Fave or Fail? (19-23 June 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 War of the Rs this week as Robron took on Ross and Harriet got stabbed.

Faves

Back in Action

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h03m40s668Cain was back properly this week and it feels like we haven’t seen him in ages. I really appreciated how many different stories converged, as the Barton money woes and war with Robert led to Harriet being stabbed, her fling with Cain being exposed and him seeking revenge. Cain’s revenge missions – usually involving car boots – are often enjoyable viewing but it’s a long time since we’ve seen him take the violent approach and he wasn’t holding back with Ross. It came as a bit of a shock and with Moira involved (Coira tension ahoy) we were guaranteed good scenes as awkwardness bristled at the hospital. Cain might have mellowed as he’s aged, but it’s entertaining to see his reckless side now and again.

Pot Pranks

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h02m33s935It was testosterone o’clock this week as Ross and Robron started a war. Having blackmailed Robert not long ago, Ross had the upper hand until Robert and Aaron decided to crush his last remaining taxi and only source of income. After some brilliant tag-team one liners, Ross sought payback and stole Robert’s pride and joy – his Porsche. The rivalry rumbled on as Robron discovered Ross and Finn’s weed stash and held it hostage in a woodchipper until Ross returned the car. Unlucky for Ross, Robert wasn’t in a forgiving mood and all the Barton’s cash hopes were sprayed to dust as Finn was captured by the dealers. Oops. With some great sparky dialogue and schoolboy rivalries this was a fun plot to start the week and cause bigger drama later on, plus it was a very welcome break from the tedium of the dreaded baby plot.

A Welcome Presence

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h00m42s441There was a great community feel this week as Doug’s attempts to be less boring led him to the brilliant village hall dance lessons with Lydia and co. But I want to talk about another comedic star of the village – the consistently funny Bernice. Since her return Bernice has found herself working a number of jobs in the village (Kerry’s driven away customers at the salon unsurprisingly) and it’s been fantastic to see her get stuck into gossip in the café, butting her nose in where she really shouldn’t. From getting Cain’s sandwich order wrong to her tea tray throwing, she’s been amazing in this role. But even later in the week, when she went back to the salon and massaged Pete, she was hilariously pervy (she never could resist a young buff male) and ended up giving him severe burns with chilli oil. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of her antics, whether it’s her ill judged comments or the physical comedy, she just brings such warmth and fun to the whole show.

Finding Her Place

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h02m08s776Chrissie White has been in Emmerdale for almost three years now but it seems like finally finally the writers have figured out how best to characterise her. Fingers crossed it seems like the days of being a daddy’s girl victim or – on the other end of the spectrum – the uber camp soap bitch are behind her. She feels settled. Ruthless, cutting, snobby, lording it over the other villagers, holding court at Home Farm – she seems powerful and bitchy without the cartoon one-liners. She’s always had this potential and I even enjoyed some of her really cold-hearted moments in the past, but it used to seem like they weren’t really sure what to do with her. Now the balance is just right. Here’s hoping that she stays like this!

Fails

The Exposition Family

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h01m05s107It’s common knowledge that Lawrence is on his way out of Emmerdale but this week we were given seemingly never-ending scenes of exposition as Lawrence sat the family down to explain about Chrissie’s biological father. As we all listened to story time with Lawrence again it struck me how much this family has relied on exposition heavy backstory to make them more interesting. What with Lawrence’s prison story, his romance with Ronnie, Rebecca’s past with Robert, Chrissie’s true paternity and now the story of her father – they’re all tragic backstories intended to give the family depth but in reality they’re just lengthy, heavy and unengaging scenes of exposition. It’s hard to care when it’s all happened in the past and we didn’t get to see it. These kinds of stories are much more involving when a newcomer forces them to confront the past (like when Ronnie rocked up) but with shady Lawrence seemingly lying about Chrissie’s biological family, things might get more interesting!

 

Fave or Fail? (12-16 June 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 a week that saw Rakesh leave (bye!), Rhona bravely reported Pierce to the police.

