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

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Five Things We Learned In Corrie This Week

Act your little heart out.  I'm going to shock you now, but the people on Coronation Street aren't real.  I know, it was a surprise to me too, but I learned the truth the hard way when I tried to assault Richard Hillman in the pet food aisle of Altrincham Morrisons.  The subsequent trial taught me that these are in fact actors, people who like to express human emotions for money, though this is easy to forget when you see more of them in an average week than most of your own family.  

Often Corrie becomes a kind of exposition machine.  Person rushes into shot, they reveal something shocking, the other person reacts, they storm out in a huff.  Next scene, next plot, keep moving.  It doesn't have time to let things land.  Except on Monday, when the entire first half of the second episode was devoted to Fiz and Tyrone, and it was fantastic.  I have had no time for this awful Alina storyline over the last few weeks but it's almost been worth it because it produced this two hander.

Alan Halsall and Jennie McAlpine took the script, worked with it, and actually acted.  When they had room to breathe and think, they produced compelling drama simply from two people talking.  They were thoughtful, they ran through emotions from shame to anger to regret - they took Ian Kershaw's script and turned it into a tight, fascinating scene.  You don't need gimmicks, you don't need explosions, you don't need psychopaths trying to dangle babies off bridges.  Put characters and actors together and let them do their jobs with a well-written script and that's more than enough.  Monday's scene managed to actually make me invested in what happens to the Dobbs-Stape family, and hope that they make it through.  (I reserve the right to start hating it again if Tyrone continues sniffing round Alina though).  

Don't clap, she doesn't deserve it.  Leanne needed a disguise so she robbed Aggie's nurse's uniform.  I'm really curious about her thought process here; did she know it was hanging out to dry?  Was it premeditated?  Or did she just nip down the ginnel in the hope that she'd find something worth having?  I'm mainly interested to know what she would've done if the uniform hadn't been there.  Would she be going to drug drops in James's football kit?  Or Kevin's bomber jacket?  I'm now imagining her loitering in a back alley wearing one of Gemma's low cut spangly boob harnesses.  She'd have looked even more like a prostitute then.  (Can we take a moment to appreciate the hilarity of Simon simply sighing "are you back on the game again?" at his mum?  He was so casual about it.  Oh look, my mum's gone back to being a sex worker, guess I'm making my own tea tonight).

Incidentally, Wethy Gazette, it's a tram STOP, not a tram STATION.  Although I can see why you'd be confused, what with Weatherfield North having two manned ticket windows, even though that's not a thing they do on Metrolink.  No, I will never let that go.

BANTZ BANTZ BANTZ.  Are we still doing this Evil Todd vs Billy and Paul storyline?  It's been going on for what feels like years; I swear Todd was still Bruno Langley when this all started.  This week he took it to new heights by going out on the razz with Paul in that awful hotel bar set I'm sick of seeing.  I know there's a pandemic on, we're in lockdown, filming is restricted etc etc, but could they not hire one of the closed pubs at MediaCity for an afternoon to give us a change of scene?  Wipe down a corner of the bar at the Lowry with the antibac and film it there, put the crew in masks, just let me look at some different curtains for a change.

A few months ago, Russell T Davies (who got a namecheck in these episodes!) said that there is an authenticity when a gay actor plays a gay character, which is why he cast the excellent It's A Sin with out performers.  Watching Paul and Todd chat in Friday's episode it became clear he had a point.  Jonathan Harvey had supplied them with some great gay banter, the kind of casual bitchiness that is effortlessly swapped in bars across the country, and it was deathless.  There was no spark or nuance to it - despite the lines themselves being funny, they fell onto the carpet like dead weights.  Playing gay is more than playing a straight character but swapping the pronouns; there's a lifetime of experience that need to be conveyed too.  I'm not saying it's impossible for heterosexual characters to play gay - the aforementioned Bruno Langley did a great job - but you have to work that little bit harder and immerse yourself more deeply.  You only have to look at how Antony Cotton and Daniel Brocklebank handled Harvey's dialogue in the same episode - Sean danced over the phrase "I've got me lallies up on a leatherette Lay-z-Boy" deftly in a way I don't think Gareth Pierce could've managed.  

