Category Archives: Coronation Street

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Dec.12/10)

‘Bob’ jokes

There was one brief, shining moment this week on Wednesday. As I said to my husband when updating him: Joe popped up.Joe popped up
Then I almost fell off the chair laughing as he looked at me searchingly, perhaps a bit fearfully. I do hope I’m not alone in finding it funny: the beautiful calm lake at night, silvery in the light spilling out from a cottage window, then sproing! “Hi, my name’s Bob.”

Lost and Found – Joe McIntyre

Poor Joe. Even in death he gets no dignity. Pawed by a Border Collie trying to get him back with the flock. Ostensibly sending flowers to his daughter, and the flowers being the kinds she most dislikes. Ever more convoluted stories being told about his absence, surpassing even his considerable ability to spin complicated and silly lies. You’d hope at least your one talent would stand out at the time of your passing and not have to compete with the efforts of Johnny-come-latelys. It’s just awful, and I’m sure it’s going to get worse, much much worse.

Corrie Crazy on CBC

In happier news, we had Corrie Crazy on CBC this week. So wonderful to see Tony Warren and hear the largely unknown story of original producer Harry Elton’s part in the creation of Corrie Street. When I talked to Mr. Elton many years ago, he was proud of his role in it, but didn’t regret leaving when he did either. He believed, I think, that he had done his part in it. That’s pretty much what Tony Warren said to me too. They created it, saw it successfully on its way and passed it on to new people. But I don’t think they, or anyone, ever expected it would last this many years.

The wedding that was being taped when Debbie Travis was there was pretty much given away. I was avoiding thinking too much when the first scenes were shown because I didn’t want to know. But she gave it away near the end. Too bad. Doing so wasn’t necessary for the doc at all.

Debbie Travis in front of Rovers in Corrie Crazy docI loved seeing the Canadian fans, especially Corrie Street society such as the viewers’ club and the Ping that Travis visited. I’ve never been a “social” Corrie watcher, but it looked like a lot of fun. Hearing that indeed CBC knows how much fans hate having the schedule disrupted made me wonder only, well, then why do they do it so often!

Why we watch

I’d have liked to see something new on why people watch, other than “they’re people just like us”, but maybe that’s the sum total of it. It’s certainly what I’ve been told and maybe it’s no more complicated than that. Tony Warren told me that people come back to it, maybe during low periods in their life when the familiar faces and places give comfort. Certainly the BC journalist fan who was interviewed found that out, both for herself and from the response she got from readers after writing about her Corrie watching. So maybe that’s it: it feels like ‘home’ and sometimes we really need that. It was a joy to watch. Now, if we can get CBC to bring us the recent BBC movie, The Road to Coronation Street, about the beginnings of the show! That would be wonderful.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Dec. 5/10)

"Corrie Crazy" airing on CBC TVBefore 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.

Lake Schtupid

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. To be eligible, you must kill yourself in some spectacularly stupid way. I thought of them often while watching this week.

GailForce sailboat at night on lakeThe 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.

Joe slides down side of boat into waterHe 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.

Gail standing on dock, looking out over lakeJoe 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.

Back on Schtupid Street

Peter drinking from bottle of Scotch outside George's doorAnd 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 a bottle in his coat pocket, demanding to see his son.

But he Barlow family "intervention"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.

Lifeboys: Reality tv before “Reality TV”

In the spring of 1992, I heard an interview with Pat O’Rourke, of Liverpool, on CBC Radio’s As it Happens. It was about Lifeboys, a television show that he was making, based on the real lives of real people. O’Rourke and his wife owned and ran the Shipperies, a long established Lifeboys Shipperies Pub, Durning Road, Liverpoolpub in Wavertree, part of Liverpool in the north of England. In it, they were making Lifeboys, based on their pub and its patrons.

I went to visit the O’Rourkes at the Shipperies when I was in England soon after, while researching Coronation Street for a radio documentary. I liked what they were doing: making art out of their reality, or portraying reality through the art of being Liverpudlian, “Scousers.” Either way, it was blurring the lines between reality and entertainment.  It was neither documentary nor fiction. Now we would call it reality tv; then it was comparable only to continuing serials like Coronation Street and East Enders.

