Fave or Fail? (10-14 Feb 2020)

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! Vanessa and Pierce came face to face with horrifying consequences and Pete’s final episode aired as Anthony Quinlan left the show.

Faves

Vanessa’s Nightmare

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-19h58m21s418Pierce is unravelling and fast, as his delusional plan to reunite with Rhona was interrupted by coming face to face with Vanessa. Surely you realised it would happen sooner or later Pierce?! Desperate Pierce went to an extreme length to keep Vanessa out of the way and tied her up and gagged her, even going as far as keeping poor Johnny upstairs and away from his mum. As Vanessa feared for her life, the scenes between the two were tense and gripping, and their on screen history makes it all the more chilling. While Pierce’s panto villain plotting at Home Farm was fun we saw the brutal lengths he is really capable with Vanessa and it gave Jonathan Wrather a great opportunity to show Pierce unhinged and deranged. A brilliant and exciting watch as well as being uncomfortably grim viewing for poor Vanessa. Looking forward to seeing the thrilling climax of this story play out!

Perfect Performance

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h20m23s846If I was picking a stand out character of the week then it would have to be Vanessa, who had a truly awful week but was so watchable thanks to flawless performances from Michelle Hardwick. I’ve long bemoaned the fact Vanessa is one of the show’s most underrated characters who often gets overlooked when it comes to stories of her own – but could this be about to change? This week tensions were still high between her and Charity after her lies about Graham’s money. But as Vanessa struggled with the weight of this secret, she was tearful and strained in some quiet and subtle scenes. Eagle eyed viewers might have noticed Vanessa even take a mystery trip to the hospital suggesting her mind might be on more than just Charity’s wrong moves. As Vanessa’s week went from bad to worse Pierce appeared and Vanessa was plunged into a horrifying hostage situation. Fear is something difficult to put across on screen especially in such a heightened soapy situation but Michelle played it brilliantly and the adrenaline filled fight with Pierce was one of the show’s most desperate and real looking confrontations in a while. Can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Forbidden Feelings

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h16m53s990Belle and Jamie got closer this week and shared their first onscreen kiss as Jamie moped about the situation with Andrea and Belle offered him support. These two continue to have a nice chemistry and a believable attraction (far more than their respective relationships). This week though there was another obstacle thrown at them when Kim saw their kiss and warned Belle off. Belle stood her ground in a great scene with Kim but continued to be conflicted about what to do about Jamie. These two have great potential if they keep it slow burn and obstacles are a good thing, otherwise if the only thing keeping them apart is upsetting Ellis – it’s a bit of a weak reason. The higher the stakes the more we’ll root for them.

The Rebound Guy

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h14m19s791Liam and Leyla decided to make a go of things this week, after growing even closer as they planned David and Theo’s gathering. Despite their flirtations, one person who wasn’t a fan was Liam’s daughter Leanna who warned him not to be the rebound guy lurching from woman to woman. She has a point! This was an amusing scene as Leanna gave Liam a dressing down about his disastrous relationships and suggested he be alone for a while. Liam is a naturally funny character who has fun interactions with almost everyone and although I’m not as fond of his dynamic with Leyla as I was with Bernice, they’re a fun couple. Now they’ve decided to make a secret go of things I’m hoping they find their own unique direction rather than the same heightened comedy set ups that Liam shared with Bernice otherwise they might just feel like a poor imitation than loveable in their own way.

Coming Back Fighting

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h18m28s026Moira was back in the village this week and she returned with a strong attitude, determined to make a fresh start. The first scene we saw her was the powerful woman we know and love, gun toting and giving the rustlers what for. Although Matty wasn’t keen to brush things under the carpet, Moira wanted to reunite with the kids and keep things civil with Cain. It’s hard to know where the future lies for Moira and her relationship with Cain. The week ended with her signing the divorce papers but when the two of them hint towards their lingering feelings it’s hard not to feel the pull of Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry. On the other hand, Moira’s fallen into a bit of a rut after the Nate debacle so a new direction would be welcome. Maybe it’s time we had a new farming family and Moira found a new role in the village?

Fail

Wendy Woes

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h15m16s374For a show like Emmerdale, which has a fantastic track record of well told, sensitively handled stories that cover important topics, it beggars belief how far they are going out of their way to try and get the audience to sympathise with Wendy. Wendy isn’t a rapist, but her treatment of Victoria just months after her horrific attack was harassment. She intimidated, gaslighted and stalked Victoria to the point she felt she had to move away. Even when Lee died, Wendy forced Victoria to relive her trauma again and again by moving in a few doors down. This behaviour is inexcusable and unforgivable and yet rather than tell an empowering story of Vic finding her life again, almost all of her recent screentime has been putting words in her mouth that excuse Wendy’s behaviour. Rape survivors shouldn’t have to forgive their rapist or their cruel family. It doesn’t make them a bad person. And yet Emmerdale continue to paint a harmful image of the “good victim” who is forgiving and empathetic. The narrative is: Vic has forgiven Wendy because she’s a “good person”. What about survivors who can’t and won’t? Wendy says she saw Vic was a “good” person so could see she wasn’t lying – but this choice of dialogue is harmful for survivors who carry a stigma and an image of being promiscuous or aren’t your typical “good person”. Telling a story about a mother who learns the awful truth about her son’s behaviour could have been a great story and I have to believe Emmerdale had those good intentions but the reality has been a horrible watch. If Wendy and the Posners were brought in as a new family and we got to know them and it was only later we learnt Lee was a rapist, we’d be on the same journey with Wendy and empathise ourselves. As it stands it seems like Emmerdale have bent over backwards to absolve Wendy and deny Vic an empowering journey in order to force this story. It’s stomach churning to watch Wendy portrayed as a victim, sobbing over her son and his innocent childhood when we saw the horrifying rape Victoria faced and the way the Posners bullied her afterwards. Whether it’s realistic for the mother of a rapist or not, the narrative has been ill conceived at every turn, stealing Vic’s agency and forcing a concept that the Posner family deserve a second chance because they are Harry’s biological family. Why? It doesn’t work. It’s disheartening to see this unwatchable, harmful writing continually tarnishing the show’s excellent reputation for crucial stories.

