Fave or Fail? (3-7 Feb 2020)

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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! As Marlon’s hell continued, April ran away from home and a tragedy prompted Arthur’s shocking confession.

Faves

Pierce Gets Smarter and Scarier

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h27m49s551Pierce stepped up his plan of action this week and after overhearing Rhona’s distrust and dislike of Kim, he decided to embed himself into life at Home Farm with a crafty plan. The beauty of Pierce’s return is that he’s both smart and chilling, meaning you can forgive the slightly more outlandish “He’s behind you!” moments. This week Pierce was back lurking around Smithy Cottage, even going as far as talking to and touching Rhona while she was sleeping. Creepy as hell! But it would have got old and unbelievable quickly if that was all Pierce was up to, but luckily he had more up his sleeve than that. With the help of a cunning plan to make Kim believe she’d run him over and smashed his phone, Pierce got an invite inside Home Farm and there his manipulations continued. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe Kim would so readily trust a stranger to help with her son’s custody battle, but Pierce is convincing and charming enough for us to suspend disbelief and it’s fun for us to be privy to his real identity while the rest of the village is oblivious. The Graham murder aftermath continues to be great viewing.

Arthur’s Shock Confession

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h26m18s341The Thomas family had some very sad news this week as Laurel revealed that Sandy had died. These scenes not only provided some emotional performances from the brilliant actors within the Thomas family but it also sent Arthur into a spiral of guilt. Blaming himself for his grandfather’s death, Arthur ran away to the graveyard to talk to his dad and apologise. Arthur was at breaking point when Jimmy tried to comfort him and he eventually confessed all to mum Laurel, revealing that he had been the one to hurt Archie. These scenes were excellently performed by the consistently great Alfie Clarke and also Charlotte Bellamy who showed Laurel’s conflict between anger and guilt herself for not noticing Arthur struggling. I’m glad the Arthur/Archie plot didn’t drag on too long (though Arthur’s confession does feel a little isolated when we haven’t seen Archie for weeks) and it felt true to Arthur’s character to have him confess. I also enjoyed the extra strain this put on Laurel and Jai’s relationship there’s interesting potential there going forward if she eventually tells him the truth. Considering Ashley’s history of violence, I hope Arthur’s actions and his struggles won’t be brushed under the carpet because I think this is a worthy story to be told.

April’s Agony

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h25m28s848Another young actor took centre stage this week as Amelia Flanagan as April reminded us what a top performer she is. With Marlon still suffering in prison, April learnt she’d been lied to and could in fact visit him. Feeling betrayed, April ran away from home and soon the whole village went on the hunt for her. Meanwhile Marlon was inconsolable when he heard the news of her absence, making his imprisonment even harder to bear. Eventually April was found and it was decided she could go and visit. As the family tried to be strong, with their Free Marlon campaign, the situation isn’t looking any more positive and poor April likely won’t feel any better once she’s seen Marlon there herself. This storyline has provided some great performances and it’s been enjoyable to see Mandy, Billy and Bob in particular taking a supportive role in April’s life.

Pete’s Lowkey Exit

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h22m13s232This week’s episodes saw the start of Pete’s low key exit plot as he decided to make a new start away from Emmerdale. After working at Wylie’s Farm for a while, Pete was overcome with bad memories – this was, after all, the site of his father’s imprisonment at the hands of Emma. Pete felt a bit of a spare part this week as Tracy moved on with Nate under his nose and realised that there’s very little keeping him around anymore. Pete’s been in Emmerdale since 2013 so on one hand it feels a bit of a disservice to have such a muted exit, though on reflection, Pete’s been a less central character lately and it’s an exit true to the Pete’s history and with almost all his family gone, options are limited to give him a big send off. The scenes this week where he considered his future and reminisced about better, and also darker days, were well done and for a “taxi” exit, isn’t as rushed as they usually are.

Fails

Suddenly Smitten

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h25m53s771For some inexplicable reason Tracy found herself smitten with Nate this week and this latest romance is something I’m really hoping was just a device to get Pete to think about leaving. Even though the Moira affair is over, Nate continues to be a sticking point, especially since Cara has disappeared – and she was one person that might’ve made him a bit more interesting! But forgetting how boring and immature Nate seems, doesn’t Tracy deserve better writing? Tracy already had her empowered moment of realising Nate was a sleazy player, so why was she falling over herself after just one conversation in the shop? It’s true Tracy doesn’t have the best track record in choosing men (David, anyone?) but she’s gone from dates with Billy, a fling with Pete and now this with Nate all with little care to develop these connections. We all know Amy Walsh is capable of big things, so why is she continuously rushed into empty romances. Surely Tracy deserves a big love story, not just whichever single man is hanging around!

