Fave or Fail? (27 April-8 May 2020)

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Every week (every fortnight during the lockdown) I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Andrea finally learnt what Jamie’s been getting up to and Rishi’s birthday had an explosive end.

Faves

Andrea Learns the Truth

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h35m26s467The scales fell from Andrea’s eyes this week as she discovered husband Jamie has been playing away with Belle and making plans to leave her. Having only recently reunited, Andrea was devastated by his betrayal and confided in Leyla who urged her to fight for her marriage. Anna Nightingale did a good job at showing Andrea’s pain and made her immediately sympathetic, even though her and Jamie’s marriage doesn’t seem worth saving. In later episodes it seems like Andrea’s plans to win Jamie’s affections back involved causing friction between him and Belle and despite her hurt she seemed almost gleeful in her plotting. Andrea showed she could be quite smart and devious, with barbed comments and sly plans she has potential to be the next big soap bitch. Could we see the next Kim Tate on our hands? Viewers have long felt Andrea has been a bit wasted and this felt like the start of something much more promising.

Chas Reaches Out to Paddy

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h34m16s364This fortnight was the culmination of Paddy’s struggles with baby Eve, after his unfortunate mistake of leaving her in the car alone. I’ve not been a fan of how Paddy is written in recent times, the bumbling and stuttering feeling more and more like a caricature, but when Chas finally found out what he was going through, the pair were able to sit and talk it through like grown-ups finally. It was a fitting call-back to their daughter Grace, to talk about why this might be impacting on his mental health and parenting, and it was a nicely scripted scene that dealt with those issues without being mawkish. Saying all this, I do hope now that they’ve reached a turning point, that Chas and Paddy’s characters have more to do than just be parents. It’s time, for Chas especially, to get her spark back and not just alternate between nappies and bar work.

More Manpreet – Please

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h34m53s907During this pandemic, with fewer episodes and Emmerdale not currently filming, now is the time when some viewers are reflecting on the stories they’re enjoying (and not) and the characters they’d like to see more of when filming resumes. If Emmerdale are taking stock then I’d like to see more of Manpreet. With current stories dominated by the Malone drug plot, Manpreet exemplifies the ‘everyday’ that works so successfully in soap. A “normal” relatable character with a naturalistic acting style and charisma. Manpreet has slotted successfully into the village as their GP and has added a bit of sanity to Rishi’s outlandish buffoonery. She wasn’t especially central to stories this week, though we did see her support Paddy, but she’s a reminder of how even the “mundane” characters are worth watching and utilising when filming resumes. Recently we’ve seen her be warm and caring to Vanessa’s plight, but she’s also fitted in well with the Sharmas – and I’d certainly much rather watch Manpreet than the two-bit gangster stories of late!

Fails

Wimpy Will

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h40m23s665According to Emmerdale history, Will Taylor was once the infamous drug lord. So shady and destructive were his dealings, Harriet was employed to infiltrate his life and go undercover as his girlfriend. Sounds like a character with depth and a real dark side. So where is that Will? What we have now is man unrecognisable from the bloke he was originally supposed to be. He’s such a sad sack that even when Malone’s cartoon goons beat him up this fortnight (to the sounds of Land of Make Believe in the world’s cringey-est montage) it was hard to even care. Do I care about his and Dawn’s relationship? Or even him and Harriet? No. I wouldn’t care if he left tomorrow leaving only a note behind. Gone is all the menace and intrigue of his early episodes, the interesting and complex background with him and Harriet and Dawn – all that conflict of betrayal and forbidden feelings with Harriet just erased. Their family with all its tragedy and dysfunction is as lifeless as they come. To sign a successful actor like Dean Andrews should have meant Emmerdale had exciting stories lined up, not to turn Will into a miserable loser under Malone’s thumb.

