Fave or Fail? (24-28 April 2017)

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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! Rhona faced the horror of true colours and love sort of blossomed between Sam and quirky Lydia.

Powerful and Important

Emmerdale - Pierce Attacks Rhona - YouTubeWhen Pierce and Rhona’s relationship began last year, there were early warning signs that underneath their whirlwind romance Pierce had a much darker and controlling side. This week Rhona discovered the truth about him in the most horrific way when he raped her on their wedding day and was completely remorseless about his behaviour. This has been a slow burn, multi-layered storyline about how a charming professional man like Pierce can slowly destroy a woman’s life, leaving her vulnerable and victim to intense and horrifying behaviour and unable to speak out; how a woman like Rhona, independent and strong, can be ground down by the increasing coercive control of a man like Pierce. This storyline is an important one to tell and one Emmerdale has handled perfectly – from Rhona’s strength to take herself to the police station, to the procedure that followed and the subtle and poignant moments like Rhona going into protection mode when it came to her son. Rhona’s story is another story Emmerdale should be commended for – one with truth and poignancy that many will relate to and also an eye-opener for those ignorant to these types of abusive martial relationships. A worthy story and one which demands justice.

Outstanding Performances

vlcsnap-2017-04-30-17h37m03s263There were several moments in this week’s episodes where it was difficult to breathe. The scenes surrounding Rhona’s rape storyline were compulsive viewing – chilling, sickening, suffocating – held together by gripping and believable performances from Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather. Jonathan has always been great at walking Pierce’s fine line between charm and twisted manipulation and as his viciousness escalated this week, the scenes where he persuaded Rhona she’d have no chance in proving his guilt as a rapist were effective in their stomach-knotting horror. Zoe Henry has been consistently excellent in all her big storylines and this one has given her an even bigger chance to shine. We’re seeing this through Rhona’s eyes, a character we’ve loved and lived with for so long and been desperate for her to see Pierce’s true colours. Zoe played Rhona’s vulnerability in a heartbreaking and quiet way, but also the complexities in her situation as she deliberated over revealing Pierce’s role and her resistance to being looked at as a victim. As with so many of Emmerdale’s actors, they consistently give it their all and that makes these difficult subjects worth tackling when they do it with such heart and conviction.

Loves Young Dream

vlcsnap-2017-04-30-17h36m07s057Kooky guest character Lydia is by far one of my favourite things about Emmerdale right now. She’s the right side of barmy and quirky, with her beloved pet Steve and her general oddness – she makes for great comic relief in this dark time in the village. This week she saw an opportunity for work in the Sharma’s factory (and every interaction was a dream) and then in her mission to date every eligible man in Emmerdale, Lydia went on a date with Sam. They were a weird match and Sam’s nerves made for one of the most awkward first dates I’ve ever seen, but Lydia seemed quite taken by Sam’s unusual charm and bird noises. Sadly by the end of the week Sam made his excuses not to date her and she hid her disappointment by conceding he was right to back off as she didn’t have time to date, but these two are a match made in heaven, surely?

Fails

Wasted Potential

Emmerdale - Megan Will Pay for Neglecting Her Daughter - YouTubeThere are a number of characters, portrayed by great actors, who are really given a raw deal when it comes to storylines and one of those who always springs to mind is Megan. Gaynor Faye is an impressive actress but she’s been wasted in Emmerdale for ages. Right now she’s in a rather flat relationship with dull Frank and her previous relationship with Jai didn’t exactly set the world alight either. This week a lapse in concentration came at a cost as she totally forgot about Eliza and left her in the back of the car. Luckily for her, Nell (Holly’s dubious and dodgy doppelganger) rescued the little one and kept her safe, but it was only during her daughter’s disappearance that Megan found out about Nell’s history and began to panic. Even when Eliza turned up safe, Jai and Megan exchanged heated words and it looks like a custody battle is on the horizon. Treading very similar water to the Jai vs Megan situation in 2015, this already feels like old and worn ground. There wasn’t really any jeopardy with this not-quite-kidnap-nor-neglect storyline and I can’t help but think Megan deserves a much meatier storyline, rather than this snore.

