Fave or Fail? (22-26 July 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! In the week that Bernice organised the Wild West event, Kim discovered Jamie and Rhona’s plot against her.

Faves

Love for Liam

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h35m05s324Surely one of Emmerdale’s best decisions in the past year was turning Dr Cavanagh from a guest character into a fully-fledged permanent addition? These past two weeks have been proof enough of his success. Actor Jonny McPherson recently described Liam as a combination between Hugh Grant and Alan Partridge and that seems to be a winning formula. This week saw the fall out of last week’s split with Bernice and Liam wasn’t being won round easily, giving her the cold shoulder in the pub and holding back on his enthusiasm for the Wild West event. As Jimmy was roped in to helping reunite Bernice and Liam, he faked symptoms of a rare disease and Liam’s sarcastic response to the “diagnosis” was genius. Also perfect was Liam’s deadpan delivery of “The murder was of our love, the murderer was you, the mystery was why you ever thought me capable of harming a single, glossy hair on your head.” Emmerdale have got an absolute gem on their hands with Liam. He’s got the posh fop air of a romantic lead while also being a slightly nerdy comedy character and he’s one of the best things about Emmerdale right now!

Village Shenanigans

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h36m22s159After last week’s disastrous misunderstanding, Bernice had some big making up to do when it came to Liam. Determined to win him back, she put her plans in motion to organise a village murder mystery event in his honour, giving proceeds to charity and choosing a Wild West Theme. Bernice doesn’t do things by half and she spent most of the week roping in other villagers to help – giving her plenty of amusing interactions with characters who could barely tolerate her antics like Debbie and David. Spoiler fans will know the Wild West event is centre stage for Emmerdale’s big summer week next week, but this event planning has already given us lots of great community feel scenes. From Bernice brainstorming for theme ideas in the pub, to trying to get David to persuade Eric to dress up, it was an enjoyable watch. Emmerdale should do more village events more often. Where have the county shows gone?

Crisis in the Factory

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h43m19s547The Sharmas were thrown into crisis this week, with Jai, Priya and Rishi all having confessions to make. Jai wanted to come clean about him and Laurel, Priya wanted her family’s support over her eating disorder relapse – but it was Rishi who was hiding the biggest secret. Desperate to help Manpreet with her mounting debts, Rishi had let the sweet factory crumble, forcing him to take a secret loan from Kim Tate. Of course, having seen the Wild West Trailer we all know this is going to end in disaster but I enjoyed the family scenes this week, especially those which saw Jai try to comfort sister Priya. Although some viewers might have always questioned how the Sharmas managed to keep a rural sweet factory in profit anyway, we could have done with seeing a bit more of Manpreet’s struggle in the run up to this shock reveal about the business! Will it survive after next week’s shock events?

Fails

No More Mr Nice Guy

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h35m50s288This week marked the start of a new storyline for Matty as Emmerdale tackles toxic masculinity. This is a current and fascinating topic and Matty’s a believable character to get sucked into a world of lad culture and damaging behaviour – but is he the right choice or character? It’s completely understandable that Matty would want to impress these football lads, being that he’s not very secure in his own masculinity, but Matty seems to work best when he’s a bit fun and cheeky and his vulnerable scenes surrounding his transition have been good too. Knowing Matty isn’t always the most popular character, making him so vile so quickly with his new friends isn’t going to earn him any new fans and might his realisation about this new lads come too late in making him sympathetic. It’s a shame too this story has seen his other friendships drift away as he, Ellis and Vic were a great trio and his new venture with Ryan was an enjoyable change too. It’s a great topic for a story but it could damage Matty’s likeability.

The Beginning of the Affair

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h42m50s484This week Moira gave into all that lingering temptation – those drawn out hand touches, Nate wandering around in a towel – and reciprocated Nate’s snog in the barn. It seems Emmerdale are hinting that there’s a lot more to Nate than meets the eye, but even so, it’s Moira’s sudden sexual interest in the cardboard cut-out farm hand that’s hard to buy into. Moira and Cain have always had a rocky marriage but since he supported her through her breakdown over killing Emma, you’d think they’d be stronger than ever, but Emmerdale’s engineered attempts to give them strife seemed forced. Cain upping and leaving without a word, Moira continually pissed off, even when he’s trying to make amends? It all feels clumsy and shoe-horned when the acting skills of Natalie J Robb and Jeff Hordley could easily give power to well written strain. Even Natalie, who makes sexy look easy, is struggling to give the scenes with Nate any sort of spark. A roll in the hay with a buff and shirtless farmer should be electric but it’s plain awkward, especially when Nate’s attitude feels predatory and creepy. Not to mention that when Cain and Moira reconnected on screen this week, even in light of Moira’s wandering attention, their brief sparks could burn the farm down compared to Nate’s whimper. I’m dreading the rest of the affair if it’s more of the same – the payoff better be worth it.

 

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Fave or Fail? (17-21 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 saw Maya face a year in prison and Pete cheated on Rhona.

Faves

Sweet Romance

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h55m14s996Between the dark and the sad plots, sometimes exactly what we need is something sweet and heart-warming and we had that in buckets this week as Jai and Laurel gave into their feelings. I’d have been happy to watch an even slower burn of this pair falling for each other, but their tension and unresolved feelings this week were really satisfying to watch, especially when they finally kissed. With Nicola trying to set Laurel up on a test date to up her game, we were treated to hilarious scenes with Jimmy and Laurel on a practice date after a case of mistaken identity, then in true rom-com style it was miscommunication after miscommunication as Jai and Laurel kept missing out on that elusive date. From stuttering doubts, to hints about a romantic date, all these two needed to do was talk! Even the day after their kiss things were weird between them, but thankfully their smitten smiles and Jai calling Laurel “amazing” seemed to seal a happy fate. Despite these two feeling very unexpected as a couple, it works, and the writing has kept it both awkward and endearing. Couples we can root for are the backbone of soap, so I hope Emmerdale know what a good thing they’ve got in Jai and Laurel and don’t rush it or ruin it anytime soon.

