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Mildred Pierce: Chicken and a basket case

(Ep.3)  If you were to ask a terse chap to say one pithy word about this week’s Mildred Pierce, he might offer: “depression.” Me? Well I’m not the least bit terse, as a lifetime of snoring chums will aver, but that’ll do me. You see, we’re still in The Depression and Mildred’s life majors in disappointment, bookended by mourning and unhappiness.

Let’s start with the mourning. Last week ended with cuteness & cupcake daughter, Ray Pierce, dying of grippe in a huge and well-staffed hospital that’s empty of other patients. “Grippe” is flu, by the way, which information you will find useful should you ever require the appropriate jab in a big old hospital suspiciously devoid of patient life.

This week we open with lots of achy-breaky heart stuff with ex-husband Bert and  Mildred in the kitchen. We’re also treated to an ominous close up of some Very Sharp Knives indeed. Prophetic or just odd? Who knows, but anything is possible with psychotic older daughter Veda around.

A little later we’re off for a brief spot of funeralising, followed immediately by Mildred visiting a chicken farm. Unworthy thoughts of Ray’s cute & cupcakey body being sold off as animal feed are dispelled when it becomes clear that she’s buying, not selling. Then again, this might be a barter, which would mean Ray returning home as a live and well-fed chicken.  Continue reading

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Holby City: Malick’s got form, but Dan’s got the guilty conscience

(Series 13, Ep.39) We picked up where we left off last week, with Malick having just punched Dull Dan. And bravo to the makeup department for making Dan’s nose look particularly gory and horrible. Gushing blood like the proverbial stuck pig, Dan staggered down several corridors leaving a messy trail behind him. He wasn’t bothered about hygiene or the poor person who’d have to clean up after him. He was mainly bothered about what Chrissie would say when she saw him all busted up, and how he would explain it, without mentioning the “I kissed a boy and I liked it” bit. What Malick didn’t want was to be sacked from yet another job for punching yet another consultant.

Dan’s first attempt at an explanation went along the lines of, “I got in the middle of a fight between a father and a son.” Chrissie is no fool, and she knew that wasn’t true, otherwise it would have been the talk of the hospital coffee bar and Dan would be filling out incident report forms in triplicate. She also spotted that Dan was acting very weirdly around Malick – though he’s been doing that for about a month now without her noticing anything. “It was Malick, wasn’t it?” she said, and Dan fell to his knees sobbing, “It’s always been Malick! He has something you can’t give me, Chrissie!” Actually no, he didn’t say that. What he said was that he’d tried to hit Malick first, and missed.

For reasons best known to herself, Chrissie marched off to Hanssen with this information, and he in return produced possibly the finest loom of his entire career so far when he materialised in a corridor to summon Dan to a meeting in his office at four o’clock. Never have the words “four” and “o’clock” sounded so ominous. So four o’clock was Dan’s High Noon, and he took Malick along too, so they could both pretend they knew nothing and hadn’t done anything and were both somewhere else when Dan fell and hit his face on a… thing. Hanssen’s even less of a fool than Chrissie, but what can you do when people close rank?   Continue reading


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Casualty: Adam knows best

(Series 25, Ep.44) Last week, we were informed that Adam has a “god complex.” Frankly I’m not seeing it, myself. What I’m seeing is a doctor who’s trying to do the best for his patients and grappling with moral dilemmas. He doesn’t always choose the path through the moral dilemma that others would, but that’s the nature of moral dilemmas and it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve got a god complex.

Maverick Nurse Kirsty disagrees with me, because Adam is way more maverick than she is at the moment, and she’s not happy. This is the woman who used to enjoy testing rules to breaking point. Anyway, the moral maze in which Adam found himself this week concerned a man who was dying of mesothelioma, which he’d got by being in contact with asbestos from his father’s factory. He was about to testify in a law suit against the company, currently owned by his brother, Gary Kemp out of Spandau Ballet. Gary really needed the brother out of the way so he didn’t testify, and tried to persuade Adam that his patient didn’t want to be resuscitated. Adam saw through the handiness of this scheme, however, so Gary resorted to a spot of cyanide poisoning. This unlikely eventuality was spotted by Dr Dylan Keogh, and Gary ended up in the police station, and the brother lived just long enough to do his testimony via video link. Maverick Nurse Kirsty was cross that Adam chose to tell the brother that Gary had tried to kill him. “It wasn’t your call, Adam,” she told him. Technically, maybe not – but Adam’s actions seemed fairly sound to me.   Continue reading


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Waterloo Road: Long live WR!

