Fave or Fail? (11-15 Feb 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! A pretty poor week in the Dales that saw wrestler Bear Wolf visit the Woolie (in scenes I’d rather forget) and a very loveless Valentine’s Day.

Faves

Marlon’s Wake-up Call

Emmerdale - Marlon and Jessie's Marriage Collapses - YouTubeMarlon blew a fuse this week when discovering Jessie lied and left April alone in the house so she could break up the fight between Ellis and Billy. Marlon’s anger cut straight to the heart of the matter and shamed Jessie left to stay with a friend. These scenes were surprisingly well done, even if Marlon and Jessie’s relationship is a struggle to connect with. I still wish they’d stayed friends rather than rushing into an ill-suited marriage, however Mark Charnock gave these scenes his all and they added some much-needed depth to their marriage. The obstacles their family are facing are complex and interesting, it’s just a bit of a shame that the central Marlon/Jessie relationship is the real weak link.

Nicola’s Downfall

Emmerdale - Jimmy Still Refuses to Forgive PREVIEW - YouTubeShe might have caused her own downfall by trying to steal money from Graham right under his nose, but with Valentine’s love in the air this week, I definitely felt pangs of sympathy for Nicola. Perhaps it was Nicola Wheeler’s touching performance of Nicola’s loneliness on Valentine’s Day night that won me over, or her crushed expression when best mate Laurel revealed she was becoming her boss, or maybe it was her brilliant display of determination and fighting spirit against Graham. By the end of the week (and after the hilarious “hostage” scenes) Nicola decided she needed to show some more honesty and admit her mistakes and she turned herself into the police. Her teary eyed love declaration to Jimmy was a heightened parody of the Princess Leia and Han Solo scene in Empire Strikes Back and a great end to the week. Whoever she’s in scenes with, from Jimmy to Laurel to Graham to Bernice, Nicola makes Emmerdale far more enjoyable.

Sharma Spark Back?

Emmerdale - Jimmy Still Refuses to Forgive PREVIEW - YouTube (1)It was good to see Jai with a bit of life back in him this week. Chris Bisson’s been underused in Emmerdale in recent years but with a bit more focus on the factory workers this week, Jai was back lording it over them and he felt right at home. Though the Sharmas have recently been used as comedy D plots and Jai’s screentime has seriously lessened since his days as a cartoon baddie, his recent versatility between a support for Manpreet and a snarky boss shows he’s worth more than just being a background character. It’s about time he had more to do.

Fails

Jessie’s Boys

vlcsnap-2019-02-17-11h53m57s510On paper, Jessie’s complicated relationship with her sons and her inability to cut the apron strings is a story worth watching, same too is Ellis and Billy’s tension and rivalry. Unfortunately the reality of these struggles haven’t been as gripping to watch. The brothers have great charisma and chemistry, but this week’s scenes which saw Ellis drive at Billy with a van escalated too quickly making their confrontation feel forced. Their background strife over Jessie’s favouritism feels believable, but to have Ellis’s rushed jealousy over Vic be his motivation to mow Billy down just didn’t ring true – and neither did Vic’s disinterest in his romantic plans and sudden dumping. While Jessie’s bad decision to leave April alone to resolve her sons’ war left Marlon fuming, it’s her own parenting decisions that are irritating to watch rather than relatable. She might have agreed to stay out of their fights, but something tells me she won’t be able to resist and her inference doesn’t do her character any favours.

UnBEARable and Unfunny

Emmerdale - Paddy Exposes Bear Wolf's Shocking Secret! - YouTubeThis week saw Paddy meet the man suspected to be his biological father, the wrestler Bear Wolf. If the story’s build up sounded ridiculous, nothing could quite prepare us for his scenes this week which saw Emmerdale reach new lows of cringeworthy comedy. It’s been uncomfortable enough watching Chas and Marlon repeatedly push Paddy into meeting Bear Wolf, even though he’d told them he wasn’t interested, but this week they forced his hand even further by orchestrating the meet. Comedy is a subjective thing, but having well-trodden “real” father mystery mission wasn’t made more entertaining by Bear Wolf being a sleazy wrestler, in fact it managed to remove all the heart and emotion from Paddy’s curiosity. The OTT costume, the wig and the fact that his take-over of the pub dominated scenes made the humour feel laboured and almost unwatchable. It only got worse when Paddy grappled with him on the floor and an attempt to steal Bear’s DNA left them wig snatching instead. This was played for a shock laugh, but it was obvious to anyone that Bear’s long locks weren’t his own. If this is supposed to be the uplifting story for Paddy after Grace’s death then this awful story was the wrong way to go about it. If any story is worse than this in 2019 I’d be very surprised (and horrified!).