I wish O’Rourke had met another producer in England who, at that time, was also thinking of how to change the stories told on television. Charlie Parsons had an idea for a different kind of show based on reality. He wanted to put ordinary people into extraordinary, and stressful, situations and tape what happened. His idea eventually came to fruition on Swedish television in 1997 as Expedition Robinson. It enjoyed some success there and was produced by broadcasters elsewhere. The idea exploded when Mark Burnett sold it in 2000 to American audiences as Survivor.

Competition or “Real Life”

Since then, there has been every kind of reality show imaginable. Some are competition of stress and manipulation, like Survivor. Some are talent shows.  Others are daily lives of regular people doing whatever it is they do, like a television diary. Some have huge prizes for the winners. Some have only the prize of having your life documented and aired.

UnStable website (CMT) horse and womenI started thinking about the “record of life” type of reality show when I watched one called UnStable. Being interested in horses, I’ll watch anything with the word stable in it. I still can’t figure the show out, other than it seems like a “reality” version of CBC’s Alberta-set horsey drama Heartland. I thought to myself, somebody in Alberta must have watched Heartland and said, “this isn’t what our lives are really like, I bet I could tell better stories about what it means to be a rancher in Alberta.” And, with a proliferation of cable stations looking for cheap programming, they indeed found a buyer in CMT (Country Music Television). They’ve got a nice website and presumably lots of fans who want to see “real” families running “real” horse ranches instead of, or as well as, the fictional ones on Heartland.

So that’s what made me think of Pat O’Rourke and what he had put his heart into. But he was thinking of it in terms of continuing serials like Coronation Street and Liverpool’s Brookside. A couple years later, when reality television began flooding the airwaves, I think his eavesdropping on a Liverpool local would have been a hit.

Lifeboys and Wrinklies

What O’Rourke wanted to do was produce a tv show about his pub patrons by his patrons for his patrons. He had worked in television and film and was an actors’ agent. He borrowed and bought equipment and set up the upstairs of the pub as a production studio. There he and writer Paul McKane wrote and produced scripts based on the stories and lives of the people in his neighbourhood, the people who frequented his bar.

The bar is divided into two – a large public room on one side, bar in the middle, and a smaller parlour on the other. The younger people tended to congregate in the larger bar where the music was loud, the older people in the smaller room. The ones in the large room, at least the men, were known as “Lifeboys”. The people in the smaller room were generally known as “Wrinklies”.

The stories O’Rourke wanted to tell were those from both sides of the bar, but the name he liked for the whole was “Lifeboys”. So the real lifeboys and wrinklies told their stories, and Pat videotaped and took notes. He then edited the tape into short episodes and aired them in the big room for the patrons. Everybody loved it.

Watching at The Shipperies

Evenings when episodes were shown began drawing capacity crowds from the neighbourhood. Lifeboys began getting a lot of media attention too. UK, European, even Canadian tv, radio and newspapers wanted to know about the “pub soap”. O’Rourke and McKane had hopes to get Lifeboys picked up by a network for national broadcast. They thought their product told the real stories of Liverpool. They thought they could go up against Brookside, Emmerdale and, yes, even Coronation Street.

It didn’t happen.  I don’t know why. O’Rourke, McKane and all the actors wanted to make a good product that entertained and reflected their reality, and did. I spent a wonderful three days at the Shipperies, with the real lifeboys and wrinklies, and with the actors and production crew.

Lifeboys didn’t make it into my radio documentary on soaps. But it did inform my look at Coronation Street and the other British network serials. Little things like how local are the actors, are the accents authentic for the characters, are the stories believable for these characters in this place? These are questions that also concern Coronation Street and the other UK serials. But opinions vary on how well they succeed in recreating a realistic picture of their environment. Lifeboys is a section of the book on soaps I later wrote. There I could explore the questions of authenticity of voice that O’Rourke had raised as well as issues of reality and story narrative, accuracy and entertainment.

