As part of my whole ‘keeping an eye on the state of TV Drama’ thing, I’ve been paying a bit of attention to EastEnders. And I have to ask: am I truly the only person who thinks the whole Max-Bradley-Stacey storyline has gone on way, way too long?
For my money, there are fundamental flaws with the setup:
1. It seems unclear whether there’s actually been anything going on between Max and Stacey for the last couple of months
2. The character of Stacey seems to be limited to either scowling at her fiance or scowling at her fiance’s father, making her role (as the object of so much attention) frankly baffling
3. The character of Bradley has been reduced to that of a clueless idiot who can’t seem to spot that his fiance spends all her time looking on him with a barely-concealed mix of contempt and pity
4. None of the characters are likable as a result of all this, leaving the viewer with no-one who they can even partially root for
5. It’s been running since at least the start of the year. There have been a couple of times when it seemed like the whole messy business was going to be either revealed or in some way resolved, but this hasn’t been the case (even the ‘caught on tape’ aspect of recent episodes looks unlikely to be resolved immediately – I have a horrible suspicion that they’re saving it for Christmas) .
Maybe it’s my short attention span or something to blame, but this strand seems to have been going on since last Christmas or so (correct me if I’m wrong), and I think it would have been far better if, during the vows, it had gone more like….
And do you, Bradley, take Stacey to be your lawfully wedded wife?
BRADLEY looks round, unsure of himself. Meets the concerned looks off various guests. Sees MAX looking surprised.
BRADLEY looks at her. His look changes to one of certainty.
A ripple of murmurs from the congregation. The VICAR looks taken aback. MAX looks worried. SEAN allows himself a smile.
No, I don’t take you to be my lawfully wedded wife.
You’ve been having it away with my dad for over six months –
STACEY’s face drops. Another buzz from the congregation.
– and now you want the security of marrying me ?
What kind of an idiot do you take me for?
BRADLEY shakes his head, smiles coldly. He’s in charge of things now.
I just wanted to see how far you’d take the whole getting married idea, and see how far you’d take the lies. All the way, it seems. All the way up the aisle.
Bradley, I –
BRADLEY grits his teeth.
But now, in front of all our friends, I’ve shown you up for the liar you are.
And the kind of girl you are.
BRADLEY tears the flower from his buttonhole, throws it to the floor. Slowly, he walks out of the church, and as he goes, we see the reactions of the guests – horrified surprise from most of them, but barely-suppressed rage from TANYA, a victorious look from SEAN, and a look of genuine worry from MAX. Close on STACEY’s expression as she realises what she’s lost. We hear the church door slam.
FX: Drums and end theme
Okay, so maybe the above is a touch OTT, but I really wish they’d resolve the storyline – it feels like it’s been spinning its wheels for months, and there was a period of time when it was all too similar to the Dawn-May-Rob plotline (married man having affair with much younger woman). I’m guessing they want to keep it going until the Christmas Day episode – there is, after all, no better way to celebrate a happy family Christmas than by … um, gathering round the TV to watch fictional families’ unhappy Christmases.