Fave or Fail? (25-29 Sep 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! Big stories for Emma and the Thomas kids and a week of no ‘Fails’ from me! 

Faves

Exposing Emma

vlcsnap-2017-10-01-12h38m43s348Thankfully with his sister Gabby back, little Arthur Thomas had someone else on his side this week and Gabby made it her mission to get payback. She began the week trying to “haunt” Emma with signs from above, wanting revenge on her cruelty to the family, but when she recovered the memory card and saw firsthand how Emma treated Ashley she wanted to expose Emma for her vile behaviour. I loved Gabby taking such a central role in this story alongside Arthur and the pair of them aren’t only adorable siblings but made gripping viewing as they attempted to take Emma down. Both Rosie and Alfie’s performances make us viewers want to reach into the TV and protect them as well as cheer them on for getting the evidence they needed to uncover Emma’s behaviour. They’ve done an amazing job with this story, putting everything in place for next week’s big showdown and Emma’s complete unravelling.

The End is Nigh

vlcsnap-2017-10-01-12h14m28s098If you haven’t seen the promotion of next week’s “Emmadale” then this week was the perfect build up for a huge week for Emma Barton. Gillian Kearney excelled once again as Emma lost her grip and ended up hallucinating James by the end of the week! With Gabby and Arthur on her case, Emma clung to her religious convictions to keep her feelings of guilt at bay but with the memory card uncovered, Finn saw through his mother’s earlier explanations for James’s death and warned her he’d have to tell Pete and Ross if she didn’t. It seems pretty likely that we haven’t got long left of Emma, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the way she can be really wicked one minute and still sympathetic at times too. Her moments of shocking behaviour hold even more impact when her motherly and pious front shatters, but she’s never been pantomime and her desperate behaviour feels like it comes from a place of unhinged heartbreak rather than pure villainy. I can’t wait for it all to explode next week!

Loner Laughs

vlcsnap-2017-10-01-11h56m01s353The exploits of Paddy Kirk are often laugh out loud funny and this week it was a particular highlight for me. Having been a bit of a loser in love, Paddy began the week on a surprise date – set up by Marlon – and with Bernice of all people. With their wires crossed, these two comedy heroes made for a winning scene, before eventually having a go at Marlon for his deception in getting them there. Paddy’s week picked up when he nicked Marlon’s internet date, though considering he ended up cuffed to a cage in the vets, making do with licking water from a bottle, it wasn’t a roaring success! Dominic Brunt is fantastic in the physical and bumbling comedy scenes and this got even better by the end of the week as he misunderstood Marlon’s hints about buying a puppy and ended up with Paddy as a houseguest instead. Even though Marlon might not be keen I think getting these two co-habiting will be a hilarious watch!

Cheeky Return

vlcsnap-2017-10-01-12h08m02s189This week saw the welcome return of Gerry Roberts, aka Lachlan’s grinning sidekick from young offenders. You have to commend actor Shaun Thomas for bringing so much cheeky-chappy charm to the role and making Gerry a fun character in amongst the fairly unlikeable Whites. Gerry’s puppy dog enthusiasm when it comes to flirting with Chrissie and trying to make a few hundred quid out of Robert means his oddball personality makes for entertaining viewing. Once the White family goes I’m not sure what place he’d have in the village, but I wouldn’t mind still seeing him every now and again!

Worthy Opponents

vlcsnap-2017-10-01-12h05m12s772Robert’s revenge against the Whites rumbled on for another week but the one silver lining is that finally his plans have faced real opposition, in the face of Lachlan and Chrissie. So far we’ve watched Robert make fools of embarrassingly easy targets Rebecca and Lawrence, but it’s Lachlan and Chrissie who are much wiser to his true colours and they’ve started to uncover his schemes. This week with the help of Gerry and a secret camera, Robert was able to blackmail Lachlan with his prostitute secret and it was fun to watch the two of them try and out-do each other. Let’s face it, Robert’s had it far too easy and it wasn’t just unbelievable but also a bit boring. And then there’s the return of Chrissie to the business, perhaps Robert’s biggest adversary and maybe the only member of that family to really unravel him. If mother and son work together that might be the only way to stop Robert from obtaining the keys to Home Farm.

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Scene of the Week (25-29 Sep 2017)

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Superstar young actors Rosie Bentham and Alfie Clarke are in the centre of Emmerdale’s biggest storyline at the moment, having already given huge performances during Ashley’s dementia storyline. This week as the tension mounted for Emma and having retrieved the stolen memory card, Gabby finally saw the video that broke her little brother’s heart. In the scene prior to this one Gabby and Arthur were laughing and reminiscing along with their father’s image, but it was this scene, as the emotional youngsters saw again what Emma had done to their father, that earns my Scene of the Week. I was spoilt for choice for great moments as the drama ramps up for a huge week for Emmerdale, but as Gabby vowed for revenge in spite of Arthur’s fears I was impressed at how both young actors managed to handle such big material and carry scenes on their own. Fingers crossed these two will be duly recognised with awards.

Fave or Fail? (17-21 April 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! In the week that saw Vadam implode, we saw Pierce continue his twisted control over Rhona.