Rotten Romance

vlcsnap-2020-02-09-11h24m08s320In any other situation, the rom-com cuteness of Vic and Luke this week would have paid off. He got a chef job at the pub, despite being hopeless with anything else but a microwave and Vic was doe-eyed and smitten watching him mistake gravy for caramel sauce and take hours to cook a pizza. They have chemistry, a real spark, Luke is sweet in a helpless puppy way, and above all Victoria deserves a lifetime of happiness. So, why does the whole thing feel a bit icky and wrong? Even Luke’s cheese-tastic comments to baby Harry which Vic overheard on the baby monitor couldn’t hit the mark when you look at the bigger context. Of course Luke isn’t anything Lee, nor should he be judged on his brother’s crimes, but by having a relationship with him, Vic is tied forever to those memories and that family. And that’s without getting started on the Wendy issue. Even if you buy into the pair’s feelings for each other it seems like an impossible situation that just doesn’t feel realistic. It’s Vic’s choice to explore a relationship with Luke but as a writing choice it means never moving away from her trauma – Lee will always be there in the background, as an anecdote or a memory for the Posners. Vic does deserve happiness and a fulfilling romance, but with the brother of her rapist, a man who lives with his mother (a woman who repeatedly harassed, stalked, gaslighted and continues to make Vic’s trauma about herself) – this is a contrived and unbelievable situation and Victoria is worth more than her whole life being defined by her rapist’s family.

Fave or Fail? (27-31 Jan 2020)

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! A brilliant week of episodes following the aftermath of Graham’s murder, as Marlon was imprisoned and Pierce manipulated from afar.

Faves

Marlon Behind Bars

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h40m22s706Three cheers for the brilliant Mark Charnock this week whose emotive performances have impressed all week as Marlon’s world was turned upside down. With Pierce pulling the strings, Marlon’s chances of being found innocent seemed bleaker and bleaker and his expressions were haunted as he realised his fate. As the court decided he wouldn’t be granted bail, all Marlon’s hope had evaporated and this was particularly a struggle knowing how difficult April was finding life without him on the outside. Marlon was a broken man in his visits and his time spent with his useless solicitors as all evidence pointed against him. This is a great story to showcase Mark’s acting and it’s particularly effective as there’s nothing quite like a wrongly imprisoned character to galvanise viewers. The Free Marlon campaign begins now!

Rhona Turns Detective

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h39m17s835The aftermath to Graham’s death has been anything but a disappointment. I’d go as far to say this week was even better than last, as the big stories and secrets unravelled, we were treated to gripping developments and impressive performances. Having spent months being fairly cold and unlikeable, Rhona became a welcome key player this week as her grief over Graham didn’t restrict her to crying over her dead robot lover, but actually gave her a strong purpose we could get behind – finding the real culprit and saving Marlon. After coming face to face with Marlon, Rhona was convinced by his story and she sought to hunt the real killer. Zoe Henry’s performances made Rhona both sympathetic and heroic as she took on this dangerous quest. With viewers on edge about Pierces return, Rhona’s digging made the scenes even more stressful to watch as we anticipate the moment she discovers Pierce’s involvement. This story already appears to have undone the damage the writing did to Rhona’s character and now she’s back to being someone we’re really rooting for.

Lurking Pierce

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h38m33s208Emmerdale did a great job with Pierce this week. Rather than over use him and have him feature heavily, his appearances were sparse and teasing. Just enough to have us spooked and booing and hissing. This week we saw Pierce sending flowers to Rhona, deluded that they still have a future together. We saw his dingy apartment and his flat mate and there was of course that thrilling moment where we thought he might come face to face with Rhona. The good thing about this Pierce story is his meddling from afar means the audience is united in screaming at the TV for the characters to piece together the clues and that’s always fun. Pierce is a smart villain which makes his manipulation successful and the stakes much higher because the chances of him being caught seem slim. So far there’s been just enough menace and suspense to keep us guessing – here’s hoping it continues!

Secrets Uncovered

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h36m36s918Even though last week’s episodes revealed none of our suspects were in fact Graham’s killer, this week’s episodes had plenty of gripping aftermath and secrets to reveal. As Kim struggled with guilt and the fear of Al being found out, he managed to keep up the pretence that he was Graham’s killer. Charity and Jai’s secrets were revealed fairly swiftly but it wasn’t until later in the week we learnt Andrea killed Tip (sob!) and Jamie had slept with Belle. Jamie and Belle have been on most people’s radar for a while with their natural chemistry so learning they had got it on was a satisfying development and one that sets up plenty of interest as we move forward and they fight their feelings, especially with their families suspicious of each other lending itself to Romeo and Juliet comparisons. Here’s hoping for a slow burn of longing looks!

Sarah Confesses

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m09s761When Noah overheard Charity talking about Graham’s death, full of anger and tearful, he corrected her suspicions and revealed his recent hospitalisation had nothing to do with Graham and she should talk to Sarah instead. Horrified at what Sarah had been up to, Charity confronted her about the drugs. As Sarah tried to explain and revealed she’d turned Danny over to the police, the scene was incredibly well performed by Katie Hill and Emma Atkins. While this story has been lost a little in the intense Graham aftermath, the confrontation scene alone was worthy of praise and makes me hopeful that Charity and Sarah will once again get to work together with some challenging material in future.

