Sunday, 17 July 2011

Coronation Street (ITV1, 04/07/2011)



This is the first in an irregular series of posts, carried out as a duologue between two AWOTW writers, Tom May and David Lichfield, whilst we were watching the said programme. It is a format probably best suited to popular successes, and may also work for cult programmes such as Peep Show. Where better to start than with the longest-running British soap opera, set in the bizarre netherworld of Weatherfield. 

Owen Jones makes a relevant observation about the way the programme has shifted away from social realism: 'What relationship is there between EastEnders - or Coronation Street for that matter - and the lives of millions of people working in shops, call centres and offices? Indeed, both soaps have a disproportionate number of small business people, like pub landlords, cafe owners, market stallholders and shopkeepers. The soaps compete with each other over frankly ludicrous plots: take the effective resurrection of Dirty Den in EastEnders, for example.' (Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Class, Verso, 2011, p.132)

You might just notice that one of us is much more up on recent Corrie developments... though I did see the episode where Corrie became Final Destination 5 with its scenes of absurd tram-fuelled pandemonium trying to out-do EastEnders' earlier fire in the Vic ("YOU WOULDNNN'T DARRRE!" - Peggy tipping hardman Phil Mitchell well and truly over the edge) for pyrotechnics and hyped-up melodrama.


Tom started chat and sent out an invitation.
David joined the chat.
David: Sorted, has it started? I have to watch two 30-sec adverts
Tom: 'The police are heading to the factory in Coronation Street'. Harvey's furniture store gubbins... now we’re on to the credits.
David: And I'm on!

EPISODE 1 PART 1

David: Poor Stella, quite a sympathetic character compared to Cindy Beale (Stella has recently 'come out' as Leanne's biological mother, much to Leanne's chagrin, not long after moving into  the street to commence Rovers Return-based managerial duties).

Family strife!
Tom: And we open with a picture of the young Leanne Battersby... enigmatic stuff.
Tom: Was that Michelle Collins?

Square or t' Street?
David: Yep, indeed it was.
David: Yeah, you stand firm Leanne, it's not like you're a former prostitute, who spent the early weeks of your marriage having it away with Nick Tilsley!
Tom: "It's minging...!"
David: He's not bad for a child actor (Simon).
David: Did you know Sophie was a lesbian now?
Tom: No... I didn't know about the Sophie sexuality shift.

Who do you reckon is the Daily Mail reader?
 David: I'd hate to be married to a social climber like Sally.
David: Wooden Chesney.
Tom: This is shifting scenes wildly; about 20 characters featured already!! In the first three minutes.
David: Yeah, last year, she lives at home with her girlfriend, Sally, Kevin, Rosie and Kevin's baby who he conceived with Tyrone's dead wife Molly!
David: I really like Stella, ropey accent notwithstanding.
Tom: "It changes everything! You've lied to me, my whole life...!" Classic melodrama.
Tom: Is Stella the non-Cindy Beale?
David: Ex-Taggart actor John Michie (playing Stella's partner Karl) there, also sporting a fake Northern English accent.
David: Yeah.
David: I despise the factory scenes.

It's not Tony Wilson's Factory...
David: Another acting master-class from (Antony) Cotton (Sean).
Tom: Janice isn't really Leanne's mum - cor blimey... that's a development.
David: Did you know Sean was with Jonatton Yeah? (Charlie Condou, playing Marcus)
Tom: Didn't know about the Jonatton Yeah link! Would be interesting to see a Barley and Corrie crossover...
David: Janice was always the step-mum.
Tom: These factory scenes do seem contrived; manufacturing being the utterly thriving thing in the North of England, circa 2011...
David: The gossip industry.
David: No one has to venture further than the end of the street to find a job!
David: David Platt's wife there (Kylie)!
David: Who sold her kid to Becky and Steve.
David: Self-righteous Sally (commenting on Fiz's previous loyalty to John Stape)
Tom: Eh, what's goin' on 'ere! It's the Bureau de Change... 


David: Acting master-class, the 'nick' of time!
Tom: And a bearded Phil Brown lookalike appears to stop the fisticuffs...

