Fave or Fail? (5-9 March 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! Tracy stood up to David’s cruelty and hypocrisy this week as Ross tried to cope with his scarring.

Faves

Inner Strength

vlcsnap-2018-03-09-22h11m09s581Tracy was amazing this week and has fast become one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale. Buoyed by the knowledge that Phil had changed his plea to guilty thanks to another complaint and the piece in the local paper, Tracy was feeling much more positive about life. Until she discovered husband David was ashamed by her past and was trying to cover it up. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Tracy was helped by those around her to find the courage to stand up to David and confront his cruel and unempathetic treatment of her, as well as his hypocrisy for supporting other women in his life but not her. So far Tracy has stayed strong and resilient, telling him she can’t un-see the parts of him she doesn’t like, but I just hope she doesn’t backtrack because she deserves far better.

Cain’s Domestic Struggle

vlcsnap-2018-03-09-22h09m30s817Who’d have thought that Cain attempting to cook a meal and clean the house would have been such a huge hit this week? With Faith cramping his style, Cain wanted her out and attempted to impress Moira with his domestication. Of course, Cain being Cain it was a disaster and he roped in both Marlon and Lydia to help him out. Cain rarely gets the comedy scenes (see also: Robron’s scenes with Faith this week) but that’s why it was such an unexpected joy. From a great silly set up, to the clash of personalities and funny lines – it was a brilliantly cheerful and genuinely amusing set of scenes. And despite his uncovered deception, it clearly worked a treat on Moira too as she let him move back home.

Tracy’s Support Network

vlcsnap-2018-03-09-22h15m24s919How nice it was this week to see so many characters rally round in their support of Tracy. Even characters like Rhona who don’t know her as well, offered their empathy and the women of the Dales were able to use their previous negative experiences with men to help her find her strength. As mentioned in my Scene of the Week choice Charity’s speech was a particular highlight, even if Vanessa’s approach was far too forgiving of David’s attitude. Family members like Jacob and Eric were rightly horrified at David’s reaction and made up for his failings by saying the things he ought to have. All these scenes have made a welcome change from the usual way women in soapland turn against each other in action or judgement and I’m thankful that it’s only David who is this caveman anomaly.

Ross’s Recovery

Emmerdale - Cain Helps Ross to Finally Reconnect With Moses - YouTubeRoss’s road to acceptance and recovery had its ups and downs this week and it took some tough love and reverse psychology from Cain to help him move forward. After Ross’s violent outburst at Debbie at the start of the week (which was unfortunately horribly aggressive to watch and detracted a bit from the empathy I had towards Ross) Cain wanted words. But knowing Debbie’s role in the acid attack made Cain cautious and less vengeful and instead tried to help Ross bond again with son Moses. This is story is at its best when it lets Ross be vulnerable and scared and considering Moses might just be the cutest kid in Emmerdale, their scenes were especially touching and a real highlight of the week.

Sharma Drama

vlcsnap-2018-03-09-22h13m10s113I’ve had my ups and downs with the Sharmas over the years and think the family have suffered from dull factory stories or too much panto villainy from Jai. Thankfully those days are behind us and this week saw Priya come under suspicion for hurting Eliza after her breakdown last week. Despite initial finger pointing and doubt, what I liked about this story was its lack of sensationalism. Priya wasn’t kicked out of the family home and Jai didn’t refuse to speak to her – Priya took the decision herself to move out and even though the suspicion caused a rift in the family, there wasn’t any shouting and screaming, destroying that sibling bond. I like Jai and Priya’s relationship a lot so I hope this story doesn’t escalate into a war.

Fail

No Going Back?

vlcsnap-2018-03-09-22h10m23s643It’s hard to imagine how David will go back to being a likeable silly chap in the shop again after his continually awful behaviour towards Tracy. She’s always felt looked down on by him but this week proved he really does think less of her and is ashamed to be with her. Viewing his attitude towards her past, his mortification and the way he dismissed her struggle was uncomfortable to watch and made me hope she never takes him back. As if him cheating on her for no reason wasn’t bad enough, this disgusting treatment of the woman who’s meant to be his wife shows no obvious route of redemption. He’s been tactless and insensitive in the past but has this taken him too far?

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Fave or Fail? (8-12 Jan 2018)

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 great week for Emmerdale as Chrissie and Lawrence met their maker and Joe took over Home Farm.

