Fave or Fail? (24-28 June 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! A bit of a lacklustre week that saw Jessie shot, a cameo from Chris Kamara and a misguided proposal from Pete to Rhona (end it already!).

Faves

Happiness in Hard Times

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h09m16s635Will Jai and Laurel’s budding romance be my favourite part of every week in Emmerdale from now on? Very possibly. In a week where several stories centred around new characters it was nice to take comfort in the joy of those familiar to us. Laurel and Jai’s smiles are infectious. This week as they tried to keep their new romance a secret they snuck around giggling like teenagers arranging secret dates and Jai putting on his stern voice in case anyone was listening. You can tell the actors are having a lot of fun with it and it’s endearing to watch, especially to see a happy, fun story in amongst the sadder tales.

A Little Star

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h11m32s537The best performance in the siege scenes came from young Amelia Flanagan, who made April’s fear so believable. As soon as the focus was on April, the scenes became a lot more intense, her bravery and terror so raw that we were drawn into the moment with her. Perhaps her stand out moment, besides her escape was the moment she confidently faced Max and told him she wasn’t afraid because her mummy was a police officer. That was a great moment and one that would have made Donna very proud.

Priya’s Problem?

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h09m45s802Friday’s episode gave us some very surprising and intriguing scenes as Priya struggled at both home and work with a secret. We’re in the dark about what this could be yet with her taking some deep breaths and looking far away in thought. Could this be the aftershocks of Jacob and Maya playing on her mind, a return to her struggles with food or something else? Priya is one of the show’s most underappreciated characters with Fiona Wade a great actress, especially when it comes to the serious stuff.

Shared Stories

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h07m12s223This week a hopeful Dawn took the first steps in seeing her son Lucas as she had a supervised visit through social services. It wasn’t as straightforward or as successful as she first hoped but after a surprising tough-love pep talk from Amy, Dawn’s mood was lifted. It always makes a good scene when unusual character pairings find common ground, sharing histories and experience through storylines past and present and this was no exception. It could be interesting to see what kind of friendship these two could forge!

Fails

Bear With It?

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h14m08s087I’m in a quandary when it comes to Bear. I think Joshua Richards does a good job and when the story has been more about him and Paddy finding common ground I’ve liked it. I also think there’s a place for older characters in Emmerdale, something which has become less of a focus in recent years. However, this week made me question his inclusion in the village in terms of what he brings out in other characters. Did anyone ever feel Paddy needed a father figure at this stage in his life – surely Zak could’ve done the job? I’ve made no secret of the fact Paddy’s at his most irritating and unlikeable for me when he’s the bumbling buffoon and rather than the endearing idiot, he’s a pain in the arse. So this week saw Paddy sulk about a bit and regress to a child seeking his estranged dad’s approval and I wasn’t a fan. Bear isn’t exactly charming or funny, he’s a bit of a letch and seems to act as if he’s been in the village for years. This week’s community football match which had potential to be fun but the focus on Bear was a bit of a bore. Then there’s his budding relationship with Faith (and to swap the wonderfully charming Faith/Eric relationship for Faith/Bear seems a real misstep) and he’s only brought out the worst in her personality too. The two of them together is an overload of selfishness and bratty entitlement and the plot with the baby scan seemed oddly meanspirited.

Sieges and Sympathy

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h13m44s278I tend to think Emmerdale should leave gun showdowns to big characters as a climax to long running storylines, rather than centring high octane moments to fairly one-dimensional characters like Max, so I can’t say I was ever particularly excited by a siege at Tall Trees. One of the problems with this story hinges on Billy and, again, Emmerdale’s habit of relying on heavy and convoluted backstory to carry their new characters (see Graham for more examples). Billy’s complex backstory is a worthy one but the execution has been muddled and frankly, a bit dull. Even his history was Aaron was dropped and ignored in a way that feels like Emmerdale regretted introducing him in such a way. So too has his relationship with Ellis and Jessie been muddled, both seeming to go in circles and never elevating into something fresh and engaging for the characters. Ellis and Billy’s rivalry began as something so intriguing and promising and has since devolved into a merry-go-round. It’s hard to invest. This week should have been pivotal for Billy’s character but beginning this change with Max, a rather soulless guest character, and an overblown situation with hostages and armed police was strangely devoid of any sort of tension or atmosphere. Then when Billy finally admitted to Jessie that he did in fact do the crime he was convicted of, the explanation was so overloaded with a history and characters we’ve never seen, that this pivotal moment lacked any sort of resonance. I don’t think Emmerdale needs to lose its complex intentions with Billy, he can still do the wrong thing for good reasons, but we need to see these actions to help us empathise.