Repetitive Mess

vlcsnap-2017-04-30-17h37m30s882I was already feeling a bit jaded by the rushed Vic and Adam storyline last week, trying to find some sense in their baby dramas through the gaping plot holes that appeared, but luckily their emotive break up was at least full of great performances. This week though took a bit of a nosedive as the pair had an immature public spat and break up, complete with games console smashing so similar to a previous break up that it almost seemed played for laughs. Not only did this bust up feel like it belonged to a teenage couple rather than adults who’d been married for nearly two years, but Adam’s ill advised pass at Vanessa was another yawnsome moment of history repeating itself. And yes, another stupid cheating/mistake plot that’s bound to blow up in spectacular fashion. Really? Another one? And with their relationship seemingly so easy to repair the next day, this relationship breakdown has all been an unsatisfying mess.

Scene of the Week (24-28 April 2017)

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My Scene of the Week choice was a haunting and chillingly realistic depiction of the aftermath of Rhona reporting her rape, as she was taken to be photographed and examined. The scene was almost completely wordless and Rhona had no dialogue at all, letting the scene play out in an extended and claustrophobic way with Zoe Henry’s exceptional performance taking us through every painful stage of the clinical and forensic process. Rhona had to remove her wedding dress, jewellery and finally her wedding ring before sobbing moments before her internal examination. This was a gripping yet horrible scene, one which really highlighted the continually violating and suffocating realities of coping with the aftermath of rape. Emmerdale should be commended for their honesty for this storyline as a whole, particularly scenes as affecting as this.

5 Emmerdale Characters That Could Do With A Shake Up

We’re lucky as Emmerdale fans to have such a brilliant cast of characters, many of whom are capable of inspiring everything from belly laughs to gut-wrenching sobs. But there are a few great characters who are stuck in a rut and feel like they need a little change in direction, a curveball or something unexpected. These are not tired characters ready for the chop, these are good characters whose storylines just need a shake-up. Let me know if you agree!

Ross Barton

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For many viewers Ross Barton is the sexy, lovable rogue. He’s a bit of a bad boy but soft around his adorable son Moses. It’s been like that for a good few years now and after a shouty-testosterone fuelled feud with brother Pete, the Barton bros are living in relative harmony. Nothing has really changed for Ross. His big turning point came very early on in his time in Emmerdale as he had a star-crossed, and ultimately fatal relationship with police officer Donna Windsor and despite attempts to recreate that winning spark and thrilling love affair with Debbie Dingle, nothing else has quite captured that Ross/Donna magic. You know what you’re getting with Ross – lad bants, posturing, brotherly aggro, Middle Child Syndrome, maybe even a bit of pining for Debs.

So what next?

Something different! We’ve had the lucklustre Debbie and Ross romance, it’s time for something new. Something different, maybe even more emotional. Someone who challenges Ross in a different way. Show us a new weakness, give him something else besides a dodgy deal in the garage or bother with Pete. Make Moses more than a prop or find him a new rival.

Tracy Metcalfe

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Tracy suffers a very similar fate to David (and Bob, who I’ll come to later) in that they are literally, physically stuck behind a counter. Most of Tracy’s scenes now take place in the shop and while this often works for those who work behind the Woolie, we never seem to see her anywhere else these days. Once Tracy was a bit of a no-good schemer but now she has the “loveable-if-a-bit-dim” tropes covered. Because of this, both her and David have fallen into a pattern of sitcom style misunderstandings and mishaps which often end up in a little tiff and David getting his bum out. We do need the comedy capers (now more than ever in this dark and heavy period in Emmerdale) but Tracy has a lot more to give – and so does actress Amy Walsh – than just silliness.

So what next?

Get her out of the shop for one! Tracy’s movements and interactions have been so limited to the same bubble of characters lately. Even though the Finn stalker storyline was almost universally hated, it was good to see her giving Finn a hand. Give her some modest success and see how she and David deal with it, get her out in the community rubbing up Emma the wrong way with her “smutty tat”!

Aaron Dingle

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When Aaron returned to screens in 2014 the beginnings of his shock affair was something brand new for the character – we saw him betray his own morals for a bit of a lust fix. Fast forward two-and-a-bit years and a lot’s changed. Aaron’s grown into himself. He’s comfortable in his sexuality in a way he’s never been. He has a husband, he owns a business, a house and has his own family to look out for, rather than just being smothered by Chas. The problem? The misery overkill. Seriously, do the writers have a big book they work through labelled Miserable Stories For Aaron Dingle? When most characters have one problem to deal with, Emmerdale give him six and any sort of growth in his character is suffocated by the next new tragedy he’s given. The main issue of this tiring repetitive reliance on misery is apathy – you just know that whatever happens there’s a new agony waiting round the corner.

