Fave or Fail? (31 July-4 August 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Robert move out of The Mill as Laurel did her best Broadchurch and Lawrence nearly died – again.

Faves

Love’s Young Dream

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h06m55s933Sometimes, away from the affairs and the angsty love stories you just want to watch a couple that are funny, endearing and sweet. Lydia and Sam got together properly this week and it was all kinds of adorable. Ever since they dated you could tell they were an oddball match made in heaven and this week things stepped up a gear after they went to a dance together. N’aww. With Samson as ship captain and giving his dad pep-talks we were treated to some really lovely scenes between father and son, as Sam surprised his boy by knowing what “friend-zoned” meant. Of course true love doesn’t run smoothly so after all his doubts, Sam misread the signals and thought Lydia wanted to date Paddy again. But thankfully this was all rectified in a brilliantly funny scene when she told Paddy to go away and leapt into Sam’s arms for a snog. I love how Lydia gets involved in so many of the plots with all her odd jobs and quirkiness, but putting her with Sam is a great move. For me they just work and they’re pretty heart-warming together. I really hope it lasts!

True Detective

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h09m13s273Laurel was in full Miss Marple mode again this week as she tried to uncover the truth about Emma Barton, even though she faced doubts and setbacks as she neared closer to the deadly secret. Every face-off between the women is gripping TV and superbly acted as determined Laurel tries to rattle an unravelling Emma. It’s frustrating to watch manipulative Emma at work, convincing others of her innocence and using Laurel’s alcohol addiction against her, but it’s still exciting to see the close calls and watch Laurel pick through the evidence and to try and take her down. It’s got to be close to the boys finding out now and I can’t wait! I hope Laurel can claw back some allies or at least find out something else to cement her suspicions, but with Emma looking the innocent grieving wife and Laurel seeming to others like she’s slipped back to drinking, it’s not looking hopeful.

A Wasted Life

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-21h53m29s448This almost made my fail list, simply because I’m gutted to see the end of Ronnie Hale. He deserved better. Last year his tragic backstory came to light – years of pining for a tortured and closeted Lawrence White – and they were powerful scenes with so much potential. Irritatingly Emmerdale side stepped this potential and Lawrence seemed to get over his hang-ups in the space of a few episodes and their struggle was never touched on again. Ronnie was a rare thing in the White family – kind hearted, sensitive and actually made a friend in the village, lovely Lisa Dingle. Ronnie and Lisa’s friendship was quickly formed but always felt genuine and warm. But as Lawrence’s true colours came to light this week Ronnie realised he’d wasted his whole life pining for a man who’d had a much darker life than he had realised. You’d think living with that lot he’d have worked it out by now? BFF Lisa came to collect him and drove him to the station where he walked sadly to his train, giving up all hope on life with Larry (even though he was suffering another near death experience at the time). Poor Ronnie. He was a sweet man, far too good for the likes of that family and John McArdle played his scenes with heart and passion. I’ll miss Ronnie and his friendship with Lisa and like this tweet by @WomanUndercover said – I hope he finds a handsome man on the train to spend his life with.

Fail

Same Old Story

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h10m09s671Since day one the main problem with the White family hasn’t changed, caught between villains one minute and victims the next, their main source of drama seems to be inner-family conflict. From time to time someone in the village or a guest character arrives to fan the flames but it soon leads to an intra-family feud. This week Lachlan kidnapped Tim (Chrissie’s bio uncle) with the help of Gerry (the only person who’s been a fun addition to the household) and all Lawrence’s secrets came tumbling out. What happened next? Oh only the same thing we’ve watched every few months! A dark family secret, Chrissie being horrified and disowning the family, Rebecca cluelessly trying to fix things and Lawrence almost dying. AGAIN. At this rate I’m half expecting Lawrence to collapse and regenerate. We know that most of them are approaching their exit, but this is tired ground and I’m past the point of caring. The family’s more interesting aspects – Chrissie’s ruthlessness, Lachlan’s unnerving darkness and Lawrence’s tortured past – seem completely abandoned in favour of tedium and now Robert’s scheming looks set to tread even more repetitive ground. Bored now – can’t the Whites hurry up and go?

Fave or Fail? (19-23 June 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was War of the Rs this week as Robron took on Ross and Harriet got stabbed.