The Woolie Weekly is taking a two week summer break. Blog posts will resume on Sunday 21st July.

 

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Scene of the Week (24-28 June 2019)

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The emotional core of the clunky siege drama this week was undoubtedly the plight of little April Windsor. April’s escape from the house and Max’s gun waving, with the help of Billy, was the strongest moment of the episode. But even better was her running straight into Ellis’s arms. His and April’s relationship is one of the show’s best sibling partnerships and it was fitting that she had a safe pair of arms to comfort her after the ordeal. Amelia Flanagan does great stuff with April’s funny one liners but she excelled at this intense moment too and gave the gun showdown some much-needed heart.

Fave or Fail? (17-21 June 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 Maya face a year in prison and Pete cheated on Rhona.

Faves

Sweet Romance

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h55m14s996Between the dark and the sad plots, sometimes exactly what we need is something sweet and heart-warming and we had that in buckets this week as Jai and Laurel gave into their feelings. I’d have been happy to watch an even slower burn of this pair falling for each other, but their tension and unresolved feelings this week were really satisfying to watch, especially when they finally kissed. With Nicola trying to set Laurel up on a test date to up her game, we were treated to hilarious scenes with Jimmy and Laurel on a practice date after a case of mistaken identity, then in true rom-com style it was miscommunication after miscommunication as Jai and Laurel kept missing out on that elusive date. From stuttering doubts, to hints about a romantic date, all these two needed to do was talk! Even the day after their kiss things were weird between them, but thankfully their smitten smiles and Jai calling Laurel “amazing” seemed to seal a happy fate. Despite these two feeling very unexpected as a couple, it works, and the writing has kept it both awkward and endearing. Couples we can root for are the backbone of soap, so I hope Emmerdale know what a good thing they’ve got in Jai and Laurel and don’t rush it or ruin it anytime soon.

Sugden Split

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h56m20s214Siblings Victoria and Robert were at odds again this week after Victoria discovered that Robert and Aaron had gone to see Lee and had been fly-tipping with posters of his face, saying the word ‘rapist’. Once the police came knocking blaming her, Victoria wanted to wash her hands of Robert, furious that his revenge was making it harder for her move on. Struggling to cope with the thought of letting down his sister, Robert and Victoria eventually reconciled at their dad’s graveside. This week’s scenes were well balanced, giving time to explore both of the siblings’ emotions and showcased tender and believable moments between the pair. Actors Isabel Hodgins and Ryan Hawley continue to have a lovely rapport onscreen and in the run up to Ryan’s exit, it’s been fitting to explore their family relationship in this depth before we lose another Sugden.

Family Impact

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h01m08s369One of the strongest aspects of the Jacob and Maya storyline, besides Louisa Clein’s fantastic performances, has been Emmerdale showing the impact of her abuse on both Jacob and David, and their relationship. This week Emmerdale took the surprising decision to have David attend a counselling session to talk about his complex feelings about what Maya had done. Much like the immediate aftermath of David learning about what Maya did, David’s response has been one of conflicting emotions, guilt, blame, pain and all the rest and that feels like an authentic reaction in situations like this. Currently Jacob isn’t the position to believe counselling is right for him, but in time hopefully Emmerdale will show a multi-layered response to Jacob’s future, with family, friends, therapists and social workers involved.