Phil Brown, aka. D.S. Redfern
David: Where's his headset?
David: Send her down!
Tom: Indeed... Arrested again!?
David: Such a dull character, don't know what the accidental serial killer ever saw in her!
David: And Hayley is left holding the baby!
Tom: Gail acting as unlikely paragon of liberalism: "Everyone's innocent ’til proven guilty..."
David: She's got a vested interest in that school of thought (having previously been charged with murder and later acquitted).
David: Let's count the clichés!
David: Anything need clearing up plot-wise?
Tom: Well... that first segment was a tad bewildering. A near-fight/stand-off that could have appeared in The Day Today's soap-opera spoof The Bureau. The scenes shift about every 20 seconds. No chance to build up any atmosphere or indeed let a neophile to 2011 Corrie know what the fuck was going on...!
David: Always some amusing stuff on here, pretty much the same here. I'm going to look for the best comments so far.
David: If you watch any Classic Corrie, you have whole two-hander scenes going on for three or four mins
David: Gail and Ivy going on and on and on in 1987...
Tom: Indeed, for better or for worse! Though I do think it works for the better for it to play out more like theatre than a film shifting scenes every minute. Or every 20 seconds.
Tom: What is Gail doing now? Is she working at the factory?
David: Well, Gail was sacked for Data Protection breaches at the surgery I think, don't think she's at the factory though, she tried to get a job at Nick's Bistro but he said she had the wrong image!

EPISODE 1, PART 2

Tom: "Mrs Stape"... ominous.
David: They don't half like their miscarriages of justice on Corrie.

Fiz in chokey
Tom: "Maybe John was lying!"
Tom: I can see a 'Free Fiz' campaign on the horizon.
David: A Stape-related storyline without Stape present, zzzzz...
 
POLICEWOMAN CLEARLY FASCINATED BY BEING IN THIS SCENE
Tom: So Phil Brown is a detective?
David: Yeah, they used to have a mint Scouse one, when Tracey was being sent down.
Tom: “Us?” / “John, I mean!” Ooh, she's getting herself in trouble, that one.
David: Fine time to have a scrap in the factory.
Tom: I remember that brunette factory boss (Carla) ... hmmm, a dull character.

I really want to be on The Apprentice and work for Lord Alan...
David: Carla is on Fiz's side as she was blind to Tony murdering everyone, too.
David: Hayley pronounces it 'Corla'.
Tom: Corrie/EastEnders crossover again here...
Tom: And, again, a brief scene is cut short!
David: Peter Barlow has a mean streak but he's a cool character on the whole.
Tom: Stapey and Fiz were married??
David: Yeah, they were.
David: 'Let's talk about Charlotte, baby'.
David: Charlotte was an 'interesting' character and fellow academic who blackmailed Stape as she knew about the identity fraud. He hit her with a hammer round the head on Tram Crash Night, when she threatened to tell the cops everything, then dragged her body to the scene of the crash to make it appear she had met her end via that means.
Tom: Who's that southerner?

Trust me, I'm a Barlow
David: That's Ken's grandson and son in real life.
David: He's a homosexual too.
Tom: The actor or character?
David: Character.
David: I think he might be a bit of a manipulative fraudster character.
Tom: Ah, a Rovers scene at last.

Newton and Ridley Forever
David: Tyrone's spite towards Kev = ace.
David: I love bitter Tyrone (Kevin Webster impregnated Tyrone's late wife Molly, but this was only revealed to Sally on Tram Crash Night by Molly, just before she drew her last breath from under a pile of bricks. So now Kevin is a lodging in his own house with baby Jack).
Tom: Stevo...
Flippin' 'eck! I'm only in this for fifteen seconds!
David: Finally!
David: 22 minutes of non-Steve banality.
Tom: The majestic eyebrow quivering...
David: Stella gonna abandon Leanne again?
David: Prediction, they leave and Leanne runs along with a "No, wait!!!!" (Continues in half an hour)
David: Is this where I'm supposed to root for Fiz?
Tom: Beaten up in a bookshop? Sounds plausible.
"You're on borrowed time, sunshine!"
David: Free the "Red Gap-Toothed One".
David: Good cop.
Tom: I think we are supposed to feel sympathy, aye! "I [h]am telling the truth!"
David: Is he being good and bad cop (DS Redfern)? The other's doing fuck all!

Directorial vision on a par with Antonioni or Bergman...
Tom: Ah, a classic stand-off across the cobbles there, between Gail and some exceedingly earringed lady (Kylie).

Ken Loach: 'It's like they're the rude mechanicals in A Midsummer Night's Dream when there's always an implied other set of characters who look down on them.'
Tom: Ah, is that David himself? Still the devil incarnate?
David: Yup!
David: She's far worse than him though, I think he knows she sold her son now (to her sister (Becky, who cannot have children) and Steve.
Tom: Who are these brawny male characters? Identikit Simon Cowell lookalikes, speaking with Cindy Beale, ominously...

