Fave or Fail? (21-25 Jan 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! Bob resorted to sleeping on a park bench this week and piggy delight Spamela ran riot.

Faves

Bob without Hope

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h03m25s399I have to commend Emmerdale in their speedy turn around in making Bob empathetic again. Bob was always a character I enjoyed but we really saw the worst of him during the Bob and Laurel debacle and I wondered whether I’d ever like his cheeky charm again. Cleverly Emmerdale has done a good job in showing down-on-his-luck Bob’s situation getting worse and worse and his pride holding him back from asking for help. Bob’s story has emotionally shown how quickly someone’s life can crumble and how even when working, they can find themselves destitute and homeless. With Bob feeling pressurised from all angles, he kept up a façade of normalcy so the warning signs were missed by friends and family. This story has built nicely and this week it came to a heart wrenching conclusion when Bob found himself in hospital. Performances by Tony Audenshaw and Lesley Dunlop were fantastic, helping to rebuild the pair’s fractious relationship and it was nice to see the ‘man club’ briefly reunite to help lift Bob’s spirits. Seeing Bob in such a bad way was a tough watch but I hope things don’t end there. Bob’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy could highlight pertinent issues in male mental health struggles and as it’s one of their strongest stories for a while, it’s worth continuing.

Casual Becoming Serious

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h13m28s500I was firmly on the fence when it came to deciding who I wanted Victoria paired off with, but after umming and ahhing between the slow-burn friends turned lovers romance with her and Matty or the funny and endearing romance with Ellis, the latter might just have swayed me. This week saw Vic panic she was pregnant and despite their no-strings arrangement, Ellis seemed ready to step up to the plate if needed. The scenes were a lot of fun as the whole family got involved, but the resolution was much sadder for Victoria. While she knew Ellis and her were too new a couple and too different to have a kid, she still longs to be a mother after her failed attempts with Adam. Actress Isabel Hodgins gave a hugely emotive performance as Vic wept for the negative result and the realisation that all those issues about Adam, motherhood and her future were still unresolved. I like that there’s been no quick fix for her and that she’s still struggling in the fall out, even with lovely Ellis on her arm. As for these two? I really love them together and I actually think they could work well in the long term, even if Robert’s machinations might cause problems. It might be too soon for babies, but happiness for Victoria is top of my wishlist.

More Manpreet

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h06m54s257The Sharmas are some of Emmerdale’s most underused characters, but with Manpreet moving into the village, I’m hopeful we might see more of all of them soon. Manpreet has such a breezy, fun loving attitude to life and she’s a welcome addition to our screens. No only does she seem smitten with loveable Rishi but she’s got great chemistry with Jai and Priya too. This week saw her consider moving closer to Emmerdale for work, and the siblings tried to get Rishi to ask her to move in with them, a plan which eventually played off. Manpreet is a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than a newbie destined for villainy or outrageous behaviour, but maybe it’s because of that she’s fitted in well. I can only hope this leads to more screentime for the Sharmas and less sitcom side stories!

Real Talk

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h15m41s984When Moira returned to the village this week after a brief trip to see Nana Barton, she found reassurance in a surprising chat with Aaron. In the midst of this bloated Cain and Joe story, Moira’s lost her way as a character and it’s hard to remember her as the down to earth farmer she was. Luckily, this scene with Aaron in the café was a welcome return to that, with Aaron helping her to see that despite Cain’s nightmare behaviour he really does love her. There’s nothing I enjoy more in Emmerdale that characters with shared experiences having a chat and if anyone knows about nightmare husbands then it’s Aaron. With him and Moira reflecting on the strained relationship at Butler’s farm, it just made me long for the scene partners we don’t usually see. Aaron and Moira have a shared history and they’re family, but we barely see them together. Conversations like these are a good way of not only keeping onscreen relationships fresh but they ground the characters in some much-needed reality.