Fails

Maya Meets Her Fate

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h02m05s682After months of their most controversial and important storyline playing out, Emmerdale’s Maya finally faced the courts and exited from the show. Due to Maya facing a lesser charge than the one she actually committed, Emmerdale had to walk a fine line between realism and a satisfying narrative conclusion. Unfortunately, while Maya’s charge rang true to her convicted crime, after watching her manipulations and twisted grooming of Jacob, a twelve month sentence felt like an unsatisfying conclusion to the story we watched. While Emmerdale’s focus on aftermath has concentrated on Jacob and Maya, there’s been an anti-climatic aftermath when it comes to the rest of the community. A local teacher grooming a pupil should be huge, but it’s lacked any wider impact and sadly that’s left the conclusion feeling not only a little flat but repetitive. Rather than extend the story by asking questions about how Maya’s behaviour has impacted Jessie, Liam, Leanna and the other teens, even Maya’s mum who has been mentioned, we’ve only seen the same cyclical rows between Jacob and David. There are only so many times Jacob can scream and shout “I love Maya!” before it becomes a bit tiresome to watch. Emmerdale has a long history of taking a really important story and handling it with care and elements of the Maya and Jacob story have been fantastic, but since the Big Night Out episodes, it’s loss its way, sadly leaving us with a rather flat conclusion.

Signs of Trouble?

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h03m26s743Nate continued his lothario ways this week and got a soaking in the pub, but eventually got on the right side of Amy when he rescued Kyle from danger. Foolishly Amy, Nate and Moira decided to keep Amy’s lax parenting a secret from Cain and we could all guess how he’d react when he found out! This turn of events, leading to a rift between Cain and Moira and turning Nate’s reputation around all felt a bit predictable and yet formed a significant part of this week’s storylines. Amy and Nate dominated scenes (still failing to see what his appeal is!) and not only is their romance low on chemistry, but it seems Nate actually has his sights on Moira instead. Whether his intentions are purely sexual, or if there’s something else at play here, remains to be seen but the idea of Cain and Moira splitting over this isn’t a pleasant prospect. Nate’s interest in Moira was delivered in heavy-handed and lingering shots of hands touching and despite Cain and Moira’s marriage being on rocky ground recently, does any Emmerdale fan have the appetite to watch them split for someone as charmless at Nate? Not only do Natalie Robb and Jeff Hordley have some of the best chemistry on the show, they’re beloved by viewers too. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since Coira were split for months and with Zak and Lisa gone, Robron on their way out, the last thing we need is another fan-favourite pair separated. If Nate does come between them, then let’s hope there’s a bigger story at play here and not just Moira getting down and dirty with the farmhand. Been there, done that.

Scene of the Week (17-21 June 2019)

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Who could predict that by the middle of 2019 we’d been championing Jai and Laurel as the next big couple of the Dales? This week saw them awkward around each other before finally giving into a big snog. Hurray! A flustered and frustrated Laurel went to find Jai in his office and well, pounced! After more uncertain awkwardness, Jai was all too glad to kiss her right back. This was an adorable rom-com moment that felt so earned after all that miscommunication and edging around each other in shy and hesitant signs of attraction. Who doesn’t love that big kiss moment? This was a great scene!

Fave or Fail? (10-14 June 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 Graham returned with a secret connection to Andrea and David had a meltdown and tried to kiss Priya.

Faves

Seething Scheme

vlcsnap-2019-06-15-18h23m24s699Tensions have been high between Robert and Victoria since they learned rapist Lee wasn’t going to be charged, with Robert feeling increasingly helpless with the situation. Although Vic has managed to pour her energies into her pregnancy, Robert’s got a one-track mind for vengeance, desperate to see Lee pay for what he did. With Aaron in tow, Robert hunted Lee down to his place of work and tried to get him to confess. But with Robert’s impatience and anger getting the better of him, Aaron was forced to calm his husband down and abandon plans before Lee reported them. However misguided and unwise there’s ultimately something satisfying watching Robert’s vigilante justice attempts, and it’s rare to see him as the rattled and violent one spoiling for a fight. With the sad news of Ryan Hawley’s departure from Emmerdale announced this week, all eyes will be on this story to see how far Robert’s revenge goes and if it will lead to his untimely downfall.

