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Friday, 30 May 2014


Coronation Street, Thursday 29th May

I'm a bit late with this one, but here we go anyway...

The episode started with lots of silence, not unlike EastEnders in the aftermath of Lucy's Beale's death. My favourite thing about Corrie is the dialogue (closely followed by Rita's wig, Deirdre's belts, and the theme tune), so the silence unsettled me a bit. It was good and tension-inducing though, as was the later experimentation with camerawork: point-of-view shots as Rob went to pick up the weapon and the trinkets he'd taken from Tina's flat (one of which he dropped in the ginnel/entry... sleuthing ahoy), and I think there was a low-angle zoom on him at one point. None of this is standard on the Street, but I think a special murder week calls for such variation, and I was not displeased with the effect. I liked Rob's choice of burial spot for the evidence: under the viaduct. Now there's a potential location for a nighttime dig-up / confrontation / screaming match. I bet that stuff won't stay buried for long.

I loved the fact that Rita and David were keeping a vigil by Tina's hospital bed. Actually, I loved the fact that this episode skipped the tedious hospital check-in procedure and Rita's sleepless night, dropping us into the action in the cold light of day. The doctor treating Tina had a lovely kindly, relaxing voice. I don't think he'll be able to stick her brains back together though, sadly. Actually, gladly, given that she's not a real person and as a character she's much more excitement-producing when dead.

Tracy had some good lines, notably commenting on Tina being pretty ("Not any more she's not") and passing comment on the identity of the murderer in an investigative style which would not have been out of place in Sheerluck Holmes, the racist comedy play produced by my secondary school when I was in Year 10. "It's an open and shut case as far as I'm concerned," she said. All she needed then was a group of thirteen-year-old girls dressed as prostitutes (in frocks made by the textiles teacher) singing "Illicit Solicit" behind her to really recreate Stretford's arts scene in the mid-90s. Tracy and Rob's tense agreement to be each other's alibi, while both accusing each other's sibling of the head-bashing crime, is going to make good viewing over the next few episodes I think.

Meanwhile, over at Anna and Owen's, Anna has revealed to the girls that "Real life can sometimes be a letdown". Lots of meaningful glances and barbed comments passed between her and Owen before he went off laying tarmac. Katy was sad that the couple had left the hotel early: "Me dad was proper looking forward to it," she said. Is it just me who thinks that a dad shouldn't be telling his daughter how much he's looking forward to bonking his partner in a hotel room? This follows on from an episode a few weeks ago where Owen cried in Katy's arms because Anna was refusing to do it with him. I just don't think this is a realistic father-daughter conversational topic, and it grates on me a bit. 

There was a lot of Carla brilliance in last night's episode. Top acting, top writing. "You chose to drop your trousers," she said to Peter. He cowered in a sniveling heap. His lines and performance are doing a great job of painting him as a truly self-serving horror. I hope Rob and Carla gang up and frame him for the murder.

Other things I enjoyed in the episode:

- Liz sticking up for Tina.
- The male police officer's short tie.
- Reference to a panama hat. (Is that restaurant Panama Hatty's still there in Manchester? I used to love it.)
- Reference to a pasty. (I think I'm homesick.)
- Kirk telling people he got dropped on the head as a child, but "got away with it."

BUT... where are Kal's glasses? I do like a man in glasses; when he takes them off in preparation for a clinch, he immediately sees his partner in soft focus, which is nice for Leanne (casting no aspersions on her attractiveness, I'm just thinking of the insecure preoccupations which sometimes go hand-in-hand with taking a new lover).

I'm looking forward to the next episode, hopefully the glasses will make a reappearance.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Dead again

Coronation Street, 28th May 2014

Noise-wise, Rob's frightened breathing at the start of tonight's episode was matched only by Tina's very-much-not-dead groans. She fell silent soon enough, of course. Rob eyeing up the lead piping in the skip turned this into a lifesize working-class game of Cluedo. So much more interesting than a bunch of toffs in a mansion; even though there's no whodunnit mystery left for viewers, there's plenty of exciting suspicion amongst the characters.

I loved Rob and Tracy accidentally meeting at the back gate as they both snuck home from their illegal activities. The sound of sirens signalled a mutual agreement to not talk about where they'd both been, for now at least. 

My favourite scene though was Steve trying to cheer Peter up with the thought that it might "all blow over", while Michelle and Liz laid into him, both clutching glasses of Chardonnay. It was like a Salfordian version of Kath and Kim's "wine time", especially when Liz proclaimed Peter a "jellyfish".

Talking of Salford, I've been having discussions on Facebook about Rob pronouncing Ordsall wrongly in last night's episode. I'm surprised that happened... Not Marc Baylis's fault, but there should be a local pronunciation expert to hand, surely? Actually, I've had conversations recently about whether the ginnel (that all-important location) is even called a ginnel in Salford. Some suggest it's called an entry. Further research needed. 