Dull and Dominating

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h43m09s412The Malone story continued to suck the life out of Emmerdale this week, in a plot that feels closer to a poor man’s rejected Line of Duty script than anything we can expect from our favourite soap. The concept of a charismatic bent cop pulling the strings of multiple characters, which in turn has consequences for multiple families has potential but the execution has been nothing short of dull, and when it dominates episodes it’s a real drag. I can’t help but picture the difference if Malone had been introduced slowly, had even had a family himself in the village, only to unravel his power and corruption slowly as he held his grip over the villagers. Instead he’s flat and feels so much like a guest character who will be easily despatched so where’s the investment. Add to this that most of his story is connected to Will – one of Emmerdale’s most bafflingly boring characters – would anyone care if he offed Will tomorrow? The stakes are low, the story is so far removed from the dramas of village life we’re used to, and Emmerdale’s a powerhouse when it centres on relatable stories and gripping tales of love, betrayal and revenge. But most of this story is blokes standing around discussing drugs and vague threats which bare no relation to anything we can care about. The sooner it’s over, the better.

Fave or Fail? (23-27 March 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! This week saw Jamie and Belle reignite their affair and Brenda’s mistake had terrible consequences for Dan.

Faves

A Triple Christening

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-10h01m01s706There was a lovely community feel to Monday’s episode, as three christenings took place at the church and with the current real-world situation, it had the warmth and family spirit we need right now. The scenes also saw a welcome return of Zak, Aaron and Liv and an amusing set of “The Godfather” impressions as the men tried to out-do each other. It’s not often we see so many villagers gathered in one place and with all of the babies having bittersweet arrivals, it was nice to see the happy occasion, and despite Chas and Paddy’s tensions and Wendy being her usual self, the feel-good event was a nice watch.

The New Love Affair

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-09h58m37s325Jamie and Belle got it on again this week as their simmering tensions lead to a row, and then a shag, in the middle of a veterinary call out. With longing looks and repressed feelings, Jamie and Belle’s affair is certainly one of the most watchable in recent times, helped by their natural chemistry. It also helps that while the stakes are high in terms of Kim’s involvement and Jamie’s custody problems, viewers on the whole aren’t that invested in Belle and Ellis or Jamie and Andrea as couples. It’s not a Nate and Moira situation where their affair ruins a beloved couple. This also comes as a bit of a drawback as it means it’s hard to believe Belle wouldn’t just ditch Ellis (whose been written as a wet weekend since the actor change) and Jamie come up with a long term custody plan, and end things with Andrea. However, a slow burn affair of forbidden feelings can be a good watch when you want to see the two together, and if it stops Jamie whining for five minutes then even better.

Brenda’s Big Mistake

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-09h59m40s620Brenda made a dangerous mistake this week by not labelling her ingredients correctly on her café food, leading to a horrific allergic reaction for Dan. This storyline already had subtle build up previously when Brenda gave Dan vegan food with nuts in unaware of his allergy and he suffered a minor reaction. This week however, Dan went into anaphylactic shock and now is experiencing paralysis, sending Brenda into turmoil. After initially trying to cover up her mistake, Brenda admitted what she’d done to Dan and his family after a prompting from Eric. While a story that centres on the Spencers might not be everyone’s favourite idea, this story has been really effective so far, showing how a tiny action can escalate into something so serious which impacts many characters. Not every soap story needs extreme behaviour or guns, a smaller story like this is like a classic soap story which can have just as many twists and turns. I’m glad it’s also given a focus to older characters like Eric and Brenda who are often underused and underrated.

Fail

Too Much Too Soon

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-10h01m47s193This week, after sleeping together, Victoria ended things with Luke again, telling him it was too soon to get into a relationship. As Luke begged for another go and Wendy tried to get involved, it felt like a serious case of déjà vu. I imagine the intention here is to make Luke and Victoria the couple you root for, and to give Victoria time and space to recover from her rape trauma, but with their reunion boringly inevitable, these efforts to drag it out seem pointless. Vic, Wendy, Luke and baby Harry are already participating in the world’s most unlikely and icky happy families but the fact Emmerdale have gone this route undermines any efforts to make Victoria’s aftermath believable. When she talks of her struggle to move on, to feel anything during sex, you can’t help but think had Luke (her rapist’s brother) not been her chosen partner, this story would have held the weight and emotion it deserves. Instead, this is too tacky to get involved with.

With Emmerdale now showing only three episodes a week rather than six, The Woolie Weekly will be posting fortnightly, to cover a “week’s worth” of episodes as they were originally intended to air. Next blog update will be Sunday 12th April.

