Fave or Fail? (31 July-4 August 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Robert move out of The Mill as Laurel did her best Broadchurch and Lawrence nearly died – again.

Faves

Love’s Young Dream

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h06m55s933Sometimes, away from the affairs and the angsty love stories you just want to watch a couple that are funny, endearing and sweet. Lydia and Sam got together properly this week and it was all kinds of adorable. Ever since they dated you could tell they were an oddball match made in heaven and this week things stepped up a gear after they went to a dance together. N’aww. With Samson as ship captain and giving his dad pep-talks we were treated to some really lovely scenes between father and son, as Sam surprised his boy by knowing what “friend-zoned” meant. Of course true love doesn’t run smoothly so after all his doubts, Sam misread the signals and thought Lydia wanted to date Paddy again. But thankfully this was all rectified in a brilliantly funny scene when she told Paddy to go away and leapt into Sam’s arms for a snog. I love how Lydia gets involved in so many of the plots with all her odd jobs and quirkiness, but putting her with Sam is a great move. For me they just work and they’re pretty heart-warming together. I really hope it lasts!

True Detective

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h09m13s273Laurel was in full Miss Marple mode again this week as she tried to uncover the truth about Emma Barton, even though she faced doubts and setbacks as she neared closer to the deadly secret. Every face-off between the women is gripping TV and superbly acted as determined Laurel tries to rattle an unravelling Emma. It’s frustrating to watch manipulative Emma at work, convincing others of her innocence and using Laurel’s alcohol addiction against her, but it’s still exciting to see the close calls and watch Laurel pick through the evidence and to try and take her down. It’s got to be close to the boys finding out now and I can’t wait! I hope Laurel can claw back some allies or at least find out something else to cement her suspicions, but with Emma looking the innocent grieving wife and Laurel seeming to others like she’s slipped back to drinking, it’s not looking hopeful.

A Wasted Life

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-21h53m29s448This almost made my fail list, simply because I’m gutted to see the end of Ronnie Hale. He deserved better. Last year his tragic backstory came to light – years of pining for a tortured and closeted Lawrence White – and they were powerful scenes with so much potential. Irritatingly Emmerdale side stepped this potential and Lawrence seemed to get over his hang-ups in the space of a few episodes and their struggle was never touched on again. Ronnie was a rare thing in the White family – kind hearted, sensitive and actually made a friend in the village, lovely Lisa Dingle. Ronnie and Lisa’s friendship was quickly formed but always felt genuine and warm. But as Lawrence’s true colours came to light this week Ronnie realised he’d wasted his whole life pining for a man who’d had a much darker life than he had realised. You’d think living with that lot he’d have worked it out by now? BFF Lisa came to collect him and drove him to the station where he walked sadly to his train, giving up all hope on life with Larry (even though he was suffering another near death experience at the time). Poor Ronnie. He was a sweet man, far too good for the likes of that family and John McArdle played his scenes with heart and passion. I’ll miss Ronnie and his friendship with Lisa and like this tweet by @WomanUndercover said – I hope he finds a handsome man on the train to spend his life with.

Fail

Same Old Story

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h10m09s671Since day one the main problem with the White family hasn’t changed, caught between villains one minute and victims the next, their main source of drama seems to be inner-family conflict. From time to time someone in the village or a guest character arrives to fan the flames but it soon leads to an intra-family feud. This week Lachlan kidnapped Tim (Chrissie’s bio uncle) with the help of Gerry (the only person who’s been a fun addition to the household) and all Lawrence’s secrets came tumbling out. What happened next? Oh only the same thing we’ve watched every few months! A dark family secret, Chrissie being horrified and disowning the family, Rebecca cluelessly trying to fix things and Lawrence almost dying. AGAIN. At this rate I’m half expecting Lawrence to collapse and regenerate. We know that most of them are approaching their exit, but this is tired ground and I’m past the point of caring. The family’s more interesting aspects – Chrissie’s ruthlessness, Lachlan’s unnerving darkness and Lawrence’s tortured past – seem completely abandoned in favour of tedium and now Robert’s scheming looks set to tread even more repetitive ground. Bored now – can’t the Whites hurry up and go?

Fave or Fail? (24-28 July 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a big week for Rhona as she finally saw justice against Pierce.

Faves

Courtroom Dramas

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h08m09s085We waited with baited breath this week as the verdict of the rape trial reached its conclusion. I had a feeling of dread that Rhona wouldn’t get the justice she deserved and that she, like many who have survived marital rape, would be forced to watch her attacker go free. Emmerdale chose to go with the rare outcome of ‘guilty’ and the relief was felt by characters and audience alike. The performances of the main players alone have made this story a standout and although at times it has followed similar patterns of other soap stories, Rhona’s journey, her emotion, bravery and determination, is one which I hope will earn Zoe Henry awards. There were some powerful choices of direction in scenes this week too (like Rhona running into the open air after the verdict) and Lisa’s role in the conclusion was a fitting choice and an emotional call back to the past. I expect Rhona still has a long road ahead but I’m just glad Zoe has been given this powerful material.