So what next?

If Aaron can’t have happiness, then can we at least give him a problem which doesn’t directly damage his mental health? Can his concerns and angst be about the wellbeing of someone else rather than turning in on himself? Or can therapy take his character into new and less self-destructive directions? Let Aaron enjoy that maturity of having adult responsibilities for a change.

Priya Kotecha

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Okay, let’s get this out the way. Priya’s problem is one thing and one thing only. Rakesh. Since being tied to him, a man that really lives up to the ball and chain metaphor, Priya’s character has suffered. She’s a strong and capable businesswoman who has real guts about her and we’ve also seen her face difficulties as she struggled with her eating disorder. But since being with Rakesh, she’s had to sit back and fold time after time, forgiving him for each latest mess up. Why?! She has the same ambitious fire as Megan and Leyla but her repetitive relationship with Rakesh just keeps dragging her down.

So what next?

Ditch Rakesh. Once he’s out of the picture maybe we can finally see Priya have some fun and away from her stuffy role in the factory. It’s about time Priya found someone decent for her, who she has a spark with.

Bob Hope

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As we know, Bob Hope can be the life and soul of a party. He’s not afraid of a bit of fun – be it stripping or role play. But Bob has the same problem as Tracy and David – he’s stuck in one location, one set and we rarely see him elsewhere. When we do though, it’s a breath of fresh air. Bob was a great addition to Ashley’s last few weeks, he was hilarious at the hen do events, great at the graveside with Carly and it’s been a joy to see him work behind the bar now and again. Let’s be honest there’s only so much story to be had when serving someone a latte and Bob is such a fun character that trapping him in the café is a waste.

So what next?

I’m not suggesting anything hasty in regards to Bob’s day to day life. I’m not willing to let Bob and Brenda (one of Emmerdale’s few stable couples) part ways, but I would really love to see Bob work part time in the pub now and again. Pubs are way more likely to be the centre of the drama than the café and Bob does like a bit of a gossip. Like Tracy, Bob just needs to get out there in the community more and be on hand for when his supportive or stripping duties are required!

Which great characters do you think are in need of a storyline shake up?

Fave or Fail? (17-21 April 2017)

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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! In the week that saw Vadam implode, we saw Pierce continue his twisted control over Rhona.

Faves

Sibling Love

w54agWe’re used to sibling rivalry in Emmerdale. Sisters that hate each other and throw slaps, brothers who try and kill each other. So what a joy it is to have the lovely Arthur and Gabby relationship to showcase something touching among a grieving family and prove that siblings can love each other and get along. Poor Arthur was upset at the thought of losing his big sis Gabby to Australia and worried she wouldn’t come back and so tried to block out his pain in that classic kid combination of sulking and avoidance. But Gabby soon broke through his act and gave him her teddy Widget to look after and the pair had a heartwarming heart-to-heart. Honestly, it was like allergy season and my eyes were definitely leaking. The sadness and doubts soon turned into smiles as Arthur gave Gabby his best advice for dealing with sharks and they gave each other a goodbye hug. We’re so lucky to have these brilliant young actors and here’s hoping that when Gabby returns we’ll get to see more of these wonderful family moments.

Building the Mystery

Emmerdale - Who Keeps Calling Pierce - YouTubeAs the build up to Rhona and Pierce’s wedding edges nearer, so does the intensity of his manipulation and darkness. Vanessa fell into a familiar pattern of meddling this week (just after she’d begun repairing her friendship with Rhoan, d’oh!) as she managed to get Pierce’s mother, Martha into the village. Since meeting Pierce last year we’ve actually learnt very little about him, and most of it comes from his own mouth which we know can be deceptive at best. We knew from his late wife Tess that their marriage wasn’t a happy one, but this week there was a big dollop of intrigue when it came to Pierce’s past and we were left pondering. Just how much did friend Gavin know and why was he okay to pop up to manipulate Rhona into moving? Just what was Martha like as a mother? And if everything Pierce has revealed about his childhood is a warped story, then what was his past really like? And what about Pierce’s previous behaviour does she know, was Tess just as much of a victim as Rhona? The mystery surrounding Pierce is an interesting one. He’s slippery, good at putting on a performance and twisting situations to his advantage and all of this in a subtle, underhand way. There are layers of darkness we’ve only scratched the surface of and if you’ve seen any of the press surrounding next week’s episodes, this seems to be only the beginning of his monstrous behaviour.