Faves

Master Manipulator

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h06m10s606You have to hand it to the brilliant Jonathan Wrather who manages to deliver such chilling performances as callous rapist, Pierce. His return this week was bizarrely orchestrated by a clueless Paddy (it’s a debatable that even Paddy would be that oblivious) and he began a tireless campaign of gaslighting and getting under Rhona’s skin. Every performance makes you want to scream, particularly as Rhona’s friends were initially drawn into his web, believing every charming word he said. He also managed to act his socks off under police questioning (that’s Pierce and Jonathan who gave unnerving performances) making his deception look like an art form. Pierce’s slippery character, under that perfect surface, is one of the things that makes this storyline so compelling.

Rhona’s Bravery

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h04m46s022Rhona returned from rehab this week and so did Emmerdale’s best plot at the moment – hooray! With the support of loyal best mate Vanessa, Rhona managed to stand up to Pierce and his remorseless reappearance and eventually Rhona braved another visit to the police station where she was able to name Pierce as her rapist. Once again Zoe Henry’s performances continue to be powerful and surely will pick up awards next year. I’m pleased that there hasn’t been a long and drawn out process of people being in the dark over Rhona’s horrific attack with her being increasingly isolated. It gives me hope that this story will continue to move in directions that showcase the bravery and strength of women like Rhona.

Doug’s Dancing

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h08m56s582If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have already seen me proclaim this little subplot as one of my favourite stories of the year so far. Warm, funny and not a beaver in sight. Worried he was too dull for Diane and he couldn’t even woo her with his dancing, a hapless Doug sought advice from lothario Frank and later an enthusiastic Lydia who was all too keen to give him dancing lessons. Doug is brilliant in his grumpy old man routine and Duncan Preston is effortlessly funny when playing Doug out of his comfort zone, while Diane is none the wiser. Even Frank, who hasn’t been the most engaging of newcomers, was fun in this plot and Lydia’s encouraging pep talks as she compared him to Michael Douglas and told him to believe in himself is exactly the good natured comedy Emmerdale does best.

Grinning Gerry

w62gThere’s so many things wrong with the uncomfortable plot that saw Lachlan (a convicted sex offender) prepare to lose his virginity to Belle, but the one positive from this story is the reintroduction of Gerry – Lachlan’s ex-cellmate. Sure, Gerry’s quite gross, considering that a) he’s pals with Lachlan and b) his readiness to order a prostitute for Lachlan doesn’t scream maturity or responsibility. But his cheeky sense of humour, willingness to flirt with every woman in sight, made a real impression in a short space of time. Plus, the benefit of Gerry is that there’s no white-washing or sugar-coating of his behaviour – like we see so frequently in Lachlan – Gerry is unashamedly a sleazebag and a lad up to no good.

Fails

Baby Mania

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h04m19s132They say pregnant women have something called ‘baby brain’ which makes them forgetful and act a bit off. But if anyone has baby mania then it’s Victoria who has the accolade this week of the strangest behaviour in the midst of the much-loathed Rebecca baby plot. Not content to let “free spirited” (I know, I know, no one is buying it) Rebecca do her own thing, Vic bombarded her with messages begging for her return and the pair reunited like they’d be separated by war rather than a fortnight. If their convenient BFFship didn’t pique your cringe levels then, Vic’s insistence that Rebecca move in with her and let her be her sole support might have done. Even Adam, who isn’t always the brightest spark, pointed out how bizarre this insta-friendship is and that’s without getting into what should be Vic’s resentment of that family. And so, while Vic mouthed off at her brother, despite having always been one of the few to empathise with him and champion his relationship with Aaron, I can’t help but wonder if this dire story might end with Vic standing between Rebecca’s legs ready to catch the sprog and run away with it.

Fave or Fail? (22-26 May 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! Robert confessed his betrayal to Aaron this week and we enter another stretch of Emmerdale’s Worse Storyline Ever™

Faves

Rollercoaster of Emotions

vlcsnap-2017-05-28-17h47m43s531Let’s not get into this Aaron/Robert/Rebecca baby plot, which has to be one of my most loathed soap plots of all time, but let’s talk about the one saving grace of this story and that’s Thursday’s reveal. It’s been a ticking time bomb for months but finally this week, torn apart by guilt, Robert confessed his betrayal to a devastated Aaron. The Robron relationship has had more ups and downs (and to be honest, more downs) than Space Mountain but if anything this set of episodes proved why they continue to drag Aaron and Robert from one torturous story to the next and that’s how well the actors sell the heartbreak and the passion in their character’s relationship. With a script that dug right into their deepest flaws and issues, the intense argument saw Aaron and Robert communicate like never before as they got to the heart of why Aaron’s prison spell and Robert’s huge mistake had caused such a colossal impact on both characters. It was an honest, intimate and powerful display of their complex relationship one that owes a great deal to the long-standing chemistry between Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley and a partnership which I hope doesn’t suffer too much in this unpopular storyline.