Faves

Stealing the Show

vlcsnap-2018-01-14-14h05m14s412Hats off to Thomas Atkinson this week as he totally stole the show. Let’s face it, the Whites haven’t exactly become fan favourites, but the intensity and complexity of Lachlan’s dark and twisted psyche made his part in the exits particularly compelling. His delivery of “Make all the monsters disappear”, just before he forced their car into the lorry’s path, was a memorable and bone chilling moment. The best thing about Thomas’s performances this week is that even at his most warped, there were moments where you could actually begin to empathise with Lachlan. Watching his scenes with Chrissie made me wish they’d spent longer periods of the Whites’ tenure exploring the impact of the family’s destructive and enabling behaviour, instead of whitewashing Lachlan’s past and absolving him of responsibility. Thankfully now we’ve seen and they are embracing the true extent of his dark state of mind.

When the Dust Settles

vlcsnap-2018-01-14-14h08m46s046The intense build up to the Whites’ car crash and the gripping aftermath was a definite highlight of the week. Dispatching of Chrissie and Lawrence like this did make me feel like the characters had never lived up to their potential, however the impact on Lachlan and the repercussions of his actions will be one to watch. Chrissie’s death scenes were surprisingly moving and Lachlan’s dawning realisation of the aftermath was compulsive viewing. With the accidental voicemail and Rebecca’s recall being critical factors in Lachlan’s future, I’m looking forward to seeing how this pans out – I just hope it doesn’t drag on!

Like Mother Like Daughter

vlcsnap-2018-01-14-14h10m59s740I loved that this week’s episodes saw Sarah showing she’s more like her mother than ever before as she confronted Joe Tate about his treatment of their family by storming Waterhouse HQ and unleashing her anger at him. Brave stuff from a young girl and some of Katie Hill’s best work so far! I love the mother-daughter bond they’ve forged now that Sarah’s grown up and it also gives us both the harder and softer sides of Debbie’s personality as she still reels from Joe’s reveal. Debbie’s at her best when she’s ruthlessly protecting her children, but I also enjoy seeing this hardness disappear when she allows herself the time to be vulnerable and cry. This is the most I’ve enjoyed Debbie’s character in ages. Hooray!

Lord of the Manor

vlcsnap-2018-01-14-14h09m24s366Joe Tate claimed his rightful place as head of Home Farm this week and I’d be lying if I said those scenes of him surveying his new property – his family’s previous home – weren’t slightly thrilling. Joe continues to be the cold campy bastard Home Farm needs, but with Graham grounding him and trying to be the angel on his shoulder things are definitely intriguing. There’s a lot more going on under the surface than Joe would like everyone to believe, including if he really did have some feelings for Debbie. I’m already excited about his future in the village!

Tip’s Return!

vlcsnap-2018-01-14-14h12m38s098It might not be the Emmerdale romantic reunion we were waiting for, but this week Tip and Jai reunited and hearts were melted all over again. Not only is Tip an adorable little pup, but she brings warmth and a bit of humour back into Jai’s storylines. It’s hard to believe how villainous and hated he was just a few years ago! It also made Priya lighten up, giving her bickering sibling scenes with Jai and gave endearing cheeky chappy Gerry another thing to do in the village as he took up dog walking. Jai and Tip are the cutest – can we keep them together please?!

Fail

Lost Her Mojo?

vlcsnap-2018-01-14-14h03m57s583Resident vicar Harriet Finch seems to be having a wobble over her faith, but I think it’s a bigger problem than that. There was something a bit feisty and different about Harriet not so long ago but playing second fiddle in Cain’s affections and sticking with him hasn’t done her character any favours. She’s lost all her guts and fire to moon around behind Cain. Sure it might be to prolong a Cain and Moira reunion, but anyone can see Cain’s heart isn’t really in it – even Harriet can see it. Now that she knows Moira killed Emma and that Cain will protect her and the child they share, it really makes you wonder why a once confident and headstrong Harriet still bothers with him. And she might be having a crisis of faith right now, but it’s been a drain to watch her become so interfering.

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2017

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Emmerdale had another huge year full of great storylines and incredible performances, but it wasn’t all perfect. Here’s my look at where it went wrong in 2017.

Make sure you read my Top 10 Best Bits of 2017 later today!

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5. Anti Climaxes and Dragging Storylines

One of the biggest issues of 2017 was the pacing of storylines. Huge and long running stories that ended on a whimper, or stories that dragged on and on forever. There were notable exceptions of course, but sometimes stories ran on way past their sell by date. Even some of the best stories, like Emma’s downfall, could have benefitted from a faster, punchier conclusion. Smaller subplots like Tracy’s erotic novel ran for months, squeezing out every last second of humour until nothing was funny anymore; Rakesh took months to leave after his lies were exposed; I felt jaded by Vic and Adam’s lovely marriage ending several times in repetitive ways; similarly fatigued by Robron’s nine-month relationship breakdown (and Robert’s never ending revenge); Dan and the teen gang/Josh story lasted weeks and went nowhere having no impact on any of the families it involved; much like Jai’s drawn out relationship with Nell (which did benefit from some brilliant final moments) it’s had no long term effect on the characters, making any investment in the story pointless. So here’s hoping for 2018 that the fat is trimmed and stories aren’t stalled to delay shocks and twists, before they become anti-climatic.