Chilling Until the End

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-11h54m27s636I can’t say I’m sad to see the end of Pierce as such, but I’ll really miss what Jonathan Wrather gave to the role. As Pierce, Jonathan managed to keep us guessing a lot of the time but when Pierce’s darker sides were revealed he really owned those chilling moments. Pierce was cruel and charming, managing to manipulate in subtle but ultimately devastating ways, and in part I will miss that feeling of rage when watching him at work! To some extent his final week on the show seemed all too quick as I’d have liked to see more of his twisted relationship with his mother Martha, but there was something deeply satisfying to see his horror at being taken to his cell and being locked in.

A Broken Man

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-11h53m52s192It wasn’t long ago that we only got to see two modes of Robert Sugden: villainous or sexy. Sometimes both at once. But as time’s gone on a more layered character has emerged and his vulnerabilities explored. Last year during October’s Super Soap Week I praised Ryan Hawley’s performances as he showed us a more sensitive and emotional side to Robert, one we’d rarely seen, and this week he excelled again. With Aaron gone, Robert’s been a mess (emotionally and physically) but only when injured did he allow himself to fully break down in tears and admit to his mistakes and regret. Ryan really sells these more fragile moments of Robert’s psyche, giving him heart and making him far more rounded than simply just a devious villain.

Still Got It

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h06m32s695Sometimes onscreen partnerships just work, much like favourites Cain and Moira who haven’t been sharing much screentime together lately but had a moment this week, reminding us of their magic. Even though Cain’s been trying to move on and find some of that elusive spark with vicar Harriet, for me there’s just something missing between them, especially when you compare their chemistry to “Coira”. This week it was obvious. All Cain and Moira had to do was sit side by side in the pub and there was a palpable tension between them. Sure, she was advising him how to win over Harriet, but there’s still something between the pair simmering under the surface and I hope it won’t be much longer before they’re reunited.

Fails

Tracy’s Trust Issues

Emmerdale - Monday 24 Jul 7pm - The ITV HubThere are some Emmerdale stories that seem stuck on repeat, and this week it was the turn of Tracy to fall victim to the cyclical storytelling. Having lamented earlier this year that it would good to see something fresh for her, we were back to the “Tracy falls out with Frank” merry-go-round. It’s not surprising that she has trust issues with her dodgy dad but any development seems to go round in loops. This week she locked him in the shop (will she ever escape it herself?!) and told him to come clean or she was done with him “for good”. How many times have we heard that? We all know he’s a shady man and she struggles because his promises are always just a few empty words – but within moments he uses those same tricks with her and it’s all forgiven. Perhaps if I cared more about Frank this would feel like worthwhile drama for Tracy, but she seems to have far more potential than just policing her dull dad.

Getting Lucky

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h22m24s031I’ve gone into my issues with how Emmerdale handled the aftermath of Lachlan’s assault of Alicia countless times, but I’m still clueless as to how we’re meant to see him now. It’s a hard sell that a smart young woman like Belle could be so blasé about his past, even in light of her past – accidental – crime, especially when her mother is a rape survivor. That aspect of the story just doesn’t work for me. She’s always been unbelievably sympathetic and kind towards him but starting a sexual relationship has made the whole thing even more uncomfortable. This week Lachlan expressed some sort of remorse for his actions but it was all too brief and long overdue, especially in the past where he’s seemed to dismiss the crime. So is he genuine? Are we meant to believe that? Or is he still just as twisted? Was he using it just to gain sympathy from Belle? It’s like Emmerdale can never make up their mind. With Gerry in the frame Lachlan is probably meant to look the reformed and decent guy, but his warped behaviour from the past is hard to forget, especially playing alongside Rhona’s story.

Fave or Fail? (12-16 June 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In a week that saw Rakesh leave (bye!), Rhona bravely reported Pierce to the police.

Faves

Master Manipulator

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h06m10s606You have to hand it to the brilliant Jonathan Wrather who manages to deliver such chilling performances as callous rapist, Pierce. His return this week was bizarrely orchestrated by a clueless Paddy (it’s a debatable that even Paddy would be that oblivious) and he began a tireless campaign of gaslighting and getting under Rhona’s skin. Every performance makes you want to scream, particularly as Rhona’s friends were initially drawn into his web, believing every charming word he said. He also managed to act his socks off under police questioning (that’s Pierce and Jonathan who gave unnerving performances) making his deception look like an art form. Pierce’s slippery character, under that perfect surface, is one of the things that makes this storyline so compelling.