Fail

Murder Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h09m48s881The “Cain murdered Joe” plot is so messy I’m struggling to find any real enjoyment from it, despite loving most of the characters on Team Cain. With both Cain and Moira being killers (or “killers” in Cain’s case) the arguments in Butlers have felt far too blasé and seem like a game of murder Top Trumps. Moira’s reactions have been cold and detached like a bizarre mob wife, willing to support Cain regardless, but surely even Moira, with Emma’s blood on her hands would struggle with this? Even Faith, whose love for her son is high, seems willing to overlook what he’s done, despite the fact by the end of Joe’s tenure in Emmerdale he was liked by most of the Dingles. Only Matty was willing to acknowledge that this was a terrible crime, but even he was berated by Moira and co for betraying the family, even though his reaction seemed like the only sane one between them. Debbie’s barely frosty, chilled out enough to be cosy with Faith who hasn’t made her support of Cain a secret and this seems completely out of character when she was willing to leave the village for less a few years ago. With everyone unfussed about Cain being a murderer, or desperate to believe his innocent, there are zero stakes. What’s the point? What will change for Cain if Graham reveals the truth or if Joe rocks up – apart from Debbie cracking a smile maybe? And with Graham undoubtedly set to feature heavily when Kim returns, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be found out any time soon. If Emmerdale were unwilling to commit to Cain being completely destroyed and disowned in a story that saw him go down for a crime he didn’t commit then they shouldn’t have bothered. I can’t see a resolution here that will satisfy, I just hope we can forget this story ever happened ASAP.

Scene of the Week (21-25 Jan 2019)

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This week’s gut-wrenching Scene of the Week saw Harriet discover an unconscious Bob who had found himself sleeping rough on a bench in the rain. We’d seen Bob nestle down for the night in the awful weather with the oblivious villagers leaving him with nowhere to go. Guilty Harriet suspected something was up and found him by the river, skin blue and suffering from hypothermia. Harriet’s complete shock and devastation was echoed in the thoughts of viewers watching and a great performance from Katherine Dow Blyton really made the moment hit home. Bob’s suffering had really hit rock bottom and this was a powerful moment to see.

Fave or Fail? (14-18 Jan 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! It was a huge week for the Dingles as Charity and Vanessa got engaged, and Cain told Debbie he killed Joe.

Faves

For Better or Worse

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-11h00m50s589After last week’s shock stabbing for Vanessa, Charity only had one thing on her mind this week as she sought to stage the best proposal of all time for her girlfriend. Feeling the pressure, especially when Tracy got involved, Charity was left to her own devices and hijacked a posh guy’s huge and OTT proposal at Home Farm. From Charity’s panic and scheming with Chas and Tracy to her hilarious attempts to steal the outlandish proposal, the Vanity proposal plot was full of laughs and a script of brilliant lines. It was only later when Vanessa returned to Home Farm, wanting to hear Charity out after the earlier disappointment, that the pair’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. The laughs of the earlier scenes were Charity at her best, but the mixing of her dry and drunken humour in the love declarations really worked in showing her vulnerability. As we move towards the wedding here’s hoping the stories allow Vanessa’s character to become more fleshed out and not overwhelmed by Dingle drama.

Maya’s Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-11h01m31s517Maya’s grooming of Jacob continues to be Emmerdale’s biggest story, but it’s still not an easy watch. The fact the story is so excruciating is a sign that it’s working, particularly as Maya devised ways to keep Jacob quiet as well as pushing him to go further in their liaisons. Their school hook-up and meeting point in the kids’ den felt particularly sordid, but Louisa Clein’s delivery of Maya’s butter-wouldn’t-melt manipulations are perfect for the role. I did feel a concern this week that perhaps the subtly in the story had been dropped in favour of showing Maya enthusiastically twist and play Jacob for her own amusement – but perhaps she’s growing comfortable because she’s done this all before? I do wish however that Emmerdale had spent longer bedding Maya into the village, giving her friends or allies, before embarking on this story, because it inevitably means that David, Jacob and family aside, the impact is going to be minimal, even with ex Liam in the village, and that might make the resolution flatter.

