Saturday, 28 November 2015

State of the Street - November 2015

As it's the end of the month, as always, I like to look back on the storylines that particularly made an impression on me, either good or bad, along with a few other random comments.

Roy found Cathy well over a hear after Hayley died. Their friendship started slowly and bloomed into something a bit more. But mere weeks after Deirdre's death, Ken is now stepping out with a new woman. While everyone has their own experience living with grief, it's difficult for fans to accept that Ken would find a way to move on so soon. It happens, though, and more often than you realize. I think I might have been able to accept this if it had been Audrey who, inexplicably after decades, discovered that her friendly feelings for Ken have grown into something more. But the new woman in Ken's life is Nessa, Cathy's sister.

And I might even have been able to accept Nessa if the situation had developed similarly to Roy and Cathy's, with a friendship that turned into more, similar to how it looked like it might with Audrey. But Nessa relentlessly pursued Ken, knowing he was recently bereaved. It had nothing to do with extending the hand of friendship and support like Audrey was doing.

In my opinion, that's the stickler right there, the reason I dislike this pairing so much. You know how people have contempt for "ambulance chasing lawyers", or people that cash in on others' tragedies for their own gain? That's what this feels like. I know Ken was overwhelmed, reeling and very sad and lonely. I don't believe he'd have gone looking for someone just yet. I think Nessa presented herself on a plate for him and he, being lonely, accepted it.

And where's Alex, her son? What does he think of all this? I suppose he's used to his mother chasing men. Nessa impresses me as very self involved and selfish, determined to fill the hole in her own life with someone, anyone single and a vulnerable new widower seemed like just the thing. She's not even that nice. Her crack about Simon needing a good slap instead of being sympathetic rubbed me the wrong way, too. It felt like a reaction to the attention not being on her. The sooner Ken sees her for the selfish cow she is, the better.

Rant over.

I *loved* Liz's revenge on Tony! Perfectly executed. It was a bit odd that she didn't confide in anyone but then it might have been more difficult for her to pull it off. Probably good that Steve wasn't around, too, because I wonder how much more difficult it would have been for her to stick to her plan, while seeing her son get more and more upset with Tony and Liz apparently getting back together.

There are an awful lot of Connors in the show now. The new lot had a bumpy start with clients and cheap material and there still seems to be far too many crowding into the office. Poor Alya had to move her desk out on the factory floor. They made Sally the supervisor instead of the PA but you would think with that many of them, a good PA would be exactly what they'd need. Alya is going to end up being a glorified PA instead of a manager trainee at this rate. Far too many cooks in the kitchen, if you ask me.

Then there's Kate and her fiancee. Kate came in the show all excited because she had a fiancee but now she's getting cold feet about setting a wedding date? They've only known each other 7 months and most of the contact they've had would be over the internet rather than in person. Sounds like rushing in to a committment, to me. I expect that means Caz won't be around long and they'll throw Sophie and Kate together. It might actually work, though. Sophie's been so dreary for so long, with bad choices in women since she and Sian split up. Maybe Kate is a great match. Kate's sparky and lots of fun and Sophie sure needs that in her life.

And now that Sophie is a business owner, that gives her a good future. Not sure why they have her dressing like Carla Connor now though. Hanging around a grubby garage isn't really the place for designer, or at least brand new high street clothing. And where did she get the cash for this new wardrobe? Maybe Sally funded her, to give her that business woman look. It would be just like her.

After all the angst with Simon, Leanne has finally told everyone in the family the truth and she's making an attempt to get Simon the help he's needed for months. About flaming time! That's what has been so frustrating about this whole storyline. I suppose it's realistic, though, because people in that situation don't ask for help when they should. Ken even told Peter and I notice that he didn't jump on a train immediately to come see his song like most parents would. No dialogue that said he offered to, either. One of the reasons simon's in this state in the first place.

Leanne had Simon sent away to Peter for 8 weeks. I did wonder about school. Did he get school work sent to him? Did he transfer to a school there? It's one thing that Maria took Liam out of school to go to Cypress to help her mother but he's young enough that it probably isn't going to have much impact on his progress. At Simon's age, two months means missing a lot of school, the difference between passing a year and failing unless he's a genious. He's clever but I don't see him as a top of the class kid.

I was glad when Zeedan got involved as a big brother sort of figure. That is going to be good for Simon and I hope they don't forget that aspect. What Simon doesn't need is another father figure, not given the history Leanne has with doomed relationships. 

Now the storyline seems to be leading to Leanne and Robert's growing close friendship. While it makes sense, they work together, it's also predictable. Leanne has a new enemy in Tracy but I found Tracy and Robert very tedious together. He's been boring and bland. I don't care how often he says he "gets" her, and how wel he says he knows her, accepts her, warts and all, he doesn't know the woman she is now. She may have had similarities to the woman he married. She was always selfish and sharp tongued but she's grown into a very dislikeable woman, manipulative, aggressive, nasty and vindictive. He's starting to see that.