Fave or Fail? (27-31 Jan 2020)

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! A brilliant week of episodes following the aftermath of Graham’s murder, as Marlon was imprisoned and Pierce manipulated from afar.

Faves

Marlon Behind Bars

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h40m22s706Three cheers for the brilliant Mark Charnock this week whose emotive performances have impressed all week as Marlon’s world was turned upside down. With Pierce pulling the strings, Marlon’s chances of being found innocent seemed bleaker and bleaker and his expressions were haunted as he realised his fate. As the court decided he wouldn’t be granted bail, all Marlon’s hope had evaporated and this was particularly a struggle knowing how difficult April was finding life without him on the outside. Marlon was a broken man in his visits and his time spent with his useless solicitors as all evidence pointed against him. This is a great story to showcase Mark’s acting and it’s particularly effective as there’s nothing quite like a wrongly imprisoned character to galvanise viewers. The Free Marlon campaign begins now!

Rhona Turns Detective

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h39m17s835The aftermath to Graham’s death has been anything but a disappointment. I’d go as far to say this week was even better than last, as the big stories and secrets unravelled, we were treated to gripping developments and impressive performances. Having spent months being fairly cold and unlikeable, Rhona became a welcome key player this week as her grief over Graham didn’t restrict her to crying over her dead robot lover, but actually gave her a strong purpose we could get behind – finding the real culprit and saving Marlon. After coming face to face with Marlon, Rhona was convinced by his story and she sought to hunt the real killer. Zoe Henry’s performances made Rhona both sympathetic and heroic as she took on this dangerous quest. With viewers on edge about Pierces return, Rhona’s digging made the scenes even more stressful to watch as we anticipate the moment she discovers Pierce’s involvement. This story already appears to have undone the damage the writing did to Rhona’s character and now she’s back to being someone we’re really rooting for.

Lurking Pierce

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h38m33s208Emmerdale did a great job with Pierce this week. Rather than over use him and have him feature heavily, his appearances were sparse and teasing. Just enough to have us spooked and booing and hissing. This week we saw Pierce sending flowers to Rhona, deluded that they still have a future together. We saw his dingy apartment and his flat mate and there was of course that thrilling moment where we thought he might come face to face with Rhona. The good thing about this Pierce story is his meddling from afar means the audience is united in screaming at the TV for the characters to piece together the clues and that’s always fun. Pierce is a smart villain which makes his manipulation successful and the stakes much higher because the chances of him being caught seem slim. So far there’s been just enough menace and suspense to keep us guessing – here’s hoping it continues!

Secrets Uncovered

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h36m36s918Even though last week’s episodes revealed none of our suspects were in fact Graham’s killer, this week’s episodes had plenty of gripping aftermath and secrets to reveal. As Kim struggled with guilt and the fear of Al being found out, he managed to keep up the pretence that he was Graham’s killer. Charity and Jai’s secrets were revealed fairly swiftly but it wasn’t until later in the week we learnt Andrea killed Tip (sob!) and Jamie had slept with Belle. Jamie and Belle have been on most people’s radar for a while with their natural chemistry so learning they had got it on was a satisfying development and one that sets up plenty of interest as we move forward and they fight their feelings, especially with their families suspicious of each other lending itself to Romeo and Juliet comparisons. Here’s hoping for a slow burn of longing looks!

Sarah Confesses

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m09s761When Noah overheard Charity talking about Graham’s death, full of anger and tearful, he corrected her suspicions and revealed his recent hospitalisation had nothing to do with Graham and she should talk to Sarah instead. Horrified at what Sarah had been up to, Charity confronted her about the drugs. As Sarah tried to explain and revealed she’d turned Danny over to the police, the scene was incredibly well performed by Katie Hill and Emma Atkins. While this story has been lost a little in the intense Graham aftermath, the confrontation scene alone was worthy of praise and makes me hopeful that Charity and Sarah will once again get to work together with some challenging material in future.

