’TWAS the night before Christmas. When all through the Vic, not a creature was stirring. Not even Bianca.
She was saving it for December 25 and that food fight re-enactment of Travis’s Sing video.
As was Carol Jackson who had this seasonal wish of goodwill to all: “I just want tomorrow to be a really nice day. No arguments, no shouting, no tears.”
This is EastEnders, Carol.
Let misery commence.
But before it does, let’s leave the Walford joy-spreaders and toast the gift to amnesiacs everywhere that was Christmas Day telly 2013.
Because if the sprouts and stuffing were repeating on you, they weren’t the only things.
The Snowman and The Snowdog graced both Channel 4 and the Radio Times cover. For the second consecutive year.
ITV’s big film, Tangled, was the same one it aired at the same just-after-the-Queenie-poohs timeslot 12 months before.
And though I chuckled at The Big Christmas Reunion narrator Andi Peters announcing: “The bands will be singing a version of Wizzard’s optimistic but impractical classic I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day,” I’d also done so the first time a fortnight earlier.
And you can keep your James Nesbitt frolicking around New Zealand, Paul O’Grady’s dogs, yet another Emmerdale fire and Downton Abbey at the height of summer.
With the notable exception of Corrie’s Roy and Hayley, ITV wasn’t at the party.
Don’t assume, however, that praise must be lavished on Auntie.
Mark Gatiss’s BBC2 ghost story The Tractate Middoth was laughably the least terrifying TV show since Mr Spoon had a minor mishap on Button Moon.
I simply don’t get BBC1’s Midwife curiosity.
And Strictly Come Dancing doesn’t lend itself to a festive special.
Forget Ricky “Fatboy” Norwood, give us Dave Myers and Mark Benton busting some moves if you’re attempting ballroom comedy.
Either that or a bloodied Rufus Hound hit in the face with a fish.
I will give the BBC two nice touches from Doctor Who – Peter Capaldi’s sudden entrance (“KIDNEYS!”) and a gratifying swipe at David Tennant courtesy of 11th Doctor Matt Smith: “Number 10 once regenerated and kept the same face.
“I had vanity issues at the time.”
But I’m beginning to suspect there will never be a better Christmas episode than the one with the big Cyberman Transformers spaceship thing and the bar lass from Ballykissangel (One for the purists there.).
I watched this year’s attempt twice, and foolishly tried to work out what the heck was going on.
All I can gather is The Doctor, with a metallic version of Tom Hanks’ Cast Away volleyball buddy Wilson, spent 300 years defending the town of Christmas because of shoddy workmanship on a tower’s foundations that caused a crack in the wall.
So much for the National House Building Council’s 10-year guarantee.
Apparently it doesn’t cover a “split in the skin of reality”.
What I did understand were the BBC plugs it spouted awkwardly, for iPlayer and Strictly, which got worse with David Walliams’ Boxing Day letdown (apart from Julia McKenzie) Gangsta Granny which rammed Strictly, Bake Off, Pointless, Strictly, Wonders of the Universe and Strictly down our throats.
And let’s never speak again of Still Open All Hours, which proved Ronnie Barker is irreplaceable, David Jason can at least still do comedy, despite The Royal Bodyguard’s evidence to the contrary, and a violent till is the one bit that remains funny 28 years later.
Not as funny as the crowd-dividing Mrs Brown’s Boys though, which topped the ratings in a rare BBC risk that paid off.
The remote controlled Christmas tree scenes will be replayed as timeless classics.
Yet even these cannot banish the abiding miserable memory of EastEnders, which went loopy on Christmas Eve when David Wicks found a free parking space right outside a hospital doors (as if) and Carol Jackson had the shortest wait to see a consultant in NHS history.
So why the doc apologised to her for the non-existent delay is anyone’s guess.
By Christmas Day the plot was well and truly lost, with a street party being held like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
Bianca’s Christmas-tree-flattening turkey hurl was like the Aussie swing attack demolishing England’s Ashes top order. Only less embarrassing.
Kat’s present to Alfie, a positive pregnancy test, may be seen as the gift of life.
Or a gift that someone’s weed on earlier.
And that preposterous Janine police car chase had her speeding around the square like Colin McRae in a forest stage of the Wales Rally GB, spinning the steering wheel furiously while the horn beeped all by itself.
And then, to top it all, came Danny Dyer, Captain Straight-to-DVD, whose acting range has him not only snarling behind the bar of the Vic, it has him snarling in front of it too.
In the words of Carol Jackson’s consultant: “Sorry, it’s been a bit chaotic.”
The first of many heartfelt apologies this show needs to make in 2014.
But I’m taking no chances and skedaddling for a week. Column returns in a fortnight.
Happy New Year, folks.
THIS week’s EastEnder Still Clearly P****d From Christmas award goes to...
Strictly Come Dancing special’s Ricky Norwood: “You’ve got to love Fats as a character.”
Move away from the drinks cabinet, Ricky. Time to sober up.
DON’T MISS... World’s Strongest Man final, C5, at 8pm on New Year’s Eve.