Fave or Fail? (12-16 Aug 2019)

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! Ellis’s dad Al arrived in the village and had a shady phonecall, and Debbie left for Scotland.

Faves

Call Me Al

vlcsnap-2019-08-17-09h00m52s495Jessie had one hell of a week as no sooner had she lost her job, but her household was rocked by the arrival of Al, Ellis’s father. Al didn’t make a great first impression on the family and Ellis didn’t seem all that keen to repair their bond either. There’s tension already, and Al is not a fan of Billy, but this is great news for the audience as a new character like Al, played charismatically by Michael Wildman, needs a great introduction. What’s even better is that Al seems a bit shady and all signs point to him being revealed as Kim Tate’s new business partner. Al could be just the new villain Emmerdale needs. Bring it on!

Sensitive Souls

vlcsnap-2019-08-17-09h04m14s417One of Emmerdale’s sweetest family units was rocked this week as Samson came home and learnt about Lydia’s tragic past. Sensitive Samson was horrified to learn Lydia had been keeping secrets, and worse, that they’d been kept from him. At the graveyard, Sam tried to talk Samson round in a lovely scene in the place where Alice is buried, and eventually Samson was able to empathise with Lydia’s plight. Realising that Lydia needs support, Samson listened to Sam as he said Alice would want them to be happy, and eventually the family were reunited, ready to plan a wedding. Fingers crossed things go smoothly from now on and we get to see Sam and Lydia made official!

Doug on Pot

vlcsnap-2019-08-17-09h01m33s577The most amusing and bizarre plot of the week was Doug, on pot. Straight laced, garden enthusiast would be the last person you’d expect to smoke a joint, but with Gerry’s stash playing on his mind – and his terrible back – Doug went to surprising measures to cure his pain. As we all know Duncan Preston has a long history of comedic acting so it was great to see this at play, even funnier when his oblivious loved ones have no idea and don’t notice the signs. High Doug was a lot of fun and seeing as he’s already getting the munchies, I’m sure he’ll be sneaking off for another spliff when the opportunity arises!

Goodbye Debbie

vlcsnap-2019-08-17-09h04m59s066Debbie’s exit this week, to cover Charley Webb’s maternity leave, has to be one of the strangest. Her exit potential could have nicely tied into her feud with Cain or hints about Joe, but all that was left aside, as Debbie took over a random garage in Scotland. As you do. Surprisingly I’ve really come to enjoy Debbie lately, as she’s been used in light, comic relief moments or more low key storylines. Debbie’s actually been – dare I say it – sort of fun? Her exit scenes were muted this week, with a lovely scene from Sarah and a slightly OTT reaction from Charity. It was a little hard to care about any emotional response to her leaving when we know she’ll be back, but my only hope is that when they bring Debbie back, they remember to give her a bit more of that dry humour. Maybe she could even smile!

Fails

Slim on Sympathy

vlcsnap-2019-08-17-08h58m53s948When Matty’s toxic masculinity story started I questioned, given his divisive popularity, whether he was the right character to be plunged into a plot where he has to be a real arsehole. This week, I still have my reservations. Matty’s friends showed up again being characteristically vile and Matty laughed along with them. Sure, he looks sheepish from time to time, and eventually he’ll see them for what they are, but is it worth Matty being this smarmy and horrid in the meantime? Watching him swagger and jeer like his unlikeable “mates” just really isn’t very unenjoyable to watch.

The Trouble with Faith

vlcsnap-2019-08-17-08h57m56s682There’s something about Faith this year that’s making her far more irritating than she is entertaining. Perhaps it’s because she’s been overbearing and interfering, rather than the light and shade we’ve had from her in previous years. A character like Faith can be more than just brash and we’ve seen her earn our affections during her mastectomy struggles through her romance with Eric and her family past in the Cain flashback. We’ve also seen a good dose of humour too. This week however we’ve seen more of Faith’s abrasive side as she muscled in at Wishing Well, landed an ill advised kiss on Zak and then outed Bear’s illiteracy secret. The kiss plot seemed like a complete overreaction to what was a brief, grief fuelled peck – and actually her reminiscing scenes with Zak were nicely done – and the cellar debacle felt completely contrived. Was this all just a circus to get her to annoy Charity in her new home? Faith can be great when the balance is right but this week, she lost her warmth.

Fave or Fail? (25-29 March 2019)

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! This week Cain learnt Joe’s alive and Rishi and Manpreet revealed that they’re married!