Aftermath for Jai

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m56s674Jai had a troubling start to the week when he woke up in the garden of the Sharma house, his hands still covered in blood. When news spread of Graham’s death, Jai expected the worst, only to find that he had attacked Jimmy and the door of the van on the night in question. It was refreshing to see this story reject sensationalism by having Jai and Jimmy’s war reignited with Jimmy going to the police or being a bloody pulp. Instead the Kings, Jai and Laurel discussed the situation and Jai’s issues frankly and Jai checked himself into rehab straight away. With Jai’s relapse seeming quite rushed I have hopes his recovery will take its time and as much as I love them together, hopefully Laurel won’t rush to forgive him either.

Fail

Charity Makes the Same Mistakes

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h41m49s041As with all good murder mystery stories each character had a secret on the night of Graham’s murder. It was revealed this week that Charity and Ryan had stolen Graham’s money which, when revealed, caused a rift between her and Vanessa. After their wedding was cancelled, Charity seemed fairly dismissive of Vanessa’s hurt and that was even before she started lying about her whereabouts! No wonder Vanessa was pissed off! When Charity confessed that while Graham was getting murdered, she and Ryan were stealing Graham’s cash, Charity’s excuse of wanting payback and the money seemed a little tone deaf when a lack of honesty had caused her split with Vanessa not so long ago. While this rift provides the pair with an interesting conflict of loyalties, particularly as Vanessa wants to confess and support Rhona, if this familiar argument has arisen between them so soon after the last, how will it be resolved again in a satisfying way that stays true to their characters? We know, and Vanessa knows, Charity loves a scheme and it seems unlikely she will ever be law abiding and honest forever, but it would be interesting to see their conflicts exploring new ground, rather than Charity just repeating her mistakes when she’s promised otherwise.

8 Emmerdale Wishes for 2020

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Happy New Year! We’ve hit the ’20s, and it’s time to ponder what wishes we have for another year of Emmerdale. I put the call out on Twitter too and thought about what I’d like to see, and here are my top wishes for Emmerdale in 2020.

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A Big Gripping or Issue Led Story

Emmerdale’s two biggest ‘issue’ stories of 2019 were Maya’s abuse of Jacob and Victoria’s rape, however both stories had their ups and downs meaning they weren’t always ‘must see’ TV. Emmerdale had consistently strong performances in 2019 and some interesting moments, but individual moments aside it all felt a bit pedestrian, what it lacked was a compelling story that made the show unmissable. Of course, their big story doesn’t need to be an awards-baiting, headline grabbing ‘issue’ story, but those are often the ones that inspire the biggest reaction and those that Emmerdale do so successfully. In 2020 I’d love to see something fresh for an unexpected character.

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Bolder Characters

Is it just me or were the newbies in 2019 all a bit dull? Sure, characters like Will and Al and Jamie all began with potential but any real personality soon seemed to drift away. They became moany and self-pitying, all carrying baggage and sob stories that knocked the edge out of them. In 2019 we lost some big characters with distinct personalities, characters like Bernice, Faith and Robert who were bold and sometimes divisive, handling both comedy and tragedy. If 2020 brings us any more new characters then I hope Emmerdale make some bold decisions and invent some striking personalities, not characters who begin strong and then become watered down and forgettable.

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A New Farming Family

It’s been disaster central at Butler’s Farm this year and it’d be no surprise to see the business in ruins considering Moira’s priorities last year! With Emmerdale using its rural setting more lately and with viewers keen to hold onto its farming roots, wouldn’t now be the perfect time to introduce a new farming focused family? Afterall, when the original Bartons started they injected new life into the show and helped maintain the countryside feel. Lately Emmerdale’s newcomers have been characters coming in alone, already having existing connections to current villagers, but a whole new farming family would be an interesting change and a return to Emmerdale’s roots.

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A Story for Gabby

It was an especially quiet year for Gabby Thomas in 2019 as she’s one of the most side-lined teens when it comes to stories. We’ve already seen what a capable actor Rosie Bentham is during the Ashley storyline but she hasn’t had much chance to shine of late. With Jacob taking on a huge story in 2019, it shows Emmerdale isn’t afraid of letting their younger actors take centre stage, so why not put Gabby forward for the next big story? There’s bound to be a fresh and contemporary story Emmerdale can tackle which would be perfect for her.

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Romance for Belle and Jamie

When Jamie Tate arrived in the village, for a while we thought he was young free and single. He started at the vets and immediately struck up a rapport with Belle. Some viewers saw sparks and predicted a new romance, but then Jamie’s wife and daughter (shock!) showed up. Jamie and Andrea’s relationship has taken a long time to gel but at the end of 2019 it’s on the rocks. With Belle for comfort and those old sparks revisited, viewers have been seeing chemistry again. Could these two be the next new romance? Could it be a slow burn? A forbidden will-they-won’t-they disrupting both families?

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Chas Gets her Spark Back

After a tragic 2018, it’s no surprise that 2019 was both a quieter and happier time for Chas. Most of the year was spent preparing for the birth of her new baby and also supporting Paddy through his trouble with Bear. Even though Chas has settled down these days, I can’t help but feel she’s been reduced to either the nagging whiney wife or an interfering mother and much of her fun spark has been lost. Isn’t it about time Chas got her mojo back? Had a bit of fun or got herself in trouble? It’s all become a bit serious and moany for Chas of late – it’s time for a change.