Before the comments are filled with gay viewers telling me that actually they spend their weekends watching the football and scratching themselves and they've never listened to a Kylie album in their life, no, I'm not saying that every homosexual character has to be a flaming ball of rainbows.  I'm saying that the dialogue between Paul and Todd and Jimmi called for a certain kind of gay banter that just wasn't there, and they should've perhaps employed a Queer Consultant to advise the actors on that particular scene.  

I smell a spin-off.  Aadi and Amy took time out from studying for their exams to bring down Cathy the internet troll.  It took them barely an afternoon with nothing more than the username "Lemon Drop" and yet they soon had her banged to rights, trawling websites and social media to nail their suspect.  Admittedly they were slightly off, and blamed Brian, but it's all the same IP address. 

ITV needs to immediately greenlight Alahan & Barlow, a six-part detective show where they bring down cyber criminals in between attending school.  It could be like Veronica Mars but with more hotpots.  My fee for this amazing idea is £500,000 and a producer's credit, ITV: you're welcome.  

Ain't no valley low enough.  Daisy continued her project to be the most unpleasant human being on Planet Earth this week by joining up with Sean to con people out of their savings.  "I kind of like ripping people off" she gleefully announced, a sentence that would only be uttered by an actual psychopath.  Any normal person would've backed away slowly, possibly while making a crucifix with some bar mats, but Sean is so in love with the idea of making money he immediately took her on board as a co-worker.  He tried to get a bit of sympathy from Eileen by confessing that he spends his nights worrying he's going to end up under a viaduct again; he then immediately started spending cash he didn't have which is exactly how he ended up homeless the first time round so it's clear he's learned absolutely nothing.  (Do you think Carol, his homeless friend who provided assistance for him while he was on the streets, turns up in those nightmares?  Or do you think he's entirely scrubbed her from his mind?)  Sean is apparently taking an apartment in the Redbank development.  I'm sure Adam and Sarah-Lou will be thrilled to learn he's their new neighbour, and won't worry that his arrival has knocked ten grand off the value of their flat.

That was all a bit serious, wasn't it?  Sorry.  If you're missing all the usual innuendos and jokes about people's hair, follow my Twitter account @merseytart, because that's pretty much all it is.

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Anonymous said...

Another great summary, Scott.
I felt the same way you did about the Tyrone and Alina stuff but this week won me round and added depth and heart to what at first appeared to be just another run of the mill affair storyline.
The long, uninterrupted scene with Fizz and Tyrone talking about the state of their relationship was well written, honest and deeply relatable to anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship.
It was reminiscent of classic Corrie and proves that character moments are still just as important and compelling as they were thirty years ago. I hope to see more scenes like it in the future.
The possibilities for two-handers are endless but my top pick would be Carla and Peter – a couple who really could do with talking things out!
In covid times when the show is limited in what it can do, now would be the perfect time for Corrie to strip back to basics and return to its roots of ‘kitchen sink’ character-driven drama, because as exciting as the explosions and car crashes are, it’s the small character moments that I enjoy most – and given how well received the Tyrone and Fizz scene was – I’d say a lot of viewers feel the same way as I do.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Regarding the banter in the bar, you said it all in your comment "you have to work harder and immerse yourself more deeply". There's hardly any direction because of time constraints. We do see great stuff when it's a particular issue and gets lots of director input or the actors have great rapport regardless of the script. As for authenticity, it was said a long time ago in Corrie that actors were often picked because they fitted the part. It was certainly true of Jack and Vera. Brooke Vincent didn't know how to play Sophie and she says that she was told to 'just play yourself'. The question is: should Corrie invest more director time into the show or should actors be chosen for their innate understanding of the role? Fans will say these people are actors and they should be able to act the part. We've seen several very fine actors turn out to be absolute s*** in Corrie.

Fluttershy said...

Sorry Scott, I totally disagree about the Fiz and Tyrone scene. I found it utterly unbelievable at every level. It was speechifying, and those characters would not have reacted like that. Ty would never have told Fiz in such a callous, offhand way, Fiz would never have reacted so calmly, and Ty would never just sit there and take it. I'd have written that scene in two words - "Get out".

Anonymous said...

I like that idea, but they'd have to scale the number of episodes which I'm totally OK with. The show has gone downhill since the number of episodes increased. Quality not quantity ITV!

dhvinyl said...

As I said to the wife during the Fizz/Tyrone two-handed......look, they’re acting...and they can do it!


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