Rhona’s Bravery

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h04m46s022Rhona returned from rehab this week and so did Emmerdale’s best plot at the moment – hooray! With the support of loyal best mate Vanessa, Rhona managed to stand up to Pierce and his remorseless reappearance and eventually Rhona braved another visit to the police station where she was able to name Pierce as her rapist. Once again Zoe Henry’s performances continue to be powerful and surely will pick up awards next year. I’m pleased that there hasn’t been a long and drawn out process of people being in the dark over Rhona’s horrific attack with her being increasingly isolated. It gives me hope that this story will continue to move in directions that showcase the bravery and strength of women like Rhona.

Doug’s Dancing

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h08m56s582If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have already seen me proclaim this little subplot as one of my favourite stories of the year so far. Warm, funny and not a beaver in sight. Worried he was too dull for Diane and he couldn’t even woo her with his dancing, a hapless Doug sought advice from lothario Frank and later an enthusiastic Lydia who was all too keen to give him dancing lessons. Doug is brilliant in his grumpy old man routine and Duncan Preston is effortlessly funny when playing Doug out of his comfort zone, while Diane is none the wiser. Even Frank, who hasn’t been the most engaging of newcomers, was fun in this plot and Lydia’s encouraging pep talks as she compared him to Michael Douglas and told him to believe in himself is exactly the good natured comedy Emmerdale does best.

Grinning Gerry

w62gThere’s so many things wrong with the uncomfortable plot that saw Lachlan (a convicted sex offender) prepare to lose his virginity to Belle, but the one positive from this story is the reintroduction of Gerry – Lachlan’s ex-cellmate. Sure, Gerry’s quite gross, considering that a) he’s pals with Lachlan and b) his readiness to order a prostitute for Lachlan doesn’t scream maturity or responsibility. But his cheeky sense of humour, willingness to flirt with every woman in sight, made a real impression in a short space of time. Plus, the benefit of Gerry is that there’s no white-washing or sugar-coating of his behaviour – like we see so frequently in Lachlan – Gerry is unashamedly a sleazebag and a lad up to no good.

Fails

Baby Mania

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h04m19s132They say pregnant women have something called ‘baby brain’ which makes them forgetful and act a bit off. But if anyone has baby mania then it’s Victoria who has the accolade this week of the strangest behaviour in the midst of the much-loathed Rebecca baby plot. Not content to let “free spirited” (I know, I know, no one is buying it) Rebecca do her own thing, Vic bombarded her with messages begging for her return and the pair reunited like they’d be separated by war rather than a fortnight. If their convenient BFFship didn’t pique your cringe levels then, Vic’s insistence that Rebecca move in with her and let her be her sole support might have done. Even Adam, who isn’t always the brightest spark, pointed out how bizarre this insta-friendship is and that’s without getting into what should be Vic’s resentment of that family. And so, while Vic mouthed off at her brother, despite having always been one of the few to empathise with him and champion his relationship with Aaron, I can’t help but wonder if this dire story might end with Vic standing between Rebecca’s legs ready to catch the sprog and run away with it.

Fave or Fail? (29 May-2 June 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Emmerdale are the reigning champions of the British Soap Awards (but this was a really boring week – sorry).

Faves

Solid Support

w60lHooray for some of the women of Emmerdale this week who managed to lend a friendly ear to a few of the clueless males in the village. Where would they be without you? There was Laurel who did manage to tie herself up in everyone’s favourite story twist – yep, double cheating two for the price of one – but it wasn’t all bad because she actually managed to talk sense into Marlon and help him avoid a complete meltdown. For a bit at least. There was Priya who wisely suggested Jai give Nell some space and also Moira who very sweetly encouraged Jai in his new romance, telling him she was glad he was moving on. Friendly advice and community support – now if only they took notice!

The Long Goodbye

w60cmI’ve already written about Carly’s weird exit but its heavy focus in the week’s stories seemed a strange choice when we knew she was going. Saying that, Carly and Matt had a sparky and fun chemistry that made their backstory and her eventual reasons for leaving a little bit more believable. Most of Carly’s depth and storylines have arisen from exposition heavy scenes and a weighty backstory – the Matt stuff has been no exception. Luckily the actors had a good rapport and if circumstances had been different Matt would have been a good addition to the show. The inevitable implosion of Marlon and Carly’s ill-fated romance did feel a bit clumsy and rushed, but it was sold well in all its uncomfortable glory.