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A Big Villain

Kim grew a heart in 2019 and serial killers were so 2018, so who’s going to be Emmerdale’s next big villain? There was potential in Will and Al when they both arrived, so might either of them take a dark path? The next big bad doesn’t need to start digging graves any time soon but maybe it’s time we had a new love-to-hate villain to enjoy, bonus points if their descent to pure evil starts slow and leaves them unravelling and dangerous. A story where we get to see what makes the big bad tick would be good as that was a missed opportunity with Maya in 2019 – let’s really get to know them before we see their downfall.

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Continue Community Feel

I’ve loved the bigger community feel to Emmerdale over the past year so long may it continue. The more Emmerdale revels in its small village roots, the more effective the stories will be. This year we’ve had a murder mystery, a panto, a council election and more – but I’m still holding out for a village fete! Community gatherings means surprising interactions and story crossovers and that are a real treat for fans. Let’s see what the year brings!

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Dec 2019)

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! Aaron and Cain reached low points and Liv had another seizure.

Faves

Festive Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h45m56s323The Emmerdale Christmas panto continued to be the gift that kept on giving this week as Leyla’s crush on Liam intensified and Kim stepped up to be the villain of the piece. There’s so much to enjoy about this story. It has a great sense of community, from director Manpreet’s heavy hand on the script editing much to the frustration of writer Bob, to Dan and Mandy teaming up to play Liam’s horse, to Rishi stepping up – of course – to play the dame. Rather than force the laughs by us seeing just the slapstick stage performances, we’re seeing the natural humour in the preparation and practice, the bickering and disagreements. It’s also fun seeing real life actors pretending to “act”, particularly Liam’s joyously camp murder-mystery inspired performances and of course Kim’s superb stepping up as the villain. Very meta and lots of fun. More community stories in the new year please!

Dingle Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m52s569Since their marriages ended, Cain and Aaron have been united in sullen moods and angry behaviour, even turning back to crime. But there was something cold and guarded about these reactions suggesting there was a lot more pain under the surface. This week saw both characters break down and open up, with Aaron trying to swallow his grief and fail to move on, and Cain admitting to Charity that he didn’t think things would pass. Rather than seeing them explode with rage or make Wendy and Nate’s lives a misery, it was a welcome change to see them both human and empathetic again as they expressed how they really felt.

Noah’s Drug Dilemma

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h55m24s465Desperate to make Sarah see sense over Danny and the drugs, Noah was at breaking point this week. Stubborn and petulant Sarah continued to risk her life trying to impress slimy Danny, but a worried Noah was trying his best to look out for her and stop her making dangerous choices. By the end of the week feeling isolated and ignored, Noah sat alone and took the pills himself. Jack Downham’s a capable young actor and it’s good to see him get some emotional material again. Noah’s often felt pushed out and neglected in his family so it will be interesting to see if this is a turning point for those around him.

Liv’s Seizure

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m24s299Poor Liv had another seizure this week and could be facing an epilepsy diagnosis. Isobel Steele continues to be one of Emmerdale’s best young actors and her performance of the seizure and her fear and upset afterwards was really well done. Predictably it was Wendy that came to her rescue, but thankfully the focus was on Liv’s recovery and not Wendy’s heroics. The last time Liv had a seizure, the impact was brushed under the carpet fairly quickly, the collapse used in a plot device-y way, so fingers crossed it won’t be the same this time. Friday’s episode saw her worried about looking after Eve and hopefully this is a story that won’t just be used to inject a bit of Thursday jeopardy into the family. Given what a capable actress Isobel is, it’s about time she had a big ‘issue’ story with longevity.

Fails

Dawn’s Determination

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h52m30s910With Christmas approaching, Dawn’s mind has returned back to her son Lucas. It makes sense that she would think of him over the festive period, but there’s something about this determination of hers to get custody that doesn’t sit right. We’ve seen Dawn make a big recovery from her drug problems and create a stable life, but with her son settled and happy with a foster family – is it right he should be taken from that? It feels like we should be on Dawn’s side in this story but there’s an entitlement to her attitude that seems to paint a negative light on legal guardians. In the long run, I can’t see what stories a young son would offer to her character – I think she has more potential without him.

Nate’s Pity Party

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h54m52s098The violins were out for Nate this week as he sulked around the village wondering why he wasn’t welcome. Much like the Wendy story, it seems like Emmerdale are going out of their wait to paint Nate as the victim, when the reality is, he helped cause this friction. This week Cain decided to turn Kyle against Nate in the hopes of driving his estranged son from the village. The Dingles took pity on Nate and invited him to an Xmas movie night in a tone-deaf way that seemed designed to piss Cain off even more. But – is it any wonder? Cain might be a nasty piece of work at the best of times, but who can blame him for not wanting Nate around after everything he’s done? It seems by the end of the week the Dingles might have realised that Cain won’t be forced, not when his whole life has shattered, but the idea that they would take Nate’s side anyway feels convoluted. Nate came in with a mission to destroy Cain’s life – why are we supposed to feel sorry for him?