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4. Sizzle Free Love Affairs

My biggest wish for 2017 was less cheating after the adultery-fest of 2016 and while that didn’t really happen, 2017 saw the rise of something just as disheartening: the sizzle free love affair. We had Cain and Harriet getting jiggy in the vestry – a combo of good and evil that should have been sinfully seductive viewing but fell flat in Cain and Moira’s shadow, especially when Harriet seems to be selling herself short. We had Megan and Frank – a dry and boring relationship which even Frank’s fling with Charity couldn’t liven up. Then there was Chas and Paddy – a strange and incompatible mismatch which requires strong cringe glands. And finally, the plot that soured our summers, Pete and Priya. Tipped as this big sexy affair for the summer, both characters suffered from horrible personalities and sub-zero chemistry levels. All the bum grabbing and clothes tearing in the world couldn’t save them.

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3. Finn the Stalker

It feels like forever ago now, particularly as poor Finn is now six feet under, but one of the worst plots of 2017 had to be Finn the stalker. Finn had been a fairly loveable, sweet geeky guy until this story saw him become clingy and crazy in his attempts to be with his boyfriend Kasim. Despite the unhinged behaviour being explained as Finn trying to cope with his dad’s death, Finn grew desperate and unlikeable in extreme ways (graffitiing the word “Yestergay” on Kasim’s wall for one) which made little sense and ruined what people loved about the character. Thankfully after a short trip to Australia, Finn’s personality went back to normal and we could all just forget about the bad plot. It’s just unfortunate that after all that, he ended up dead. Finn deserved better.

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2. The White Family

The White family were featured as one of my worst parts of 2016 and here they are again! Things didn’t improve from the previous year, as throughout 2017 the Whites continued to be isolated from the rest of the village and relied on exposition-heavy backstories to provide depth and create more inner-family conflict. Their entitled attitudes and unlikeable personalities meant their circular and tired arguments didn’t make for engaging viewing. Even Robert’s tedious and endless revenge panto plot didn’t improve things as it lobotomised the family making them look more gullible than ever before. Ultimately it felt like the confusion about what to do with the family ran on for another year as their limbo between victims and villains never settled. Another year of wasted potential. Their bad deeds (erm Andy, Alicia to name a few) were barely mentioned and their real points of interest (Lawrence’s sexuality, the family’s nastiness) ignored. If only they’d embraced the Whites as true, self-righteous villains (like they’ve just started to with Lachlan) then we might have seen something good.

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1. Robron Smashed to Bits

Oh boy. Where to begin.

After Aaron’s traumatic child abuse story of 2016, he was owed some happiness in 2017, right? Wrong. After a romantic and heartfelt wedding, Aaron was packed off to prison where he was tortured and abused in well-acted but nasty scenes that felt like a cruel step too far. At the time I questioned the darkness of these scenes after the hopeful future that was earned after Gordon’s trial. Once again throughout the year, Aaron might as well have been used as a voodoo doll. If people weren’t desensitised and sick of Aaron’s misery then 2017 might have pushed them over the edge.

On the outside, Robert was in bits and after learning that Aaron was taking Spice (a well meaning and educational drugs plot this wasn’t), Robert imploded their relationship by sleeping with continual thorn-in-Robron’s-side Rebecca. This was never going to be a popular move just three weeks after the wedding, but at every step the story became more wearing, more frustrating and more miserable. The handling of Robert’s bisexuality had already been praised in the LGBT community but the clumsy way his sexual identity had been inexplicably and repeatedly linked to being faithful in the dialogue meant his cheating was hard to not see as a huge backwards step and a muddled, dated message to the audience. Having spent so long redeeming Robert in the eyes of the viewers, Aaron and his loved ones it was depressing to see that destroyed.

It didn’t stop there, of course. We had the inevitable pregnancy, more drugs, more self harm, more arguments and finally a big split. Rebecca’s personality shifted when the story required, having been introduced as a flighty vixen in 2016 eager to get Robert for herself, Rebecca became the eternal martyr lurching through multiple personalities when the story required it. Rebecca’s point of view was barely featured, meaning her flip-flopping decisions never showed much more of a purpose than to cause more grief between the already fractured couple. Beyond frustrating.

Having once had soap’s hottest property in the palm of their hand, even the most ardent Robron fan was exhausted and despondent. So after all that and promises behind the scenes for a reunion in 2018, is it too much to hope for a less torturous 2018?