Faves

The Fab Four

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h44m16s428They’re just one Dingle wedding away from all being one big family, but the power couple quartet of Robron and Vanity joined forces this week – first to finish a business deal and then to save it! The week begin with Charity using her womanly wiles to schmooze Robert’s client, after agreeing to take a cut of the profits herself. But once an unhappy Vanessa got involved, she realised Mike was up to no good and ended up stealing his car! The four made an unlikely dream team with Charity and Robert’s kindred spirits exhausting their other halves, but it was after Vanessa’s panicked efforts to thwart Mike’s backstabbing that the fun really began. While Robert, Aaron and Charity aren’t opposed to a bit of criminal behaviour to get what the want, clueless Vanessa was amusingly amateur. Once again Michelle Hardwick’s fun comedy performances made the rescue of the car a fun contrast against Aaron and Robert’s open-mouthed disbelief at her school boy errors. While this foursome are used to big emotionally dramatic plots, it was nice to see the couples have some fun in a comedy capers story, each of them all using their talents and funny mix of personalities. Here’s hoping Emmerdale makes the most of their popularity and gives the four another chance to cross paths for some fun in future.

Fresh and Contemporary

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h48m23s342Emmerdale’s story with Billy this week is definitely worth commending. So far Billy’s been shown as a complex and interesting character and this week, facing racism and a confrontation in the park, Emmerdale tried to take on a relevant and contemporary story. His muddled introduction, facing dramatic in the dark hostility from Ellis and the unresolved issue of Billy’s role in Aaron’s prison ordeal, has left some viewers struggling to connect, however Emmerdale’s attempts to create a multi-layered character have been worthwhile. Newbies often come in as a bit of a shapeless caricature but the impact of Billy’s upbringing, societal and cultural issues of race, the long-term impacts of prison and male violence show that Emmerdale have really tried to make an effort in shaping a well-rounded character. Its attempts might not always be successful, heavy handed to some, but a new character like Billy has a lot more potential as someone without the cliched introduction of “mysterious bad boy”!

New Lease of Life

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h46m14s593It’s been great to see more of the Sharmas lately, especially a character like Jai who was once so hateable and villainous that it was a waste of actor Chris Bisson’s warmth and humour. While within the family, it’s Jai and Priya’s sibling relationship that provides most of the good scenes, but in the factory Jai’s new friendship with colleague Laurel seems to be going down well with fans. Some viewers have ever noticed a chemistry between them that sets tongues wagging about a possible and unlikely romance. Whether that happens or not, the pair work surprisingly well together and it’s nice to see both characters finding their feet after Jai’s villainy and Laurel’s affair with Bob tarnished opinion of them for quite some time.

Fails

Grim Kim

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h45m35s245If there’s one word to sum up this week’s Kim plot, it’s grim. The lacklustre Joe reveal rumbled on this week and even Cain wasn’t told in a particularly dramatic way. For reasons unknown, Kim’s returned with a whole catalogue of gripes and vendettas and a long wish list of businesses she wants to own. Rather than let Kim bed into Emmerdale and grow new rivalries, Emmerdale seem to determined to give her enemies and motives that make little sense to anyone watching. Kim’s experience with the Dingles in her first stint was mainly through Sam and Zak, but on returning she’s decided to hate them all, except for Cain who for some nonsensical reason she wants to sleep with. Okay, so Cain does have his appeal to the opposite sex and soap affairs often happen with an impulsive attraction to the bad boy – but Kim’s desire to have the man she can’t have, toying and blackmailing him just feels completely baseless. There’s no chemistry between the actors and while Kim is better outside of the Graham bubble, she’s still far too cartoonish to take seriously. But the worst of it? Blackmailing someone for sex is just sleazy and horrid to watch. Alongside the attempts to tell the Maya and Jacob in an educational and responsible way, this plot feels sordid and grubby. We want Kim to be the villain we love to hate, not someone using money and power to essentially rape someone. Cain isn’t even remotely tempted so the whole storyline comes across as an ill-judged, misguided plot. Nasty.

Fave or Fail? (18-22 March 2019)

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! Kim settled down and made new enemies in the village, and it was finally revealed that Joe Tate is alive and well.

