Fave or Fail? (4-8 Dec 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Faith and Pollard broke up this week and we said a sad goodbye to Emmerdale stalwart, Alfie the dog.

Faves

Bonnie and Clyde

Emmerdale - Pollard Faces the Music - YouTubeI know when it comes to Faith Dingle, I am a bit of a broken record, but I truly think she’s the best thing that’s happened to Emmerdale in 2017. She proved that even more this week when she and Eric went all Bonnie and Clyde on us in an attempt to bring down Morris from the council. I love the pairing of Eric and Faith, they go from funny to heartwarming to that special kind of delicious soap angst that I love. Eric’s face of terror when Faith was speeding was genius but it was only a matter of time before she uncovered his lies about the access road. The two of them broke up after Faith found out what Eric had done but their confrontational was beautifully painful, as both Sally Dexter and Christopher Chittell really sold Faith and Eric’s love for each other and her heartbreak at his betrayal. The two clash on their outlooks in life and the dodgy ways they deal with obstacles to what they want, but even still they are pretty well matched. Even if their future is a rocky one, you know they’re a couple that should be together. Fingers crossed!

Goodbye Alfie

vlcsnap-2017-12-10-14h54m12s818The Dingles and us, the humble viewers, had to say goodbye to scruffy-furred Emmerdale legend, Alfie the dog, this week in some really moving scenes. Alfie is as much a part of Wishing Well as the crocheted blankets so to see him look so sad and ill was a horrible thing and the decision fell to Zak to put their poor old dog down. Even someone like me who isn’t a dog lover (I know, I know) couldn’t fail to be moved as the Dingles said goodbye to their dear old mutt. Rest in peace, Alfie. You’ll be sorely missed.

Both Sides of the Story

vlcsnap-2017-12-10-14h58m10s779With actress Roxy Shahidi soon to leave for maternity, we knew it wouldn’t be long before Emmerdale needed to engineer an exit story for her. As Alicia lives in Portugal now you’d think Leyla could just jet there but it seems something a little more convoluted is in the pipeline. Don’t get me wrong, I love Leyla and I’m even slightly curious about how a David and Leyla romance attempt would work these days – but I’m just not sure it’s worth sacrificing their friendship. But despite this and Tracy’s OTT reaction, this story becomes a fave simply for the impressive scenes between Roxy and Amy Walsh. Amy always manages to give Tracy a lot of heart and soul in her stories and both actresses carried a lot of emotion in their scenes which actually made you empathise with both parties. With all these brilliant moments between the powerful females in the Dales, it does make you long for them to stop falling out over the lacklustre men though!

Fails

The Show Mustn’t Go On

Emmerdale - Thursday 7 Dec 8pm - The ITV Hub (1)At this festive time of year I do love to see all the traditions on screen and the Emmerdale nativity story began with gusto. Rhona went all Nativity-zilla on us, getting squeaky and irate as her plans struggled, roping in a reluctant Vanessa and getting Marlon dressed as a donkey. It wasn’t without its amusing moments and the kids of Emmerdale are always worth watching. Disappointingly though, so few villagers bothered to turn up meaning the community spirit was more than a bit lacking. Add to that some crippingly cringey comedy from Paddy and Chas (not to mention even more of their gross romance) and the whole thing was a bit of a flop. Bah humbug!

Pete’s Pity Party

vlcsnap-2017-12-10-14h56m26s322Ordinarily you’d feel sorry for someone like Pete Barton. Father and brother murdered by his mother, mother then murdered, son he thought was his wasn’t, thought he had a second chance with his girlfriend but turns out she was in love with someone else, knocked unconscious after a fall down some stairs. All in all, not a great time to be Pete Barton. The problem is, I still wish he was the one shot to death by Emma. On paper Pete should be sympathetic, but with all his aggression and shouty spitefulness it’s hard to feel sorry for him. He speaks to others, even those trying to help like Harriet, like he’s going to punch them in the face. And it was poor David this week that did actually get punched. But when Pete’s not raging around like some uncaged alpha male, he’s being colossally dull. What a shame that we lost two interesting Barton family members and got stuck with Pete!

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Fave or Fail? (20-24 Nov 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Tom’s true colours were revealed this week and Cain got to grips with a nappy!