Faves

Back in Action

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

Pot Pranks

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

A Welcome Presence

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

Finding Her Place

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

Fails

The Exposition Family

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

 

Scene of the Week (12-16 June 2017)

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There were some superb scenes in the Rhona storyline this week, but I picked this showdown between Priya and Chrissie as my unexpected choice for Scene of the Week. With Rakesh gone, Priya finally felt like the shackles were off and with that her true strong and gutsy self re-emerged as she gave Chrissie a few home truths. Chrissie too seems to have now found the perfect balance in the village – no longer a simpering victim nor the camp soap bitch with the clunky one-liners, she now has the nastiness and snobbery that comes with power as she tries to lord it over others. She’s far more believable and enjoyable, in a love-to-hate sort of way, like this. It’s how she always should have been written. Priya too, no longer weak willed under Rakesh’s shadow, stood up to Chrissie, pointing out her shameful mistakes and holding her head high in the face of Chrissie’s finger pointing. It was a real punch-in-the-air moment for Priya, name dropping Chrissie’s victims like that on the factory floor, and it’s always satisfying to see that over-privileged family taken down a peg or two!

Fave or Fail? (29 May-2 June 2017)

faveorfail

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

Faves

Solid Support

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

The Long Goodbye

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

Sweet Factory Silliness

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

Fails

Ropey Romance

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

Not Star-Crossed

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

Fave or Fail? (15-19 May 2017)

faveorfail

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

Faves

Mates Before Dates

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

Handsome Stranger

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

Different Direction

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

Fails

Filling the Gap

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

Storyline Amnesia

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

Fave or Fail? (8-12 May 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Rhona confided in Vanessa this week in outstanding scenes and the teen gang plot remained uninteresting.

Faves

Avoiding the Predictable

Emmerdale May 10 - YouTubeRhona’s story returned this week as she came back from her holiday with Leo and thankfully Pierce wasn’t anywhere to be seen. After Emmerdale’s fantastic and emotional portrayal of Rhona’s bravery in the aftermath of her rape I was concerned they might be tempted of going down a very soapy route of having her forgive him, or cope by being in denial over the attack and make her friends increasingly oblivious as Pierce continued to abuse her. After all he was very manipulative after the attack and warning her she had no chance in winning a trial against him. You could see how he’d chipped away at her and I worried that he might have destroyed all her resilience. But so far, and to my relief, this doesn’t seem to be the route they are taking this story. Rhona is being brave and strong, trying to cope with this alone despite the fear and the shame affecting her deeply. Even though she has returned to taking painkillers, Vanessa’s support is hugely important and I’m glad Emmerdale haven’t gone down a cliched route of her keeping quiet – right now this is not about any further evil deeds Pierce can do, this is about Rhona and the long-term impact his behaviour the rape has had on her.

Friendship

w56rvI got a reminder this week about how the long-term friendships on Emmerdale are something I love watching. There was a return to the Victoria and Finn friendship, that we haven’t seen in forever, one which feels far more heartfelt than the other pals the two of them have made. The actors have a nice chemistry and if Vic’s going to stay single for a bit then I hope we can return to having more scenes of these two together. And of course the biggest friendship factor this week was “Team Rhona”. Paddy, Marlon and Vanessa were all worried on her return and while they all took different and cautious approaches as the week went on, it was Vanessa who eventually got through to Rhona and allowed her to open up fully. The scenes following Rhona’s confession were beautifully acted and written with Vanessa saying all the things Rhona, and every other woman suffering in the same way, needed to and should hear. I was moved to tears as Vanessa offered to be there for talks or even a cuddle and her strong response to Rhona’s relapse was another fantastic moment in this story. Emmerdale characters and stories work best when they have a network of loved ones around them – family, spouses but also friends – and I hope we continue to see these believable friendships in all the on-going stories.

The Little Things

w56cTwo little moments in the week struck me as the perfect example of how well Emmerdale can squeeze in some great comedy. Take the tragic passing of Lydia’s cockatoo Steve and how this affected her interview up at Home Farm. Not only was the anecdote of his death as bonkers as Lydia herself, but the next day a spot of confusion had Chrissie assume Steve was Lydia’s dead friend rather than a bird. We don’t often get to see Chrissie in humorous scenes but her reaction to Steve being stuffed really tickled me and made me wish for more scenes where we get to see Chrissie as a bit more human rather than stuck with the White contingent. Then there was Sandy, technophobe and only two clicks away from a dodgy video. Laurel had to quickly cover Arthur’s eyes and then uncover them so he could get rid of the offending porn video. It was a throwaway scene but one with such warmth, humour and one that was very welcome after all the sadness in the Thomas’s household.

