Thursday, 24 September 2015

#CorrieLive - Top Marks

Coronation Street broadcast live last night and there was a lot of publicity leading up to it. Fears, anticipation, and Old Trafford all factored in. (There was a football match less than a mile away, the media howled about hearing the noise from the crowds). The actors that were interviewed in various media outlets all expressed pretty much the same thing: I hope I'm not the one that messes up, I'm nervous but excited, too.

It would be different, broadcasting television live vs being on stage. For one thing, on a stage, you're in one small are, with actors coming on and off as per their cues. For another, in a stage production, you get to do the same lines over and over every night and each night's audience is a few hundred to maybe a few thousand, depending on the venue. Television broadcasts to millions. And there are multiple sets, indoors and outdoors. The technical logistics alone must be a nightmare. For the cast, the ones that have done stage work understand how it feels but even for them, the idea that one little mistake will be splashed all over the media the next day must be daunting.

I'm happy to say that the actors all hit the mark and nobody made a mistake, that I could tell. There were several storylines running, with the Platt vs Callum Logan one taking centre stage. The three regular cast members, Jack P. Shepherd, Tina O'Brien and Paula Lane, were superb, the best I've ever seen them. I was especially impressed by Tina because she's never really had high drama or heavy stuff to do. Teen pregnancy, yes, but even then her young age and inexperience showed. I never rated her over much as an actor but last night sure proved she's come a long way. Her confrontation with Callum was harrowing and her shock afterwards was dead on. (pun intended. Sorry).

Paula Lane and Jack P. Shepherd have put in powerhouse performances before and this one pushed the envelope even further. Top marks to them, I say. There was some petty media remarks about being able to see "Callum" breathing on the floor after Kylie killed him and one newspaper called Sean Ward's acting wooden. A. I don't care if someone sees an actor breathing even if their character is supposed to be dead. As long as it isn't great gasps, I'm sure the actor is doing their best to keep it minimumly obvious. Get a grip. and B. I didn't think his acting was wooden, though during this storyline it's pretty much always been a bit camp and over the top. I and most viewers never really bought into him being frightening. He's no Jez Quigley.

I really didn't expect Kylie to be the one that killed Callum though I have known for months that Callum would end up dead. It's just a soap rule, not any inside knowledge. Callum had to go. End of story. I thought perhaps Gemma, as the "expendable crew member", might be the one to do it. Now Kylie has killed someone and though it was to save Sarah, it's still manslaughter. She'll have to pay at some point.

One sub plot that was contrived and faintly ridiculous was the Dynamic Duo, Tony and Todd, stealing Callum's car that David had conveniently started and left running while they tried to get Callum's body out into the boot. T&T ran over to the car and Tony ran his keys over the hood. Good grief. My jaw dropped and I rubbed my eyes. No, he's not 12, he's a 50+ year old man. That was his revenge??? Todd, that bright little spark, had the idea to steal it and blow it up. Better than Tony's idea, but still not really that damaging to Callum himself. Too bad they didn't wait a few more minutes. Callum would have been in the back of the car and would have been blown up along with the vehicle. That would have been much more understandable.

It was manipulated so that David and Kylie had to put Callum's body down that manhole pit under Gail's new granny flat. You remember, that manhole that Tony conveniently found the other day? Veteran soap watchers know that sort of thing doesn't get mentioned for no reason. It was pretty obvious right then and there where the body would be buried.

I read a comment on the Coronation Street blog to the effect that Tony's fingerprints would be on the car, what's left of it, (and Todd's), and Tony would probably be filling in the manhole with concrete the next day. That kind of action could be misconstrued as guilt and Tony has good reason to want Callum gone after Callum nearly killed Jason. I wonder if Tony's going to get stitched up, leaving Kylie feeling even more guilty.

Ok, enough of the Platts.