Aftermath for Jai

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m56s674Jai had a troubling start to the week when he woke up in the garden of the Sharma house, his hands still covered in blood. When news spread of Graham’s death, Jai expected the worst, only to find that he had attacked Jimmy and the door of the van on the night in question. It was refreshing to see this story reject sensationalism by having Jai and Jimmy’s war reignited with Jimmy going to the police or being a bloody pulp. Instead the Kings, Jai and Laurel discussed the situation and Jai’s issues frankly and Jai checked himself into rehab straight away. With Jai’s relapse seeming quite rushed I have hopes his recovery will take its time and as much as I love them together, hopefully Laurel won’t rush to forgive him either.

Fail

Charity Makes the Same Mistakes

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h41m49s041As with all good murder mystery stories each character had a secret on the night of Graham’s murder. It was revealed this week that Charity and Ryan had stolen Graham’s money which, when revealed, caused a rift between her and Vanessa. After their wedding was cancelled, Charity seemed fairly dismissive of Vanessa’s hurt and that was even before she started lying about her whereabouts! No wonder Vanessa was pissed off! When Charity confessed that while Graham was getting murdered, she and Ryan were stealing Graham’s cash, Charity’s excuse of wanting payback and the money seemed a little tone deaf when a lack of honesty had caused her split with Vanessa not so long ago. While this rift provides the pair with an interesting conflict of loyalties, particularly as Vanessa wants to confess and support Rhona, if this familiar argument has arisen between them so soon after the last, how will it be resolved again in a satisfying way that stays true to their characters? We know, and Vanessa knows, Charity loves a scheme and it seems unlikely she will ever be law abiding and honest forever, but it would be interesting to see their conflicts exploring new ground, rather than Charity just repeating her mistakes when she’s promised otherwise.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a year that saw big exits, shock deaths and the end of Emmerdale’s two biggest couples, 2019 had lots of surprising moments. 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 – Nicola’s Rise and Fall

Way back at the beginning of 2019, Nicola and Robert put their efforts into scamming Home Farm out of shed loads of cash. After that backfired, Nicola had a lot of making up to do with both her husband and the villagers she’d betrayed. Nicola’s acid tongue doesn’t always earn her many friends or fans, but there were some fun comedy moments in this story (like when she took Bernice hostage) and touching family moments too. The year got better for her when she got selected for the council – in a role completely perfect for her character – and we got to see her back on top. Nicola and Jimmy continue to be one of Emmerdale’s best and most believable partnerships and here’s hoping they both get good material in 2020.

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19 – Old School Feel

If there’s one noticeable improvement to Emmerdale this year then it’s the return to an old school feeling. Emmerdale’s USP in the soap world has always been its rural setting but in recent years that’s faded into the background. This year however there’s been a return to its roots with more farming and outdoors shots, Kim on her horses, and community events like the village panto. There’s still so much potential in exploring the dramas of a country village that I hope next year continues to make the most of the show’s unique setting.

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18 – Cain Learns the Truth

In October, an explosive secret was revealed when Cain learnt Moira had been having an affair right under his nose with farm hand Nate. It had been a challenging year for Cain, who had been bogged down in the Joe dead-or-alive storyline for months but his reaction to the Moira/Nate reveal was satisfyingly explosive. The best thing about Cain though is not just his avenging efforts (which this year ended up on a boat, implausible and outlandish and arguably too contrived for a punch-happy bloke like Cain) but his range of emotions. Cain’s pain and fury played out below his seething surface and Jeff Hordley’s performances ultimately are the reason he’s so popular. However unpopular the Moira and Nate fling was, Cain’s immediate reaction was one of the most gripping of the year.

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17 – Mandy’s Return

One of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters returned this year in the form of Mandy Dingle. Never far from chaos, Mandy’s first reappearance was far too brief but teasing enough that made viewers hope for a longer return. Later in the year she was back, scamming money from her family and revealing her part in a big casino heist and with son Vinny holding secrets of her own, there’s clearly more to come. Mandy’s return has been an injection of fun and nostalgia and she feels right at home at Wishing Well, even forming a great new bond with Lydia. It’s unclear how long she’s sticking around but there’s something comforting about her presence in the Dingles that makes me wish she’d stay for good.

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16 – Liv’s Jacob Discovery

It’s fair to say it’s been a hellish year for Jacob as he was groomed by Maya but the story as a whole was patchy. However one of the best parts of the story involved the addition of Liv, and running the Jacob plot alongside her exploration of her identity was an interesting choice. While Emmerdale haven’t put the asexual label onto Liv’s identity yet, she progressed further in the vocalisation of her feelings this year, leaning on Aaron and Robert for support. Making her the first person to discover Jacob’s relationship with Maya was a great twist making an already complex story more layered and gripping as she blackmailed the evil teacher too. Isobel Steele continues to portray Liv with real vulnerability and I hope, given the big topics thrown at her – drinking problems, asexuality, seizures – Emmerdale chooses one and gives it the focus it deserves.