Faves

More Money, More Problems

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-20h53m37s131In a week where the big serious plots were a little dry and unengaging, Bernice, Nicola and Jimmy took the limelight for me in their ill-gotten gains story. Last week Jimmy almost made my highlights simply for his glorious pimp coat and his love for it, but luckily it got another outing this week. I love the Kings and their oddball humour, Nicola’s ruthless streak and lust for the highlife and when you combine that with Bernice’s kooky panic and guilt you can’t beat it. It’s not an especially exciting plot and maybe not the funniest but with these characters it made a fun and silly distraction.

Tip Top

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-20h37m20s236Now don’t send me hate, but I’m not a dog lover, so a dog based plot isn’t one that would normally make my Faves list. And I was even less keen when cute little Tip was used as a way to reunite the snoozefest of Frank and Megan, and then Megan spent about three episodes sneezing. Not exactly award winning Emmerdale and surely a waste of Gaynor Faye’s talents. But then Jai got involved and grew attached and rather possessive of Tip, even letting her in the factory much to Rishi’s horror. Ever since Jai’s been softened I’ve really enjoyed him on screen and Chris Bisson’s great facial expressions made this comedy dog plot more fun to watch.

Dingle Mingle

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-21h02m44s678Even with so many Dingles in the village, we’re used to seeing the same partnerships of characters so it’s always a bit of a treat when we get to watch a different dynamic. This week Aaron reached out to Belle with her heartbreak over twisted Lachlan after he’d warned her over his dark behaviour. With Aaron’s history of neverending sadness he’s got a bit of a wise old soul so it was nice to see him comfort her and offer advice as Belle’s immaturity can often mean she makes questionable decisions. But then which Dingle hasn’t? There was an enjoyable rapport between the pair and it made me wish for more unusual Dingle partnerships. How about more Marlon and Cain? Or Charity and Zak?

Fail

Attic Adventures

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-20h55m20s780This week saw Lachlan step up his creep levels to critical as he let his family believe he’d committed suicide and climbed in the attic to spy on them. Yep, totally normally behaviour. Thomas Atkinson has been great at embracing Lachlan’s darkside and while there’s an enjoyable ridiculousness about it all, the nonsensical logistics of his attic hideaway distract from what should be an unnerving and twisted development. Despite the Whites living in a huge old mansion, Lucky appeared to be spying on them from the floor above, able to drill through a bit of MDF flooring and hear every word. Even if we can suspend disbelief and ignore that Home Farm has been morphed into a single storey bungalow, Lachlan was able to skulk around and have a full volume argument with Gerry with no one hearing a thing. Not even Hotten’s finest police force could find his secret attic, despite there being a window! Not to mention Lucky’s air vent meant he was in prime location to spy on the kitchen but as luck would have it he missed the entire Rebecca and Robert row which helpfully would have revealed all of Rob’s misdemeanours. Lachlan’s twisted plot could have been outlandish and fun but it’s hard to see past the stupidity and see the darkness intended.

 

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Oct 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! We said goodbye to Finn this week and discovered that Emma’s death might have been murder.

Faves

Farewall Finn

vlcsnap-2017-10-15-12h56m01s905For a lad that spent most of the time in the village being unappreciated, Finn had a huge send off this week as Emmerdale gathered to mourn. It wasn’t just your usual church service and pub wake, but individual characters got to come and say their goodbyes to his coffin and there was a superhero themed get together in the Woolie too which was a really nice touch. All of the coffin-side mourners gave emotional and touching performances, especially Amy Walsh (Tracy) and Chris Chittell (Eric), making his death feel all the more impactful on the wider community outside his family members. Last week it felt like his death was overshadowed and bogged down under too many events happening at once, so I’m glad that this week gave enough time and space to letting the villagers grieve for him. RIP Finn, you’ll be missed.

Murder Mystery

Emmerdale - Ross and Pete's Suffering Is Far From Over - YouTubeEmmerdale went a little CSI this week as DS Benton began investigating Emma’s death as a murder rather than a suicide and kicking off an infamous soap Whodunnit. Whodunnits aren’t always my favourite plot as it often involves lots of characters doing unexplained shady things and looking suspicious all to ramp up the suspense, but so far it’s been pretty fun and it even included a suspect montage set to Kylie Minogue! I liked the twist of having the police conducting their enquires before the rest of the village knew, looking on at the Bartons as outsiders and making it seem like its own forensic spin off. There are lots of likely culprits but I hope Emmerdale doesn’t keep us hanging on for too long before we find out the truth of Emma’s death!

