Thursday, May 28, 2009

The shout heard around the world

spoiler alert: this post makes reference to the May 27th episode on CBC TV

Now that's more like it: physicial, hard-hitting, exciting. No, I'm not talking about the hockey game, I'm talking about Ken and Deirdre on Coronation Street, finally squaring off about Ken's novel which Deirdre reads and finds to be a damning portrait of him (and her, the "fag smoking monster" - trademark pending). The ensuing argument ends with a ferocious slap (from Deirdre) and a roar from Ken as Blanche innocently wanders into the dining room after the melee.

It's riveting because it gets to the core of Ken's character and has been a strong theme ever since the very first episode. It's the central contradiction of his life. Deirdre said it as well as anyone: "a clever grammar school boy, born in the back streets on Manchester... dealing with fools and harridans around him."

The questions are deceptively simple: Why didn't Ken leave Coronation Street? Why didn't he take that great gift, his blue-chip education, and move onward and upward to great things? Could he really reach his potential in a back street of Weatherfield?

Of course, there have been glimmers of greatness over the years. Ken was an excellent teacher and treated the profession as a noble vocation (rightly so). Then there were his other promising forays: editor of the Weatherfield Recorder, high-paying exective working for Sir Julius Berlin (who?) and energetic community organizer. However, none of these jobs led him to the top or even away from his comfort zone in Coronation Street. Has there been something holding Ken back all these years? Perhaps it's Ken himself (that's what Deirdre thinks). It's a harsh reality to face for anyone, much less someone who has just been to a university reunion talking to a bunch of toffs with great expectations.

Once again, Deirdre captures the essence of the problem and cuts to the chase by asking Ken why he never had the "guts" to leave. Ken's response is simple but quite revealing - part facile excuse but part undeniable truth for anyone and everyone. "Life happens," he says.

Then Blanche wakes up and comes downstairs. As penance for her sins, she has missed all the juicy action.

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