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EastEnders: Discussion Thread

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I watched the episode tonight. It's probably the first I've seen in months so I wasn't entirely sure what was going on but it was quite bizarre.

Some of it was very, very good. I gasped when Ronnie threw Danielle into the street (knowing of course how the story was going to end). Sam Janus put in an excellent performance.

The rest just seemed a little too muddled and frenzied. The last 15 minutes was full of people in other storylines shouting at one another though I enjoyed Janine laying into "Fat Pat" as I always do.

I suppose it's enjoyable. It's become a very camp show that is completely about women - light years away from the old days of male gangsters beating each other up in back streets. But nothing really seems to move forwards. Tanya/Max/Stacey, Shirley, Dot, Ian/Jane, Janine, Ricky/Bianca...there's a Jim Reilly syndrome setting in that I feel I can not bother watching for months on end and the characters haven't evolved in any meaningful way at all.

On the other hand perhaps I'm being impatient. Diederick Santer has obviously plotted several years of story and likes to take his time.

Edited by JamesF

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On the other hand perhaps I'm being impatient. Diederick Santer has obviously plotted several years of story and likes to take his time.

What makes you say that?

A big problem I have with all British soaps is that no matter how good a particular episode is and how excellent the dialogue pretty much always is, usually after two months of great storytelling comes a period of two years of absolute, inimitable dreck: yes, you can watch day-by-day, but there's just nothing in there, just sporadic episodes or scenes which are superb and then fifty other episodes of... Blah. Sad.

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Santer's storylines have clearly been planned in advance. Looking back over the Danielle story, there were seeds planted of that not long after Samantha Janus's arrival. The Max/Stacey/Tanya triangle also lasted for around 18 months and still seems to be touched upon.

You do have a point though about periods of blahness. I think the Aussie soaps are the same. The highs can be so tremendous that no effort/thought is put into plotting anything compulsive to segue into so you end up with big peaks and troughs.

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Some of it was very, very good. I gasped when Ronnie threw Danielle into the street (knowing of course how the story was going to end). Sam Janus put in an excellent performance.

SJ was the saving grace. I truly don't understand the mass hysteria, surrounding the character of Danielle. I really didn't connect with her at all; her acting was terribly screechy and lacked any real emotional connection to the characters plight. Granted, there were a lot of tears and shouting and pleading, but this just masked her lack of depth. The girl was a plot device from the get go, yet some people don't seem to have realised this.

A big problem I have with all British soaps is that no matter how good a particular episode is and how excellent the dialogue pretty much always is, usually after two months of great storytelling comes a period of two years of absolute, inimitable dreck: yes, you can watch day-by-day, but there's just nothing in there, just sporadic episodes or scenes which are superb and then fifty other episodes of... Blah. Sad.

I think you can say the same for US soaps - they'll constantly drag thinks out for weeks, without anything really happening. I don't have time to watch Y&R, religiously, so I end up skipping episodes. The last ep I saw, was when the bomb exploded. I then tuned in again last week, and really, things were pretty much still the same. I skipped all the in-between and watched the wedding, which was awesome, but I really didn't need to see every moment of Billy and Chloe faking it, or Jill banging on that Kay's an imposter, when I got all that before, and after.

I think all soaps, no matter the country, go through highs and low; it just seems to happen a lot more often than it used to.

Are you still following the Oz soaps?

Santer's storylines have clearly been planned in advance.

That doesn't fill me with any confidence in his ability. Last year was a bad time for the show, IMO. A lot of plot driven mess, with unrealistic climaxes. Like, Lauren mowing down Max (when did she learn how to drive?). Or the terrible structure and plotting of storylines. Like, the Danielle saga, which was badly paced, with no real explanations into why Archie is the way that he is. Or how most stories stop and start, with such implausible breaks - Nick randomly disappearing (I realize the actor had time out, but they actually had the character leave, return, reveal (rehash) plot, then leave for 3 months without any explanation!), characters going on vacation every two months, just so their story can be put on the backburner, even though it doesn't seem authentic.

I'm also really tired of seeing the same characters mixing with the same lot, day-in-day-out for months. All the characters have been segregated to their respective families, and all those without a family, have been shoved together under one roof. Ironically, with the discussion over Y&R's blatant isolation of it's AA characters, EE have also grouped all their black characters together. There is no ripple effect with storylines - i.e, Danielle's death only affects her family and Stacey; Patrick's secret only involves his little group, etc. No-one has friends any more, which sometimes makes it feel like they're all in their own little spin-off.

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Yes, Danielle was played by an appalling actress. I think even the most casual of viewers could see that. I'm not a regular viewer at all but I don't understand the hysteria surrounding her departure either. It's completely reactionary. Can people honestly say they wanted to watch SJ and Danielle form a mother/daughter bond for months on end? I don't see where it could have gone.