Fave or Fail? (24-28 Feb 2020)

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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! Rhona bravely took down Pierce in their final showdown and Vanessa revealed her diagnosis to Charity.

Faves

The Big Showdown

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-13h57m28s473Rhona came face to face with Pierce this week in an hour long episode that didn’t disappoint. Read below for reasons why this episode was so gripping overall, but a special mention has to go to the incredible scenes between Rhona and Pierce themselves. From the moment Rhona stepped into Mulberry, nerves were shot, especially the chilling moment Pierce searched Rhona for any recording devices. Zoe Henry delivered exceptional performances as Rhona lived through her terror, conscious of Vanessa and Johnny’s plight too. Later, she was even more impressive as Rhona tried to play Pierce and pretend they just needed a good meal before leaving. As Rhona reminisced about their relationship, you could still sense her unease as she put on a good show. Rhona’s bravery was powerful to watch and the gripping dynamic between Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather meant it was hard to look away. Some of Emmerdale’s best work this year.

Vanessa’s New Agony

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-13h59m30s997There’s one story that we’re going to be talking about for months and has the potential to be huge come awards season and that’s the progress of Vanessa’s cancer. I’m thrilled Michelle Hardwick is getting the opportunity to showcase her stellar acting talents in this emotional storyline. This week, after finally being freed from Pierce’s clutches, Vanessa had to face her difficult journey ahead. There were tearful scenes as Vanessa hid her secret until finally she was able to tell Charity. Understandably Charity struggled with the news and her guilt at having not been concerned about Vanessa’s disappearance and she began to distance herself. Not only does this offer Emmerdale the chance to explore a serious real world health issue and all its realistic symptoms and side effects but it also brings a new challenge to test Vanity instead of the familiar stories of Charity messing up. This story has potential to explore Vanessa as a character in her own right, her fears of losing Johnny and step forward to be the lead in a storyline. It’s had a brilliant, emotional start and I’m sure it’ll be one of 2020’s highlights.

Gripping Climax

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-14h11m00s113I’ve already talked about how good the Rhona and Pierce showdown was, but overall, Tuesday’s hour long special had everything you could want in a soap. Vanessa’s continued kidnapped carried on being anxiety-inducing, especially when Pierce as good as admitted she’d had her use. Similarly the stakes were high when we saw that poor Johnny was in a bad way. There was no second guessing in this episode as after Kim interrupted and was tied up herself, the episode had us hooked. Outside armed police seemed frustratingly slow with their drones and thermal detection but it was all edge of your seat stuff. I loved the way Rhona’s cleverly live-streamed Pierce’s confession in a brilliantly unexpected move, and I also enjoyed the surprise use of tranquiliser to take Pierce down. Upstairs, we lived through the horror with Kim and Vanessa but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kim in a new light and the way she tried to get Vanessa to concentrate and survive. All round this was a fantastic episode and even though it was double the length of a normal episode, I didn’t want it to end.

Marlon’s Freedom

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-13h58m28s948With Pierce’s arrest, finally came some good news for Marlon as it was revealed to him he’d be released from prison. When Marlon got the news, Mark Charnock’s acting was excellent as he slowly dealt with this life changing moment. It wasn’t all joy though as after his release it was a struggle to return to normality and Marlon broke down after the ill advised party. He also shouted at Mandy after she got the press involved and had some making up to April to do. It seems like Marlon’s return to the village might not be as straight forward as he first thought and although it would be good to see back the happier Marlon we love, I’m glad we’re seeing the aftermath of his traumatic time locked up for a crime he was innocent of.

Bonus Faves

  • There were so many stand out single scenes this week outside of the ones mentioned above it’s hard to mention them all in my faves. Marlon and April, April and Rhona, Chas and Charity, Vanessa and Rhona. All wonderful heart to hearts between characters with history together. Vulnerable, well acted and well performed – character focused drama at its best
  • If it weren’t for Nate, Cain and Cara would be really watchable. Their chemistry means when they reminisce, their history feels palpable
  • There was more progress on the Cain and Moira front this week as Moira bigged Cain up to Cara only for him to overhear. Later in a dialogue free scene Moira removed her wedding ring in a moment that was the first real tender moment where we saw Moira’s regret. It worked well and certainly made me pine for what they’ve lost
  • Okay, it would have never happened in real life but that moment Marlon was released and Pierce arrived at the prison and they locked eyes was brilliant. I got chills.
  • I felt for Mandy this week as she broke down feeling useless in Marlon’s campaign and it was nice to see Lisa Riley play something emotional and not just loud mouthed and comedic

Fails

Calm After the Storm?

