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Sunday 29 October 2017

When Weatherfield gets weird

Nothing will ever, totally diminish my love of all things Corrie. Like any fine relationship though, it has its ups and downs. I staggered through the woefully dull mid-80s storylines when the height of excitement was Alf Roberts plonking his backside on Sam Tindall's Christmas pud. I endured the tedium of late 1990s Zoe Tattersall, her 'bay-beh' and the dull cult. I even ploughed manfully through Graeme Proctor and his marriage of convenience to a woman so bland that I don't even recall her name.

This week though brought about one of those moments when I would have gladly sewn my eyelids together with fish wire. Or happily have spooned out my brain with a soup ladle in order not to remember Friday night.

It's the culmination of several weeks of cobbles-based weirdness which has left-me somewhat slack-jawed and dead-eyed. Six episodes per week may be a bonus for some but to find yourself squinting at catch-up at 5.30 a.m. drains the series of much of its joy. Plus there is the ever-changing cast. It ebbs and flows like the parting of the Red Sea. Characters enter and then exit stage left at such a pace that they may as well be on roller skates. When  they do stick around, at times they seem unrecognisable.

Mary, bless her, seems to be galloping through personality changes like a decades worth of Doctor Whos. Mad Mary became Caring Mary and has recently morphed into Kidnap Mary and Hellish Mother-in-Law Mary. It's off-putting and a tad bizarre. Of course, she's now coupled with Norris who we could at least rely on to be sour and camp. Nowadays he sits in the Rovers mumbling and looking forlorn. Maybe he's trying to work out what Vic Reeves' character is supposed to be, much like the rest of us.

Then we we were served up that oddity of a storyline where, apropos of nothing whatsoever, Liz decided to be nasty to Peter and Toyah. They gave her a job for crying out loud but being Liz there's no gratitude whatsoever, only some stagnant non-event of a story involving beer and a gay director from the brewery. Ho-hum.

There are inconsistencies all over the place. Bravo to Rita for surviving major brain surgery with her wig intact. Brace yourselves for a long goodbye which, given the current propensity for odd storylines, will end with her singing So long, farewell at her own funeral.

The whole Anna Windass farce is playing out nicely. In a decade she travelled the distance from dollop-in-a-track suit to Mother Earth to shrieking sandwich filler to smug wannabe social worker. Enough already. The woman is being trashed in a similar manner to the hapless Sunita a few years ago. Thankfully though, Anna's not heaving her baps into every scene. Well, only the ones she's slicing and buttering for Roy, a character who seems to now exist on the periphery of Street life.

Still, we should take some pleasure in the renewed chumminess of Steve and Dev. Steve's currently working his 'perennial loser' persona, aided and abetted by Comedy Dev. Yep, we're into another round of bog-eyed bellowing from all concerned. Give it a couple of weeks and the pair of them will be hurtling down the cobbles in clown suits on a comedy car. Add to this the lovely Moira. To some of us though she is and will always be Helen from The Archers. I keep expecting her to start banging on about milk yields, fermented foods or that silly old time when she tried to stab her husband to death. Instead she trundles in and out of the medical centre office like an out-of-control flymo.

Then there's the faktry  - or lack of it. Still no explanation as to how someone could nick a roof in broad daylight. Never mind eh? Instead we can revel in the machinations of the fashion industry, as played out by Alya from the comfort of her own living room. Sadly, she's about as interesting as a piece of old flannel hanging off a bush. Her moral compass is pretty much knackered as one minute she's 'with the girls' and the next, it's 'up yours ladies'. There has often been a feeling that the storyliners  don't know what to do with Alya and currently, it shows.

To Pat Phelan then and a tour de force of a performance from Connor McIntyre. He's undoubtedly Corrie's most watchable baddie and in a different league to pantomime killer Tony Gordon or the slightly camp drugs lord, Jez Quigley. Nope, Pat is up there looking down on the lot of them. As joyous as his portrayal is though (murder one minute, prayers the next), the second episode of October 27th will, for me, go down as one of the most uncomfortable and unnerving half hours of soap ever. Superb though the acting was (Oliver Farnworth - take a bow), the entire programme felt wrong. As a stand alone, late night drama it would have been perfect or maybe as some Corrie spin-off. However, as part of regular Corrie it felt wrong. The story has taken the show to a different place. It inhabits a world of wonky camera work, uneasy relationships, fear, hatred and cruelty. Had this taken place during Corrie's golden era then no doubt we would have enjoyed Annie Walker keeping Fred Gee hostage in the Rovers cellar, Maggie Clegg cleaving off Jerry Booth's hands in the Corner Shop meat slicer and a heroin-addled Bet Lynch suffocating on her own beehive.

Corrie has always been a bastion of light and shade when it comes to storytelling. While no one wants to be fed a diet of overweight grocers flattening plum puddings, neither does this particular viewer want to spend half an hour in a pit of despair. That's EastEnders' job.

By Clinkers to Riddle

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Maricha said...

