Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Crack open the Champagne! Light the Candles on the Cake! Tell Everyone! Yell it from the Rooftops! Run up to random strangers in the street and smack them in the face and shout it in their ear! Yes, you heard right – Eastenders (BBC1) is now a whopping 25 Years Old!!! Can you believe it?!! Not even Cats & Dogs live to be that old. And they are most probably more deserving of such a Milestone...!
However, like it or not, there’s no denying that Eastenders is the best Soap on the Box here in the UK. And by best, I mean ‘not as crap as the other ones currently on’ (God help us if Hollyoaks makes it to 25 Years, let alone 15, a Milestone which it unfortunately celebrates this Year)!! Eastenders is still utter bobbins, just like pretty much every Soap ever conceived, but has remained watchable due to its more realistic and gritty style, its various characters, and its no-holds-barred approach to controversial storylines (although the less said regarding the recent Jane Beale Stand-Up Comedy Storyline, the better). Whilst it remains as the TV equivalent of Japanese Water Torture, Eastenders is still far better than crap like Hollyoaks or Emmerdale!!!
So, to celebrate this great achievement, the Beeb rewarded the residents of Albert Square with a handful of Documentaries, a specially shot BBC One Ident in which the entire Cast emerge from the Queen Vic, staring up at the sky like they’ve just seen a UFO (probably pissed, the lot of ‘em), and an Exclusive Live Episode as well. Bloody hell, surely a Cake and a piss up would have sufficed?! Cheaper too...! Oh well.
Whilst watching the Live Episode of Eastenders, several thoughts entered my mind: the first was that it was so obviously filmed live!! You could practically see the glue and string holding it all together, especially in the performances and the editing (and Pat Butcher’s Face, but that’s another matter altogether). Second, it really wasn’t as exciting as it had been made out to be. A normal Episode would have perhaps done the Job just as well, if not better. Live Episodes have that rather odd whiff about them, and somehow just don’t sit right or fit in well, a bit like a Paedophile teaching a Year 5 Maths Class.
That said, and those niggles aside, it’s clear that the Episode did indeed yield some merits. The culmination of the ‘Who killed Archie Mitchell’ Storyline was well written, well paced and ultimately heart-breaking (especially the death of one of Walford’s most loved characters, which actually shocked this poor reviewer to the core. And everyone else who was watching that night)!!! And the scene with Dot & Ian Beale (the only surviving characters from the first episode in 1985) watching a video of their old neighbours was both poignant and celebratory, without too much ‘well done me ol’ mucker’ back slapping (that said, it did seem like they were actually watching a BBC Best of Eastenders Video instead. Did all those characters really have someone with a Video Camera recording their every move and discussion? I somehow highly doubt it)!!!
Overall, Eastenders Live proved to be an enjoyable yet flawed affair, nostalgic and enjoyable, whilst at the same time cheesy and rather clunky in its execution. But, saying that, surely that’s what Birthdays & Anniversaries are all about. In which case, mission accomplished. So here’s to another 25 Years of adultery, scandal, pub brawls and Phil Mitchell smacking people in the chops!! I think...