(Series 7, Ep.10) Whenever I think of Chris Mead, I shall picture him bounding like a young gazelle across Formby sands in pursuit of Finn and Amy. It was a magnificent feat of athleticism, and one which he reprised in the final episode of this term, as he jogged gamely along the platform at Manchester Piccadilly Station to save Scout and Our Little Liam from evil drug dealer types. Not a hair out of place. Breathtaking. Scout, however, was less impressed. She didn’t want to go into “curr.” She curred so much about not going into curr that she made Denzil swurr not to tell anyone that she was planning to take Liam, a fistful of drugs money and a packed lunch to That London on a train. But Denzil is a curring type of lad and he’s seen the documentaries, so he told Chris what was going on.

Chris’s hasty departure from the school premises in pursuit was badly timed for Karen, who was busy trying to impress school inspector Alison (Tracy-Ann Obermann). Throw in Finn, Josh, Amy and Lauren taking a turn around the school car park in Tom Clarkson’s car, via the cycling proficiency class helmed by nervous cyclist Daniel Chalk, and you have all the makings of what most school inspectors would term “failure.” “Your deputy head just seriously undermined your authority, minutes after four of your pupils were caught joyriding,” summed up Inspector Alison. Put that way, it didn’t sound good.   Continue reading


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Holby City: I simply can’t let you go

(Series 13, Ep.38) Ooh, these buttoned-up, ice cool, intellectual types. Under a beautifully-ironed shirt, a suit and a sensible tie there’s all sorts of passion absolutely seething away, and there’s no moment more sexually charged than the one in which a bit of seethe is allowed to escape.

So we have Henrik Hanssen: Swedish, solid, sensible – like IKEA furniture but more scary. A man who would not be moved, apart from the fact that he is deeply in love with Sahira Shah the Registrah. She’s his physical and emotional opposite, the sun to his moon, the yang to his yin etc etc.

Miss Shah does not want the CT service on Darwin to go down the pan. We’re all with her on that one, and so are Jac, Elliott and Irish Dr Greg. Sahira, however, is the only one that Hanssen listens to.  “What has she got that we haven’t?” muses Jac, as the three of them eavesdrop on Hanssen and Shah slugging it out in his office. “Breasts?” hazards Greg, quickly adding, “Not that yours aren’t spectacular.” I loved the way Jac quickly readjusted her top just in case she was showing any unprofessional cleavage. She wasn’t.   Continue reading


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Casualty: What’s in the green bag, Adam?

(Series 25, Ep.42) Big Mac wasn’t a happy man when he was asked to add “deep cleaning of trolleys” to his already burdensome list of duties – doing the crossword, some impromptu gambling, joshing with Noel and a little light portering. It didn’t take long before you could see his point, though – resus was literally awash with gore, after a man threw up more blood than a man has a right to do and most of it ended up on the floor. You wouldn’t want to be the person deep cleaning that particular trolley.

The deep cleaning thing was part of yet another initiative designed by Henry to make life for casualty staff so much more difficult. Poor Lush Linda was struggling to cope with the added admin and mutinous staff, but she found an ally in Nick Jordan’s new PA, Emily (catchphrase: “I’m helpin’!”). Emily left at the end of the episode intent on becoming a nurse, and I hope that when she finishes her training – which will probably take three weeks in Holby time – she’ll be back at Holby (either upstairs in Holby City or downstairs in Casualty), because she was lovely.

Meanwhile, the programme information told us that “Adam’s God complex continues.” Continues? When did it start? Have I missed something? Anyway, this God complex was signalled in NICE BIG LETTERS by a recurring motif of Adam’s big, godlike eye peering through a glass at a little fly, over which he had the power of life or death. Subtle, huh? The patient over which he wielded this power was a paedophile, beaten up within an inch of his life by the father of one of his victims (this father was the man who was heaving up blood all over the floor in resus – so often we get two for the price of one with Casualty patients).

