Thursday, February 19, 2015

Soaped Up

So now we know who killed Lucy in Eastenders - and didn't they take their time getting there?  Having recently re-watched Cutter's Way (as my DVD is titled, although I believe it was originally released in the UK under its original title of Cutter and Bone), I can't help but feel that they should have had the investigation conducted by some horribly maimed Afghan vet pal of Lee Carter.  He could have limped around Albert Square in a permanent alcoholic stupor, badgering Lee into admitting that he had seen the murderer on Good Friday and that they needed to blackmail them into a confession.  It could all have climaxed with him crashing through the window of the Vic during Ian's wedding reception and trying to shoot the killer.  But then I also thought that when Pat was on her death bed she should have seen a spectral Frank, clad only in that spinning bow tie and sporting angel's wings, saying "Pat, Paaat, move towards the light!", and that Dirty Den should have been revealed to be a Cyberman in a Doctor Who crossover.  I'm afraid that my ideas for soap opera plots are just too advanced for the current crop of TV producers.

They cling to the idea that soap operas should be realistic and reflect real life.  Except that in tonight's episode of Eastenders we had, for the second time (third if you count Nick Cotton's faking his own death) a character returning from the dead.  How many times has that happened in your street?  Then there's the fact that yet another murderer has just been unmasked - how many is that now?  Homicide rates in the UK simply aren't that high - if there had been that many murders over a thirty year period in a real residential street then I'm sure there would have been a government enquiry, for God's sake.  Let's not forget all the arson attacks, car crashes and accidental deaths - I've lived on the same street for more than twenty years and, apart from the odd bit of scraped paint in a parking incident - there have been no car accidents, or fires.  The only two deaths I can recall were of natural causes and neither was unexpected, (one was in her eighties and the other had long-standing health problems).  So Eastenders - in common with other soaps - certainly isn't portraying real real life.  Obviously, if they did, it would be bloody boring - you might as well watch a feed from a camera set up on a real street: hour after hour of nothing dramatic happening.  Instead, they try to give the impression of realism, relying upon the fact that, as long as they don't go too far - the avenging ghost of Lucy Beale turning up to shout 'Murderer!' at her killer, for instance - our suspension of disbelief won't be broken.  In common with all dramatic genres, soap operas have rules and conventions and as long as producers stick to them, then they can get away with murder, plotwise.  But introduce the supernatural (which belongs in a horror film) or Alex Cutter (who belongs in a crime drama) and the audience's suspension of disbelief will well and truly be broken.  So any number of soap murders are acceptable, just so long as they don't involve the supernatural or one-armed, one-legged , one-eyed war veteran detectives.

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