Light Touch

vlcsnap-2017-05-28-17h38m02s763Lydia continues to be an injection of fun into Emmerdale and her budding romance with Sam Dingle has been a joy to watch. In just a few weeks she’s managed to integrate with lots of different characters with her cleaning job, but her comedic role in the Thomas household has worked surprisingly well to lift them after the serious and rather bleak Ashley plot. Away from Lydia was the stained-glass window mix up on Friday which saw Kerry’s creative unicorn and Adonis Ashley contribution be installed instead of Arthur’s intended window, thanks to an email error by Sandy. Bernice arrived during the chaos and of course made my GIF of the week. Far from making light of Ashley’s passing, these lighter moments have shown that laughs are possible after a death and he definitely would have seen the funny side. I’m glad that Emmerdale are able to remember Ashley, that the Thomases are allowed to grieve and but that life goes on, with smiles and even with a stuffed cockatoo in tow.

Moira Mystery

vlcsnap-2017-05-28-17h29m58s379Maybe I’m reading into things with Moira this week but I definitely felt like there was more to her exhaustion collapse and jumpy behaviour around Faith. It might not be the pregnancy plot we all predicted would happen when she slept with Pete and then Cain back in December, but it does make you wonder. Still, mystery aside, I love seeing Moira in farming mode and her interactions with Faith (like berating her for flirting with Adam) are really good fun. But what was also nice this week was the reminder of Holly and the realism of her presence continuing to impact upon Moira when in soaps death is so quickly forgotten. The scenes between Adam and Moira as they came together again after their fallout was a touching moment and part of the family warmth I’ve come to expect from Emmerdale at its best.

Fails

Carry On Car Theft

vlcsnap-2017-05-28-17h30m52s257It was only last week Debbie made my ‘Faves’ list as I praised the new and more light-hearted direction her character was going through, but this week the fun turned farce as Charity got on board for some carry-on capers. The Charity and Debbie relationship is one which has a natural spark and their bickering in a crisis is much more enjoyable than when they’re feuding about Charity’s wrong doings, but this week’s scenes crossed the line into just plain stupid. Charity can be a great comedy character and she’s proved she can work well as pub landlady but surely there’s got to be a better story for her than an “oops we’ve knocked a man out cold let’s shove him in the boot” episode filler. I love the Debbie and Charity interactions but these scenes dragged on, thinning out the humour in them, but if it keeps Debbie away from mopey love-life stories then I won’t complain too much.

A Massive Failure

vlcsnap-2017-05-28-17h40m02s250Where to start? I hate this storyline and to be honest I don’t know any Emmerdale fan that doesn’t. Granted, throwing a one-night-stand into the mix a mere three weeks after your most popular couple get hitched was never going to be received with open arms but the progression of this story has only got worse from then on. Putting aside the repetitive and tired clichés of this story, the unrelenting torture of Aaron and the tiring on/off conflict between Aaron and Robert, which is testing even to the most ardent of fan, we come to the biggest problem of all in the writing of Rebecca White. Introduced as the “good” White sister willing to take down her family and seduce Robert in the process, we’ve seen her turn from independent go-getter and vixen to saintly victim throughout this storyline. Not a day goes by when she hasn’t had a dramatic change of heart and this week we had the full spectrum. From wanting Rob to not wanting him, from not wanting the baby to desperately wanting to be a mother, to staying out of Robron’s way to actively telling Aaron to leave Robert. Her motives are all over the place and I don’t think it’s hormones. Her character makes no sense and her flaky lack of coherency and agency screams of a character who is written on the spot, bowing slavishly to the plot and because of this she’s not a character I believe, let alone like. Her weepy protestations of her innocence are thin and insincere and not like any woman I know (thank god). Sorry Emmerdale, there’s no getting round this, this is a massive failure for all characters involved.