Baby Beginnings

Emmerdale - Moira Reads Out the Paternity Test Results - YouTubeIt seems early days for Moira’s baby storyline but the warning signs are there that she’s not bonding with him and his arrival has caused friction in the Charriet camp. The awkward tension of the paternity reveal was really worth watching this week as Pete got the news that he wasn’t the little one’s father and Cain had to deal with the consequences. Poor Harriet faced up to the inevitability that she’d always be second best while Cain and Moira remained their usual stubborn selves, insisting nothing will change. We’ve seen Cain’s reluctant father routine several times now so hopefully something new will emerge from this storyline in future and as for his future with Moira, the chemistry is there in spades, but it’s going to take a while for them both to soften up for the idea. Let’s hope for Harriet’s sake that Cain doesn’t drag out the inevitable and kid her – and himself – in the process.

Bonus favourites:

  • Gerry’s continued integration into the village – he was sweet and supportive of Liv, helping Doug with his gardening (wingman goals), the comedy torture scenes with Zak and Sam
  • Vanessa finally getting a storyline
  • Sam and Lydia getting engaged!
  • Belle being there as a mentor of sorts for Liv

Fails

Silly Filler

Emmerdale - Tuesday 10 Oct 7pm - The ITV HubWith the big Barton plots dominating the screen this week, it was disappointing that many of the other plots felt a bit pointless. While there were good aspects (Sam and Lydia getting engaged, Gerry being a rather entertaining addition to a scattering of stories), the teen plot and the factory story seemed to go nowhere. Both Lydia and Rishi add comic value to Emmerdale and regularly make me laugh, but this week’s story of the elusive Una was short on giggles. With Lydia unable to let go of her old home and memories of Steve, her fake alias of Una was exposed by the Sharmas. It wasn’t the worst plot ever – it just wasn’t funny enough. If they needed a mix up to get Sam to propose surely there was a better way. As for the teens – we’ve seen so many of their alcohol inspired antics now – surely it has to be leading to an actual story soon?

Shouty Man

Emmerdale - Pete Can't Accept the Truth About Finn's Killer - YouTubePete Barton is the human equivalent of nails down a blackboard. One shout from him and that’s my teeth set on edge for the day. And boy did he do a lot of shouting this week. I get it, okay? He’s grieving, he’s angry at the world and he was told he was a dad – and then he wasn’t. Pete’s got a lot of things to be upset and angry about, but there’s still something so unsympathetic about him. If you’re able to put aside his sleazy behaviour with Priya and forgive him that (miraculously Leyla managed to, while still spouting off at Priya), you’d recognise that he’s suffering a big loss right now. The world is against him. But still, his sadness turns from zero to “I’m gonna thump you” in thirty seconds and all the aggression and gurning doesn’t exactly lead to much sympathy, sorry mate. In fact, Dale View is a bit too heavy on the male posturing and aggro right now which isn’t helping. Also there is the knowledge that Pete’s moods vary between just two – aggressive and dull – and if we were picking Bartons to lose, I’d have picked him over Finn any day.

Fave or Fail? (24-28 July 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a big week for Rhona as she finally saw justice against Pierce.

Faves

Courtroom Dramas

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

Chilling Until the End

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

A Broken Man

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

Still Got It

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

Fails

Tracy’s Trust Issues

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

Getting Lucky

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

Fave or Fail? (12-16 June 2017)

faveorfail

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? (29 May-2 June 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Emmerdale are the reigning champions of the British Soap Awards (but this was a really boring week – sorry).

Faves

Solid Support

w60lHooray for some of the women of Emmerdale this week who managed to lend a friendly ear to a few of the clueless males in the village. Where would they be without you? There was Laurel who did manage to tie herself up in everyone’s favourite story twist – yep, double cheating two for the price of one – but it wasn’t all bad because she actually managed to talk sense into Marlon and help him avoid a complete meltdown. For a bit at least. There was Priya who wisely suggested Jai give Nell some space and also Moira who very sweetly encouraged Jai in his new romance, telling him she was glad he was moving on. Friendly advice and community support – now if only they took notice!

The Long Goodbye

w60cmI’ve already written about Carly’s weird exit but its heavy focus in the week’s stories seemed a strange choice when we knew she was going. Saying that, Carly and Matt had a sparky and fun chemistry that made their backstory and her eventual reasons for leaving a little bit more believable. Most of Carly’s depth and storylines have arisen from exposition heavy scenes and a weighty backstory – the Matt stuff has been no exception. Luckily the actors had a good rapport and if circumstances had been different Matt would have been a good addition to the show. The inevitable implosion of Marlon and Carly’s ill-fated romance did feel a bit clumsy and rushed, but it was sold well in all its uncomfortable glory.