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15 – Kim Finds Her Place

After Kim’s brief and divisive return in October 2018, fans were nervous about her permanent role in Emmerdale. Would it work? Would Kim be too panto? Her initial months in Emmerdale were met with apprehension. At first, bogged down with the bloated and retconned history of Graham and Joe it seemed as if Kim had been reimagined as a soulless mob wife, sending out hits and grimly trying to  blackmail Cain to sleep with her. It was an uncomfortable watch, but there were glimmers of hope. As Kim started to integrate and they dropped the Joe storyline there were signs they had plans for her beyond a cartoon villain. Eventually Home Farm reformed, and Kim reunited with son Jamie and met her granddaughter Millie and through all of this – and a friendship with Rhona – she found a heart. While the Tate household has not always been engaging to watch, Emmerdale have finally got the balance right with Kim, she’s both a great foe for the villagers but she’s more than just a campy “soap bitch”.

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14 – Manpreet Settles In

This year Manpreet moved into the village and cemented herself as a regular character by marrying Rishi and giving the Sharma family a more serious focus. Manpreet is a breezy fun character and a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than someone destined for extreme behaviour. She slotted in well to the village, both with the family and with her doctor role, which isn’t always easy for new characters to do. Rebecca Sarker is a really natural actress and her issues with money gave Manpreet a depth and even a little bit of a dark side. Manpreet helped lift the Sharmas out of their comedic rut and she’s been a little gem of a character with much more to her than meets the eye. Can’t wait to see what else they do with her in 2020.

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13 – Bob’s Homelessness

Cast your mind way back to January 2019 and you might remember that Bob was at the centre of one of Emmerdale’s most emotional stories. After the end of his disastrous romance with Laurel and struggling for money, it was a bleak Christmas for Bob. By January he was sleeping rough, struggling for food and so very isolated. After Harriet found him suffering from hypothermia, Bob was hospitalised and the truth came out to friends and family. Bob’s story was sensitively told and a timely reminder of how quickly a situation like his can escalate. Unfortunately Emmerdale skimmed over the aftermath and Bob is back, full of life, in the pub. It’s nice to have him back where he belongs but this was such a strong story that it feels like a missed opportunity.

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12 – Bernice’s exit

In a year of high profile exits, Bernice’s departure was one of the most poignant. Despite the unfortunate way it was squeezed into just two episodes, it was fitting and emotional that just as Bernice’s happy ending was within her clutches, she had to sacrifice it. Bernice’s exit story gave her that moment of growth and self-reflection. Her final episodes were the perfect blend of humour and serious emotion, giving her a great send off. She was a character like no other and she’ll be sorely missed – here’s hoping for a return one day!

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11 – Tracy after Frank’s death

Tracy was my stand-out star of 2018 with Amy Walsh delivering exceptional performances during the storyline that explored her past as a sex worker and split with David. This year Tracy was dealt a massive blow when her dad Frank died in the factory explosion and Amy Walsh continued to impress as one of Emmerdale’s best actors. As the question of the real culprit remained a mystery for a while and blame fell to Frank, Tracy’s determination to find the true thieves intensified leading her finally to the satisfying showdown with Kerry. As Tracy cycled through a range of emotions it was another masterclass from the brilliant Amy Walsh. What will the next year bring for Tracy?

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2019.

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Dec 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h45m17s638Community stories can often be thin on the ground in current Emmerdale so this week’s Christmas panto story was a joy. In a small village where everyone knows each other, this season is the perfect time for lots of characters to get together, even those who aren’t usually involved. This story gave Manpreet a chance to embed herself more in the village, beside her GP role, and we could also forget that Bob was involved with the show’s most hated character while he relished in his creative role. It was also a lot of fun to see the actors pretending to act on stage, some even doing a bad job. We haven’t seen a panto in the village for a while and so far it’s been everything warm and fun and Christmassy. Unlike the village nativity from two years ago, centred around Chas and Paddy’s forced humour, it’s been much more fun to see the rehearsals and preparation and not just rush straight to a costumed performance. It has shades of the community spirit from classic Emmerdale and that can only be a good thing.

Archie’s Anguish

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h46m00s801Archie’s story escalated this week and really tugged at the heart strings. While the writing for this storyline feels rushed and extreme at times, little Kai Assi is doing a brilliant job at showing Archie’s absolute fear and hopelessness. It was impossible not to want to reach into the screens and hug him this week as he saw his only option was to run away. Feeling completely alone, Archie’s anguish was very emotive and is one of the reasons why this story is working.

Arthur’s Anger

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m46s540Apart from my Scene of the Week choice, there was another scene which really stood out and was one of the highlights of the Archie and Arthur story. It was clear that Arthur attached a lot of significance to Christmas when it came to remembering his late dad. With that in mind Laurel organised a special festive gathering to decorate the tree, with Arthur ready to place the final decoration on the tree – a special decoration he once made for his dad. Arthur’s world shattered when Archie ran in and broke the decoration in the scuffle. You could feel Arthur’s pain and hurt and so much of that was in the brilliant performance from Alfie Clarke. There are times when the writing over-simplifies Arthur’s bullying as reasonless cruelty, but when we see Arthur’s perspective and a young boy still struggling with grief, the story is so much better for it.

