Scene of the Week (22-26 July 2019)

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This was an unexpectedly nice scene in the middle of the week as Arthur confronted Jai about his new relationship with Laurel. Sensitive Arthur hated the Bob and Laurel debacle almost as much as the rest of us so Laurel expressed how difficult it was to break the news about her new romance. Arthur then took himself off to Holdgate Farm to ask Jai some questions about his romantic history and warn Jai not to upset Laurel. Jai reassured Arthur and the pair reached an agreement – so long as Jai provided free chocolate to Arthur every time he saw Laurel! When relationship hopping and marriage breakdowns are commonplace in Emmerdale, the kids often get overlooked but it’s good Emmerdale are continuing to show the impact of these big changes on the children. Alfie Clarke is a great actor who we haven’t seen much of lately so it was nice to have a reminder of how good he is in these small scenes. During his marriage to Charity, Jai’s scenes with Noah were nicely portrayed so it will be interesting to see how much Jai will be involved in the lives of Laurel’s children.

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Fave or Fail? (24-28 June 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A bit of a lacklustre week that saw Jessie shot, a cameo from Chris Kamara and a misguided proposal from Pete to Rhona (end it already!).

Faves

Happiness in Hard Times

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h09m16s635Will Jai and Laurel’s budding romance be my favourite part of every week in Emmerdale from now on? Very possibly. In a week where several stories centred around new characters it was nice to take comfort in the joy of those familiar to us. Laurel and Jai’s smiles are infectious. This week as they tried to keep their new romance a secret they snuck around giggling like teenagers arranging secret dates and Jai putting on his stern voice in case anyone was listening. You can tell the actors are having a lot of fun with it and it’s endearing to watch, especially to see a happy, fun story in amongst the sadder tales.

A Little Star

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h11m32s537The best performance in the siege scenes came from young Amelia Flanagan, who made April’s fear so believable. As soon as the focus was on April, the scenes became a lot more intense, her bravery and terror so raw that we were drawn into the moment with her. Perhaps her stand out moment, besides her escape was the moment she confidently faced Max and told him she wasn’t afraid because her mummy was a police officer. That was a great moment and one that would have made Donna very proud.

Priya’s Problem?

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h09m45s802Friday’s episode gave us some very surprising and intriguing scenes as Priya struggled at both home and work with a secret. We’re in the dark about what this could be yet with her taking some deep breaths and looking far away in thought. Could this be the aftershocks of Jacob and Maya playing on her mind, a return to her struggles with food or something else? Priya is one of the show’s most underappreciated characters with Fiona Wade a great actress, especially when it comes to the serious stuff.

Shared Stories

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h07m12s223This week a hopeful Dawn took the first steps in seeing her son Lucas as she had a supervised visit through social services. It wasn’t as straightforward or as successful as she first hoped but after a surprising tough-love pep talk from Amy, Dawn’s mood was lifted. It always makes a good scene when unusual character pairings find common ground, sharing histories and experience through storylines past and present and this was no exception. It could be interesting to see what kind of friendship these two could forge!

Fails

Bear With It?

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h14m08s087I’m in a quandary when it comes to Bear. I think Joshua Richards does a good job and when the story has been more about him and Paddy finding common ground I’ve liked it. I also think there’s a place for older characters in Emmerdale, something which has become less of a focus in recent years. However, this week made me question his inclusion in the village in terms of what he brings out in other characters. Did anyone ever feel Paddy needed a father figure at this stage in his life – surely Zak could’ve done the job? I’ve made no secret of the fact Paddy’s at his most irritating and unlikeable for me when he’s the bumbling buffoon and rather than the endearing idiot, he’s a pain in the arse. So this week saw Paddy sulk about a bit and regress to a child seeking his estranged dad’s approval and I wasn’t a fan. Bear isn’t exactly charming or funny, he’s a bit of a letch and seems to act as if he’s been in the village for years. This week’s community football match which had potential to be fun but the focus on Bear was a bit of a bore. Then there’s his budding relationship with Faith (and to swap the wonderfully charming Faith/Eric relationship for Faith/Bear seems a real misstep) and he’s only brought out the worst in her personality too. The two of them together is an overload of selfishness and bratty entitlement and the plot with the baby scan seemed oddly meanspirited.