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-14h04m19s745Life for a soap character moves fast. Just look at Nate. Shot one minute and out of hospital the next. However the aftermath for Rhona after Pierce’s return this week was a little lacking. The climax of his return was perfect, thrilling viewing but watching Rhona’s scenes a few days on you’d be hard pushed to believe she’d suffered any sort of trauma. Both Marlon and Vanessa are dealing with their new ordeals but mentions of Pierce are thin on the ground. The village barely blinked to hear he was out of prison and had caused so much misery. Rhona herself has now moved on to warring with Kim over Graham’s funeral and has hardly had a look in when it comes to her own trauma. I was cautious that this return might make Rhona suffer but so far it feels jarringly opposite – the man who raped her and made her life hell, returned, murdered her boyfriend and held her best friend hostage. Surely this should have sent Rhona back to a dark place? It feels a bit of a waste of Pierce’s return if there is no real immediate fall out for Rhona and she slots right back into petty squabbles with Kim over Graham (who cares?). It feels particularly disappointing when the original ending to the Pierce and Rhona story was so empowering and uplifting for Rhona’s character. This new conclusion in the end didn’t quite work as well.

Fast Farewell

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-14h00m16s674This week we saw another taxi exit as Doug made a hasty decision to uproot his whole life and move to Australia having only arrived home the day before. Was the jet lag messing with his head or what? Yes, Doug was a moany old so-and-so, interfering, grumpy and the rest but he was unique in the village with a distinct personality. There aren’t many older villagers left and Doug brought variety, working well with a range of characters and particularly troubled youngsters like Gerry and Liv. I can’t help but feel, even if Doug wasn’t a favourite, he was part of the furniture and it’s a shame to lose him from the fabric of the village. There isn’t anyone else quiet like Doug and it’s a shame his rushed exit was so lacklustre. Sure, no one expected explosions or dramatic hi-jinx but having been in the show for so long, Doug deserved a better send off. He didn’t even get a final pint in the Woolie.

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? (2-6 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! Andrea suffered a miscarriage this week, giving Kim a change of heart and Lydia tried to put the past to rest.

Faves

Well-rounded Kim

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m54s325Top of the highlights this week is Kim, who seems to have hit her stride, almost a year since she made her full return to the village. Early months indicated Emmerdale weren’t quite sure what to do with her and the brief panto stint last year didn’t help much – and nor did the Joe and Graham muddle. Now, with tangible motives and a family around her, Kim feels a lot more well rounded. I really enjoyed that she was a big part of the village this week, funding the lights and having a sense of power that is reminiscent of the Home Farm contingent of old Emmerdale. Rather than cartoonishly making people’s lives misery, it was welcome to see Kim’s ruthless attitude towards Wendy whilst being sympathetic towards Victoria’s plight. Similarly her war with Graham is more watchable now it’s about something relatable – her son and granddaughter. There was also an element of fun too, with Harriet scamming her to give the light fund to the homeless instead, and this has helped to make her more than just a outlandish soap bitch, but more of a believable character and that can only benefit the future of Home Farm.

Lydia Deals with the Past

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h41m26s341After another emotional week for Lydia, Emmerdale are surely paving the way to give Karen Blick some award nominations next year? This week Lydia struggled with the pressure of her newly found biological family and the news that she could lay her son to rest, now that she had his ashes. Feeling suffocated by her mother, Lydia opted to scatter the ashes with just the Dingles (or the few that turned up!) and later asked for space from her mother and sister, acknowledging there was no quick fix to her years of feeling isolated and abandoned. As much as I liked the casting for Lydia’s family and it gave her character new dimensions, I’m glad Emmerdale didn’t rush to make them close, with everything forgiven. However with the Huntington’s test still looming, I’m interested to see what happens next now that Lydia’s drawn a line under her new family – will they just be forgotten about? Stories lately have felt a little stop start and I hope Lydia’s doesn’t go the same way.