Faves

Old School Vibes

vlcsnap-2019-03-23-11h59m08s161Did you notice the sheep this week? The stables and horses? The beautiful countryside scenes? If Kim Tate’s return has triggered one thing then it’s a return to the feeling of ‘classic’ Emmerdale. That’s not just using its farming and country USP, it’s also about the dynamics of the village in the wider context. Home Farm and the classism in the village has been lost over the years but Kim being a villain might just claw that back and give the estate a purpose again. From owning and controlling businesses, to employing staff to hosting events, Home Farm should be much more than a villainous lair. Also with Kim’s return is an antagonism we had in Joe’s early days that we lost quickly – livelihoods, businesses and property should be under threat from Kim’s whims, not just because she enjoys being ruthless but because the estate actually means something. Think Frank Tate wanting to buy up farms and land to make a profit and build a tourist site. Add this to Nicola’s mentions of the local council and we might be returning back to some of the same vibes as classic Emmerdale, where the village had drama, but it also used the setting and some realities of country life to explore different stories. Next stop a village fete? Here’s hoping!

Councillor Chaos

vlcsnap-2019-03-23-12h03m06s387Outside of Emmerdale you might have heard enough about chaotic politics, but there’s if there’s something with comedic potential written all over it, then it’s Nicola running for local council. Much like my enthusiasm for the old school feeling of classic Emmerdale, Nicola getting involved in community politics seems like a great way to unite and divide the residents in a way that brings authenticity to the village feel. Putting someone as naturally funny and dangerously ambitious as Nicola in this role is asking for trouble, but for us as viewers it could be comedy gold. Anything that sees the Kings take centre stage again is fine by me.

Workplace Drama

vlcsnap-2019-03-23-12h00m35s755If there’s one thing in recent years that Emmerdale hasn’t been mining for storyline potential as well as they could, then it’s the businesses of the village. Most of the time, work is the last thing on characters’ minds and it becomes something of a joke to see how little they actually go to work. Because of this, the work environments can often be used just as a set rather than have any baring on the day to day lives of the characters. With Kim back things might be changing on that front, with workplaces being put under extra pressure to fulfil contracts and make decisions on whether to get involved in Kim’s bidding. Even the lighter, comedic Sharma storyline this week was made better by a work crisis, rather than all the drama taking place separately from their work but using the office as its location. A factory crisis may not be soap’s biggest talking point but it does bring groups of characters together and make them feel more real.

Fails

Near Misses

vlcsnap-2019-03-23-12h01m41s727Maya and Jacob’s storyline might be the biggest storyline Emmerdale has now, but with it featuring almost every week, there’s a chance it might start feeling like overkill. Now that the pair have slept together, confessed their love and contrived situations to sleep together right under David’s nose, we’ve reached a bit of a stalemate. We know Emmerdale intend this story to be long running, but with the early slow burn abandoned, now the only real jeopardy comes from Maya being caught out – and that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. Surely there’s only so many times we can see Jacob almost reveal all, or Maya get perilously close to having her lies rumbled before the frustration turns into annoyance? It might reflect real life, but it’s a tough story to maintain with this same dynamic. Something needs to happen soon to take this storyline somewhere, because at the moment, Jacob is well and truly under Maya’s spell and a sluggish progression isn’t giving the drama the momentum it needs.

He’s Alive!!!

vlcsnap-2019-03-23-11h55m53s634Joe’s fate has been weighing heavily on the minds of viewers since his “death” in October, and the ambiguity of it all has made the storyline fallout feel sluggish and confusing. So this week’s reveal that Joe is alive should have been a huge climax, sending viewers reeling, but it was anything but thrilling! From cries that Joe’s fate was obvious and predictable, to it all feeling a bit half-arsed, is this really a story six months in the making – or was it hastily cobbled together last minute? The latter certainly feels most likely considering actor Ned Porteous didn’t even make a cameo and press reports reveal he’s got no plans to make a return on screen. Any viewer who was excited about Joe being alive is surely only going to be disappointed to realise he’s not actually returning. So in the end we were left with just a few photos of Joe and the whole pointlessness of it all. There are lots of questions unanswered (summarised perfectly in this article) but ultimately it completely undermines Graham once more. The menace of Kim’s threats were supposed to have lead him to almost killing the man that was a son to him, yet now he’s back at Home Farm barely bothered that she knows. What was the point? If Ned doesn’t come back then it’s time to recast and put this story to bed. It makes no sense and it’s dragging down all the characters involved.

Fave or Fail? (11-15 March 2019)

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! Kim made her big return to the village this week as Maya dropped the L-word to entrap Jacob.