Sugden Split

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h56m20s214Siblings Victoria and Robert were at odds again this week after Victoria discovered that Robert and Aaron had gone to see Lee and had been fly-tipping with posters of his face, saying the word ‘rapist’. Once the police came knocking blaming her, Victoria wanted to wash her hands of Robert, furious that his revenge was making it harder for her move on. Struggling to cope with the thought of letting down his sister, Robert and Victoria eventually reconciled at their dad’s graveside. This week’s scenes were well balanced, giving time to explore both of the siblings’ emotions and showcased tender and believable moments between the pair. Actors Isabel Hodgins and Ryan Hawley continue to have a lovely rapport onscreen and in the run up to Ryan’s exit, it’s been fitting to explore their family relationship in this depth before we lose another Sugden.

Family Impact

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h01m08s369One of the strongest aspects of the Jacob and Maya storyline, besides Louisa Clein’s fantastic performances, has been Emmerdale showing the impact of her abuse on both Jacob and David, and their relationship. This week Emmerdale took the surprising decision to have David attend a counselling session to talk about his complex feelings about what Maya had done. Much like the immediate aftermath of David learning about what Maya did, David’s response has been one of conflicting emotions, guilt, blame, pain and all the rest and that feels like an authentic reaction in situations like this. Currently Jacob isn’t the position to believe counselling is right for him, but in time hopefully Emmerdale will show a multi-layered response to Jacob’s future, with family, friends, therapists and social workers involved.

Fails

Maya Meets Her Fate

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h02m05s682After months of their most controversial and important storyline playing out, Emmerdale’s Maya finally faced the courts and exited from the show. Due to Maya facing a lesser charge than the one she actually committed, Emmerdale had to walk a fine line between realism and a satisfying narrative conclusion. Unfortunately, while Maya’s charge rang true to her convicted crime, after watching her manipulations and twisted grooming of Jacob, a twelve month sentence felt like an unsatisfying conclusion to the story we watched. While Emmerdale’s focus on aftermath has concentrated on Jacob and Maya, there’s been an anti-climatic aftermath when it comes to the rest of the community. A local teacher grooming a pupil should be huge, but it’s lacked any wider impact and sadly that’s left the conclusion feeling not only a little flat but repetitive. Rather than extend the story by asking questions about how Maya’s behaviour has impacted Jessie, Liam, Leanna and the other teens, even Maya’s mum who has been mentioned, we’ve only seen the same cyclical rows between Jacob and David. There are only so many times Jacob can scream and shout “I love Maya!” before it becomes a bit tiresome to watch. Emmerdale has a long history of taking a really important story and handling it with care and elements of the Maya and Jacob story have been fantastic, but since the Big Night Out episodes, it’s loss its way, sadly leaving us with a rather flat conclusion.

Signs of Trouble?

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h03m26s743Nate continued his lothario ways this week and got a soaking in the pub, but eventually got on the right side of Amy when he rescued Kyle from danger. Foolishly Amy, Nate and Moira decided to keep Amy’s lax parenting a secret from Cain and we could all guess how he’d react when he found out! This turn of events, leading to a rift between Cain and Moira and turning Nate’s reputation around all felt a bit predictable and yet formed a significant part of this week’s storylines. Amy and Nate dominated scenes (still failing to see what his appeal is!) and not only is their romance low on chemistry, but it seems Nate actually has his sights on Moira instead. Whether his intentions are purely sexual, or if there’s something else at play here, remains to be seen but the idea of Cain and Moira splitting over this isn’t a pleasant prospect. Nate’s interest in Moira was delivered in heavy-handed and lingering shots of hands touching and despite Cain and Moira’s marriage being on rocky ground recently, does any Emmerdale fan have the appetite to watch them split for someone as charmless at Nate? Not only do Natalie Robb and Jeff Hordley have some of the best chemistry on the show, they’re beloved by viewers too. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since Coira were split for months and with Zak and Lisa gone, Robron on their way out, the last thing we need is another fan-favourite pair separated. If Nate does come between them, then let’s hope there’s a bigger story at play here and not just Moira getting down and dirty with the farmhand. Been there, done that.

Fave or Fail? (1-5 April 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! In the week that Debbie learnt Joe was alive, Chas and Paddy had good news.

Faves

Don’t Mess With Moira

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h03m38s923There’s something I find completely compelling about Moira and Cain’s relationship, and as they battled Kim’s grim blackmail plot, we saw their relationship put to the test. Actors Natalie and Jeff put everything into their scenes so that even the smallest, silent scene carries so much weight. Their chemistry is some of the show’s best. They might have spent the last few years coping with various accidental murders, but at the heart of it, these two are just really solid characters and their marriage is as angsty and tumultuous as all good soap couples. This week we got to see more of feisty Moira as she struggled to cope with the thought of Cain sleeping with Kim, even breaking down in tears at the thought of their sacrifice. When he didn’t go through with it (and his turning down of Kim was very satisfying) the doubt was a challenge for them both, but it was even more rewarding to see Moira go after Kim head on and shove her against the wall. Moira certainly isn’t someone Kim should mess with and I love her for that.

Mr Wolf

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h04m37s203Paddy’s birth father Bear Wolf crashed back into the village this week, wrecking Grace’s memorial garden in the process. But strip away the embarrassing Lycra and wrestling gimmick and Emmerdale might actually have a decent character on their hands. Yes he’s a sleazy chancer, lying about his injury to get sympathy and a place to stay, but Bear offers something a bit different to the village and to Paddy’s character. His scenes with Dr Cavanagh were amusing too, as Liam had to keep referring to him as Mr Wolf. Will he be everyone’s cup of tea? Unlikely, but I wouldn’t be opposed if Emmerdale had plans to make him long term.