 

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Dec 2019)

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! This week Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h45m17s638Community stories can often be thin on the ground in current Emmerdale so this week’s Christmas panto story was a joy. In a small village where everyone knows each other, this season is the perfect time for lots of characters to get together, even those who aren’t usually involved. This story gave Manpreet a chance to embed herself more in the village, beside her GP role, and we could also forget that Bob was involved with the show’s most hated character while he relished in his creative role. It was also a lot of fun to see the actors pretending to act on stage, some even doing a bad job. We haven’t seen a panto in the village for a while and so far it’s been everything warm and fun and Christmassy. Unlike the village nativity from two years ago, centred around Chas and Paddy’s forced humour, it’s been much more fun to see the rehearsals and preparation and not just rush straight to a costumed performance. It has shades of the community spirit from classic Emmerdale and that can only be a good thing.

Archie’s Anguish

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h46m00s801Archie’s story escalated this week and really tugged at the heart strings. While the writing for this storyline feels rushed and extreme at times, little Kai Assi is doing a brilliant job at showing Archie’s absolute fear and hopelessness. It was impossible not to want to reach into the screens and hug him this week as he saw his only option was to run away. Feeling completely alone, Archie’s anguish was very emotive and is one of the reasons why this story is working.

Arthur’s Anger

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m46s540Apart from my Scene of the Week choice, there was another scene which really stood out and was one of the highlights of the Archie and Arthur story. It was clear that Arthur attached a lot of significance to Christmas when it came to remembering his late dad. With that in mind Laurel organised a special festive gathering to decorate the tree, with Arthur ready to place the final decoration on the tree – a special decoration he once made for his dad. Arthur’s world shattered when Archie ran in and broke the decoration in the scuffle. You could feel Arthur’s pain and hurt and so much of that was in the brilliant performance from Alfie Clarke. There are times when the writing over-simplifies Arthur’s bullying as reasonless cruelty, but when we see Arthur’s perspective and a young boy still struggling with grief, the story is so much better for it.

Jimmy and Nicola United

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h47m31s657The Archie plot isn’t perfect but it does have many elements that are successful. With the great performances from both the young children and the parents, it’s been great to see characters like Jai, Laurel, Jimmy and Nicola get something really meaty story-wise. There was a nice reminder this week about what a great couple Jimmy and Nicola are as Nicola was unflinching in her support of her husband. Solid couples are thin on the ground at the moment, but there’s something so genuine about Jimmy and Nicola that makes their scenes feel authentic.

Chemistry Calling

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m00s035When Jamie arrived it looked like Emmerdale were paving the pathway for another Dingle and Tate romance, as he and Belle flirted. All that changed with the arrival of Andrea and Millie and it was a struggle to buy into Jamie the family man. Even though that angle has improved in recent weeks with Andrea and Jamie’s loss and the Millie paternity saga giving us many scenes of doting dad Jamie, we saw the sparks return with Belle this week. Ellis is back on the scene with a new face and it’s too early to tell if he and Belle have chemistry – but does that even matter when Belle and Jamie’s chemistry is so palpable? With Jamie’s rather flustered comments at the Christmas party giving Belle something to smile about, there’s surely too much potential there to squander?

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m03s681Despite the Archie and Arthur storyline having many positives and being one of Emmerdale’s strongest stories of the moment, it has some flaws in its execution. Perhaps its down to impatient viewers or the way modern TV drama has to compete with boxsets, but something is lost in the sensitivity and nuance of a challenging story like this when it escalates so quickly. Maybe viewers don’t want months of Arthur’s troubling behaviour building to bullying, but the whiplash from the kind boy who has a conscience, to the tough bully needs to be told carefully. Likewise Jai and Laurel turning against Jimmy, a man they’ve known in years and, in Laurel’s case, a close friend borders on unbelievable and hollow when it happens so fast. When Emmerdale’s airing six, sometimes seven, episodes a week, they have the luxury to take their time telling this, but the speed the situation has escalated feels like they’re anxious about viewers interest. Sometimes these stories don’t need extreme behaviour shifts and twists, they just need to unravel more slowly.

Befriending the Enemy

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m29s748You have to feel for Bob. He’s just managed to shake off the memories of the hated Bob and Laurel affair and last year’s (all too brief) homelessness story did wonders in repairing fans’ love for Bob. But now, even in the midst of a fun panto plot, he’s taken Wendy’s side. Granted, he was telling her he couldn’t support her over Victoria, but surely even by empathising with her and comforting her, he was doing just that? The Wendy plot continues to be misguided and an unpleasant watch, but characters we know and like shouldn’t be dragged into it otherwise it means dragging them down with her.

Fave or Fail? (25-29 Nov 2019)

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! This week saw Bernice leave the village (nooo!) instead of getting married to Liam and there was shock after shock for the Tates.