Let's turn our attention to Roy. Monday, Cathy took Roy to Blackpool which has a lot of memories for him, and her too, from what she said. Still, she was willing to make new memories with him but he was clearly shutting down, not handling his own memories and grief too well. When she suggested a paddle in the water, he vanished. I did find that to be a major WTF moment. They were out in the middle of the beach. She turned her back for about a minute. There's no way Roy could have disappeared without a trace in that space of time. She'd see him walking away back to the road, surely. The sand didn't open up and swallow him whole.

Be that as it may, he went back to Weatherfield by bus and was so distraught he took it out on the bus driver and was driven to exclamation marks when he finally got a web chat agent, aiming to complain. I love that Carla was the one that put his world to rights. When he paddled in the water with Hayley before she died, Hayley wanted him to do it again someday, with someone else. When faced with the opportunity, as Carla said, he actually wanted to and it scared him. He wasn't able to face it so he fled. He is starting to have feelings for Cathy as she is for him and it's a major turning point for both of the, learning that they can move on with their lives with someone else, while never forgetting their beloved spouses.

I did feel bad for Cathy. It wasn't her fault that her choice of a surprise touched a still-raw nerve with Roy. She had no idea and didn't ask anyone else before she arranged it. She had good intentions and Roy knows that. At last they started to communicate and maybe this will be the start of something beautiful. It will be difficult to see Roy with someone else but I think Hayley would approve of Cathy. I hope it lasts but Melanie Hill is a popular actor. I guess it will depend on how long she plans to stay with the show.

In other news, Sally got her comeuppance for the kiss she had with Kevin. She and Anna have been sniping more than usual at each other over the past few shows and then, with Sally's sheets conveniently hanging out on the line to hide Anna who was in the Nazir back garden on a break from wedding planning, Sally and Sophie spoke about the kiss. Anna heard it all and Anna has always been one for being unable to keep a secret, especially one as juicy as that. She got drunk, Sally took one shot too many and the truth came tumbling out.

It *was* just a kiss and it's frustrating on one had that a relationship busts up over something that minor. That also happened with Chesney and Katy. He wouldn't forgive her so she ended up with Ryan anyway. In this case, the difference is that Sally was the instigator and Kevin is Tim's best mate. It's not just that your fiancee betrayed you, but your best friend broke his loyalty as well. I do hope they get back together eventually, though. Sally and Tim are Corrie gold.

There were also a few smaller moments. Craig got stood up on a date after dressing up very sharp. And Steve hiding away, drunk, unable to face saying goodbye to Lloyd was explained by Liz as probably related to his recent struggle with depression. Her worry for her son was evident while Lloyd comforted her. I always liked Liz and Lloyd as a couple when they were together. It was a nice scene, that.

Lastly, we say goodbye to Lloyd and Andrea, off to start a new life and family in Jersey. I never warmed up to her, I have to say. She was ok, I didn't dislike her, but I didn't find her all that interesting either. It never felt like she and Lloyd had that special chemistry. Lloyd will be missed. He was truly a nice guy. I always liked that Lloyd was able to show emotion, and even cry when it was called for. I like that he was confident enough to show his emotions rather than suppress them. He was funny, he was loyal, he was steady. I loved the friendship he and Steve and Eileen had together and that's a cornerstone of comedy that really will be lacking in the show.

Wow, a long blog post this time but there was a lot to say. I really enjoyed the live episode. Sure, there were a couple of things that clunked (Tony and Todd especially, and the Keystone Cops scrambling to get rid of Callum's body, fending off the neighbours several times) but I can't fault the actors or the production (aside from a few seconds of silence when the sound didn't kick in straight away). There was romance, excitement and heartbreak.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

State of the Street - August

The Platts are still in the forefront, love it or hate it. The custody battle is getting darker, scarier and more violent. First, Max finds a loaded gun hidden in the back of the top shelf in the closet. That in itself tells you that Callum really has no clue how to be a parent. Bad enough to have the gun and loaded, but to store it in a child's bedroom? It was the turning point for Sarah, though. She may have known down deep that Callum was everything David and Kylie said he was but she was in denial until that child pointed a loaded weapon at them all after already having seen Gemma's bloody face as a result of a deal gone bad. She couldn't deny it anymore and common sense finally won out over her delight in winding up her brother. It's not fun anymore and a child's safety was at risk.