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2017 – Part One (#20-11)

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It was another huge year for Emmerdale as they swept award show after award show. In 2017 some big storylines dominated, such as Ashley’s death and Emma’s demise, but here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20. Marlon’s Fun Factor

Marlon Dingle, one of the most GIFable, most quotable villagers and just sneaking into my Top 20 Emmerdale highlights this year. It’s been a varied year for Marlon as he coped with losing Carly from his life, being a support for Laurel when she was at her most vulnerable and for Rhona after her rape ordeal. But despite all the hard times, Marlon was also a constant source of joy. The iconic bromance with Paddy was back in full physical comedy force providing us with plenty to smile about in what has been another intense year for the villagers. Marlon’s bizarre escape from Lydia’s bedroom was certainly a memorable moment. At the end of 2017 Marlon was single and ready to mingle, perhaps with Leo’s new headteacher Jessie and I reckon that might lead to good things in 2018!

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19. Doug’s Comedic Touch

In amongst the tragedy of Ashley’s death and beyond, Doug Potts proved a surprising highlight of 2017. It isn’t really a shock that Duncan Preston’s got such great comedic timing considering his performance background, but Doug’s role as grumpy old man in the village has proven a great foil for others this year. Whether it’s mayhem at the BnB, the kids messing with his vegetable honesty box, dancing lessons with Lydia or getting sloshed with Robert – Doug gave us lots of little fun moments this year. Additions like Doug’s “musical carrot” during the Thomas talent contest helped the balance of light and shade during the Ashley story, making its heartbreak all the more effective too.

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18. Unhinged Lachlan

My issues with the White family are endless (and pretty much the same as last year) however there was one glimmer of something watchable this year in the shape of unhinged Lachlan, played brilliantly by Thomas Atkinson. At his best this year, Lachlan was cold, remorseless and spiteful and it’s where he excels. From purposely getting beaten up in prison, to hiding in his own attic lair – I only wish Emmerdale would have gone a lot darker a lot sooner with him.

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17. Bob’s Bigger Role

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know I’m always wishing for Bob to get out and about a bit more, and stop being tied to that café! Well this year I got my wish and we’ve seen a lot more of Bob as he managed to get heavily involved in some of Emmerdale’s biggest storylines – it wasn’t all stripping and singing you know! From visiting Ashley in the care home, to Carly’s exit, to investigating Emma’s evil deeds, Bob got about a bit. And literally too – as we found out at the end of 2017 that he had a one night stand with Laurel. Despite us all being angry at Bob for what he’s done to Brenda, it’s been a welcome change to see him at the heart of a story rather than simply serving coffee!

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16. Vanessa’s Sexuality Exploration

I’ve always had a soft spot for resident vet, Vanessa Woodfield, and I was pleased to see her get an interesting story this year as she explored her sexuality. It wasn’t long ago she had troubled and mixed up feelings for best friend Rhona during Rhona’s drug addiction, but Emmerdale never really explored what this meant for Vanessa’s sexuality. But after a surprising hook up with Charity in the pub cellar, Vanessa began questioning her identity. So far we’ve had some nicely played scenes of her getting advice from friends and embracing her new feelings and it’s been refreshing to watch this gradual and honest story unfold with minimal angst. Will Ness find love in 2018?

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15. Leyla Harding

Leyla had a quiet start to 2017, giving us the snark and glam outfits we know and love, but by the summer she was front and centre of the show. Despite Pete and Priya’s affair being a real low point of Emmerdale, Leyla’s big heart and kooky bad luck with love endeared her to us even more this year. The double jilting at the wedding was as ridiculous as it sounds but genuinely very funny, but there were softer, sadder moments too as Leyla’s confidence took a real kicking. The betrayal gave her some really strong material as she fought it out with Priya, but frankly she’s too good for both her and Pete. With actress Roxy Shahidi off on maternity leave very soon, it’s a good thing we had a lot of Leyla this year to make up for the lack of her in the next one!

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14. Jai’s Redemption

It’s hard to believe that someone like Jai, who spent much of 2015 and some of 2016 being incredibly unlikeable, could turn it around and become one of my favourites this year. Since Holly’s death Jai has tried to make himself a better person and we saw plenty of opportunity to see his softer side as a family man this year. Midway through the year Jai dated Nell (Holly’s doppelganger) in what was quite a weird and initially unengaging story, but the twists and turns in the final act of this story were jawdroppingly brilliant and a time where we were all firmly on Jai’s side. Who can forget that shocking moment in the department store when Jai saw Nell’s dead baby photo were in fact a stock image? Sadly Nell’s last episode was a let down and it hasn’t had any real impact on Jai long term, but I hope 2018 can keep up this new and improved Jai.