Faves

Bye Bye Bernice

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h11m42s007Very sadly this week saw our favourite village drama queen, Bernice, leave the show. Readers of this blog will know that Bernice has always been one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale but bias aside, I think she’ll be a real loss to the show. Despite viewer complaints that Bernice’s exit was rushed and perhaps unbelievable I think it was a great exit, even if it was crammed into two episodes. It felt quite fitting that forever unlucky in love Bernice had to sacrifice her happy ever after to go and care for daughter Dee Dee who has been neglected due to Bernice’s self absorbed bubble. The exit gave Bernice her growth moment, showing she could be selfless and a good mother against the odds. Samantha Giles has always given Bernice the perfect blend of kooky-craziness in her humour and yet had buckets of likeability and there were plenty of more serious moments that she nailed. Her exit gave us both the outlandish humour but also managed to be very emotional as Bernice made her big sacrifice. There are few actors or characters that can do the big comedy moments and yet bring so much pathos to serious stories. Overall the exit two parter had minor flaws and as a whole, it was a great send off for Bernice, giving her meaningful goodbyes and that bittersweet sacrifice that saw her leave tearfully, knowing she was doing the right thing. You’ll be really missed Bernice!

Sticking Around

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h08m22s579Is there an Emmerdale newbie more loveable than hapless Liam? We might have to swiftly overlook the grim moment he punched Jacob last week and find some way to forgive him, but besides that, he’s by far one of the best new characters in the show. I feel like I’ve been singing his praises forever but each week he manages to be charming and funny in a way that makes his character so appealing. This week saw the end to his relationship with Bernice (even if he doesn’t know it yet) and his overly dramatic and slightly strange reaction – like eating their wedding cake and making a Bernice themed advent calendar – is enough to put a smile on your face. His stag do antics were entertaining and although his main anchor to the village is gone I have faith he’ll continue to be a great addition to the show. He has real personality and a quirkiness which makes him different from other arrivals who have sometimes suffered from dull scripts. There’s plenty of mileage in his relationship with Leanna, his colleague friendship with Manpreet and the men who celebrated his stag. While it was a real shame to lose the flirtatious and fun Cavastock, I’m really glad Liam’s sticking around.

Tate Twists

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h13m24s141There was plenty of twists and turns for the Tates this week as Kim’s bitterness drove her to destroy Graham’s new relationship with Rhona. Revealing to a packed pub that she and Graham were married was a brilliant moment and rather enjoyable to see devilish Kim at work. Later though, Graham had a trump card of his own to play, shocking Kim that Millie might not be her flesh and blood after all. Kim’s reaction to Andrea’s betrayal was disappointingly muted as she vowed to get a DNA test but as she threatened to tell her oblivious son the truth, Jamie and Andrea had news of their own – she is pregnant. All these surprising turns were good at keeping viewers on their toes and seeing Kim play dirty in clever ways was lots of fun. The only reservation about these stories is that apart from Kim, the Tate household, Graham included, are all just a bit dull. We’re months in and I still don’t feel emotionally invested in these characters. And even Kim could do with a breaking point now and again and if learning the granddaughter she’s grown to love might not be hers then what will crack her facade?

Fails

The Monotony of Money Woes

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h14m59s695One of the biggest plots this week was Dawn and Billy’s investigation over what Al was really up to. After seeing Al get whacked last week Dawn soon discovered that Al was completely broke and had borrowed money from the local criminals we saw Cain and Aaron get mixed up with. Dawn and Billy’s sweet romance last week worked because it was light and fun and casual but this week they both got bogged down into a story that wasn’t very interesting to watch and turned Billy back into a bit of a moaner. Besides, are money trouble stories ever very interesting? Especially when they involve cartoonish gangsters. Worst of all this story has squandered Al’s initial potential as the charismatic manipulator and it’s not helped that he’s stuck in an office (the lifeless Sharma factory set) doing very little. Of course, Ellis’s abrupt exit might have ruined their early plans for Al, so we have to hold out hope that they inject a bit of life back into him when Ellis returns. My hopes are pinned on Al becoming a new smart villain. Think Declan Macey.

Unlikeable Messes

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h15m49s919As the aftermath of Moira’s affair with Nate rumbles on, it doesn’t get any more watchable. Sadly the discovery of Nate being Cain’s son hasn’t made him more interesting and his glum looks around Wishing Well aren’t making him sympathetic but just seem like he’s throwing himself a pity party, with Belle his sole fan. No sob story in the world could give him charisma and his motivation for ruining the family and then sticking around seems clumsy at best. Then there’s Cain, the victim in all this, but written as even more of a caveman than usual. His reluctance to let Nate be part of the family is one of the more understandable character reactions and yet others react to him as unreasonable. But just to make Nate seem even more of the wounded soldier, Cain lashes out at him and the rest of the family in ways that are inexcusable. Then Moira, feeling sorry for herself, drinking and failing to make amends, desperate to get rid of Nate but unwilling to really recognise her part in the destruction of the family. I don’t have much sympathy for any of them now and I am dreading the increasingly desperate ways to embed Nate into the Dingles and have Cain accept him. What next? Nate saves Monty from a burning building? Nate donates an organ t

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Sep 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Millie’s accident lead to a paternity twist and Harriet was shunned by her so-called friends.