Kim’s Softer Side

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h04m07s514The mention of Kim’s son’s name this week was like flicking a switch. Once the folk at Home Farm had stopped pontificating about Joe, it was time for Graham to play his trump card and mention the elusive Jamie (or James Tate to you and me). You’d think Graham might have used him as leverage earlier in trade for his precious Joe, but it seems Jamie is Kim’s true Achilles’ heel – and every good villain needs one of those. If Kim’s really going to live up to her potential then we need to see her become more fully rounded, not just making threats and cartoon one liners. She might have her horses, but we need to see more of Kim’s human side, her down time and Jamie could be the answer to that. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see this aspect of her personality soon!

Bonus Faves:

  • I’m on the fence about newbie Aiesha. She seems a hybrid of Leyla and early Priya, but toned down she could be good fun.
  • Another great scene with Jack Downham this week as Noah learnt Joe is still alive

Fails

Relationship Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h03m04s454This week saw the end of Dan and Kerry’s relationship in what might be the world’s worst timing. Not only was it Dan’s birthday, but he was also dumped straight after proposing. Awkward! The signs have been there for some time, but I have mixed feelings about their separation. On the one hand, Kerry’s long been the best part of the Spencer family and has been a bit of a long-suffering spouse, but on the other hand, she’s had her fair share of unlikeable moments too. Dan and Kerry were something of a bit of an Emmerdale staple couple and as relationships don’t last that long, it was good to see a fairly happy relationship in the long term – they’re much-needed in a soap. With Dan not wanting to upset Amelia, he wants to play happy families, but Kerry’s already close to breaking point and I dread the thought of more rows in the Spencer household. Surely this family is one more suited to something a bit more comedic? It’s been all doom and gloom for them lately. Dan and Kerry might have out grown each other, but at the same time, they still seem suited? Who else will put up with them?

Nonsensical

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h02m35s269I feel like I’m complaining about Graham every week, but this week’s episodes were another reminder of his pointlessness. Since the reveal of Joe’s fate, Graham’s dramatic drunken spiral makes even less sense and recent attempts to explain it away haven’t helped the cause. Graham’s explanations don’t add up. What’s really stopping Graham from conducting secret phone calls or visiting Joe? There’s no reason to it. He’s got quite the cosy set up with Kim letting him live at Home Farm, so it’s hardly fear that’s holding him back from keeping contact with Joe. If it’s some enduring love for Kim, I’m not buying that either. This storytelling for Graham was once enigmatic and intriguing, now it’s an incoherent, inconsistent mess. Emmerdale might think they’ve got this stoic, ex-SAS mystery man on their hands, but with no real ties to the village, and confusing characterisation, Graham’s a real weak link in the village right now.

 

Fave or Fail? (14-18 Jan 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 huge week for the Dingles as Charity and Vanessa got engaged, and Cain told Debbie he killed Joe.

Faves

For Better or Worse

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-11h00m50s589After last week’s shock stabbing for Vanessa, Charity only had one thing on her mind this week as she sought to stage the best proposal of all time for her girlfriend. Feeling the pressure, especially when Tracy got involved, Charity was left to her own devices and hijacked a posh guy’s huge and OTT proposal at Home Farm. From Charity’s panic and scheming with Chas and Tracy to her hilarious attempts to steal the outlandish proposal, the Vanity proposal plot was full of laughs and a script of brilliant lines. It was only later when Vanessa returned to Home Farm, wanting to hear Charity out after the earlier disappointment, that the pair’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. The laughs of the earlier scenes were Charity at her best, but the mixing of her dry and drunken humour in the love declarations really worked in showing her vulnerability. As we move towards the wedding here’s hoping the stories allow Vanessa’s character to become more fleshed out and not overwhelmed by Dingle drama.

Maya’s Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-11h01m31s517Maya’s grooming of Jacob continues to be Emmerdale’s biggest story, but it’s still not an easy watch. The fact the story is so excruciating is a sign that it’s working, particularly as Maya devised ways to keep Jacob quiet as well as pushing him to go further in their liaisons. Their school hook-up and meeting point in the kids’ den felt particularly sordid, but Louisa Clein’s delivery of Maya’s butter-wouldn’t-melt manipulations are perfect for the role. I did feel a concern this week that perhaps the subtly in the story had been dropped in favour of showing Maya enthusiastically twist and play Jacob for her own amusement – but perhaps she’s growing comfortable because she’s done this all before? I do wish however that Emmerdale had spent longer bedding Maya into the village, giving her friends or allies, before embarking on this story, because it inevitably means that David, Jacob and family aside, the impact is going to be minimal, even with ex Liam in the village, and that might make the resolution flatter.

Debbie Finds Out

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-10h58m43s348Finally – finally – all that whispering can stop at Butler’s Farm because Cain’s secret was out, and he told Debbie that he killed Joe. Understandably Debbie was horrified and Charley Webb’s performances were some of her best as all her pain and horror at her Dad’s cover-up came pouring out. Both Charley and Jeff Hordley work so well together that even though I find the story a bit of a dud, their on-screen chemistry is compelling. Jeff somehow manages to make Cain’s lashing out and his downfall empathetic, even when you’re screaming at the screen begging him to stop hurting his loved ones. I think the writing in this story has been damaging for Moira, who has become less and less like the woman viewers liked and more of a ruthless mob wife. Naturally the Cain and Moira’s relationship has lost the warmth and heart too. Here’s hoping that in time both characters can move away from this story (if Graham ever owns up to the truth) and become more grounded again.