And you're completely right about the segregation. It's part of one of the problems of having such a large cast and Santer insisting on bringing back old characters with no forethought for how they will fit in (ESPECIALLY Claire before she left). The show has massively swollen familial groups who end up hogging story time from each other. There are exceptions where they blend in such as Tania's friendship with Jane but these are hardly substantial.

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I think you can say the same for US soaps - they'll constantly drag thinks out for weeks, without anything really happening. I don't have time to watch Y&R, religiously, so I end up skipping episodes. The last ep I saw, was when the bomb exploded. I then tuned in again last week, and really, things were pretty much still the same. I skipped all the in-between and watched the wedding, which was awesome, but I really didn't need to see every moment of Billy and Chloe faking it, or Jill banging on that Kay's an imposter, when I got all that before, and after.

Yes, Ben, you definitely can. However, British dialogue is very good-to-fantastic in almost every episode, rarely does one hear atrocious dialogue, whereas in America — that's the norm. Dialogue in daytime — sucks. Except on GH. Furthermore, no matter how much of a dreck, I find myself much more attracted, almost glued to UK soaps, whereas US soaps rarely elicit such a reaction. I mean, I do watch even when the shows are plain awful, but with UK soaps... there's something more that makes them better... Perhaps they are less dumb or something. I can't really put my finger on it.

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Eastenders has become all about stunts. Months and months of dead space until the next stunt. Unfortunately those stunts have very little payoff, or peter out through confusing storytelling. Why was the aftermath of Danielle's death about Peggy and Phil? They're useless. Aside from a way to get headlines, was there any reason to have Tanya bury Max alive? Or for the hit and run involving Max? They have ruined the Brannings. Why did they keep Billy and write out Honey? Why did they keep Patrick and write out Yolande? Why do they keep pushing dreadful Jack Branning at people?

Why did they bring Janine back?

When you watch some of the 80s clips which are out there, the amount of strong characterization and the complexity of the drama and how they mix comedy (so many different types of comedy) in with drama is incredible.

Now we get these big dour stories mixed in with Heather gawking at a yogurt lid.

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Just caught the last segment of an episode from 2006 in which some guy named Billy is talking with this woman who seems to have/had Post Partum. Billy puts the baby on some crate or whatever and goes on saying the Romans would leave a child overnight and if it survived they'd keep it. When he finally picks her up the woman reveals she had a pillow of the baby (I don't think it was the same one) and said she actually thought about ending its life.

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Just caught the last segment of an episode from 2006 in which some guy named Billy is talking with this woman who seems to have/had Post Partum. Billy puts the baby on some crate or whatever and goes on saying the Romans would leave a child overnight and if it survived they'd keep it. When he finally picks her up the woman reveals she had a pillow of the baby (I don't think it was the same one) and said she actually thought about ending its life.

The baby has downs syndrome which was why Honey was so depressed and was thinking about killing her (though yeah I guess Honey did have a sort of Post Partum Depression, its just that the show never explicitly said that it was Post Partum Depression. Probably because they didn't want to send out the message that PPD only happens when something is wrong with the baby).

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I have to say, my biggest gripe with EastEnders right now is the constant disappearance of characters for weeks on end. Seriously. The day after Peggy/Archie's wedding, she's off to vacation with Aunt Sal? Pat's constantly swanning off hither and yon on weeks-long vacations. Stacey disappears right smack in the middle of a storyline to "visit Lynne." It's annoying.

For characters who seem to have no money, these folks sure do like to take long trips, don't they?

And even if they don't "go on vacation" there's still looooooooooooong lulls between appearances. It's been weeks since we've laid eyes on Bianca. Where the heck has Janine gone?

I understand that not everyone can be front burner all the time, but with 4 episodes a week, there's ample time to touch on the lives of everyone.

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They're having budget problems. They can only afford to pay people for a limited amount of scenes now. This is what June Brown said.

The people who run EE now do not know how to tell stories. Why is Janine back? Someone said, "Janine's a great character," I guess, and this is why she's back. They have no idea what made her a great character and instead try to turn her into the same quasi-vixen with weird mouth movements that they turned Clare into. Then they have her run over Danielle, only to be upset for a few days, then suddenly get over it, even going into the pub of the family who lost Danielle, even going to their christening, and no one seems to care.

They also don't seem to know how to develop characters. What has Tanya been doing for the past year and a half? Stacey flounders around for an eternity until they give her the story they already gave her mother.

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Is that the one where she's in a taxi? That one some claimed was similar to the promo for Secret Diary of a Callgirl.

Sam seems like such an odd character to bring back, but then EE doesn't know how to bring characters back properly anyway, with a few exceptions, like Bianca. I'm still baffled by how pointless Janine has been since her return.

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I tell you what storyline I am loving right now Christian and Syed. Now talk about being great. It possably going to be right up there with Mcdean for me. John is one sexy man and well Marc is coming into his own.

I want Grant Mitchell back. My favorite all time Mitchell since they are bringing back Mitchells.

Is it true that the guy who play Justin on Hollyoaks is coming to Eastenders as a Mitchell?

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