Fave or Fail? (24-28 July 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! It was a big week for Rhona as she finally saw justice against Pierce.

Faves

Courtroom Dramas

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h08m09s085We waited with baited breath this week as the verdict of the rape trial reached its conclusion. I had a feeling of dread that Rhona wouldn’t get the justice she deserved and that she, like many who have survived marital rape, would be forced to watch her attacker go free. Emmerdale chose to go with the rare outcome of ‘guilty’ and the relief was felt by characters and audience alike. The performances of the main players alone have made this story a standout and although at times it has followed similar patterns of other soap stories, Rhona’s journey, her emotion, bravery and determination, is one which I hope will earn Zoe Henry awards. There were some powerful choices of direction in scenes this week too (like Rhona running into the open air after the verdict) and Lisa’s role in the conclusion was a fitting choice and an emotional call back to the past. I expect Rhona still has a long road ahead but I’m just glad Zoe has been given this powerful material.

Chilling Until the End

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-11h54m27s636I can’t say I’m sad to see the end of Pierce as such, but I’ll really miss what Jonathan Wrather gave to the role. As Pierce, Jonathan managed to keep us guessing a lot of the time but when Pierce’s darker sides were revealed he really owned those chilling moments. Pierce was cruel and charming, managing to manipulate in subtle but ultimately devastating ways, and in part I will miss that feeling of rage when watching him at work! To some extent his final week on the show seemed all too quick as I’d have liked to see more of his twisted relationship with his mother Martha, but there was something deeply satisfying to see his horror at being taken to his cell and being locked in.

A Broken Man

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-11h53m52s192It wasn’t long ago that we only got to see two modes of Robert Sugden: villainous or sexy. Sometimes both at once. But as time’s gone on a more layered character has emerged and his vulnerabilities explored. Last year during October’s Super Soap Week I praised Ryan Hawley’s performances as he showed us a more sensitive and emotional side to Robert, one we’d rarely seen, and this week he excelled again. With Aaron gone, Robert’s been a mess (emotionally and physically) but only when injured did he allow himself to fully break down in tears and admit to his mistakes and regret. Ryan really sells these more fragile moments of Robert’s psyche, giving him heart and making him far more rounded than simply just a devious villain.

Still Got It

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h06m32s695Sometimes onscreen partnerships just work, much like favourites Cain and Moira who haven’t been sharing much screentime together lately but had a moment this week, reminding us of their magic. Even though Cain’s been trying to move on and find some of that elusive spark with vicar Harriet, for me there’s just something missing between them, especially when you compare their chemistry to “Coira”. This week it was obvious. All Cain and Moira had to do was sit side by side in the pub and there was a palpable tension between them. Sure, she was advising him how to win over Harriet, but there’s still something between the pair simmering under the surface and I hope it won’t be much longer before they’re reunited.

Fails

Tracy’s Trust Issues

Emmerdale - Monday 24 Jul 7pm - The ITV HubThere are some Emmerdale stories that seem stuck on repeat, and this week it was the turn of Tracy to fall victim to the cyclical storytelling. Having lamented earlier this year that it would good to see something fresh for her, we were back to the “Tracy falls out with Frank” merry-go-round. It’s not surprising that she has trust issues with her dodgy dad but any development seems to go round in loops. This week she locked him in the shop (will she ever escape it herself?!) and told him to come clean or she was done with him “for good”. How many times have we heard that? We all know he’s a shady man and she struggles because his promises are always just a few empty words – but within moments he uses those same tricks with her and it’s all forgiven. Perhaps if I cared more about Frank this would feel like worthwhile drama for Tracy, but she seems to have far more potential than just policing her dull dad.

Getting Lucky

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h22m24s031I’ve gone into my issues with how Emmerdale handled the aftermath of Lachlan’s assault of Alicia countless times, but I’m still clueless as to how we’re meant to see him now. It’s a hard sell that a smart young woman like Belle could be so blasé about his past, even in light of her past – accidental – crime, especially when her mother is a rape survivor. That aspect of the story just doesn’t work for me. She’s always been unbelievably sympathetic and kind towards him but starting a sexual relationship has made the whole thing even more uncomfortable. This week Lachlan expressed some sort of remorse for his actions but it was all too brief and long overdue, especially in the past where he’s seemed to dismiss the crime. So is he genuine? Are we meant to believe that? Or is he still just as twisted? Was he using it just to gain sympathy from Belle? It’s like Emmerdale can never make up their mind. With Gerry in the frame Lachlan is probably meant to look the reformed and decent guy, but his warped behaviour from the past is hard to forget, especially playing alongside Rhona’s story.

