Fave or Fail? (9-13 Dec 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h45m17s638Community stories can often be thin on the ground in current Emmerdale so this week’s Christmas panto story was a joy. In a small village where everyone knows each other, this season is the perfect time for lots of characters to get together, even those who aren’t usually involved. This story gave Manpreet a chance to embed herself more in the village, beside her GP role, and we could also forget that Bob was involved with the show’s most hated character while he relished in his creative role. It was also a lot of fun to see the actors pretending to act on stage, some even doing a bad job. We haven’t seen a panto in the village for a while and so far it’s been everything warm and fun and Christmassy. Unlike the village nativity from two years ago, centred around Chas and Paddy’s forced humour, it’s been much more fun to see the rehearsals and preparation and not just rush straight to a costumed performance. It has shades of the community spirit from classic Emmerdale and that can only be a good thing.

Archie’s Anguish

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h46m00s801Archie’s story escalated this week and really tugged at the heart strings. While the writing for this storyline feels rushed and extreme at times, little Kai Assi is doing a brilliant job at showing Archie’s absolute fear and hopelessness. It was impossible not to want to reach into the screens and hug him this week as he saw his only option was to run away. Feeling completely alone, Archie’s anguish was very emotive and is one of the reasons why this story is working.

Arthur’s Anger

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m46s540Apart from my Scene of the Week choice, there was another scene which really stood out and was one of the highlights of the Archie and Arthur story. It was clear that Arthur attached a lot of significance to Christmas when it came to remembering his late dad. With that in mind Laurel organised a special festive gathering to decorate the tree, with Arthur ready to place the final decoration on the tree – a special decoration he once made for his dad. Arthur’s world shattered when Archie ran in and broke the decoration in the scuffle. You could feel Arthur’s pain and hurt and so much of that was in the brilliant performance from Alfie Clarke. There are times when the writing over-simplifies Arthur’s bullying as reasonless cruelty, but when we see Arthur’s perspective and a young boy still struggling with grief, the story is so much better for it.

Jimmy and Nicola United

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h47m31s657The Archie plot isn’t perfect but it does have many elements that are successful. With the great performances from both the young children and the parents, it’s been great to see characters like Jai, Laurel, Jimmy and Nicola get something really meaty story-wise. There was a nice reminder this week about what a great couple Jimmy and Nicola are as Nicola was unflinching in her support of her husband. Solid couples are thin on the ground at the moment, but there’s something so genuine about Jimmy and Nicola that makes their scenes feel authentic.

Chemistry Calling

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m00s035When Jamie arrived it looked like Emmerdale were paving the pathway for another Dingle and Tate romance, as he and Belle flirted. All that changed with the arrival of Andrea and Millie and it was a struggle to buy into Jamie the family man. Even though that angle has improved in recent weeks with Andrea and Jamie’s loss and the Millie paternity saga giving us many scenes of doting dad Jamie, we saw the sparks return with Belle this week. Ellis is back on the scene with a new face and it’s too early to tell if he and Belle have chemistry – but does that even matter when Belle and Jamie’s chemistry is so palpable? With Jamie’s rather flustered comments at the Christmas party giving Belle something to smile about, there’s surely too much potential there to squander?

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m03s681Despite the Archie and Arthur storyline having many positives and being one of Emmerdale’s strongest stories of the moment, it has some flaws in its execution. Perhaps its down to impatient viewers or the way modern TV drama has to compete with boxsets, but something is lost in the sensitivity and nuance of a challenging story like this when it escalates so quickly. Maybe viewers don’t want months of Arthur’s troubling behaviour building to bullying, but the whiplash from the kind boy who has a conscience, to the tough bully needs to be told carefully. Likewise Jai and Laurel turning against Jimmy, a man they’ve known in years and, in Laurel’s case, a close friend borders on unbelievable and hollow when it happens so fast. When Emmerdale’s airing six, sometimes seven, episodes a week, they have the luxury to take their time telling this, but the speed the situation has escalated feels like they’re anxious about viewers interest. Sometimes these stories don’t need extreme behaviour shifts and twists, they just need to unravel more slowly.