Authenticity of Story

Historic Fire Station and Shipperies Pub LiverpoolPat O’Rourke cared about seeing Liverpool accurately presented, and Manchester and Yorkshire (homes of the other Northern serials). But his concern went further than that. His question was why create fictional people and situations when such richness of character and lifestories is all around you. The real stories are just as entertaining and moving, and to the greatest extent possible, the best people to tell them are the real people themselves.

He found it’s hard to actually do, with time and budget constraints. Especially if you are aiming at well-oiled machines like Coronation Street as your competition. Also the networks had their continuing serial roster pretty well filled up. With home-grown major products, smaller regional soaps in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and Australian imports giving a shot of sunshine and skin, there wasn’t much room for another one. But there might well have been room for a real-life look inside a Liverpool pub and the lives of its patrons in a couple years. By then, pretty much anything that could be made into a reality show was, and was being bought and aired.

Reality TV

In the years since the original Survivor, there have been every kind of reality show imaginable, and then some. In contest form or storytelling, all (except celebrity ones) are “ordinary” people acting in “real” ways.

Perhaps the genre that Lifeboys should have been a part of is the “reality tv” one, not continuing serials. Yes, the latter are a representation of daily life but are clearly fictional. Like a good novel, they reflect reality but don’t intend, or pretend, to replicate it. Pat O’Rourke wanted to document reality and present it as entertanment. In that he had more in common in Charlie Parsons and Mark Burnett. From what I saw of Lifeboys compared to what I’ve seen of reality shows, I much prefer Pat O’Rourke’s vision.

I still don’t know what I think of UnStable. I watched a couple episodes but haven’t felt moved to watch again. The stories didn’t grab me. But that’s pretty much how I feel about Heartland too. I Heartland website mastheaddon’t care about the people that much, and they always seem so clean even after mucking out stalls. I like the horses, though, on both shows and wish they had bigger roles.

flickr photos of the Shipperies by Caroline & Phil Bunford, top, and Jim Malone, bottom. UnStable and Heartland photos are from their websites.

 

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 28/10)

And he’s back!

There were a lot of “should be” scenes this week.  Some fell short, some have built over time, and an unlikely one happened right near the end.

The glorious Ciaran

At a restaurant, Ciaran toasts Peter's sobrietyThe thing that signaled ‘uh oh’ the most was the appearance from behind a restaurant kitchen door of the glorious Ciaran.  You knew his return was bad news for Peter and for whatever woman or women he encounters this time.

He is so lovely to look at and listen to, but he leaves a swath of destruction behind him.  And all the while, he just smiles with a “what – who, me?” look.  A poster on Corrie Canuck perhaps summarized him the best:  “As for Ciaran, he is not use, but he IS ornament”.  I would go further:  he is more than not “use”; he is a one-man wrecking crew of people’s lives.  But he certainly is ornament.

So you knew as soon as he appeared that Peter was going to fall off the wagon.  But, of course, it wasn’t really Ciaran’s doing.  Once he realized that Peter’s problem was serious, he vowed to help him keep the pledge.

Peter at bar openingBut, I think, just Ciaran’s presence made Peter think it was time to test his recovering/recovered status.  “Hmm, yes, I took a drink and then didn’t take another, so I’m ok.”  Then, at the new bar pre-opening party, he drank many glasses of champagne and seemingly thought of them all as “just one drink”.

In a “scene contender”, he came home after spending a long time in a bar supposedly trying to convince a journalist to not report his spectacular drunken display at the hard-hat party.  Leanne had fallen Peter back home, telling Leanne everything will be okasleep on the couch.  He wakes her, telling her in a drunken fashion, that he’s ok, he’ll be back on the wagon tomorrow, everything will blow over.  No it won’t, she says, it’s over; the bar and, I assume, their relationship and his life as he knows it.