Sweet Factory Silliness

w60njJimmy and Nicola deserve far more than the tropey nagging wife/useless husband routine and while I’m glad they have a very healthy sex life, it’s a shame that they’ve been reduced to continual stories about their kinky adventures when they’re capable of much more. However I always enjoy Nicola’s scenes and Jimmy looked amusingly dopey in his factory hat. The swan disaster comedy plot was pretty silly and pointless but Bernice arriving to save the day and painstakingly decorating hers did raise a smile at least (more from the Blackstock sisters please) and in a week as dull as this one, it was needed!

Fails

Ropey Romance

w60jnThere’s a real lack of compelling, emotionally engaging and dramatic plots in Emmerdale at the moment and what we’re left with is these lowkey and dull stories at the front of the show. Away from the silly humour and Carly’s exit this week was the (not so) great Jai and Nell love affair. I was a quiet champion of the Holly and Jai relationship last year but this Nell business just isn’t working for me and he almost comes across as her dad rather than her lover. Nell is sulky, immature and unconvincing leaving a big question in the interpretation of their scenes – does Jai just feel sorry for her? Guilty even? The love declaration just came across as insincere and desperate which I don’t think was what they were going for! It’s all mildly creepy and leaves Nell looking a tad unstable. She’s not the only Emmerdale lady with weepy and unconvincing motives but this plot is definitely not interesting enough to be front and centre of Emmerdale.

Not Star-Crossed

Emmerdale - Lachlan Chooses Sookie Over Belle - YouTubeIt seems like Emmerdale has toying with the idea of Belle and Lachlan forever but this week things seem to be progressing towards romance in an uncomfortable way. After her romance with Dr Bailey it’s safe to say Belle’s taste in guys isn’t great but there’s a bigger issue in this Lachlan story and the way Emmerdale are telling it as if they’re star crossed, teenage misfit lovers. No. Just no. Lachlan isn’t just a spoilt and messed up kid, he’s a remorseless sex offender and despite her questionable taste, Belle’s meant to be the smart one in her family. If stomaching Belle’s pining and jealousy of Lachlan seemingly moving on without her isn’t bad enough, then there’s the snobby behaviour of his mother Chrissie who is trying to keep the pair apart. No Dingle is good enough for her precious sex offender son amiright? It kinda feels like we should be wanting this teen love to triumph but how can we root for Belle and a sexual offender? Since the refusal of Emmerdale to ever decide on Lachlan’s psyche and zero intentions to have him show remorse for his crimes, we’re continually in a limbo of discomfort where a character like him cannot remain in the programme with stories like this.

Fave or Fail? (15-19 May 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Off screen Emmerdale bagged a BAFTA, sadly on screen this week was a lot less exciting!

Faves

Mates Before Dates

w58pmPaddy and Marlon’s friendship is the anecdote to any average week on Emmerdale so they were easily the highlight for me this week. Having been best mates for so long there’s a natural joy in their scenes which arises from the long-term working partnership between Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnock and that kind of fun is infectious. This week, as Marlon’s romance with Carly hit troubled waters, Paddy was there to coo, gasp and practise his proposal to her on (much to the mocking of Charity). The pair also had to cover up Marlon’s failed attempts to propose by inventing a story about their friendship anniversary – n’aww. And even though Paddy might be the worst at giving Marlon confidence in his status as Carly’s beloved, the pair of them and their friendship will outlive any romance and for that I’m truly grateful. Who needs a girlfriend when you have a best friend like these two?

Handsome Stranger

Emmerdale - Matt Has Just One Thing to Say to Carly - YouTubeRight at the end of last week, a tall, dark, handsome and bearded stranger arrived in the shape of Carly’s ex-Matt, and poor Billy’s father. It seems pretty much guaranteed that Matt won’t be around for long and that he and Carly are going to break Marlon’s little heart but in the meantime it’s been nice to have a charismatic new arrival in the village. Now you might say I’m swayed by his nice accent and good looks and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but if things were different I’d say Matt would make a good new addition to the Dales. He’s already proved he can carry a believable and exposition-heavy scene and make his emotions towards Carly and the loss of Billy complex and emotive, but up against Charity’s creepy OTT flirting, he’s proved his comedy worth too. So, while we might not have him for long and it’s a shame his role seems to be a facilitator for Carly’s exit, Matt seems like a pretty interesting character.

Different Direction

w58dSince my Emmerdale viewing habits became religious, Debbie seemed to be stuck in a cycle of two plots which never really endeared me to her as a character. I never bought into her Barton love triangle, nor her supposed love for Ross and the gangster/heist stories she got mixed up in left me cold too. For me, Debbie works best around her family, being a mother, running the garage rather than being at the centre of a money or love-triangle drama. Living with her kids, Faith and Moira has breathed life into her and this week I really enjoyed seeing her at the heart of the garage, back in her overalls and concerned with making a living rather than this just being an excuse to stir up old feelings with Ross. I enjoyed seeing her go up against Chrissie and her cutting one-liners to both White sisters were pretty satisfying too. I’m sure before long she’ll be back with Ross, trying to muster up some sexual tension, but for now Debbie seems assured and independent and I like that a lot.