Befriending the Enemy

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m29s748You have to feel for Bob. He’s just managed to shake off the memories of the hated Bob and Laurel affair and last year’s (all too brief) homelessness story did wonders in repairing fans’ love for Bob. But now, even in the midst of a fun panto plot, he’s taken Wendy’s side. Granted, he was telling her he couldn’t support her over Victoria, but surely even by empathising with her and comforting her, he was doing just that? The Wendy plot continues to be misguided and an unpleasant watch, but characters we know and like shouldn’t be dragged into it otherwise it means dragging them down with her.

Scene of the Week (9-13 Dec 2019)

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Luke finally gave the speech we’ve waited for this week where he told Wendy enough was enough and that he could not stay and stand by his mum. After a long confrontation with Aaron, Luke reached breaking point, pointing out to Wendy that her refusal to admit what Lee did was ruining lives and staying in the village without recognising her son’s horrific crime was never going to end the conflict. While Wendy’s move to the village is a horrible direction for the story to go given how Victoria feels, Luke at least feels like a decent character. We might not be any closer to a tolerable Wendy, but this Luke seen was satisfying and needed.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 Dec 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Andrea suffered a miscarriage this week, giving Kim a change of heart and Lydia tried to put the past to rest.

Faves

Well-rounded Kim

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m54s325Top of the highlights this week is Kim, who seems to have hit her stride, almost a year since she made her full return to the village. Early months indicated Emmerdale weren’t quite sure what to do with her and the brief panto stint last year didn’t help much – and nor did the Joe and Graham muddle. Now, with tangible motives and a family around her, Kim feels a lot more well rounded. I really enjoyed that she was a big part of the village this week, funding the lights and having a sense of power that is reminiscent of the Home Farm contingent of old Emmerdale. Rather than cartoonishly making people’s lives misery, it was welcome to see Kim’s ruthless attitude towards Wendy whilst being sympathetic towards Victoria’s plight. Similarly her war with Graham is more watchable now it’s about something relatable – her son and granddaughter. There was also an element of fun too, with Harriet scamming her to give the light fund to the homeless instead, and this has helped to make her more than just a outlandish soap bitch, but more of a believable character and that can only benefit the future of Home Farm.

Lydia Deals with the Past

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h41m26s341After another emotional week for Lydia, Emmerdale are surely paving the way to give Karen Blick some award nominations next year? This week Lydia struggled with the pressure of her newly found biological family and the news that she could lay her son to rest, now that she had his ashes. Feeling suffocated by her mother, Lydia opted to scatter the ashes with just the Dingles (or the few that turned up!) and later asked for space from her mother and sister, acknowledging there was no quick fix to her years of feeling isolated and abandoned. As much as I liked the casting for Lydia’s family and it gave her character new dimensions, I’m glad Emmerdale didn’t rush to make them close, with everything forgiven. However with the Huntington’s test still looming, I’m interested to see what happens next now that Lydia’s drawn a line under her new family – will they just be forgotten about? Stories lately have felt a little stop start and I hope Lydia’s doesn’t go the same way.

Upset Uncle

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h40m31s225Noah was in full protection mode this week as his concern for Sarah grew. Since her secret pill popping at the party, he’s been suspicious of her new friend Danny and the reckless way she’s been behaving. This week saw Noah spying on her and later confronting Danny about her health. Bratty Sarah was furious at Noah for damaging her street cred, despite Noah tearfully telling her how worried he was. I’ve always been a big fan of Noah and he’s been absent for some of this year so it’s been good to have him taking a prominent role in this storyline. I like his sensitivity and big heart, helped by Jack Downham’s vulnerability in the part. Spoilers indicate Noah’s got some gritty material ahead which is something to look forward to.

Jamie and Andrea’s Grief

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m06s819I was impressed and surprised by the performances this week as Jamie and Andrea came to the forefront of the show with their tragic miscarriage story. While this heartbreak was a way to trigger Kim’s change of heart for the first time it actually made me believe in their relationship, bonding them closer. Both characters have felt a bit flat since their early promise and the scenes this week suggest they are capable of much more, especially if it means delving more into their relationship in a more emotional way, separate from the convoluted history.

Fails

Losing Support?

