Lost that Lovin’ Phelan?

Coronation Street – Episode Review – Friday 28 February – 7.30pm and 8.30pm

With Phelan out for the count, frantic Gary panics and calls Owen, confessing all. Despite being told to stay put, he leaves the scene, and by the time both arrive back, Phelan is gone. It would have been interesting to see Owen’s initial reaction to the news that Phelan has been coming on to Anna, as he is strangely calm in the aftermath, faced as he is with dealing with the crisis at hand. After driving around looking for him fails, Owen rings Phelan and leaves an upbeat voicemail concerning plans for the following day.

Meanwhile, Jake is brought to hospital by Izzy and Anna who are worried about his temperature. While the baby turns out to be fine, Izzy isn’t so sure about Gary who fails to answer any of her calls and only arrives at the hospital at the last minute, clearly distressed. Later that evening, Gary and Owen call over to Phelan’s house but there’s nobody home and a restless night undoubtedly lies ahead for both who have decided not to involve the police. As the family open a bottle of cava to celebrate Jake’s health, Katie’s toast to becoming rich is ironic considering Anna, Gary and Owen are all suffering as a direct result of that ambition.

The only full house Beth and Sinead have is the one they live in, as they leave Bingo empty handed. However, as they wait for the bus, a fellow bingo goer is mugged, and Beth springs into action, rescuing not just the lady’s handbag and winnings, but the portion of her husband’s ashes that aren’t in Windermere. After getting a lift home in a police car, and frightening the life out of Gary Windass in the process as he sees it pull up outside, Beth regales the incredulous and bemused drinkers in the Rovers with her heroics.

When I heard Todd was to return “nasty” I despaired, but the current incarnation of his character is proving an interesting and often enjoyable addition to the Street despite some of his deplorable antics. He is witty, cynical, astute, cheeky and apathetic and it can be amusing to watch. As Jason curses his Dad for losing him the gym contract, Todd is the voice of reason, telling his brother that it’s really himself he is annoyed at for allowing his Dad to influence him. He has also picked up on a newly revealed soft spot on the part of Eileen for the man she has never had anything good to say about. While Liz is surprised by Tony’s nonchalance at the news that Jason is upset, she still takes him up on the offer of a night on the town after being let down by Deirdre.

Coronation Street has come under fire in the past for privileging high drama over everyday scenes, and therefore not being ‘real’ enough. Belief has to be suspended in the case of soap opera; after all, how many things can realistically happen to the same people on one street? Variety and continuous sources of drama are essential, and are what keep us interested. But what you do expect, irrespective of the number of experiences a character has gone through, is that they are grounded in the real. It is the people, if not always the events, that make it realistic.

Tonight’s episodes, like others in recent times, were slower in pace with plenty of conversation. Faye doing her homework; Steve, Lloyd and Andrea talking about nothing in particular in the Rovers; Beth and Sinead chatting at length while waiting at the bus stop; the wonderful scene between Liz and Amy about how it feels to be appreciated, these all took place over a number of scenes, and their central pleasure was simply people talking, with some really funny, touching and generally lovely dialogue.

Such conversations offer a window on the fabric of daily life in Weatherfield, which is a welcome pleasure, and the fact that they can happen at all is something which makes soap opera wonderfully unique. Coronation Street has celebrated its capacity to portray the everyday over the years, offering the very best of such scenes, and tonight’s episodes are certainly encouraging for the future.

By Emma Hynes

Twitter: @ELHynes

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