Despite spending most of my Christmas clearing up the tears of disappointed (horrendously spoilt) children, engaging in thrilling (dysfunctional) debates with drunken family members and partaking in (gorging on) the most calorie laden treats I could find, I still find time to scrutinise television’s festive ‘offerings.’ That’s right, Our Man In The North is PauseLiveAction’s very own Christmas miracle.
Even though it was sub par compared to it’s own usual high standards, the Royle Family remained, as always, the highlight of the festive schedule. It mirrored many a family home at Christmas, even if a little exaggerated, and watching a load of slobs eat, fart, drink, swear, shout and watch telly was a welcome refuge from my own family home at Christmas. Oh wait…
Yet while it still nicely filled an hour more successfully than any other dross on the television could, The Royle Family was not without its faults. Sadly, it seems to have become a parody of itself. Jim Royle’s first line was ‘baubles my arse’ which was the first hint that this was going to be laden with it’s own self-created clichés. They seem to have run out of steam a little bit. Jim Royle viler than last year? Well he talked about having Sheila wipe the toilet seat for him and was trying to get others to take the blame for his rectal gas so check. A well to do house guest (Zoe from Corrie) that no one must offend, but everyone does? Check. That stupid neighbour (Len from Emmerdale) harping on about his wife? Check. An urn filled with ashes and a hoover given as a present with an incredibly predictable outcome? Check.
Never mind, it may not have been as good as previous offerings but it was a hell of a sight better than ‘Come Fly With Me.’ Or Little Britain in an airport. This was the prime time Christmas Day show where the revolutionary geniuses Matt Lucas and David Walliams broke the mould by donning disguises to poke fun at gay people and people from other cultures for a while. Honestly, there were more gay jibes here than you would find at the annual homophobe convention. Lucas and Walliams’ ‘hilarious’ attempts at causing controversy by having the balls to ‘go there’ ran out of steam with Little Britain.
And what did the soaps have to offer for their obligatory soap misery? Nothing too interesting either I’m afraid. Eastenders, which normally dominates Christmas Day with an amount of dramatic, nailbiting anguish that would make an emo shiver with pleasure pulled off a decidedly dull exit episode for the apparently legendary Stacey Slater. Yes, this is the loveable chav who, along with trying to spread the clap throughout half of East End London, broke up two marriages, committed a murder and let her husband fall to his death while being chased by the police who think he did it. Nevertheless, the nation loves her, or so Eastenders likes to think, so she boarded a plane last minute on Christmas Day (with a baby we can only assume already has a passport) to the show’s self indulgent and cringeworthy piano medley. This was after the original notions of having a revelation announced via a Lauren Branning recording (available in all good media outlets) to the gathered public and a suicide attempt from the roof of the Vic, which remains remarkably unfenced despite this year’s live episode fatality. The saving grace was not the horrendous Vic sing off but of course the beautifully malicious Janine. The fact she stabbed herself just to get at Stacey tickled my black humour spot no end and was easily the highlight of a very drab hour.
Things were not much better in Coronation Street. The Cheshire Cat was back and don’t we all know it. Tracy Barlow got her self-satisfied, gurning features into practically every scene. And while Kate Ford has never really been widely renowned for spectacular acting abilities, she has never been as cringeworthy as this before.
Tracy was a fabulous character during the Karen and Steve saga. Mean, bitchy, calculating, outrageous but a little human too. Her one liners were well placed and witty. She didn’t require a camera smirk after every sentence. Then, Corrie ruined her character by turning her into a murderer. And now she is just off the scales as a panto villain. The blame cannot rest purely with Ms Ford to be fair. The writing was below standard for Corrie and they are evidently using these episodes to overdo Tracy’s badness for an upcoming new year twist. If you have avoided spoilers, you’ll know what I mean soon. And I’m going to enjoy watching that!
And so to the best of a bad bunch, Emmerdale. In fact, bad is a bit unfair. Hold it up against Eastenders and Corrie, then Emmerdale once again blew it out of the water. It held just the right balance of warmth and drama needed for a Christmas episode. Some lovely scenes between Eric and Val, Paddy and Chas, Nicola and Jimmy and Aaron and Jackson provided some genuinely heartwarming moments. But naturally the best bit was the wedding we’d all been waiting for…and sleazy Carl receiving a glorious right hook from wronged bride Chas. And let’s hope she stays away from him!
All in all, a mixed bag. Any other views regarding your take on xmas telly are of course more than welcome in the comments box.
Posted by Our Man In The North