Faves

Right at Home

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h21m39s127Admittedly when I read Amy Wyatt was making a return to Emmerdale I wasn’t that fussed, but a week in I already feel like her return was a good decision. She feels right at home. Unlike Kim, Amy feels very relevant to the current cast – she knows multiple characters in the village and her reappearance actually threw up story opportunities for several characters. Not only did Amy mean trouble for Cain and the Dingles in light of her eagerness to spend time with Kyle, but she’s breathed life into the Spencers’ household, given Eric back another daughter figure, caused friction with David and Maya and given Vic another friend. The custody battle for Kyle is a well worn story, but newbie Natalie Ann Jamieson has brought lots of warmth and sensitivity to Amy which helps to soften the harder edges that Kerry sometimes influences. I’m looking forward to seeing the future Emmerdale has in store for her and hope, unlike her last stint, it’s not all fixated around Kyle!

Support Network

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h27m19s794My favourite moments of Emmerdale show families coming together, remembering friendships and connections, and showing the far-reaching impact of storylines across the community. A good story is one that affects multiple relationships and characters, and Rhona’s accident is still having an impact now, weeks on. This week saw her have a hysterectomy (something Emmerdale have already revealed they’ll be exploring) but not only have we see its personal, emotional impact, we’ve also seen its effect on her relationship with Pete, her enduring friendship with Vanessa and this week its wider impact with the business and Moira’s farm. Unlike some soap accidents that have little follow up, Rhona’s debate over whether the vets should sue Moira and the farm will have consequences for both the future of the vets business (with opportunity for things to get messy if Kim gets involved), and even with Pete if his loyalties are tested. But perhaps the biggest strength of this story is down to the underrated talents of Zoe Henry who continues to be one of Emmerdale’s brightest stars. Any story that uses her at the forefront is going to be a hit!

Glimmers of Potential?

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h23m37s930It’s always difficult to bring back a character who has since been dubbed an icon, especially when the character is famed and remembered for just one aspect of their personality and the soap landscape has changed in their absence. In Kim Tate’s case, she’s renowned for being the classic soap superbitch, but the danger in her returning to her old stomping ground is that she becomes more of a caricature than the woman we love to hate. Kim’s return rides on a fragile premise – they retconned the entire Graham and Joe history to give her relevance – and she knows next to know one still kicking around the village. Emmerdale have to work quickly to give her enemies and make it feel worthwhile, rather than her antagonism feeling petty and pointless. A great villain is always a treat, but balancing the classic campy Lady of the Manor can often give way to OTT performances and dialogue that tries too hard to be cutting. There are promising signs in her latest return that Emmerdale are aware of this tightrope, and the mixed reception to her cameo last October, but here’s hoping they remember less is more when it comes to Kim. Her scenes with Charity, and in the pub with others were far watchable than her posturing at Home Farm and smirking in every scene. We could well do with seeing Kim’s more human sides soon, before the writers get too carried away with the cartoon villain one-liners.

Fails

Robot Wars

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h25m40s419Perhaps the biggest issue with Kim’s return is that she’s stuck, trying to shake some life into cyborg Graham. Such is Graham’s rigid and monotonous ways, Emmerdale has even started to reference it in the script! But when their scenes hinge on a bloated and retconned history, relying on an absent, scorching chemistry – it’s a tough ask. Kim’s treatment of Graham is more like a dog than a lover, and unless Graham’s into a BDSM set up, it’s baffling why he’s under her spell. Friday’s episode seemed to reopen the Joe death mystery AGAIN, but it felt like the first real hint to him being alive. This ongoing saga is as much clunky as it is sluggish so by the time we find out the final final truth, it’s a wonder if anyone will care. If Emmerdale really want Kim to work this time around, then the situation at Home Farm needs a fast rethink.

Fed Up with Faith?

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h26m49s708Oh Faith, there’s so much to love – the sharp tongue, the saucy humour, the outrageous behaviour, the wise straight-talking, the moments of fragility – and yet this week, none of that. We really saw the worst, most unlikeable aspects of her personality and it’s surprising how intolerable she became. Her vicious and hypocritical campaign against Amy might have been rooted in her own failings as a mother, but there was none of this nuance or depth and she seemed spitefully gleeful at the thought of sending Amy to prison. This combined with her strange and underwritten vendetta against Kim has brought out the worst in her character, and an aspect I hope doesn’t stick around – let’s have more of the fun Faith back please!