 

 

Scene of the Week (22-26 May 2017)

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It’s a testament to the performances of actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley that they can still make a scene special and touching, even in the midst of a storyline almost universally hated like this cheating/baby plot is. Lets call it magic. Falling at the end of Thursday’s dramatic two-parter, this poignant moment was more like a patch of blue sky in between downpours rather than the calm after the storm, but the pair have a chemistry that means it’s just about worth suffering through this predictable plot for. After Robert’s disastrous one-night stand secret came to light, this final scene saw them reunited, trying to move on from their individual issues. It was a welcome change to see Robert as the vulnerable one, clinging onto Aaron who had made the difficult decision to forgive rather than fight his husband. It’s easy to see in scenes like this why they’re such a popular couple, but also why moments of tenderness are a nice reprieve in the never-ending misery fest of their lives in Emmerdale.

6 Perfect Reasons To Vote Emmerdale at the Soap Awards

Last year Emmerdale took home the big one – Best British Soap – at the British Soap Awards, for the first time in its history. The last twelve months in Emmerdale have been brilliant, so here are just a few reasons why Emmerdale is still the best soap and why you should vote for them at the Soap Awards.

Dealing with Tough Issues

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Emmerdale has been praised for its heartfelt stories about issues that have grounding in reality and deal with difficult subjects such as marital rape and dementia – and rightly so. Episodes like Holly’s tragic and shock death from a heroin overdose and Ashley’s passing were emotive and touching, particularly as they connected with an audience who had suffered similar tragedies in their own lives. These stories are soap at their finest and are especially effective when we have spent years watching these characters and their lives play out.

Super Soap Week

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It’s hard to imagine that Emmerdale’s Super Soap Week will ever be bettered. It had it all: a unique storytelling device, beautiful camera work, character focused episodes and then a blockbuster style stunt like nothing we’ve ever seen in soap before. It brought together a range of villagers in stories which covered multiple genres and saw their lives collide – literally. It was visually impressive, ambitious and a real treat for any Emmerdale or soap fan.

Complex Characters

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Emmerdale is blessed with a fantastic range of vibrant characters but it doesn’t make caricatures of them. Characters we think of as the fools can still face heartbreak; the bad guys can have a soft side. Bad deeds are done and bad decisions are made, but mostly the people we see onscreen feel human – like people we know and actions we can believe. Even some of its morally grey characters like Robert or Emma, have complicated emotional cores that are a joy to watch unfold. And even Emmerdale’s out-and-out villains like Pierce are more than just there for cackling and evil deeds – they showcase the dark side of human nature.

Flawless Performances

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There’s a reason why Emmerdale’s so full of great characters and hard-hitting storylines, why the cast is so beloved by all who watch and that’s simply down to how hugely talented the actors are. We’re moved to tears of sadness and laughter, we’re shocked and angered. We could hand out fifty awards and still feel like the cast deserve more. From the stunts to the quiet moments of pain and heartbreak, the Emmerdale actors nail it all. A vote for Emmerdale is a vote for this talented bunch and all the crew behind the scenes who make their performances even more powerful.

A Big Sense of Humour

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It’s not just emotional and hard-hitting issues Emmerdale tackles, but they often give us a great dollop of humour in its storylines. They might not all be rib-tickling but Emmerdale has enough brilliant comedy performers that there’s bound to be at least one villager that raises a laugh. Whether it’s the physical comedy, the one-liners or innuendo, Emmerdale isn’t short on laughs and it’s a warm and familiar comfort returning to these fun characters night after night.

Family Dynamic

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Family dynamics are a huge part of soap and Emmerdale’s use of family in the last year has helped to make its stories unbeatable. Soap families are notorious sprawling and unconventional, but there’s been no shortage of warmth and love between its family units, even those units which are forged through ties of friendship and loyalty rather than blood. We’ve had the BnB squad in Diane, Doug and Eric; we’ve seen the Thomas family facing a hard year, but the extended family brought humour and fun to Ashley’s bleak storyline; we’ve seen Aaron cement his new family with a wedding to Robert and a house for them and Liv; Tracy bonding with her birth father Frank and new-found sister in Vanessa, but her bond with Eric has been touching to see grow; The Dingles were severed last year with Zak’s betrayal but with Lisa taking him back and Debbie’s return, Faith’s arrival they’re as big and brash as ever. The Emmerdale families are so full of loveable relationships and surprising bonds that it makes deciding which family you’d join – if you could – an impossible choice!