Faves

Sibling Love

w54agWe’re used to sibling rivalry in Emmerdale. Sisters that hate each other and throw slaps, brothers who try and kill each other. So what a joy it is to have the lovely Arthur and Gabby relationship to showcase something touching among a grieving family and prove that siblings can love each other and get along. Poor Arthur was upset at the thought of losing his big sis Gabby to Australia and worried she wouldn’t come back and so tried to block out his pain in that classic kid combination of sulking and avoidance. But Gabby soon broke through his act and gave him her teddy Widget to look after and the pair had a heartwarming heart-to-heart. Honestly, it was like allergy season and my eyes were definitely leaking. The sadness and doubts soon turned into smiles as Arthur gave Gabby his best advice for dealing with sharks and they gave each other a goodbye hug. We’re so lucky to have these brilliant young actors and here’s hoping that when Gabby returns we’ll get to see more of these wonderful family moments.

Building the Mystery

Emmerdale - Who Keeps Calling Pierce - YouTubeAs the build up to Rhona and Pierce’s wedding edges nearer, so does the intensity of his manipulation and darkness. Vanessa fell into a familiar pattern of meddling this week (just after she’d begun repairing her friendship with Rhoan, d’oh!) as she managed to get Pierce’s mother, Martha into the village. Since meeting Pierce last year we’ve actually learnt very little about him, and most of it comes from his own mouth which we know can be deceptive at best. We knew from his late wife Tess that their marriage wasn’t a happy one, but this week there was a big dollop of intrigue when it came to Pierce’s past and we were left pondering. Just how much did friend Gavin know and why was he okay to pop up to manipulate Rhona into moving? Just what was Martha like as a mother? And if everything Pierce has revealed about his childhood is a warped story, then what was his past really like? And what about Pierce’s previous behaviour does she know, was Tess just as much of a victim as Rhona? The mystery surrounding Pierce is an interesting one. He’s slippery, good at putting on a performance and twisting situations to his advantage and all of this in a subtle, underhand way. There are layers of darkness we’ve only scratched the surface of and if you’ve seen any of the press surrounding next week’s episodes, this seems to be only the beginning of his monstrous behaviour.

Crash and Burn

w54adI’ve got to say I don’t like this Adam and Victoria story AT ALL but the reason it makes my Faves list is simply down to the performances from Adam Thomas and Isabel Hodgins. Adam and Vic might be on a collision course to destruction in record time but the actors have given the big emotional and challenging scenes their all, even as the plot creaks around them. Though rarely used, when we have seen Adam and Vic they’ve been strong, supportive and really loved up. They’ve been believable as a couple and out of everyone in Emmerdale, they’d be the ones you could imagine staying together for years to come, deserving of happiness and their own big brood. If the rumours are true and Adam is on his way out, something which seems ever more like the way this story is being hurtled through, then it’s a real shame. We’ve seen everything from Adam this week – the bravado and his nastiness, the comedic and the flirty, and the pain in his vulnerability. But both actors have shown they are great at the gritty stuff and getting more accomplished as the years have gone on, so why are we only seeing them get a big story now and why so clunky and rushed?

Fails

Same Old Stories

w54dtI’ll pin my colours to the mast right now and out myself as a huge Pearl fan, but ever since she was dropped from the sexy book plot, it’s lost a certain something. It’s no longer a best seller, no longer cheeky and fun, but at the bottom of the slush pile. I’ve flip-flopped when it comes to David and Tracy. They have their moments but they seem to be stuck in a rut of repetitive sitcom-style storylines which aren’t doing their relationship any favours. Tracy is dumbed down to squeeze out a forced (un)funny line, even if it stretches believability (sure, of course she has no idea who JK Rowling is or that it’s a novella not Nutella) but then is seen cleverly turning the tables on David to teach him a lesson. Tracy seems to have no belief in herself and yet David’s attempts to boost her always have the opposite effect and he comes across as patronising and insensitive. We’ve seen this story with them before and it’s getting tiresome, particularly when both actors can do more than silliness behind a shop counter.

Plot By Numbers

Emmerdale - Adam Says There's No Point in Trying for Kids - YouTubeMore of a general moan rather than plot specific, but a disappointing element to a few of the stories this week was how the plots seemed to be formulaic and rushed, following a dot-to-dot pattern. We have Cain and Harriet’s affair (a tepid stepping stone on the path back to Coira, surely?) which seems to be following an illicit liaison formula but lacking any real spark or originality – there’s push and pull, playing hard to get, sex in the garage – but even the on-the-nose dialogue about a vicar hooking up with the “local gangster” makes this ying and yang affair a bit too knowing and try-hard for me. Then there’s Vic and Adam’s struggles to find a solution to this baby making, with adoption and unconventional family set ups rejected despite the fact Vic’s brother is adopted and Adam was raised by a man who wasn’t his bio-dad. It just doesn’t ring true. Plus the fact that in the space of three days the whole thing exploded, ending a seemingly happy and secure marriage, when six months ago, babies weren’t even on the table. Not to mention Vanessa was rolled out to give Adam a supportive ear when they’ve barely spoken since the Johnny plot and all in time for him making a move next week. If these stories had been slowed down a little – if we’d had time to see Cain and Harriet’s sparking interactions play out for longer before giving in; if Vic and Adam’s fertility struggles had been developed over months rather than days, then these stories might have been stronger for it.