Fails

Filling the Gap

Emmerdale - Jai Walks In On Nell Crying After Harming Herself - YouTubeRhona went to rehab on Monday this week meaning that most of my interest in village drama went with her. That’s not to say there are no characters I like in Emmerdale right now, but in terms of stories there just aren’t any plots holding my interest. I’m warmed massively to Jai, but his plot with the insipid Nell is odd and unengaging. Should we trust her, but more importantly why should we care? We’ve only known the girl five minutes and her budding and uneasy relationship with Jai has nothing on the short-but-sweet connection Holly and Jai had. Dan vs the bullies was the other main story of the week and even with a ‘whodunnit’ element, the teen gang were still as unthreatening as ever. Neither Dan or Jai are exactly leading man material with these uninspiring plots. Even with Amy Walsh’s great performance at the end of the week, the teen thug story is one that feels cold, lacking a ‘must-see’ factor. Other stories this week involved Zak Dingle being even more useless than ever and serving meat to vegans and the beginning of the end for Marlon and Carly. In isolation these plots might have made good B or C plots, bubbling in the background but front and centre they’re not the best – Emmerdale, we know you can do better.

Storyline Amnesia

w58wEmmerdale has never been afraid to have a wealthy, snobby family living in Home Farm, lording it over the other villagers and being generally antagonistic to everyone they meet. It’s a dynamic viewers are used to, but one the White family has always struggled with, leaving their role in the village a mess. I’ve never hid the fact I like the family best when they’re embracing their dark side with full self-awareness and that the weakness comes when Emmerdale tries to paint them as insincere victims rather than privileged villains. Stepping away from their tedious in-fighting this week, there was a puzzling turn of events as Victoria worked and grovelled at Chrissie’s feet as she catered for a vegan event. What’s the problem there you say? Well, the last time Vic interacted with Chrissie she called her a poisonous cow and didn’t hold back in light of Chrissie setting up Andy, meaning he was on the run and absent from his ill daughter’s life. Now Vic is working for her, BFFs with Rebecca and bending over backwards to please them with no explanation. It’s as if the whole (boring) Whites vs Sugdens plot never happened! Andy who? Then there’s the continuing problem with Lachlan, a character still defined by the fact his history of sexual assault was wiped from the history books rather than him having any sort of redemption. Sorry, but whether they were friends or not, whether he rescued Alfie the dog, I still find it hard to believe that Belle would ever talk to him let alone kiss him. In this middle ground, where their rivalries and devious pasts are forgiven and forgotten with no explanation, the Whites just don’t work as well as they should. Make them hated, make them powerful but stop with this wishy-washy middle ground.

Scene of the Week (30 Jan-3 Feb 2017)

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Victoria Barton really earned the title Queen Victoria this week as she completely destroyed Chrissie White in a brilliant take down. Having reached her limit and fed up of Chrissie lording it around the village, Vic finally snapped and tore into her former sister-in-law. With Lachlan banged up, Chrissie once again played the victim and was emotional and angry at the Sugdens for – in her eyes – gloating at justice being served. Vic was quick to put Chrissie in her place, giving her a tirade of home truths about her twisted son and the vicious behaviour of the White family which meant Andy was driven from the village and now can’t be there for his ill daughter. We often see Victoria as the kind-hearted sweetheart of the village so to see her stand up to Chrissie with real guts and fire was a punch-the-air moment. Brilliant moment and definitely one to watch again! Even Tracy gave a little impressed nod at the end!

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Jan 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a great week for the ladies of The Dales, with Bob’s appearance in Hunk Night being unmissable!

Faves

Hunk Night

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h57m02s833Hunk Night meant lots of great things in Friday’s episode (and no I’m not talking about the tacky and oily “hunks”). Firstly it gathered a big collection of the brilliant Emmerdale ladies looking glam and having a great time and who doesn’t love an excuse to see lots of characters on screen together having fun? It also created great little character moments like Ronnie ignoring Lisa’s important chat for a sneaky ogle and Zak backing out quickly in typical uncomfortable straight man fashion. It meant Bob got to shine (more on that below) and if was fun and loud – all the things we need on a Friday. It’s other purpose, dark and full of dread, was building the tension for Rhona’s story as Pierce grew more controlling. The tension was built and the juxtaposition between the party and Pierce’s mood made the after-party scenes difficult viewing

