Sunday, 8 July 2018

Coronation Street Review: "Hard Times"

With the World Cup currently taking a centre stage, many of us are left with quite the dilemma; football or soaps? As much as I may like Coronation Street? Football wins every time and I have absolutely no regrets since this World Cup has been absolutely fantastic.

Something equally as good though was Friday's installment of Coronation Street. It had the right balance of humor and drama and of course, the return of Rana! I'll get into more of that in a moment.

Friday's installment picked up more or less where Wednesday left off. Ryan was in hospital, Michelle was keeping a vigil by his bedside, Robert was questioning what drama he'd gotten wrapped up in this time and Doctor Ali was here for service.

Whenever soaps have a character who works in the Emergency Services they become port of call for all disasters. If there's a crime to be reported, Crag will be on the case with his Superiors. If you're in the Rovers and get a spot of indigestion, Liz and Moira will be right there to offer you a Doctor's appointment as soon as possible. If you've got symptoms of the flu, Rana will be there to dish out handful advice. Or at least, she used to be. Now with Doctor Ali on the scene, all medical emergencies will be handled by him. Got a murderer on the loose, holding everyone hostage and demanding a bleeding person is attended to? Who needs nurse Rana's expert hands when we can have Ali to take control. Granted I have fallen behind slightly due to the football, but last time I checked Ali was just supposed to be a Doctor at the medical centre, and even if he is now picking up shifts at the hospital?

There's still no way he'd be overseeing Ryan's treatment or have knowledge on Jack's case. With Ryan they are to an extent family (even if they don't like it) so immediately he would be given a different patient and not allowed to so much as look at his notes, and he's also Jack's neighbor. I do bear in mind that soaps unlike real life have budget constraints and bringing in an extra for 2 minutes of screen time to explain how Ryan's condition is improving, would be a bit of a waste. I just don't appreciate any show attempting to shove a character down our throats by having them be the port of call for everything.

Rather predictably Ryan didn't remember anything about what happened to him. Also rather predictably he woke up as soon as Michelle and Robert left him. Bethany was beside herself with fear that she might have been the one to hit Ryan. All she remembered was slapping him and running out of the flat. She of course didn't remember the part where Sarah as there and questioning just what exactly Ryan had done to her daughter, because Ryan's assault was serving two plot points.

First being Sarah's guilt over what happened leading her to confess, Ryan be understanding but then attempt to blackmail her. The second being Kayla using this incident to grill Craig over Bethany because she's trying to build evidence for her father's 'case'. She's hearing stories from Craig about Bethany lashing out at everyone under the sun, and completely bypassing the reason of why, and instead drawing the conclusion she's an out of control maniac who will hit out for the simplest thing, so of course she's also a liar who will make up stories about blokes to cover her tracks.

It would be really easy to hate on Kayla. After all she is attempting to conspire to get her father, who is a predator, out of jail because she thinks Bethany made the grooming ring up. She's looking for dirt, she's manipulating Craig, secretly recording him, constantly making sly digs about Bethany and just being a really annoying person. But unfortunately this is true to life. Whilst you will get relatives of the convicted rightfully condemning them for their disgusting actions, you'll also get some people who believe they are innocent. From an outside point of view it is always extremely difficult to make sense of how a person can believe such a thing, when the evidence to us is as clear as day. Abusers though have many faces. It can sometimes take a while to realize that. Whilst I find Kayla's actions really irritating and can't understand how Craig can't see through it or at the very least, be suspicious since he is supposed to be a member of the law? I can completely understand it.

My only wish is for this storyline not to drag on for too much longer. As a character Kayla has long term potential. Half the residents of the street have had affairs and some have killed people, so it's not like what Kayla is doing and reported to be doing in the future is irredeemable. But this isn't the type of storyline that has long term potential. Eventually Kayla's conspiring will get old and she'll wear out her welcome.

Another person wearing out their welcome is Sean. Obviously what we're seeing with his job and housing struggles is the beginning of his homeless storyline. He is massively struggling with hardly a penny to his name, and feels unable to tell anyone how dire his situation is. He hears of Speed Daal needing some hiring help and decides to offer his services in the most annoying way possible. I have absolutely no idea what he was trying to say with his quip to Yasmeen and she was basically me struggling to make a word, but his hopes were left dwindled when she revealed she'd already taken on some agency staff so his offer of working for half the price were useless. Bumping into Fiz outside of the cafe he denied offering to work for half price, and was left a bit troubled when Fiz asked him to buy things in for dinner. Unable to afford her shopping list he instead went for beans on toast. Neither Fiz nor the kids were particularly happy with this, and after some more barbed words, Sean declared he'd be going through with moving out.

The only problem is he has nowhere to move to. Eileen's is obviously off the table, as is now Fiz's, Maria doesn't want anymore lodgers, Beth and Kirk want to christen their new place properly. Sean is all out of options and money. It would again be really easy to poke holes at this storyline. These are his friends and neighbors, how are they not noticing how badly he's struggling? Sure he's proud and not telling them, but surely they'd notice? Again though unfortunately, this is the type of thing that happens in real life. One minute you're living it up with your mates in a flat and eating takeaway every night, and the next you're lucky to string 20p together. It is an interesting storyline for Coronation Street to explore and gives Anthony Cotton some meaty material to work with that I just hope he can do justice to. Most of his storylines on the soap have been comedic rather than dramatic, and it remains to be seen whether he has the range to pull this off in a way that viewers can emphasize with.

