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SHELLEY VISION: EastEnders is criminally bad.

Byline: JIM SHELLEY

IT'S been a horrible few weeks in EastEnders. What with the sagas of Shirley's cat/flat, the Moaner Lisa's Kill Phil plot, and Nana Moon wittering "I'm getting a whole lot worse, aren't I?" (yes) before going under the Black & Decker.

(Shelleyvision was willing Alfie to do the compassionate thing, and put us, I mean her, out of her misery with a pillow, Mick Johnson-style.)

As for Garry "Hob-nob" Hobbs, rebounding between sleeping with Laura and Lynne... that's just cruel - to Garry and the bloke that plays him.

All year, the show's one saving grace has been the "will they/won't they?" story of whether Alfie would get together with Kat, a storyline that reached its climax on Friday with Kat and Andy's wedding.

The problem with "will they/won't they?" storylines is that you need a "won't they". Not even anyone as senile as Nana Moon would have thought that there was a Kat in 'ell's chance that Alfie wasn't going to a) get to the ceremony in time and b) leave with Kat.

In EastEnders' heyday, Kat's wedding would have been a minor classic. Instead it degenerated into the sort of cliche-ridden farce usually reserved for Frank Butcher spin-offs.

Even the hen night was a let-down - yet another episode based around Belinda's wig - while Alfie's slapstick dash to the church bore the hoariest hallmark of the soap wedding. (The zany mode of transport, in Alfie's case, being Ian Beale's chip van.)

Personally, I never believed in Andy going out with Kat in the first place, let alone marrying her, and certainly not in a big white wedding in a church that looked like a cross between The London Dungeon and a gothic nightclub from the 80s.

The styling of the wedding was absurd, with only the Slater girls dressing in Silk Cut purple plausible. Andy appeared to have gone to the wedding in fancy dress (as Lord Byron) while Kat was wheeled down the aisle on casters, looking like an enormous piece from Cluedo (Mrs White).

As for the "fight" scene going on as Kat and Alfie emerged arm-in-arm, it was so half-hearted they must have got the extras from the local nursing home rep. As Phil would say, it was "paffe'ic".

Mind you, nothing about Andy Hunter was ever very convincing. The Slater sisters spent all week saying what a "lovely" bloke he was, while all the blokes in the Square went on about what a hard nut he was. But he couldn't really be both. As it turned out, he wasn't really either.

Having been dumped at the altar by Kat and usurped by Alfie, you might have thought that the geezer who has supposedly taken over from the "legendary" Jack Dalton would at least have burnt the Vic down and broken both of Alfie's legs.

But if last night's episode is anything to go by, Andy is having one of his "lovely" periods and leaving Alfie alone for Kat's sake. (She muttered something about the fact she'd "heard things" - suggesting to him that she wasn't as thick as he thought she was - not the smartest debate to enter into.)

The whole storyline of Hunter, Dalton, Dennis, and finally The Ghost of Dirty Den, has highlighted the flaw that is ruining the whole series.

When is EastEnders going to make up its mind about how it portrays "villains" - the charmless petty criminals, ranging from minor toe-rags like Martin Fowler, Minty and Tariq to major "faces" like Phil Mitchell, Hunter and The Ghost - characters that are basically just thugs, thieves and protection racketeers, but who, half the time, we're expected to care about and even feel sorry for?

Overrun with mean-minded, two-bit gangsters, endless family rows and whingeing teenagers, and even nagging females turning into wannabe hitmen...

It's time to face the horrible truth that EastEnders is turning into Brookside.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 18, 2003
Words:651
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