Fave or Fail? (25 Feb-1 March 2019)

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! Maya’s grooming of Jacob took more sickening turns, and Pete moved out of Rhona’s house.

Faves

Family Splits

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h15m28s306Once again it’s the fallout from Rhona’s accident which makes the top of my Emmerdale best bits. Since Emmerdale made the surprisingly magic decision to pair up Pete and Rhona, I’ve been impressed not only by the couple’s natural chemistry, but by the grown up and complex way they’ve explored their relationship. So often you see couples hook up with no thought for the impact on children or the longer term wishes of the individuals in the relationship and when characters have children, this just doesn’t feel very authentic. Pete and Rhona’s relationship has been different in that aspect as from early on, Pete’s relationship with Rhona’s son Leo has been important and well explored. The Pete and Leo relationship, which has seen Pete learn Makaton to bond with him and gain his trust, has been a big and heart-warming hit with viewers and this week we saw more of it as Pete and Rhona agreed to take a break. While both Rhona and Pete were reluctant to separate, Rhona knew they wanted different futures so the two of them made tough decisions while still making sad, longing looks at each other. There was plenty of awkwardness and Pete’s break with Rhona also meant a sad conversation with Leo. Emmerdale’s made this difficult situation feel believable and compelling – and that’s without even mentioning Rhona’s ongoing struggle with pain killer addiction. You can empathise with all parties and there’s a whole lot of tenderness involved. It’s a winner.

Crushed Hearts

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h24m24s506Watching Jacob and Liv’s budding relationship it hurts to know that without Maya messing with Jacob’s head, he and Liv could be a pretty sweet couple. Liv’s laid back personality fits with Jacob well, and his sensitivity means he’s attune to her feelings and understanding about her asexuality. Without Maya in the picture – they’d be good for each other. Therefore it’s heart breaking to watch them both trying, both liking each other, but with Jacob’s head all over the place. Maya’s grooming has a much wider impact than just on Jacob, she’s got everyone under the thumb and when her behaviour comes out, Jacob and Liv are going to be big casualties. This week’s scenes were tough watch, particularly seeing how Liv’s heart is on the line, and how much Jacob genuinely likes her and doesn’t want to hurt her, all the while trying to keep in Maya’s good books. Both young actors are giving vulnerable performances and you just know that the resolution to this story is going to crush them both.

Playing Hot and Cold

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h19m14s929With multiple stomach-churning developments this week, you can’t deny that Emmerdale are doing a successful job in showing just how twisted Maya is. This week was Jacob’s 16th Birthday and after an aborted attempt to sleep with him, Maya blew hot and cold in trying to keep him eager, while continuing to cover up their secret. Louisa Clein’s great performances make Maya maddening to watch, especially seeing how she manipulates everyone in Jacob’s life to keep them on side. Her innocent protestations show exactly how a predator like her operates and the authenticity of her part is what makes this story so horrifying to watch. It’s grim viewing to see her gleefully seduce a child and try and ignore reminders of his age, but if this story is prompting awareness of the hidden signs of grooming, then it can only be a good thing.

Fails

Custody of Kyle

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h22m30s647Kerry got dragged into the exhausting Dingle divide again this week as Debbie warned her Kyle wasn’t safe with Cain. On the surface we can all well believe Kerry would go gung-ho in protecting Kyle, but it’s a bit of a stretch when she’s barely interacted or mentioned him in a year. Of course, this is all just in preparation for Amy’s eventual return (another character forgotten until it’s convenient to remember her) but perhaps Emmerdale would have made it easier to invest had Kerry mentioned her family months ago, rather than this feeling like a rushed justification for Amy’s return. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Kerry’s going to have more to do than just be a hanger-on of the Spencers, but this story has felt a bit hollow.

Short on Sympathy

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As the Cain “killed” Joe saga drags on, it’s a struggle to have any sympathy for any parties involved. On paper, believing your dad killed your fiancé should make you the ultimate victim, but with the Dingles standing by Cain and protesting his innocence, and Debbie refusing to tell daughter Sarah the truth, Debbie’s anger and upset falls on deaf ears. But as both Cain and Sarah criticise Debbie’s parenting, it’s difficult not to see their point. No matter how many scenes Debbie cries in, she doesn’t have the sympathy she ought to. Is this because she’s quite a sullen, cold character who’s difficult to like, whose crimes have been overlooked, or is it because the tables have turned? Debbie’s usually priority number one when it comes to the Dingles, but now Cain’s the person they’re protecting. It’s a struggle to truly sympathise with Cain being shut out by her too, because the accident of Joe’s death – while not his fault – came with months of cover up. Cain’s not likely to face justice and wants them all to move on, yet at times it’s as if he’s expecting Debbie to shrug off his role in Joe’s death like it’s nothing. This storyline is such a repetitive, endless mess with no conclusion in sight. If Graham’s involvement doesn’t come out soon I fear we won’t ever see the back of this.