Upset Uncle

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h40m31s225Noah was in full protection mode this week as his concern for Sarah grew. Since her secret pill popping at the party, he’s been suspicious of her new friend Danny and the reckless way she’s been behaving. This week saw Noah spying on her and later confronting Danny about her health. Bratty Sarah was furious at Noah for damaging her street cred, despite Noah tearfully telling her how worried he was. I’ve always been a big fan of Noah and he’s been absent for some of this year so it’s been good to have him taking a prominent role in this storyline. I like his sensitivity and big heart, helped by Jack Downham’s vulnerability in the part. Spoilers indicate Noah’s got some gritty material ahead which is something to look forward to.

Jamie and Andrea’s Grief

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m06s819I was impressed and surprised by the performances this week as Jamie and Andrea came to the forefront of the show with their tragic miscarriage story. While this heartbreak was a way to trigger Kim’s change of heart for the first time it actually made me believe in their relationship, bonding them closer. Both characters have felt a bit flat since their early promise and the scenes this week suggest they are capable of much more, especially if it means delving more into their relationship in a more emotional way, separate from the convoluted history.

Fails

Losing Support?

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h45m57s005Moira continued her drunken spiralling this week, losing an ally in Pete and losing grip on herself when she repeatedly turned to the bottle. There was some friendly support from Vanessa, but with Matty away and Pete now working with Nate, Moira’s completely on her own and in this state losing work and access to the kids. Unfortunately though, this time round, Moira just isn’t very sympathetic. When she’s had drunken meltdowns before, when she lost Holly and after Emma’s death and the PND she experienced after having Isaac, Moira’s had our sympathies and support – but this time I’m not so sure. Moira’s cheating was clumsily handled and almost universally hated by viewers so it’s no real surprise her self-pitying meltdown isn’t quite hitting the mark. She might be on self-destruct, but what the scenes lack is a sense Moira is taking responsibility for what happened, instead what we’ve been seeing a rather cold and unsympathetic Moira and she’s difficult to root for.

Lost the Plot

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h42m19s643Wendy moved into Emmerdale village this week in another twisted turn to this continual torture of Victoria. As Wendy continues to blather on about her innocent son, it appears some villagers have completely lost the plot. Wendy’s support of Lee and harassment of Vic began long before Lee’s death, so to hand-wave her behaviour as grief or as a grandmother who just wants contact is sickening beyond belief. Even characters like Chas, who should be unflinching in support of Victoria, defended Wendy and bonded over the “bad behaviour” of their sons. Yes, that’s right, comparing the survivor of childhood rape to a rapist. What is Wendy’s narrative purpose in the village beyond more hell for Victoria and to plunge Aaron into a bigger meltdown? Are we supposed to feel sorry for her? To paint Wendy as a victim – her house vandalised and unwelcome – and putting empathetic words in the mouths of characters who should know better is completely tone deaf and unless she becomes the show’s next deranged nurse then these latest developments are a hard pill to swallow from a show that has had a strong history of empowering their rape survivors.

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Nov 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a big week for the teens as Sarah took a pill and Jacob struggled knowing Maya had been released from prison, and Vanity were reunited.

Faves

Lydia’s Life Gets Harder

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h15m14s886If one thing proved that Lydia Hart is one of THE best Emmerdale characters, then it was this week’s episodes. When we first met Lydia, Karen Blick delivered comedy with aplomb and soon made quirky odd ball Lydia a fun part of the Dingle household. But as we’ve heard more and more of Lydia’s tragic past, she’s become one of the warmest and most loveable characters in the show. I’d probably go as far to say Lydia doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. This week she learnt her sister Beth had been lying and her mum was actually alive. As the pair got to know each other, both Karen Blick and Judith Barker did a superb job, particularly as two characters talking about the past we haven’t seen can be cold and unengaging (see any Graham backstory, Cain, and Nate’s mother). Their emotional conversations felt authentic but with the focus on Lydia’s heart breaking, made the scenes all the more emotive. And then the bombshells continued as Lydia learnt she might be a carrier of Huntington’s. At the moment on screen there’s a lack of emotive “issue” based storylines but Lydia’s long lost family and the dilemma about getting a life changing test is the closest to their best type of story. If Karen’s performances don’t earn her some awards recognition it’ll be a travesty.