Trust me, I'm a Barlow
David: Peter Barlow (you take the option).
David: Other one's Stella's boyfriend, Karl.
David: I'm getting déjà vu from previous storylines; we had this with Gail only last year (false accusations of murder)!
Tom: Ah, cliffhanger of sorts as, erm, Fiz whines the same old line AGAIN - 'Burra didn't do anything...!'
David: The Fiz stuff is doing nothing for me.
David: Think I'll have a fag and then we'll have the first post-mortem!
Tom: It is rehashing tens or even hundreds of past Corrie scenarios... Is this one a miscarriage, or merely a meting out of justice?
David: Yeah, she knew about the identity fraud but not the murders until she found him with Colin Fishwick's body.
David: To be fair Colin did have a heart attack, during a showdown with Charlotte and John, but John panicked because of the ID fraud (John 'borrowed' Colin's identity in an attempt to get back into teaching, as his own CRB check was slightly tarnished by the sexual activity with and subsequent kidnapping of his one-time pupil Rosie Webster. Colin reassured him he didn't mind at first, but later turned up demanding him to stop) so they went and buried him under Underworld, then the builders unwittingly buried him under concrete! Months later when the drains needed doing, John realised that the body would be dug up, so went to retrieve it and was caught by Fiz. Fiz panicked, as John convinced her she would be in as much trouble as him if she did not assist him to dispose of the body. She did spend Joy Fishwick's money when John was sectioned out of play.
David: So, in on the ID fraud and not the murders (apart from the body disposal).
Tom: Well, she is surely implicated to a degree, though I imagine it will be a field day for the lawyers on both sides. A tribute to Frankie Howerd on ITV1 now, in-between episodes... Makes one question whether Corrie is actually providing much for its older audience (surely its main demographic). There has been nothing much here with Norris, Roy, Ken or other such archetypes... Of course, the Duckworths are gone, aren't they? Is Jack likely to be popping back into t' Rovers, as was intimated when he left the Street?
David: Unlikely, he died last year!
David: I watched the Kenny Everett one of these The Unforgettable... last week.
David: Very old repeats that belong on G.O.L.D. or whatever it's called these days, but everyone's watching East Enders so a cheap way to kill half an hour, you used to get something regional at these points, but not now ITV is basically one company. Barring the Scottish and Channel Islands versions of course. And UTV I guess.
Tom: Howerd starring in some creaky 1950s British B-movie! How was the Everett programme?
David: I remember watching some early morning BBC1 panel show in the early 1990s presented by Everett, which was ordinary and conventional by his standards.
David: Definitely going for that fag now, and yes this is very old school ITV, rather this than 'What Colleen Did Next' on ITV9! 
David: That doc was from 2000!

David: Would have preferred to see more of the Stella and Leanne stuff than the 'I didn't do it, waa-waah!' spiel
David: Wasted on a mediocre actress.
Tom: Ah... there is now ‘no signal’ for ITV1 with my Freeview box... though it has come back on now. The reception was a tad poor in the first episode, frankly...
Tom: It’s gone off again! Do you have a link to watch it online?
Tom: I'm onto the two infuriating adverts. Has it started again yet for you?

EPISODE 2 PART 1

David: Here we go...
David: Just about to, you should only miss 30 seconds, if that.
David: Straight to Fiz action.
David: Can't wait to meet Prisoner Burke.
Tom: Who's the Gervais lookalike?


David: Generic hard-man builder (Owen Armstrong).
David: Bought his business from Bill Webster (now departed).
David: His daughter (Katy, 17?) is pregnant with Chesney's child.
Tom: Ah, the sadly departed old Bill... A stout drinking pal of Big Jim Mc., as I do recall.
David: Not dead, just fucked off quietly.
David: Cindy's daughter's a feisty one.


Tom: So Fiz is an 'exemplary character', is she!?
David: Most ironically named baby in soap (Hope)?
David: They must be hoping viewers have short memories.


Tom: "He doesn't know us from Adam" - what a silly phrase.
David: Who is this "Adam" of which everyone speaks?
David: Gail and Sally in the same scene?!!!


Tom: Gail and Sally planning on making a night of it... Crikey.
Tom: "I prefer to call them displaced people..." - who's the pseudo-earnest young lady in the red t-shirt?