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Scene of the Week (11-15 Feb 2019)

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Comedy can be hit and miss in Emmerdale, but Nicola’s determined fight against Graham’s house repossession in Friday’s episode was a chucklesome hit. After burying the key down her bra, Nicola held Diane and Bernice “hostage” as she ranted at Graham and tried to put off new residents by threatening that they’d have the villagers pooing on their lawn. Meanwhile Bernice and Liam took the hostage situation seriously with brilliantly funny love declarations and OTT claims of sacrifice. The sisters’ rivalry and clash of personalities is always entertaining, especially with Diane’s eye rolling along side it. It was great to see Nicola fight back and see Graham out of his dry lonely existence up at Home Farm – this was great entertainment at the end of the week.

Fave or Fail? (4-8 Feb 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 saw Jacob tell Maya he loves her, Graham planted evidence in Cain’s garage.

Faves

Liv’s Asexuality

Emmerdale - Liv Tells Jacob She Likes Him - YouTubeEmmerdale and actress Isobel Steele did an impressive job in exploring Liv’s asexuality on screen this week, in scenes that have been highly praised by viewers who could relate to her identity. Liv’s asexuality had been hinted months ago but much like with her drinking, it was an aspect Emmerdale needed the time and dedication to explore with authenticity. This week was a solid start. Even though she hasn’t labelled herself, she was open and frank with both Jacob and Aaron about her feelings towards relationships and sex and even commenting that she’s been reading up on it too. It’s original ground for soap and something that needs to be handled with care and so far it seems like Emmerdale is attempting to talk about asexuality in an honest and enlightening way. Stories like this are great for informing viewers and dispelling myths. Sadly for Liv, she’s going to be dragged into Jacob’s heart-breaking story, but so far Liv’s growing confidence about who she is and how she feels has been refreshing to watch.

You, Me and the Cockroaches

vlcsnap-2019-02-10-13h57m20s147This week Nicola had to pick up the pieces after Graham’s scheme exposure and with Jimmy begrudgingly letting her move back in, but only for the kids’ sake, she had to rely on all the friends she could get. Friendship is a funny thing in Emmerdale, sometimes forgotten about or underused when storylines get in the way, but a vital part of lives in the village. Storylines often benefit from friends supporting each other. I was glad to see Nicola and Laurel’s firm friendship resumed this week when she briefly moved in. Laurel wasn’t there to offer her a pity party, she wanted her friend back with a fighting spirit. Nicola also had support from fellow conspirator Robert, as he empathised with her isolation and related to everyone hating her. Robert and Nicola work well together so I hope their enjoyable partnership continues too, perhaps like Robert said, even after the nuclear winter and it’s just them and the cockroaches. More friendship scenes like these are more than welcome!

Big Spender

vlcsnap-2019-02-10-13h55m31s761Jai started getting suspicious about Manpreet this week when she moved into the Sharma household. First it was the box of things she didn’t want Jai to touch, but then he caught her trying to reason with debt collectors as they seized her car. Jai wanted answers and eventually discovered Manpreet had a spending addiction. With Jai’s history of addiction he tried to reason with her, even attempting to get her to visit a support group. This story has given Manpreet some much needed depth and is a surprising route to take a character known for a professional role in the community. I was glad to see Emmerdale use Jai’s past to inform his response rather than a kneejerk attempt of kicking her out. Stories work best when characters’ histories shape their current behaviour and I was grateful to see more of underused Jai too. Both actors have a great chemistry, but will this lead down a slippery path of more lies and infidelity if Manpreet uses Jai as a crutch?