Faves

Harriet Bites Back

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h14m54s375Harriet had a bit of a tough week as she turned 50 and her relationship with Will came out in front of all the congregation. They’ve kinda wasted what could have been a delicious slowburn of love-turned-hate-turned-love between Harriet and Will (for a vicar and an ex drug lord they are actually very dull) but still, the hypocritical villagers decided to shun her for this relationship (baffling). Nevertheless a highlight this week was seeing a downtrodden Harriet confront Moira and ask her what we’ve all been wondering – what the hell is wrong with her? As Moira let rip, Harriet bit back, reminding her that she knew all about what had happened with Emma. It was less of a threat and more of a reminder of her double standards and it was good to see a Harriet that comes back fighting. Really, I’d have liked to have seen Harriet drag each and every villager for their hypocrisy, but this tense moment at Butler’s was the first time I’ve really thought “Yes Harriet! You tell her!”.

Dingles Reunited

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h14m14s806The kiss secret was out this week and Zak and Faith become enemy number one among the Dingles. Despite there being a complete overreaction to the kiss that meant nothing to either party, both Belle and Chas seemed to take the strongest objection to their betrayal. Thankfully the over the top outrage and bluster blew over quickly and Zak sought to repair the damage with Belle by explaining what really went on. Eventually Belle was won round by Zak’s honestly and his enduring love for Lisa. As the two shared a hug, united by missing Lisa, Zak apologised for upsetting Belle and asking for another chance. It was lovely to see the Dingles get some more screen time related to Lisa’s death as we haven’t seen much of how they are coping lately and Zak and Belle’s father-daughter relationship brings a lot of warmth to Wishing Well. It’s nice to see a family having a cuddle every now and then!

Doug’s Drugs

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h16m29s776Doug’s drug storyline continues to be one of the strangest stories in Emmerdale but it has its entertaining moments too. As the story ran alongside the exposure of Will’s drug trafficking past (the tonal shifts were a little jarring if I’m honest), Doug began to panic that his new hobby had grown out of control – literally! Doug now has his very own farm, but as he sweated about the police catching up with him, Rodney did his best to reassure him to continue. Seeing straight laced Doug unravelling is pretty amusing, although I wonder how long this story can continue before the laughs dry out.

Fails

Moira’s Meltdown

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h15m45s370Just what is happening to Moira? Her behaviour has become so unlikeable and erratic that fans are even jokily speculating her personality change is down to a brain tumour or an evil twin. This week saw her repetitive affair with Nate get almost busted again and discover that Matty had been smoking weed. This hit hard on the anniversary of Holly’s death and was even worse when she discovered Harriet’s latest love interest is a former drug trafficker. As Moira‘s rage exploded, she outed their relationship to the entire Harvest Festival, and Harriet’s reputation was shattered. While I think the villagers’ reactions bordered on the ridiculous (they’ve all done bad things) it was Moira’s response that did the most damage to her character. Sure we can reason that the pressure of the affair is getting to her, but it’s still not clear her motives for cheating in the first place. She’s off with everyone who speaks to her at the moment and it was only in those scenes with Cain by Holly’s grave that we saw glimmers of the Moira we know and love but even that seemed fleeting. Can Moira ever regain her popularity – or at least feel recognisable – again?

Who’s the Daddy?

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h13m54s663Andrea and Graham spent much of the week having the same conversation around Millie’s hospital bedside this week as they wrestled with their secret past and the question of Mille’s paternity. Viewers, however, might have been wrestling with a bigger question about the timeline of these characters and the baffling way it all ties together. Graham’s backstory is a muddle of different producers and cast changes so his engaging enigmatic early days seem a distant memory. Without an interest in Graham (and without Joe, Emmerdale are really trying their hardest to keep him relevant), all relies on newbie Andrea, who honestly feels too new to care too much about. It also requires us to see some sort of bristling tension between the pair, which until Monday didn’t really exist so the whole twist felt like an afterthought cobbled together plot based on fans’ speculation. This twist isn’t helped by Jamie, who has become a colourless drip and is unbelievable as a husband and a father, nor the painfully on-the-nose dialogue from Granny Kim who has now taken to her position as grandmother with aplomb. Had Andrea and Graham expressed sizzling chemistry or lingering looks throughout their time at Home Farm perhaps we could take an interest in this oncoming family explosion but the idea that Andrea was sleeping with both 17 year old Jamie and a drunken Graham at the same time is all a bit grim.

Fave or Fail? (10-14 June 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Graham returned with a secret connection to Andrea and David had a meltdown and tried to kiss Priya.

Faves

Seething Scheme

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

Panic Problems

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

A Serious Turn

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

Fails

Nosy Nate

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

Secret Keeping

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

 

Fave or Fail? (3-7 June 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! As the village gathered to say goodbye to Lisa, we also saw the arrival of new Tates, Jamie’s wife and daughter.

Faves

Weird and Wonderful Funeral

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h08m50s152The village said their final goodbye to Lisa Dingle this week as her funeral took place. The first half of Thursday’s episode saw a more traditional service as the villagers gathered to pay their respects, but with Charity seeing out Lisa’s final requests, there was some Dingle craziness to be had in the form of a pig race. It was a lovely community moment and a bittersweet scene of outrageous fun which truly felt like classic Emmerdale. Of course, after the humour came the sorrow again as the family received their letters in an incredibly moving montage but the double episodes were a heartfelt tribute to the matriarch of the Dingles.

