Friday, 10 December 2010

Happy 50th Coronation Street: Tram Week or the Longest day!

I know it's been a while since I watched, but when we saw the new hair do's and the changed attitudes of several characters, it's obvious more happened in 4 months  than  the continued shite storm of ludicrous story lines and barely tolerable scripts. When Phil Collinson first took over, it looked like the new broom was sweeping big style, but after a bit, it seems too much of the old regime was well entrenched enough to be unmoveable. Turns out however that the steam has come out of the more insane and inane stories.  All that's left for me is to see the back of the less than convincing lesbians, and I'll be happy.

So what has changed in all that time? Well, a few things stick out really pleasantly, starting with the Websters. Rosie is going out with a proper man, Jason Grimshaw, rather than running after millionaires or teenagers, her mam Sally has new hair and a new far nicer way of dealing with people. And here I thought I was going to look forward to her exit via fire and death. Kevin has changed his tune, far more like the old Kevin who was a bit rough but mostly a decent human being. Overall, the street has seen the women drop the charv clothes and hair they were till very recently wearing along with the orange fake tan that had become a rash by the time Phil had come to the controls. It's nice to see the retro hair  that was bubbling  up from the non X factor music scene. One hopes the look that has lurked just under the pop culture radar, now storms full fledged onto the public conciousness. Along with the hair, we saw a number of characters grow from ill kept teens into older more mature adults.  To be honest, just how much longer could David Platt been an impetuous teen skyving off school?  Whil I'm the subject of the streets most likely to go to prison candidate, he's got himself a nice enough girlfriend who seems like the sort of influence you'd want for a person like David, not that it helped him when the now all grown up and lovely , de tangoed Tina was dating him. Another character that's grown from strength to strength, is Graham Proctor. He has dropped the shiny cheap clothes of  the dispossessed and bored urban youth for the kit of a responsible young man with a potential wife. As for the rest of the cast over the age of 20, there seems to have been a migration away from the over the top clothes and frankly silly behaviour that had me fleeing for so long. Maybe it was the fact that 4 people were about to leave the street or that so many of the sillier stories were wrapping up, but it seemed to bring back the older better writting that had so much humour in the past.

Tram week, aka The Longest Day, started off well enough with a lot of the usual histrionics and red herrings as to who we would most expect to die. Collinson, didn't miss a trick, every device ever used in a WW2 film was dragged out. The I love ya baby scene, the bit where two people ague and toss a coin to see who stays inthe boring safe place and who goes into the jaws of death, only to do the old switcheroo.  Molly tells Tyrone she's gannin and taking baby Jack with her and there's nothing he can do about it. Welllllll  how wrong was she about that? It think it brave and artistically important that the Corrie bosses make a real effort to inject some sense of  danger and impending loss to even the most beloved and oldest of characters. If there is to be a tragic accident like this, there should be some jeopardy by the bucket load.  I had hoped a few of the older cast could have been seen reacting as the accident occurred and later on as the rubble and the fire made them flash back to the blitz, but alas that was a trick missed by one of the best people in telly. As it is most the best suited for the lines were dead or too busy propping up the bar or serving drinks.

And ooo what a glorious accident and just prior to that, explosion in the Joinery. As cataclysmic episodes of mayhem and destruction, I couldn't have expected less of the Doctor Who pyrotechnics teams brought in special for the job.  As my mate Keith Topping said  in  the relative comfort of our geek cave at Gallibase, the tram driver put a bit of mustard on it, but then it was likely to be his most famous work for a while, so why not. As for the much vaunted Corrie realism, it was thee in spades complete with enough rubble and fire and creaking to make Tony Robinson giddy with joy at the prospect of excavating the mess.  The dramatic tension and anticipation on display was enough to make you want to squirm off wherever you were sat, but we resisted the temptation and just concentrated on the bits were there was likely to be the most carnage, while my wife and myself took turns commenting on just who was going to get hurt, who was safe and why wasn't Molly among eh dead sooner. Harsh I know, but her character had run it's course soo long ago I wanted a beam to split her open on contact.  More on Molly later.    The other part that really ramped the drama up was the trio of men trapped in the Joinery office, would they get out , would they stay trapped, well of course but not without some extreme bravery , sacrifice and last minute career ending cave in of debris. The effects in side were terribly compressed and the camera work was dizzying to a degree but did show how disorienting the change of scenery had been. 