Sieges and Sympathy

vlcsnap-2019-06-29-21h13m44s278I tend to think Emmerdale should leave gun showdowns to big characters as a climax to long running storylines, rather than centring high octane moments to fairly one-dimensional characters like Max, so I can’t say I was ever particularly excited by a siege at Tall Trees. One of the problems with this story hinges on Billy and, again, Emmerdale’s habit of relying on heavy and convoluted backstory to carry their new characters (see Graham for more examples). Billy’s complex backstory is a worthy one but the execution has been muddled and frankly, a bit dull. Even his history was Aaron was dropped and ignored in a way that feels like Emmerdale regretted introducing him in such a way. So too has his relationship with Ellis and Jessie been muddled, both seeming to go in circles and never elevating into something fresh and engaging for the characters. Ellis and Billy’s rivalry began as something so intriguing and promising and has since devolved into a merry-go-round. It’s hard to invest. This week should have been pivotal for Billy’s character but beginning this change with Max, a rather soulless guest character, and an overblown situation with hostages and armed police was strangely devoid of any sort of tension or atmosphere. Then when Billy finally admitted to Jessie that he did in fact do the crime he was convicted of, the explanation was so overloaded with a history and characters we’ve never seen, that this pivotal moment lacked any sort of resonance. I don’t think Emmerdale needs to lose its complex intentions with Billy, he can still do the wrong thing for good reasons, but we need to see these actions to help us empathise.

The Woolie Weekly is taking a two week summer break. Blog posts will resume on Sunday 21st July.

 

Fave or Fail? (17-21 June 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Maya face a year in prison and Pete cheated on Rhona.

Faves

Sweet Romance

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h55m14s996Between the dark and the sad plots, sometimes exactly what we need is something sweet and heart-warming and we had that in buckets this week as Jai and Laurel gave into their feelings. I’d have been happy to watch an even slower burn of this pair falling for each other, but their tension and unresolved feelings this week were really satisfying to watch, especially when they finally kissed. With Nicola trying to set Laurel up on a test date to up her game, we were treated to hilarious scenes with Jimmy and Laurel on a practice date after a case of mistaken identity, then in true rom-com style it was miscommunication after miscommunication as Jai and Laurel kept missing out on that elusive date. From stuttering doubts, to hints about a romantic date, all these two needed to do was talk! Even the day after their kiss things were weird between them, but thankfully their smitten smiles and Jai calling Laurel “amazing” seemed to seal a happy fate. Despite these two feeling very unexpected as a couple, it works, and the writing has kept it both awkward and endearing. Couples we can root for are the backbone of soap, so I hope Emmerdale know what a good thing they’ve got in Jai and Laurel and don’t rush it or ruin it anytime soon.

Sugden Split

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h56m20s214Siblings Victoria and Robert were at odds again this week after Victoria discovered that Robert and Aaron had gone to see Lee and had been fly-tipping with posters of his face, saying the word ‘rapist’. Once the police came knocking blaming her, Victoria wanted to wash her hands of Robert, furious that his revenge was making it harder for her move on. Struggling to cope with the thought of letting down his sister, Robert and Victoria eventually reconciled at their dad’s graveside. This week’s scenes were well balanced, giving time to explore both of the siblings’ emotions and showcased tender and believable moments between the pair. Actors Isabel Hodgins and Ryan Hawley continue to have a lovely rapport onscreen and in the run up to Ryan’s exit, it’s been fitting to explore their family relationship in this depth before we lose another Sugden.

Family Impact

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h01m08s369One of the strongest aspects of the Jacob and Maya storyline, besides Louisa Clein’s fantastic performances, has been Emmerdale showing the impact of her abuse on both Jacob and David, and their relationship. This week Emmerdale took the surprising decision to have David attend a counselling session to talk about his complex feelings about what Maya had done. Much like the immediate aftermath of David learning about what Maya did, David’s response has been one of conflicting emotions, guilt, blame, pain and all the rest and that feels like an authentic reaction in situations like this. Currently Jacob isn’t the position to believe counselling is right for him, but in time hopefully Emmerdale will show a multi-layered response to Jacob’s future, with family, friends, therapists and social workers involved.