Scene of the Week (24-28 July 2017)

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“The only thing that matters is that I said no and that he raped me!” Those were Rhona’s passionate words during the rape trial this week, a speech of courage that easily made my Scene of the Week and possibly swung the jury when it came to making a decision. From day one of this storyline, Zoe Henry’s performances have been superb, evoking so much admiration for Rhona’s bravery and strength. Scenes in a court room can be a bit lacking in soap – whether too long or too tedious – but Zoe’s performances lifted these moments into something dramatic and compelling. Rhona finding her voice against the hideous lines of questioning regarding her sex life – a reality faced by many women  – was an emotional and inspiring moment that really stood out in this week’s episodes.

Fave or Fail? (17-21 July 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! I’m back from my holiday, but unfortunately it wasn’t great week for stories!

Faves

Party Atmosphere

Emmerdale - Thursday 20 Jul 8pm - The ITV Hub (1)You know me, I love a good Emmerdale party, especially ones that bring multiple characters together in one place. This week we were treated to two – and no I’m not talking about the terrible teen party in the pub! Faith brought the tequila and karaoke to the back room and a fun selection of older characters enjoyed getting sozzled! From Jimmy’s bad singing, to Diane getting a thrill from Doug’s new dance moves – it was good fun to see these characters interacting all crammed into a room. At the end of the week Kerry’s 40th brought together more karaoke and funny characters, even if Dan did make zero effort by having the party in the local shop! With comments on Kerry’s outfit, minimal thought put into gifts and a highly critical Nicola, they were enjoyable community scenes. Like other couples in the show, Dan and Kerry’s material can be repetitive (him being useless, her being rude to him) but this week’s mishaps were genuinely amusing and their fall-out wasn’t unnecessarily long. By including their big comedy characters alongside other villagers, these gatherings were some of the better parties we’ve seen in a while and welcome in a week of pretty uninteresting plots.

Eric and Faith

Emmerdale - Tuesday 18 Jul 7pm - The ITV Hub (1)Even though we’ve lost the irreplaceable Val, Faith and Eric seem like the perfect match. Faith brings life and outrageousness to all her scenes but I love the genuine affection she seems to have for serious Eric. Having upset him Faith tried to soften him up this week and she seems to be pretty good at smoothing things over and getting him to loosen up. It might be too soon to see Faith settle down and tame her wild ways but she’s bringing out the best in Eric and I’m loving their new found partnership.

Loopy Leyla

Emmerdale - Tuesday 18 Jul 7pm - The ITV HubDespite poor Leyla being betrayed by both boyfriend (now fiancé) and best mate, she has a warmth and a comic timing which makes her current plot slightly more bearable. This week her plan to “play it cool” with Pete backfired as she got carried away and exposed herself as wanting a big white wedding and then ended up proposing in a disastrous fashion. Leyla has a good heart and we could do with seeing more of her vulnerability to make her less of a caricature. Saying that, she had some genuinely brilliant lines (“Great, even the dog’s left me!”) and her friendship with David is one I hope we never lose. I just wish they hadn’t made her wedding fixation so over the top because when she discovers that double betrayal it’s gonna hit her hard.

Fails

Will They Won’t They?