Betty’s birthday

What I expected to be the big scene was Betty’s 90th birthday bash.  It was ok, but not as much history as I’d hoped for.  The introduction of the other elderly barmaid drinking milk stout was a nice reference back to the days of Ena Sharples and her friends.  I doubt if anyone has drank milk stout since then.  But I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere, other than just a little interlude of battling pensioners.

Betty, Steve & Liz celebrate, while the 91 year old disputes Betty's claimI was astounded to learn that Betty Driver, who plays Betty, actually turned 90 just a couple months after her character did.  I had thought the show’s attention to historical fiction accuracy had put them in a bit of a bind. Now, forty years after introducing a character as being a certain age, she’d have to be a barmaid of 90.  So I thought the actress was perhaps 80, and even that seemed like a stretch.  But, according to Wikipedia and Coronation Street sites, Betty Driver was born in 1920 and has been performing since she was a child.  What an amazing woman.

Joe’s farewell

So with history being celebrated through Betty, the big crescendo of Peter and his sobriety crashing down, literally, and the pleasure and trepidation in seeing Ciaran again, it surprised me that a little scene with Joe Joe hugging Tina goodbye, almost in tearstouched me the most.  Joe comes to Tina’s flat to tell her that he and Gail are going away for a few days.  His goodbye is very emotional, more so than Tina expects from her dad for his just going on a short vacation.  He tells her how much she means to him and says goodbye.  It sounded like a real goodbye, not a “see you soon”.

He’s been googling topographic information on depth of water in the Lake District. That caused Gail to say she thought it was a romantic getaway, not a natural sciences expedition.  She seems uneasy, reminding him she’s frightened of water (due to a previous psychopathic husband who also found himself in a financial bind).  So we’ve all been thinking it’s the newly life-insured Gail who will not be returning from this trip.  But Joe’s demeanour with Tina suggests he’s the one not coming back.  He also insured himself, I think.  Maybe he’ll solve his debt problem permanently by removing himself.  I don’t know, but his love for his daughter as he said goodbye felt real.  It was a touching moment between the two of them.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 21/10)

What I really think

Becky shone this week, in every scene with every other character.  aking Kelly on over her flirtation with Steve, taking Steve on, telling Roy and Hayley that her mom had died. Great scenes. Then, Friday, three scenes where I got teary – Becky reading a story to Amy and crying for the loss of her mother; Liz commiserating with Becky over Steve’s behaviour and actually seeming to like and respect her; then the final scene with Becky and Steve reconciling and her telling him she is indeed pregnant.

what I really think - Joe tells Gayle off and Jason and Leann watchWonderful moving stuff. But the scene that has stuck in my head was at the end of Monday’s show. That’s when Joe told Gail what he really, really thought of her. It was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Fellas, abandon hope

In good Street style, the argument moved from the house to the street. So everyone got to watch the show. David came to his mother’s defense, as did Audrey who oh deared and tut-tutted her way to Gail’s side. And Joe told them all: Joe pointing to David, while Audrey watches her daughter be told off“When it comes to the male of the species, you’re the equivalent of Tutankhamun’s Curse.” “That doorway should have a sign over it, ‘fellas, abandon hope all ye who enter’.”  “No wonder this one tried to kill you, it was self-defence. The lad deserves a flaming medal.” Poor Gail was devastated, with cause. But it was wonderful hearing the words that so many of us have felt for so long. Even if those words were coming from Joe, another in her series of loser and possibly homicidal boyfriends.

Unfortunately, they made up. At least he told her the truth about his financial situation and the loan shark. But no one on screen has yet asked that question we in the audience have been asking: “Why don’t you sell the boat?” Now that Ted is back, maybe he will be the one to ask it.

People doing stupid things

On the Becky and Steve topic, something I’m glad to see is the portrayal of people doing stupid and socially verboten things. Last week, when Becky returned from her mysterious errand, she sat on a bench with a big bottle of cider and lit one cigarette off the other. Oh, she must not be pregnant, I thought, or she’s decided to have an abortion or has already had it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be showing her doing that. Earlier, she’d turned down drinks and said she was “cutting down” on smoking. If this were an American soap, indeed most of tv now, there would have to be something wrong with the baby at birth. Just to ensure that the message was clear that drinking and smoking while pregnant is bad.