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13. Gerry Roberts

Who could predict that one of Lachlan White’s cellmates would become one of the best new additions to Emmerdale in 2017? Cheeky Gerry Roberts made a big impression this year as his puppy-dog enthusiasm gave some much needed levity to the show. After perking up life at Home Farm, Gerry made a pitstop at the BnB to rile Doug, before becoming firm friends with Liv and blagging himself a way in with the Dingles and a job at the scrapyard. Gerry is a newbie done right – lots of interactions all across the village and plenty of fun. Now that he seems here to stay I can’t wait to see what Gerry gets up to next year!

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12. Moira’s Difficult Year

Moira never really has an easy time of it. Last year her marriage shattered and her beloved daughter Holly died, but it wasn’t that much brighter this year either. Moira kicked off the year rebuffing Cain’s hopes for a reunion (having slept with him and Pete around Christmas time last year) and fighting for her farm. And then things went quiet, aside from an exhaustion collapse and we were all left wondering whether there was more to it. Come October, when Super Soap Week 2.0 rolled into town, Moira was thrust into the spotlight, giving birth to a shock baby after escaping a barn inferno and a face-off with nemesis Emma. It was one big moment after the next, followed by a harrowing PND story and then the mother of all reveals as we learnt Moira was the culprit behind Emma’s murder. It was a huge and unexpected turn of events for Moira’s character but actress Natalie J Robb has relished each opportunity to wring every emotion out of Moira. Moira’s been everything this year – badass and fierce, to vulnerable and broken. She’s a character that works on all levels. And of course, always bubbling under the surface is the winning partnership with Cain. Will 2018 see them reunite?

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11. Eric and Faith’s Budding Romance

A real highlight of Emmerdale 2017 was the development of Eric and Faith’s relationship and I already feel like they have the makings of a true soap power couple. When Faith arrived there were already sparks, so much so Doug kept calling her Eric’s girlfriend, but it took a little while for them to grow close. Faith brought fun to Eric’s life, helping him to loosen up and he gave her the affection and confidence to feel attractive again after her mastectomy. They’ve had their misunderstandings and strife like any soap couple but they’re a ying-and-yang match with great chemistry and an irresistible, engaging dynamic. I hope 2018 brings them back together, for good!

Fave or Fail? (20-24 Nov 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! Tom’s true colours were revealed this week and Cain got to grips with a nappy!

Faves

More Money, More Problems

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-20h53m37s131In a week where the big serious plots were a little dry and unengaging, Bernice, Nicola and Jimmy took the limelight for me in their ill-gotten gains story. Last week Jimmy almost made my highlights simply for his glorious pimp coat and his love for it, but luckily it got another outing this week. I love the Kings and their oddball humour, Nicola’s ruthless streak and lust for the highlife and when you combine that with Bernice’s kooky panic and guilt you can’t beat it. It’s not an especially exciting plot and maybe not the funniest but with these characters it made a fun and silly distraction.

Tip Top

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-20h37m20s236Now don’t send me hate, but I’m not a dog lover, so a dog based plot isn’t one that would normally make my Faves list. And I was even less keen when cute little Tip was used as a way to reunite the snoozefest of Frank and Megan, and then Megan spent about three episodes sneezing. Not exactly award winning Emmerdale and surely a waste of Gaynor Faye’s talents. But then Jai got involved and grew attached and rather possessive of Tip, even letting her in the factory much to Rishi’s horror. Ever since Jai’s been softened I’ve really enjoyed him on screen and Chris Bisson’s great facial expressions made this comedy dog plot more fun to watch.

Dingle Mingle

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-21h02m44s678Even with so many Dingles in the village, we’re used to seeing the same partnerships of characters so it’s always a bit of a treat when we get to watch a different dynamic. This week Aaron reached out to Belle with her heartbreak over twisted Lachlan after he’d warned her over his dark behaviour. With Aaron’s history of neverending sadness he’s got a bit of a wise old soul so it was nice to see him comfort her and offer advice as Belle’s immaturity can often mean she makes questionable decisions. But then which Dingle hasn’t? There was an enjoyable rapport between the pair and it made me wish for more unusual Dingle partnerships. How about more Marlon and Cain? Or Charity and Zak?