I think Tracy, like Liz, works better with a bit of a rogue. Nice guys do them no favours and they get bored after awhile. Tracy's clinging on to the past, reaching out to someone she was happy with at one time while she's reeling with the grief of losing her mother.

There were other storylines this month. Nice to see Steph and Luke get something to do even if it was more Luke than Steph. The blackmailing Jamie was suitably icky and pathetic. I thought Steph would have made quick work of him when she found out but she handled it very differently than I expected and it was a good way. She was shocked and hurt, dignified and she used their past against him, played on his guilt. It wasn't enough. He was desperate. She called his bluff and lost but she had him arrested and his girlfriend found out what he was like, too. Maybe this storyline will make naive women think twice about letting a partner take racy photos. You might trust someone at the time, but people break up and the internet is forever.

The Platts have had a bit of a rest, with Sarah away and Gail away some of the time. David and Kylie are still dealing with the aftermath of guilt and secrets and it's having a bad effect on their relationship. David's coping by being cold and Kylie can't get her head around his attitude. But he wasn't the one that took Callum's life, she was, and it's hard for her to deal with the guilt. There are a lot of people out there that believe Callum isn't dead, that he got out before the hole was filled. I can't see how they can leave him there forever. The truth has to come out and that may mean we'll lose Kylie. I'd hate to see that. It was self defence but the coverup is what would do her and David in.

Time will tell.

Christmas is coming. There's always drama along with the happy families. Will we get a Christmas Miracle regarding Hope's illness? I'm betting we will. There will be smiles and probably tears. There will be happy faces and probably one or two lonely ones as the bells ring and the clock rings in the new year.

Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Revenge is Sweet

One of the staple storylines in a soap is the love triangle. Another is revenge. Sometimes one is a result of the other but not always. The most recent revenge storyline in Coronation Street was about love but also betrayal of a different kind.

Let's recap: Tony Stewart and Liz McDonald are a couple. For the first time in a long time, Liz seems to have picked a man that she was really passionate about. That's probably because Tony had a dangerous edge and Liz likes that in a man. She gets bored with the good guys after awhile. As much as I really liked she and Lloyd together, he wasn't exciting enough for her. Tony was.

Tony also had a good side. He's matured since he and Eileen split up years ago. He finally came back into his son Jason's life and wanted to have a real father-son relationship. He had bridges to build and slowly, he did it. He financed the builder's yard for Jason and he bailed out Steve when the tax man came knocking after Steve's illness caused him to overspend and ignore the pub's finances.

But like most men on Corrie, Tony was weak, too. He started to feel a bit taken for granted, a bit used and he was ripe for the picking when Tracy Barlow wanted comfort after her fiance was nicked for murder and jailed. There is no love lost between Tracy and Liz, long time adversaries due to Tracy's history with Steve so having a fling with Liz's fella just added to the enticement. But Tracy got greedy and started to infect Tony with her need to lord it over everyone. She wanted the Rovers and she knew how to get it, by using Tony as her man behind the scenes.

Tony pretended to be in financial straits which would be solved if Steve paid back the money Tony loaned him. But Steve couldn't afford to do that. Tony found a company that would buy Steve's share but would leave them to manage it. Tony owned that company of course. He bought half the pub and got his loan returned as well. Sweet. Now he had to convince Liz to sell her half and he nearly succeeded.

Michelle was heartbroken that they would lose the pub even if they got to stay and run it. Her BFF Carla offered to buy Liz's share and they stopped the sale at the last minute. The day after the offer was made, Steve and Michelle got married and went on honeymoon so they never found out what Liz discovered the day of the wedding, that Tracy and Tony had an affair and were behind the takeover of the pub. Tracy was so pissed off that they lost the chance of owning the pub at the last minute that she went straight to Liz and spilled the beans. Tony skipped town before Liz could confront him but he knew she knew because of the message she'd left him.

Carla never did actually sign the papers, it turns out, so Liz still owned her share of the pub but Tony owned the other half. Tony came slinking back a few months later, very sorry. Nobody was willing to forgive him, least of all Liz. Tony persisted. He was willing to do anything to win her back and make it up to Steve, too, in the name of keeping peace in the family.

Little by little, Liz seemed to be coming around. She accepted that he regretted his lapse in reason with the affair but it was harder to get her head around the scheme to take the pub away from her and her family but Tony thought he had finally talked her around and so did everyone else. It was almost believable. There were no side looks over Tony's shoulder, no narrowing of the eyes or maniacal wringing of the hands or  twirling of the metaphorical moustaches involved. Bev Callard was far more subtle than that. Viewers thought they caught a glint in her eye now and then but couldn't be sure.