Heart-breaking Decisions

Emmerdale - Dawn Realises She Must Leave Lucas Behind - YouTubeLately Dawn’s pinned her hopes on getting back her son Lucas, but despite warnings and hesitations from Harriet, she ploughed on this week and met with a social worker. Still trying to come off drugs and sort her life out, Dawn was optimistic but not thinking clearly as she managed to steal a glance at her son’s new address. But once she’d arrived outside his house with a toy, she started to have reservations. The “struggling mother trying to clean up her act” plot feels like a well-trodden storyline, but Olivia Bromley brings so much warmth and pathos to the role that her struggles are engaging and feel fresh.

Bonus Faves

  • Elliot King was such a scene stealer this week, from his quick-smart schemes (too much like Nicola for his own good), brilliant lines of dialogue and his sweet concern for his family. He’s one to watch.
  • Emmerdale fans are united in their hatred of manipulative Maya, but three cheers for Louisa Clein who is making her so uncomfortably compelling to watch. It’s a story almost too unbearable to watch but her butter-wouldn’t-melt softness makes her the perfect villain

Fail

Silly Stunt

Emmerdale - Maya Has a Nasty Accident - YouTubeThere have always been some strange stunts and accidents in Emmerdale. Who can forget Sam being shot in the bum?! But this week saw Maya fall and hit her head, causing a swift trip to hospital. Of course, the whole accident was to send Jacob into turmoil and prompt a love confession, and once more Maya had him back under the thumb. But from the awkwardly staged stunt to the clunkily plotted accident, it all seemed a bit of a ham-fisted way to force development in the grooming plot. Maya panicking and wanting to make a quick getaway felt believable, but her wrangling with a stubborn suitcase, while standing on a wobbly chair came across as convoluted. When it came to Jacob’s hospital panic, his dramatic reveal was conveniently cut short thanks to an interrupting medic. This story is strong enough – even if we’re all watching through our fingers and horrified over the developments – that it doesn’t need cringy stunts and desperate trips to A&E.

Scene of the Week (4-8 Feb 2019)

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My favourite scene in this week’s Emmerdale is a low key choice, happening right at the beginning of the week, but managing to be both touching and amusing in its impact. With Jimmy and Nicola’s marriage on a knife edge, Elliot bunked from school in an effort to make the couple realise they needed each other. As Elliot, Luca Hoyle’s performances are always smile worthy and he always shines even in a family as funny as the Kings. Wandering alone outside, Elliot questioned Nicola whether the end of her marriage to Jimmy would mean losing her as a mum. Nicola was quick to comfort and reassure him that both him and Carl would always be “her boys” but as their soft and emotional moment triggered a few tears watching at home, she soon made the atmosphere light and teasing again, talking about his smelliness! Nicola and Elliot’s relationship gets you right in the heart, and this scene was an Emmerdale family moment to cherish.

5 Things About Classic Emmerdale Current Emmerdale Could Learn From

If you’ve been watching (or rewatching) classic Emmerdale on ITV3 in the afternoons then you’ll have seen a few differences between the Emmerdale of then and the Emmerdale of now. While the TV and soap landscape has changed significantly since the 1980s and we’re lucky enough to get 6 episodes a week, there are a few elements of the classic episodes that would improve the modern day show we know and love. Here are just a few of them.

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More Farming

Emmerdale might have lost its “Farm” tag in 1989, but farming and the countryside was still a huge part of the show in the late 80s and 90s, as seen in the repeated episodes of this time. Farming and the rural setting is Emmerdale’s USP and these days is a really under utilised aspect. Fans enjoy the novelty of seeing animals on screen but it shouldn’t be such a rarity for a countryside show. Time has moved on and the village is a lot less about farming than it used to be, but there are still the Dingle pigs and Butler’s farm – and even the vets could get involved now and again. No one wants every storyline about sheep, but as shown in the classic episodes, farming issues can really affect the standing and reputation of a family in a small community. Farming was at the heart of the village once and it’s a shame it’s taken such a huge backseat. Characters are rarely seen at work in current episodes, and whether they’re farming or in another industry, a few more grounded stories wouldn’t go amiss.