Fave or Fail? (28 Jan-1 Feb)

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! This week Graham rumbled the Waterhouse takeover and Dawn attempted to go cold turkey.

Faves

Brothers at War

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

Fall of the Kingdom

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

Factory Friends

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

Bones Faves

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

Fail

Personality Transplant

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

Scene of the Week (28 Jan-1 Feb)

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Whether you’re #TeamGraham or #TeamNicolaandRobert the moment when Graham revealed he’d got the scheme team rumbled was a good scene. With Robert realising that Home James Haulage was no more and contracts had been given to the new Home Farm account, both couples assembled and headed to the big house for answers. A seething Graham revealed he knew Nicola and Robert had been swindling him and this act of revenge was only the beginning. As Graham held a call to the police over their heads, an amusingly drunk Jimmy offered to sacrifice Robert for his and Nicola’s safety and Robert tried to explain actions, citing Joe’s bruising deal from last year. While Graham just seems to be taking over Joe’s ruthless personality, it’s surely going to be small fry compared to Kim’s retaliation. Graham’s butler-turned-robot routine isn’t as menacing as Emmerdale thinks it is, but with the Kings and the Sugden-Dingles being two of my favourite couples, their struggle is always one I’m going to enjoy watching.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Jan 2019)

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! Bob resorted to sleeping on a park bench this week and piggy delight Spamela ran riot.

Faves

Bob without Hope

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h03m25s399I have to commend Emmerdale in their speedy turn around in making Bob empathetic again. Bob was always a character I enjoyed but we really saw the worst of him during the Bob and Laurel debacle and I wondered whether I’d ever like his cheeky charm again. Cleverly Emmerdale has done a good job in showing down-on-his-luck Bob’s situation getting worse and worse and his pride holding him back from asking for help. Bob’s story has emotionally shown how quickly someone’s life can crumble and how even when working, they can find themselves destitute and homeless. With Bob feeling pressurised from all angles, he kept up a façade of normalcy so the warning signs were missed by friends and family. This story has built nicely and this week it came to a heart wrenching conclusion when Bob found himself in hospital. Performances by Tony Audenshaw and Lesley Dunlop were fantastic, helping to rebuild the pair’s fractious relationship and it was nice to see the ‘man club’ briefly reunite to help lift Bob’s spirits. Seeing Bob in such a bad way was a tough watch but I hope things don’t end there. Bob’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy could highlight pertinent issues in male mental health struggles and as it’s one of their strongest stories for a while, it’s worth continuing.

Casual Becoming Serious

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h13m28s500I was firmly on the fence when it came to deciding who I wanted Victoria paired off with, but after umming and ahhing between the slow-burn friends turned lovers romance with her and Matty or the funny and endearing romance with Ellis, the latter might just have swayed me. This week saw Vic panic she was pregnant and despite their no-strings arrangement, Ellis seemed ready to step up to the plate if needed. The scenes were a lot of fun as the whole family got involved, but the resolution was much sadder for Victoria. While she knew Ellis and her were too new a couple and too different to have a kid, she still longs to be a mother after her failed attempts with Adam. Actress Isabel Hodgins gave a hugely emotive performance as Vic wept for the negative result and the realisation that all those issues about Adam, motherhood and her future were still unresolved. I like that there’s been no quick fix for her and that she’s still struggling in the fall out, even with lovely Ellis on her arm. As for these two? I really love them together and I actually think they could work well in the long term, even if Robert’s machinations might cause problems. It might be too soon for babies, but happiness for Victoria is top of my wishlist.