Fails

Maya Meets Her Fate

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h02m05s682After months of their most controversial and important storyline playing out, Emmerdale’s Maya finally faced the courts and exited from the show. Due to Maya facing a lesser charge than the one she actually committed, Emmerdale had to walk a fine line between realism and a satisfying narrative conclusion. Unfortunately, while Maya’s charge rang true to her convicted crime, after watching her manipulations and twisted grooming of Jacob, a twelve month sentence felt like an unsatisfying conclusion to the story we watched. While Emmerdale’s focus on aftermath has concentrated on Jacob and Maya, there’s been an anti-climatic aftermath when it comes to the rest of the community. A local teacher grooming a pupil should be huge, but it’s lacked any wider impact and sadly that’s left the conclusion feeling not only a little flat but repetitive. Rather than extend the story by asking questions about how Maya’s behaviour has impacted Jessie, Liam, Leanna and the other teens, even Maya’s mum who has been mentioned, we’ve only seen the same cyclical rows between Jacob and David. There are only so many times Jacob can scream and shout “I love Maya!” before it becomes a bit tiresome to watch. Emmerdale has a long history of taking a really important story and handling it with care and elements of the Maya and Jacob story have been fantastic, but since the Big Night Out episodes, it’s loss its way, sadly leaving us with a rather flat conclusion.

Signs of Trouble?

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h03m26s743Nate continued his lothario ways this week and got a soaking in the pub, but eventually got on the right side of Amy when he rescued Kyle from danger. Foolishly Amy, Nate and Moira decided to keep Amy’s lax parenting a secret from Cain and we could all guess how he’d react when he found out! This turn of events, leading to a rift between Cain and Moira and turning Nate’s reputation around all felt a bit predictable and yet formed a significant part of this week’s storylines. Amy and Nate dominated scenes (still failing to see what his appeal is!) and not only is their romance low on chemistry, but it seems Nate actually has his sights on Moira instead. Whether his intentions are purely sexual, or if there’s something else at play here, remains to be seen but the idea of Cain and Moira splitting over this isn’t a pleasant prospect. Nate’s interest in Moira was delivered in heavy-handed and lingering shots of hands touching and despite Cain and Moira’s marriage being on rocky ground recently, does any Emmerdale fan have the appetite to watch them split for someone as charmless at Nate? Not only do Natalie Robb and Jeff Hordley have some of the best chemistry on the show, they’re beloved by viewers too. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since Coira were split for months and with Zak and Lisa gone, Robron on their way out, the last thing we need is another fan-favourite pair separated. If Nate does come between them, then let’s hope there’s a bigger story at play here and not just Moira getting down and dirty with the farmhand. Been there, done that.

Scene of the Week (17-21 June 2019)

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Who could predict that by the middle of 2019 we’d been championing Jai and Laurel as the next big couple of the Dales? This week saw them awkward around each other before finally giving into a big snog. Hurray! A flustered and frustrated Laurel went to find Jai in his office and well, pounced! After more uncertain awkwardness, Jai was all too glad to kiss her right back. This was an adorable rom-com moment that felt so earned after all that miscommunication and edging around each other in shy and hesitant signs of attraction. Who doesn’t love that big kiss moment? This was a great scene!

Fave or Fail? (27-31 May 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Fewer episodes this week as Emmerdale made way for Britain’s Got Talent, but the Dingles reeled in the wake of Lisa’s death.

Faves

Unsung Hero

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h51m37s679The aftermath of Lisa’s death continued this week as the Dingles all struggled to cope in individual ways. Surprisingly it was Sam who seemed to take it the hardest, acting out of character and hiding away to cry alone. Sam is often used as comic relief in the family, on the sidelines as the ‘nice but dim’ member of the family, but this week Sam – and actor James Hooton were the unsung heroes of Emmerdale. To see Sam taking Lisa’s death so badly and worrying that he had to hold it together and keep the farm running, scared that both Zak and Belle’s vulnerable mental health would suffer, was a poignant and affecting choice. Because we don’t often see Sam so emotionally raw the scenes had a greater impact and it was a reminder just how good James Hooton is as an actor. If there’s anyone Emmerdale should be lining up for their next big emotional story, then they should consider Sam.

Fake Dating

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h50m22s542Fans have long been speculating there’s romance on the horizon for Laurel and Jai and Friday’s episode this week was a mightily satisfying tease of that. Jai spent the week venturing into online dating (which was a pretty charming and fun story between the sadness of Lisa’s death) and thought his luck was in when he ended up with a gorgeous date. As his employees came in the pub for an ogle, Jai realised he had in fact hired an escort instead (oops) and Laurel stepped in to help scare her off. Laurel’s technique involved everyone’s favourite rom-com/fanfic trope – fake dating – and Laurel and Jai were soon forced into sharing a pretend kiss to prove their romance. But a funny and awkward scene soon had sparks flying at the pair found themselves caught up in the moment and shared a much steamier snog. This looks like it might be the start of a big new romance and I can’t wait to see it develop!

