Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Is Corrie in the doldrums?

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in August 2014, reposted with permission.)

It's a question us fans are often asking. There's a strange divergence of opinion at the moment, splitting Corrie viewers. While some people think Coronation Street still has more highs than lows, others are seriously concerned that the Street is in trouble.

My views are well known on the whole. I think Corrie is still the best continuing drama on British television featuring some bona fide telly legends, some great acting and some funny, poignant writing. However I also think it is shown too often each week which cannot help but harm the quality of Corrie's overall output. I also think the cast is far too large and while some characters dominate for months on end others barely get a look in.

I think some storylines go on far too long while others disappear without trace far too soon. Some of the writing is brilliant yet some in uneven and I question some situations and the actions of certain characters. I worry that the competition for ratings is pushing our favourite programme into areas of desperation previously unheard of - everything is dramatic and explosive when simple human dramas used to suffice.

Each new Corrie producer has their own favourite actors and that can be both good and bad for the show. The past year of Corrie output makes it abundantly clear to me who those are. I know Corrie has done well at awards ceremonies but when you look at the outcomes most of the prizes have gone to Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson. Richly deserved, but take them out of the equation and what does that leave us with?

The introduction of new characters to a long running, ongoing drama can be tricky. Introduce too many at once and viewers feel all at sea and can't take to them. Bring them in too slowly and people get bored very quickly. The past year has seen the introduction of several new characters and on the whole I'm struggling to take to many of them. I know I must give these things time but many of them just don't feel like Corrie to me. Too many characters these days are too easily interchangeable with other programmes in the genre. Corrie used to lead the way with character development and character driven drama but now I fear this has been lost.

While many new characters have been added to an already bulging cast, too many others have been lost and in some cases it's just been such a puzzling waste. Charlie Condou decided to leave his role as Marcus Dent. Fair enough, however Marcus has been woefully underused in recent times. A normal, down to earth intelligent guy was suddenly cheating on his partner with someone he would previously have crossed the street to avoid. Not good enough. 

Dennis Tanner, one of Corrie's originals from 1960 was brought back, married off and given nothing to do. A criminal waste of Philip Lowrie's wonderful acting talents and a vital, tangible link to Corrie's golden age gone, just like that. Not good enough. Lloyd's daughter Jenna, brought in to give Craig Charles' brilliant character some family and some depth. Mismatched with Sophie Webster and there was no going back. Surely the writers could think up something else for Krissi Bohn to do apart from dish up beans in the background of other people's scenes? Whole stories of father and daughter connecting were left untouched by the writers. Not good enough. 

While there doesn't appear to be time to do these characters or actors justice, other stories drag on forever. Nick has become the new Demon David. Childish pranks and general unpleasantness instead of covering the serious topic of his rehabilitation. Tina's demise took month after month to reach a climax and the aftermath will be with us until Christmas. The Windass dramas show no sign of letting up despite being centre stage since the turn of the year. And Tracy keeps on being Tracy without any significant comeuppance. 

I know times change, viewers want different things and television companies face new pressures and an ever-changing climate but certain aspects of Corrie must remain the same for it to be Corrie.  

If I want depressing murder and mayhem, I'll watch EastEnders. If I want teenage screechy angst and pantomime performances, I'll watch Hollyoaks. I don't want these dubious qualities creeping into my Corrie. I want comedy. I want pathos. I want real, believable drama. I want characters I can root for and get behind, not characters that irritate and have me reaching for the remote control or my DVD boxed sets. I want the modern day equivalent of Hilda quietly grieving for Stan. I want the modern day equivalent of Bet painting on her barmaid's smile to mask her pain. 

I know this will be controversial for some but I write this because I love my Corrie and I want it to be the best it can be. 

There's still enough about Coronation Street to keep me watching. I think. 

Follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82

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Sheila said...

Your last full paragraph says it sell. I agree.

Anonymous said...

The Lloyd/Andrea affair has to be the most boring storyline I've ever seen. And please get rid of the wimpy husband once and for all. How long do we have to suffer that plot. And enough of Nick and Leanne's drama. Give it all a rest. Used to be I enjoyed the storylines, because they didn't drag on but lately, too many people, too many plots, too much bullying. I know it's a soap but I've yet to meet anyone who behaves the way they have the cast play their part. The only brilliant acting I have seen so far this year, is Ken's return and his admonishing Deidre. That was fantastic acting and he deserves to be bamed for an award for that episode. C.

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