More Manpreet

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h06m54s257The Sharmas are some of Emmerdale’s most underused characters, but with Manpreet moving into the village, I’m hopeful we might see more of all of them soon. Manpreet has such a breezy, fun loving attitude to life and she’s a welcome addition to our screens. No only does she seem smitten with loveable Rishi but she’s got great chemistry with Jai and Priya too. This week saw her consider moving closer to Emmerdale for work, and the siblings tried to get Rishi to ask her to move in with them, a plan which eventually played off. Manpreet is a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than a newbie destined for villainy or outrageous behaviour, but maybe it’s because of that she’s fitted in well. I can only hope this leads to more screentime for the Sharmas and less sitcom side stories!

Real Talk

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h15m41s984When Moira returned to the village this week after a brief trip to see Nana Barton, she found reassurance in a surprising chat with Aaron. In the midst of this bloated Cain and Joe story, Moira’s lost her way as a character and it’s hard to remember her as the down to earth farmer she was. Luckily, this scene with Aaron in the café was a welcome return to that, with Aaron helping her to see that despite Cain’s nightmare behaviour he really does love her. There’s nothing I enjoy more in Emmerdale that characters with shared experiences having a chat and if anyone knows about nightmare husbands then it’s Aaron. With him and Moira reflecting on the strained relationship at Butler’s farm, it just made me long for the scene partners we don’t usually see. Aaron and Moira have a shared history and they’re family, but we barely see them together. Conversations like these are a good way of not only keeping onscreen relationships fresh but they ground the characters in some much-needed reality.

Fail

Murder Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h09m48s881The “Cain murdered Joe” plot is so messy I’m struggling to find any real enjoyment from it, despite loving most of the characters on Team Cain. With both Cain and Moira being killers (or “killers” in Cain’s case) the arguments in Butlers have felt far too blasé and seem like a game of murder Top Trumps. Moira’s reactions have been cold and detached like a bizarre mob wife, willing to support Cain regardless, but surely even Moira, with Emma’s blood on her hands would struggle with this? Even Faith, whose love for her son is high, seems willing to overlook what he’s done, despite the fact by the end of Joe’s tenure in Emmerdale he was liked by most of the Dingles. Only Matty was willing to acknowledge that this was a terrible crime, but even he was berated by Moira and co for betraying the family, even though his reaction seemed like the only sane one between them. Debbie’s barely frosty, chilled out enough to be cosy with Faith who hasn’t made her support of Cain a secret and this seems completely out of character when she was willing to leave the village for less a few years ago. With everyone unfussed about Cain being a murderer, or desperate to believe his innocent, there are zero stakes. What’s the point? What will change for Cain if Graham reveals the truth or if Joe rocks up – apart from Debbie cracking a smile maybe? And with Graham undoubtedly set to feature heavily when Kim returns, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be found out any time soon. If Emmerdale were unwilling to commit to Cain being completely destroyed and disowned in a story that saw him go down for a crime he didn’t commit then they shouldn’t have bothered. I can’t see a resolution here that will satisfy, I just hope we can forget this story ever happened ASAP.

Fave or Fail? (14-18 Jan 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a huge week for the Dingles as Charity and Vanessa got engaged, and Cain told Debbie he killed Joe.

Faves

For Better or Worse

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

Maya’s Mind Games

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

Debbie Finds Out

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

Bonus Faves:

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

Fail

Dead or Alive

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

Fave or Fail? (31 Dec 2018-4 Jan 2019)

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! New year but not so happy, as Matty faced a horrific attack and Dawn overdosed.

Faves

Matty’s New Year Hell

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-14h01m34s182Showing Matty facing a transphobic attack, and his emotional and physical struggles in the fall-out, was original ground for Emmerdale this week, but a story worth telling. I love stories that dig deep into a character and this story did just that. Alongside Matty’s resilience, he leant on his support network and aired his pain in a series of emotive conversations. Enjoyable stories also use supportive characters in interesting ways and Cain was a welcome, refreshing presence in Matty’s life. It was also a smart move to link Matty’s desire for revenge with Cain’s PTSD over Joe’s death and use this as a bridge between stories. We’re used to seeing Matty as a happy, well-liked guy in the village so the attack really resonated and the fear in Ash Palmisciano’s performance was chill-inducing – hopefully an eye-opener for viewers ignorant to transphobia.

Tender Loving Care

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-13h56m01s854Without question Bernice and Liam’s relationship is one of my Emmerdale favourites and this week was a perfect example as to why. After Bernice’s age obsession and amusing health kick (in which poor Liam faced a future of quinoa), she took things too far and got Kerry to inject her face. After hospitalisation her relationship with Liam was fragile after her stupid mistake but after a brief wobble he called her beautiful and perfect, wishing she would realise he loves her as she is. As the pair realised he’d said those three special words they shared a kiss. I’m a sucker for their sweet and funny romance and unlike other Dales couples, their love has blossomed into something that feels right for both characters. There’s enough personality and comedy in this partnership for it to last and last, and I would love to see them make a go of this troublesome big happy family!

