Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Mixed Phelans

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in October 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

The past week on Coronation Street has felt a bit like The Phelan Show. I guess it makes a change from The Michelle Show but I do dislike Corrie when one character dominates. However Patrick has his fingers in so many pies it would be hard for him not to feature prominently

Let's see. There's Andy pathetically still locked in the cellar with his tubs of mixed beans (nice with a bit of tuna mixed through apparently); daughter Nicola carrying a ginger Windass sprog; Vinny (Harvey) webcamming around with his poor old mam (shades of Joy Fishwick here); a snarling Anna Windass poisoning his pasty with her downtrodden glare; Daniel following in his father's footsteps (as opposed to pushing him down the stairs) as a reporter on the way to a big scoop and even at home, Eileen is already furnishing that big old house, completely unaware of what lies beneath.


Don't get me wrong, I love a storyline in Corrie that is multi-layered and involves a number of different characters interacting together. For me though, Phelan's reign has gone on just a bit too long now. It beggars belief that he has not been caught out, even when he's tripped up. Ok, those around him aren't the sharpest tools in the box (that's you I'm referring to Eileen) but as viewers, we're having to suspend disbelief even longer than normal. What's kept this pot boiling as long as it has is the wonderfully down to earth, believable performance from Connor McIntyre. He is quite obviously relishing being a part of such a high profile Coronation Street storyline and although I'd hate to curtail his fun, I think the time has come to bring this story to an end. As with all Corrie villains, an end must come and they must be caught out and banged to rights. And Patrick is no exception.

I get that the powers that be are drawing this out as much as possible to maximise the fallout when it all goes belly up, which it will. And although Phelan is yet another villain we love to hate, he's getting too creepy for me so I'll be glad to see the back of him. I don't want to be too critical of this story so in dissecting it, I'd like to bring you some positives and negatives, as I see it.


Some positives to begin:

The most important of these is the standout performance from Connor McIntyre as Phelan. While it must be great fun playing a conniving conman, it's also not easy to make a baddie likeable and appear as a down to earth, ordinary bloke. Despite all his nefarious acts over the past year and a bit, Pat still feels like a bloke you could meet in your local pub and the story is all the better for it. He's not the black gloved, moustache twirling villain like Richard Hillman, the quietly menacing Alan Bradley or the comedy thug of a Jez Quigley. Phelan really is a Corrie bad boy unlike any other. Giving him a conscience has been a masterstroke and there has been much mileage in seeing Patrick struggle with guilt and an attempt to do the right thing. So far, that hasn't happened but we live in hope. Also, he's not the traditional serial killer we're now used to in soaps. Despite death having occurred, he's not actually committed the act of murder and this makes for a more interesting "reign of terror".

Another positive has been the introduction of Nicola Thorp as Nicola Rubenstein, the daughter Phelan never knew he had. This has shown a more human side to Pat and you can tell he genuinely cares about her. I think the same can be said for new wife Eileen. The thread with Nicola has been interesting to watch and in Thorp, Corrie have found a terrific actor who adds intelligence, strength and quite a spark as Ms Rubenstein. Her strong performances so far makes me hope she stays around long after Phelan's downfall. I do regret her instant pregnancy courtesy of everyone's favourite fiery redhead (sorry Reet) but I understand it's importance to the story and Pat's anti-abortion stance has been an intriguing addition.


Finally, I did love the shock value of finding Andy Carver alive and sniveling in that rank old cellar so long after his disappearance. For years nothing was sacred when it came to spoilers and I was getting thoroughly fed up with Coronation Street signposting each new plot development to the media weeks in advance. This has changed under Kate Oates and it was a genuine surprise when Andy popped up, chained up. 

Now to some of the less positive aspects to this long-running saga:


As I've already mentioned I think the story is being played out over far too long a period, but I think this is to generate as much mileage as possible when it eventually hits the fan. The big flaw in this for me is that where Eileen is concerned at least, I already feel no sympathy. Eileen started out as a sharp, sparky, funny character who followed a long line of long suffering Corrie women who managed as best they could even when life dealt them endless misery. However these days Eileen is that misery and it's all become rather unlikable. She's also endlessly thick despite her history of being played for a fool or making bad decisions when it comes to men. Various people have warned her about Phelan but she is totally blinkered. The same could be said for Gail when she was shacked up with Hillman, but at least she wasn't totally unpleasant at that stage. The full Ivy transformation was yet to take place. Eileen is quite unpleasant and can be surprisingly unsupportive of others. Therefore when the worst happens, I will really struggle to feel for the character.

Although I mentioned that I really enjoyed the shock reveal that Andy was still alive, his cellar ordeal, although always tinged with surreal humour, has gone on far too long. While much care has been taken to paint in the fine detail of Phelan's character, his motivations and how the past has made him the man he is today, Andy was and remains quite a weak character in every sense of the word. And don't forget he wasn't exactly whiter than white himself with his treatment of Michael. I'm really fed up watching dishevelled Andy pleading miserably for his life, especially when only a few weeks back he had the ideal opportunity to scream for help when Eileen stumbled upon the cellar. Not only do I think it has gone on too long, I also no longer care what happens to him.


The length of time this story has taken to play out has been an issue for me. Phelan's horrible deeds date back over four years now, and although he was absent for a long period in between his two stints, his downfall has felt like a very long time coming. Despite the show moving to six episodes a week, it does still feel like some storylines do dominate and there is a large cast of good actors just not getting a look in. I hope over time this changes but with big grandstanding stories like Phelan, the grooming plot and Michelle's never ending torrent of running mascara, it feels like creativity in other corners of the street is going unexplored.

Having said all that I do find Connor's performances mesmerizing and when the end of his Corrie journey does finally come, I hope he goes on to great success elsewhere.

You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

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