I completely agree with everything you said Clinkers (David) except that all this has diminished my interest in Corrie.
The fact is that this isn't the sort of storytelling that drew me to Corrie and kept me returning to it since the seventies. Corrie is now like any other evening program that makes up for its superficial treatment of characters by having them take jarring decisions. That sort of mediocrity can pass on a weekly show that airs half the year but a continuing drama has to have top notch writing, not just top notch acting.
If Corrie isn't actually being produced in slap dash fashion then it's wasting resources because the result seems to be put together on a whim with personalities, motivations and all elements of continuity tossed aside in order to shock.There's no point in learning to know characters since they never act according to that anymore. I've gone from rushing home to watch Corrie in the past, to now switching to see if there's something less tedious on and forgetting to tune back in for the rest of the episode.

Unknown said...

A great blog, more or less sums up the feelings of the majority of Corrie viewers at the moment.

Lily Bigfield said...

I enjoyed this blog far more than I am enjoying the programme at the moment. You've summed up my feelings very eloquently and put a smile on my face with your usual wit and sense of humour. Thank you!

maggie muggins said...

I totally agree, Clinkers! Well written summary of the horrible state of things on Corrie now. Your humour helps with the grief I feel when each week I realize that the Oates era is still with us.

Sometimes I don't even remember new characters names before it's time for them to finish their storyline and leave. Every time I saw Shona and Nicola in the same scene, it felt like the universe might implode, as they look quite similar and will never develop as brightly as Becky and Kylie. To me they felt interchangeable.

I'm going out on a limb to disagree with the majority of polite fans who say the Phelan and Andy acting was top notch. I think both actors rose to the occasion because they were given so much late night type dialogue and production dollars to work with (gallons of blood, grime, rat wrangling bills, forest locations for chase scenes, dingy factory to die in, etc.).

Don't get me wrong, I think they have the skills. But if you give a hungry aspiring actor opportunity, most all will work their chops off to deliver. That's why I can't agree it was an acting highlight of the year for the show. Why don't we give kudos when an actor gives their all in ordinary daily scenes on Corrie? This was too entwined with the blood and violence, so was diminished for me. These two actors are not new young'uns. Both have TV and stage experience. I don't feel we need Big and Huuuuge Corrie Shocking Stories to bring out the best in them.

What's worse about Friday's double helping of horror was that it's given Oates a ton of media attention, put her in the spotlight. Unfortunately for us "There's no such thing as bad publicity".

Humpty Dumpty said...

I agree with this blog and also with maggie muggins. Nicola and Shona look too similar although now Nicola's had her melt-down, they may be easier to distinguish. They were both very bland. I've posted before, like many others here, that the latest turn in the Phelan storyline, didn't belong in Corrie. It feels as though the producer and co want Corrie to be all things to all people. You want sit-com? Don't watch a real one, we've got Dev and Steve for you. You want issues? Bethany's grooming story. Crime thriller? Phelan and Andy. Too much, too much.

I take maggie muggins point about the lack of recognition for some actors. Where actors have had huge input from the crew, it's to be expected they will be excellent. Thinking here of Michelle's baby, Bethany's grooming, Phelan. The ones that stand out for me are those who can turn their hand to anything - big storylines, comedic scenes. Roy/David N is a worthy candidate but Sally M/Sally D is stand-out fantastic. Even now, when she's got hardly anything to get her teeth into.

Anonymous said...

After twenty odd years of loyally watching the street I switched off in April. I have kept peeking at the blog in the hope that there will be something which reignites my love for Weatherfield but sadly nothing does. This sort of news is the final nail in the coffin. Tony Warren must be spinning in his grave. - Micky

Jonathan said...

It's kind of ironic that the same people who complained endlessly about the Stuart Blackburn are now complaining about Kate Oates. It seems some people are never satisfied. Frankly i think some fans just want a Heartbeat style soap. Where the most exciting thing that happens is someone can't get a loaf of bread down the corner shop.

Maricha said...

If Oates isn't better than Blackburn pointing it out is truthful not ironic. The chief complaints about him was that he created incongruous storylines at the expense of character history and development and the result was depressing. I'd say that having a psychopath go about his crimes with next to no interference on a street where neighbors once knew everyone's business is a continuation of that problem, not an improvement.
Wanting a months long kidnapping to end without a gratuitous double murder hardly means I would have preferred they sing Kumbaya at the Parish.

maggie muggins said...

I don't recall ever complaining like this during the Blackburn years, Jonathan. Heartbeat? That's a police drama. Gentle, yes, but it's not a soap and was a weekly show, solving each crime in one episode. Anyhoo, there's a big chasm between that and torture, beatings and death with a firearm within earshot and almost in view before the watershed.

Jonathan said...

@Maricha The reason why Phelan has so far gone about his crimes is because he's very good at lying and picks his targets carefully, why do you think he went for Vinny/Harvey rather than Daniel, because disappearing Vinny/Harvey is a a hell of a lot easier than disappearing Daniel. In the case of Andy everyone knew he was flying to Portugal so by sending a text saying that he'd dumped Steff meant no one would miss him. As for people complaining during Blackburn, virtually every comment on here was complaining about him. As for wanting a Heartbeat style drama, is you just want a drama that doesn't do anything challenging and is basically comfort food.

abbyk said...