Jimmy and Nicola United

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h47m31s657The Archie plot isn’t perfect but it does have many elements that are successful. With the great performances from both the young children and the parents, it’s been great to see characters like Jai, Laurel, Jimmy and Nicola get something really meaty story-wise. There was a nice reminder this week about what a great couple Jimmy and Nicola are as Nicola was unflinching in her support of her husband. Solid couples are thin on the ground at the moment, but there’s something so genuine about Jimmy and Nicola that makes their scenes feel authentic.

Chemistry Calling

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m00s035When Jamie arrived it looked like Emmerdale were paving the pathway for another Dingle and Tate romance, as he and Belle flirted. All that changed with the arrival of Andrea and Millie and it was a struggle to buy into Jamie the family man. Even though that angle has improved in recent weeks with Andrea and Jamie’s loss and the Millie paternity saga giving us many scenes of doting dad Jamie, we saw the sparks return with Belle this week. Ellis is back on the scene with a new face and it’s too early to tell if he and Belle have chemistry – but does that even matter when Belle and Jamie’s chemistry is so palpable? With Jamie’s rather flustered comments at the Christmas party giving Belle something to smile about, there’s surely too much potential there to squander?

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m03s681Despite the Archie and Arthur storyline having many positives and being one of Emmerdale’s strongest stories of the moment, it has some flaws in its execution. Perhaps its down to impatient viewers or the way modern TV drama has to compete with boxsets, but something is lost in the sensitivity and nuance of a challenging story like this when it escalates so quickly. Maybe viewers don’t want months of Arthur’s troubling behaviour building to bullying, but the whiplash from the kind boy who has a conscience, to the tough bully needs to be told carefully. Likewise Jai and Laurel turning against Jimmy, a man they’ve known in years and, in Laurel’s case, a close friend borders on unbelievable and hollow when it happens so fast. When Emmerdale’s airing six, sometimes seven, episodes a week, they have the luxury to take their time telling this, but the speed the situation has escalated feels like they’re anxious about viewers interest. Sometimes these stories don’t need extreme behaviour shifts and twists, they just need to unravel more slowly.

Befriending the Enemy

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m29s748You have to feel for Bob. He’s just managed to shake off the memories of the hated Bob and Laurel affair and last year’s (all too brief) homelessness story did wonders in repairing fans’ love for Bob. But now, even in the midst of a fun panto plot, he’s taken Wendy’s side. Granted, he was telling her he couldn’t support her over Victoria, but surely even by empathising with her and comforting her, he was doing just that? The Wendy plot continues to be misguided and an unpleasant watch, but characters we know and like shouldn’t be dragged into it otherwise it means dragging them down with her.

Fave or Fail? (14-18 Oct 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a life-changing week for Aaron and Robert as Victoria’s rapist died and Faith suspected Pete and Moira of having an affair.

Faves

Rob-run

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h02m18s069Robert’s rollercoaster exit storyline ramped up a gear this week as we draw ever closer to the end. This week saw Robert and Aaron attempting to flee the country when they learnt Lee had died in hospital and Robert faced a murder charge. Unwilling to be parted from each other, Robron made a desperate attempt to stay hidden, but that meant some painful goodbyes. Seeing how difficult the situation was for Aaron and knowing their future would forever be blighted by this chain of events Robert made the ultimate sacrifice and handed himself into the police. This was a brilliant bit of character growth after five years spent with this incarnation of Robert, but one that came at a huge price. Before Robert put his love for Aaron over everything else, the two hid in the woods, fantasising about their future in France, but as Robert kissed him goodbye, giving him the promise of loving him always and the best life, we could all see what was coming. All of us except Aaron. And the beauty of it was in the absolute tragedy. The storyline this week was Emmerdale at its best – an exciting, tense story with huge performances and an emotional core viewers are deeply invested in.

Painful Parting

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h02m43s293The aftermath of Robert’s arrest was just as compelling as the event itself with lonely Aaron and Robert torn apart. With their impossible situation pushing them both to breaking point, Aaron lashed out at those around him in satisfying scenes that felt fitting to the high stakes of the day before. When Aaron finally got to speak to his husband he was overcome with emotion and once again Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley managed to convey so much of their characters’ history and pain, even down a phone. Having watched their love story play out for years, their tragic separation carries a big emotional weight, and while it’s a painful resolution for the characters to suffer through, it’s one being executed so well it’s impossible not to be moved. Their relationship has been at the heart of Emmerdale for so long now that it’s going to be difficult to imagine it without them.

Twists and Turns

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-11h58m35s152One of the best parts of this exciting week was the element of surprise, with each episode in Robert’s storyline bringing a new twist. The only spoilers released for the week covered Aaron and Robert’s initial escape after Lee’s death, but after that, viewers were in the dark. This spoiler lockdown meant we had no idea what was in store, how or even if they’d be caught. Mandy’s involvement came out of the blue, moments after a siren sound had Robron panicking. Then there was Liv’s arrival, Paddy’s sat-nav landing them in it, and of course, Robert’s heartbreaking sacrifice. Then, just as you’d expect the aftermath to take a straight-forward direction, Friday’s episode ended with Aaron shocking us all, ringing a secret contact to help break Robert out of prison. It’s been a while since Emmerdale has had a story this compelling, where the next episode is must-see, but it’s really felt like that this week. Let’s hope they can carry on with this momentum!