Sweet Factory Silliness

w60njJimmy and Nicola deserve far more than the tropey nagging wife/useless husband routine and while I’m glad they have a very healthy sex life, it’s a shame that they’ve been reduced to continual stories about their kinky adventures when they’re capable of much more. However I always enjoy Nicola’s scenes and Jimmy looked amusingly dopey in his factory hat. The swan disaster comedy plot was pretty silly and pointless but Bernice arriving to save the day and painstakingly decorating hers did raise a smile at least (more from the Blackstock sisters please) and in a week as dull as this one, it was needed!

Fails

Ropey Romance

w60jnThere’s a real lack of compelling, emotionally engaging and dramatic plots in Emmerdale at the moment and what we’re left with is these lowkey and dull stories at the front of the show. Away from the silly humour and Carly’s exit this week was the (not so) great Jai and Nell love affair. I was a quiet champion of the Holly and Jai relationship last year but this Nell business just isn’t working for me and he almost comes across as her dad rather than her lover. Nell is sulky, immature and unconvincing leaving a big question in the interpretation of their scenes – does Jai just feel sorry for her? Guilty even? The love declaration just came across as insincere and desperate which I don’t think was what they were going for! It’s all mildly creepy and leaves Nell looking a tad unstable. She’s not the only Emmerdale lady with weepy and unconvincing motives but this plot is definitely not interesting enough to be front and centre of Emmerdale.

Not Star-Crossed

Emmerdale - Lachlan Chooses Sookie Over Belle - YouTubeIt seems like Emmerdale has toying with the idea of Belle and Lachlan forever but this week things seem to be progressing towards romance in an uncomfortable way. After her romance with Dr Bailey it’s safe to say Belle’s taste in guys isn’t great but there’s a bigger issue in this Lachlan story and the way Emmerdale are telling it as if they’re star crossed, teenage misfit lovers. No. Just no. Lachlan isn’t just a spoilt and messed up kid, he’s a remorseless sex offender and despite her questionable taste, Belle’s meant to be the smart one in her family. If stomaching Belle’s pining and jealousy of Lachlan seemingly moving on without her isn’t bad enough, then there’s the snobby behaviour of his mother Chrissie who is trying to keep the pair apart. No Dingle is good enough for her precious sex offender son amiright? It kinda feels like we should be wanting this teen love to triumph but how can we root for Belle and a sexual offender? Since the refusal of Emmerdale to ever decide on Lachlan’s psyche and zero intentions to have him show remorse for his crimes, we’re continually in a limbo of discomfort where a character like him cannot remain in the programme with stories like this.

Fave or Fail? (15-19 May 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Off screen Emmerdale bagged a BAFTA, sadly on screen this week was a lot less exciting!

Faves

Mates Before Dates

w58pmPaddy and Marlon’s friendship is the anecdote to any average week on Emmerdale so they were easily the highlight for me this week. Having been best mates for so long there’s a natural joy in their scenes which arises from the long-term working partnership between Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnock and that kind of fun is infectious. This week, as Marlon’s romance with Carly hit troubled waters, Paddy was there to coo, gasp and practise his proposal to her on (much to the mocking of Charity). The pair also had to cover up Marlon’s failed attempts to propose by inventing a story about their friendship anniversary – n’aww. And even though Paddy might be the worst at giving Marlon confidence in his status as Carly’s beloved, the pair of them and their friendship will outlive any romance and for that I’m truly grateful. Who needs a girlfriend when you have a best friend like these two?

Handsome Stranger

Emmerdale - Matt Has Just One Thing to Say to Carly - YouTubeRight at the end of last week, a tall, dark, handsome and bearded stranger arrived in the shape of Carly’s ex-Matt, and poor Billy’s father. It seems pretty much guaranteed that Matt won’t be around for long and that he and Carly are going to break Marlon’s little heart but in the meantime it’s been nice to have a charismatic new arrival in the village. Now you might say I’m swayed by his nice accent and good looks and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but if things were different I’d say Matt would make a good new addition to the Dales. He’s already proved he can carry a believable and exposition-heavy scene and make his emotions towards Carly and the loss of Billy complex and emotive, but up against Charity’s creepy OTT flirting, he’s proved his comedy worth too. So, while we might not have him for long and it’s a shame his role seems to be a facilitator for Carly’s exit, Matt seems like a pretty interesting character.