The quick cut to Beth popping a cork at the very moment Rob bashed Tina's brains out was a nice touch. Seems she's hanging on in there though. All that glossy hair must offer some protection. 

Elsewhere, Anna has told Owen about what happened between her and Phelan. Excellent writing and performances in those scenes, capturing exactly what it's like when things fall apart. 

Carla's falling-apart dialogue was perhaps less convincing: a few cliches and un-Carla-ish comments, though I guess cliches are what comes out first in times of real-life crisis. There was one killer line though: "I have never felt so pregnant." It made me gasp.

Peter's lines did a great job of making him come across like a wimp and a chump and a truly deplorable person. Great performances from both actors as Peter finally came clean, seemingly in an attempt to duck any further responsibility for anything, ever again. If anyone wants throwing off a balcony, it's him.

Final mention for Drunk Deirdre, hollering up the stairs to Rob and Tracy's empty bed, then returning to the pub to bash on the lounge door while Peter cowered inside. He really is a jellyfish. 


Big night on Corrie last night. Who knew Kal wore glasses?! I was as surprised as Gail was by this.

Oh and Rob killed Tina, in an accidental manner during a tussle. His facial expression after she fell seemed to say "Ooh 'eck" rather than "Take that, bitch" (he'd have been allowed to say bitch; it was a post-watershed episode).

The tussle went on too long for me really. Tension was waning rather than building as the tussle continued. I could have done with that being a shorter scene. The characters kept repeating themselves (which obviously happens in real-life arguments, but if I wanted to watch one of those I'd knock my lounge through to join that of my unhappy neighbours).

However: a good, engaging episode, and I'm looking forward to the fallout (hopefully lots of sleuthing and screaming will ensue).

Tracy's encounter with the Scouse scally ("Be careful in doze eeeelzz") was enjoyable, as was her driving the van with music pumping out: subtle as ever, love her.

And I'm glad Tina got a chance to mention the stolen hairdryers just moments before her death. I like the hairdryers storyline, it puts me in mind of Valerie Barlow (RIP).

Not sure about the "You could have done so much better Tina *caresses her face*" line from Rob. Seemed a bit half-hearted. I think we're going to be invited to sympathise with his post-murder turmoil, hence not making him too awful on the night.

Plenty to look forward to: Tracy covering her criminal tracks, Peter and Carla as murder suspects (not sure about Peter's uncharacteristic simultaneous honesty and sobriety last night though, and I wish Carla had got more screen-time). And most importantly, will Deirdre ever get a chance to find out what Rob's favourite film is? (EDIT: Just been reminded it was Jaws, I must have forgotten that in all the excitement. Also... THE CAT EXCUSE!? Nice one, Peter.)

Monday, 26 May 2014


That was the fastest, wittiest, most dramatic and exciting piece of TV I've seen for ages. 

Tonight's Coronation Street set the scene for Tina's murder and subsequent tensions. I have to go to bed so here's a quick list of the highlights (no spoilers, don't worry):

Reference to Deirdre's chain-link belts.

Tony's obvious ill-intent towards Tracy.

Tina and Rita's honest conversation in the Kabin.

Liz's instructions on how to drink sambuca.

David doing Tracy's up-do for the party.

Rob and Tracy's celebratory engagement banner (I want that on my wall).

Anna's and Owen's nervousness in the hotel room. I love them.

Leanne avoiding Nick and Gail by inventing a celery crisis.

And of course the brilliant dialogue and performances from everyone involved in the murder storyline. It seemed like the actors were buzzing that it is finally all coming to a head and they gave sparkling, riveting performances. 

Oh, and Norris and Rita's discussion of the engagement card Rita was sending to Rob and Tracy was also enjoyable.

A classic Corrie episode combining high drama and sharp lines. Can't wait till tomorrow. 


Since when has Phil Mitchell been a neighbourhood do-gooder and emotional roller-coaster mechanic? 

In the EastEnders omnibus that I just devoured, he went from telling Max that he wasn't welcome at any of a long list of businesses and hangouts on the Square (he delivered this news with Alfie hanging behind him like an awkward henchman) to later trying to fix Shirley's dreadful family relationships via a session with a cut-throat razor (the scraping put my teeth on edge; I once saw Phil described as a pink Weetabix, and the sound of his face being shaved really reflected that texture). 

The best part, though, was his facial expression when he witnessed Shirley drunkenly apologising to her "baby boy" (on his advice, only it wasn't the boy he was expecting it to be). It was a semi-gormless, cogs-turning face, betraying a flicker of surprise as he mentally pruned Shirley's family tree. Or added a branch. Or trained it up a trellis. This metaphor isn't working, I'll move on. 

Other highlights from last week's episodes included Tamwar pocketing a card from the floral tributes at Lucy's funeral which said "Rot in hell". I sense some sleuthing ahead. Similarly, we saw the policewoman whose name I have forgotten also mentally plotting some sleuthing when she witnessed the public unveiling of Max as Lucy's lover. We didn't get to see Max being questioned about this. I'm quite glad about that really. There's only so much cringe I can take.