Steve, in his leathers, drops his bike while "leathered"Then, Friday, what brought Steve to his senses was falling over while attempting to drive his motorbike after getting “leathered” in a bar. We could hear the siren in the background, so presumably Steve could too, as he wobbled astride the bike. Fortunately, he couldn’t stabilize it and he, and the bike, fell to the ground.

Before he fell, I thought oh no, they’re going to have him get in a crash, die and/or kill someone else. Or he’ll get stopped and lose his license. Something bad is going to happen because he’s drinking and intending to drive. We must be given the message in a strong and dramatic way. Instead, he called for a ride. Presumably, he’ll go back tomorrow and get the bike.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 14/10)

Vera

The 2nd anniversary of Vera’s death. Tyrone is sad. But that morning, he doesn’t know what’s about to hit him. All he knows is Molly is being very difficult to live with. At the Rovers, Jack gives him advice about how to handle women. Betty tells Jack that in her almost 90 years, she’d never heard “such a load of codswallop”.

Betty gives Jack a free pint and a kiss on the headThen, in a week of great scenes, comes the one. It’s a two-parter, maybe a minute. First part: Jack sits alone in a booth, finishing his pint. He’s pulled something out of a paper napkin and is holding it. Betty brings another pint over to him. “I didn’t order that,” he says. Betty puts it in front of him, kisses the top of his head and walks back to the bar.

Jack looks at Vera's wedding ringSecond part: Jack looks at the object in his hand. It’s Vera’s wedding ring. He looks down at it and up at the heavens. “My little swamp duck.” Oh my, I could hardly clip the scene from CBC’s online episode for tears blurring my eyes. Whatever will we do when Jack and Betty leave the street? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then, at the end of the episode, Molly begins the “we have to talk” speech with Tyrone. It continued Tuesday. She was leaving him, didn’t love him anymore etc. etc. Why, how can you, etc. etc., poor Tyrone asked. Lines from several hurtin’ songs were used by both of them. “You’re better off without me” and “any girl would be lucky to have you” came from Molly.

Molly telling Tyrone she is leaving himIt was like watching a train wreck. Well, more like being in the train wreck if you’ve ever had a serious relationship end, whether you were the ‘dumpee’ or ‘dumper’. Even though I’ve known what Molly’s been doing the past few months, it still blindsided me. Poor, poor Tyrone.

Next scene, Tyrone twigged in about as long as it takes in these situations: “Who is it?” “There must be someone else.” He’s absolutely right in guessing this, even just from his vantage point as a participant rather than anTyrone in tears, can't believe it observer as we are. There’s always someone else. Speaking from a long history as both dumper and dumpee, there’s always a third person somewhere in the mix. Of course, the dumper always says there’s no one else, “it’s just me”. And, technically, right now Molly is not lying about this. She and Kevin have ended it so, in this tiny frame of time, she is leaving Tyrone because it’s just about her.

Of course, as it always does (and must for soaps to continue with storylines), it will all come out. And if the breakup of Molly and Tyrone was bad, I think the breakup of Kevin and Tyrone will be much, much worse.

Daran Little writing

Both Monday and Tuesday were Daran Little episodes! So happy. I didn’t know there were any more to come of the group of episodes he’d penned after a brief return last year.

Jack telling Tyrone "Vera didn't us to be me and Vera"The loveliest touch of historical analysis he gave us was Tyrone and Molly discussing their relationship in terms of Jack and Vera’s. Like all of us, Tyrone had hoped that he and Molly would be the next Jack and Vera. Horrors, Molly said, that’s exactly what I don’t want to be! Tyrone sees happily married for over fifty years; Molly sees decades of constant rowing and Jack skulking off to get away from her. Both views are correct.