A Bit of Happiness?

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h01m22s976Vic had another chance meeting with cute hospital café worker, Luke, this week. While there’s plenty of speculation that Luke might be super shady, I can’t be the only one hoping he’s the real deal? Luke seems like a sweet, relaxed guy and that kind of connection could be exactly what she needs. It’s understandable she wouldn’t be in any rush to take a chance on a relationship, but here’s hoping Emmerdale do something with them and this wasn’t just a way to keep her around the hospital. With Ellis gone, Adam gone and the Matty romance seemingly abandoned, Luke could have real potential for her happy ever after.

Bonus Fave:

  • In a shock twist – shout out to Pete Barton this week for being the most switched on and relatable character in this Moira/Nate travesty. His home truths to Moira were spot on.

Fails

Slow Down

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h03m40s992Hey Emmerdale, what’s the rush? Long-term couples might be thin on the ground right now, particularly with two big fan favourite couples about to end, but why do Emmerdale keep rushing to get new pairings together. Surely everyone loves to watch a beautiful slow burn love story unfold over months? When the chemistry works and there’s tension bubbling away, there’s nothing better than waiting (impatiently) for a couple to realise their feelings, but lately Emmerdale has skipped all this good stuff and often that means investment is low then. Recently we’ve had Will and Harriet whose lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers story could have sizzled for months, but instead they’re already settled and cosy before we care. Then Jai and Laurel who admittedly do have the cutest chemistry and had a little while to grow into their feelings, but have now almost become one big family already. Now we have Rhona and Graham who, after weeks of weird off screen flirting, have now escalated thanks to another shoe-horned Graham backstory addition about his brother. Fans seem to be on side with their connection so why not let it take time to blossom? Rhona’s barely out of a serious relationship and Graham’s still a bit of an empty vessel. What would be the harm in making the audience wait? Tension, pining, crossed wires – it’s about time we had a new romance to really root for.

Losing Laughs

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h04m36s153When the drug plot began and we saw unlikely pot smoker Doug get stoned, it was amusing. Seeing straight-laced characters do something a bit naughty has the capacity for humour, but now – hasn’t it just gone on too long? The pot plot didn’t need to be a long running mystery with various characters getting high, it would have been funnier to keep the joke short and sweet. Now it’s wearing thin. This week after Jimmy tucked into some hash cakes, he got high as a kite and then vomited while Nicola was trying to impress someone from the council. It might be the usual sort of Jimmy and Nicola story but by now, the drug story has pretty much run its course, unless we’re going to see everyone get in on the action. Jimmy and Nicola are regularly comedy gold, but they deserve something better than this.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 Sep 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was Robert’s plea hearing this week and he confessed to a guilty charge, and Tracy began to suspect Dawn of the factory theft and fire.

Faves

Robert Faces the Future

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h27m00s809Robert made a huge and heart-breaking decision this week as he decided to plead guilty to his charge of GBH with intent, going against the wishes of his family. Robert was dead against his solicitor’s advice to plead guilty until his fears of a long sentence and not wanting to pile pressure on Victoria, lead him to make a last minute decision, sealing his fate. As Aaron in particular struggled to cope with the news, with all the family having lived in denial, Robert had an emotional time trying to reassure him. As Robert’s panic set in about not only his own future but the future of his loved ones, you could see the worry taking its toll. Ryan Hawley’s always given a masterclass in facial acting and this week gave him another chance to shine as Robert ran the gamut of emotions from fear, to grief, to frustration and anger. Robert’s decision put a strain on his marriage, but with Ryan and Danny Miller’s talent for Robron’s angsty moments, it was another set of scenes that prove why they’re such a popular partnership.

Jacob Struggles to Move on

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h24m15s779Hopeful and deluded David still seems to think Jacob getting over Maya is within reach, believing Jacob’s assurances week after week that he’s over her, despite having a volatile temperament and secretive behaviour. This week Jacob decided to ditch his hospitality plans and return to college, with the support of Liv and his family. In these touching glimpses of “old” Jacob we’re reminded just what a lovely and bright boy he was before Maya came along, and perhaps despite his clinging to the past, there is hope he can move past her. We’re seeing him now make good decisions and be a lot calmer and kinder, however it’s clear she’s still on his mind. With Emmerdale returning to this story regularly, I hope it means Jacob will soon be in a place where he realises what damage she did to him.

Saucy Humour

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h22m03s743As filler stories go, I am endlessly entertained by Jimmy and Nicola, probably Emmerdale’s most stable marriage, and their kinky sex life. While some prudish viewers complained about the saucy scenes, it’s obvious Nick Miles and Nicola Wheeler are having the best time with the one liners and the filthy suggestions, like their goodie bag from Hotten Horny. Even better was their disgusted children’s reactions. Their scenes were a lot of fun and they continue to be one of Emmerdale’s most underappreciated gems.