Emmerdale - Ross' Kiss Proves He Never Stopped Loving Debbie - YouTubeOh Ross and Debbie. Loves young dream…star crossed lovers…meant to be *dreamy sigh*. Well, that’s what we’re supposed to think, right? That’s what we were meant to think back in 2015 when their sizzle free affair was at the centre of Emmerdale’s big summer disaster and then imploded spectacularly when Debbie packed off to France on realising Ross took part in a murder pact with Andy. But here we are again, part two, part one all but forgotten and the heartbreak blamed on Debbie (of course). And you know, I actually enjoyed their flirty and light-hearted sparring – I could almost believe they fancied each other. It’s when they get all earnest, miscommunicate and share longing looks that I roll my eyes. Because, as the scripts reminded us, Ross has had an electric and star-crossed romance that worked – but that was with Donna, not Debbie. He’s even had more chemistry with Debbie’s mum than her! And Debbie herself has worked far better as an independent woman and mum since her return than she ever did under Ross’s spell. If they kept it light, playful, rather than ploughing on with the idea that they’re soulmates and expecting us to long for their reunion then it might be more watchable.

Affair Apathy

Emmerdale - Pete and Priya's Secret Affair Isn't So Secret Anymore - YouTubeMonths ago we were promised a funny and sizzling affair as a hapless male villager was caught between two women. The women get all the luck in Emmerdale(!) Needless to say for all its hype it’s as interesting as you’d expect an affair with Pete “boring” Barton to be! Pete’s betrayed the lovely Leyla, Priya’s lost sisterhood points for sleeping with her best mate’s fella and in the shock twist everyone saw coming, she now thinks she’s pregnant. Leaving aside how cartoonishly desperate they’ve made Leyla look, what an absolute bellend Pete is and how Priya should know better – it’s just not that interesting as a story! Sure it’s been nice to see Priya in a role that isn’t Rakesh’s lapdog, but this isn’t exploring new ground and every new development is a plot we’ve seen hundreds of times before. Where’s the summer thrill we were promised? Both women could do better than Pete, so really – what are we rooting for?

Something Missing

Emmerdale - Thursday 20 Jul 8pm - The ITV HubIt wasn’t a great week of stories in the Dales and perhaps it’s because they seemed to rely far too heavily on characters who just don’t quite have the oomph. One of the main plots of the week was Frank’s efforts to win back Megan and her rather curious acceptance of his proposal. Do we care enough about their romance either way? Do we even care enough about Megan these days? Frank isn’t anywhere near as charismatic or as interesting as he needs to be, certainly not enough to give Megan the lift she needs. She seems lifeless, directionless, in Emmerdale right now and this hasn’t been the story or the relationship to liven up her character. So if her forgiveness of Frank is all just a revenge plan, is that enough of a hook to keep this story interesting? Then there’s Jai and Nell. Jai has recovered from the OTT villainy of 2015 and Nell seems to be a lot devious than it first appeared. But if she really is lying, and that’s the big twist, then the pacing and the hints haven’t been as captivating as they need to be to dominate so much screen time. Not every story needs a big a bold character like a Dingle or a Barton to carry it, or the emotional weight of Rhona’s story, but these current plots are definitely missing a key element that makes them compelling viewing.

Scene of the Week (17-21 July 2017)

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A weird choice for Scene of the Week, I’ll give you that. But with a week full of pretty unengaging stories, a rare moment of levity from Debbie made me smile. And that is almost a miracle. Having decided to put her and Ross on the backburner (sure, yep, we’ll see), Debbie’s eye was caught by a handsome stranger in the pub. But it took her a little while to see what we all saw and yep, Debbie had her very own Ross/Russ moment as it dawned on her she’d been flirting with Mr Barton’s doppelganger. By some small miracle this guy managed to be even more of a sexist pig than Ross – Debbie sure can pick ’em – and when they were rutting like two cavemen she realised the error of her ways. The Debbie and Ross Saga Part 2 has only just begun and it ain’t no “Ross and Rachel” but when they let the characters have a bit of fun, it’s better for it.

5 Longterm Ways to Fix Robron

Last week Emmerdale super couple Aaron and Robert split up, with Aaron unable to cope with the pressures of his marriage, in light of Rebecca’s pregnancy. It seems only five minutes ago their engagement sealed off a perfect movie-style romance in Super Soap Week and their wedding was an unconventional TV treat. Now their marriage is broken, fans are fed up and it seems like everyone’s tired of their endless angsty storylines. What went wrong?

Aside from the Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley magic, here’s just a few ways I think Emmerdale can attempt to fix one of their most popular couples and make viewers start caring again.