The paedophile’s mother was played by the radiantly gorgeous Denise Welch, but frankly that’s all he had going for him (and she didn’t like him either). He told Adam he couldn’t cope with the horrible impulses that made him behave the way he did, and said he wanted a way out. The power was in Adam’s hands – an ethical dilemma indeed.

Lennie wanted to be Adam’s wing man (“I’m your boss, not your friend,” said the ever-chirpy Adam), but he was a little concerned when Adam visited the pharmacy and obtained a small green bag of something or other. Was Adam planning to despatch the sex offender to the hereafter with a hypodermic? Well, no, he wasn’t. His God complex doesn’t go quite that far. Instead he provided the man with something hormonal to (hopefully) curb his urges, and released him back into the wilds of Holby. Let’s just hope we don’t hear of him again.

And, in case we missed the fly metaphor the first time, and the second, the episode closed with Adam’s big eye looking at the fly, and then Adam releasing it into the air. That’s just what Big Mac doesn’t need – a department crawling with flies while he’s trying to deep clean.

Posted by PLA          (more Casualty here)


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Mildred Pierce: Meeting the man who is Del Monte

(Series 1, Ep.2)  When you review a production as strong as ‘Mildred Pierce’ it can be difficult to take the mickey. Okay, so the pace is more stately than Chatsworth House, a valid comparison were Chatsworth on castors; but the writing is faultless. You have to go back to the source text (James M Cain’s 1941 novel) to load up with raspberries. And since the more ludicrous elements of his story don’t show up until the later stages, you’re left with precious little at which to thumb a nose in episode 2 of what I hope will be a fruity five hours.

So where were we? Well, if you caught the very end of last week’s episode you’ll have seen the camera pan to the back of Veda’s head as she eavesdropped on Mildred’s shower scene with her friend Lucy (which, I need not remind you, was not what you think). Remember Veda (Morgan Turner)? She’s the annoying older daughter who needs a good kicking (my intent kicked in early this time).

Estranged husband and father Bert pops in for some quality time with his daughters and, as kids are, Veda’s like: “So Father, what’s your opinion on the current economic conditions?” It seems that Bert knows about this sort of thing, which is good. In our house, when my lot made such an enquiry, it was so that they could yawn dramatically or call me an idiot. Generally they did both; still do in fact.

Veda’s also been nosing around her mother’s closet (shows how evil she is: no normal child ever does that) and has discovered whisky (it’s the Prohibition, remember) and a waitress’s uniform; this latter turns up later on.

As Bert leaves, Mildred gets a touch assertive and has the car keys off him. Apparently relenting, she offers him a lift home and gets to ask: “Are you staying with Maggie?” That’s Mrs Beiderhoff, by the way, the Other Woman. Poor old Bert is a tautology of crumpling defiance: “I prefer not to say where I’m staying. I’m staying where I’m staying … you can drop me off at Maggie’s.”

Now you may remember that Mildred took a job in the Beverly Hills branch of Betty’s Tea Rooms and was set to become The Worst Waitress in the World. Evah!!! But no, she’s been practising after school and can now carry three dishes before panic sets in. Ida (Mare Winningham), her boss at Betty’s, is a “pal” and promises to run with the idea of Mildred baking all the pies. They take off (not literally, otherwise they’d be soufflés) and Mildred uses the extra dough (hah!) to get some home help: Letty, whom Veda forces to wear the waitress gear. She’s trying to humiliate her mother because she, Mildred, is going out to work. Oh the shame.   Continue reading


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Waterloo Road: From now on, it’s strictly professional

(Series 7, Ep.9) Last night’s Waterloo Road reminded me of an episode (any episode) of Brothers & Sisters, where everyone starts off promising they “won’t tell Mom,” and five minutes later somebody tells Mom and all hell breaks loose.