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? (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.

Fave or Fail? (3-7 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 a week that proves Emmerdale can do emotional and sensitive drama alongside the tacky and predictable, we saw Ashley pass away and groaned at the beginning of a Who’s the Daddy? plot.

Faves

Time to Say Goodbye

Emmerdale - Ashley Passes Away - YouTube (1)Ashley’s story of dementia has been a long running and sensitively handled plot which has touched many viewers but this week saw the final part of his journey as he died at home surrounded by his family. John Middleton and Ashley have been such a huge part of Emmerdale that it’s hard to imagine him not being there, but this story will be remembered for years to come. It’s a testament to Ashley’s impact on the village that so many characters came to share their memories and say their goodbyes. The performances have been pitched perfectly at every turn, from the awkwardness of knowing what to say, to the denial and realisation. Each of Ashley’s loved ones has coped in their own way and this is another reflection on real life which has made this story all the more powerful. The simplicity, the sense of family and the sensitivity of this story has meant watching the Thomas family, particularly in these last few months, has felt like watching friends go through this pain rather than something fictional. It’s been emotional, moving and relatable and Emmerdale at its finest. Ashley (and John) are a huge loss for the show but it was a worthy story to tell and I’m sure the impact on the family will be a complex story to watch.

Bright Young Things

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-18h35m54s552There isn’t a more talented bunch of young and child actors than those in Emmerdale right now. I’m constantly blown away by how talented they are and how they can handle huge emotional plots and this week proved that more than ever. Since taking over the role of Gabby, Rosie Bentham has consistently shown a gamut of emotions during her dad’s illness. Her anxious and avoidant reaction to Ashley’s final days is so very relatable and her heart to heart at his bedside was incredibly powerful and moving. I’m sure she’ll continue to impress as she struggles in her grief. It was great to see young Jacob take a supportive role too in looking out for her. Obviously I couldn’t praise the young actors without mentioning little Alfie Clarke who plays Arthur and who continues to shatter hearts with his expressive face and fragile reactions to his dad’s demise. What a treasure he is and always making us get teary eyed. And though she wasn’t part of the Thomas collective this week, Amelia Flanagan (April) had superb comic timing as she tried to help dad Marlon with writing his piece in the memory book. We are lucky to have such a brilliant group of kids on screen.

Bittersweet Reunion

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-18h31m27s737Aaron was released from prison this week and while it should have been a happy time for the reunited husbands, Aaron was understandably still shaken from his ordeal and Robert struggled with his guilt. What began as an interesting and satisfyingly heartbreaking plot about a newlywed couple being torn apart and homophobia in prison, turned into torture porn as Aaron’s treatment and Robert’s betrayal are set to knock Aaron’s mental health and their relationship back by years. And as the misery takes more turns for the worst, you might be wondering why this is even in my Faves list. Simply it’s down to one thing alone and that is the forever captivating chemistry between actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. The boys’ reunion outside the prison gates was wordless and still managed to get hearts thumping and recapture that magic. They alone seem to be able to salvage whatever gargantuan obstacle is thrown grenade-like into Robron’s path and make it a love story you want to see last. But even with this special dynamic this latest “twist” is one that’s going to be hard to overcome.

Fails

Lad Bants

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-11h52m45s003This week poor Rhona had a horrible time of it as her sex tape was leaked to the village thanks to Vanessa’s failed attempts to expose Pierce’s true colours. A clueless Pearl gave her phone to Ross in the pub and it wasn’t long before Rhona’s privacy was invaded in a way that left her mortified and violated. We all know that Ross is number one “lad” in the village and if there’s a piggish comment to be made, he isn’t far behind but it was seriously disappointing to see him and Adam pissing themselves over the video when Rhona was visibly upset in front of them. Seriously, I expected better from Adam at least. They were still making light of it the next day and the offhand “banter” which was probably just meant to be “lads being lads” was uncomfortable to watch and highlights a bigger problem that Emmerdale have with Ross as he veers from lovable swoony rogue to unchallenged sexist pig.

