Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Monday 24 January 2011

Coronation Street: 2010 Annual Report

Reprinted with permission from Corrie fan Dave Lee. Follow him on twitter  davelee1968

What with tram crashes, canoe man copyists, multiple murders, dream sequences, factory sieges, bible-thumping lesbians and a ruined theme tune it’s been a landmark golden anniversary year in Weatherfield – but has it actually been any good?

The year in Corrie started with the World’s wettest man, Joe McIntyre, getting even wetter when he decided (probably quite sensibly) that a life spent on the lam was preferable to waking up next to the chinless visage of new bride Gail every morning. Thankfully for all of us he drowned while ‘doing’ a canoe man on his boat in the Lakes. How they managed to afford to buy and maintain a motor cruiser and take holidays in glitzy yuppie cabins while she worked as a receptionist and he owed untold thousands to a money lender was never fully explained but as long as he was definitely dead no-one seemed to care. And at least this lead to Gail’s imprisonment and the consequent return of Corrie’s grade A superbitch Tracy Barlow, first to fake a prison cell confession from Gail and then, later in the year, to arrive back in the street for 24 hours that saw her piss off everyone in sight and get her brain stoved in by France-bound widow Claire – a woman who could show Joe a thing or two about going on the run in style.

The much vaunted tram crash was (a couple of Thunderbirds-like model shots apart) actually quite well done. Certainly you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen for the entire episode, mainly just in case John Stape murdered someone else ‘accidentally’. It was a chance to rebuild the set and write out some deadwood very stylishly taken. Stape himself has been desperately annoying this year, partly because he can’t seem to put the kettle on without killing a wronged acquaintance but mainly because his lie-cover up-lie-cover-up duotone existence has become inordinately repetitive and wearisome. At least when he was just Rosy Webster’s pervy teacher-turned-kidnapper there was some amusingly stupid lines from the wittily christened ‘Dozy Plebster’ to enjoy. Now Stape just sweats gratingly through each new escapade like Robin Askwith playing Fred West in a bad Ray Cooney farce. I feel for the poor script writers. Imagine their dismay when they have a storyline involving ‘sweaty’ Stape short-strawed onto them. A recent episode was scripted by Jim Cartwright – the creator of, among others, Road and Little Voice – and saw him forced to pen a scenario where Stape conceals evidence of his latest bumbling murder (suffocating a pensioner whose son’s identity he had stolen) by pouring soup into his pockets while pretending to be a parcel-less delivery man. Cartwright must have visibly wilted when he realised what he’d signed up for. Really, has all the money from the film of Little Voice gone, Jim?