Party Bob

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h55m17s486I’m going to say it now to sort the wheat from the chaff – if you don’t love Bob Hope then we can’t be friends. For too long we’ve seen Bob stuck in the café like he was chained to his percolator, never to breathe fresh air again but the last few weeks he’s actually been around more and even being life and soul of the pub. On Monday we saw him serving behind the bar and dancing with the dream team of Charity and Chas (who were amazing this week too) but on Friday was where he really shined. We might be used to Bob giving friendly advice when he serves the lattes – and he was lovely with Rhona this week – but we learnt on Friday that Bob is definitely not shy and LOVES a bit of Hunk Night. You had to feel for poor mortified Carly but I loved Bob getting into the spirit of things and stripping to his boxers for a dance and happily talking about his stripper past with Chas. More of Bob getting his groove on and enjoying the party please! In fact, get him back in the pub working or otherwise!

Top Boss

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h57m23s455After Nicola’s accident at the Mill in the summer, her confidence took a real knock and after ups and downs with Jimmy we’ve seen her mojo take a kicking as she struggled to cope with the day-to-day activities at home. But this week we saw a positive change as Nicola regained her independence and her enthusiasm for work when she saw the state of the office Home James was operating out of and wanted to give it an overhaul. Is it any surprise when it’s home to four grubby blokes? Not only did this mean some fun comedy involving Jimmy and Robert, but it also meant Nicola is back to her organised and authoritative best. How long is that scrapyard going to look that neat and tidy though, really?

Great Performances

emmerdale-the-night-before-lachlans-trial-youtubeI’ve written before about my many issues with Lachlan White and Emmerdale’s missteps but despite this, Thomas Atkinson continues to deliver solid performances. Lachlan’s twisted to say the least and it’s in those scenes – when he’s trying to blag himself the family spoils, getting beaten up on purpose and showcasing his cruel plans to his mother – that his villainy is really watchable. Emmerdale’s characterisation is confused with it comes to the Whites but I can’t help but feel Lachlan on full-throttle bad – since they never made him remorseful – is the way forward, because with his history, eliciting sympathy cannot work. If Emmerdale went full on Joffrey Baratheon, then Thomas would ace it.

Fail

Courtroom Anti-climax

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-22h11m22s781This week was White drama heavy, centring on Lachlan’s court case over the shooting of Lawrence. It only happened in the summer, even though it feels about four years ago now due to the amount of time this story has dragged on, but with the court case done and dusted in a day the conclusion was finally approaching. It’s hard to sympathise with any member of the White family, often because when they’re not committing crimes (without punishment or much remorse) they’re not embracing their bad deeds but feeling sorry for themselves, in their privileged money pit. Boo and hoo. This trial was even more muddled than usual. Lachlan wasn’t guilty of attempted murder, but he did shoot Lawrence and the whole family conspired to frame Andy and they’ve all be remorseless about it. He might not be a gun-toting attempted murderer but he’s not an innocent young boy either, so hearing his family talk about him like that is bizarre. Therapy is what he needs, not enabling. All in all the drama surrounding Lachlan’s confession and verdict didn’t really seem to offer any sense of justice. The unfortunate problem with this long-running plot was that there’s a real lack of tension when you know Andy’s name being cleared is meaningless (actor Kelvin Fletcher has left seemingly for good) and the Whites won’t really be punished and will continue hovering between camp villains and victims. There seems like there’s a lot more potential there – particularly when it comes to a wealthy family protecting their psychopathic son against all odds, fully aware of and making no excuses for his behaviour – without trying to squeeze out sympathy for them.

Scene of the Week (9-13 Jan 2017)

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The Lachlan/White shooting saga has not been a highlight of the past six months of Emmerdale by any means, but there are some glimmers of good moments in the story thanks to some great performances and my scene of the week choice is one of those. When visiting her son in prison, Chrissie was devastated to realise that Lachlan’s beatings and bruises were all his own doing in a bid to elicit sympathy from her – and a Porsche. Chrissie had spent the week negotiating with Cain and worrying about Lucky’s welfare, so she was horrified to see him remorseless and gloating about his victim performance. Let’s be honest, she shouldn’t be surprised by now. The narrative surrounding the Whites has always been muddled but there’s potential in the Chrissie and Lachlan relationship and her enabling of his horrific behaviour and the impact this has on her as a mother. Thomas Atkinson’s performance in this scene, as twisted Lachlan threatened to betray his mother’s wishes and confess to a cold bloodied murder attempt – or worse, blame it all on her – were particularly well done. If only the story stopped portraying their morally black behaviour as the wrong turns of the hard-done by then their villainy could be a lot better.