David: Didn't see this coming!
David: Blonde?
David: Sophie's bird!
David: It's gonna be fine, apparently.
Tom: Ah, it was Sophie I meant... It has really been a while since I’ve watched this programme!
David: Who's this ‘Joe Bloggs’ of whom everyone speaks?!

"It's not a handout, it's about mekking a diffrunce!"
Tom: Socialism is alive and well in the personage of Sophie Webster.

Tom: Truculent young colt, that David Platt.
David: David Platt Sex, ominous.
Tom: The Chezzer and the Fizzer against the world?


David: Roy: 'A laudable outlook'.
Tom: And it's... David Cameron entering, to break the bad news (as ever)...

We're in this together...
David: That's an Autumn of courtroom tedium sorted then
Tom: Aye, I wouldn’t bet against it...
David: They really need to give this (semi)-miscarriage of justice stuff a rest.


Tom: Two pseudo 'cliff-hangers' with Fiz in teary despair, following one where she had to be restrained from running riot.
David: What are the chances of a hat-trick?
Tom: As likely as Jimbo McDonald to pepper his sentences with a random “Catch yersel’ on” or conclude them with “So it is...”
David: More Stephen James McDonald after the break I hope.
Tom: Aye, I hope Steve will add to his previous 20 seconds of screen time in tonight's episodes.
David: Anyway, Fiz, I'm not sure the baby understood what you were promising her, anyway...
Tom: What was she promising the bairn?
David: She'd never leave her etc.
Tom: Ah, touching.
David: You noticed that these episodes are only 22 minutes long-ish. Fifteen minutes of ads an hour on British TV!

EPISODE 2 PART 2

Tom: Having probs with watching it online but it seems to be back on my normal TV... Hmmm.
David: Just trying to revive my stream.
David: Refresh, refresh!
Tom: No sound on the TV!
David: Black screen online, I want more ginger whimpering!
David: I'm getting bugger all here!
Tom: I have a silent film on my screen of a bleary eyed Fiz, wearing a yellow bib.
David: And it's burnt into your retina forever.
Tom: And now our supposed ‘do-gooders’.... in their red T-shirts. Moving stuff.
David: If I'm lucky, I may catch a solemn Fiz dropping tears onto a small photo of the sprog, and the credits.
Tom: What is going on with the ITV streaming? And indeed my TV. I don't even have a mute button to accidentally press. I have a picture but no sound, and neither online!
David: We can devote some of this blog bemoaning the shitness of this streaming.
Tom: I can just about make out that Dave Cameron (lookalike of, Fiz's solicitor?) is lecturing the Croppers...
David: Is he saying they're in this together?
Tom: Chez looks put out. Not a happy young gent.
David: It's like being blind.
Tom: David Platt and that ear-ringed young thing are getting intimate; yuck!
Tom: Gail and Sally have spied them over the fence, Gail with a glass of red wine in hand.
David: There can't be this much demand to watch episode 2:2?!!
Tom: A ticking off dispensed by the moral guardians of Wetherfield, methinks.
Tom: Some burly gent and Michelle Collins again.
Tom: Platty and missus are incredibly telegraphed People Not To Be Trusted. Actually, I think I am picking up more watching this silent than with the dialogue!
Tom: Never liked Leanne... Cannot quite put my finger on why – a sort of whiny surliness.
David: [Re: technical problems] I think this happened for the Manics at the iTunes Festival last night too.
David: Can only guess it's about to end?
Tom: Chez is all angry as hell. Hayley with t' baby, and Roy failing to calm things down. Plus a young brunette and another bearded man, unsure whether the Gervais one.
David: No Steve?
Tom: No Steve. Lamentable lack of Eyebrow Olympics.
Tom: Chez head in hands. Yep, it's coming to a close.
Tom: Fiz in tears in a cell, after looking at a picture of her baby.
David: Still think we should do a week of these, even if not live we can just ITV Player them simultaneously...
David: Hang on, did I not predict that ending!
Tom: The end was indeed almost exactly as you predicted.
David: Sound like a shite last ten minutes in all honesty!
David: Hope this makes up for it.
Tom: Ha! There's even one of him post-pulping by Jez Quigley...
David: LEGEND. The second, old school one with a full head of hair and a beard is sensational.
Tom: Yes, that is quite a gurn and an uncannily 1995 beard.
David: You HAVE to watch the scene where he got back from seeing Our Andy last week. And saw all Becky-fuelled hell breaking loose through the broken Rovers' window, comedy gold!


