The Land of Lowry

28.08.155Originally published on the Coronation Street Blog, Saturday 29 August 2015

Coronation Street double episode review, Friday 28 August 2015

Aidan: “It’ll take some getting used to working with a load of women. The banter’s different.”
Michelle: “Hm. It’s called intelligent conversation that babes.”
Steve: “Yeah, I often have chats about renaissance art with Beth Tinker.”

And so begins Friday’s double Corrie. Written by Chris Fewtrell, they continue in this vein, and are a treat for anyone who appreciates the joy of well woven storytelling and beautifully crafted dialogue.

“You are a prisoner of other people’s aesthetic prejudices” Mary informs Eileen, whose only experience of painting has involved a skirting board. Her pushy recruitment tactics nevertheless see the community centre filled with budding artists in anticipation of Cathy’s class. It’s always welcome to have a character representing the viewer, and Cathy’s reaction to both Mary and Yasmeen’s overbearing theatricality endears her even more.

Tim’s playfulness, Craig’s artistic integrity and Roy’s assertion that “This is the land of Lowry” are small but wonderful details that add to the rich palette of the episode. All this provides the backdrop for Cathy regaining her lost confidence and faith in her abilities and crediting Roy with being the catalyst. In what is a touching scene between the pair, he tells her, “The worst has already happened to you and me, nothing that comes now will ever compare, so in a peculiar sort of way, that’s liberating.”

The class subject, a bunch of flowers, sees varied interpretations. Mary’s painting of the grim reaper “proferring a bunch of nettles” is glorious as she explains to a bewildered Cathy, “for me, cut flowers are synonymous with death and also betrayal. They’re a time honoured pathetic male gesture made in the wake of some act of infidelity, negligence or cruelty. The nettles therefore represent the hidden sting that lurks beneath every bouquet.” Magnificent.

As they depart, and Tim is reminded he was supposed to cut the grass for Sally, he asks Cathy’s permission to take the flowers with him; a marvellous validation of both Mary’s assertions and the intricacies of Chris Fewtrell’s fine storytelling. I was just as happy as Yasmeen to hear Cathy will be giving more classes.

Aidan is far from happy with Carla’s attitude towards the business. First, she refuses to attend another important meeting with him, and then he realises she’s lost another £500 to online gambling. They make up, but not without a firm telling off and a request that she allow those who care for her to help her. An increasingly burdened Tracy agrees, albeit reluctantly, to lend her support to Maddie’s charity night at the Bistro, and you’d wonder if her wish for Carla to move on from what was an accident speaks to her own desire to eradicate it from memory. Carla overhears and admits that she does blame herself for the deaths of Maddie and Kal, and always will.

Liz has spent the night with Lloyd, and her shifty behaviour leads Michelle to suspect that she’s hiding someone upstairs. Thinking it’s Tony, Steve calls Lloyd for back up only to hear his phone ringing as he sneaks down the stairs. The following scenes are comedy gold, and result in Steve giving the couple his reluctant, and comically unnecessary, blessing.

Unwilling Lloyd is cajoled by Steve into bringing her on a date, and despite confessing to Dev that he doesn’t want a relationship with Liz, both jaws hit the floor when she arrives out from behind the bar dressed to impress. However, as they are about to leave for the Bistro, Andrea arrives with a full on apology and the record she stole and sold. She begs him for another chance, but it’s too late for Lloyd who can’t trust her again. After he admits he slept with Liz, Andrea ends up crying in Eileen’s face on Maxine’s bench with zero regard for what she’s going through. Lovely.

Once Tony learns from Jason that Callum was responsible for his beating, he turns full alpha-male and returns the favour in the ginnel behind the Rovers. David Platt’s cheeky grin complete with protruding lollipop is hilarious. After a protracted tête-à-tête in which bloodied Callum wheezes and Tony exerts brute force, Liz interrupts, and convinces Tony that this isn’t the way. After Callum scuttles away shouting that Tony has made a big mistake, Liz counsels him. “You can still be a good father to him, but not like this” she says, but Tony is concerned that this is the only way he knows how and it’s all he can do for his son.

Todd is shocked to hear that Jason might need a kidney transplant and goes to the hospital to offer his. He cries tears of relief for his brother on learning that it won’t be needed, and he’ll make a full recovery. Eileen overhears, and asks him to stay, acknowledging that what he did took guts.

Todd is humble throughout, telling her “Some people don’t know me as well as they think they do, and some know me too well. I’m sorry about what I did. I know it makes no odds, I know you won’t believe me, but I am”. Eileen suggests that they try again and this reduces him to tears of gratitude. She hopes he doesn’t expect forgiveness, but he is nevertheless happy to be given this chance. For me, this absolutely has to constitute Todd’s final and complete redemption. If not, then we are left with a pantomime villain who does a disservice to the character’s potential. There is a role for him on the street as a good person who, at the very least, can enrich episodes with his wry slant on proceedings and witty asides.

Chris Fewtrell’s double episode was a work of art in its own right and, as ever, I look forward to his next installment.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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