Teen Focus

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h19m02s131The teens had a surprisingly big focus this week as both Sarah and Jacob had their own stories, while Gabby, Dee Dee and Leanna had their parents’ wedding to contend with. Sarah was in true brat mode this week as FOMO lead her to host a secret boozy party at Jacob’s Fold, incurring the wrath of Granny Charity. As Noah and Samson watched with horror (I love how both of these lads have a real ‘old before their time’ quality about them) Sarah took a pill offered by shady newcomer Danny. So far, despite a lecturing from Noah, Sarah’s covered up her drug taking but it looks like this is only the start in an effort to impress Danny. This week also saw a lot more from Leanna who has been mellowed in recent writing and had great onscreen report with the other teens and also Bernice (shame that’ll be over soon). Her mini story with Jacob really helped to soften her and shed the cold and bitchy demeanour she’d had previously. Teen stories might not be to everyone’s taste, but now and again it’s a good change, especially with watchable actors like this. Though let’s just hope Sarah doesn’t stay too whiny and bratty though otherwise we’ll have a mini Debbie on our hands!

David and Jacob’s breakthrough

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h17m28s792Jacob had one hell of a difficult week and that’s without him knowing about Maya’s baby bombshell! Just as life was looking up, more teenage and more normal – with cinema dates with Leanna – David and Leyla received news Maya was to be released from prison. Eventually they broke the news, sending Jacob spiralling. He took a bus at night to try and see Maya, but David hunted him down and the pair talked in the rain, with David desperately trying to get Jacob to see sense. These scenes on location made a nice change and it felt fresh, rather than rehashing conversations they’d already had. When later in the week Jacob reacted terribly after sleeping with Leanna and was cruel and heartless, the disgust on all sides from family and friends seemed to give him a big setback. Later David and Leyla managed a breakthrough, but it took some cold reverse psychology to do it. I was much more convinced by Jacob and David’s scenes at the start of the week and felt the tough love approach sent out a confusing message to the audience and was an irresponsible way for David and Leyla to treat Jacob given his vulnerable state of mind and trust issues. It might have worked, it might have been difficult to make him see sense, but there are aspects to this big, sensitive and challenging storyline that needed a little more care and the end of the week didn’t work as well for me.

Sweet Start

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h18m00s311Billy and Dawn’s budding relationship is the epitome of sweet. Somehow their new romance awkwardness has softened both characters and made them feel more than just pawns in their family’s drama. Around Billy, Dawn has an endearing innocence about her and Billy’s efforts to impress with an apron and a pretend home made meal were adorable. His encouragement of her job is a big improvement on the slimy way Ryan treated her and in turn it’s been a welcome change to see Billy in a more upbeat story rather than his dour moans about his past. Time will tell if these two manage to be one of those couples we really root for, but whatever happens I’ve got a feeling that Al may become a big thorn in their side.

Fail

Wendy’s Redemption

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h19m32s696If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen I’ve been trying and failing to shut up about Wendy Posner and her recurring role in Emmerdale. Rumours seem to be true that Wendy is being made into a regular character and it’s already posing a problem on screen. Don’t get me wrong, Susan Cookson is a great actress and had she had any other introduction to Emmerdale, she’d be welcomed with open arms, the problem is the way Wendy was written when we first met her cannot be glossed over. It seems inevitable that Wendy will have a redemption of sorts. She will (hopefully) realise her son was a vile rapist and struggle with the revelation – which would be an interesting story to tell. However, there’s an issue with the way Emmerdale have already started Wendy’s change of status without her having this realisation. We’ve already seen Wendy victimised and gaining Vic’s sympathises purely because Lee died and this week Emmerdale attempted to manipulatively have Wendy portrayed as the hero, helping Chas and baby Eve. Cynics like me might say, what’s heroic about Wendy doing her job? It doesn’t make her a nice person. It doesn’t make her worthy of forgiveness yet. Neither does a dead son. Not, and this is the crucial factor, when she repeatedly stalked, harassed and accused Victoria of being a liar. She has shown no remorse for this, no compassion for Vic and she still thinks the sun shone out of Lee and that she has some form of ownership over Vic’s unborn baby. Had Emmerdale tackled Wendy’s horrendous victim blaming first and given us time to see her remorse, then we might have been able to accept her into the village. As it stands, Wendy is being made a victim and a false hero, all while Vic is written to pity her. Terrible choices all round a really unpleasant watch.