But Molly is using revisionist history to justify what she’s doing, and she must know it. She got to know Jack and Vera well enough to see behind the surface complaining and skulking. She saw Jack when Vera died. So she knows better. But to give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s young and probably still believes in fairy tales where the thrill of romance remains young and alive forever just as you do yourself. Where settling into a routine of going about your business seems a fate worse than death. On the other hand, she knows better. Disparaging the 50 years of Jack and Vera is a way to justify, to herself at least, what she is doing.

The train wreck spreads the rest of the week. Kev is cast in the role of comforter to Tyrone. And in another beautifully wrought scene, Jack gives his take on the “being Jack and Vera” issue. He says to Tyrone, “Vera didn’t want us to be like me and Vera.”

Molly says to Dev, “don’t say anything nice to me”. I say to the screen, “no danger of that, dearie!” Auntie Pam is the only one who seems to share my feelings. In a plea for sympathy, Molly whines, “ Everyone’s already looking at me like I’ve just stamped on a kitten.” Pam’s response?  “Oh, happens you just have.” Thank you, Auntie Pam.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 7/10)

Private Gary

Private Gary with EddieI shed a tear for the Windasses this week.  Friday, Eddie unveiled the cake he’d baked for Gary’s going away party at the Rovers, the cake Gary said he hadn’t wanted because “men don’t eat cake.”  In honour of his joining the Army, it was shaped like a hand grenade.  Anna, despite her horror at the macabre design her husband had chosen as a send-off for their son, was touched and wanted Eddie and Gary to express their feelings for each other.

A bit of foot-shuffling by Eddie and Gary, looks of horror toward Anna for wanting them to get “touchy-feeling”. Some “yeah, well, that’s what I think of you too” stuff between them.  Then a lovely moment when Gary looks at his dad with real love in his eyes and a kind of “gotcha” grin.  Then each spits in his hand and clasps the other’s in a long handshake cum embrace.

Everyone partook of the cake and pronounced it light and delicious, one of Eddie’s best.  Eddie is sufficiently moved by emotion toward his son, the strong turnout by street residents for their party and by the expressions of goodwill toward Gary that he actually buys a round for everyone.  But one still wonders whose wallet he lifted in order to get the money!

Community acceptance

A bullseye stuck to Gary's back is discovered by his momThis party, with almost everyone on the street there, might be the turning point for the Windasses in terms of community acceptance.  David pulls a prank on Gary – sticks a paper bulls-eye on his back.  When it’s discovered, everyone calls David on it and speaks in Gary’s defence.  Even Roy.  And Chesney tells David that Gary is “worth a thousand of you.”   Janice agrees with him.

In David’s defence, he has good reason to dislike and distrust Gary.   And, by Gary’s leaving for the Army, the street residents are getting rid of a felon who has demonstrated that he’s willing to steal from anyone, even his neighbours.  Still, it’s nice that it is Gary who pretty much says that himself.  In talking with Chesney about why he’s joined up, he points out that he doesn’t have many options. If he hadn’t done this, he’d likely just end up in jail again.

Gary hugs his dad goodbye outside the RoversIn a follow-up scene, the taxi waits for Gary and everyone is outside the pub to see him off.  Gary hugs his mom, then turns to his dad.  Eddie hands him an envelope, says “don’t laugh”.  It’s what he wrote to Gary telling him how he feels about him.  Gary does a little awkward “man”  shuffle then throws his arms around his dad in a big hug.  I felt affection for a person who usually is truly “a little toe-rag”.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Oct. 31/10)

C

There was a lot of good stuff this week.  Carla hauling the vodka bottle out of her desk drawer and telling Sally Carla-talking-with-Sally“orange juice in the fridge” after Sally has told her why she needs time off work.