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h45m57s005Moira continued her drunken spiralling this week, losing an ally in Pete and losing grip on herself when she repeatedly turned to the bottle. There was some friendly support from Vanessa, but with Matty away and Pete now working with Nate, Moira’s completely on her own and in this state losing work and access to the kids. Unfortunately though, this time round, Moira just isn’t very sympathetic. When she’s had drunken meltdowns before, when she lost Holly and after Emma’s death and the PND she experienced after having Isaac, Moira’s had our sympathies and support – but this time I’m not so sure. Moira’s cheating was clumsily handled and almost universally hated by viewers so it’s no real surprise her self-pitying meltdown isn’t quite hitting the mark. She might be on self-destruct, but what the scenes lack is a sense Moira is taking responsibility for what happened, instead what we’ve been seeing a rather cold and unsympathetic Moira and she’s difficult to root for.

Lost the Plot

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h42m19s643Wendy moved into Emmerdale village this week in another twisted turn to this continual torture of Victoria. As Wendy continues to blather on about her innocent son, it appears some villagers have completely lost the plot. Wendy’s support of Lee and harassment of Vic began long before Lee’s death, so to hand-wave her behaviour as grief or as a grandmother who just wants contact is sickening beyond belief. Even characters like Chas, who should be unflinching in support of Victoria, defended Wendy and bonded over the “bad behaviour” of their sons. Yes, that’s right, comparing the survivor of childhood rape to a rapist. What is Wendy’s narrative purpose in the village beyond more hell for Victoria and to plunge Aaron into a bigger meltdown? Are we supposed to feel sorry for her? To paint Wendy as a victim – her house vandalised and unwelcome – and putting empathetic words in the mouths of characters who should know better is completely tone deaf and unless she becomes the show’s next deranged nurse then these latest developments are a hard pill to swallow from a show that has had a strong history of empowering their rape survivors.

Scene of the Week (2-6 Dec 2019)

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It’s another Kim Scene of the Week but a very different one from last week. After comforting Jamie in the wake of Andrea’s miscarriage, Kim had a big change of heart. Telling Jamie to go and pick up Millie and take a breather, Kim went to Andrea’s hospital room and revealed her guilt, believing herself partly responsible for Andrea’s miscarriage. As Andrea tried to ease her conscience, Kim opened up about a loss she had suffered before Jamie and she ripped up the DNA test that she’d threatened Andrea with, claiming Jamie is Millie’s dad regardless. This was a touchingly written and performed scene and the most human we’ve seen Kim since her return. There was a nice addition of continuity (scenes from the 90s that aired not so long ago on ITV3) and it helped to cement the dysfunctional Tates as more of a solid family. More of this please!

Fave or Fail? (25-29 Nov 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Bernice leave the village (nooo!) instead of getting married to Liam and there was shock after shock for the Tates.

Faves

Bye Bye Bernice

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h11m42s007Very sadly this week saw our favourite village drama queen, Bernice, leave the show. Readers of this blog will know that Bernice has always been one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale but bias aside, I think she’ll be a real loss to the show. Despite viewer complaints that Bernice’s exit was rushed and perhaps unbelievable I think it was a great exit, even if it was crammed into two episodes. It felt quite fitting that forever unlucky in love Bernice had to sacrifice her happy ever after to go and care for daughter Dee Dee who has been neglected due to Bernice’s self absorbed bubble. The exit gave Bernice her growth moment, showing she could be selfless and a good mother against the odds. Samantha Giles has always given Bernice the perfect blend of kooky-craziness in her humour and yet had buckets of likeability and there were plenty of more serious moments that she nailed. Her exit gave us both the outlandish humour but also managed to be very emotional as Bernice made her big sacrifice. There are few actors or characters that can do the big comedy moments and yet bring so much pathos to serious stories. Overall the exit two parter had minor flaws and as a whole, it was a great send off for Bernice, giving her meaningful goodbyes and that bittersweet sacrifice that saw her leave tearfully, knowing she was doing the right thing. You’ll be really missed Bernice!