Bonus Faves:

  • After this week’s fantastic comedic partnership between Charity and Tracy – and now that they’re about to become in laws – I hope we see lots more of them. They have so much hilarious potential.
  • This week was the first time we saw Eric and Ellis interact as Eric learnt about ‘gains’ and Eric gave Ellis all the shade about his hockey lessons. More please!
  • Spamela Henderson the piggy of our dreams. Great idea Sam. The more animals in Emmerdale the better.
  • After seeing Kerry and Jimmy at the school careers fair – let’s have more of these sorts of community events!

Fail

Dead or Alive

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-10h59m04s801The biggest problem in the long running saga of Joe’s death is the biggest question of all – is he really dead? With Emmerdale seemingly unwilling to break any hearts and reveal whether he has actually carked it, and interviews with the cast hedging their bets, it’s removed any real tension. With half the audience expecting a “shock” last minute twist with Joe returning to Home Farm, it’s difficult to invest in the full fall-out of his absence. Had we seen Graham’s grisly dumping of the body then perhaps his meltdown and then Machiavellian plan to let Cain take the rap would have had more impact, but for now there’s the potential that all this gravel-voiced angst is for nothing. Admittedly it’s a plot that requires everyone to a) find Graham’s monotonous threats compelling b) to have invested in the Joe/Debbie love story and find her plight sympathetic and not at all hypocritical and c) believe Debbie’s hatred of Cain will last more than a few months – so it’s a bit of a losing battle for me. But if Emmerdale confirmed Joe’s status one way or the other then we’d get part that wishy-washy aspect at least.

9 Emmerdale Wishes for 2019

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We’ve just begun a shiny new year and it’s the perfect time to ponder what storylines or changes we’d like to see for Emmerdale in 2019. I had a good think, I asked on Twitter and here are my Top 9 wishes for Emmerdale in 2019.

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Backstory for Vanessa

Since becoming Charity’s girlfriend, we’ve seen a lot more of Vanessa but it would be nice to see more of her in her own right. Besides dad Frank we know very little about Vanessa’s family and past. Isn’t it about time someone from Vanessa’s past was introduced, or why not meet her mum? If the rumours are true and a Vanity wedding is on the cards then this is the perfect time to explore more about Vanessa.

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Show Some Success

Whether it’s a business going under, a plan going awry or exams being failed, we’ve seen a lot of failure over the years. Characters can’t always been happy and winning, but I think it’s about time someone had some good luck. 2018 saw Tracy start a new business and it would be great to see ambition pay off. Then there are characters like the Kings who haven’t been high-flying for years. Nicola is someone always looking for a bigger and better life – why not have her reach a level of success? And if the soap gods work their magic, maybe she and Jimmy realise that it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be!

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Big Stories for Coira and Robron

Two of Emmerdale’s biggest and most beloved couples reunited last year but since then their storylines have been bitty. Cain and Moira had Matty, Debbie and Graham to contend with, while Robert and Aaron supported their sisters and Rebecca through their big stories. But what next for the two big couples? Cain and Moira spent a lot of the year apart on screen so something that unites them and repairs the distance of their time apart would be good. For Robert and Aaron in their first year of married life, a story that changes the dynamic between them would be interesting to see – it’d be good to see Aaron getting in on the schemes for once! Whatever the stories ahead for both couples, it seems obvious that viewers just want to see more of their favourite couples together in great stories!

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More Village Gossip

Since losing characters like Betty and seeing less of comedic gems like Pearl, the village has been missing that key ingredient: gossip. Community is a huge part of village life and it was great to see more of that in 2018 but it’s not just parties and events that could tie characters and stories together – it’s also villagers having a natter about what else is going on the village! There’s plenty of scandal and drama along Main Street so there’s ample opportunity for big-mouthed characters to stick their oar in.  

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A Funny Feel Good Wedding

Happy weddings are a rare event for soap, but I’d love to see a wedding in 2019 for a fun loving couple. There’s Sam and Lydia, Faith and Eric or even new couple Liam and Bernice. These are genuinely funny, heart-warming couples who deserve a special day – and you just know the weddings would be full of laughs. It doesn’t all have to be disasters and slapstick, but imagine Lydia’s dance routine or Bernice going Bridezilla. And there’s always room for a classic soap twists and turns – let’s just see the villages having a good time.

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No More Special Episodes

I’ve loved Emmerdale’s attempt to reinvigorate the soap genre with special episodes, flashbacks and episodes that really dig deep into a character’s psyche. But now I think it’s time to give those kinds of episodes a rest and stick to good quality, linear storytelling. The more special episodes are made the less unique they get. Save them for when they really matter, Emmerdale!            

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Keep Kim 3D

My biggest wish for 2019 is that Emmerdale make the most of Kim’s return and don’t turn her into a caricature. Kim is an iconic Emmerdale soap bitch, but she’s not just a campy villain and I hope that when she returns the writers won’t lose sight of that and tarnish the fond memories viewers have of her original tenure. Keep Kim grounded, with flaws and vulnerabilities and that way her one-liners and sharp attitude will keep Kim at her best.

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Give Jai and Priya Something Gritty

2018 was a complete waste of the Sharmas. Priya briefly struggled with her mental health but that was glossed over quickly and Priya joined the rest of the family for silly sitcom subplots. Jai and Priya have a great sibling relationship and have been on the side-lines for ages so I think it’s about time they had a great, emotionally testing story.

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Reinvent Debbie Dingle

Oh Debbie, where to begin? She might be seen as the leading lady of the Dales, but unfortunately Debbie’s stories (and her personality) need a rethink. We’ve explored the same old ground for her when it comes to her love life and there isn’t much that manages to raise a smile. Even when she does something dark and reckless (like the acid attack story) her family manage to treat Debbie as a victim. With Joe gone and the truth about to be revealed, it’s time to shake Debbie up and give her something to do that we’ve not seen before. Could Emmerdale explore her bisexuality again? Give her a new friendship? A new job?