Chris Mead didn’t promise he wouldn’t tell his mom anything, but he did promise Karen that he’d be on his best behaviour, and in particular he’d steer clear of any contact with Scout that wasn’t classroom-related. “From now on, it’s strictly professional,” he told his boss. But that was before Scout’s feckless mother (Lisa Riley) decided to have a bit of “me time” by leaving Scout and her three year old brother to fend for themselves while she went on holiday with her latest bloke. Scout couldn’t risk not going to school, so she left little Liam parked in front of In The Night Garden while she went off to do some gardening herself, courtesy of a community initiative overseen by Kelly Crabtree from Corrie (Tupele Dorgu, whom I would love to see joining Waterloo Road on a permanent basis).

Scout wasn’t the only reluctant gardener with thoughts elsewhere. Eleanor Chaudery, who’d been co-opted because a female staff member was needed, was completely out of her comfort zone in wellies. She was a troubled soul, too – it seems that enjoying the pleasures of Tom Clarkson had made her rethink the way she’d been telling tales about Karen to the Slimeball from the local authority.   Continue reading


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Holby City: Is it the end of Darwin as we know it?

(Series 13, Ep.37) Henrik Hanssen is only really comfortable when he’s top banana. That’s why he’s so tall, so he can gaze down on everybody with his unnervingly calm stare. Sir Fraser Anderson is a higher banana status-wise, but can’t compete with the Hanssen height. “Henrik! You get taller every time I see you!” he greeted the Swedish Scalpel. “What do you do – hang yourself up by your toes?”

The other thing that can flap the unflappable Scandinavian is Sahira Shah the registrah, and she hit him with the shock news that, if there was no future for CT at Holby she’d be upping sticks to Newcastle (where, presumably, they’re still old-fashioned enough to be having heart problems). So there was double pressure on Hanssen and he decided to go the traditional Holby route and do some high-risk, flashy surgery to prove to Sir Fraser that a multi-disciplinary Darwin was do-able.

He assembled a crack team of almost every surgeon in the hospital to help piece together a Polish man who’d been comprehensively mashed in an accident. Hanssen decided to go ahead with this despite a trace of amphetamine in the patient’s blood. Unfortunately, it turned out the patient’s mate had been slipping him speed on a regular basis, and his system was so entirely perky that he woke up half way through the operation. That’s not what you want when you’ve got Elliott Hope and Henrik Hanssen poking about in your innermost self, and Plastic Bhatti and Michael Spence hovering impatiently waiting to fix up your externals.   Continue reading


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Casualty: I’m so proud of you, Mr Collier/Dr Winters/Nurse Andrews

(Series 25, Ep.41) The broad theme of this episode was acceptance of your own strengths and weaknesses. Paramedic Jeff, Lush Linda and Dr Ruth Winters all learned valuable life lessons over the course of fifty minutes.

Jeff first, and he was still fretting about Karl, the cousin of the College Shooter. Remember last week, when Karl’s new girlfriend came a cropper on a railway line, and Karl went off in an angsty strop? Jeff was convinced that Karl was off to Do Something Stupid. “It’s not your responsibility,” Dixie told her troubled colleague. He ignored this advice because he was getting his instructions from Polly. She may be dead, but her handy book of quotations was still around to lend a spot of guidance when needed, and it was currently falling open at a page that said: “When the call comes, the great man always answers or chooses to live with a lifetime of regret.” Deep, huh? Not wanting to live with a lifetime of regret, Jeff decided to track Karl down, and, as expected, he was roaming the corridors of Holby College with his hood up and a rucksack over his shoulder, looking for all the world like he was trying to find a good vantage point to do a spot of shooting.

Only he wasn’t. He was replacing mobile phones he nicked earlier, because he’s turned over a new leaf and he’s a good boy now, such is the power of Polly, even posthumously. Heck, he even diagnosed a girl who was having a TIA. We’ll make a paramedic of him yet! There were a couple of niggles to iron out, such as him trying to dangle the girl’s boyfriend over a balcony  in A&E, and the fact that he’d known that his cousin had a gun but hadn’t told anyone, but that was all easily sorted out. And Jeffrey was left with a good feeling. He’d helped Karl out, and no longer felt the need to be Polly’s emissary on Planet Earth. The book of quotations went into the bin. “I’m so proud of you, Mr Collier,” said Dixie.   Continue reading


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