Victoria Shares Her Plight

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h16m53s983Victoria returned home to the village with Robert this week but the reality of her trauma soon set in. Uncomfortable about returning to her own house, Vic stayed with Robert and Aaron but tensions soon arose when she revealed she was keeping her baby. Vic was adamant in her choice, but Robert struggled to cope feeling helpless and guilty, and tried pressuring Vic into a decision. However the intention, Emmerdale’s writing when it came to abortion felt clumsily pro-life and that’s something which continues to grate, but Isabel’s performances continued to impress. Despite their strained relationship and opposing coping strategies, it’s been good to see more of Vic and Robert as a family and the divisive issues between them felt authentic. Also this week Victoria told friends about her attack and her scenes with Marlon especially were appropriately tender and lovely. It was good too to see mentions of empathy from the village’s other rape survivors, adding again to Emmerdale’s renewed sense of community.

Hiding Something?

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h08m27s638This week as Sam found comfort in Lisa’s final letter to him, both him and Lydia realised how important their relationship was and Sam wanted them to stop stalling and set a date for the wedding. It’s been years since Sam and Lydia got engaged but just as the touching moment seemed to indicate we might get a kooky and cute wedding, a look passed Lydia’s face. Is she hiding something? Back at the start of the year hinted there was more to come from Lydia but we’re only just seeing hints of it now. Lydia’s one of Emmerdale’s greatest recent creations and her Sam and Samson make the perfect quirky family. While on the one hand I’d love to see them settle down and be the new stable couple of Wishing Well, I’m also welcome to seeing more of them and that means drama. So what is going on in Lydia’s head? It can’t be a reluctance to marry Sam per se, maybe it’s related to her past. And if this means more Lydia – then I’m a happy viewer!

A New Era of Tates

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h18m53s701This week two new arrivals upset Kim Tate and it was quickly revealed that Andrea and little Millie are in fact Jamie’s wife and daughter. Say what? If you can get over the fact that Jamie, who is meant to be 22, has a family already, why the hell didn’t he mention them to anyone, not even Rhona? Something seems suss there! Still, Millie’s adorable and Andrea, though it’s an ask to believe she’s married to Jamie, already has a fun and bitchy antagonism with Kim. There’s definite promise there, far more believable than the attempt to make Kim and Megan enemies. Filling Home Farm with family seems like the best way forward as it doesn’t work so empty and isolated. But is there really much longevity in Andrea and Jamie as a pairing? However things work out between the two, Kim’s miles better with these kinds of stories than the outlandish mafia style characterisation she was receiving previously.

Fails

Kiss Chase

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h10m19s849Ugh. Really, David and Leyla? Again? If there are a worse parenting team in the village right now I’d be surprised because these two sure know how to make Jacob’s life a hundred times worse. Thank god for Eric who gave them a dressing down this week for shagging while Jacob’s head is wrecked. Really though, what are they playing at? I really thought this storyline might finally see David reach a turning point, that we might see some maturity and responsibility from him but nope, same old David. If his and Leyla irresponsible handling of the police wasn’t bad enough, this was peak selfishness. And why would Leyla even go there again, after everything? I could more understand if it had come from a place of grief but the pair’s self involvement was so tasteless and short sighted. If Jacob’s plight hasn’t made them grow up, what will?

Going in Circles?

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h14m00s534Emmerdale’s most important and controversial storyline is in danger of losing all momentum, as the Maya and Jacob story seems to have been derailed in favour for more twists and turns. From Maya’s disappearance and the flashback reveals we were all on tenterhooks desperate to see Maya’s downfall, but as time has dragged on, we seem to have lost the main crux of the story. While troubled Jacob is stuck in repetitive scenes where he rages against the injustice of being kept away from Maya, all the progression the police enquiry is happening off screen. Jacob’s loved ones continue to stretch believable by doing stupid and desperate things in the name of protecting him, but this far along in the story it’s becoming tiresome and sluggish. Emmerdale were onto a winner in the immediate fallout of the abuse discovery but now the pacing seems to have been diverted into stalling tactics. Even more bizarrely, obvious routes for this story to take, to show us its impact, have been avoided. The other teens, Liv, Gabby, Noah and Leanna are all but absent, Jessie – who should be playing a key role is AWOL and Liam’s reaction to the news has barely been touched on. If this story only impacts on the Metcalfes when all is said and done it’ll be a complete waste.

Scene of the Week (3-7 June 2019)

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This week’s Scene of the Week choice was one of my easiest decisions in ages. An emotional montage full of beautiful performances and brimming with character and warmth? A big win all round. As Lisa Dingle’s funeral drew to a close, thankfully Lydia had rescued the personalised goodbye letters from the charity shop and handed them around to the gathered Dingles. What followed was a moving collection of scenes as each member of the family read their letter (with a lovely voice over from Jane Cox) with Lisa’s poignant advice and kind words ringing in their ears. From telling Charity to be happy, calling Sam her son, tricking Marlon with the rabbit stew recipe to helping to patch up Debbie and Cain’s relationship, this was a truly perfect scene. Each Dingle heard the words they most needed to hear and it was wonderful.