The two bits of overacting I most "enjoyed" taking the piss out of was Fizz giving birth and Molly dying.  Fizz first. I don't think I ever heard as much screaming during a birth on telly ever. Not for me to say how convincing it was, but she certainly put on a great show.  As for Molly Dobbs.... He weeeze,   pause  Chose you....pause  pause , you're  whezze gasp cough .... beautiful ,  It goes on like this for rather a long time, till she's confessed to Sally that she had an affair with Kevin, Jack is Kevin's baby, she was sorry about it all but not about baby Jack,  how great it was that Kevin had chosen Sally,  not to forget to give generously to charity and to return her library books. That's the great thing about mortis dramatis.... you can bang on for hours before the Grim Reaper collects you. In Molly's case, she certainly milked it.  Peter Barlow's wedding was the other tragicomic display of pathos, misery and deep sorrow. The Long NOOOOOOOOOOO when he appeared to die was the sort of thing most brides on telly want to do, at least on soaps. We of course wish them wedded bliss  till death them do part or the next producer notices they're too happy.

As far we know for sure, there are only two dead from the cast, Molly and  Ashley, two more to come, though rumour has it we could see Peter survive only to have his rival for Lee Ann kill himself.. Victim number three?  Rita Sullivan,  baby Jack, Charlotte after all?  We'll have to wait for Monday. but I know that we'll be losing the horrid Mrs. Peacock finally and maybe even the Websters, I'd like that you know. Both families of late have inflicted enough misery over the years on me that it's time they were sent packing. especially Claire. I bet she would have preferred an un-castrated, living Ashley, but she killed him long before the bricks fell on him. Hero Jason Grimshaw delivers the best reaction of the night, "I want to get drunk, like this never happened" or words to that effect, then heads over to the Rovers for a liquid meal. I'm sure a few complaint will be made to Ofcom.

"She's still got a bit of a pulse"
Best comedy line of the week hands down.... John Stape has just dragged the apparently deceased by hammer blow, Charlotte Hoyle and dropped her in some rubble to be discovered, only to have the paramedics examine her and say......"She's still got a bit of a pulse". The laughter that broke out at ours when we heard that was uncontrollable, then the face on Stape when he looked like he was thinking " How rubbish am I , that I can't even kill somebody with a hammer?". I thought I was going to loose it right there and then. Hats off to the comic geniuses at Corrie who manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat like this when you least expect it.  Silliest people award goes to the 6 people who rang the Manchester Transit Authority to find out if the the Tram service had been disrupted due to the accident on Coronation Street. I know it looks pretty real, but it's not like you didn't know about it from the TV Guide. Daftest rumour goes to the alleged newspaper that published the story that "Corrie lay on extra security and cavity searches because of terrorist threat to Coronation Street live show" . The truth is Granada had their own security, and asked for a few extra police to help make sure nobody got hurt and that the shoot went well/ Granada paid for the extra manpower and the only terrorist near the place were the Pigeon Liberation Front of Manchester, whose crude device mayor may not have been the cause of the Joinery explosion. 

Al this begs the question, is our Corriecation over? Probably until the body count is confirmed and regular service resumes. IF it's still good  then,  I can't see myself stopping until the next batch of stories too stupid to endure. Not like we haven't been there before, every few years the writers or the producer get too cocky and forget what works or it's the December drift stories. If pressed, I'd have to say the splash of money and new writing was worth the effort and most likely recaptured any lost viewers who had wandered off during the last 4 to 5 months.  Now if only Phil Collinson  can rebuild the street and steer a course more reminiscent of the times when Jack Duckworth was the norm and psycho killers only seemed interested in Gail Platt.

Read my review of the excellent BBC Road to Coronation Street

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