Elsewhere, I did enjoy Denise's rather blasé approach to breaking the news to Dean that Pat has gone to the great pineapple ice bucket in the sky, and nobody had bothered to let him know. No wonder he cut his finger on that razor later: delayed shock.

Best of all though, was Max's optimistic placement of a chocolate cake on the kitchen table in the hope it would be the talisman which brought his disgusted daughters back to him. The cake lay untouched as the hands on his pastel kitchen clock whirled round (some nice editing there). I'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't such a complete git. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Weatherfield and Tonga

Coronation Street (ITV)
Jonah From Tonga (BBC)

I was going to start this post by saying that, due to reasons, I never get to watch things when they're actually aired, I always watch them on catch-up. But then I realised that everyone watches lots of things on catch-up all the time, not just temporarily expatriated people.

Talking of which, I am very much enjoying my new subscription to ITV Essentials. For a few quid a month I get all the Corrie episodes on demand, without adverts. It's amazing. I also get Emmerdale (which I haven't seen for years and need to get back into), Loose Women (I do like some of the regulars so will give it a go) and Jeremy Kyle (no chance. He does not deserve my eyes). Expat interests in a nutshell, according to ITV's research. Who am I to argue?

I just watched both of last night's Corries, and am feeling really sad for Carla. She's brilliant, Peter is a mess, and Tina just needs to drop dead (seriously, when will this happen?!). The scene where Carla ended up at the baby scan alone was heartbreaking, and the final scene of the episode where she confronted Peter about not turning up was really well-written and well-performed. 

Meanwhile, Beth's popped off to Latvia for a boob job. Not sure where this storyline's  going. Is she going to run off with a Baltic hunk? Or even better, bring one back (like Deirdre did with Samir)? I quite like Beth, but she's no Cilla. Everyone in her household is a walking yawn apart from her though, so I hope she comes back soon. 

Other recent Corrie thoughts: I'm becoming a big fan of Tim. I love him telling Sally off for being a snob, and I love Sally sort of trying to be nice to Maddie. Todd's become awful in ways I can't get my head around, Steph's brilliant (and I look forward to her inevitable sleuthing once Tina finally dies), and for reasons I still can't put my finger on, I fancy Nick Tilsley. Send help (or a day pass for the Weatherfield Wayfarer, so I can go and get it out of my system).

I'm really enjoying the Lloyd and Andrea storyline, and I hope Andrea's mysterious life turns out to be a good kind of mystery. Maybe she has twin orphaned nephews to care for, or an ageing parent. I wonder what will become of the love square that is her, Lloyd, Steve, and Michelle though. Maybe (hopefully) it'll all kick off in spectacular style.

I do watch TV other than Corrie, by the way. This evening I have also seen the first episode of Jonah from Tonga. I'm a big (big! Massive!) fan of Summer Heights High, to an almost evangelical level (there was not a student I taught during my last year in Argentina who hadn't seen at least one episode of that show). Summer Heights High is actually on my list of the top five TV shows ever (ever!), with We Can Be Heroes (its never-aired-in-the-UK predecessor) probably in the top ten. Chris Lilley has an eye for detail and an ear for language which makes SHH incessantly watchable, brilliantly funny, and incredibly touching. I must have seen every episode ten times and could happily sit and watch them again right now.

Since SHH though, I haven't enjoyed Lilley's other shows anywhere near as much. Doubtless producers/networks have had an influence, as they rightly should, and it seems now that the target audience for his work is much younger. I gave up on Angry Boys after a few episodes, and couldn't get past the first twenty minutes of the recent Ja'mie: Private School Girl, despite having loved her (very well-observed) character in both SHH and WCBH (apologies for the initialisations, I'm writing this on my phone). It seems Lilley's shows now aim for immediate, big laughs, whereas what I enjoyed about his earlier work were its subtle, slow-building qualities and complex characters. And having worked for a long time in education I maintain that SHH is the most realistic school drama I have ever seen. 

But anyway, back to Jonah from Tonga. It is pretty good! More new characters, which helps, and I get the idea that the first episode is setting the foundations for some interesting storylines in later episodes. I wasn't entirely convinced though, until just a few minutes before the end, in a scene showing Jonah at home. I won't spoil anything if you haven't seen it yet, but it was very touching and engaging. Who knows, the series may yet build to the emotionally-charged ending of Summer Heights High, which had me crying massive hot tears the first time I saw it, and has still made me weep on every subsequent occasion.

Chris Lilley is incredibly talented. It's not his fault I'm not a teenager, I suppose. I'd love to see him do something more like his earlier work, but perhaps the demand (or money) isn't there.

His acting is amazing though; the way he portrays characters of different ages, sexes and cultures is incredible. We Can Be Heroes is the best place to see him do that. Buy it! It's really ace.