely bonkers.  After all, he'd been hiding out in Anglesey. Case proven, M'Lud! Actually, I jest. It's quite pretty there and in fact, the actor himself spent some time there over the summer so sightings of John Stape near the battlements of Beaumaris Castle could be true!

With his deathbed confession (to the lovely DC Redfearn, no less!)  leaving things up in the air while the solicitors and police mull things over, are we to be biting our nails worrying whether there will be a miscarraige of justice? Oh, of course not! It's a soap. Fiz is innocent and justice will prove her so. Besides, even though John is dead, I refer you back to the aforementioned charts and lists and the quizzes he was making Rosie write up in the flat. Surely that backs it all up so it's not just Fiz's word even if Rosie's word is considered hearsay?

Maybe now that John is gone,  Fiz can find some sort of life for herself. I'm sure it will be a long time before she can trust anyone. Chesney and Katy have been living at her house, maybe they should all bunk in together with both babies and be one big happy family for awhile. It will keep her mind off things.

I've enjoyed the Stape saga, though I know some have not. I loved the farce, the black comedy, the ludicrous twists and turns and I've enjoyed hating John Stapewick. Kudos, Graeme Hawley, you were brilliant!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

We'll all miss Betty Driver

Another of Corrie's legends has passed away. Betty Driver died on Saturday morning and the Rovers Return will never be the same. I know I'm a bit late jumping onto the blog wagon with this but I still wanted to mark her death on this blog. I've been reading everyone else's and didn't get round to it, I guess.

I've been watching Corrie since 1989 and of course, Betty has always been there. She harumphed, she criticized, she scolded,  she joked and had a laugh. She was always a comfort and had a wise word for those who needed it and always took pride in her hotpots. I wonder if anyone has ever counted over the years how many times Betty has quit the bar in a huff, waiting until someone inevitably came on bended knee to beg her to return? Quite a few in my short memory, mainly via Alec Gilroy and the Duckworths but a few others have been on the receiving end as well.

She did not suffer fools and she told it like it was. Yet she was kindness itself. One of my favourite Betty moments was her cuddling poor devastated Claire Peacock after Ashley's death. Another of my favourites was when Betty dressed up as the Fairy Godmother for the panto the other year.

The tributes from castmembers current and past are pouring in and rightly so. She's worked on the show longer than most and has surpassed prior legends such as Pat Phoenix and Julie Goodyear and Jean Alexander. 42  years is nothing to sniff at! Rest in Peace, Betty love.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Stella, we hardly know you!

Like Flaming Nora over at Coronation Street Blog, I've been willing to give new Rovers licensee Stella a chance. I've not got prior "history" with Michelle Collins since EE was never a regular show for me and I can barely remember her on it as Cindy Beale. (It's only been shown in Canada sporadically over the years).

At first, I found her a bit stiff and awkward. I didn't find her put-on accent that bad though again, it felt a bit stiff but I thought she'd relax into it as she got more experience and I do think that's happened a little. I can't say I'm overwhelmed by her acting skills and her obviously unwrinkled and frozen features hamper her emotional scenes. (yes, I know that's a bit catty but it's sad that female actors feel the pressure to have plastic surgery or freeze their features with Botox in order to look younger)

But have I grown to like Stella Price? I can't really say. She's not really been on the screen all that much since all the fanfare of her arrival back in early summer.

Stella had a few weeks of storyline where Leanne discovered that Stella was her mother. Angst, tears, anger, longing looks. Then Stella and her fella Karl went on holiday. Gee, how many jobs do you get where you can take off weeks after you start?

Stella came back and there was a bit more angst between she and Leanne and then she got knocked over by a drunken Carla. She lie in hospital a week, woke up, sat on the sidelines of the pub or lounged in the back room where we hardly saw her. Things seem to be better between she and Leanne but, Oh Wait! She and Karl are off on holiday again so she can recover. She's been employed as bar manager for about 4 months and between hospital and holidays, she's actually done her job for about half that time.

So what was the point of her big arrival? But how can we warm up to her if we aren't given the chance? You can hardly make fans and influence people if you're never there. Is Ms. Collins finding this acting gig more difficult than she expected? The Powers That Be were fully supportive of her when the media and fans showered criticism on her for her acting and accent but how are they feeling about her performance now?

Stella needs more storyline than reciting her past history and being a stereotypical advise-giving Landlady. She is the Landlady of the Rovers Return, the heart of the show. She needs to be front and centre and involved in storylines, not just on the peripheral. She needs to make friends. Stella has made a connection with Carla, maybe the two of them can be mates. Carla certainly needs one and Stella really hasn't made any close friends yet.  She needs to let her hair down with a bottle of wine and a few of the other ladies on the Street. I think Gail could use a gal pal. She's got Sally but you never see them hanging out much anymore. Maybe Stella could give Gail a few hints on how to handle a stroppy daughter/daughter-in-law!

I do like Karl, he really seems like a natural and he's obviously devoted to Stella but we need to know a bit more about him, too. Stroppy daughter Eva is just annoying at the moment though I did like her new friendship with Kylie. They seem suited as mates. Let's see them hang out more.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Webster Chronicles, Part 753

Last week, Sally called Kevin "devious". She's right of course. He always was. He was always able to use passive aggression to work his wiles on Sally and it looks like he's tried it again. Did you notice that look of triumph when she said he could stay one last night? How he preyed on her emotions and they ended up in a clinch? Kevin always thinks sex solves everything. And if it doesn't, a healthy serving of guilt just might do the trick.

Even when Sally had found out about the affair and the baby when Molly died, Kevin sunk his teeth in and tried everything he could to keep Sally from throwing him out and he used the first opportunity that came along, his injury, to get his feet back under the table. Surely, she'd realize what she was missing and they'd get back together? Surely?

He keeps saying "I made a mistake" Well... yes he did but it was a very big one and yes, both of them are guilty of affairs in the past and have overlooked and/or forgiven the other for it but this one seems different, deeper. Sally knows Kevin would have left if he hadn't found out she was ill. That's probably the part that cuts the deepest. I never felt Kevin was truly in love with Molly and finding out about Sally's illness thumped him back to earth brutally but it was too little too late.

It's the thing that bugs me most about soaps, the never ending back and forth between a couple that's "meant to be". Horse hockey! When couples have gone through what they have in real life, there would be no going back. The writers say the fans want the couples to stay together so they put them back together and then break them up again because happy couples are boring to watch on television. So instead, we have endless circles of the Websters. Ken and Deirdre are another couple like that. It's almost as if they don't know what else to do with the characters on their own. If one actor isn't leaving the show, the writers will inevitably put these "star crossed" couples through their paces endlessly.

With that in mind, not because she should take him back, but because the writers will make it happen, Sally will probably take Kevin back in the end and raise Jack with him. More fool her. And him, probably.

Read a character study of Sally Kevin and a blog post about the loves of Sally and Kevin, Part 1 and Part 2.

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