Fave or Fail? (10-14 April 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! Another week showcasing the full spectrum of soap – from the beautiful, honest and emotional to the cheap, tacky and unbelievable.

Faves

The Last Goodbye

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-17h08m49s721For me the strengths of Ashley’s story were the far-reaching impact on his family and friends and the performances of the main actors involved and this week we had the best of these as the community gathered for his funeral. Everything from Harriet’s crisis of confidence, to Gabby’s heartbreak and grief that she didn’t get to say goodbye on her own, to Laurel’s strength, to Doug’s speech, to Arthur’s poem – the reactions showed a full spectrum of grief and it was full of heart and warmth. Emmerdale has been rightly praised for the sensitivity and believability it has told this story with, staying away from cheap twists and playing each character’s reaction with relatable honesty. The writing and performances have cemented this as soap best and shows what Emmerdale is capable of.

Girl Gang

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-18h50m46s743Faith has managed to establish herself as a lively and interesting character in the village and she’s only been here five minutes, but what I loved most this week is this kind of girl gang her Sarah and Debbie have formed at Moira’s. Debbie’s a hundred times better when she’s not tied up in gangster heists or moping over Ross and Sarah and Faith’s relationship is blossoming into something lovely. This week Debbie and Faith butted heads over Sarah’s health but Faith also managed to get Debs to lighten up and the scenes where she tried to bring the holiday vibes into Sarah’s world was funny and heartwarming. I loved their sunbathing, cocktail drinking role play and it was even better to see the usually dour Debbie getting involved in the dress up.

Sweet Dreams

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-17h07m25s177The Ashley and Laurel dream sequence was a controversial choice for a moment of closure for a story which has been grounded in so much reality from the start, but with John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy’s emotional performances and so much history involved, I think Emmerdale made it work. It’s not the first time Emmerdale has done a dream sequence – Eric seeing Val and Marlon seeing Tricia spring to mind – and it’s a gimmick that maybe didn’t work for everyone but I’ll admit I thought it was very moving and a fitting end to the chapter. There’s a certain amount of comfort to be had in Ashley’s speech to Laurel about moving on and it’s not a luxury many of us have when losing a loved one, but fiction often gives us the wish-fulfilment real life can’t. It was a scene filled with history and continuity but at the heart of it a believable couple saying a heartfelt final goodbye when his decline had prevented them from doing so. Even more impressive was that this scene was done in one take, making those flawless performances even more impressive.

Fails

Insensitivity

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-18h52m02s139Readers of this blog will know I have a huge soft spot for comedic goofball Rishi but at this point I’m starting to feel like I’m cursed and it’s Emmerdale’s mission to make me hate all my favourite characters. This week saw Rishi and Faith go on a date but after some crass and uncalled for comments from Charity, Faith panicked and ended up confessing about her mastectomy to Rishi. Faith’s dilemma is one faced by other women going through the same insecurity after surgery but did this story really need to be rushed through with all the sensitivity of a hammer to the face? I know Charity isn’t the most understanding of women, but would she have really laid on the warning so thickly, making out as if Faith was some disfigured monster? Would Faith have really told him on date number one? Rishi ran out in a panic straight away and then mouthed off about it loudly in the pub for all to hear, including Faith. We know Rishi can be an idiot but this plot development was rushed when this story needs time and care to do it justice.

The Recipe of Success?

vlcsnap-2017-04-16-17h14m25s464The perfect recipe for a terrible storyline? Take one beloved couple and destroy their re-built foundations of trust and loyalty. Add several backward steps for a complex and interesting character you spent eighteen months redeeming. Villainise said character by using a reconstructed history and new character whose personality changes depending on plot to make her the hapless victim and him the heartless bastard. No grey areas. Pretend condoms are 100% effective. Make a sensitive hero of your sleaziest male character to demonise said complex male. Remove female character’s agency. Add blackmail. Remove reactions of suspicion from the spouse and make them dote heavily on duplicitous male to up the stakes. Flee the country and pretend this all goes away. Wonder how the hell this is ever going to be salvageable for the beloved couple.

Scene of the Week (10-14 April 2017)

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With Ashley’s funeral taking place this week understandably there were many scenes I could have chosen as my stand-out but it was this one, focusing on the wider impact of Ashley’s death and the beautiful cinematography that won my choice. As Ashley and Laurel said “goodbye” in her dream, we saw Arthur reading his poem to Gabby, Bernice and Doug in a moment that couldn’t fail to tug at the heart strings. Scenes at night, and this one which begun outside the window, gave a special and almost filmic quality, as did the moments of black as the lights were turned off. Then there was Harriet having a solemn moment of contemplation before the candle was blown out and finally Laurel, turning away from the bottle and watching an old home video and finding comfort in images from the past. It was a very quiet and moving closing scene to the episode and one befitting of silent credits too.

Fave or Fail? (3-7 April 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! In a week that proves Emmerdale can do emotional and sensitive drama alongside the tacky and predictable, we saw Ashley pass away and groaned at the beginning of a Who’s the Daddy? plot.