A number of viewers had predicted that she was luring Tony in for the fall, me included. That pub means everything to Liz and she would defend her family like a lioness. For me, the definitive moment was when she told her friends who were trying to make her see sense that she had to do what she had to do. I thought that if it was real, she'd have proclaimed something about following her heart, and a lot more passionately than she was doing. It almost felt like grim determination when she said what she said. I thought "A ha!!! here it comes!"

Sure enough, here it came. After she verified the contract that Tony signed, handing the pub back to her and Steve completely, Tony thought he had proven himself to the woman he loved.  She didn't expect Tony to then go down on one knee and propose but it probably made it all the better. She exposed him in front of everyone in the pub because that's what you do, isn't it! Publicly humiliate someone. And he deserved that at the very least after what he'd done to her.

Tony was shocked. He was confused. He looked around and saw surprise turn to glee on the faces of Liz's loved ones. They weren't in on the plot. Even Liz and Tracy Barlow seemed to be in agreement for once. Liz, a normally honest woman, took a page out of Tracy's book. She schemed and lied like a pro even though it was hard for her.

She persisted and she came out on top. Tony knew he was defeated. He didn't even get angry that he was duped out of the pub. He'd cleaned Tracy's business bank account out to get himself out of that partnership and that's pretty much all he was walking away with. And walk away he did, calling everyone pathetic on the way out. Not much of a dignified exit but it was all he could muster.

The champagne cork was popped. Liz and Michelle celebrated as did Steve who was in Spain with his brother. Liz didn't have regrets. If it had just been an affair... but it was more than that. She found it difficult lying but did what she had to do.

Revenge is sweet.

Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cathy and Nessa - The Sister Dynamic

Cathy was introduced to us first, on Coronation Street. She was brought in as a recent widow, shy, not very confident and having had her world tossed upside down by the loss of her husband of many years (wasn't it 30 or more?). She probably had the hoarding habit before her Alan died but his death brought it out in full force. It wasn't all just junk either, it sounded as if she had been on a spending spree, particularly in second hand shops, picking up old items that might be useful someday. She was living amidst clutter that rose so high in some parts of her house that she had to climb up to look out the window and, likely do to this over spending, the bailiffs were at the door.

Roy Cropper lent his support and their friendship and his encouragement seem to have settled her down. She's enjoying life again and looking to her future with a glimmer of hope. Tyrone, Fiz and Chesney packed up her living room but presumably the rest of the house was still aclutter when she moved back in. The hoarding hasn't been mentioned and neither have the bailiffs, something that I guess the storyliners have hoped we've forgotten. I expect now that she's moved home, she's making an effort to clear out her house.

Enter her 28 year old nephew, Alex who showed up at the cafe one day. How he knew that she was living there, we were never told but presumably she did mention it to Alex's mother, her sister, Nessa. But Alex didn't tell his mother where he'd gone. He might be 28 but he's also got Down's Syndrome and once we met his mother, it became clear that she's got a tendency to be overprotective of him, something he seems to be chafing against. There may be a point, though, because he doesn't seem to understand how worried his mother would get when he takes off without notice. In my books, if you're living with someone, you let them know if you won't be coming back overnight or if you'll be later than expected.

Now we meet Nessa and we can see that the two sisters are very different from each other. Where Cathy is quiet, artistic, sympathetic and kind, Nessa is jolly, outgoing, selfish and vibrant. Cathy was married for 30+ years, but Nessa, a live wire, was divorced and is being portrayed as a man-eater. She's certainly enforcing that with her single minded persuit of recent widower, Ken Barlow. That in itself will tell you that she's not thinking of anyone but herself. This isn't a friendship blossoming like Audrey's feelings, this is a woman determined to latch on to a single man, never mind that he's still in heavy grief over his late wife. She's acting a bit like a preying mantis, and Cathy, who values her new friend Ken, is embarassed.

Cathy and Nessa have already had a few confrontations over her persuit of Ken and Cathy has expressed several times that this is not a new thing for Nessa. If she was a man, we'd be calling her a ladies' man who can't keep it in his pants. Calling her a "man's woman" doesn't have the same effect so we use a more mysogenistic term "man eater" which is unfortunate but does get the picture across.

Aside from her unwise quest, I do like Nessa. I like the actor and the character's personality that they've created. I also like the sibling dynamic between Cathy and Nessa, the bickering and the exasperation each seems to carry for the other. Siblings are often very different from each other and quite often there is one that dominates and one that feels pushed to the corner, overwhelmed and jealous of the force of the personality of the one that's always the center of attention. As children, that's difficult at times.