Sticking Around

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h08m22s579Is there an Emmerdale newbie more loveable than hapless Liam? We might have to swiftly overlook the grim moment he punched Jacob last week and find some way to forgive him, but besides that, he’s by far one of the best new characters in the show. I feel like I’ve been singing his praises forever but each week he manages to be charming and funny in a way that makes his character so appealing. This week saw the end to his relationship with Bernice (even if he doesn’t know it yet) and his overly dramatic and slightly strange reaction – like eating their wedding cake and making a Bernice themed advent calendar – is enough to put a smile on your face. His stag do antics were entertaining and although his main anchor to the village is gone I have faith he’ll continue to be a great addition to the show. He has real personality and a quirkiness which makes him different from other arrivals who have sometimes suffered from dull scripts. There’s plenty of mileage in his relationship with Leanna, his colleague friendship with Manpreet and the men who celebrated his stag. While it was a real shame to lose the flirtatious and fun Cavastock, I’m really glad Liam’s sticking around.

Tate Twists

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h13m24s141There was plenty of twists and turns for the Tates this week as Kim’s bitterness drove her to destroy Graham’s new relationship with Rhona. Revealing to a packed pub that she and Graham were married was a brilliant moment and rather enjoyable to see devilish Kim at work. Later though, Graham had a trump card of his own to play, shocking Kim that Millie might not be her flesh and blood after all. Kim’s reaction to Andrea’s betrayal was disappointingly muted as she vowed to get a DNA test but as she threatened to tell her oblivious son the truth, Jamie and Andrea had news of their own – she is pregnant. All these surprising turns were good at keeping viewers on their toes and seeing Kim play dirty in clever ways was lots of fun. The only reservation about these stories is that apart from Kim, the Tate household, Graham included, are all just a bit dull. We’re months in and I still don’t feel emotionally invested in these characters. And even Kim could do with a breaking point now and again and if learning the granddaughter she’s grown to love might not be hers then what will crack her facade?

Fails

The Monotony of Money Woes

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h14m59s695One of the biggest plots this week was Dawn and Billy’s investigation over what Al was really up to. After seeing Al get whacked last week Dawn soon discovered that Al was completely broke and had borrowed money from the local criminals we saw Cain and Aaron get mixed up with. Dawn and Billy’s sweet romance last week worked because it was light and fun and casual but this week they both got bogged down into a story that wasn’t very interesting to watch and turned Billy back into a bit of a moaner. Besides, are money trouble stories ever very interesting? Especially when they involve cartoonish gangsters. Worst of all this story has squandered Al’s initial potential as the charismatic manipulator and it’s not helped that he’s stuck in an office (the lifeless Sharma factory set) doing very little. Of course, Ellis’s abrupt exit might have ruined their early plans for Al, so we have to hold out hope that they inject a bit of life back into him when Ellis returns. My hopes are pinned on Al becoming a new smart villain. Think Declan Macey.

Unlikeable Messes

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h15m49s919As the aftermath of Moira’s affair with Nate rumbles on, it doesn’t get any more watchable. Sadly the discovery of Nate being Cain’s son hasn’t made him more interesting and his glum looks around Wishing Well aren’t making him sympathetic but just seem like he’s throwing himself a pity party, with Belle his sole fan. No sob story in the world could give him charisma and his motivation for ruining the family and then sticking around seems clumsy at best. Then there’s Cain, the victim in all this, but written as even more of a caveman than usual. His reluctance to let Nate be part of the family is one of the more understandable character reactions and yet others react to him as unreasonable. But just to make Nate seem even more of the wounded soldier, Cain lashes out at him and the rest of the family in ways that are inexcusable. Then Moira, feeling sorry for herself, drinking and failing to make amends, desperate to get rid of Nate but unwilling to really recognise her part in the destruction of the family. I don’t have much sympathy for any of them now and I am dreading the increasingly desperate ways to embed Nate into the Dingles and have Cain accept him. What next? Nate saves Monty from a burning building? Nate donates an organ t

Scene of the Week (25-29 Nov 2019)

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Ooh another brilliant twist for Scene of the Week! When Kim organised a party in the Woolpack she kept her cards very close to her chest, waiting for her special guests to arrive. Feeling spurned since Graham started a relationship with Rhona, she brought out the big guns to destroy him – revealing to a pub full of people that it was in fact their wedding anniversary! Kim and Graham married? A fun plot twist we didn’t see coming. It’s one of those twists you can’t think too long about (why was it never hinted at before? why didn’t Kim use it against him much sooner? etc) and it did heap us with even more Graham backstory, however this scene was a genuine surprise moment and it’s always fun to see Kim with the upper hand.