 

The Emmerdale Christmas Gift Guide

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It’s that time of year again and you know what that means in soapland. Tears, shocks at the dinner table and all the Christmassy tropes you can think of. But what we rarely see in soapland is what the rest of us experience every year, that cold sweat and panic, the chaos and mayhem, the bank-breaking last minute splurge – Christmas gift buying!

So here’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek little gift guide for a few Emmerdale villagers and a few of the best fan suggestions about what they’d buy the characters for Xmas!

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Chrissie and Rebecca

It’s hard work being the resident ice queen in the village and Chrissie’s gonna need something glamorous to swan around in this winter, so this feather cape ticks all the right boxes. She could also do with a new vase to replace the one that got smashed in the whole framing-Andy-saga and I reckon this teardrop copper vaseteardrop copper vase would look perfect in Home Farm. As for the book? The Parenting For Dummies guide might be a little bit too late, but thanks to the reader who suggested that gift!

Boho traveller Rebecca might be sticking around in the village for now, but in case she gets the wanderlust again, this Lonely Planet Travelist guide would be the perfect gift. Life as a daddy’s girl doesn’t come easy when you’ve got all that cash to keep safe, so how about this cute embroidered purse? And she might have just got the message about a certain ex but just in case, soppy rom-com He’s Just Not That Into You might serve as a reminder that there’s more to life than pining over a guy.

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Liv, Aaron and Robert

Living with her food-loving family, Liv will be very familiar with the hangover classic, a Full English Breakfast and these cool pencils would be a fun gift, even better because she can use them to sketch everything and anything in the book 642 Things to Draw. To cope with the Yorkshire cold, the d*cks at school and the patriarchy, this cutting slogan bobble hat is a great gift.

There’s one thing on Aaron Dingle’s mind at the moment and that’s moving to the Mill with his fiance and little sis and that’s only going to mean trouble, so the essential gift for Aaron right now is this pocket survival guide. Being that he’s pretty settled and happy living in the pub, he might just miss it a bit but these alcohol scented toiletries will take him right back there. Nice! As for the straight-to-the-point bathmat, I think it’s pretty clear who’d be buying him that.

The biggest Christmas wish for Robert from readers of this blog (apart from a real divide over whether his shirts are awful or awesome) was for friends, so how about the classic self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People? It sounds perfect for him. Divisive issues aside, it just wouldn’t be right not to give Robert an (ugly) patterned shirt for the festive season and finally, an apt little notebook for all his terrible plans.

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Gabby Thomas and Emma Barton

I’m still recovering from the shock revelation that Gabby isn’t actually a vegan after all but on the off chance she fancies trying it for real, this tasty looking recipe book honestly makes going vegan look good. I think we can all remember eyebrow!gate earlier in the year, but now that Gabby’s put down the marker pen she could have a go with a proper kit to give her an enhanced natural look. On a sadder note, this memory box would be a great gift for the Thomas family who will need to treasure all their happiest family memories as Ashley’s illness worsens.

Emma’s recent attempts to gain forgiveness and form a friendship with enemy-turned-BFF Moira gives meaning to this Sisters Before Misters mug – I love it! This sweet pair of angel wings wouldn’t look amiss on Emma, with her innocent smile hiding the truth of James’ death, and would certainly fit with her attempts to embrace a more Christian outlook! But, the perfect gift for terrible cook Emma Barton is a recipe book, but not just any cookbook, a book full of chicken recipes called A Bird in the Hand. Essential.

The Best of the Rest: Gift Suggestions from Readers of this Blog

  • Lachlan: Rat poison
  • Zak: glasses “to see what’s right in front of him”
  • Rodney: a gift voucher for Hotten’s finest hairdresser “on condition that ponytail doesn’t make it out of there alive”
  • Aaron: a new car, considering his last one ended up at the bottom of the lake!
  • Paddy & Marlon: matching Star Trek mugs (aww)
  • Chas: a better business partner (ouch!)
  • Bob & Brenda: tickets to the Woolpack, just to see them out of the cafe
  • Moira: a low-cut blouse!
  • Pearl: a Cucumber/Banana DVD boxset (well, we know she loves “the gays”)

Fave or Fail? (14-18 Nov 2016)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A weird week full of OTT and out of character behaviour, believe me, the highlights are thin on the ground – don’t even bother catching up!

Faves

Liv and Let Liv

emmerdale-18th-november-2016-video-dailymotion-2It seems like Emmerdale have finally got the balance right when it comes to Liv. Once it seemed like her tearaway troublemaking was only used to stir up trouble between Aaron and Robert and enable Gabby’s bad behaviour, but at last it finally feels like she has found her place in the village. Isobel Steele has been superb from day one and her likeness to onscreen brother Aaron is uncanny so it feels right that she has formed a close bond to Paddy and is trying to help him through his love woes. We’ve seen Liv get more involved in the lives of the Dingles (especially her almost mother/daughter relationship with Chas) and I love that she’s become the “go-to” girl for technology and advice for some of the villagers but still retains that snarky, sulky attitude that makes her Liv without some of the earlier brattishness that she was introduced with. I’m really looking forward to seeing Liv get a big storyline in the future!