Smitten New Lovers

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h27m43s972I’m not totally sold on the idea of Dawn and Billy yet (I preferred him with Tracy if I’m honest), but her smitten attempts to ask him on a date were pretty lovely. With Harriet and Will trying to steal a moment together in their nice but dull romance rekindling, Dawn must have been in the mood for love herself. This is a much better option for her than Ryan, whose attentions had become way too possessive, and I could see them making a nice couple. Perhaps this would also give the characters something else to do besides being hangers-on to their family’s dramas.

Bonus Faves:

  • The beautiful camera work this week (director Suri Krishnamma) was absolutely stunning, showing the village off at its best
  • Andrea and Leyla working together could be great fun and the break from her dull scenes playing Jamie’s wife
  • Jai and Arthur’s catch up this week (as Arthur avoided Nicola and Jimmy’s sexploits) was lovely. Can’t wait to see them bond properly

Fails

Unbelievable Choice

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h30m58s464This week saw Vic struggle with her conscience and flip-flop between testifying (and lie) to help Robert’s ‘Not Guilty’ plea, or withdraw from testifying all together. Eventually she shakily changed her mind, but the journey to get there was muddled and at times unfortunately unrelatable. The decision ate her up, even leading her to a lovely heart to heart with Marlon, but the problem is, her dilemma didn’t seem all that convincing. It’s possible we have to put these story decisions down to Ryan Hawley’s exit from Emmerdale, but there were moments in the writing this week where Vic’s struggle felt like she was choosing her rapist over her own brother. It was particularly jarring to tell Robert she couldn’t support him when he was having a nice scene with his marital family, who were visibly upset at the thought of losing him to a long prison sentence. Would Vic have really done that? Vic’s choice was one not many people watching would probably be able to relate to and while Vic may feel lying was wrong when all she had wanted from Lee was honesty, in the dialogue her decision at times felt like she was punishing Robert for his actions. For someone as family orientated as Vic, it didn’t seem right. Ultimately her choice made Robert admit to his crimes, but rather than this story make Vic feel empowered, it felt hollow and false.

Double Whammy

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h31m44s270Two of Emmerdale’s least popular storylines teamed up this week as Kerry discovered Nate’s affair with Moira and blackmailed him over his knowledge of the factory fire. Although these stories are still the two plots many viewers are tired of, Kerry having the upper hand did elevate things slightly, if only for her sarcastic digs at Moira. The crossover did mean an excess of screen time for the characters involved so those of us already feeling like it’s been Kerry and Nate-dale for a while, had a double dose. Seriously, it was like Nate popped up in every scene at the start of the week. On the plus side, Kerry and Amy took a welcome trip away from the drama so that at least means a little break from that story for a while. Sadly, Moira and Nate are still around and while Cain’s away, expect more boring bonking and on/off flippancy. Yawn. Hurry up and discover the truth please Cain.

Fave or Fail? (22-26 July 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that Bernice organised the Wild West event, Kim discovered Jamie and Rhona’s plot against her.

Faves

Love for Liam

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

Village Shenanigans

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

Crisis in the Factory

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

Fails

No More Mr Nice Guy

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

The Beginning of the Affair

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

 

Fave or Fail? (15-19 July 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! I’m back from my break in time for a great week of Emmerdale as Bernice thought Liam was a murderer and Pete and Rhona split.

Faves

Dying with Laughter

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h05m40s631Comedy in soap is a difficult element to master and something viewers can’t agree on. There will be Emmerdale fans who hated the Bernice and Liam plot this week, maybe just as much as I hated the Bear Wolf boxing plot! Admittedly I’m biased, being that Bernice is one of my favourite characters in the whole village and I don’t think anyone has mastered comic timing quite like Samantha Giles has, but this story was hysterical. This week Bernice and Nicola went snooping in Liam’s bag again and found a bloodied shirt and a photograph of a woman. Bernice and Nicola’s brains went into overdrive and Bernice soon decided Liam was a serial killer and she was going to be his next victim. Cue some hilarious set pieces in Friday’s episode and amazing use of music and props which Bernice read as “signs” all pointing towards Liam’s murdering ways. From Liam’s unfortunate and innocent suggestions of a day out, to Bernice’s wild-eyed panic and mouthing “help” at roadside workers, this was a genius comedy set up. It all reached fever pitch when bickering Nicola and Jimmy got involved, knocking out Liam with a pork pie and realising that the whole thing was entirely innocent. Liam is into murder mystery role play and now the Cavastock romance is shattered. But let’s face it, Bernice and Liam are perfect for each other, actors Samantha Giles and Jonny McPherson have great chemistry and play the outlandish comedy to a tee. Ridiculous and silly? Absolutely. But so much fun.