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A Gossip Behind the Bar

One of the most iconic Emmerdale characters of the past has to be Woolpack landlord Amos, with his huge wiry sideburns. A long running comedy storyline about a village play might not go down all that well in modern times, but I reckon there’s a warmth and nosiness to Amos sorely lacking in Emmerdale as it stands. Sure, we do have our gossips – like Brenda, Faith or the rarely seen Pearl – but since losing Betty no one quite has that busy-body inquisitiveness like Amos. Not only is Amos a gossip, but he’s also in prime position behind the bar and has a journalistic background meaning he just can’t help himself in asking endless questions. Can we recruit someone to be the new gossip, or how about an older newbie for the village?

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More Outside Scenes

One of the biggest surprises in watching classic Emmerdale is just how regularly characters are filmed out and about. It’s not just in the village or on the various farms, but around the huge grounds of Home Farm and even in town around the streets. Sure, it’s a bigger expense and complication to film on location but it creates a feeling of authenticity to see the villagers in other streets, towns or even the shops. In scenes that aired recently on ITV3 you had Kim and Zoe Tate walking the streets, outside shops, and Jack Sugden working at a chippie. We’d never get that these days! With Home Farm set to become a bigger deal when Kim returns here’s hoping we’ll see more of the grounds too and not just that ugly kitchen!

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A Bigger Home Farm Divide

Speaking of Home Farm, one of the most significant differences you notice watching classic episodes of Emmerdale is the huge differences in class, wealth and power that Home Farm has. In the older episodes the Tates had control of the estate and their ownership of properties, farm and land had a huge impact on the day to day lives of the villagers. The villagers were suspicious of new owners in case it impacted upon their lands and homes, but for some a job working for the house was sought after. The Tates also were wealthy enough to hire a housekeeper, a gardener and their house and grounds were treated a lot more like a business than it currently is. Recently it seems like they’ve tried to get back to this arrangement in current episodes, as Graham has tried making villagers homeless, but as it stands Home Farm is aimless and the business side of things is vague. Perhaps current Home Farm needs a bit more of the classic country estate feeling, increase the wealth and power divide and make the “little people” more nervous about their future.

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Women Who Stand Their Ground

When it comes to powerful women and stories of female characters having agency, Emmerdale can be a bit hit and miss. The same can probably be said of classic Emmerdale too, but there’s something about the ambition and forthright nature of the women in the classic Emmerdale episodes that’s really appealing. Whether it’s Zoe Tate’s confident approach to her veterinary research, the legendary “Ma” Sugden presiding over the farm, or the bolshie Sarah Conolly giving Jack a list of rules before she moves in – these women are head-strong and determined, carving out their own lives. It’s good to see female characters in roles beyond just being mothers, love interests or bitches, by giving them passions and opinions too.

Fave or Fail? (28 Jan-1 Feb)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Graham rumbled the Waterhouse takeover and Dawn attempted to go cold turkey.

Faves

Brothers at War

vlcsnap-2019-02-03-09h20m04s293Warring brothers is Emmerdale bread and butter and it looks as if Ellis vs Billy is the new generation. Though we’ve seen our fair share of these rivalries over the years, thankfully both actors, Asan N’jie and Jay Kontzle, have bags of charisma meaning their long-standing feud is completely believable and works to make both sides empathetic. After some careful (and amusing) twisting of history, Robert planted the seed in Ellis’s head to make him suspect Billy was after Victoria, but Ellis’s near-the-knuckle goading of his brother made him more like sneaky Rob than anticipated! Jessie walked in on the violence and had to make an impossible choice between lying to the police, or sending Billy straight back inside. While you can’t envy Jessie’s decision, you could certainly see why Ellis’s resentment has escalated over the years. I love stories of complicated families dynamics where the conflict in the family feels genuine and long-running, and these two certainly have that. Even though Ellis has moved out and the war is briefly on hold, Billy’s morally grey complexities are still worth exploring and it feels like a lost opportunity that Aaron’s significant issues with him have been brushed under the carpet instead of giving the two of them some sort of resolution.