We Need to Talk About Lachlan

684-aaron-amp-robert-16th-november-2016-part-2-of-2-youtubeDespite the continued dominance of the White family shooting saga (will it never end?!) I am still pretty interested in Chrissie and Lachlan’s dynamic. I can’t really work out if Chrissie is genuinely scared of him (she, like Lachlan can act her way out of any crisis), but the idea that she is, particularly when he seems worryingly cold and disturbed (and willing to use this to his advantage when it suits) makes for a fascinating mother and son relationship. I can’t help but feel the dynamic would be even more engaging if Chrissie was fully aware of and enabling of his disturbing behaviour in her protection, rather than believing him to be a precious victim. However, the same sticking points with the Whites that I mentioned last week (villains or victims? Remorseful or remorseless?) mean that I struggle to ever fully engage in their plots but there was something still interesting about Lachlan’s sociopathic lying and delusions that Chrissie could easily fix this for him. Thomas Atkinson’s performances under questioning and in his cell were particularly good. Ultimately though, I can’t help but feel Emmerdale are tying themselves in knots to keep the Whites in the show, when Lachlan’s sexual assault charge should have been the end of his character and this, combined with muddled motivations makes it near impossible to empathise with this family.

Other stray moments I liked:

  • DS Mudd! All Emmerdale coppers and detectives seem snarky and fun. I like him
  • Priya’s passionate defense of Kerry and ending the contract with gross sleaze George
  • The continuing tension between Pierce/Paddy/Rhona
  • Gabby’s been a fake vegan all along!
  • There’s a glimmer of promise with Frank’s dark past
  • Bob and Brenda injecting a bit of normalcy into a weird week

Fails

Kissed Off

682-aaron-amp-robert-15th-november-2016-part-2-of-2-youtubeRegular readers to this blog will already know my deep and unapologetic love for Robert Sugden and my unashamed passion for all things Robron and yet this week I was left feeling completely confused and bewildered by the bizarre twist in the #AvengeAndy plotline. After the glorious Super Soap Week, Robert’s motivations and point of view couldn’t be clearer, or so I thought. For one of the first times since Robert’s reintroduction in 2014 we finally got a peek into that messy head of his. He confirmed himself as bi, that he was fully committed to Aaron (apologies to all those girls and boys holding a candle for him) and that no one else came close. We also knew that he was hell bent on getting justice for his wronged brother Andy – okay, all good so far. Until now we’d watched him play Rebecca against her family and firmly reject her advantages so it jarred completely to see him get cosy with her and share a kiss, seemingly with his new priority to be steal back Home Farm. Huh, what?! Since when? Watching Robert this week felt like an imposter and certainly not the devoted man we’d seen most of 2016 and it didn’t make any real sense following on so close to his promises to insecure Aaron during their engagement. Not only did it leave a sour taste, rewriting Chrissie and Robert’s history and tainting Robert’s character development, but the fact it’s had no follow up since makes the whole thing even more bewildering. And memo to Emmerdale: can we give it a f*cking rest with these kissing/cheating plots? Is no couple safe?!

Compo Kerry

emmerdale-kerry-breaks-into-and-ransacks-the-factory-youtubeI’ve had a love/hate relationship with Kerry for a good while but this week’s plot might just be the final straw. Since her meltdown last week and inappropriate behaviour at work, things got worse when she decided to break into the factory at night. Farcical doesn’t even cover it. If this was Emmerdale’s attempt at comedy capers it failed, making Kerry’s fake injuries and embarrassing excuses just horrible to watch. At times I was even siding with Jai, JAI!!! The other week, when Kerry’s self-pity had a semblance of reality, I empathised. Now, her bad attitude and unprofessional behaviour makes me question why she wasn’t just fired last week. She’s not sympathetic and she’s not funny right now either. If this is all an attempt to make her reach breaking point and have an epiphany, then it might be too late – is there anything likeable about Kerry left?

Other Fails this week:

  • I know Bernice is lonely but for the love of GOD don’t let her fall for Jimmy. Please, I beg of you
  • The Chrissie and Diane scenes would have been a whole lot better without Diane’s ridiculous gun grabbing. OOC cringe! Is it really believable that Diane would actually sympathise with her when her vicious lies have left Andy on the run? I don’t buy it
  • Lawrence joking about attractive men seemed jarringly out of character considering his sexuality struggles
  • Once again Emmerdale diabetes confusion strikes again!