Showstopping Performance

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h06m36s183During the last few weeks Karen Blick has given her all in Lydia Hart’s biggest storyline to date and since this blog was on hiatus I haven’t had the chance to sing her praises. She’s been incredible. This week as the papers reported on the truth behind “Jenny Finn”, Lydia returned to the school where her baby’s remains were found and broke down in Sam’s arms. Sam and Lydia are the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown at the moment, a touching and believable couple and in my eyes, a fitting new head of the Dingle household. This storyline has served to strengthen the beloved bond that already existed between them. Some characters can struggle when their past revolves around some heavy backstory, but this has given Lydia new depths and offers a believable explanation for her personality and in the scenes where Karen has had to deliver emotionally-fraught material, she’s proved she’s blown everyone away.

Amicable Split

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h07m32s039Pete and Rhona’s relationship reached the end of the road this week, just as their engagement party was in full swing. The writing has been on the wall for a long time and ever since it was revealed Pete wanted children of his own (and Rhona didn’t), we’ve all been wondering how they long they could last. Their romance was a surprise hit at first but since Rhona’s accident, this has all felt like a prolonged break up as their differences and expectations for the future diverged massively, and their connection struggled against Rhona’s menopause. It’s a shame we saw them force themselves back together because if had they split after Rhona’s hysterectomy (while they had huge audience support) I think the emotional impact would have resonated more than it did this week. However the scenes where they decided to go their separate ways this week were beautifully written and well performed. It was the right decision for the pair and a welcome change to see a split that came with civility and calm and a couple who were still very fond of each other.

It’s Lee or Me

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h18m12s753Aaron and Robert were divided this week as Robert couldn’t see past his revenge plan on Lee. With Robert getting increasingly hopeless about Vic’s situation, he took it upon himself again to master a revenge plan, paying a desperate Dawn as a honeytrap. Aaron was horrified and the pair set out to rescue Dawn, which they managed, just in time. After learning his husband had been secretly stalking Lee too, Aaron gave Robert an ultimatum, him or Lee. After Robert promised to leave things alone and to concentrate on their family, Aaron caught Robert borrowing money from Seb’s account to get legal help and he exploded, struggling to trust Robert’s promises to stay away from Lee. While we know the pair are doomed, following confirmation of Ryan Hawley’s departure, and the pair’s lacklustre “make up” scenes left everything feeling unresolved, there’s no question that the scenes exploring the highs and lows of Aaron and Robert’s relationship bring out the best in Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry. Their charged arguments were well performed and conflict was empathetic on both sides, especially when as viewers we know Aaron’s only going to be proved right and be left on his own. If anything these scenes prove how unmissable the pairings final scenes will be.

Fails

Rinse and Repeat

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h15m48s881The performances in the aftermath of Victoria’s traumatic rape cannot be faulted and it’s been great to see Isabel Hodgins get some meatier scenes of later. As Robert’s struggled too, Emmerdale have done a good balancing act making both his and Vic’s plight sympathetic, with viewers able to see both sides, but in the build up to Ryan Hawley’s exit scenes are starting to feel a little repetitive. How many scenes have the siblings reached an understanding, over the baby, moving away, revenge, only for Robert to make a massive misstep and the two bust up again? How many times can we expect Robert to pledge to listen to Vic and put her first before doing the exact opposite? It’s reaching Groundhog Day levels, not helped by Wendy and Lee reappearing like clockwork to plunge Victoria into a new despair – and the new summer trailer shows more of this is on the horizon. In the immediate aftermath Vic was central to the whole story but lately she’s felt more passive, her choices reduced to reacting to Lee and Wendy’s appearances or to Robert’s latest mistake, whereas it would be good to bring back her friendships and career – or even Moira again – so we can see her rebuild her life.

Same Old Story?

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h11m18s292Dawn’s a great character with a complex past, played with a lot of heart by Olivia Bromley, but does anyone else feel her story with Lucas is a bit dull? There are lot of mothers in Emmerdale who’ve had traumatic pasts and difficult relationship with their children, but Dawn’s story following hot on the heels of Amy’s desire to have a relationship with Kyle again, feels a little bit overdone. There’s still mileage in her rebuilding bridges with Harriet and Will and it would be good to see her more involved with existing members of the village rather than keeping her confined to the small group of characters she interacts with. I’m not convinced that taking on the responsibility of a young child would be a dynamic direction for her character, unless they were going to deal with the struggle between being a mother and battling addiction. It remains to be seen if she will gain access to Lucas, but I think I’d like to see a different story for another young female.

Scene of the Week (15-19 July 2019)

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In this dark times, sometimes all you need is some physical comedy to brighten your week. Slapstick comedy can be hit and miss, and often divides viewers, but it would be hard not to make this ridiculously silly moment my Scene of the Week. In a week that also brought us serious and sombre scenes, it really was Liam getting knocked out by a pork pie that hit the spot. With a wailing Bernice believing her beloved Liam was about to finish her off, she was rescued by a gung-ho Jimmy and taskmaster Nicola, who was convinced Bernice was headed for a shallow grave. All four actors threw themselves fully into the silliness and while it might have tipped slightly over into cringe, it was a thoroughly entertaining moment. Samantha Giles continues to prove herself as the queen of comedy but no one will be forgetting Jimmy’s jump, and scream, nor Liam’s toppling in a hurry.