Fail

Attic Adventures

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-20h55m20s780This week saw Lachlan step up his creep levels to critical as he let his family believe he’d committed suicide and climbed in the attic to spy on them. Yep, totally normally behaviour. Thomas Atkinson has been great at embracing Lachlan’s darkside and while there’s an enjoyable ridiculousness about it all, the nonsensical logistics of his attic hideaway distract from what should be an unnerving and twisted development. Despite the Whites living in a huge old mansion, Lucky appeared to be spying on them from the floor above, able to drill through a bit of MDF flooring and hear every word. Even if we can suspend disbelief and ignore that Home Farm has been morphed into a single storey bungalow, Lachlan was able to skulk around and have a full volume argument with Gerry with no one hearing a thing. Not even Hotten’s finest police force could find his secret attic, despite there being a window! Not to mention Lucky’s air vent meant he was in prime location to spy on the kitchen but as luck would have it he missed the entire Rebecca and Robert row which helpfully would have revealed all of Rob’s misdemeanours. Lachlan’s twisted plot could have been outlandish and fun but it’s hard to see past the stupidity and see the darkness intended.

 

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Oct 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! This week baby Isaac was named and Chas returned from Ireland!

Faves

Glamourous Granny

vlcsnap-2017-10-29-11h02m41s905One of the best things to happen to Emmerdale this year has to be Faith Dingle. She wins hands down. Not an episode goes by without a killer outfit or a cracking line of dialogue. Most newbies seem to take a while to settle into the village but Faith feels like she’s been there forever, seamlessly integrating into every story and having great chemistry with everyone she works alongside. With the return of Chas this week, the pair had a touching moment and while Faith might often be used for witty one-liners, her relationship with her kids is gritty and complex. I hope she continues to play a big role up at Butlers and in her children’s lives – she’s been a revelation.

The Mother of Meltdowns

Emmerdale - Tuesday 24 Oct 7pm - The ITV HubMoira had another difficult week as she suspected her new baby (now named Isaac) was ill and she doubted her ability to protect him so soon after losing Holly. The pressure’s been piling on her since Isaac’s shock birth, so much so that she left him at the hospital this week believing herself to be a terrible mother and that he was better off without her. Throughout this story Natalie J Robb’s been giving powerful performances and this week was no exception. Her almost cold detachment and distancing from motherhood has been emotively told and your heart breaks seeing Moira freezing out help and hardening to protect herself from any more loss. Her fractured relationship with Cain is one that always provides deliciously angsty moments, but her dynamic with Faith is one I’ve enjoyed watching build through this story too.

Community Spirit

vlcsnap-2017-10-29-11h32m40s293A small aspect of the week’s events, but one I always enjoy, was a community feel to some of the scenes. Whether it was the Dingles’ knees up in the pub (with Paddy the clown) for Debbie’s birthday or Jimmy playing Eric’s bidding game during the auction – I loved seeing bigger groups and different characters interacting. I especially enjoyed the parallels of Jai’s struggle after Eliza’s fit compared with Cain’s moping in the shop and Vanessa getting dating advice from a surprisingly woke Jimmy and Robert, who was released from the panto shackles of Home Farm for a day. Sometimes character groups can feel a bit stale and locked-in so it’s always fun to see interactions of characters who rarely share screentime, particularly when experiences in the Dales can often overlap in interesting ways. Community scenes are an easy way of making the village feel more real and I welcome them at every opportunity.

Fails

Paddy Power

Emmerdale - Chas Returns and Instantly Kisses Paddy! - YouTubeChas was back this week and in her rightful position as pub landlady. Since her departure earlier this year (while Lucy Pargeter was on maternity leave) the pub has been missing that special something without her. But while I was thrilled to see Chas back and reunited with her family, her reintroduction was focused on her rather awkward romance with Paddy. Now, I love Chas and I love Paddy – and I even love their friendship – but when it comes a relationship it all feels a bit incestuous. The pair of them explored the possibility of reuniting earlier this year but after one too many doomed and funny dates realised they were better off as friends. And that’s where it should have ended! Sure, Chas could do with a reliable love and something to make her smile, but settling for Paddy feels like selling herself short – particularly when he was desperate to reunite with Rhona not so long ago. Emmerdale has had some odd pairings in the past and sometimes they work out but Chas and Paddy seem more like siblings than star-crossed lovers. Chas needs someone with a bit more impact than the village’s loveable fool. Sorry Paddy!

Muddled Message

Emmerdale - Debbie Won't Let Tom Control Her - YouTubeThere are a couple of things to like about Debbie’s new romance with Tom. One – he’s pretty easy on the eye; two – there seems some potential there for sparks; and three – it spares us from the sizzle-free Debbie/Ross pairing. But this week’s scenes left me wondering what we’re meant to make of this story and Tom in general. Is he meant to be a swoony fantasy – good looking, rich, powerful? Or is he meant to be a bit creepy and overbearing? It’s hard to tell what the message is here and because of that I’m struggling to suspend reality and enjoy Debbie’s escapades. Tom feels too good to be true and his seduction methods are old fashioned and stalkerish at times. He bought her a house and he barely knows her! And yet, despite her attempts to stand strong, Debbie returns to him and is repeatedly charmed back to bed. So is this some dated Cinderella fantasy or is something darker lurking under the surface? Are we meant to fear for Debbie or watch in envy? I can’t help but feel if Tom was a bit more of an original, believable character rather than Christian Grey lite then the intentions might be a bit less ambiguous.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Oct 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! Some hard hitting and important stories told this week alongside the never-ending saga of Robert’s revenge.