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2018 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2018. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10. Bernice and Liam

Three of Emmerdale’s best decisions in 2018 were these: making dishy Dr Liam Cavanagh a full-time cast member; Bernice ditching dull Daz and finally, making Liam and Bernice a couple. In just a short time, Bernice’s giggling crush on Dr C turned into a mutual attraction and the pair were carrying on like a couple of teenagers. Their relationship has managed to be both sweet and laugh-out-loud funny and uses both characters to their best. With Gabby and Leanna on their hands things won’t be easy, but as long as we keep having this Carry On humour and a relationship full of warm then I hope Cavastock last and last.

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9. Matty Barton

Matty has fitted into village life so well it seems strange to think he only arrived in June! Matty’s shock appearance at Butler’s and the subsequent fall-out was Emmerdale at its best. Matty’s reveal was great character led drama about a family and this continued as characters like Moira, Cain and Victoria reacquainted themselves with him. Actor Ash Palmisciano has brought so much warmth and humour to the role, that apart from it being interesting to have a trans character in the show and explore new ground in storylines, he’s also been great fun to have around, be it in the pub or in David’s shop. I’ve been torn between liking his friendship with Vic and loving the slow burn romance, but regardless, Matty’s one of the best newcomers in 2018.

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8. Pete and Rhona

When spoilers circulated at the beginning of the year claiming Pete and Rhona were going to hook up, put me down as someone that thought it sounded ridiculous! Fast forward 12 months and they are one of my favourite couples in Emmerdale. Pete was one of my most hated characters in 2017 after the Priya affair, and after Pierce, Rhona needed something fun and sparky, someone who would treat her well and communicate with her. Did anyone expect that from Pete Barton? These two have cracking chemistry, as well as Rhona performing miracles and actually making Pete seem mature and likeable. Who knew?! One of this year’s highlights was seeing Pete try and bond with Leo, even learning Makaton and it was moments like this that added real depth and heart into the pairing. I’m a big fan, Emmerdale – don’t let me down!

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7. Joe Tate Reveal

For one minute, just forget what a massive watered-down disappointment Joe Tate ended up being and cast your mind back to January 2018 where “Tom Waterhouse” revealed to a packed street that he was in fact “Joseph Tate”. It was the twist all viewers had been waiting for and delivered with such punch. Debbie and Charity’s world shattered and every criticism about the shallow Tom and Debbie fling and the golf course story all made sense. Joe swaggered around the village as the arrogant, campy soap villain, demolishing Wishing Well and injecting a real sense of Tate ruthlessness back into Home Farm, making the Dingles’ lives a misery. It was a glorious time of fun boo-hiss antagonism. It’s just a shame it all went so wrong…

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6. Ellis Chapman

Ellis only arrived in September, but already he has become one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale. When Ellis rocked up in September to see his mum Jessie, no one could have predicted how quickly he would settle into the village, but with a relationship with Vic, a job at the scrapyard and the best friendship with April he feels right at home. Not only does Ellis have the charisma and humour (and the dress sense) to carry any scene he’s in, he also has the slightly cynical, disenfranchised millennial vibe, which has been an entertaining clash with Marlon. Now that Billy’s finally arrived I’m expecting to see new sides to Ellis and I can’t wait.

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5. The Coira Reunion

It’s fair to say that Cain and Moira had a very rough start to the year, surrounded still by the lingering fall-out from Emma Barton’s death. But Coira were meant to be and their on/off tempestuous relationship could only end in one way. With Moira ready to leave the village for good, Cain made a last-ditch attempt to reunite with her, telling her to meet him at the bridge at 5pm. This was real rom-com stuff and when Moira finally arrived (late), Cain’s teasing quip melted all tension and the two kissed to seal their future together. Natalie J Robb and Jeff Hordley’s chemistry is addictively good and after a long wait, the reunion was so worth it.

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4. The Robron Reunion

Cain and Moira weren’t the only pair to have a reunion to rival the best rom-coms. After a year of hell for Robron, Robert was dragged to a gay bar by his girl squad to help him move on from Aaron. This hysterical ensemble of characters made for one of the best episodes of 2018, but the hilarious turned to heart-wrenching as Aaron realised he couldn’t be without his estranged terrible dancer of a husband. After all the best rom-com tropes, the crossed wires, a meaningful location (the garage!) and heart-stopping conversations, Aaron delivered a desperate speech to Robert, listing all the reasons he loved and appreciated him and the two were back together where they belonged. This had buckets of romance and emotion and proved that after all this time the Robron magic is still there.

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3. Emma Atkins’ Winning Performances

Arguably Emmerdale’s biggest character of 2018 was THE Charity Dingle. After fairly low-key stories since her reintroduction after prison, this year was a gamechanger for Charity. From discovering her son was still alive, to finding love with Vanessa, to getting Bails sent down for rape and abuse, Charity’s 2018 was huge. Elements of the Bails story felt repetitive and drawn out, especially coming so soon after two other big rape stories in Emmerdale, but Emma Atkins’ retelling of the abuse Charity faced stayed captivating. Through the ups and downs of Charity’s year, be it her sharp tongue, humour or fragility, the consistently brilliant performances from Emma Atkins have been a constant. Charity’s entertainment factor is endless and her caustic humour can liven up even the dullest week of stories.

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2. Thomas Atkinson’s Killer Portrayal

The second week of January 2018 featured one hell of a car crash as Lachlan White tried to kill his entire family, wanting “make all the monsters disappear”. We’ve been waiting years for Emmerdale to fully embrace Lachlan’s cold-hearted and entitled darkness and this year Lachlan went from deranged to serial killer as his behaviour escalated to tormenting, gaslighting, imprisonment, torture and multiple murders. Yikes. The story suffered from lags and disappointments, but actor Thomas Atkinson was incredible in the role, progressing from a lost-boy out of his depth to stone-cold evil. At his best, Thomas made Lachlan creepily empathetic and then, in the next breath twisted and cold. In the end, the story let him down but some of Emmerdale’s best scenes in 2018 had Thomas at the helm.

