Friday, January 02, 2004
NOT-SO-HAPPY NEW YEAR
The festive season is rarely a good time to be a soap opera character, and this year has been no exception.
As usual, the most ridiculous events are taking place in Emmerdale, where a storm of biblical proportions is currently flattening all the bits of the village that haven't previously been flattened in some other disaster (coming next year – Betty Eagleton is menaced by a plague of locusts outside the Post Office).
The big news is that, like all the best witches, sour-faced Tricia Dingle has been flattened by a house. Well, it's actually the living accommodation above the Woolpack, but that's close enough for us.
The team have obviously spunked a lot of cash on the special effects (especially the lightning bolt, which was quite impressive), but we would have been much happier with the whole affair if they had not grafted on lots of inappropriate background music. We Brits don't like our soaps with a soundtrack, thank you very much, so leave it out.
Things haven't been much happier in EastEnders, where a deeply unpleasant storyline has seen the demise of poor Barry Evans, chucked off a cliff by his slutty new wife, Janine.
You can always tell when a cast member has really pissed off the powers that be, as their exit from the soap is usually fairly horrible. The EastEnders bosses have pulled out all the stops for Barry's farewell storyline, with Janine telling him a few home truths about how she couldn't stand having his blubbery body writhing away on top of her.
We found the last scene, with evil Janine crouching over Barry's body as she waited for him to die, quite unsettling, and reckon a lot of other viewers will have felt the same. Perhaps it would have been better played for laughs, with some kind of comedy trampoline at the bottom of the cliff, and Barry boinging back to laugh in Janine's face.
On the face of things, events in Coronation Street have been no less distressing, but the key difference is that there's enough warmth and humour to make watching the show an uplifting experience, in contrast to the cloud of depression that hangs over most episodes of EastEnders.
The New Year's Day episode was a cracker, with simmering tension between Blanche and Deirdre, culminating in a splendid scene at the end where Deirdre finally snaps and tells the old old bat to pack her bags, to the delight of many millions of fans around the country.
The storylines in Corrie might not have been as big, but it was the most enjoyable to watch by quite a long way. And there are more treats to come, as Rita "The Beater" Sullivan gets to grips with horrible little Chesney, and Todd's call to bumming becomes even stronger when he meets a fit gay boy called Karl at the hospital. Bring it on!