Debbie Finds Out

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-10h58m43s348Finally – finally – all that whispering can stop at Butler’s Farm because Cain’s secret was out, and he told Debbie that he killed Joe. Understandably Debbie was horrified and Charley Webb’s performances were some of her best as all her pain and horror at her Dad’s cover-up came pouring out. Both Charley and Jeff Hordley work so well together that even though I find the story a bit of a dud, their on-screen chemistry is compelling. Jeff somehow manages to make Cain’s lashing out and his downfall empathetic, even when you’re screaming at the screen begging him to stop hurting his loved ones. I think the writing in this story has been damaging for Moira, who has become less and less like the woman viewers liked and more of a ruthless mob wife. Naturally the Cain and Moira’s relationship has lost the warmth and heart too. Here’s hoping that in time both characters can move away from this story (if Graham ever owns up to the truth) and become more grounded again.

Bonus Faves:

  • After this week’s fantastic comedic partnership between Charity and Tracy – and now that they’re about to become in laws – I hope we see lots more of them. They have so much hilarious potential.
  • This week was the first time we saw Eric and Ellis interact as Eric learnt about ‘gains’ and Eric gave Ellis all the shade about his hockey lessons. More please!
  • Spamela Henderson the piggy of our dreams. Great idea Sam. The more animals in Emmerdale the better.
  • After seeing Kerry and Jimmy at the school careers fair – let’s have more of these sorts of community events!

Fail

Dead or Alive

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-10h59m04s801The biggest problem in the long running saga of Joe’s death is the biggest question of all – is he really dead? With Emmerdale seemingly unwilling to break any hearts and reveal whether he has actually carked it, and interviews with the cast hedging their bets, it’s removed any real tension. With half the audience expecting a “shock” last minute twist with Joe returning to Home Farm, it’s difficult to invest in the full fall-out of his absence. Had we seen Graham’s grisly dumping of the body then perhaps his meltdown and then Machiavellian plan to let Cain take the rap would have had more impact, but for now there’s the potential that all this gravel-voiced angst is for nothing. Admittedly it’s a plot that requires everyone to a) find Graham’s monotonous threats compelling b) to have invested in the Joe/Debbie love story and find her plight sympathetic and not at all hypocritical and c) believe Debbie’s hatred of Cain will last more than a few months – so it’s a bit of a losing battle for me. But if Emmerdale confirmed Joe’s status one way or the other then we’d get part that wishy-washy aspect at least.

Scene of the Week (14-18 Jan 2019)

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Charity Dingle’s first proposal attempt was an easy highlight this week, in a scene of brilliantly comedic mayhem. After locking the posh groom in the cupboard, Charity hijacked his whole proposal and lead oblivious Vanessa around Home Farm on a horse and carriage. While Vanessa cluelessly waved to Megan, Charity sprung an engagement ring on her besotted girlfriend, all as the intended bride and groom to be chased after them. This scene felt like classic Charity madness, with her good intentions overtaken by her mischievous spark and it was a whole lot of farcical fun, until the penny dropped for poor Vanessa.

Fave or Fail? (7-11 Jan 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! It was chaos this week as Vanessa got stabbed as the Woolpack went up in flames and Lachlan got life in prison.

Faves

Life or Death

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Gutsy Vanessa fought for her life this week as an attempt to scare an intruder from the pub lead to her being stabbed. While the stabber and the story surrounding him was a let-down, Michelle Hardwick’s performance during the violence, particularly her reaction to Johnny’s accidental kidnap was heart-wrenching. You could really feel her helplessness as the fire raged and Johnny disappeared from her sight. Their emotional reunion in the hospital was strong stuff and I’d love to see Michelle get something meatier like this in future.

Old School Vibes

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h40m08s821Mandy’s visit back to the visit was short but sweet – much too short – but it really gave Emmerdale an old school feeling. Seeing Marlon and Mandy together, and Mandy and Paddy too, injected a huge dose of warmth and humour into the scenes. Viewers were left a bit puzzled over her brief return and whether she really was hiding more from Paddy, especially in regards to doppelganger Vinny, but hopefully this just paved the pathway for another return. I felt a little bit short-changed seeing how short a return Mandy had, but that’s just because I could happily see her around full time, bringing nostalgia and something unique to the village.