Faves

Time to Say Goodbye

Emmerdale - Ashley Passes Away - YouTube (1)Ashley’s story of dementia has been a long running and sensitively handled plot which has touched many viewers but this week saw the final part of his journey as he died at home surrounded by his family. John Middleton and Ashley have been such a huge part of Emmerdale that it’s hard to imagine him not being there, but this story will be remembered for years to come. It’s a testament to Ashley’s impact on the village that so many characters came to share their memories and say their goodbyes. The performances have been pitched perfectly at every turn, from the awkwardness of knowing what to say, to the denial and realisation. Each of Ashley’s loved ones has coped in their own way and this is another reflection on real life which has made this story all the more powerful. The simplicity, the sense of family and the sensitivity of this story has meant watching the Thomas family, particularly in these last few months, has felt like watching friends go through this pain rather than something fictional. It’s been emotional, moving and relatable and Emmerdale at its finest. Ashley (and John) are a huge loss for the show but it was a worthy story to tell and I’m sure the impact on the family will be a complex story to watch.

Bright Young Things

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-18h35m54s552There isn’t a more talented bunch of young and child actors than those in Emmerdale right now. I’m constantly blown away by how talented they are and how they can handle huge emotional plots and this week proved that more than ever. Since taking over the role of Gabby, Rosie Bentham has consistently shown a gamut of emotions during her dad’s illness. Her anxious and avoidant reaction to Ashley’s final days is so very relatable and her heart to heart at his bedside was incredibly powerful and moving. I’m sure she’ll continue to impress as she struggles in her grief. It was great to see young Jacob take a supportive role too in looking out for her. Obviously I couldn’t praise the young actors without mentioning little Alfie Clarke who plays Arthur and who continues to shatter hearts with his expressive face and fragile reactions to his dad’s demise. What a treasure he is and always making us get teary eyed. And though she wasn’t part of the Thomas collective this week, Amelia Flanagan (April) had superb comic timing as she tried to help dad Marlon with writing his piece in the memory book. We are lucky to have such a brilliant group of kids on screen.

Bittersweet Reunion

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-18h31m27s737Aaron was released from prison this week and while it should have been a happy time for the reunited husbands, Aaron was understandably still shaken from his ordeal and Robert struggled with his guilt. What began as an interesting and satisfyingly heartbreaking plot about a newlywed couple being torn apart and homophobia in prison, turned into torture porn as Aaron’s treatment and Robert’s betrayal are set to knock Aaron’s mental health and their relationship back by years. And as the misery takes more turns for the worst, you might be wondering why this is even in my Faves list. Simply it’s down to one thing alone and that is the forever captivating chemistry between actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. The boys’ reunion outside the prison gates was wordless and still managed to get hearts thumping and recapture that magic. They alone seem to be able to salvage whatever gargantuan obstacle is thrown grenade-like into Robron’s path and make it a love story you want to see last. But even with this special dynamic this latest “twist” is one that’s going to be hard to overcome.

Fails

Lad Bants

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-11h52m45s003This week poor Rhona had a horrible time of it as her sex tape was leaked to the village thanks to Vanessa’s failed attempts to expose Pierce’s true colours. A clueless Pearl gave her phone to Ross in the pub and it wasn’t long before Rhona’s privacy was invaded in a way that left her mortified and violated. We all know that Ross is number one “lad” in the village and if there’s a piggish comment to be made, he isn’t far behind but it was seriously disappointing to see him and Adam pissing themselves over the video when Rhona was visibly upset in front of them. Seriously, I expected better from Adam at least. They were still making light of it the next day and the offhand “banter” which was probably just meant to be “lads being lads” was uncomfortable to watch and highlights a bigger problem that Emmerdale have with Ross as he veers from lovable swoony rogue to unchallenged sexist pig.

Unwanted Pregnancy

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-11h51m13s502It’s the tacky plot we could see coming from hundreds of miles away, the age-old knocked up by a one-night-stand Who’s the Daddy? plot. Giant sighs all round. Miraculously Rebecca must have magical pregnancy powers for conveniently poised new BFF Victoria to sense it so quickly and after one trip to the loo, she had her sussed and sent her away with a pregnancy test. (To make it even nicer, she placed her urine-soaked stick on the breakfast table of the man whose husband she might have been impregnated by). I’m tired of ranting about how cliché, how predictable, how tired, how frustrating this story is – I’ve tweeted about this A LOT lately – but there are countless reasons why this latest “twist” is one of the most disappointing in recent Emmerdale history. Rebecca, though her personality seems to be little more than “wears hats; is a thorn in Robron’s side”, was meant to be a fun free spirit and yet we’re meant to believe a woman like her wouldn’t think about taking precautions? I can’t imagine her gleefully pushing round a pram and if she’s supposed to be “good hearted” unlike the rest of her family, why would she choose to keep an unwanted child that would tear apart the marriage of her supposed friend? And as for what this will do for Emmerdale’s most loved, most tortured couple I can’t think of an outcome which won’t ruin what made them so beloved. An own goal of the worst kind – is this a story anyone wanted to watch?

Fave or Fail? (6-10 Feb 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 Dingle mania this week as Cain and Chas’s mum rocked up in the village.