It's also not unusual for that jealousy to hang on into adulthood. It may temper down a lot as the siblings mature and live their own lives but there's always that little fleck of it in the background that rears its ugly head now and then. Cathy was probably always envious of Nessa's ease in social situations and jealous that she always had lots of boyfriends and friends where she herself probably only had a couple of close mates. Perhaps Alan was her first and only love. She wouldn't regret that at all, looking back but as a teenager, while she may have been happy to spend Saturday night in with a good book, may still have been a bit green with her sister rushing around getting ready to go out on yet another date, wishing it were easier for her to talk to boys and have them like her as much.

And maybe we'll also find out that Nessa was jealous of Cathy and her long time stable marriage with a man that loved her very much. Maybe each of them regarded things in the other that they wished were part of their own personality or lives. Nessa loves her son but Cathy never was tied down to the responsibility of a child nor had to bring up a child with disabilities. Cathy would have loved to have a child dearly under any circumstances although if Nessa has always been as flighty as she seems, I think probably Cathy was a second mother to Alex.

I will be interested to see if more of the sister dynamic is explored at all, even if just in dialogue during an argument or conversation one of them has with someone else, that will reveal more insight to each woman. I am not sure I'd like to see Ken and Nessa go the distance only because Nessa isn't really that sympathetic by running after Ken. He's a lonely, grieving man and wouldn't have looked twice at her as other than a new friend but she's determined to draw him in and I can't help thinking it will end in tears.

Meanwhile, it's amusing to see Audrey having Nessa, her rival, working in the Salon and flirting with Ken right under her nose. I can't wait for Tracy to find out and I think Nessa might have met her match there. I don't know how long Nessa is meant to be with the show but I wouldn't mind if they kept her on even if the duo with Ken doesn't last.

Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Let's talk about Sophie and Kate

Sophie Webster is 21 and now owns a share of the garage. Let's forget for the moment, the complexities of who owns what of the business. Sophie has been lingering behind the counter of the corner shop for years now and many fans have continually bemoaned the fact that she's lost any ambition. She was a bright little spark in school and was in college when it all fell apart. The aftermath of the tram crash had it's effects on her life and she definitely seemed to be experiencing post-traumatic stress.

To remind you: Her mother had just recently recovered from breast cancer. The aftermath of the tram crash revealed that her father had an affair with Molly Dobbs and fathered a child with her, a child his best friend and business partner thought was his. When Sally found out, the marriage collapsed. The media tends to use the word "reeling" to the point of it being meaningless most of the time, but in this case, Sophie really was reeling in the aftermath and found it difficult to focus on school. Her girlfriend at the time, Sian, became impatient after awhile and Sophie soon left school altogether, to work in the corner shop.

Since then, she's been coasting. We fans have been frustrated that she never went back to school or done something more with her life like travel. I think she tends to be snappish, rude or "mardy" because she's probably not really that happy but now, as a part business owner, maybe this will be the making of Sophie Webster. I think it could be. She'll have those men whipped into shape in no time and have that garage running smoothly and efficiently. At the risk of sounding cliche, Go, girl!

We don't know much about Kate Connor yet, but what I've seen of her so far, I like. She's cheeky, she's a bit spoiled and she's a Daddy's girl, She seems to have a lot on the ball,  a fairly good judge of character and quick to size someone up to find their strengths and weaknesses. She sure had Beth pegged when she had a bit of fun flirting with Kirk!   It strikes me that she and her father are very alike, which is probably why they are close. She and her brother have affection but also have that sibling rivalry, a little sister always taking digs at her big brother, knowing exactly how to wind him up. I think she'd defend him fiercely if the situation called for it.

I'm looking forward to meeting Caz, her fiancee and seeing how that relationship dynamic works. Since Sophie is gay as well, the chances are that the Powers That Be are going to throw a romantic triangle in there somehow. Caz is in the military and is away a lot so perhaps that's the sticking point in that couple and Kate will find herself lonely and looking for company. While it does sound like a typical soap cliche, I think there might be potential in a Sophie-Kate partnership.

What I don't like about soaps is that these things are often thrown together. If this is going to happen, I'd like it to develop slowly. Kate is a few years older than Sophie but not a lot, like Jenna was. I think the two of them could be really good friends and I would like to see it start there and not turn into a romance for awhile. A much longer while than soaps usually play things. I'll probably be disappointed in that wish.

But you know, putting them together just might work anyway. Maybe Kate can give Sophie her sense of humour back. They're young and Kate, at least, clearly knows how to have fun and Sophie has needed that for a very long time. I don't think Sophie and Maddie had that. They always seemed so serious and earnest. It felt like Sophie always took care of Maddie who was younger and vulnerable after a rough upbringing. They were a sweet couple but I think Sophie and Kate could be really good together, as grownups, on a more equal footing. Probably the first relationship of that type since Sophie was with her best mate, Sian.

Right, then. It's very early days and this new relationship may or may not come to pass but at this point, this is me coming out in support of it, if it happens. Sophie has been floundering and I think her time has come. I think I could learn to like Sophie a lot and I already like Kate.

Bring it on.

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