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1. Tracy’s Powerful Year

So, my top spot? The brave and beautiful Tracy Shankley. The year began with another lazy cheating plot as David slept with Leyla (offscreen) and shattered Tracy’s heart, but worse was to come when a man from her past appeared, pallying up with David and blackmailing Tracy over her secret past as a prostitute. As David turned a cold shoulder and blamed her, ashamed of her past, Tracy – with the help of some allies – realised she deserved far better and dumped him for good. Amy Walsh is one of Emmerdale’s best, delivering raw and vulnerable performances and making Tracy an incredibly empathetic and strong woman. I’ve loved her empowered speeches this year as she made so many right, but difficult choices, and she has been my stand-out star of 2018. It was a real shame her storyline about prostitution was rushed and that Amy Walsh has been overlooked for award nominations. Here’s to a bigger and better year for Tracy and her new business in 2018 and please Emmerdale, please, don’t reunite her with David.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2018 and Happy New Year!

Fave or Fail? (15-19 Oct 2018)

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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 Cain did a bunk from the village and Sarah finally got a new heart.

Faves

Diane’s Dominance

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h02m40s981My absolute highlight this week had to be Diane. If it wasn’t her amazing face pulling, then it was her brilliant lines of dialogue and her sarcastic commentary on Bernice’s love life. Diane is a gem of a character and her relationship with her on screen kids (including her step kids) is a highlight. Not only was Diane there to give Vic a hug and express her concerns to Robert, but her onscreen relationship with love-life-disaster-zone Bernice was cracking with funny dialogue followed by some comfort and empathy. The two have a fantastic rapport and I’m glad we’ve seen a bit more of them lately as Bernice struggled to keep a lid on her blossoming feelings for Liam and push Daz onto Diane’s plate. I loved Diane’s outrage at being used as a scapegoat when Bernice was trying to get rid of Daz, but it wasn’t long before Diane got her own back by sending him to the BnB when she knew Bernice and Liam were there. My dream would be to get Diane back behind the bar but if that’s out of the question then just more of her would be a great start!

Vic Gets a Storyline

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h08m32s105Since Adam’s departure, Victoria’s main role besides her job in the pub, has been looking after Rebecca, but let’s face it, even when her husband was around Vic didn’t have much in the way of a storyline. Once Vic had discovered Moira was behind Emma’s death that all changed and this week, Vic took a central role in Emmerdale in her quest to find absent Adam. I was really glad to see Victoria’s feelings and pain got a real focus, rather than keeping her in the background supporting others. This week, feeling betrayed by Robert and Aaron, Vic did some digging and ended up in a perilous situation when she got scammed by a lowlife posing as a PI. When the truth about Adam’s location came out, devasted Victoria broke down when she learnt he’d moved on and found someone else. This was a horrible dose of reality for Victoria as she had still be pining for Adam and unable to move on herself. Actress Isabel Hodgins played these scenes with real heartbreak and despite Vic sometimes being like a bull in a china-shop, I found her really empathetic. After a pep talk with Diane, Vic was quick to get glammed up and try and move on with Ellis, but it’s clear even that might be a struggle.

The Beginnings of Something Darker?

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h03m28s238No one quite knows what newbie Maya Stepney is up to just yet, but with a casual disregard for her rules and responsibilities as a teacher, as well as blurting out cruel retorts to ex-stepdaughter Leanna, there’s a hint of a dark side there. Now that Jacob is crushing hard on her, his teacher and his dad’s girlfriend, there’s lots of speculation that this story is heading in a dark grooming storyline. This would be a really interesting and horrible to watch direction but one that would prove a challenging storyline for the characters involved. Done well I think this could be exactly the kind of gritty story Emmerdale would excel at.

Bonus Faves:

  • Matty, Ellis. Ellis, Matty. Vic’s got a tough choice on her hands and so have I! I love both guys and their charm and chemistry with Vic. It’s hard to decide who would make the better pairing
  • Another great scene with Jack Downham this week was the moment Graham gave him Chris Tate’s cufflinks – great bit of Tate family history too
  • Bernice and Liam’s cute but comic hook ups continue to be a massive highlight. With Liam using words like ‘beguiling’ you can see why Bernice fell hard and fast!

Fail

Feeling Distant

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h10m26s677We all know Cain Dingle isn’t a man to wear his heart on his sleeve and talk about his problems, but I’m a bit disappointed to see him go all cold and distant when it comes to Moira. If anyone knows about big dark secrets then it’s her and she’d easily be on his side if a war brewed with Debbie. This being soap, Moira’s bound to discover Cain’s guilty secret eventually but I can’t help but feel there’s been a disappointing lack of Cain and Moira content ever since they reunited. When Cain supported Moira during her Emma confessions, we saw the powerful onscreen chemistry that makes Coira so beloved but lately they’ve hardly been seen together and this is a real missed opportunity. If Cain and Moira don’t get some decent screentime when this all comes out in the open then I’ll be very disappointed!

Fave or Fail? (8-12 Oct 2018)

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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 the villagers dressed up for the champers at Home Farm and stayed for the drama as Kim Tate returned.

Faves

A New Direction?

vlcsnap-2018-10-13-21h12m31s542After knocking out Joe Tate with one punch, Cain Dingle now believes he’s a killer. It’s unclear yet as to whether Joe is actually dead (though if he is, it seems like good pal Graham finished him off rather than Cain) but Cain’s guilt is already eating him up. This is a really interesting direction for hard man Cain as we have never seen him so shaken and paranoid by his actions. Sure he’s beaten and tortured people before, but murder? Especially when his beloved daughter believes he jilted her. What a complex web of guilt and lies! Even better is that it’s created a new and troubled dynamic between Cain and Graham, leaving the former unnerved at the new balance in power. This story has only just begun but I’m intrigued about the impact this is going to have on Cain moving forward, especially when it comes to his relationships with Debbie and Moira. Jeff Hordley and the Coira partnership hasn’t had anything meaty for a while so it’s about time they two took centre stage.