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Back to Basics

It’s never been smooth sailing for Robron and their relationship was always unconventional, but it seems like The Powers That Be have really lost sight of what made the pair so popular. Part of the pleasure in watching a soap is seeing characters and relationships develop. With Robron it was the interest in watching someone as angst ridden as Aaron fall for someone with their own troubles, like Robert, hoping that one day they’d make a go of it. As the story progressed fans didn’t just like watching their two personalities clash and challenge each other, they liked their passion for each other and the fleeting shot at happiness. That they understood each other and supported each other. But lately there’s been a real drought in hope and happiness and we rarely get to see them enjoy each other’s company. Aaron’s history of tragedy made fans long for his happiness and despite Robert’s bad boy instability, he gave him that. It was never going to be easy; part of the enjoyment was watching them work for that. We fell in love with their sexy and tumultuous romance, but their bond and happiness at being together has taken a real knock in the quest to give them more obstacles.

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Give The Misery a Rest!

Arguments, angst, fighting and tears. It’s been the story since day one, but after Aaron’s horrible abuse trial ordeal I think everyone hoped it was about time for a break from the misery. Danny Miller’s tears are award-winning but there comes a point where the heartache reaches saturation point and people are desensitised by Aaron’s latest pain. Soaps don’t really do happiness, unless you’re a comedy couple, but everyone needs light and shade. Even Robron’s wedding was doused in sadness knowing Aaron was heading to prison a day later. Emmerdale couldn’t even give him a day! So this one’s a pretty simple fix really – give them some happier times! We’ve had the same old arguments for well over six months now and it’s time Emmerdale figured out how to find a better balance. We know they’re meant to be, but we’ve stopped seeing that side of them – unless we’re due a four episode argument and another break up, of course!

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Explore New Ground

Their Super Soap Week special showed us that Aaron and Robert are a lot more than angst machines – they’ve got a great comedic partnership too. Not only would a bit of humour give the actors something fun to do, it would be the “light” we’re crying out for. It doesn’t always have to be violence, cheating, drugs and death, you know! But not only that, Aaron and Robert have slipped into a pattern, and a bad habit of behaviours that form many of their stories. It goes something like this: Robert does something bad or something Aaron doesn’t like (intentionally or not), Aaron gets angry and upset, they argue and Robert begs for forgiveness. Sound familiar? How about something different to watch, eh? Test the characters in different ways, explore sides to the lads and their relationship we haven’t seen before. Both of them are complex – there’s a lot to delve into rather than the same old ground.

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Break The Bubble

This is a problem shared by many of the characters in Emmerdale, but one – if fixed – could lift Aaron and Robert out of their rut. Often characters stay in their “bubble” – take David and Tracey, for example, who often seem superglued to the shop, but the last few months, with most of their drama revolving around their marriage and personal issues Aaron and Robert have only interacted with a select few characters. Friendship and family should be the central factor in Emmerdale, but with Chas and Liv gone, Paddy busy, Aaron’s a bit of a forgotten Dingle and the Sugdens are even more fractured – Robron seem stuck in the same conversations with the same few characters. Again and again. So this rescue remedy is all about variety. Some of their more surprising interactions (Aaron’s awkward friendship with Finn, Robert allying with Bernice) have been a welcome change from the angst, but we could really do with more integration into village life and less rehashing of the same issues without resolution.

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The Rebecca Problem

Since her arrival last October, when she tried to tempt Robert back to bed, Rebecca White’s sole purpose in Emmerdale seems to be just to trigger repetitive and tiresome problems between Aaron and Robert. And let’s face it, it hasn’t exactly made her popular with fans of Emmerdale’s super couple. But if you thought we might one day see the end of their age-old arguments about Aaron’s insecurities and Robert’s cheating past, Rebecca’s pregnancy doesn’t offer much hope of that! So does this mean we’re destined to watch a future of her being the third wheel, rolled out whenever they need a bit of drama (read: argument they’ve had a hundred times before)? Well let’s hope not, eh? Because then we’ll never get the above fixes. There are a number of ways this story could go – but one thing’s for sure, Rebecca’s continued presence as a convenient thorn in their side isn’t doing any character favours and I’m longing for change, however that may be.