Fails

Underwhelming

Emmerdale - Adam Has Broken Victoria's Heart for the Last Time - YouTubeAdam and Victoria broke up (for good?) this week and after their previous “split” a few weeks ago, which while convoluted had some great performances, this week’s developments just felt underwhelming. Adam was in full on Neanderthal mode, blaming everyone but himself for kissing Vanessa– including his own mother – and these sorts of situations never put him in the best light. Vic took a hard line on the cheating (although it’s not been all that long since she forgave him worse) but it’s hard to know whether her resistance to forgiving him will last, particularly seeing as Emmerdale’s commitment to exploring Adam and Victoria’s relationship (good or bad) seems half-hearted at best. But perhaps the impact of this storyline has been significantly lessened by the oversaturation of cheating/mistake-kiss plots in the recent year. I’m SO tired of it and it doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. Surely even the scriptwriters are bored writing the same apology and forgiveness scenes for their couples?

Teenage Terror

Emmerdale - The Robbers Return to Intimidate Eric - YouTubeWho wouldn’t be scared by a gang of teenage thugs, ones who use threats, intimidation, theft and knives to terrify their victims? Dan suffered that very ordeal this week and was faced with the dilemma of whether to go through with identifying them to police or not, a dilemma which was particularly troublesome when their threats included hurting his daughter, Amelia. Despite this, teenage gangs never really translate well on screen and while hypothetically I can believe these characters would be intimidated, there just doesn’t feel like there’s any real threat when we watch it on screen. Stories of intimidation and insecurity are ones which need a slow-burn build up to feel real, but these Waterloo Road rejects throwing a sandwich and circling round Kerry doesn’t really cut it. Unfortunately that hasn’t helped to served Dan’s repetitive story and it’s not keeping my interest.

Dress like your fave: Chrissie

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Lady of the manor Chrissie White is trying to redeem herself after a spell of being the village villain but her style has always been about classic, sophisticated glamour. If you’ve got something resembling Chrissie’s budget then you might like this chic and boxy jacket from Hobbs – jackets and blazers are Chrissie’s go-to! Sometimes we see Chrissie in coloured and snug fitting knitwear but this monochrome number would look just as classy. At her most devious we saw Chrissie floating around Home Farm in a lot of black and a lot of blouses and she was never too far from a large handbag, perfect for her size of purse! She’s got a saucy side too (handcuffs anyone?!) so a wine coloured leather-look skirt would be the perfect sexy addition. To finish the look, Chrissie loves a smokey eye and expensive looking jewellery. We might not have the White family’s budget, but you can still get close to that rich girl style.

Fave or Fail? (6-10 March 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Dark times for many villagers, but we also saw the return of Lydia and Zak learnt about safe spaces – so not all bad times.

Faves

Dangerous Games

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

Private Struggles

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

Better Together

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

Some Self Awareness?

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

Fails

Only Scratching the Surface

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

Off Balance

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

Fave or Fail? (27 Feb-3 March 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! An unbearable time for poor Aaron in a week that saw the comedy kidnap of Rakesh.

Marvellous Marlon

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h56m47s947Marlon was a man of many talents this week as he got stuck into some emotionally fraught drama with Laurel at the start of the week, relationship tension of his own and then finally some brilliant comedy with Charity on Thursday. Having been a great comfort to the struggling Laurel, Marlon was forced to defend their almost-kiss to Sandy and to girlfriend Carly when the dust settled. While it was nothing but an emotional and difficult moment, Marlon was forced to defend their behaviour and gave Sandy an impassioned speech about how difficult Laurel’s life has become. As for Carly, cute as Carlon are, I’m not convinced she’s really as ready for the serious commitment Marlon is offering as she makes out she is – even with the promise of bubbles in the bath with him. Finally Marlon tried to rescue Charity and Frank from Megan’s discovery (despite him earlier being very narked that Charity wasn’t serving any customers) and ended up seeing A LOT more of Charity than he planned. Not even a wine glass held up to his face could hide that awkward moment!