Crash and Burn

w54adI’ve got to say I don’t like this Adam and Victoria story AT ALL but the reason it makes my Faves list is simply down to the performances from Adam Thomas and Isabel Hodgins. Adam and Vic might be on a collision course to destruction in record time but the actors have given the big emotional and challenging scenes their all, even as the plot creaks around them. Though rarely used, when we have seen Adam and Vic they’ve been strong, supportive and really loved up. They’ve been believable as a couple and out of everyone in Emmerdale, they’d be the ones you could imagine staying together for years to come, deserving of happiness and their own big brood. If the rumours are true and Adam is on his way out, something which seems ever more like the way this story is being hurtled through, then it’s a real shame. We’ve seen everything from Adam this week – the bravado and his nastiness, the comedic and the flirty, and the pain in his vulnerability. But both actors have shown they are great at the gritty stuff and getting more accomplished as the years have gone on, so why are we only seeing them get a big story now and why so clunky and rushed?

Fails

Same Old Stories

w54dtI’ll pin my colours to the mast right now and out myself as a huge Pearl fan, but ever since she was dropped from the sexy book plot, it’s lost a certain something. It’s no longer a best seller, no longer cheeky and fun, but at the bottom of the slush pile. I’ve flip-flopped when it comes to David and Tracy. They have their moments but they seem to be stuck in a rut of repetitive sitcom-style storylines which aren’t doing their relationship any favours. Tracy is dumbed down to squeeze out a forced (un)funny line, even if it stretches believability (sure, of course she has no idea who JK Rowling is or that it’s a novella not Nutella) but then is seen cleverly turning the tables on David to teach him a lesson. Tracy seems to have no belief in herself and yet David’s attempts to boost her always have the opposite effect and he comes across as patronising and insensitive. We’ve seen this story with them before and it’s getting tiresome, particularly when both actors can do more than silliness behind a shop counter.

Plot By Numbers

Emmerdale - Adam Says There's No Point in Trying for Kids - YouTubeMore of a general moan rather than plot specific, but a disappointing element to a few of the stories this week was how the plots seemed to be formulaic and rushed, following a dot-to-dot pattern. We have Cain and Harriet’s affair (a tepid stepping stone on the path back to Coira, surely?) which seems to be following an illicit liaison formula but lacking any real spark or originality – there’s push and pull, playing hard to get, sex in the garage – but even the on-the-nose dialogue about a vicar hooking up with the “local gangster” makes this ying and yang affair a bit too knowing and try-hard for me. Then there’s Vic and Adam’s struggles to find a solution to this baby making, with adoption and unconventional family set ups rejected despite the fact Vic’s brother is adopted and Adam was raised by a man who wasn’t his bio-dad. It just doesn’t ring true. Plus the fact that in the space of three days the whole thing exploded, ending a seemingly happy and secure marriage, when six months ago, babies weren’t even on the table. Not to mention Vanessa was rolled out to give Adam a supportive ear when they’ve barely spoken since the Johnny plot and all in time for him making a move next week. If these stories had been slowed down a little – if we’d had time to see Cain and Harriet’s sparking interactions play out for longer before giving in; if Vic and Adam’s fertility struggles had been developed over months rather than days, then these stories might have been stronger for it.

Scene of the Week (17-21 April 2017)

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The Vic and Adam plot travelled a hundred miles an hour this week and the couple we could count on for being the cutest and most secure ended the week on a big break up! Nooo! A week of miscommunication lead to Adam deciding to end their marriage for Vic’s sake so that she could find a man who could give her the family she wants. We don’t often get to see Adam Thomas and Isabel Hodgins get the big emotional moments (in fact, they barely get a look in story wise) but this scene showed what they are both capable of. Adam Thomas could make the coldest of hearts melt and Isabel played Victoria’s desperate and confused pleading as especially heartbreaking. These two have felt like a real couple for a long time and this moment was beautifully performed. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s something in my eye…

Fave or Fail? (10-14 April 2017)

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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! Another week showcasing the full spectrum of soap – from the beautiful, honest and emotional to the cheap, tacky and unbelievable.