Remembering the Past

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h40m36s590It wasn’t just having Mandy around that brought on a wave of nostalgia this week, a few of the characters were reflective themselves. With everything that happens in the village you can sometimes forgive characters (and the writers) for being a bit forgetful in making the obvious links between storylines, but when the past is remembers it’s deeply satisfying. This week we had Brenda mentioning Gennie, realising that Gennie must have been related to Mandy distantly (ah the Dingle family tree), then awkwardly reminding Laurel of her marriage to Marlon, Megan shockingly remembering she too had a dead child (RIP Robbie), Laurel helping Graham with his alcoholism, and Cain talking about the time Zak conked him over the head. We don’t often get so much continuity but when we do it makes the characters and stories come alive, making their lives feel authentic rather than just a list of forgotten storylines.

Fails

The Final Finale

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h41m18s928Thomas Atkinson returned briefly this week to add another finale to Lachlan’s endless supply of final scenes and it was a real case of diminishing returns. Thomas’s performances were chillingly watchable in their creepiness before, but he was wasted this week on a needless reappearance where his villainy turned from cleverly twisted to a bit of a cartoon psycho. Lachlan’s final final (is it really the last one now?) showdown with Belle came at an unsatisfying four months late as he delayed his torment of her for no real reason. Sure the performances were decent, but when Lachlan’s story dragged and dragged anyway, did any viewers really need or want to see him again? We knew he’d get life in prison so what did this return add? This wasn’t a big escape or showdown ala Cameron Murray and if anything, its anti-climactic flatness fizzled out even more than his first supposed exit. And that’s before we even touch on Donny’s involvement…

Heeeere’s Donny

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h40m58s635You remember Donny, right? Donny – you know! He appeared in 10 episodes about four years ago. Lachlan’s dad? Scottish? Barely mentioned? No? Well you wouldn’t be alone, as plenty of viewers were left scratching their heads as Donny’s reappearance played a significant role in this week’s biggest events. Forgettable Donny hasn’t been seen or heard of since 2015, when he got involved with gangsters and many fans presumed he’d been left for dead by ex-wife Chrissie White as she began her own descent into villainy. Making Donny such a key player in Lachlan’s last stand was a weird decision, so much so that it was left to Charity, and Donny’s clunky speech, to reveal who he was and why he was there. When your story intentions have to be so clumsily told in the script, something isn’t working. The only character who’d ever really interacted with Donny in the village was Robert and he was strangely absent meaning there was no real significance or surprise in Donny’s actions. It was left to Belle, a character he’d never met, to interact with Donny and the story suddenly became twisted into a revenge story against the Dingles. Rather than this being a logical line of blame it smacked of desperation, being that almost all of Lachlan’s ties to Emmerdale were dead and gone. Donny’s final encounter with Lachlan was him turning the tables and finally realising how twisted his son was, but being that Donny hadn’t seen Lachlan for four years, this shock move was meaningless. We’d had a matter of minutes to invest in Lachlan and Donny’s father-son relationship so who cared? I can’t help but feel if Emmerdale had wanted to do a story of Vanessa almost dying they could have done something much more exciting by suggesting someone dark from her past or even Charity’s. Wasted opportunities and weird decisions all round!

Scene of the Week (7-11 Jan 2019)

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Unlucky Vanessa was in the wrong place at the wrong time this week as vengeful Donny, doing son Lachlan’s bidding tried to set fire to The Woolpack. Fearless Ness tried to confront him and ended up being stabbed with broken glass as the pub lit up in flames and Donny bolted, with little Johnny in the backseat. The episode’s best scene was Vanessa trying to scuttle away from the fire, clutching her side and already suffering with the wound. After a trembling call to Charity, the Dingle gathering dispersed to put out the fire. It was quite arresting to see the pub on fire and it’s been a while since the pub’s been at the heart of a stunt like this. It was full throttle tension as the blaze roared and Vanessa bled out on the ground, crying for her boy. At the heart of any good stunt should always be an emotional punch and Michelle Hardwick’s performance was the real highlight, as Vanessa’s gave desperate pleas for Charity to find her son.