Faves

Thomas Family Heartbreak

emmerdale-friday-10-feb-7pm-the-itv-hubIf there’s one word to sum up the Thomas family story this week it would be this: crushing. Each week Ashley’s heartbreaking dementia storyline is featured, you think performances and the writing cannot possibly be bettered and yet it goes one further every week. The ensemble nature of the story means there are a range of emotions and reactions carrying the plot forward and fleshing it out with a devastating believability. From the whole family’s stilted conversation the night before Ashley was due to move into the care home, where Arthur’s agonised sobs that Ashley shouldn’t leave as he’d done nothing wrong were painful, to the moving sing-song, to Doug and Diane’s private despair – everything was pitched with the perfect tone. It’s a difficult watch and one that resonates so deeply with families watching. Laurel’s bravery and strained enthusiasm to keep going features endlessly superb performances from Charlotte Bellamy so much so, her portrayal feels less like a character and more like a real woman with every episode. Everyone is excellent in this storyline, and Laurel as the glue trying to hold everyone together, makes you ache watching – especially ending the week on that awful moment where she cried alone in bed after one of the worst days of her life.

Having Faith

emmerdale-a-mystery-woman-arrives-in-the-village-youtubeHair piled up high, sunglasses, cracking one-liners and a perchant for gin – okay, I think I’m gonna like Faith Dingle. Forget the drawn out way she was introduced this week (see below), I think Faith’s going to be exactly what the Dingles need for a bit of a shake-up. (I was already dying with laughter at her brutal assessment of Zak “only just buried your last wife and you’re digging up the next one”.) Chas and Cain already share great sibling scenes together so any more of this seems like a good thing, particularly considering they both have underlying issues with their mother – and that’ll be interesting to address. Not since Val have we had an older more outrageous woman in the village causing a stir and if she continues to be a pal for Diane and flirt with Eric, she might help to ease this Val-less pain.

The BnB Squad

emmerdale-chas-and-cain-reunite-with-their-mother-faith-dingle-youtube-1Since Val’s death and Finn’s leaving of his job, we haven’t seen so much of the BnB even though Diane and Doug are working there too now. This week though really showed us what a dream team Diane, Doug and Eric could be. The honesty box subplot last week was just a little taster of this comedic magic and this week showed us more of their strange little relationship. Eric is a stickler for rules (breakfast isn’t allowed in the bar and definitely not at 3pm!), Doug is stuck in his ways and that grates on Eric and Diane is relaxed and loves a laugh. I loved their pettiness, like arguing over who’s cleaning the toilet as Doug hilariously mimed Eric’s encounter with Eric’s “girlfriend”, Faith – reminding me of squabbling school kids and I seriously hope we see more of them like this.

Bonus faves:

  • Pearl reading smutty books and suggesting Tracy write one
  • Nicola’s ruthless business at the Sharmas, making clients grovel, telling them that Rishi’s dead and slating Priya’s tea making skills. Marvellous

Fails

Scams and Schemes

emmerdale-frank-and-charitys-diamond-robbery-goes-awry-youtubeI’m always in two minds when it comes to Charity’s dress up schemes. Sometimes they’re a good laugh and you’re able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the comedy and other times they fall a bit flat. Her diamond plot with Frank this week was on the fence. There were enjoyable elements to her scamming in the week – her and Frank work surprisingly well together and have a good deal of chemistry; Charity vs Chrissie seemed like a well-matched rivalry in terms of their verbal sparring; and the wealthy businessman + his henchman lover was a fun twist. But perhaps this dressing up, bonkers plan stuff is a bit much after the bank job the other week and the aggro between Charity and Debbie or Charity and the rest of the Dingles just feels like re-treading old ground.

Dragged Out

emmerdale-sarah-questions-the-mystery-woman-in-the-barn-youtubeYou can see from above that I’m quite a fan of Faith already and the different dynamic she will add to the show but the road to finding out who she was seemed to drag on needlessly over four episodes. When a newbie arrives speculation is rife as to who they are, but Faith’s identity was just a bit too obvious from the get-go (especially when her arrival was teased almost a year ago), meaning there was little suspense in the reveal. It didn’t make a great deal of sense as to why she camped out so long in the barn, nor why Sarah latched onto her so fast and Sarah’s secretive and bad behaviour to keep her a secret was tedious to watch but now Faith’s been thrown into the family fold we should get some great scenes.

Fave or Fail? (30 Jan-3 Feb 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! Emmerdale won another award this week and brought some fun to our screens as Doug, Tracy and even Moira brought the laughs.

Back to Badass

vlcsnap-2017-02-05-09h03m57s970It seemed like Moira finally had her mojo back this week and Natalie J Robb got to show us the full spectrum of who Moira is. In amongst the more heartbreaking and softer moments, such as the unexpected and lovely scene between her and Debbie and the scenes with Emma when she spoke about Holly, we saw Moira get her fire back. Moira seems to work effortlessly well with every character she interacts with – even the ashes scene with Victoria just about worked despite the bonkers sitcom nature of it. Her banter with Ross, the way she took none of Patrick-from-the-supermarket’s bullshit and was the perfect ballsy business woman. Although she’s on a bit of a breakdown and shouldn’t be facing things alone, it’s easy to fall in love with her fierce independence and ruthless, gutsy spirit. The car thieving definitely made me realise why her and Cain are so well suited and she doesn’t seem intimidated by anything. You keep fighting for your farm, Moira!

