Coronation Street Apr. 28/13

Local Hero

Karl the local hero, having a hard time with doing everything right while really he’s done I-know-how-you-feel karl local heroeverything wrong. He has been hailed as a hero since he attempted to pull Stella out of the burning Rovers. Of course, it was actually Paul who hauled her out, then Toni went in for Karl and died before she could get out herself. But especially for Gloria and Stella, Karl’s the hero. So that’s all right because he did it all for Stella anyway.

Asha-feetHe’s praised now, after the fire, for other reasons too. He has been wonderful with Sunita’s twins. They may not have liked him much when he lived with their mother and them, but he’s done wonders for Asha this week. Reassuring her that her mother was a good person and that she had nothing to do with setting the fire at the Rovers.

Asha-in-shedDev may not have liked Karl much either. It was Karl for whom Sunita left him. But seeing how he has helped Asha come to terms with her mother’s death and seeing as how he was willing to put aside his traumatic experience in the fire (being a hero) and come to Sunita’s funeral for Dev’s sake, even Dev has to admit that Karl’s a stand-up guy.

Right now Karl could get away with anything in Weatherfield, his standing is so high. He could get away with murder. Wait – that’s exactly what he’s done. Police accept that Sunita likely started the Rovers’ fire and she likely died by accident or suicide. The case is closed. Karl got away with arson and murder.








Explaining to Sunita’s kids

But those kids! Having to look at them trying to make sense of their mother’s death and life. Seeing Dev’s desperation in trying to understand why his knowledge of Sunita and the facts as the police give them don’t add up. Dev trying to explain to his children that Mummy had nothing to do with the fire, no matter where she was found, no matter what Simon or anyone else says. Seeing the gratitude in all Alahan eyes, so relieved at his words of understanding, of solidarity.

I-miss-my-mummyIn the back garden, he tells Asha unconditionally that her mother had nothing to do with the fire. She believes him, probably wants to anyway. But Karl is so convincing about it that she has no room left for doubt. The irony is that he is telling her the absolute truth. And he is the only living being that knows it.

I think he would have cracked with Asha. I not-her-fault-was-itthink he would have told her if she had asked why he was sure, how he knew Mummy didn’t do it. What Asha would have done with that information if he had, I don’t know. But I’m sure she would have listened and let him tell her.

Not like Stella when he nearly told her the truth at Sunita’s funeral. As an adult and a mother, feeling her job is always to comfort and console, she wouldn’t let him talk. She Asha-and-Karl-in-yardgot too busy saying you’re not to blame, no need to feel guilt. There there, it will all be ok. Sometimes the ability to just shut up and let someone talk can pay big dividends. This would have been one of them.

Coronation Street Apr. 21/13

Reefer Madness

waitress-sylvia reefer madnessTuesday, Dennis asks Sylvia about the effectiveness of her hash brownies for pain relief. Works a treat she said as she swiftly cleared and cleaned tables using her previously painful wrist. Having wrenched his back, Dennis stops scoffing about the expected effects of marijuana and pleads for some for his back pain.

Sylvia baked them herself, using ingredients given to her by Stan the brownie “pusher man”. Hers rita-pulls-dennis-off-floorclearly were stronger than his, and Dennis keeled over in a happy stoned heap after just a bite or two. Rita found him, then saw the leftover brownie. One sniff of it and she knew. Sylvia and Dennis were trotted off to Dr. Carter’s office for a talk on ‘proper’ pain control and unanticipated physiological dangers of marijuana.

Did producers fear a spike in marijuana purchase and usage by elderly Britons? Have physicians written to Coronation Street asking them to stop this storyline? Because if I suffered from chronic pain, I’d be at my local One O’Clock Club right quick looking for a Stan!

Social Impact

Rita finds hash brownieAnyone who has read about the social impact of Coronation Street knows that its stories affect people’s attitudes and behaviour. Two examples come to my mind. First, enquiries from men to nursing schools increased when Martin Platt went into nursing. Second, years before that, law suits against town councils about stubbed toes increased after Stan Ogden sued Weatherfield council for an injury to his toe from uneven cobbles on the street.

every-sprinkleGoogling Sylvia and hash brownies didn’t produce anything from medical and substance abuse professions about the current storyline. I did find this article about Stephanie Cole’s thoughts on her character’s actions. She indicates that it will treat the subject seriously and not just be a funny story about pensioner stoners.

I don’t know if the story has ended with Dr. Carter’s warnings about increased blood pressure and other health risks. Possibly, since they were using it for medicinal rather than recreational purposes and marijuana is not physiologically addicting in the way that opiates and cocaine are.

Hash or cocaine

sylvia-looks-at-candySo this story begs to be compared with the one about Ryan and cocaine. Within a couple months, Ryan began using cocaine to the point he was dangerous to himself and others, then he stopped. End of story. Sylvia and Dennis ceasing their brownie consumption immediately would be more realistic than Ryan apparently never having another thought about cocaine.

I’d like to know what Dr. Carter counsels for chronic pain relief. I hope it is not percocet or with-dr-carteroxycodone unless Corrie writers are going to delve into the real nastiness of those legal and heavily prescribed painkillers. They could do that; the continuing serial format allows for presentation of multiple sides of an issue and this is an important one. I am so sorry, though, that we didn’t get to see Norris and Mary stoned.