Hospital Heart-to-Hearts

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-13h59m35s261I loved seeing Bernice’s family rally round her this week in the wake of her horrible allergic reaction. Not only did this give Samantha Giles something serious to get her teeth into, but I enjoyed all the conflicting personalities in the big family scenes. One of the week’s most surprising and touching moments was Nicola and Leanna bonding, as Nicola opened up to the meddling teen, in an effort to stop Leanna trying to split up Bernice and Liam, telling her how she’d devastated Rodney by trying to ruin his relationship. With Leanna’s own backstory making her more sympathetic this week, she shared a touching scene with Bernice as the two made progress in forming a bond. This week was full of great character moments and conversations and this story had plenty.

A Change in Cain

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-14h01m54s752Several Emmerdale fans mentioned it this week – but it was a funny turn of events when viewers are sympathising with poor beaten-to-death Cain, because he was unable to use his trademark violence – and all because Cain thinks he killed Joe with one punch! We’re so used to seeing Cain pulping someone black and blue that seeing him be the target was shocking viewing. The change was quite a shock, and an interesting direction for him, but not one I hope will last. It’s not one of my favourite stories, particularly as the warmth from Cain and Moira’s marriage seems to have evaporated since she became a mob wife, but Jeff Hordley’s shaken performances have been well worth watching.

Starting Over

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-14h03m53s148Not only has Dawn become an engaging and likeable new character in the village, she’s even brought Harriet to life. I don’t want Emmerdale to rush their almost mother-daughter reunion, and nor do I want it to be as on/off as Charity and Ryan’s is, but good scripts and poignant moments as the women shared their history have helped to flesh out Harriet’s character so she’s less of a cardboard vicar. Even as Harriet revealed their connection to others, I felt invested in her attachment to Dawn and her guilt and even though the box of memories has never been seen before, I could buy into Harriet’s recently written backstory as having always been an element of why she became a vicar. I’m surprised by how good this story is, but I don’t want a quick fix after years of resentment from Dawn.

Bonus Faves:

  • The Matty/Vic/Ellis supportive trio is one I hope lasts and lasts – I hope their romantic intentions don’t get in the way of this great threesome of friendship.
  • Ryan and Dawn’s budding relationship is really endearing – don’t rush this Emmerdale!
  • The final episode of 2018 had a really good New Year’s Eve feeling – lots of celebration, a heart-warming moment for Charity and Ryan and a horrible moment for Matty to kickstart a new story.

Fails

Minor Fails

  • I know its purpose was to trigger Bernice’s paranoia, but did Priya’s flirtation with Dr C have to be so embarrassingly over the top? All her porno moans reminded me of that terrible time she was at her worst with Pete. Ugh.
  • Charity’s hypocrisy over Dawn might have been to protect Ryan but her lack of empathy felt particularly prickly after everything she went through last year. And did we really need a repeat of her on/off developments with Ryan? Just as things were looking up!

Mums at War

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-13h58m48s852Billy’s arrival has already caused quite a stir but the fall-out is really missing the mark. The root of the problems is the history between Aaron and Billy, but instead of letting those characters resolve their past or prolong their rift, Emmerdale has opted for the least interesting path of all and let their whiny mothers fight it out, acting as if their sons are helpless children. Both Jessie and Chas’s personalities grate when they’re looking out for their “boys” and it’s more like mums at war in the playground, both blindly raging on. Headache inducing. Emmerdale has a good story here for Jessie’s desperation for Billy not to become a statistic, but instead of this driving the story it’s her insistence that Billy has done nothing wrong and that Aaron is also a thug. Billy might be trying to change, but us viewers saw the impact of Aaron’s prison bullying and it’s not easy to watch it being dismissed so easily by those who are Team Billy. Marlon too is in a tough position, but asking us to invest in his support of Billy against the Dingles requires a firm belief in the “true love” he has with Jessie and I don’t think I’m there yet. Billy? Aaron? Ellis – does this affect his job or his relationship with Vic? Robert – who uncharacteristically beat Billy? Nowhere to be seen. The really gritty, interesting dynamics here are just being passed over.