Faves

The Last Goodbye

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-17h08m49s721For me the strengths of Ashley’s story were the far-reaching impact on his family and friends and the performances of the main actors involved and this week we had the best of these as the community gathered for his funeral. Everything from Harriet’s crisis of confidence, to Gabby’s heartbreak and grief that she didn’t get to say goodbye on her own, to Laurel’s strength, to Doug’s speech, to Arthur’s poem – the reactions showed a full spectrum of grief and it was full of heart and warmth. Emmerdale has been rightly praised for the sensitivity and believability it has told this story with, staying away from cheap twists and playing each character’s reaction with relatable honesty. The writing and performances have cemented this as soap best and shows what Emmerdale is capable of.

Girl Gang

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-18h50m46s743Faith has managed to establish herself as a lively and interesting character in the village and she’s only been here five minutes, but what I loved most this week is this kind of girl gang her Sarah and Debbie have formed at Moira’s. Debbie’s a hundred times better when she’s not tied up in gangster heists or moping over Ross and Sarah and Faith’s relationship is blossoming into something lovely. This week Debbie and Faith butted heads over Sarah’s health but Faith also managed to get Debs to lighten up and the scenes where she tried to bring the holiday vibes into Sarah’s world was funny and heartwarming. I loved their sunbathing, cocktail drinking role play and it was even better to see the usually dour Debbie getting involved in the dress up.

Sweet Dreams

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-17h07m25s177The Ashley and Laurel dream sequence was a controversial choice for a moment of closure for a story which has been grounded in so much reality from the start, but with John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy’s emotional performances and so much history involved, I think Emmerdale made it work. It’s not the first time Emmerdale has done a dream sequence – Eric seeing Val and Marlon seeing Tricia spring to mind – and it’s a gimmick that maybe didn’t work for everyone but I’ll admit I thought it was very moving and a fitting end to the chapter. There’s a certain amount of comfort to be had in Ashley’s speech to Laurel about moving on and it’s not a luxury many of us have when losing a loved one, but fiction often gives us the wish-fulfilment real life can’t. It was a scene filled with history and continuity but at the heart of it a believable couple saying a heartfelt final goodbye when his decline had prevented them from doing so. Even more impressive was that this scene was done in one take, making those flawless performances even more impressive.

Fails

Insensitivity

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-18h52m02s139Readers of this blog will know I have a huge soft spot for comedic goofball Rishi but at this point I’m starting to feel like I’m cursed and it’s Emmerdale’s mission to make me hate all my favourite characters. This week saw Rishi and Faith go on a date but after some crass and uncalled for comments from Charity, Faith panicked and ended up confessing about her mastectomy to Rishi. Faith’s dilemma is one faced by other women going through the same insecurity after surgery but did this story really need to be rushed through with all the sensitivity of a hammer to the face? I know Charity isn’t the most understanding of women, but would she have really laid on the warning so thickly, making out as if Faith was some disfigured monster? Would Faith have really told him on date number one? Rishi ran out in a panic straight away and then mouthed off about it loudly in the pub for all to hear, including Faith. We know Rishi can be an idiot but this plot development was rushed when this story needs time and care to do it justice.

The Recipe of Success?

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-17h14m25s464The perfect recipe for a terrible storyline? Take one beloved couple and destroy their re-built foundations of trust and loyalty. Add several backward steps for a complex and interesting character you spent eighteen months redeeming. Villainise said character by using a reconstructed history and new character whose personality changes depending on plot to make her the hapless victim and him the heartless bastard. No grey areas. Pretend condoms are 100% effective. Make a sensitive hero of your sleaziest male character to demonise said complex male. Remove female character’s agency. Add blackmail. Remove reactions of suspicion from the spouse and make them dote heavily on duplicitous male to up the stakes. Flee the country and pretend this all goes away. Wonder how the hell this is ever going to be salvageable for the beloved couple.