Justice at Last

vlcsnap-2018-10-13-21h10m15s891Another surprising turn of events this week was Debbie finally facing the police after Ross’s acid attack storyline reached a resolution. After the Ross and Simon fight dragged on for about 500 scenes and his confession taped, the future looked brighter for Ross (good timing for his exit, eh?). But the real sticking point in this story, which felt as if a satisfying end was never in sight, was that Debbie was behind the attack. We’re used to Debs avoiding the law so it was an unexpected turn of events to see her arrested this week. Though Emmerdale did their very best to make it clear Debbie had no intended an acid attack specifically, there was something uncomfortable about her seeming to get away with the attack when it had changed Ross’s life permanently. I can’t imagine Debbie will face a long prison spell but this new ground for the character might be the rejuvenation she needs.

The Bitch is Back

vlcsnap-2018-10-13-21h16m42s683The hotly anticipated return of Kim Tate sent shockwaves through the Home Farm ball this week, even if most of the villagers had never heard of her they were left in no doubt about her sharp tongue. This week served as a teaser for Kim’s permanent return in the new year (hopefully with son James) so perhaps it was never going to live up to expectations in such a rushed reintroduction. I could have done without the sluggish backstory scenes but Kim vs the village was the same campy villainy I enjoyed when Joe revealed his true colours. I hope when she comes back full time they make her a true antagonist and keep that cattiness fun rather than cartoonish. It’s always difficult to bring back an old character when they had become an icon, but Kim will definitely give life back to the big house next year.

Bonus Faves:

  • Bernice and Dr C’s saucy forest romping! I see she fancied a hook up after all?
  • Katie Hill (Sarah Sugden) gave a great performance in the aftermath of Joe’s disappearance as her anger and heartbreak manifested. Her scenes with Debbie were real highlights
  • The ball costumes certainly made the event sparkle and it was great to see everyone out of their civvys – I think the villagers need more posh parties to attend!

Fails

Home Farm Flop

vlcsnap-2018-10-13-21h14m41s668From the heavily trailed event week, to the hype around Kim Tate’s return, expectations were sky high. A masquerade ball interspersed with police tape and interviews – what could be better? It had a Big Little Lies vibe and the masks meant that surely mistaken identity, secrets and danger were only minutes away, right? Wrong. The ball might have been a vehicle for Kim to make her masked entrance but beyond that there was no atmosphere, no excitement or sense of dread at the event. Even Kim’s fall and the mystery surrounding the push held no tension and no intrigue as no one had a real motive and Kim came away with little more than a scratch. The reveal that Faith was behind the attack provoked little else but shrugs and probably won’t serve any lasting purpose until Kim returns next year. For all the hype, the Home Farm shenanigans were a dull disappointment. We spent several episodes watching a party where little else but village gossip occurred and certainly didn’t match the high drama promised. Kim’s return story might have held some camp fun, but the backstory retcons and ties to Graham were muddled and exposition heavy, not the thrilling return she should have had.

Wasted Potential

vlcsnap-2018-10-13-21h15m00s903Joe Tate’s demise came faster than his onscreen redemption leaving me wondering – just why Emmerdale had turned him into such a flop? Joe was a Tate! A legacy child! He arrived hell bent on revenge with great ties to Emmerdale past! But from Joe’s wickedly brilliant reveal in January it was downhill as Emmerdale struggled to find a place and purpose for him in the village. The villainy wasn’t sustainable and his threats became empty and soon he was rushed into an age old redemptive tale when he found love with Debbie in record time. Redemption takes time. Years even. After all that Joe had done to the Dingles, it was a hard task to believe he’d be so forgiven but as Joe’s evil deeds all but disappeared, he rattled around Home Farm and at the hospital aimlessly, being nice and rich and little else. Scenes with sidekick Graham offered glimmers of an interesting history, but much like the ill-fated White family, all the juicy stuff happened off screen and left for us to uncover in laborious conversations. But with Kim Tate returning, all the backstory we’d heard about was pushed aside for a flimsy rewrite and Joe was left for dead (killed or helped escape depending on your theory). To make matters worse, Kim’s loathing for Joe’s betrayal didn’t even lead us to a showdown onscreen – they never even met. Instead this week’s plot and Joe’s fate rested on robotic Graham’s shoulders who depth is hidden under dry and stoic performances. To this day I’m still baffled by the Joe/Graham set up, I don’t believe in any sort of Kim and Graham romance and after year of watching Graham play butler and statue, I’m craving performances that have something more than gravelly expressionless mechanics.

7 Recent Storylines With Potential That Just Vanished

I’ve noticed a strange trend in 2018 – the disappearing storyline! While other plots drag on for months and months, some stories with potential just seem to vanish into thin air. Now, I’m not talking stories that took a disappointing turn (like Ross’s acid attack) but these are moments that were delivered with great performances, lots of excitement and press and then…vanished!

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Moira and the impact of killing Emma

Making Moira a killer was a huge decision and one that sent a chill of terror into Moira fans, but they needn’t have worried because any impact on her was short lived. After a quiet year for Moira, mainly because they were trying to keep her shock pregnancy a secret, she had a traumatic end to 2017, suffering both post-natal depression and extreme guilt for her part in killing Emma. With Moira such a beloved and ordinary character in the village (ordinary as far as you can be for a soap character!) it was always going to be difficult to give her any long-term consequences for killing off another character. But within a matter of months, she’d reunited with love Cain and everything had been forgiven and forgotten when it came to the Barton boys. The aftermath Moira’s breakdown was intense and destructive, but although she lost son Adam, psychologically she seems happier than ever now! Perhaps making Moira a killer was too jarring and Emmerdale weren’t sure how to deal with it long-term, but if this was the case, maybe she was the wrong character for the role. I love Moira and I like seeing her happy and settled, but it does feel like everything was brushed too neatly under the carpet.

