Monday, 24 October 2016

You can't please everyone

Last week, Coronation Street yet again pulled out all the stops for a big, fiery stunt along with high drama and emotion. They've been doing this regularly, often a couple of times a year, for most of the last decade. For the 40th anniversary in 2000, Corrie featured a protest to save the cobbles. Literally. The actual cobblestones themselves. For the 50th anniversary, they brought the tram down off the viaduct after an explosion, sideswiping the Kabin and chasing poor Molly right through the corner shop. People died. Secrets were exposed. It was all very frought with edge of your seat stuff. What a difference a decade makes.

It's all about ratings these days, more than it used to be. There's more competition for viewers and all the main networks try to pull out all the stops to lure new punters. They figure exciting stunts will have people tuning in, and for the regulars, they add extra drama to bring an ongoing storyline or two along to a head. If you're a regular viewer, you will enjoy the twists, turns, closure and perhaps opening to new storylines.

If you aren't a fan of a particular soap, you are not very likely to tune in to watch the spectacle like the Powers That Be are hoping. Why would you, if you have absolutely no idea who the characters are and what the storylines have been?  I have rarely ever watched a soap that I don't follow just because they're having a "Big Week" though I do admit to having done so now and then. I did watch the Eastenders live episode for their anniversary a couple of years ago but I used to watch EE in phases in the past so I knew who a few of the longer standing characters were. I watched Emmerdale pull off a wedding disaster involving a helicopter as well but the storylines and character dynamics went right over my head. I didn't start watching either one regularly aftwards. I've tried watching Emmerdale in the past and couldn't get into it. To each his or her own.

Every time Coronation Street pulls off a week of major stunts and drama, the comments pour in. People love it. People hate it. People like some aspects but not others. Par for the course. Some viewers seem to be so critical of what they watch that you wonder why they do. Yet, I do understand. I've been watching Corrie for the better part of 30 years and that's a lot of time invested. It's as much of a habit as it is love for the show but for me, there is a lot of love there and I lean to the forgiving side.

There have been storylines I found boring or ludicrous, or just plain unrealistic. I can be a gold medal nit picker and whinge at the inconsistencies that jump out at me. I *am* willing to suspend disbelief and forgive little glitches and minor "offenses" but only up to a point. I don't want my intelligence insulted. Otherwise, I can enjoy the majority of material that I watch. Coronation Street still does it better than anyone else, in my opinion.

A quick review: This most recent ratings grabber on The Street revolved around the culmination of the storyline that began nearly 2 years ago when Kylie went looking for her son Max's biological father to trace where her son might have inherited ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). That brought Callum Logan into the Platt-iverse, leading to Kylie's addiction and subsequent absence while the actor was on maternity leave. We suffered through Callum bullying David and the Platts which worked on my last nerve but when Kylie returned, fighting fit, the drama jumped up a notch and about this time last year, Kylie killed Callum defending her sister-in-law Sarah from certain injury and possible death at Callum's hands. The body was buried under the annex, Sarah became emotionally unstable while Kylie and David struggled to keep things together.

The body resurfaced after a carefully constructed car crash stunt and the family managed to weather the suspicions of the police, misdirecting them elsewhere (Tony Stewart) thanks to Todd Grimshaw. Finally, David and Kylie decided to make a fresh start in sunny Barbados but tragically, Kylie was stabbed to death while trying to defend her old mate, Gemma.

David has been plotting revenge on the murderer, a 15 year old lad from Kylie's rough old neighbourhood. He's been obsessed and single minded, with his grief and rage tormenting him. He was going to kill the murderer and himself by blowing them both up. Nothing anyone said to him could connect, not even his mother pointing out that he would kill other people as well and ruin their families' lives like his had been ruined. That didn't seem to have any impact on David, either. But on the day of the trial, things went wrong. He got nowhere near the murderer but nearly killed his own daughter and a neighbour trying to pull her from the path of his car which had flipped over and was bouncing down the road. Another neighbour now has devastating burns on her legs and the reality has finally hit David like a ton of bricks. He's got to find a way to rebuild his life and atone for what his grief and rage drove him to.

Some people thought that the horrific scenes of Anna caught on fire were far too much for early evening viewing. They were more interested in the quieter alternate storyline of Ken Barlow having a stroke after a row with newly returned son Peter. There are always detractors no matter what the story is. I found both main stories to be very well done and the whole week kept me on the edge of my seat. While the Barlow storyline came out of nowhere, David has been breaking apart more and more each week and it's been heartbreaking to watch him. I will look forward to seeing both storylines proceed and can't wait to see where both Ken and David end up.

I have found some of these stunts that end in huge balls of flame to be a bit tedious at times. Not again! you may hear me and a lot of fans cry out. I think that they lose their impact if they're done so often like they have been. It really begins to stretch credibility and even though I did enjoy this week enormously, I hope they back off a little and give us the drama without the fireworks for a change. The tram crash was pretty spectacular but while the special effects were dazzling and the drama was well acted, many of the accidents and fires since then were starting to become kind of run of the mill.

This week's car crash and explosion were done well, technically, and yes, I really was on the edge of my seat but I'd like to see more story, less pyrotechnics, please, in the future.

Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)

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