I wouldn’t want a steady stream of episodes like last nights but in reality, sometimes people find themselves in terrifying situations. It was so much more interesting and, IMO, believable than say the Underworld bus teetering on the cliff. I could identify with poor Andy. What would I have done? Once in a great while (every few years, not every ratings sweep!!!), okay and it better make sense and be as well done as what we saw this week.

I agree with Clinkers about characters out of character thing and ridiculous situations. The thieving Vicar, the kidnapping granny, the once fabulous landlady who bamboozled her neighbors, Fiz spending the cancer cash, why??? Keep characters in character unless there’s a life changing moment As far as stories go, we’ve had our out sized moment of the decade, time to rein it back to normality. There are perfectly good stories we aren’t seeing — Sean & Norris at home, Mary & Norris’ new marriage, J&J rebuilding the fakery, bright Bethany dropping out of school (really, Audrey, instead of a salon job, you coulda shelled out for tutoring or maybe private school). Instead we had 6 months of Eva stealing stuff from Aidan now followed by Moira the world’s most annoying roommate, another single lady with one night stand pregnancy while the couple can’t conceive, and a widower playing tonsil tennis with his wife’s murderer’s mom. Of the non-Phelan stories, the only one I’m liking is Rita’s operation, and w/o spoilers, I think I can guess where that’s going. Oh well.

I need a coffee.

Maricha said...

My point is that Phelan is quite the opposite of good at finding targets and his continued good luck is down to writers having all the other characters act, well, out of character.
He returned to the street where two people he abused still live-Anna and Gary. No matter what these two say about him, no matter how obvious their dislike, everyone they interact with acts deaf, dumb and blind and shows no real suspicion of him, not even Faye. He picked on Kevin who saw right through him for a few weeks but then completely forgot that since the fire. He stole a sizeable amount of money from half the residents and even Rita, who held a grudge over a lousy hundred pound scratch ticket, never has a thing to say about losing 150 times that amount? Eileen who- rightfully-never had a good word for Tony is suddenly unable to discern any of Phelan's many flaws despite his losing her beloved Jason's inheritance? He's not a good liar and he regularly loses his temper yet he gets away with his dubious explanations because no one ever actually presses him about anything. Not one person has gone to see how far along the condo building site was, not then,not now, not ever, even though they collectively owned it and it was in the neighborhood. Why was he able to acquire a house when there should be multiple creditors after every last hammer and nail he owns?
I'll give you that about Vinny not being someone who'd be missed but Steph, who had no real reason to leave aside from Andy wanting to, would have asked about his whereabouts since she knew about his feud with Phelan.She wasn't the sort to forget it just because of a breakup. Andy vanishing but Phelan being free and clear would make no sense to her. Why wouldn't her brother who had a lead on where Andy might be never follow up on that even when he had absolutely nothing else to do?
It's all these inconsistencies that add up to Phelan's storyline not making any sense either as a crime story or as part of a continuing drama. Oates removed all the real obstacles Phelan should have had in his path just so she could drag out this storyline indefinitely without actually challenging anything but viewers' patience while diminishing the credibility of several characters.

Humpty Dumpty said...

I've discovered that good points are made on here and then get lost when new blogs arrive. Anyway, I looked back at this blog out of curiosity and saw Maricha's last comment. Very well put and one of the most glaring inconsistencies was nobody bothering to check out how the building works were going. It's one thing to get ripped off when your new build is in Spain but this one was in Weatherfield. Phelan and Vinny wanted Cllr Metcalfe onside so we know the property wasn't far away.

Derelict Cucumberpatch said...

Yes I agree Humpty, with all you say and totally agree, Maricha's last comment is excellent.

Jonathan said...

@Maricha For a start Phelan managed to successfully blame what went wrong on Vinny, he was probably able to get the house cheap as it's a derelict. As for the residents trusting him do they when Yasmin put Daniel onto Phelan she clearly stated she wasn't very fond of Phelan, Micheal Rodwell, nor Andy before his imprisonment didn't trust him either. Remember when Ken lost his rag with Phelan he stated that I employed you despite your reputation around here. As for Eileen he clearly took advantage of someone who was grieving for Micheal.

Where's Emilly?? Reading this post I hope! said...

This was bar none, one of the funniest posts I've read in a good long while! I think YOU should be writing for Corrie. Your summary was absolutely hilarious and true. Thanks, you've almost made want to stop fast forwarding.

Humpty Dumpty said...

You know, this is great fun! Now that I realise old blogs (or is just this one?) go on long after they've slipped off the screen, I shall be forever trawling for Maricha's comments. In fact, I think s/he is masquerading as a commenter when, in fact, s/he is a disgruntled former Corrie writer who got fed up being made to write the proverbial.

Anonymous said...

I thought Phelan got together with Eileen while Michael was still alive. I seem to remember he basically stole her off of Michael and gloated about it openly in his face.


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