Harsh Words – Finally

emmerdale-thursday-2-feb-8pm-the-itv-hubThere was a scene this week which almost made my Scene of the Week choice, and that was the moment in the hospital between Lawrence and Chrissie where he finally confronted her about her vengeful behaviour. You might say too little too late considering his enabling of her dark side, but as he laid into her about her selfish behaviour, there was a sense of “Finally!” about the whole thing. For too long the Whites have acted without consequence and it seems like they might have some morals afterall. Some – okay, I said, some. Chrissie’s great when she’s unashamedly nasty but her bitterness and vulnerability in the scene was perfectly played by Louise Marwood, as she truly seemed like a broken woman, and it gave me hope that we might finally have a handle on who Chrissie really is.

Tracy’s Self Improvement Plan

emmerdale-friday-3-feb-7pm-the-itv-hub-2I’ve never minded Tracy but after the endless proposal stuff with David last year my interest nosedived, so thankfully she stepped forward with a fun story this week. Having decided she didn’t want to be seen as a bimbo and wanted to be taken seriously by people, Tracy decided to take steps to improve her vocab and read more. After David was slightly dismissive and confused by this new Tracy, she was even more determined to forge ahead, telling the kids in the shop how important school is. I loved seeing Tracy on a mission to educate herself, even with the setbacks and jokes at her expense. Even more so I love the idea of an Emmerdale book club, where Pearl is overeager and Doug bores everyone with non-fiction books he’s read. Community gatherings are my favourite!

The Torment of Doug

emmerdale-friday-3-feb-7pm-the-itv-hub-1I wouldn’t ever say I was a fan of Doug as such but his little comedy story battling the unknown enemy of Noah and Gabby was a simple and amusing subplot this week. Doug was his usual grumpy and earnest self, telling the kids to stop staring at their screens so they decided to get their revenge by writing some very cutting feedback and posting it into his honesty box, where he was selling veg. They left comments such as “this potato is more interesting than Doug” – and while Doug didn’t see the funny side, I did. Later in the week he tried a stake-out (but fell asleep) and then set up a CCTV camera. Sometimes it’s these simple comedy plots that work the best and I loved it.

Fails

Joanie Deserved Better

emmerdale-joanie-dies-youtubeAs is often the case when it comes to soap exits, the moment you warm to a character you previously were indifferent to, is usually the moment they leave the show. One last hurrah, as it were. That was the case for Joanie Wright, who had found her feet a little after ditching the spineless Zak Dingle – realising she deserved better, standing up to rotten men and forming a bond with Lisa. Having been unfairly imprisoned for punching the sleezy guy cracking onto Kerry (and then accidentally hitting a police officer) Joanie had almost been forgotten about by her allies in the village and then Lisa was given the job of collecting her and breaking the news about her reunion with Zak. Awkward. After an impassioned speech by Joanie (which was great, by the way) and a really frank conversation with Lisa, Joanie went silent and looked a little worse for wear, just as Lisa had decided to ditch Zak again. Then after the adverts we learnt that Joanie had croaked it. Just like that! No scene of the paramedics, no follow up. Gone. Joanie’s hardly a fan favourite, but even Kerry and Dan’s muted reaction left a lot to be desired. Maybe Emmerdale realised that breaking up Zak and Lisa was a bad decision and that there was no place for Joanie – but really, didn’t her death deserve a little more attention than this?

Zak Dingle: Human Trashcan

emmerdale-friday-3-feb-7pm-the-itv-hubSorry Zak, I do feel a bit bad considering this week you lost your wife – despite the fact you sent her a notice of divorce the day she was due out of prison – but you really are a bit of a dickhead. Not only has Zak flitted from Lisa to Joanie back to Lisa without little remorse or consequence, he admitted this week he hadn’t even written to Joanie as she suffered alone in prison. What a bastard, amiright?! I know it’s guilt, but so he should feel guilty! After giving Lisa an anniversary card she headed off to do his dirty work and confess to Joanie that her and Zak were back on, making Zak seem even more gutless. Unfortunately the damage has been done, and even his nice chat with Cain where he expressed his conflicting feels was too little too late. Too right you should feel guilty Zak, you treated Lisa and Joanie terribly and now Joanie’s dead! Bad form, Zak. Seriously.

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Jan 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! Emmerdale made this history this week as they scooped “Best Serial Drama” at the National TV Awards for the first time ever! On screen, Debbie returned.

Faves

Chilling and Compelling

emmerdale-rhona-humiliates-herself-at-paddys-party-youtubeAs we know, Emmerdale is going from strength to strength -particularly when it comes to its challenging and societal issue storylines. I’ve already praised the subtleties of the Pierce and Rhona storyline but it just gets better and better, all the while being dreadful and uncomfortable to watch. It’s not an easy viewing experience to see Pierce’s games at work – to see him manipulate and dig at Rhona’s insecurities – from the slut-shaming to the humiliation in front of her friends, but it’s one that highlights a troubling relationship dynamic. As outsiders we are able to see what Rhona is going through, seeing how Pierce’s control and rape of her (a manifestation of his dangerous inferiority complex) is crushing her, but we’re also seeing how she’s made to doubt herself, how her friends are pushed out, how his actions are almost normalised. Rhona already feels isolated, now not just socially but in her own head – because Pierce is making her feel like he’s blameless. It’s complex and confusing for her – when their passion has now been tainted with his manipulation, degradation and non-consensual sex. It’s chilling and sickening – but a hugely important story to tell and I’d go as far to say it’s already shaping up to be one of the best stories in soap in the last six months.

