Sunday, 16 October 2016

An explosive week ahead in Weatherfield . . . again

There's been a great deal written about the wonderful Jean Alexander over the past few days both here on the blog and in the papers. I was struck by her comments, made several years ago, about how she no longer recognised Corrie as the same show she had been a part of. Those gentler times had indeed gone forever. It's very easy, as a fan of the show, to be swept along by memories of yesteryear in Weatherfield. Yes, they were different times, harder in some ways and Corrie provided us with a cosy, humorous antidote to the sometimes grim, grinding realities of life in 1970s Britain.

I hold my hands up and admit quite happily that I would still enjoy storylines where Gail and Suzie hard-boiled the eggs being laid by Hilda's hen, where a couple of Rovers barmaids end up in the middle of a lake and where the entire community gets together to put on a Christmas show. All very lovely but hardly a representation of life in twenty first century Britain. Corrie is a very different animal now and so are the demands on what the show has to offer. Five episodes a week, every week couldn't really centre themselves around tales of Mavis Riley's budgie problems or Alf Roberts having sat on a Christmas pudding. There have to be set pieces every now and then.

Coming up this week is yet another opportunity to wheel out the word 'explosive'. No doubt it will be.  In the hands of actors of the calibre of Jack P. Shepherd and Helen Worth, it should be a treat and who knows, there might be a few twists and turns along the way . Why then does it all feel a bit 'meh'? Is it a case of one explosive plot too many?

Maybe this inertia is partly the fault of the 2010 tram crash, the daddy of all big bang weeks, which served up drama 'par excellence'. Everything that's followed has been in its shadow and often involved characters who, dare I say it, we were not all that bothered about. So, the Rovers burns down with Stella inside. So what? Victoria Court detonated itself taking Kal and Maddie with it. We hadn't really invested much in them by that point. In addition, we have to suspend reality like never before. We have to dig deep and truly believe that the Tilsley-Platt-Rodwell crew will blithely carry on with their lives despite numerous murders, attempted murder, brain injury, mental health issues, teenage pregnancy, abortion, long-lost relatives popping up with the regularity of spring daffodils and a matriarch who can't pass a church without whipping out a veil and marrying the next unsuitable man with a pulse.

The over-the-top action weeks don't seem to be used sparingly enough to make them into 'appointment to view' telly. It's a dangerous path to take and one that led to Channel 4's Brookside running out of steam at the turn of the century. Credibility would only stretch so far and it soon became a joke when yet another helicopter crashed onto the shops or a murderous cult began to ensnare local residents. Not that I think Corrie is anywhere close to that level of ludicrous behaviour. Employing the 'explosive week' plot device is fine as long as firmly enhances the drama and provides an aftermath. To spend the next few episodes watching shenanigans in a basement and the race to stop David from becoming a human torch would be wasted if he ultimately backs down and has a little weep on Gail's shoulder. It would be nonsensical.

Do we need Corrie, or indeed any soap, to be more realistic? Are we hankering after the days of Annie Walker's whimsy, Rita and Mavis putting the world to rights over the Kabin counter or the factory girls going into battle against Mike Baldwin? Or is it right that Corrie should portray people living in contstant turmoil, people like Tracy for whom there is no redemption and men at odds with the world like Roy?

Jean Alexander was right. Hilda Ogden would have been an alien being, out of place in a Weatherfield fuelled by murder, immorality and angst. Hilda definitely belonged to those gentler times. We turn back to those times probably because we were younger and maybe felt safer. It's an age thing, seeking sanctuary in the cosy world of yesteryear. In twenty years time there will no doubt be a sea of Corrie fans looking back at 2016 with that rosy glow of nostalgia.

For now though, sit down, buckle up and prepare to journey into the unknown with David Platt.

David / Clinkers to Riddle. 
On twitter @bridglondon

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Humpty Dumpty said...

