John Wheatley: "A Discursive Analysis of EastEnders"

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Here is a second example. Although these scene types are sparse, at least one more can be found to support my arguments on the likely occurrence of and peripheral status of positive evaluation in a soap.

Scene 18

Lenny
pre q - +inform
right, are you ready for it? I've got us a gig

Mick
clarification req
A gig where?

Lenny
clarify
Titanic cat. Monday night, second spot

Mick + Lola
repeat
You got us on at the Titanic cat

Lenny
elaborate
Someone fell out, a mate of mine tipped me off

Mick
elicit
Who's the main act?

Lenny
reply
Ah the Bisics? but they're rubbish

Lola
elicit
Are we really ready for the titanic cat?

Lenny
reply
Look, I'm your manager let me be the judge of that.

Lola
follow up/ challenge
We've hardly got our set together


This is again the scene where this situation arises for the first time. Mick's band, where Lenny is the manager land their first gig. Initial evaluation is positive. This sounds like good news but the story line will run with this as a problem as Lola in particular, the band's singer, negatively evaluates the time they have to get ready in. Early positive evaluation speedily gives way to negative evaluation as the gig becomes a problem and a story line rather than simply good news which is no news at all.


Evaluation within the evening's main story.
I want to develop what I say here in a paper to follow this one. Still, let it be said that evaluation in the main action is likely to be contested evaluation. That is, different characters evaluate the action differently. It is changes in the way that people evaluate that allows for solutions to become possible.

Let me give one example of contested evaluation.

Scene 23

Michael
clarification req
What do you mean?

Susan
clarify
Well one minute the pair of you aren't talking and the next you're putting your heads together to sort me out, is that it?

Michael
inform
We thought you'd be pleased

Susan
reply
It's not that simple Michael.


Michael's solution is to bring his family back together. He has got them under one roof. Now he wants to re-establish normal married life. Susan, though, has different ideas. It isn't going to be that simple. Major action scenes in a soap opera move the action forward from problem stage to solution phase. Because things don't happen that quickly in soap opera, and because there is a need for story lines to last, this move towards solution is rarely straightforward. In fact the typical case is as above where the solution which obviously has Michael's positive evaluation is opposed by Susan, whose consent is essential if the solution is to come into effect and actually change the lives of these soap characters.


Altered Evaluation
Another key feature in the bringing about of solutions to characters' problems in soaps is that contested sites of evaluation become sites where characters' evaluation changes. It is this change of evaluative stance that allows for solutions to be even feasible, let alone successful.

Here is an example from the same episode and from the same major action sequence.

Scene 17

Michael
reply
We had some good years

Matthew
comment
I must've missed them

Michael
elicit
Ah come on, are you telling me that your childhood was a miserable one?

Jianni
opine
Ah you're back. I was wondering how we were going to manage once the stampede started (snigger).

Michael
self support
I remember the three of us having a lot of laughs, going everywhere together.

Matthew
accept
Yeah alright, it wasn't all bad

Michael
opine
It shouldn't have gone wrong. I don't know why it die. I got caught up in my work and well I can't blame your mum for looking elsewhere for the things I couldn't give her.








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1999.05.31