Someone who doesn't have that problem is Jack P Shepherd. The truth of David's rape may be known to his family and the case unfortunately dropped by the police due to lack of evidence, but David is still living with the ramifications of it. He got upset when Shona declined his marriage proposal, believing it was more about proving himself as a man, than wanting to make her his wife. During community service whilst making conversation with a fellow offender, a number of homophobic jibes were made in Billy's direction.

They were jibes Billy could take from the offender, but David? He expects better. So he locks him and David into the community centre, refuses to let David go until he apologizes, David makes a few more jibes and eventually breaks down. Their conversation was quite heart felt and emotional as David bared his soul and Billy returned the gesture. What wasn't heartfelt was the jibes themselves. It's a habit Coronation Street has fallen into recently, having characters say and do questionable things and getting a free pass because they're dealing with emotional difficulty. We already have to make do with Johnny and Liz's illicit feelings for each other, and Johnny apparently staying with his wife just so he can get custody but still lusting after Liz. We have Sophie violently lashing out at Rana because she doesn't like some things that she said. We had Alya engaging in a verbal tongue lashing with the Connor's, all because they're trying to claim back what was rightfully there's. Heck, we had Zeedan and Rana's parents all shaming her quite disgustingly for having the audacity to fall in love with a woman.

All of it is excused though, just water under the bridge, because they're all going through difficulty. Now I know Coronation Street isn't an after school special, but the idea that we should just excuse bad things because of difficulties, and convince ourselves the person doesn't really mean it and it'll all be ok, just doesn't sit right with me. The quips about Billy's sexuality were particularly distasteful and regardless of the point Coronation Street was trying to make, it should've been vetoed.

It was great to see Rana back in Friday's episode. She and Kate are among the characters to be currently taking a bit of a back seat, so to get 2 minutes of screen time at the moment is considered a hollow victory. Kate and Daniel are gold together because they are so fun as friends and I do like drunk Kate, but the Rana drought has very much been real and I'm glad Friday at least temporarily saw the end of that. What I was not happy with was Sophie slapping Rana.

She's of course devastated by what's happened to Jack. He was in her care when the accident happened, none of the medical staff spotted the symptoms of sepsis and it was left to Doctor Ali to save the day. Being given the news that Jack isn't responding well to treatment is obviously hard to hear, and it feels as though Sophie has jumped straight into the blame game to ease her own feelings over what happened. It's easier to blame medical staff for missing symptoms which are extremely hard to diagnose, than question yourself for not taking more action as soon as Jack hurt himself. Rana attempted to offer Sophie some neighborly support, but straight away Sophie wasn't interested. She viewed Rana as being an extension of the medical centre and in her eyes they are all to blame and should all pay. She's convinced there's a cover-up and wants access to Jack's note so she can see for herself. Rana obviously can't let her have access to that, since she's a member of medical staff who actually values patient confidentiality and her job.

Sophie of course didn't react well to that, continuing her claims of a cover-up, someone needs to pay, and they're all closing ranks. When Rana later somewhat foolishly caught up with her in the cafe, Sophie was still resolute that someone needed to pay. Rana couldn't quite understand why Sophie was having such a massive go at her and of course the conversation turned to Kate, because Rana couldn't help wondering whether Sophie was actually angry over what happened to Jack or still had some unresolved anger for Kate essentially dumping her for Rana.

The whole of this scene, heck the whole of this storyline in this episode was strange. Rana herself is the one who kind of broached the subject of medical records before Sophie actually did. The accusation of closing ranks, just making sure she didn't get caught and Jack's life being more important than Rana's was bizarre. If anyone has the right to be angry over what's happened to Jack, then it's Kevin. He is after all Jack's father, and living with the real possibility of his child having his leg amputated because of a tragic accident. His focus is only on getting Jack through this and being thankful to everyone for doing the best they can do. He's not blaming the medical staff or assaulting people, and Sophie's attitude is a bit bizarre. It makes it seem as though the medical staff deliberately missed symptoms of sepsis and are at the centre putting all the records through the shredder.

Rana questioning whether Sophie was truly mad over Jack or if it was Kate? Well I'm still struggling to work out how that conversation was pinned together during writing. Rana, Sophie, Kate & Gemma have all been on a night out. There's been absolutely no inclination that Sophie has been blaming Rana for Kate breaking up with her. Sure, she's looked a bit uneasy around them but that's a natural thing when you're with your ex and her new girlfriend. With Kayla we're getting a clear build-up of her intentions towards Bethany and Craig. To make that line work, we would've needed to see Sophie at the very least give Rana some dirty looks. It just smelt of a plot contrivance to prompt Sophie into slapping Rana. It was completely uncalled for, a disgraceful action and once again the rationality will be that she's upset and didn't mean it.

Regardless of how she's feeling, she has still assault a member of the NHS and whether you're on duty or not, that still should not be happening. Sophie cascaded Rana for her comment and of course being Rana, she immediately apologized and made a fast exit. The way that Sophie was so keen though to berate Rana for being disgusting and explain why she was so annoyed, does lead one to think she doth protest too much.

But the episode ended with Sophie paying Adam a visit and declaring she wants to sue the medical centre for negligence. I guess we're not gonna comment on the fact if anyone would be suing, it would be Kevin since he's Jack's father.

It'll be interesting to see where exactly that storyline goes, and if Sophie does apologize for her actually disgusting actions. I'm also going to need Corrie to show Kate reacting in some kind of way to Sophie hitting her girlfriend, because this is Kate Connor! You do not lash out at her girlfriend and get to carry on your merry way. At the very least she should be having some type of word with Sophie for her actions.

If that word could be extended to half of the street who act out for the sake of plot, it would be far more pleasant viewing.