The Fun Side

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h53m05s990When Kim returned there was anxiety from Emmerdale viewers that her ruthless personality would veer into pantomime and we’d be left with less of a character and more of a cartoon. Certainly her brief stint last October was divisive and when her immediate plans were to shag Cain and put a hit out on Joe, there was more concerns. But lately we’ve seen a much more well-rounded Kim, trying to rebuild her relationship with Jamie, employing Lydia and Sam, and forging an almost-friendship with Rhona. She almost seemed pleased of the company when Rhona popped round Home Farm, even giving her the hard sell on some biscuits – but then if you’re stuck with Graham all day every day you’d be grateful of a friendly face too! This side of Kim is much more like the woman we can see in the weekday repeats of classic Emmerdale on ITV3 and gives her a greater chance of longevity. Of course Kim’s always going to be the “soap bitch” but that doesn’t mean she needs to be an ice queen. Friends and smiles are welcome from time to time.

Fails

A Slow Goodbye?

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h49m27s223It was a struggle to invest in Megan’s storyline this week as she fretted over her future after causing Eric’s accident. Not only is her relationship with Frank dull and chemistry free, her connection with stoic Graham isn’t much better. Even Megan’s rivalry with Kim feels tired and uninspiring, doing no favours to either character. Emmerdale have had plenty of opportunity in the past to do something emotionally engaging with Megan and her daughter Eliza, and yet even this story, with so much at stake for Megan, it treads a boring and dry path with these uninspiring men. It feels like this is leading to Megan having a lacklustre exit, but the pace is glacial. With actress Gaynor Faye exiting the Dales, is Megan’s storyline really the start of her long goodbye?

Fast Turn Around

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h48m31s444Despite the whole coffin incident, I was curious about Will and Harriet’s chemistry from the off. We’ve been here before with Harriet, she might be BFFs with God, but it’s the bad boy she really likes. But just like her fling with Cain, there’s just something not quite clicking with Will. It’s not as electric as it could be on paper. Part of this problem was the ridiculous speed this week’s events took. Will’s epiphany over his terrorising and stalking of Harriet, prompted by seeing the impact of his actions on vulnerable Dawn, felt far too soon. Had Dawn been hospitalised or close to death, then perhaps his complete turn around might have been more believable but this week’s escalation seemed a rushed way to force the Harriet hook up. Likewise, I fully believe in the pairs lingering and complicated feelings but it just didn’t feel believable that Harriet could forgive Will so fast and end up in bed with him. I can never put my finger on what’s missing with Harriet’s stories but this one just isn’t hitting the mark anymore. Like other fans commented on Twitter, I could see this trio making a good family unit, but I had hopes this was going to be a slow-burn of enemies to lovers, but skipping to lovers before it’s earned squandered that. Shame.

 

Fave or Fail? (25-29 March 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week 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? (11-15 Feb 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A pretty poor week in the Dales that saw wrestler Bear Wolf visit the Woolie (in scenes I’d rather forget) and a very loveless Valentine’s Day.

Faves

Marlon’s Wake-up Call

Emmerdale - Marlon and Jessie's Marriage Collapses - YouTubeMarlon blew a fuse this week when discovering Jessie lied and left April alone in the house so she could break up the fight between Ellis and Billy. Marlon’s anger cut straight to the heart of the matter and shamed Jessie left to stay with a friend. These scenes were surprisingly well done, even if Marlon and Jessie’s relationship is a struggle to connect with. I still wish they’d stayed friends rather than rushing into an ill-suited marriage, however Mark Charnock gave these scenes his all and they added some much-needed depth to their marriage. The obstacles their family are facing are complex and interesting, it’s just a bit of a shame that the central Marlon/Jessie relationship is the real weak link.

Nicola’s Downfall

Emmerdale - Jimmy Still Refuses to Forgive PREVIEW - YouTubeShe might have caused her own downfall by trying to steal money from Graham right under his nose, but with Valentine’s love in the air this week, I definitely felt pangs of sympathy for Nicola. Perhaps it was Nicola Wheeler’s touching performance of Nicola’s loneliness on Valentine’s Day night that won me over, or her crushed expression when best mate Laurel revealed she was becoming her boss, or maybe it was her brilliant display of determination and fighting spirit against Graham. By the end of the week (and after the hilarious “hostage” scenes) Nicola decided she needed to show some more honesty and admit her mistakes and she turned herself into the police. Her teary eyed love declaration to Jimmy was a heightened parody of the Princess Leia and Han Solo scene in Empire Strikes Back and a great end to the week. Whoever she’s in scenes with, from Jimmy to Laurel to Graham to Bernice, Nicola makes Emmerdale far more enjoyable.