Different Direction

w58dSince my Emmerdale viewing habits became religious, Debbie seemed to be stuck in a cycle of two plots which never really endeared me to her as a character. I never bought into her Barton love triangle, nor her supposed love for Ross and the gangster/heist stories she got mixed up in left me cold too. For me, Debbie works best around her family, being a mother, running the garage rather than being at the centre of a money or love-triangle drama. Living with her kids, Faith and Moira has breathed life into her and this week I really enjoyed seeing her at the heart of the garage, back in her overalls and concerned with making a living rather than this just being an excuse to stir up old feelings with Ross. I enjoyed seeing her go up against Chrissie and her cutting one-liners to both White sisters were pretty satisfying too. I’m sure before long she’ll be back with Ross, trying to muster up some sexual tension, but for now Debbie seems assured and independent and I like that a lot.

Fails

Filling the Gap

Emmerdale - Jai Walks In On Nell Crying After Harming Herself - YouTubeRhona went to rehab on Monday this week meaning that most of my interest in village drama went with her. That’s not to say there are no characters I like in Emmerdale right now, but in terms of stories there just aren’t any plots holding my interest. I’m warmed massively to Jai, but his plot with the insipid Nell is odd and unengaging. Should we trust her, but more importantly why should we care? We’ve only known the girl five minutes and her budding and uneasy relationship with Jai has nothing on the short-but-sweet connection Holly and Jai had. Dan vs the bullies was the other main story of the week and even with a ‘whodunnit’ element, the teen gang were still as unthreatening as ever. Neither Dan or Jai are exactly leading man material with these uninspiring plots. Even with Amy Walsh’s great performance at the end of the week, the teen thug story is one that feels cold, lacking a ‘must-see’ factor. Other stories this week involved Zak Dingle being even more useless than ever and serving meat to vegans and the beginning of the end for Marlon and Carly. In isolation these plots might have made good B or C plots, bubbling in the background but front and centre they’re not the best – Emmerdale, we know you can do better.

Storyline Amnesia

w58wEmmerdale has never been afraid to have a wealthy, snobby family living in Home Farm, lording it over the other villagers and being generally antagonistic to everyone they meet. It’s a dynamic viewers are used to, but one the White family has always struggled with, leaving their role in the village a mess. I’ve never hid the fact I like the family best when they’re embracing their dark side with full self-awareness and that the weakness comes when Emmerdale tries to paint them as insincere victims rather than privileged villains. Stepping away from their tedious in-fighting this week, there was a puzzling turn of events as Victoria worked and grovelled at Chrissie’s feet as she catered for a vegan event. What’s the problem there you say? Well, the last time Vic interacted with Chrissie she called her a poisonous cow and didn’t hold back in light of Chrissie setting up Andy, meaning he was on the run and absent from his ill daughter’s life. Now Vic is working for her, BFFs with Rebecca and bending over backwards to please them with no explanation. It’s as if the whole (boring) Whites vs Sugdens plot never happened! Andy who? Then there’s the continuing problem with Lachlan, a character still defined by the fact his history of sexual assault was wiped from the history books rather than him having any sort of redemption. Sorry, but whether they were friends or not, whether he rescued Alfie the dog, I still find it hard to believe that Belle would ever talk to him let alone kiss him. In this middle ground, where their rivalries and devious pasts are forgiven and forgotten with no explanation, the Whites just don’t work as well as they should. Make them hated, make them powerful but stop with this wishy-washy middle ground.

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2016

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Emmerdale had an INCREDIBLE 2016 winning awards left right and centre, but it can’t be flawless all the time. Later I’ll be continuing my countdown of the Top 20 Best Moments of the year, but here’s a brief look at the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016.

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6. David’s never ending proposals

David and Tracy’s relationship had a really tender beginning and I was fully on board, but when David rushed into proposing and Tracy eventually said no, he wasn’t going to let that be her answer. What followed was months of David trying to wear her down and bulldoze over her feelings by proposing in increasingly outlandish ways. Perhaps the intention was to be seen as funny and sweet but instead David just seemed like a bit of a creep, without respecting that Tracy thought it was too soon. By the time they finally got married, I was sort of beyond the point of caring and David hadn’t just worn me down, he’d made me reach the point of irritation.