Little Star

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h40m35s147This week Laurel referred to Gabby Thomas as a little star and I’d agree, but I’d go one further than that and extend the sentiment to actress Rosie Bentham. Gabby’s at the centre of her family’s heartbreak right now and Rosie continues to portray Gabby’s agonising predicament as daughter and care giver in such a relatable and beautiful way. It’s been lovely to see Gabby look after her father, but the scene on Monday when she broke down crying to reveal to Laurel that Ashley had wet himself and she had pretended everything was fine just to keep him in their lives, was such a tragic and fantastically portrayed moment, full of pathos. I can’t begin to imagine how Gabby’s reaction to the loss of Ashley will shatter our hearts.

Physical Comedy

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h44m17s145Comedy can be hit and miss in soaps, but there were plenty of laughs to be had in Charity’s winning impression of Chrissie White at the bank. When Emmerdale does their favourite disguise plot (an outfit, a wig and a foolproof plan) it can border on the farcical and this bank job certainly did but Emma Atkins just about pulled it off thanks to an amazing posh voice and a killer outfit. Throwing in a liberal amount of ‘super’ and ‘lovely’ you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching Ab Fab but the nervy bank manager and his Home Farm enthusiasm was a good giggle too. The tranquiliser scenes in the street, with the shaky camera work and unicorn visions might have been a bit much, but it’s Charity so we’ll overlook it.

Bonus Fave: The return of the brilliant Lydia!!!

Fails

Paddy’s paddy

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h40m57s988When Paddy’s affair with Tess saw his popularity and likeability nosedive, it was great to see him back in the village as a fun and comedic character again. He played the fool, revisiting his hilarious relationship with Marlon and after some enjoyably silly attempts to get Rhona back, realised she’d moved on and so should he. This week he grew to be irritating again after being pushed out by Chas in favour of the very lovely DS Wise (who can blame her?). Rather than show concern for Aaron, or be supportive of Chas, he spent most of his time bitching and moaning about Jason Wise, seeming petty and jealous about the whole thing. Paddy’s best when he’s childish in a fun, cartoonish way, not childish in a bitter and immature way and it wasn’t enjoyable to revisit. He says he’s going to let Chas get on with things in her own way so let’s hope he sticks to it!

In Need of a New Path

emmerdale-debbie-gets-her-kids-back-from-hugos-goons-youtubeDebbie came back this week, on the run from a French gangster named Hugo and his henchmen. As you do. I’ll hold my hands up now and say I’m not Debbie’s biggest fan, mainly due to the life-sucking love triangle from 2015 where chemistry evaded both Debbie&Pete and Debbie&Ross (sorry, but it’s true), but with her hotly anticipated return on screen I was ready to give her a chance. Debbie as a mother and Debbie as a daughter, Debbie trying to hold everything together and be strong – that is the kind of Debbie I can get behind. Plastic gangsters, a railway track and a moodily lit warehouse – ticking every cliché in the straight-to-DVD mob movie book? Not a plot I ever enjoy in soap. There’s no real tension or drama in it. We don’t know these cardboard villains, but we do know Emmerdale won’t kill off the Sugden kids, so there’s zero jeopardy. In amongst this lack of threat we have Cain displaced from his spot of Top Dog (always disappointing) and Ross’s resurgence as a love-struck yet ultimately cowardly thug. Ross was a great character and his romance with Donna was beloved, but it’s hard to get past Emmerdale’s fixation on the Ross and Debbie romance when it was such a weak (yet dominant) part of 2015. Ross’s watery eyed declarations to “Debs” really take away from Debbie’s potential as an independent force when we know she’s still hung up on him. If I believed in their love, then it would be easier to buy that she might be tempted by the guy whose bedded her mother multiple times but as it stands, their good looks don’t make up for their lack of chemistry so I’m praying we see Debbie’s return take a new path, rather than watch Ross win her back.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Jan 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! In the heartbreaking week that saw Aaron and Robert consider calling an end to their engagement, Nicola was top boss, DS Wise returned and Finn went way too far.

Faves

Marriage and Strife

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h14m43s200When it comes to “power couples” – a staple in the soap world – Emmerdale have really lucked out when it comes to Aaron and Robert. Not only are they a fan favourite and brimming with palpable chemistry in everything from their fights to make ups, but their personalities and histories make for believable and complex conflict. Aaron’s insecurities and lack of trust stem from his tragic past and Robert’s history of cheating mean he’s never been Mr Trustworthy, but together the pair have forged an unbreakable love for each other. But this week they reached crisis point. With Aaron’s jealousy growing over the past few months it came to a head when Robert was caught out lying about his whereabouts. Whilst Aaron’s paranoia was unfounded it didn’t take long for the argument about trust to escalate and Robert temporarily called off the engagement. Heart crushing and beautifully acted! Like the fiery spats Cain and Moira have, Aaron and Robert’s scenes have that same undercurrent of temper as they both lashed out, hitting each other where it hurt. What was most engaging about these scenes was the level of depth explored in their arguments as they dealt with all the complicated issues surrounding trust, jealousy, insecurity and sexuality. Bisexuality is very rarely talked about on mainstream TV and the scripts seeing Robert defend his attraction to men and women again and challenge Aaron’s ignorance and insecurities, as well as display signs that he isn’t completely comfortable either were compelling. Scenes this week really dug into the psychology of both characters, giving Robron some of their best scenes since Super Soap Week.

