EastEnders: Dirty Den returns
In a nutshell: Priapic publican pensioner gets what’s coming to him, and it’s not a dose of Sanatogen.
The 411: Man, were they ever pleased with themselves. Like a child cleaning up its mess then looking to mommy for congratulations, the BBC conveniently forgot that if they hadn’t screwed things up by inviting Leslie Grantham back into EastEnders in the first place they wouldn’t be tying themselves in knots finding ways to get rid of him.
So his exit had an even bigger fanfare than his re-entry. The twice-nightly trailers featured the three wronged women of Albert Square – dopey Zoe, Sam "dumb even by Mitchell standards" Mitchell and the brains of the outfit Chrissie, every inch the black widow with her corkscrew curls and smacked-arse face.
"Chrissie, every inch the black widow with her corkscrew curls and smacked-arse face…"
In black cocktail dresses under moody lighting, striking Greta Garbo poses, the clueless trio addressed the camera "For every scam he’s pulled… for every time he’s lied, twisted and manipulated… It’s payback."
Right. Thanks for that. I’d hate to think I’d missed something.
The whole ‘Den returns’ project was based on a myth anyway. The myth that EastEnders was better in the old days under our Tony and Julia. Series creators Tony Holland and Julia Smith, the story went, treated the show like their own child.
Indeed they did – and what a flabby, spoilt, over-indulged brat early EastEnders was. Social issues crowbarred in with no regard for plot, character or viewer sanity, all set against a rotten combination of cloying sentimentality and unremitting misery.
So back Den came and now he had to go and it was The Witches of Eastwick who would do for him. It all started out promisingly enough. There was genuine tension created as the storyline unfolded but it kept on being undermined by the colossal stupidity of Sam Mitchell and behaviour from Zoe so out of character she was turned into a walking plot device for the writers.
"We need someone to go on a space shuttle Mission…"
"Zoe’ll do it."
"We need an attractive young woman to sleep with a 70 year-old Internet pervert she despises".
One of these scenarios is made up – tragically, it was not the latter.
Meanwhile, The Andy Hunter/Moon family feud concluded with Andy doing a back-flip off a motorway bridge helped by Don Beech from The Bill. I thought everyone knew not to fuck with Don Beech? Never mind, this is Albert Square after all.
Kat Slater… a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and Tubbs from the League of Gentlemen…."
The root of the feud was the love triangle between Alfie, Andy and Fat Kat Slater, Albert Square’s finest beauty – a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and Tubbs from the League of Gentlemen.
Forget it, Jack – it’s Chinatown. Sorry, I mean Albert Square – I’m always getting those two mixed-up.
Den’s sticky end finally came with getting his skull caved in by a dog-shaped doorstop owned by Pauline Fowler, a nice touch of pathos slightly spoiled by the ham-fisted foreshadowing. Not since Pete Beale has an inanimate object received so much attention – they may as well have written I Kill Den, Me in metallic marker on the dog’s forehead and have done with it.
Now that this sorry episode is over, can EastEnders recover? They will come up with something – they always do. When not getting bogged down in such stupidity EastEnders produces some priceless soap moments. The problem is that after such a balls up, the public will be slow to trust them again. And do you blame them?
For all the wack plots, bum lines and blank stares. For every time the scriptwriter has gone off message and on the pipe…. it’s payback.
The best thing about it: It may hasten the return of Sue, Ali and Oz Cabs. Yay!
The worst thing about it: It may hasten the return of Sanjay and Gita. Gah!
The verdict on EastEnders: You’re having a larf intcha? You’re NUFFING you muppet!
Marks out of 10: 5