Unwanted Pregnancy

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-11h51m13s502It’s the tacky plot we could see coming from hundreds of miles away, the age-old knocked up by a one-night-stand Who’s the Daddy? plot. Giant sighs all round. Miraculously Rebecca must have magical pregnancy powers for conveniently poised new BFF Victoria to sense it so quickly and after one trip to the loo, she had her sussed and sent her away with a pregnancy test. (To make it even nicer, she placed her urine-soaked stick on the breakfast table of the man whose husband she might have been impregnated by). I’m tired of ranting about how cliché, how predictable, how tired, how frustrating this story is – I’ve tweeted about this A LOT lately – but there are countless reasons why this latest “twist” is one of the most disappointing in recent Emmerdale history. Rebecca, though her personality seems to be little more than “wears hats; is a thorn in Robron’s side”, was meant to be a fun free spirit and yet we’re meant to believe a woman like her wouldn’t think about taking precautions? I can’t imagine her gleefully pushing round a pram and if she’s supposed to be “good hearted” unlike the rest of her family, why would she choose to keep an unwanted child that would tear apart the marriage of her supposed friend? And as for what this will do for Emmerdale’s most loved, most tortured couple I can’t think of an outcome which won’t ruin what made them so beloved. An own goal of the worst kind – is this a story anyone wanted to watch?

Fave or Fail? (20-24 March 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! Sorry for the little blog break last week (but hey when your favourite soap destroys your favourite character and couple it kinda takes away the fun!) but I’m back. This week saw Emma lose her grip and Faith communicate (ish) with the dead. 

Faves

Killing It

Emmerdale - Who Heard Emma Confess to Murder - YouTubeI’ve long championed the talents of the brilliant Gillian Kearney, who plays Emma Barton, and with a week like last, I won’t be stopping anytime soon. Although many Emmerdale viewers are champing at the bit, dying for Emma to be caught and punished for her crimes, I just can’t help but want her to stay in the village for as long as possible. Emma is fascinating. Part fragile and unhinged and the other part devious and wicked, Emma balances so many emotions. Gillian plays Emma walking this line so brilliantly that there are times when you feel her every jittered panic and yes, even feel sorry for her. She can be cutting with just a look, fiercely protective over her boys and so very guilty too. But other times, like when she comes up against an enemy like Faith she’s ruthless and dangerous and that’s what makes her so watchable. I’ve really enjoyed this slightly bonkers religious fixation she’s attained too because it just adds to her struggle of trying to deal with her terrible actions. Emma acts with conviction, despite her guilt, believing now that she can be forgiven and needs to be for the sake of her family. But ultimately the way Gillian Kearney plays Emma means she’s someone I want to watch for a long time.

Stepmother Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h21m26s474I really enjoyed Carly’s storyline this week as she struggled with the responsibility of being in a relationship with a single dad. We’ve not seen anywhere near enough material for Carly since she joined Emmerdale but every time Gemma Atkinson is given something emotional or difficult she really sells Carly’s pain. This week little April choked and Carly froze, unable to help and reminded of the way she lost her own son. After initially finding it hard to patch up their little family, Carly was swayed by Marlon’s affection and April’s emotional speech about how she wished Carly was her mummy. It was all pretty touching but most of all I liked Carly’s realistic difficulties with the responsibility it gave her. Getting together with Marlon has always seemed like a sweet but rather unlikely pairing and her dilemma of choosing between a “grown-up” life with him and his family versus a fun adventure abroad is one that feels believable. By the end of the week we’ve seen Marlon realise she’s gone abroad after all and if Carly returns this could spell the end for them. While she seems happy there with them as her family, there are times where it looks as if her heart isn’t really in it anymore. I’m interested to see what happens when she returns.

Story Surge

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h20m57s466I’m sure we saw more of Harriet this week than we saw in the whole of 2016. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration but the local vicar was everywhere this week! First of all she had an awkward reunion with Ashley as she struggled to know what to say to him, similar to how his other friends felt. Then was her antagonistic involvement with Cain and his crimes (I think we can all see where this storyline is heading), her knocking down of Emma and then her comfort of Laurel in the church. It’s been great to see more of Harriet, because really you can’t go wrong with an ex-copper vicar who wears ripped jeans, can you? Harriet is definitely one of those forgotten characters whose long deserved a decent storyline and if the Cain situation transpires into some sort of unholy alliance then that should be interesting for a little while, before his inevitable return to Moira.