Interesting read. I still feel pretty glum about Corrie but, you know, early days. David will survive unless they've tricked us with the news of his 'six figure deal'. One possibility is that he is eventually sectioned which could be an interesting story if handled right. The BARB figures are misleading but that's what people go by. They show that Corrie is lagging behind East Enders by roughly a million. I couldn't care less but presumably the new producer has to pull out some stops to catch up.

Clinkers (David) said...

I'm really hoping that they do something innovative with this storyline. The last decade has been one long boom bang-a-bang of exploding shops, factories, houses and cars. Sometimes less is more and let's hope the new producer curbs the over-dramatic excesses.

John said...

A hankering for the good old days can be a dangerous thing sometimes David. Look at Brexit and Donald Trump.

Ancient corrier said...

As brilliant as Jack P has been, I'm so fed up with this Callem thing, it has gone on and on and ON. I don't care anymore I just want it to end.
A lot of characters are being sadly underused and I miss them.
If a storyline goes on too long they run the risk of viewers losing interest.
But I have to say there has been a huge improvement since Kate took over, long may she continue.

Anonymous said...

After watching classic Corrie episodes festuring Hilda in memory of Jean Alexander,I do miss Corrie of old as those episodes did reflect the dramas of day to day life whereas now with the 'explosive' weeks and bed-hopping storylines it's become an American 'fantasy' soap opera.
For example if the writers really wanted to reflect reality,then instead of being pregnant with a drug dealer's baby[who's become invisible ]Sarah could've been infected with HIV instead.Now that would've been a dramatic that would make Sarah sympathetic instead of the self-centered so and so she is now.

Maricha said...

I think the attraction of explosive storylines is greatly exaggerated. A show like this has to have people consistently tuning in for years on end, for that to happen more intimate and quaint stories are needed.I would have been just as interested in tuning in if David was merely depressed and suicidal because his wife had died because I think of him as the dad who was sewing Max's lamb costume for a play. Having him intend murder by fiery car might attract some gawkers for a few days but I doubt they'll stick around.

Anonymous said...

When I think about it, I don't think the altercation between David and Lauren's father was a one-off. He'll likely keep doing anything possible to destroy both David and the rest of the Platts any way he can, which (not knowing David's plan) will lead to his own death. Then you'll have Lauren and various to be introduced family members calling for vengeance, possibly with her father being condemned as an insane nutcase for "blowing himself up trying to kill David".

So long as nobody else dies, David could probably get away with it, like how Tony is still officially the one who killed Callum. Though in this case, it'd probably be David deciding to stand down from killing both Clayton and himself, being pulled out of the car and attacked by Lauren's father out of nowhere and then the car decides to explode, killing him and severely injuring David.

Maricha said...

Now that would be quite the fiery death and resolve that Lauren storyline because he should have been reported for assaulting David.

Anonymous said...

I've watched Corrie on and off since the 80s. Even though there has always been drama, there was a feeling that you'd want to hang around with some of those people, meet and have a drink at the Rovers, maybe even want one or two of the characters in your life. Now, I don't have that feeling at all. I still watch, but if that street existed in real life, I'd stay as far away from it as possible. It could just be my idealized memories, but it used to feel more like a reflection of everyday life. It definitely doesn't feel like that now! Yeah, I know, I'm an old fogey. lol

Anonymous said...

I think what is bothering me lately is that I don't feel any connection with the characters that are involved in the "explosive storylines". They mostly come across as self-absorbed & delusional. No one has the courage just to step back, take a deep breath and do the right thing instead of butting into everybody else's business or trying to control the situation. The characters that I do enjoy seeing on screen don't seem to be involved in any major storyline. That doesn't seem right. Shouldn't the show have a balance at least part of the time of highs and lows? Perhaps if the major storylines were to evolve rather than just thrown in with a sideline of some nice street happenings as in the guys in the garage, Fizz & Tyrone, Audrey & Freddie.

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