Team Jai

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h59m30s877I have to be honest with you and share something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to admit. Okay. I like Jai. I’m fond of Jai. I even find myself agreeing with some of his opinions and this week I was all ready to have the “Team Jai” t-shirts made. Who’d have thought it back in 2015 when he was so unlikeable and cold-hearted? Jai was firmly in the “get Rakesh away from Priya” camp this week, even going as far as to try and pay him off. Sure, he doesn’t like the guy and there may be selfish reasons too but ultimately we’re in agreement: that Priya can do so much better. Jai’s scenes this week also involved him trying to jeopardise Priya’s move by dropping the bombshell on David and leaving before the fireworks and I admire his technique really. But whatever he has against Rakesh, he’s spot on about his sister and he did seem genuinely worried she might relapse and it’s impossible to disagree with the guy when he called Rakesh a loser and that she shouldn’t just forgive him. Too right, Jai. Too right.

Brutally Compelling but Too Cruel?

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-17h36m17s348When it comes to Aaron Dingle’s latest storyline I’m torn. It’s full of uncomfortable, dark and important material and it’s performed so superbly that the pain Aaron’s suffering feels very raw and real, but I can’t help but feel it’s too much and too cruel for someone who has been tortured their whole life. We know tragedy follows Aaron at every turn, but this time it feels too oppressive. On the plus side, Danny Miller is unquestionably and consistently fantastic, and Aaron’s pain alongside his family’s struggle is as compelling as it is heartbreaking and the portrayal of homophobia in prison is a worthy story to be told. Also the actors playing prisoners are excellent, particularly the chillingly good Samuel Edward-Cook who plays twisted Jason. But coming less than a year after Aaron saw his abusive father sentenced, Aaron had barely begun to step into the light of a hopeful future before even more pain was poured onto his life. Does there come a point where it’s all just two much on one character’s shoulders – one with a history of unbearable and untreated mental health struggles – and  particularly when we know this is just the start of his hell? Aaron’s had a life of self-torture, did we need to see such a brutal treatment of him so closely linked to his traumatic childhood? Gordon has become present again, even after his death, and the claustrophobic and devastating treatment of Aaron in prison feels like a particularly sickening punishment of an abuse and rape survivor when that story was handled so well. I’m hoping Emmerdale doesn’t lose sight of Aaron’s strength and that they can find the light again when his time inside ends.

Fails

Comedy Kidnap

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h57m12s021I don’t think there’s ever been a soap with more kidnaps than Emmerdale, but this week’s one came with a bizarre comedy element. Having set up a laughable “who bashed Rakesh over the head?” plot with multiple suspects, the real perpetrator was revealed to be Jimmy, who had tied Rakesh up in the Mill in an effort to prove his authority and avenge Nico. After trying to ease the bruising with a pack of frozen peas, Jimmy’s embarrassing backtracking began before he realised Rakesh thought he was harmless. Then came the bizarre tortures – the Aqua playlist (the whole album and not just Barbie Girl on repeat) and the threats of torching the place (only it was water rather than petrol). Sure, elements of this were mildly amusing, but Jimmy could only carry half the comedy himself and the rest fell as flat as Rakesh did when he tumbled out of Mill’s window. The heart of Jimmy’s revenge – his being devastated at Nicola’s paralysis and insecurity – was lost in the scenes bizarre nature and the truce both sides came to in the hospital seemed hollow when Rakesh’s injuries were only superficial. If this was soap karma, I’m not sure this was enough – or the right tone either.

Nothing Changes

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h58m53s640The hugely repetitive White family dramas were back this week with Chrissie’s suspicions being at the forefront. Lawrence remarked to her that she says sorry a lot but nothing seems to change with her. Well, you could argue the same for the whole family who never seem to move forward and outside of their own bubble – meaning their inter-familial conflicts are on a loop. This week, once again suspicious of her father’s choice in partner (yep, we’ve been here with Bernice AND Ronnie before) and believing Ronnie to be scamming Lawrence for money, Chrissie ended up falling out with Lawrence. Once again we had scenes of Lawrence shouting about his disappointment in her, how she was bitter and money grabbing and how she was forcing him to choose sides. If it sounds familiar it’s because we’ve been here countless times before, no doubt leading to Chrissie yet again be welcomed back into her father’s arms. Without any other ties to the village the Whites are stuck up at Home Farm with only a passing nemesis now and again. Chrissie could be sympathetic, she could also be a soap bitch character but neither side is ever fully explored in any depth without us going round in circles. Ronnie’s character didn’t fare much better with him going to extremes to teach Chrissie a lesson – he’s not really the rival to challenge her villainy and with no real opponent Chrissie just comes across as a spoilt brat again.