Faves

Worthy Story

vlcsnap-2017-10-22-12h27m00s037In January, I complained that Megan’s worries about the difficulties of her daughter potentially being disabled was a story worthy of more than just one episode, particularly as Gaynor Faye’s talents are regularly wasted in lifeless plots – and being tied to boring Frank. Thankfully that seemed to change this week as a hugely important and interesting story surfaced when Eliza had a fit and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. While this is a sad and difficult story to tell, there are thousands of parents like Megan and Jai who are given similar news about their child’s future and it’s a story worth telling. Already both parents are dealing with Eliza’s disability differently, expressing different worries and finding it hard to cope. It’s a very human story, but with honest performances and effective writing it’s already been moving and well told.

Identity Issues

vlcsnap-2017-10-22-12h31m05s774Vanessa had a difficult week as she questioned her sexuality and faced questions from the gossipy village. After spending the night with and being cruelly outed in the pub by Charity, Vanessa was confused about how to label herself, knowing that she was now interested in women. Despite the cliché public Woolie outing, I’ve enjoyed this story so far for the refreshing way it’s letting Vanessa take a slow and unpressured journey towards discovering her identity. Not only has it been great to see Ness get a storyline of her own, but the key players in her life – Rhona, Tracy, Frank and even Paddy and Pearl – have offered her great support and advice, in a non-judgemental and encouraging way and these have made for some touching and rather sweet scenes.

A Bit of Humour

vlcsnap-2017-10-22-12h53m43s196One shining light in this frustratingly slow “Robert takes over Home Farm” plot this week was Kath – the woman Robert hired to play an investor. Much like when Robert teamed up with Bernice last year, his irritated “brains of the operation” roles needs a slightly maverick comedy sidekick to clash with, and in this he has Kath. Despite her playing the part well and securing the deal, it was fun seeing her test the waters with him and make him sweat with her off-the-wall suggestions for Kath’s backstory. It certainly gives the story a bit more of the “fun” element even if it’s a stretch to believe Robert wouldn’t have knocked up a fake LinkedIn page for Rug Tree Bonds in his spare time.

Fails

Scheme of the Week

vlcsnap-2017-10-22-12h52m45s737Robert Sugden seems to be reliving his villainy Greatest Hits at the moment as he cartoonishly seduces his way into Home Farm. Literally. Again. But it’s not the excruciating scenes of Lawrence falling for Robert’s charms (come on Larry, he’s played you exactly like this before!) that make my fails list, it’s the plodding pace of this revenge plot. Every week a new scheme of Robert pops up with no end in sight giving him no real set backs to speak of. Even Chrissie was lured into forgiveness and trust this week, thanks to an anti-climatic near-death experience orchestrated by Rob. Come on, Chrissie – we were counting on you! At this point Robert will have so many puppets to control he’ll need a spare hand. Chrissie’s uncle Tim returned from nowhere (angry about some baffling injustice) to aid Robert’s evil deeds for a reason that made zero sense, leaving this plot with more holes than Lisa Dingle’s crochet blankets. Robert might be doing the trick to win over the Whites but it’s making panto season feel like an eternity – isn’t it about time he had a real rival to come up against?

Falling Flat

vlcsnap-2017-10-22-12h51m55s027Perhaps it’s a bit meanspirited of me to say, especially as he’s not been in Emmerdale long but Dan’s brother Daz already feels a bit surplus to requirement. Sure, they seem to be lining up a story of PTSD for Daz, but I can’t help but think his character is a bit dull and pointless and I’m struggling to care. This week he integrated himself into village life a bit more, getting a date and a job, but he’s not exactly got the charisma or fun factor to add anything new to the Dales. A dodgy woman from his past showed up threatening him and the family but there wasn’t any real sense of jeopardy and Dan and co’s response came across as laughable rather than strong. I don’t feel like we know Daz enough to care about his struggles, especially when these tales are based on his retelling of events, and he just doesn’t have enough charm or personality to be engaging. We have Dan, did we really need another downtrodden Mr Average?