Coronation Street Apr. 14/13


Kirsty-with-phoneTuesday, Kirsty’s face as Ruby cries upstairs. You know that this is the end of the storyline and the end of the road for Kirsty. The only question is what is she going to do. Is she going to end the cycle of familial physical violence or perpetuate it  Is she going to admit she was lying or start hitting the baby? She looks for help at Dr. Carter’s office. He won’t give her sleeping pills. She won’t consider a therapist. She goes home. Ruby sleeps, until Julie comes to confront Kirsty. The baby begins crying again.

She carries Ruby down from upstairs, cooing at her to try to comfort her.  But her sh-sh-sh sounds become words: “shut up shut up” still said in a soothing voice. Her patience is at the snapping screams-at-babypoint. And indeed, she snaps. The murmured “shut up” becomes a loud scream right in the baby’s face: SHUT UP.

She stops herself, horrified at what she’s done. Then picks up the baby in her carrier. Where is she going? Next door to beg Julie to take the baby? No, she doesn’t knock at Eileen’s door where inside Julie is crying on Sean’s shoulder after Kirsty hit her hard. (Why they didn’t try to rescue Ruby, I don’t know.) They hear the baby cry, then sudden silence. I fear Kirsty will head to the Canal, where so many Weatherfield evil-doers end the stories of themselves and their victims.

In the courtroom

in-courtroomMy guesses are wrong. Next episode she goes to the courtroom, baby in arms, and asks that Tyrone take the child. It was she, Kirsty says, who battered Tyrone and she feared she would do the same to Ruby. After some strange and convoluted judicial outrage about decorum, they charge her with perjury and obstruction of justice. They also release Tyrone and return Ruby to him. As Kirsty is taken to the cells, through a window she sees Tyrone walking down the street, carrying the baby with Fiz hanging off his arm. My heart broke for Kirsty.

All the actors in this story have been brilliant, but Natalie Gumede has been stunning. She has illustrated all sides of the cycle of domestic abuse. She has recollected the young girl, terrified of Kirsty-horrifiedher father and frightened for her mother’s safety. She’s shown us the young girl confused and let down by her mother’s unwillingness to protect herself and her child. She has also shown us a vicious abuser, able to hit someone she loves with anything that comes to hand and make him feel it is his fault that she is “forced” to do this.  Then she has shown the regret and horror that an abuser feels after their loss of control and the nightmare that she has become exactly the same as the person she feared and hated.

Stopping the cycle

But she stopped the cycle, early enough that probably it will not affect Ruby in later life. I thought it would be her mother who stopped it, who said I can’t let another generation of abuse exist. But by not telling the court what she knew, her mother was continuing the cycle of abuse and convicting an innocent man. She was allowing her own victimization to destroy more lives, and calling it protecting her child. stupid-stupid

But two wrongs don’t make a right. Kirsty put more on the line than she had ever asked of her mother. She declared herself an abuser and put herself behind bars in order to save her child. All she had asked of her mother was for her to leave an abusive husband and father. I think her mother has as much self-examination to do as Kirsty has.

Coronation Street Apr. 7/13


I’m going against the tide of what I’ve read this past week. I’m picking Dev, with the doctor who tells him the seriousness of Sunita’s condition and with Karl in her hospital room.

too-early-to-tell dev hears sunita's prognosisWith the doctor, Dev doesn’t want to hear her words. He acts like if he continues to question and refute what she is saying, he will force her to say what he wants to hear. When he unwillingly acknowledges that the doctors cannot do anything to bring her around, he uses threats. He will get a second opinion, he will sue them for everything they’re worth, etc.

we-are-doingThis is Dev, the personal and professional of him. He wears his ego, and heart, on his sleeve. He projects the image, at least to himself, of big time operator. A man who can afford the best and takes nothing from nobody – that’s what he wants people to see. That’s the Dev he needs to get him through this horrible news: that there’s nothing to do but wait and hope, and the odds are against her.

Talking to Karl

at-the-cinemaLater, at Sunita’s bedside, talking about the movie he and the kids went to. The ticket they had for Sunita. He’s talking to her while directing his words to Karl. He talks about what happened in the lobby, but not what he thought. Probably he was angry, watching his kids reluctant to go into the show in case mummy turned up.

maybe-mummy-will-comeAt that moment, his resentment was about her letting the kids down. But he has been resentful and angry toward her for a long time, since he found out about her affair with Karl. He got over that and would have taken her back but she rebuffed him. Then she wanted back with him, but couldn’t say she loved him. He unhappily turned his back on her. Just as he is rethinking that decision, she is seriously injured. Now he can’t tell her he loves her and wants tangles-us-all-upher back, no matter what.

So he just keeps telling her and anyone else around, trying to force her to consciousness by denying nay-sayers like the doctors. Even Karl, the man who betrayed him with her, is ok as a sounding-board, as a way to talk to Sunita.

Force of will

Dev lives in extremes and believes his own press.  He his-face-just-lookingbelieves his image of himself as a player. By force of will, he believes, he can have everything turn out right. He does not do this in a subtle way; there has never been anything subtle about the outward Dev. The subtlety in Dev’s character is in how important it is for his self-image that others believe in it too. If others do not see him as The Man, powerful and sexy, he loses it.  Suaveness becomes bravado, sensitivity becomes buffoonery.

just-look-at-herSo we see a bereft Dev, willing Sunita to live by talking about her with the man who stole her from him then cast her aside. Even if he’d looked up at Karl, standing stone-faced behind him, I doubt Dev could have taken himself out of his battle of will for Sunita’s well-being and seen that, really, all Karl wants is for Sunita to die. That is the only way to ensure that the secret of Karl’s arson is kept.