Monday, 25 January 2016
There's something about Mary
(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2016.)
I sat watching through my fingers last night as Mary Taylor led Brendan up Dev's stairs. It's not the thought of Mary having a physical relationship that bothers me, more the turn this storyline has taken. I'm still in two minds on whether I like it or not.
Don't get me wrong, it's great that the writers have finally given Mary something more substantial to do. For some years now she has been wheeled out occasionally as the Weatherfield eccentric. Sure she gets her fair share of excellent, albeit rather ludicrous dialogue to deliver, but you always end up wanting more from Mary because we know Patti Clare can do it justice. The hilarious eccentric bit has frequently danced precariously into the sinister and I'm no fan of this. The bizarre Norris kidnap of a few years ago and that awful motorhome turned me against Mary which is deeply unfair on the actress who portrays her.
Deep down Mary is a rather lonely lady approaching middle age. She has made her home in Coronation Street and her bond with Dev and his children is touching (if we forget that ludicrous subplot with Julie last year). As a viewer, you get the feeling life hasn't been easy for Mary but regardless, she has a youthful, cheerful optimism most of the time and an appealing naivety when all around her stalks the likes of Carla Connor and Kylie Platt. For some reason Mary was always put with the more mature residents of Coronation Street and while her scenes with Emily, Norris and Rita are generally good fun, it does seem rather odd that she's not with characters more her own age. This was addressed in the programme by Mary herself not that long ago before she embarked on her current plot line with the rather rancid, randy Brendan.
Despite the bonkers side to Mary, I care about the character and that is down to Patti Clare. She captures real moments of pathos when give the chance. When Brendan stood her up in that hotel over Christmas, my heart really did go out to her. She knows she's chasing a dream and rather than deal with the reality, she continues to be an old fashioned romantic. I also enjoy seeing Rita and Norris really care for Mary, showing proper concern rather than ridiculing her or sending her up. They are almost acting as parents at the moment and it's a nice dynamic, making a change from the usual nasty Norris.
We all know Mary is heading for heartbreak as Brendan is not going to do the right thing by her. Perhaps Mary sees this as her one chance for happiness and is therefore going for it despite the truth of the situation. Ted Robbins has been an excellent addition as the slimy, rather unpleasant Brendan. Their scenes together are becoming increasingly unpalatable but I guess that is down to the skill of the actors and the script. I admit I was rather surprised by last night's turn of events as I didn't think our Mary would do the deed with a married man, but there you go.
The tale of Mary and Brendan is typical Corrie in many ways. It has comedy, pathos and real sadness all bound together. I think we all know how this storyline is going to end. It's inevitable. I hope, as a viewer, that three things come out of it. First of all, I hope Brendan gets a suitable comeuppance as he's truly odious. Secondly, I hope Norris and her other friends rally round Mary and show their support. And finally, I hope Mary retains her dignity and Patti Clare gets material in the denouement of this story that is worthy of her talents.
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