The problem is, by the time she told her family what happened, Callum had plenty of time to get rid of the gun and replace it with a toy and persuade Max it was a toy and all a game. The hole I see in this storyline is that I am pretty sure Sarah saw him unload the gun and give the bullets to Gemma to get rid. Even if a child didn't know it was a real gun and was convinced it was a toy, why wouldn't the police pay more attention to Sarah's word? He wouldn't have told Gemma to get rid of the bullets if they were toys as well.

So this drags out a bit more. Now Jason's involved. The more he sees of Callum and how he sees him upset Bethany and Sarah, the more he's determined to put a stop to it and Jason's not scared of Callum no matter how many warnings he got. Jason knew what Callum was and knew he'd have dodgey friends but Jason is a hero and is willing to take the risk. It just happened to turn out very badly for him and Callum had him beaten nearly to death. Callum did have his thugs do most of the work while he watched but got a few kicks in himself but he didn't know Max saw what happened. Wasn't he shocked when Max was scared of him? He had no idea why. At least it wasn't too long before Max told what he saw and they took him to the police.

Of course Callum can still manipulate Bethany and scare her into telling what happened, after drugging Sarah to make Bethany bend to his will. He proceeded to scare her into telling the police that Max lied. Why would Max lie? His fear of his father is genuine and Kylie and David could tell. Why isn't Social Services involved here? Two incidents in less than a month should have negated that visitation order and thrown any possibility of a custody claim out on its ear. They'd be able to better tell whether Max was lying or not and might even take Max out of the home and bar Callum from seeing him. No matter how Callum tries to work the situation, no matter how many alibis he sets up, or people he blackmails into lying for him, that child is at risk and until the situation is sorted out, in the real world, Child Protection would be all over this.

Next, Tony attempted to give Callum a bit of his own medicine. Rather than this be a repeat of Jim McDonald after Steve was beaten by Jez Quigley, Liz managed to pull Tony off before any real damage was done. It was a joy to see Callum terrified and wheezing. Not so brave when you're alone, are you?  Even if Tony did get banged up for beating Callum, I could accept it if Callum went to prison, too. If Callum and Tony are both inside, and in the same prison, I expect Callum will keep a wide berth. Tony has dodgey mates, too and I think Tony and his mates can easily take Callum and his little friends.

It's all contrived to extend this storyline out to the live episode airing near the end of September. I don't know, but I think this will come to a climax during that episode. Lord, I hope so. I'm ready for this to be done. I'm ready for Callum to pay for everything including beating Jason.

Carla has been struggling with what we know as misplaced guilt and her gambling is getting worse and worse. She does it so that it distracts her from the dark thoughts in her head and her life and business is going down the tubes as a result. BFF Michelle doesn't know what to do to help and Nick, fighting his attraction to her, does what he can to support her but she's hell-bent on self-destruction. Still, Nick and Carla do take the plunge which is probably a huge mistake at this point since Carla's got more baggage that is good for any relationship right now.

Is Nick trying to be the knight in shining armour and hoping to rescue her? Is that the main attraction here? I know she's gorgeous but he's known her for years, both before, during and after her other relationships. Why now? And what about Erica? Well, everyone knows she and Nick were never meant to be a full time relationship anyway and it was pretty much doomed from the start the minute they decided to make it more than just a quick fling. Erica's not stupid. She can see what's happening. It's off and Nick and Carla are on at Nick's insistence. Carla reckons she's a car crash and will break his heart. He's willing to take the chance and yeah, she's probably right.