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5. Jermaine and Belle’s affair

Ugh. That’s Jermaine and Belle’s affair summarised in one word. It wasn’t just due to the icky age gap and his professional status as a doctor, but the way this plot went on and on. Their sudden uncontrollable passion for each other never felt very believable and when the affair came out, Dr Bailey was quick to let Belle take the fall and say it was all in her head. Bastard! Unfortunately that wasn’t the end, as Belle tried to hang onto him by claiming to be pregnant and what followed was a harrowing breakdown plot for Belle as she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While Eden Taylor Draper’s performances were great, Belle’s visions of “Ellie” were just way too similar to last year’s story when Belle heard Gemma’s voice. Again we faced the oblivious Dingles and repetitive moments of Belle reacting to the voices and hiding this from everyone, which overshadowed the sensitive issues of the plot. Jermaine did stand by her and became more fun working behind the bar, but thankfully they’ve broken up now and we might get something different from Belle in the future.

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4. Kerry’s spiralling out of control

There’s been a noticeable shift in Kerry Wyatt this year and her goofy and loud comedy has been overtaken by a selfish nastiness, which has got worse in recent months since her relationship with Dan ended. Ever since Kerry sided with Joanie against the lovely Lisa, we’ve seen a colder and less loveable character meaning that when she is funnier, it doesn’t always have the right tone. Kerry can be sympathetic and she has had a rough time of it but her attitudes and behaviour in the workplace and towards others haven’t been a pleasure to watch. Instead of wanting to rescue Kerry from her bad decisions, there’s a greater feeling of wanting her to snap out of it and just stop this immature behaviour!

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3. The Whites vs everyone and each other

I have a very difficult relationship with the White family. I enjoyed Chrissie in camp bitch mode, I enjoyed Lawrence’s tragic backstory and I think Thomas Atkinson is a good performer, but as a family unit they’re still such a muddle with their motivations being unreadable or all over the place. Their position as antagonists in the village works to an extent but seems to go round in circles when it’s clear they will never be defeated. Watching the Whites vs the Sugdens is still as tedious as it was from the beginning when it looks obvious Andy won’t return and Lachlan won’t go down for Lawrence’s shooting. Lachlan as a character doesn’t work, since the lack of remorse and no real resolution to the sexual assault storyline makes his existence in the show uncomfortable and irredeemable; the Whites’ lack of any real connections in the village two years on from their arrival mean their interactions are limited and repetitive and often we’re left in an endless cycle of the same disputes, including the ones with each other.

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2. Rakesh’s money woes

Sorry Rakesh fans, but he has got to be the biggest soap bore of 2016. Okay, he might have had an eventful summer committing arson and insurance fraud in a bid to dig himself out of debt but that hasn’t made him any more interesting. Money plots rarely work on screen and watching Rakesh sweat as he lost it all just wasn’t dramatic or even emotional. Emmerdale even tried to go down the tragic backstory route but there’s just no intrigue or empathy to be found in Rakesh. He lacks any sort of charisma, he’s a dead weight around Priya’s neck and he’s dominated the show far too much this year. Now with Kirin gone there feels like even less of a purpose to him and I wouldn’t miss him if he had to leave the village forever.

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1. Cheating plots

If I could change two things from Emmerdale 2016, one would be less misogynistic writing (be it the way some female characters are written, how some female characters interact with each other or how men treat them without consequence) and two would be to cut down on the cheap cheating plots. Sure, cheating has been a soap trope since forever but this year has seen an unnecessary amount of “shock” kiss scenes used as a fast device for conflict and drama. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick (and probably incomplete) list: Moira/Pete, Nicola/Dan, Chrissie/Rakesh, Moira/James, Kerry/Ross, Rebecca/Robert, Bernice/Jimmy, Lisa/Zak, Laurel attempting to kiss Marlon, Holly attempting to kiss Cain, Ross attempting to kiss Victoria… Not only is it repetitive and lazy it’s a miserable viewing experience when you can’t rely on any stability between your favourite soap couples. We expect drama and conflict in relationships but with so many of the Emmerdale couples in tatters, don’t keep ruining every other couple with these endless cheating plot devices!

Fave or Fail? (5-9 Dec 2016)

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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! The heart-wrenching portrayal of Ashley’s dementia is balanced by big laughs in a good week of Emmerdale!