David: Watch it here, from about 20 mins in! I just pissed myself laughing at that again.
Tom: I've tried to fast-fwd and it's taken back to more adverts...................
Tom: Advert 3 of 6!!!

TWO DAYS LATER

David: OK, have a pause on the start of part two, just off to get my glasses.
David: Right, on title card now, tell me when to hit play...
Tom: I'm ready; play...
David: Demon Platt.
Tom: World-weary Gail: "Brainwashed, more like..." Sally talking popular clichés about "rocket scientists".


Tom: Slightly creepy Gervais...


David: "Make sure the teat's full".
David: Creepy Gervais, as he will be known from here on now...
David: Corrie without humour is a bit of a drag.
Tom: Now, riveting Fiz-in-yellow-bib scenes (previously seen in silent mode)...


David: It's like Steve is carrying the comedy baton single-handedly.
David: This is like watching East Enders at its most tedious.
Tom: "Selfish" Kev Webster, according to Sophie?


David: That's a bit harsh.
David: Middle class soap characters = always shady.


Tom: What is their "team"?
David: Tesco Value Salvation Army.
David: Will Roy ever run out of philosophical words of wisdom?
Tom: "I suspect she'd welcome our return", says Roy.
David: Yeah, I'd pass on duties to the Croppers over the naive 17 year olds, to be fair (Owen AKA 'Creepy Gervais) demanded Chesney and Katy relinquished Hope-duties to concentrate on Katy's pregnancy).
Tom: Indeed. Now, for the previously mentioned Platt and Kylie scene... Guetta and Akon - predictable musical backing!
David: That's a bit risqué. 


David: She ain't no sexy chick if you ask me.
David: No need!!!
David: Haven't seen Sally and Gail socialise for about 600 years.


Tom: I cannot sympathise with either pair - the young amoralists or the old moral guardians...
David: This Stella-Leanne thing's been so rushed. Storylines either outstay their welcome or have the equilibrium restored in two episodes.
Tom: "Proper man and wife"...


David: "Babes", eugh.
David: What does that entail?
Tom: "I had all these hopes... dreams..."
David: No one talks like this in real life.
Tom: Banal doesn't even cover it; or "touch the sides” as one of them has just said!
David: They'll be out together in the Trafford Centre next week (Leanne still not welcoming Stella's motherly affections).
Tom: Or is banal the word? Heightened, melodramatic banality? Certainly not a Pinteresque mastery of the banal.
David: It's not always this bad, it goes in stages.
David: Usually when one story arc has ended, it takes three months to build back up again.
Tom: "Might I suggest we take stock of the situation" - Roy ever the voice of calm...!
Tom: Very creepy Gervais here.


David: It's the facial hair.
David: I hate the "any idiot/knobhead/cunt can make a baby" line.
Tom: Ah, your predicted ending...


David: Waa! Waa!
David: Rubbish.
David: And no Steve!
Tom: None, and yes, a rather bewildering and dull 44 minutes of television... I imagine it can be more entertaining; certainly the absurdity of the Rovers brawl in that episode you linked to.
David: That was amazing.
David: I think Steve's the only character I have any time for currently.
David: There was fuck all in that episode that made me anticipate Thursday's.
David: Can't believe I'm saying it but, I even miss Liz!
Tom: Perhaps so... Who's the landlady? Becky, I assume?
David: Becky still technically the landlady (still married to pub owner Steve, by a thread), Stella the manager
Tom: With crushingly predictable friction?
David: Yeah, as you may have seen in that brief scene from the other week, when Becky stormed back in and overruled the newly instated Stella.
David: (Referencing afore-mentioned clip) When the two bodies dive out of the Rovers in front of a bewildered Steve: that was fantastic
David: Even Craig Charles is leaving for a year!
Tom: It was... certainly proper Corrie absurdity.
David: I like Peter Barlow though.
David: But he's not on the sauce currently, so, yawn...
David: Cannot be arsed with months of courtroom Fiz-based melodrama.
David: 'AH DINT DO IT!!!'
David: We need a Spider or a Jez Quigley to shake up proceedings.
Tom: The Cuts hitting even the hallowed cobbles...? In that they are saving on new sets and scenarios by wheeling out the same police station, cell and courtroom sets they have always used!
Tom: Indeed, regarding the need for some wild-cards. The 1990s-era Street certainly had a few of those...
David: I'm sure Manchester or Rochdale Town Halls will make an appearance at some point, doubling up as something else!





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