Fails

Calling My Bluff

Emmerdale - Faith and Emma Come to a Dark Arrangement - YouTubeOnce again we came tantalisingly close to Emma’s secrets being exposed this week, and it’s not like I really want her caught, but I can’t help but feel Friday’s twist was a bit of a cheat. All week Faith’s ungodly psychic night unnerved Emma, so much so she took solace in the church again. Unfortunately for her it looked as if Faith had heard her confession and was set ready to expose her in front of the whole pub. A fun Emma vs Faith rivalry had been set up all week and we were all under the impression that Faith knew that Emma was responsible for giving James a little shove over the bypass. But with Emma in hospital and panicked, she was ready to admit defeat and accept Faith’s blackmail requests believing that was the only way to keep her boys protected. Except the whole thing was a case of crossed wires as Faith revealed to Moira that she’d overheard Emma badmouthing her and had seen her attempts to bash her over the head – nothing to do with Emma’s James secret. When Emma found out at the end of Friday I couldn’t help but feel the whole thing was a fizzled out let down, a plot that served its purpose for a week only to reset. We haven’t progressed anywhere, nothing has changed with the Emma story, we only know that Faith’s guarding her own secret. I love Emma and I want to keep her on Emmerdale but this just feels like stalling.

Misery Business

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h24m40s837If surveyed, how many Emmerdale viewers would say, “Do you know what I’d really like to see? More misery for Aaron. I just haven’t had my fill.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say zero. A grand total of zero viewers are interested in seeing Aaron’s life mangled into the kind of hellish parody we’re reaching on screen and yet here we are. It doesn’t matter just how prettily Danny Miller cries, we’ve been here so many times. Last year Emmerdale told viewers there was light, justice and love available in the future of child sex abuse survivors. They were given accolades and acclaim for this. The last few weeks though seemed to give this message the middle finger. Having spent a year building a redemption arc for Robert Sugden, developing his relationships, his heart and creating a love story championed by legions of fans, Emmerdale thought they’d erase all that for some much needed upset in Aaron’s life. Long gone is Aaron’s heartbreaking prison ordeal and attention on his mental health struggles, long gone is these hard-hitting prison issues, long gone is his hope on the outside world, long gone is Robert’s fun and bantering relationships with Aaron’s family. Now all the focus is on Emmerdale’s most overused and most hated trope, the one night stand. With Aaron being released so soon and all these contemporary prison issues swept aside, the whole prison storyline seems like a cynical attempt to pile more angst onto an already angst-ridden couple. It’s sure to set Aaron’s mental health and Robert’s much-love character development back years – and can anyone, Robron fan or not, honestly say this is something they want to watch?

Fave or Fail? (6-10 March 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! Dark times for many villagers, but we also saw the return of Lydia and Zak learnt about safe spaces – so not all bad times.

Faves

Dangerous Games

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (1)Vanessa and Pierce were thrown together for Minion cake making this week, the day after Pierce proposed properly with a ring to Rhona, but their bonding didn’t exactly go to plan and the week ended with Ness vowing to show Rhona Pierce’s true colours even if it killed her. Not the sort of thing you should be saying in a soap, Vanessa! But it wasn’t just the tense and bitter battle between Rhona’s best friend and fiancé that was such compelling viewing, but Pierce’s subtle control of Rhona that continues to be intense and unnerving. This week he convinced her to strip and have sex on camera, trying to make her feel boring for not wanting to go along with it initially. It’s that kind of scream-at-your-TV drama where you want to reach in and grab Rhona, show her what Pierce has been doing behind her back, shine a light on his subtle powers of persuasion as he drills away at her doubt and insecurities. It’s only going to get worse, where we’ll feel frustrated and worried all at once, but if it continues with this sort of nail-biting intensity then it’s going to be really and unbearably good.

Private Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m44s161I made my thoughts and concerns about Aaron’s prison hell storyline very clear earlier in the week, but one positive aspect to this storyline has been seeing the individual struggles of Robert and Liv as they try and cope without him. Monday saw a special episode divided between the three of them as we discovered Robert was unable to sleep in their bed and was struggling with the pressure of relying on short phonecalls with his husband to get him through the day. Liv was being picked on and felt isolated too, made even worse when she had to keep the secret of Aaron’s drug taking later in the week. Ryan Hawley and Isobel Steele managed to be quietly heartbreaking in their scenes but it’s also given a chance for the characters to grow closer in Aaron’s absence which has felt organic and heartwarming to watch. While my reservations about the long term implications of this storyline direction still stand, the impactful performances are worthy of praise.