Fave or Fail? (11-15 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! A big row split the Dingles this week and Arthur’s bullying of Archie intensified.

Faves

Team Charity

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-19h11m49s300The Dingles are a big family of hypocrites and this week was proof enough that they change their family rules when it suits! Charity had a tough week, and while some of it might have been of her own making, I was firmly in the Team Charity camp when it came to the Dingle divide. Sure, Charity has a chequered past – which Dingle doesn’t? But I was cheering her own when she lashed out at Cain and Aaron when Moses got kidnapped. One of the reasons Charity is such a good character is that she’s multi-layered and flawed, meaning she’s empathetic even when she’s done wrong. Perhaps it was the feisty performance of Emma Atkins as Charity fought her corner, or her vulnerable fear at the thought of losing Moses, but my sympathies were with her all the way. Neither Cain or Chas are parents of the year so their arguments against Charity were weak and it was right that Charity got to call out Cain for his pathetic behaviour – she might be one of the few able to get through to him. It’s unclear how long this manufactured animosity with Chas will continue, but give me Charity’s “messy but trying” outlook over Chas’s “holier than thou” any day!

The Big Split

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-18h53m55s836It was all over for Charity and Vanessa this week and while their split didn’t get the focus it needed towards the end of the week, the story still had some great scenes. As Vanessa learnt the truth about Charity’s dealings, she gave her the opportunity to tell the truth, but when Charity didn’t own up to the stolen money, Vanessa called time on their relationship. As Charity tried to defend herself, Vanessa veered between anger and sadness, making comparisons to her mum’s relationship to Frank’s dodgy dealings. There was great fire in their row proving that a bit of juicy conflict can bring out the best in an onscreen partnership and with Charity and Vanessa’s different outlooks on life, keeping that contrast will give them plenty of potential in future. There were also some lovely follow up scenes as Vanessa tried to put on a brave face and was comforted by Noah and Sarah. We haven’t seen much of Noah lately but as he’s been through countless partners of his mum, it was touching to see his bond with Vanessa. More of that please!

Arthur Boils Over

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-18h53m16s103I’ve real mixed feelings about Arthur’s current storyline. On the one hand, exploring the psychology of a child who hasn’t coped with the loss of a parent is a worthy and unique story to tell. However, I can’t help but feel Friday’s episode pressed fast-forward and turned an interesting slow burn into Emmerdale’s next demon child. Saying that, Arthur Clarke is one great actor and despite Arthur’s bullying is still empathetic at times. Particularly during Ashley’s birthday picnic, Alfie did a fantastic job at showing Arthur’s struggle and his need for someone to spot what he’s going through. Some of the writing has me concerned this story will get sensationalised too much too soon, but fingers crossed the performances can hold it together.

Fail

Dingle Bad Boys

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-18h52m49s845With both Cain and Aaron’s marriages over and the pair of them struggling to cope, they teamed up for some dodgy business this week. This partnership had a lot of potential but in the end, it all felt a little flat. There was no real jeopardy when it came to Moses’ capture (we all knew he’d be safe and well) and as events escalated their shrugging reactions and poor excuses of an apology were cold and cruel. Things got even worse when Chas bent over backwards to defend the two, with the men resembling more sulking teenagers than heartbroken husbands. But the biggest gripe in this was a lack of emotion. They both might have faced a big loss in their lives but playing irresponsible hard men lacked warmth. Obviously both of them can be resistant to opening up, and no one wants to see endless blubbing scenes, but more cracks in their bad boy bombast would have given the plot a welcome heart.