Also excellent is the ongoing storyline with the dueling grandfathers in the Barlow family: there’s a lot of show – and English – history with Ken and George battling it out over education options for Simon.  Have a look at the first episode where Albert Tatlock gives Ken a little lesson in class consciousness when the young university student is feeling caught between two class worlds.  Also in that episode, a bicycle is being repaired in the Barlow living room, just like last week.  But that time Ken wasn’t doing the fixing, rather he was mortified about it.  But for the scene of the week, I stand by the decision I made early in the week.  (Sun, Oct. 31st)

Tuesday – C scene

I’m writing this Tuesday.  I’m sure I’ve just watched “the scene”.  Bill comes by Kev and Sally’s to see how Sally’s visit to the oncologist went.  Just Kevin is there, Sally is upstairs having a long soak.  Bill kind of shuffles from foot to foot and tries to look cheery.  His body language is that of visiting “the sick room” – that not knowing C - Kevin explains lymph node surgery to Billwhere to look or what to say.  Kevin tells him what the process will be, his lips uncomfortably forming the words “lumpectomy” “lymph nodes”.  His speaking manner is a bit stilted, like he’s reciting or practicing a phrase in a foreign language.  And he is:  he’s repeating the words of the doctor, words he may have heard before but never had them apply to his own life.  C words, the vocabulary of cancer.

As Kevin talks, Bill’s face transforms.  He’s listening, hearing and understanding the words but he’s going back in his mind.  Looking at Bill, I could see his wife and Bill, hearing the same words in their doctor’s office years before.  He never mentioned his wife, he said hardly anything at all other than the usual words one offers.  He asked if the girls knew yet.  No, Kevin said.  After giving best wishes, chin up etc., Bill leaves.  End of scene.  I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Bill listens to Kev tell about Sally's surgery - CCancer has not affected me directly in my own family, so I wasn’t remembering something familiar and sad to me.  Maybe I’m wrong on the powerfulness of this scene; maybe if I had more firsthand knowledge I wouldn’t have found it so evocative.  But I don’t think so.  I think it was beautifully and knowledgeable written and acted.

Also it speaks to the history of the show with a deft touch.  I’m beginning to feel I know Mrs. Webster the Elder.  I don’t even know her first name, I don’t remember Bill as a younger man.  But I’m starting to know that man and his wife.  I always loved the episodes written by Daran Little, long time programme archivist and later writer.  If I hadn’t caught the opening credits, I knew as soon as I heard a reference to the past that it was a Daran episode.  “Oh goody,” I would think, “they decided we’ll get a history lesson”.  I loved how Daran wove the long-ago history of present and past characters into present episodes.  His writing always added depth to the episode, giving more dimensions to what was happening on screen.  No other writer did it, perhaps because it was Daran’s specialty.

Unfortunately, Daran has moved on from Coronation Street, and I miss his “history lessons”.  I’m delighted that other writers and directors (Damon Rochefort and Durno Johnston in this case) are strengthening today’s stories with understated reference to the past.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Oct. 24/10)

Trifecta

No one scene jumped out at me this week. But three spoke a bit, for different reasons. The Becky after pregnancy test scenepenultimate scene with Steve and Becky. A close up of Becky looking back at Steve, worried, pensive, scared, maybe all of the above.  She had been in the Rovers’ bathroom earlier, taking a pregnancy test out of the box. She’s been like a frightened rabbit since.

When she learned Claire had told Steve Becky didn’t want kids, she told Claire off in no uncertain terms. No ‘bezzy mates’ if you blab. She had a long talk with her real ‘bezzy mates’ Roy and Hayley, about kids and marriage but didn’t tell them the results of her pregnancy test. Steve has got very broody all of a sudden and is pressuring her to have a baby, even without knowing she thinks she’s pregnant. That’s the only part of this story that strikes me as rather contrived, indeed “soapish”. I could accept Steve getting broody and wanting a baby with Becky and her resisting. I could also accept her thinking she might be pregnant, not telling him, taking the test and not knowing what to do with the information (assuming it’s positive). But having the two things happening at the same time, without Steve knowing that Becky is at the stage of taking a pregnancy test? It says American daytime to me, not Coronation Street.