Creeping Darkness

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h07m30s965The slow build of Rhona and Pierce’s story about control and abuse is one created with nuance and an undercurrent of dread that’s really serving to make it a success. Their story wasn’t a huge focus in the week, but as it operates in the background we’ve already begun to see Rhona making changes to her behaviour based on Pierce’s subtle hand of control. He dropped in comments about “the state” of her after the night out, offered to answer her phone and got it out of her bag, accused her of ridiculing him, avoided her and freezed her out to lower her self-esteem. And this is just the start of it. It’s chilling. This week saw Rhona be made to feel guilty for going out with her friends (something she hasn’t done a great deal of anyway) and she vowed not to go out and get drunk with them again like she had done at the Hunk Night and played exactly into his hands by isolating herself. I have a feeling this storyline is going to get even darker and more uncomfortable as time goes on.

Touching Scenes

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h12m45s465Gabby and Ashley’s relationship, just like his relationship with Arthur, has been a real highlight of the dementia plot – even if Gabby has been a challenge at times. The tragedy that the Thomas family face is a heartbreaking one, especially for someone like Gabby who is old enough to recognise her father’s deterioration but wants to cling onto him and keep him in her life. As she looked after him this week, she was offered a small glimmer of his former self when he told her what a wonderful young woman she was becoming, but this was only a fleeting moment as she began to realise his illness was progressing and getting much worse. The harsh realities of this story are told in such a realistic and emotional way that it’s hard not be moved and it benefits greatly from not having too heavy a focus every week so that it isn’t too much of a hard watch.

Wise Guy

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-21h51m42s296Returning to our screens this week was dashing detective Jason Wise who we last saw being a dreamboat to Chas, after she struggled with her PTSD following their date. This week he was back to offer her another friendly ear and the support she needed as she broke down after Aaron’s arrest. Despite DS Wise’s suggestion that he help change Aaron’s statement, he was soon scared off by Pierce in an attempt to push Paddy and Chas closer. And while the sitcom silliness of Paddy and Chas has been fun at times, it would be nice for Chas to have someone as grown up and lovely as the handsome DS Wise. I’m rooting for them, and I’m petitioning right here to make Jason our regular resident detective.

Unbroken

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h08m13s159I mentioned last week how much I enjoyed seeing Nicola get her business mojo back as she kicked Home James back into shape but this week she took it to another level as she got revenge on Rakesh and the Sharmas. Instead of going to the police about Rakesh’s arson (*grumble grumble*) she decided she’d rather be managing director of the sweet factory, lording it over the Sharmas and banning Rakesh from the premises. It was fun seeing Nicola screw over Jai, making him fetch her lunch and coffee, belittle Rishi and kick the workers into shape – especially the useless slacker Kerry. Not only was it great to see Nicola fighting strong, refusing to have the “broken” label attached to her, but it brought some much needed fun and a change of regime in the factory.

Fails

Like Mother Like Son?

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h09m45s238Finn’s obsession with Kasim peaked to its most worrying level as this week he hired escort Nathan to make Kasim jealous and then really upped his clingy behaviour by stalking him to his house and confronting his dad. Yikes! You know it’s a worry when even his mother (who isn’t exactly known for her reasoned and rational behaviour when it comes to love) was worried about him. Smitten Finn is pinning so much on his relationship, when it helped him with his dad’s death, that he’s just not reading the signs, even when Kasim is telling him that he’s going overboard and looking crazy. Despite this plot making Finn’s unhinged behaviour get worse and worse, I’ve enjoyed the way it’s blurred into other plots and characters and it’s been interesting to see a bit more to Finn’s character rather than sitting on the sidelines of his brothers’ plots. Just how similar he is to his mother, time will tell, but I can’t help but wonder just how far Finn will go in his quest for Kasim’s love. Surely Kasim should be googling restraining orders right about now? He always seemed a bit too okay with Finn’s bedside vigil in the first place!

Rak Off

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h07m44s043Rakesh’s arson secrets were exposed this week to Nicola, the woman whose life it has affected so greatly and while I’ve already mentioned how thrilled I was to see her fighting back in full authoritative power, I was mostly excited about the prospect of getting rid of Rakesh. I’ve long lamented Rakesh’s place in Emmerdale, the dead weight he is around Priya and the Sharmas’ neck, the personality vacuum he is, the boredom he brings to a variety of storylines. He’s dull, unengaging and I’ve reached the limit of patience with him. Really, what does he bring to the show? We even have Pierce now, bringing to the table the shady lawyer character, so we just don’t need him. Yet, instead of reporting Rakesh to the police and freeing us from his mundanity, Nicola decided to punish him in a different way. Gone now is my hope of getting rid of him and we’re not left with a slightly anticlimactic resolution to the underwhelming summer fire plot. Oh well, here’s hoping he just fades into the background this year.