Faves

Hard Hitting

emmerdale-ashley-smacks-laurels-lip-open-youtubeIt’s impossible not to be floored by John Middleton’s impressive performances as Ashley sinks into further decline. He delivers the complexities and heartbreak of dementia so well, it’s completely crushing to watch Ashley’s drifting from childlike fixations about attending daycare, to confusions, to flashes of the man we know and love so well. The slow build-up of this story and the pressure of Ashley’s deterioration on his family is already giving us painful snapshots of how bad it’s going to get as we inch closer to his death. You can’t help but wonder what impact this will have on Laurel and her alcoholism, on Sandy, and the devastation this will have on Ashley’s children. From the chaos and confusion of the hospital scenes to Ashley having a near miss in the road, causing Diane to do an emergency stop, this is a difficult watch but an important one too. Fingers crossed that come awards season John, Charlotte Bellamy and the Emmerdale team will be honoured for this emotional and powerful story portraying an illness which affects the lives of so many.

Christmas Lights

vlcsnap-2016-12-10-22h17m09s589Emmerdale made me feel extra Christmassy this week as the village light switch on happened. It was quite a low-key affair and I wish there’d been more made of it and more villagers involved because I liked what community feel it did have. The scenes where Eric and Tracy wished each other a Happy Christmas and mused that the magic of Christmas and the light spectacle was exactly what Val would have wanted was a really heart-warming touch, especially when you consider what a bad place Eric was in last year after Val’s death. Still, even with its bright Christmas deccys, the village really does miss her outlandish sparkle!

Kissing Kasim

emmerdale-finn-and-kasim-kiss-youtubeFrom coma patient to dream boyfriend, it would be easy to fall for Kasim Sabet and Finn’s certainly found that out this week. You go get him, Finn! There was the slight issue of Finn lying to Kasim and hanging around his hospital bed when he was unconscious but that didn’t seem to put him off too much and Kasim was happily back to his flirting best. I mean, it was slightly weird, but hey Kasim seems to like Finn despite his quirks. It’s about bloody time Finn had someone to put a smile on his face, but knowing Finn’s luck I can’t help but feel there’s something just too perfect about Kasim and their relationship and that it won’t be long before something comes between them, but for now they have chemistry and make a cute couple.

Big Laughs

vlcsnap-2016-12-11-09h22m54s751When Emmerdale does comedy, it either falls cartoonishly flat (see: Nicola sticking a clown wig on Jimmy’s head) or they pitch it perfectly. Luckily, we had a lot of the latter this week. From Brenda wrestling with a blow-up Santa and having it fall on top of her, to Cain’s lack of goodbye handshake, Charity and Chas’s double act, to Finn’s general awkwardness, Emma quoting Madonna instead of the Bible – there was a lot to balance the darker sides of the soap. One of the many comedy highlights this week was Chas and Paddy’s mishaps – first the cringey present switch and hilarious dialogue preceding the mistaken present reveal – then their playful scenes in the vets’ surgery after Rhona had set them up. I can’t say I want Chas and Paddy reunited in love, but in laughs they’re a great pair.

Fail

Under Pressure

emmerdale-jermaine-storms-out-after-belle-backs-out-on-america-youtubeIt was difficult decision time for Belle Dingle this week as she faced an uncertain future. With disgraced Doc Jermaine ready to pack up for a State-side job, Belle was excited about a new life in America, however that also meant giving up her recent college opportunities and the security of the home and family she’d always known. It’s a difficult one. Belle’s only seventeen and has struggled severely with her mental health, particularly in the last few months, but independence and a change of scenery might have given her some great opportunities. However, she’s fragile and would be a long way from home with a man much older than her. Belle was torn between the two sides – The Dingles vs Jermaine. I grew to like Jermaine and he was fun working behind the bar but the Jermaine and Belle relationship had a seedy and uncomfortable beginning which it could never really recover from and you couldn’t see it lasting. And the Dingles did have a point in wanting her to stay and have a bit of security, but the underhand tactics and reverse psychology did seem selfish and made the whole thing feel uncomfortable. Ultimately Belle’s decision wasn’t really her own and it didn’t feel like either side had her interests at heart. Let’s face it, her family should have known better than to treat her life like a big game. The Dingles’ big and bold nature often means they come across as smothering, but let’s get real – when you’re in a soap, unless your contract’s up you won’t be straying too far from the village and your family anyway!