Better Together

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV HubThe Metcalfe family contingent (and I’m including the wider circle of Eric, Leyla and co) were a highlight this week as Jacob’s anxiety issues came to light when he panicked about losing his lucky coin. Not only were these scenes touching, as the family (and even Emma Barton) rallied to help and reassure Jacob, we thankfully had this family to give us some much-needed lighter moments in another heavy and dark week of plots. Sure, seeing David’s bare bum is getting a bit repetitive but it’s always good to have Pearl and Tracy’s saucy book plot slipping into the week’s stories, especially with Tracy’s endearing enthusiasm and preppy outfits. I really hope Jakey’s anxiety issues don’t just disappear either, because it’s an interesting issue to explore in a young character, particularly one in the midst of a difficult family illness.

Some Self Awareness?

Emmerdale - Wednesday 8 Mar 7pm - The ITV HubI couldn’t help but notice that there appeared to be a change of heart this week from a few characters and displays of self-awareness which felt like an admission of storyline missteps. Take Chrissie, for example, who finally backed down over Ronnie (over the Home Farm family fall out #802) and decided to move out of the big house and stand on her own two feet. Whether she actually follows through with the drastic action is another matter but might we finally be seeing more to her than just Daddy’s spoilt little rich girl? I won’t hold my breath, but at least she admitted it. Then there was Finn whose acknowledgement of his crazy ways and escape to Australia feels like a way for the audience to wipe their memories clean of the disastrous “stalker Finn” plot than actually something he would choose to do. And with another appearance of the fantastically bonkers Lydia, maybe the powers that be at Emmerdale are actually aware of what is and isn’t working on screen – and this can only be a good thing.

Fails

Only Scratching the Surface

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (2)Ronnie and Lawrence almost broke up this week, then almost got engaged when Ronnie decided he didn’t like who he had become (the Whites have that effect on people) and Lawrence realised he couldn’t live without his silver fox odd-job man. Don’t get me wrong – I love their backstory of pain and pining and I love that Emmerdale is showing an older gay couple, but the handling of Lawrence’s sexuality since getting together with Ronnie has been such a disappointment. Last year when Ronnie returned to his life Lawrence was forced to confront the things he had been running from and him deciding he wanted to be with Ronnie properly it was a satisfying moment. Since then it’s sort of fizzled out. Despite living together and being in love, we’re still no closer to Lawrence dealing with his intimacy issues or even touching on his years of self-denial and self-hatred. Even though those elements are familiar ground (with Aaron and briefly with Robert) – are we meant to believe Lawrence’s journey of acceptance is over? Narratively it feels unsatisfying and half-finished – does Lawrence still have intimacy issues? Is he comfortable with being seen or labelled as a gay man? I can’t help but feel Lawrence and Ronnie’s story would be richer if their present was given the same depth and care as their past.

Off Balance

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m21s065Phew. Emmerdale has got really heavy and dark lately and it’s not a complaint, rather a concern. I’m all for dark and gritty storylines with an emotional truth at the centre, but right now the balance between this weighty drama and lighter fluff seems slightly off. This week saw: Aaron’s harrowing ordeal and his family’s grief, Pierce’s coercive control of Rhona and menace towards Vanessa, Jai’s drug struggle (as well as Aaron’s) alongside his and Moira’s grief, Jacob’s anxiety all alongside the deeply upsetting and ongoing story of Ashley’s dementia. While all these storylines are worthy issues to be explored and have fantastic performances and scenes – is Emmerdale becoming a bit too heavy and miserable of late? And this is just a glance at one week – we’re not even covering David or Sarah’s cancer to mention two other serious plots. Emmerdale does the lighter storylines – the comedy and the fluffier romance so well, but sometimes sitting down at 7pm does require a stiff drink! Maybe what I’m asking for is more Bob, more Bernice, more Pearl – more of the laughs and the fun. Bring on Gustav and the sexy book and the village choir – we could do with something to smile at.