Now we have a new Connor on the scene, Aidan who is a cousin to Michelle and her lot. Carla would have grown up with them all and knows him well. Nick seems to have pushed Aidan into saving Underworld but Carla's still drowning in guilt and gambling. It has to break soon. Aidan seems ok so far but the instant clashing with Robert makes no sense at all. I could understand it if they were fighting over the same woman but they don't seem to be. It feels really contrived and cliche and I don't know what the point is.

And poor Simon is really bouncing off the walls. It started with a bit of shoving, then kicking and hitting. Blood is being shed and Leanne is getting more bruises than a scratch and dent sale! Simon seems to be sorry but then he also seems to be manipulating her when he placates her and whines and cries.

It's all good and then it happens again and yet Leanne still says nothing to anyone and doesn't get that child the help he desperately needs while pretty much rewarding him for bad behaviour with free lunches for him and his mates or buying him things she said he couldn't have. I think she's hoping for positive reinforcement for the good days but it seems to me it's having the opposite effect. Simon looks up to Zeedan and I think he'll be instrumental in resolving all this but he'd better get his skates on. And even with Zeedan's help, Leanne needs to get Simon to a counsellor but I bet she won't.

Tracy's ex-husband has come swanning back into her life and is it just me or is he every bit as boring as he was when she was married to him before? Yes, he's a good man but badly matched with Tracy. She wants to be a better person and she might be able to turn herself around but she's never going to be a domestic goddess or earth mother. She's always going to have a sharp tongue and a lot of fire and I really think she'll be bored stupid with Robert after awhile. And it also seems to me that her attachment to Robert has more to do with her devastation over her mother's death.

He might have held a torch for her for years but she hasn't given him a second thought until she saw him again at the funeral. Maybe he's what she needed at that time, I suppose, but I can't see it going the distance. She says he knows her but he doesn't, not really. He *knew* her but even then, when they were married, she hurt him badly, something he likely didn't see coming. If that was the case, how could he say he knows her now or then? She's been through a lot and done a lot since their marriage and I can't see how someone who hasn't seen you through all that can say with confidence that they know you.

I expect he'll be instrumental in the truth coming out about the fire. You can see that the more Carla sinks into her misery and wallows at the bottom of the barrell, the more Tracy feels guilty herself. The charity auction for Maddie nearly did Tracy in as well as Carla. I think this relationship between Tracy and her ex is doomed. I may be wrong but I don't think so.

I think Robert would be a much better fit for Leanne. Now, having said that, we do know that Leanne tends to go for bad boys, too but as she gets older, she probably is ready to settle down with someone that doesn't have the drama and baggage that would drag her down. Yes, maybe Robert and Leanne will end up being boring, much as Kal and Leanne were kind of, but I think they would be better suited than Robert and Tracy just the same.

Fiz and Tyrone are going to have to face seeing little Hope through a serious illness. I doubt they will have Hope die but it will be a heart wrenching time of it. I'm not so sure I want to see this. It was hard enough to see Hayley slowly fade away from cancer, something that a great many of us have had to deal with in their own lives. To see a child go through that, even if she doesn't die, is a bit much, I think. It could very well turn away a lot of viewers.

The camping storyline was ok, a bit of fun and a bit forced. It was lovely to see Craig have a holiday romance, though, wasn't it? Caitlyn's dad was played by a man who came to fame through the X Factor talent show and he was quite good as the officious, know it all Dougie. It was odd that Sinead just decided to drop the crutches and was able to skip around the campsite without even seeming to be taking a lot of care how she went. Miracle! All in all it was all right. A bit of diversion from the angst going on back on the cobbles at least.

In spite of some storylines dragging on way too long, Coronation Street has been very good overall this month with some wonderful dialogue and writing and great performances. I know people are sick of the custody battle and Callum. I was really getting tired of it until Kylie returned and it's getting more interesting now that it's speeding up and heading towards an end. I'm pretty sure it will be all but over by the end of September. 

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