Fall of the Kingdom

vlcsnap-2019-02-03-09h22m16s109They are Emmerdale’s most long-standing married couple, but the Kings were on the rocks this week as Nicola’s scheme meant they had lost everything to Graham. Admittedly I’m biased on this front because I love both characters and would be on their side even if they burnt the village to the ground, but I did feel a bit sorry for them this week. With Nicola and Robert’s ambition and greed getting the better of them they made foolish mistakes that were easily foiled by Graham, who then made Nicola sign over Home James Haulage to Home Farm. Jimmy’s dreams of passing down the family business to his kids were shattered and this point his marriage at breaking point. It wasn’t just the pair’s fraught tension that I enjoyed though, both characters are warm and funny (drunk and happy Jimmy was a real treat) so I can’t help but be on their side. With ambitious Nicola and Rob having great plans for a takeover, I can’t help but wish that one day they’d have a win, and start up another business, if only to rock the status quo.

Factory Friends

vlcsnap-2019-02-03-09h20m24s028Dawn’s already become the perfect newcomer to Emmerdale, making instant connections with other villagers and a fight against adversity making her empathetic to watch. Dawn’s a likeable character who we’re willing to succeed, even if setbacks are inevitable as she battles addiction. This week Dawn bit the bullet and went for a trial at the sweet factory, but her drug withdrawal saw her really struggle on her first day. Although at first critical, Kerry soon lent Dawn an understanding ear and the pair quickly bonded and when Jai came checking up on her productivity, Laurel and Kerry snuck her a few extra boxes to make her look good. Dawn’s optimism was lifted and the scene gave me a huge swell of warmth, as this is the kind of neighbourly spirit of kindness we could all do with now and again. I can see Dawn fitting into the factory really well and am glad Emmerdale are making a big effort to wider her circle of interactions away from just Harriet and Ryan.

Bones Faves

  • Laura Norton’s really come into her own over this past year and made Kerry extra likeable to boot. Even her big bust up with Dan was really watchable. Emmerdale couldn’t shoe in any more Amy mentions if they tried but it seems like there could be some promising scenes on the horizon when [spoiler] mother and daughter are reunited.
  • After so many threats to leave and last stands at the bus stop – dull Daz finally left this week. His inclusion in the Spencer family didn’t add anything, so besides that whole Amelia paternity retcon, you’ve got to wonder – why bring him back in the first place?
  • In amongst Aaron and Robert’s repetitive fall-outs about Robert’s doomed-to-fail schemes this week, they at least had chance for some smiles and a celebratory shag in the portacabin. Is it too much to hope for that Emmerdale might think outside the box and have Aaron take a driving seat in securing his future happiness? If only so that Rob’s continual failures aren’t always making the atmosphere at the Mill frosty.

Fail

Personality Transplant

vlcsnap-2019-02-03-09h21m08s090There must be something in the water over at Home Farm. If it wasn’t bad enough that Moira’s turned into Emmerdale’s next mob wife at Butler’s, Megan’s trying to pre-empt Kim’s return by turning into a soap superbitch. We’ve always known Megan had a bit of a ruthless streak but since pairing up with Graham, she seemed to take pantomime villain pleasure in Nicola’s downfall, openly gloating and maliciously revealing her crimes to her family. Has the power gone to her head? Or has Graham’s attachment to Kim made Megan step up her game? Megan’s been an odd anchor-less character for years now, moving from a failed relationship with Jai to a lacklustre one with boring Frank, but she’s at least been someone with a bit of moral standing. Sure, Graham’s the one that’s been conned, but Megan gleefully anticipating the destruction of Nicola and Robert’s lives just doesn’t feel in character, particularly when she’s known Graham all of five minutes. If she’d had a long standing feud with Nicola then this turn-around might have at least made sense. Is this all just a clunky set up to have Megan and Kim catfighting it out when she returns? It’s bad enough having one personality transplant, now that Graham’s morphed into vengeful villain to rival Joe, but two?