Back with the Platts, Nick’s brand new 1980’s style club/ bar/ diner/ sex office lasted about a fortnight before being mashed by the tram, leaving scorch marks on the viaduct wall alongside those still in place from the near-identical car crashes of one-legged kidnapper Don Brennan and Dev’s mad bird Maya. Someone should really apply some flame-retardant paint to that viaduct wall before David Platt has another convenient epileptic fit and smashes into it while trying to squash a love rival - expect that one around June time.
In the salon, Audrey fell for plummy man-prossie Lewis until he snogged Deidre, robbed the bookies and nearly ran off with all her cash. Fairly predictable but at least a welcome diversion from the pointless pregnancy/ abortion/ fake pregnancy yawn-fest involving the sauce bottle-shaped hairdresser known in our house as ‘what’s-her-face?’ and the slightly more entertaining concurrent illicit romance between her feckless paramour ‘skinny’ Nick and the street’s most unlikely ex-prossie Leanne.
Death-wise, as well as Joe we lost Molly (mad-stare midget, won’t be missed), Ashley (meh), Jack (get some rest, eh Bill? You’ve earned it) and the very much missed Blanche. Maggie Jones created a truly wonderful character and the soap handled her real life passing with great sensitivity. They also gave us a quite magnificent moment when Blanche sent Norris a sublime parting shot from the grave at the reading of her will. Best line of the year by a mile. Incidentally, a far more dramatic storyline for Molly would have been to reveal that she was actually pregnant by factory-exploding staremaster Tony Gordon as the resulting sprog would surely have been a dead ringer for one of the sea devils from 70’s Dr Who.
The factory siege itself was pretty poor and along with the tram crash aftermath only served to prove that it’s impossible to be a police officer attending major incidents on Coronation Street. Rather than trying to deal with whatever situation you’ve been called to, you spend your entire day dragging various members of the cast back behind the cordon through which they’ve just burst in an attempt to ‘help’ you. What the Weatherfield police need is some yellow tape that says ‘for heaven’s sake, stay there and let us do our job – your histrionics are not helping’.
In other news, Sunita left her very eligible new chap and a vast red brick palace in a leafy suburb to move into matchbox sized No.7 with  Dev, a man as inexplicably attractive to women as Steve McDonald and with an acting style pitched somewhere near Shatner with the DT’s. Norris was held prisoner by the frumpy fruitcake whose name no one can remember in a Bronte country cottage. Becky and Steve bought a kid in a dull storyline that’ll fall apart by Easter. Sophie and Sian lezzed off but the writers fudged the reaction of the Bible believing Corrie residents so that the whole thing invoked nothing more than a shoulder shrug from most characters. The introduction of the street’s first disabled character Izzy and Peter Barlow’s current wheelchair confinement apparently mean that Coronation Street has been mysteriously transformed from a cobble-strewn wheelchair nightmare (without a dropped curb or ramp in sight) to something apparently easier to navigate on wheels than the Top Gear test track. And weirdly there’s dwarves everywhere. You may not have spotted it but someone pointed it out to me months ago and when you look there’s loads of them inexplicably padding out the back of scenes. Probably an in-joke or maybe they’ve always been there, invisible until Corrie went HD. Trust me, look carefully and you’ll see them, though not around panto season, obviously.
So, all in all quite an entertaining year BUT I have to take serious issue with three very alarming developments. The new titles are OK and suitably HD friendly but the re-jigged music is CRAP. It used to have a gentle, relaxing jazz-tinged lilt that eased you in and out and over the ad breaks, the new version (obviously designed to be quicker to allow for more ads) is like being poked repeatedly in the ear with a rusty cornet. It has no swing and even less charm, get rid.
Also, during the tram crash week, Xmas and New Year there was at least three end of episode montages where tracking shots of various characters dissolve slowly together under either Rita squawking Winter’s Tale (Knox does Essex, available now from Wrongco) or Ken Barlow reading maudlin poetry. Stop it, Corrie, you’re not the Wire – or maybe you’d like to be and you’re simply preparing the audience for a storyline where Dev starts running Manchester’s crack gangs from some boarded up houses on Rosamund Street.
And finally, and most unforgivably, there was Jack’s dream sequence. Dear, oh dear. We all liked Jack and it’s quite right that an ailing actor who’s dedicated his working life to the show be granted a suitably respectful send off but presenting him with a vision of his dead wife and making him dance round the living room with her as the camera cranes out of the window is a crime against credibility akin to the legendary ‘Bouncer’s dream’ madness in Neighbours. As good as most of the past year has been on Corrie (and most of it has been corking) all involved in this particular fiasco should be forced to travel to work everyday by rickety tram while playing ‘Great explosions Vol 3’ on their iPods until they crack up.


Billy Niblick said...

A propos of nowt in particular, did anyone else notice the amount of product placement in the latest episodes? From Wotsits to Curly Wurlys to Absolut, there were many many brand name mentions. I think the rules might have changed. Could mean an end to pints of Newton & Ridley and folk asking in the Rovers for "a bottle of lager, please, Betty" (NOBODY ever asks for "a bottle of lager" in real life.)

John in Cincinnati said...

While I agree with most everything said, I do have to disagree about Jack's death sequence, I thought quite nicely done and touching that he and Vera were reunited in death.

Tvor said...

I thought Jack's death sequence was lovely, too. A perfect ending for both of them!

Yes, i believe the rules for product brand name has changed just recently so we'll be seeing a lot more of it as all the networks struggle to make ends meet. It's probably a necessary evil to contribute advertising money!

I cracked up at the assessment of Dev's acting skills, though.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see criticism of Jack's death in this??? For the most part, I think it's spot on. I agree, the theme music still irks me (I mute for it), and I also think the titles are crap -- hurts my eyes looking at blurry images -- I'd rather see the Corrie set than Manchester streets.

Beth said...

Very negative article on 2010 Corrie happenings. Sadly much I agree with as I think most of last year was focused on the 50th episodes and many of the stories for the best part of the year were sloppy and not true corrie.

It lost it's humour last year and it's camaraderie between characters that have known each other for years. Small little unlikely scenes, like Betty comforting Claire, who were not great mates, but good solid neighbours, there for each other during times of need is what makes Corrie stand out amongst all this drama. You know, the small things that give it the personal touch. Were there other small scenes that have touched you?

There were too many scenes with murders, explosions, kidnaps, baby buying and super far fetched stuff that are even hard to pass in soap land.

Although saying that - the crash and the acting throughout was fantastic!


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