Scene of the Week (11-15 Sep 2017)

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Granted, the resolution of Nell’s storyline was something of a disappointment, but Moira’s furious reaction to her deception was a great scene this week. Having been taken in by Nell’s lies, Moira had gone as far as giving her a place to stay and even the use of her dead daughter’s clothes trusting her every word because she saw so many similarities between Nell and Holly. As Jai tried to make Nell own up in front of Moira, she was outraged that Nell lied about using drugs and as Nell stood there calling Holly a pathetic junkie, a fuming Moira threw her out. Considering how Nell’s whole story hinged on her assimilation of Holly’s character, it’s only right Moira’s discovery of the truth was a fiery one and as ever there are few others in Emmerdale who can deliver a verbal take down quite like Moira!

Fave or Fail? (4-8 Sep 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! It was a great week on and off screen as the Nell’s lies were uncovered AND Emmerdale cleaned up at the TV Choice awards.

Faves

Twists and Turns

vlcsnap-2017-09-09-20h34m57s790In the space of just one episode, the Nell and Jai plot went from being sluggish and a bit dull to completely gripping. I was hooked! Many suspected there was something not quite right about Nell the minute she arrived as Holly’s double and then created an increasingly tragic backstory for herself. This week the lies unravelled as Jai discovered her pregnancy, her addiction, her dead child were all inventions. Jai managed to uncover everything just like a twisty psychological thriller (complete with jump scares too!) but with Nell exposed, things were far too easy to end there. By the end of the week, implying Jai had hurt her to Moira, Nell managed to have Jai arrested and Moira completely fooled after staging a drug collapse just like Holly. In Nell Emmerdale have created a devious and frightening character, one who has terrifying potential. Now she has Moira fooled I seriously worry for Moira’s safety but at the same time – I can’t wait!

Leyla’s Showdown

Emmerdale - Leyla Confronts Pete About the Affair - YouTubeThursday’s epic 90 minutes of Emmerdale was well worth watching and not just for the Nell shocks. The Leyla/Pete/Priya story has been a bit of a let down, wedding episodes aside, in fact Leyla summed it up well when she called it the “world’s least funny sex comedy” but the big confrontation between Leyla and the two who betrayed her was fantastic. Roxy Shahidi gave a superb performance as she had it out with best friend Priya, saying everything we’d been dying for her to bring up. She was angry, unfiltered and devastated, but delivered key moments of this with her head held high. The writing too was effective in painting the women’s friendship as the biggest casualty of this betrayal and giving Leyla the strength and agency in this moment, rather than let her be the unfortunate ditz that she had been during other parts of the story. The scenes too also gave the opportunity for the characters to explain the often nonsensical developments between Pete and Priya and why they hurt Leyla so much. I hope the aftermath continues to be complex rather than falling into soapy catfights and with any luck Leyla might find some much deserved happiness!

Jai’s Turnaround

vlcsnap-2017-09-09-20h34m41s969I laughed out loud this week when Nell told Jai “Everyone likes you now and they couldn’t stand you before!” for its meta take on Jai Sharma’s redemption arc. It seemed to happen before Nell’s arrival, so she’s wrong about her impact on that, but I’m really impressed how Emmerdale transformed Jai from a cold and unlikeable villain to someone far more sympathetic and interesting. If this turnaround hadn’t happened then Jai’s discovery about Nell’s lies and his subsequent arrest on Friday wouldn’t have had the same devastating impact but I was right there with him this week – cheering him on and worried for him too. Chris Bisson did a great job in taking us through everything from Jai’s shock and horror to those quietly devastated scenes in the fallout, but with him only just having sorted his life out and Nell the expert liar, I wonder if enough people will believe his side of the story.

Fails

Out of Place?

vlcsnap-2017-09-09-20h35m35s466For me the two most tiresome aspects of Debbie’s plots are when she falls out with Charity (again) and when she gets herself mixed up in heist-style gangster stories – and unfortunately we had a bit of both this week. The new wealthy men soon to be village regulars have been well documented in the press and we met right-hand man Graham for the first time. First impressions are good, even if it did leave me wondering how Charity and Debbie have found themselves renting a car presumably to a man who could have whatever new car he wanted with the snap of his fingers! The problem, and probably one that’s always a sticking point with Debbie, is that I don’t really believe in her in this world. Charity has charm and wit – even when she can be full-on – and Debbie has brains, but she’s  serious and dour-faced, and feels out of place in these stories. I believe her as a mother struggling with what’s best for her kids, I believe her in those softer scenes with Moira. I can even buy her falling for a wrong un like Ross (even though their scenes are flat and lacking in spark). But these stories where she gets mixed up in a rich and dangerous underworld just don’t ring true. Some of Debbie’s stories and characteristics seem very real and believable but the moment she steps into this cartoon world of tycoons and gangsters it becomes more fantastical and far less enjoyable.