Before getting to this week’s episode on Lake Schtupid: Set your pvr, tvo, vcr, whatever you have, and make sure you’re home next Thursday evening. Canadian Coronation Street fans hit the small screen on CBC TV. “Corrie Crazy” airs Thursday, Dec. 9th at 8 pm (8:30 in Newfoundland, I assume). Debbie Travis is the host, and I know from reading her blog that Nova Scotia’s proud Corrie fan “Tvor” will be one of the people featured in it. It’s CBC’s contribution to the 50th anniversary celebration of The Street.
Coronation Street is not the longest running show on television. Guiding Light, cancelled a year ago, still holds that honour. But 50 continuous years of entertaining and moving storytelling – that’s an incredible feat by any measure. Thank you, Granada Television, for giving us this. Thank you, Tony Warren, for creating a world of people who have become like friends to so many of us. And Bill Roache, who fifty years ago introduced the character of young Ken Barlow, university student. Thank you all.
Now back to Scene of the Week, in Canadian time, which is 10 months before the big anniversary. Valentine’s Day 2010, where romance blossoms and so do colossal emotional meltdowns on the Street and in the Lakes District.
Suicide by stupidity: that’s the theme of this week. Or, another name, Dumb and Dumber. By Wednesday, when you add Gail to the mix, it’s “Dumb, Dumber and I can’t believe she’s that dumb!”
Dumb and Dumber, of course, are Joe and Peter – different storylines, different kinds of stupidity. For those of you unfamiliar with the Darwin Awards, check them out. They are “awarded” posthumously to people who do the human race the favour of taking themselves out of the gene pool by killing themselves in some spectacularly stupid way. I thought of them often while watching this week.
The scene. The breathtaking beauty of a lake in the Lake District on a cold winter night. White sailboat reflecting off the water in the moonlight. Onboard, Joe putting his “solution to all our problems” into effect. His cold hands fumble with the dinghy rope as he’s trying to tie it onto the sailboat. He drops it. The dinghy floats away free. He has to get it back; it’s the key to his floating away free. He uses an oar to retrieve it, almost gets it. The sail comes around and knocks him overboard.
He flails in his heavy clothes. The boat sits in the background, serene on the silvery water. Picture postcards of a cold beauty, except for the roiling water in the foreground. Joe struggling. He manages to swim back to the boat. He’s going to make it! But how will he get away? It’ll be only him and the Gail Force, not him and the dinghy to Ireland. And his hands let go and he slips down the side into the water. And keeps sinking.
So he’s set up Gail to report him in the morning as missing while, in the plan, he’s rowing his way to safe anonymity in Northern Ireland. You could see a hundred things wrong with this plan, even if it went accordingly. With it gone horribly wrong, especially for Joe, there are another hundred things. And Gail, within a day, manages to find a good few of them. There’s a scene the next morning when David actually talks a lot of sense to his mother, but she doesn’t listen. It’s pretty bad when David is the only one living in Sanity Land.
Joe managed to make a bad situation far worse. I hadn’t liked the thought that he was going to kill Gail in order to collect the insurance money. Then, at the end of last week, I thought he was going to kill himself or ‘disappear’ himself in order to end his problems and help Gail by having the insurance money for her to collect. I felt bad about that for his sake. I could also see logistical problems, like insurance won’t pay on a suicide real or presumed. But I never foresaw a totally bollixed job such as this has become.
And back on the Street, while Joe is inadvertently committing physical suicide, Peter is committing social suicide. You’d think, even drinker that he is, he’d have learned by now to not turn up at people’s door, weaving and slurring his words with bottle in his coat pocket, demanding to see his son. But he does, at Grandpa Moneybags’ door at that. And just as fast as money can get your precocious youngster into the private school system, it can also get you into a private rehab clinic. Peter, of all people, ought to know that George believes in acting swiftly and has the money to do so. And this time, George is getting no argument from Ken on the philosophical importance of supporting the state-run health system.