Family history scene

Kev and BillSecond “almost” scene was earlier in the week – Kevin telling his dad about Sally’s cancer, and their talk about the death of Kevin’s mother from cancer. I don’t remember Kevin’s mother so don’t know if this was an on-screen story or not. Still, it was moving to see the two of them talking about their shared loss, and to hear Bill talk about how he coped with losing his wife and caring for two children. From reading the comments at Corrie Canuck, I see this scene was a big hit with many of them. As some people there said, it was nice to get some of Bill’s backstory. Also nice to see Corrie writers using their history and putting present stories in the context of stories and characters from the past.

God-awful Scene

Connor family discussionThird “almost” – for sheer awfulness – was New Year’s Eve and Michelle coming home with her cute little roofer pick-up guy. She wants to get a few things for a surprise sleepover with him at a ritzy hotel. What does she find when they come through the door? Her teenage son and his girlfriend in the middle of their own “sleepover”!

But that wasn’t the awful part. That came when, after a weird discussion about teenage sex, Michelle gets her stuff together to go to the hotel for her overnighter with Bob the Builder. I’m not sure that woman should be allowed to raise a goldfish.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Oct. 17/10)

Molly’s Turkey

Molly pulls the Christmas turkey out of the oven. The pan tips and the turkey slides out on the floor. Oh, the poor girl.

Molly pulls turkey out of ovenI haven’t had a lot of sympathy for her in this whole affair with Kevin, but my heart bled for her in this scene and the one leading up to it. That’s where Kevin breaks it off with her. What I liked in the follow-up scene was there was the turkey on its platter in the middle of the table, with Tyrone, Jack and all tucking into it.

Molly did what I’d hoped she did when I saw the turkey laying in the middle of the kitchen floor. She picked it up, wiped it off, put it on a platter and served it – ta da! – telling no one of its little side trip en route to table from oven.

Pick turkey – and yourself – up

Now, girl, that’s what you have to do with yourself.  Pick yourself up, look your best and carry on!  Easier said than done, when your “great romance” has just told you that you’re childish and selfish and acts as if you were the only one with delusions of leaving partners and going off to a new and wonderful life together.  At the best of times, that is difficult to hear from someone who has said he or she loves you.  But when an hour before, it’s him who has persuaded you that it’s time to up stakes, tell the spouses that you’re leaving them and damn the consequences.  All on Christmas Day?  Even Molly, deluded as she is about the ease with which a marriage or two can be ended, seemed not entirely sure that Christmas Day, before the turkey dinner, was the best time to do this.

She really is still just a girl without a lot of experience in adult relationships.  But she’s learning fast, as her look of hurt and stunned disbelief showed when Kevin lectured her about why he could now not leave Sally.  That he had to stand by his wife, now she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Earlier he’d also told Molly that he had to stand by his family until Sophie was through her school exams.  Molly said ok to that. But, after finding out about the romantic weekend in Paris Kevin and Sal had, she said ok, enough!  Good for you, Molly!

But Kevin couldn’t leave it at that.  No, he persuades her running away is a good, and romantic, thing to do.  She falls for it – of course she would!  She loves him or at least is infatuated with him or the thrill of an affair.  Then, when he does the right thing and says he’s staying with his wife, he has to belittle Molly.

Power imbalance

There’s already a power imbalance between Molly and Kevin.  She’s a lot younger than him, so he can feel good about having a young woman fawning over him.  But he can also turn it the other way around when it suits his purpose; she’s silly and immature, too young to understand these things.  And, being young, those words will hurt her without her realizing what it also says about him and his level of maturity.  Molly has just learned an important lesson about relationships: whatever someone says they like about you can be used against you in bad moments.

Meanwhile, she knows that she came within a hair’s breadth of destroying her life with Tyrone.  It probably is already destroyed. But at least now she won’t be letting it happen because of the promises of a fool’s paradise with Kevin.  Unless, of course, he decides he can’t cope with Sally and her cancer without the support of his “real love” Molly.  Then he’ll put her through the emotional wringer again and again.  If she lets him.  I hope the dropped turkey and her fast coping with that shows her she’s got the emotional strength to deal with her other “dropped turkey” – Kevin.