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Joe Tate vs the world

Perhaps the worst offender on the list is the complete waste of Joe Tate since his wonderful reveal in January. Excitement was high when the Tom Waterhouse charade fell apart and he was revealed to be Chris Tate’s son, leading to a deliciously evil take over of the village next to stoic butler figure Graham. Every doubt we’d had about the “Tom” storyline was revealed to be deliberate, including the all-too-perfect romance with Debbie. But as Joe made enemies left right and centre, demolishing Wishing Well, taking Home James Haulage from Robert and pissing off everyone in sight, his position as top dog and loathed rich boy just couldn’t be sustained. Living in the big house and have no familial ties, it seemed like Emmerdale swiftly realised Joe needed more than just enemies and his redemption came in the shape of his new-found love for dour Debbie Dingle. While a slow love-hate romance might’ve worked, it’s now as if all of Joe’s Machiavellian behaviour has been dropped in favour of a bedside vigil for Sarah. Where is the village antagonist we were promised? Why isn’t he living up to the Tate name and has fallen into the trap of being a wet weekend who has the odd tantrum? With all his vendettas forgotten he’s an aimless character and a real waste of that Tate legacy.

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Liv’s drinking and asexuality

Viewers had long been promised a gritty plot for talented Isobel Steele and it finally emerged onto screens this year. Or did it? Compared to issue-led plots for other characters Liv’s drinking problems have been vaguely handled and half-arsed. Don’t get me wrong, Isobel has given sensitive and emotional performances as Liv tried to navigate adolescence, but after a spell in youth offenders and a brief Lachlan-fuelled relapse, her problem with alcohol has almost been treated as “fixed”. Are we meant to believe she’s all fine now? That her time inside “fixed her” (a worrying implication if so)? It feels like this complex issue has been brushed under the carpet rather than giving it the treatment it deserves. Is this so they can make Liv start drinking again when the story needs it, or has it just been forgotten about? It’s a similar case with the hints about her asexuality. Liv has spent a little time questioning this, but it hasn’t been given the airtime that it deserves and that seems like another waste of Isobel’s talents to leave Liv’s interesting struggles untouched. Instead of piling on more angst (like her recent exam failures) can’t Emmerdale do a better job of resolving the stories they’ve already laid the foundations of?

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The Kings – business and health problems

I’m a huge fan of the Kings so I was excited to see them get involved in the Tate take-over at the start of 2018. Jimmy had long been relegated to comedy buffoon with Nicola as his nagging wife, so it was great to see a bit of the powerhouse King family history remembered. But after teaming up with Robert to double-cross Joe, the story collapsed and disappeared. We haven’t heard anything about the new Home James Haulage work team or what a nightmare Joe is as a boss. It’s business as usual. All of Jimmy’s health issues and stress have disappeared (is he okay? Who knows!) so there was no emotional story there and so instead the Kings have been underused for another year which is a real shame as they’re one of Emmerdale’s biggest assets.

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Priya’s struggling mental health

Before she took on a role at Home Farm (which seems like a great move!) Priya had a difficult start to the year. The first few months of 2018 we saw signs of Priya feeling lonely and exhausted and with Jai using her as a babysitter, it all got a bit much for her. This really seemed like it could be the beginning of a decent storyline for her. It isn’t the first time Priya’s had mental health struggles and with 2017 seeing the end to her marriage, and a disastrous affair with Pete, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her feel her life was in tatters. Priya’s an ambitious woman so to see her have a bit of a breakdown about her stalled life could have been a great story, but it just fizzled out instead. It’s about time the Sharmas had something a bit more serious and emotional to do and Fiona Wade would have done a great job with it.

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Syd MacFarlane’s threat to Aaron

If you don’t remember Syd MacFarlane then I don’t blame you. Syd had a very brief appearance in January and was let free during Adam’s escape from his prison van, but he made another cameo in April, blackmailing Aaron and Robert for some hard cash in one of the most lacklustre plots of the Spring. Syd rocked up, threatened Aaron, then held him hostage for all of half an episode just so that Robert could sign away their flat and his business to Joe Tate for the ransom. As we know, that rivalry with Joe had no real long-term consequences and Syd’s random arrival was just as fleeting and insignificant as his exit. Syd and his threats had no impact, even though Aaron and the MacFarlanes had a long history that could’ve been explored, meaning Syd was a 2D “villain of the week” character. Gone and forgotten instantly. The MacFarlanes could have started real trouble for the Dingles, for Robert’s business or even given Joe some tips! Instead it turned into one of 2018’s most pointless and disappointing subplots, wasting both fan favourite couples, Robron and Coira, who briefly joined forces to take down Syd.

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Eliza’s health problems

Instead of helping his dad with dating disasters, Jai could have had a much more emotionally engaging storyline had Emmerdale continued to be true to the drama of Eliza’s health concerns. Megan is wasted in wishy-washy romance plots with Frank and Jai spends too long in the factory – but when Eliza was taken ill, I thought this was the start of a relatable and engaging story about parents and their disabled infant. When Eliza was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in late 2017 I thought this was going to be the start of a great story for the parents, but that went nowhere. Then again at the start of the year when bruises appeared on her and they suspected Eliza, this looked to be like a dramatic and heartful family story, but nothing ever came from it. All the actors involved are capable of big performances, but this is another non-starter wasting their talents.