Panic Problems

vlcsnap-2019-06-15-18h27m38s872Keeping Ellis off screen after his stabbing incident probably wasn’t the strongest narrative choice if it was to be followed up with a PTSD storyline, however it was good to see Asan N’Jie in a different light this week. As Ellis started to believe he was seeing Max around the village he started having panic attacks and these were claustrophobic and well acted. Perhaps hitting Marlon with a rolling pin (verging on the slapstick) and keeping the lacklustre Max drama confined to the residents of Tall Trees isn’t the most engaging way to tell Ellis’s story, but Ellis is charming and sweet enough to keep us caring about him. I’m not convinced by the idea of a Belle romance, but it was good to see both her and Aaron bonding with Ellis over their coping strategies for their mental health issues and this story definitely could do with not being a rehash of more Billy and Ellis dramas.

A Serious Turn

vlcsnap-2019-06-15-18h20m02s553The drama for Liam and Bernice made up a small part of this week’s storylines but it gave us an interesting glimpse of a different type of plot for the couple. We’re used to fluff and carry-on capers for Bernice and her dishy doc, but this week there was tension between them after Bernice meddled trying to learn more about Liam’s dead ex. Bernice wanted Liam to be more open and this was a nice opportunity for us to learn more about Liam and his backstory – until now we’ve been in the dark as much as Bernice. As Liam opened up about his sad past, explaining how he really struggled after Lara’s death, even jumping into a relationship with Maya, he admitted he finally feels like he might be in a place to open up to Bernice. I hope these scenes were just the start of something more emotional for the couple as they could be perfect to go the distance.

Fails

Nosy Nate

vlcsnap-2019-06-15-18h26m06s272We’ve had quite a few new characters join Emmerdale lately but none more mysterious than newcomer Nate. It doesn’t seem clear at the moment if Nate has an agenda or a secret, but there’s definitely something about him that feels ‘off’. Since his snog with Rhona, Nate’s made himself quite cosy at Butler’s, trying to be a comfort to Moira during her struggles with Cain, but he’s already moving quickly round the women of the village! First it was Tracy he slept with, then we saw him get friendly with Amy and spoilers have hinted another villager sleeps with him soon too. So what’s his deal? He seems to be asking a lot of nosy questions and he might exude a charm that makes women confide – but is that all there is to it? I can’t quite work out why he’s become such a hit with the women folk but I’m hoping there’s more to him than just a bed hopper.

Secret Keeping

vlcsnap-2019-06-15-18h21m42s344This week we spent more time with the Home Farm contingent as Kim tried to redecorate in an attempt to keep Jamie and Andrea happy. Graham also returned this week and while this might have been the opportunity to carve out a more engaging personality for him, he instead returned with another convoluted backstory to add to the pile. While I was initial intrigued with the prospect of Andrea and Graham knowing each other and sharing a complicated past, the suspense was over in an instant as it was revealed that in between Graham’s looking after Joe, drinking problems, dead wife, romancing Kim, spying on Jamie, he’d also paid Andrea to cosy up to Jamie and keep an eye on him. Rather than trying to make Graham engaging in the present day stories Emmerdale just continue to give him more confusing baggage and backstories that weigh him down. They could have dragged out Andrea’s secret or we could have found out she was still playing a long game but within days Kim knew everything, and then so did Jamie. Lacklustre or what? As Jamie and Andrea had their first big angst moment, I was left wondering who cares this early on? They barely feel like a genuine couple and the secret seemed to explain why things were stilted, but if we’re really expected to believe Andrea’s got genuine love for him why are they both so cold and distant? I think there’s potential for both of them (unlikely together) but being bogged down in backstories is not what they need.

 

Scene of the Week (10-14 June 2019)

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Tensions were high in this gripping scene in Friday’s episode. Robert tracked down Vic’s rapist, Lee, with exposing him in mind and he and Aaron took a test drive with Lee. Not only was there the possibility that this ride could end with a crash, considering Robert’s reckless driving, but us viewers were in on the plan and Lee wasn’t. As Aaron recorded their conversation in the back, Robert tried grilling Lee about his private life and what he does for kicks. But as things grew uncomfortable and Lee dodged Robert’s questions and laid traps, Robert snapped and braked hard on the car, revealing Lee had raped his sister. Robert always manages a cool and calm performance when he needs to lay on a good act, but with Lee his anger was barely under the surface. A great scene.