Sharma Spark Back?

Emmerdale - Jimmy Still Refuses to Forgive PREVIEW - YouTube (1)It was good to see Jai with a bit of life back in him this week. Chris Bisson’s been underused in Emmerdale in recent years but with a bit more focus on the factory workers this week, Jai was back lording it over them and he felt right at home. Though the Sharmas have recently been used as comedy D plots and Jai’s screentime has seriously lessened since his days as a cartoon baddie, his recent versatility between a support for Manpreet and a snarky boss shows he’s worth more than just being a background character. It’s about time he had more to do.

Fails

Jessie’s Boys

vlcsnap-2019-02-17-11h53m57s510On paper, Jessie’s complicated relationship with her sons and her inability to cut the apron strings is a story worth watching, same too is Ellis and Billy’s tension and rivalry. Unfortunately the reality of these struggles haven’t been as gripping to watch. The brothers have great charisma and chemistry, but this week’s scenes which saw Ellis drive at Billy with a van escalated too quickly making their confrontation feel forced. Their background strife over Jessie’s favouritism feels believable, but to have Ellis’s rushed jealousy over Vic be his motivation to mow Billy down just didn’t ring true – and neither did Vic’s disinterest in his romantic plans and sudden dumping. While Jessie’s bad decision to leave April alone to resolve her sons’ war left Marlon fuming, it’s her own parenting decisions that are irritating to watch rather than relatable. She might have agreed to stay out of their fights, but something tells me she won’t be able to resist and her inference doesn’t do her character any favours.

UnBEARable and Unfunny

Emmerdale - Paddy Exposes Bear Wolf's Shocking Secret! - YouTubeThis week saw Paddy meet the man suspected to be his biological father, the wrestler Bear Wolf. If the story’s build up sounded ridiculous, nothing could quite prepare us for his scenes this week which saw Emmerdale reach new lows of cringeworthy comedy. It’s been uncomfortable enough watching Chas and Marlon repeatedly push Paddy into meeting Bear Wolf, even though he’d told them he wasn’t interested, but this week they forced his hand even further by orchestrating the meet. Comedy is a subjective thing, but having well-trodden “real” father mystery mission wasn’t made more entertaining by Bear Wolf being a sleazy wrestler, in fact it managed to remove all the heart and emotion from Paddy’s curiosity. The OTT costume, the wig and the fact that his take-over of the pub dominated scenes made the humour feel laboured and almost unwatchable. It only got worse when Paddy grappled with him on the floor and an attempt to steal Bear’s DNA left them wig snatching instead. This was played for a shock laugh, but it was obvious to anyone that Bear’s long locks weren’t his own. If this is supposed to be the uplifting story for Paddy after Grace’s death then this awful story was the wrong way to go about it. If any story is worse than this in 2019 I’d be very surprised (and horrified!).

Fave or Fail? (4-8 Feb 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that saw Jacob tell Maya he loves her, Graham planted evidence in Cain’s garage.

Faves

Liv’s Asexuality

Emmerdale - Liv Tells Jacob She Likes Him - YouTubeEmmerdale and actress Isobel Steele did an impressive job in exploring Liv’s asexuality on screen this week, in scenes that have been highly praised by viewers who could relate to her identity. Liv’s asexuality had been hinted months ago but much like with her drinking, it was an aspect Emmerdale needed the time and dedication to explore with authenticity. This week was a solid start. Even though she hasn’t labelled herself, she was open and frank with both Jacob and Aaron about her feelings towards relationships and sex and even commenting that she’s been reading up on it too. It’s original ground for soap and something that needs to be handled with care and so far it seems like Emmerdale is attempting to talk about asexuality in an honest and enlightening way. Stories like this are great for informing viewers and dispelling myths. Sadly for Liv, she’s going to be dragged into Jacob’s heart-breaking story, but so far Liv’s growing confidence about who she is and how she feels has been refreshing to watch.

You, Me and the Cockroaches

vlcsnap-2019-02-10-13h57m20s147This week Nicola had to pick up the pieces after Graham’s scheme exposure and with Jimmy begrudgingly letting her move back in, but only for the kids’ sake, she had to rely on all the friends she could get. Friendship is a funny thing in Emmerdale, sometimes forgotten about or underused when storylines get in the way, but a vital part of lives in the village. Storylines often benefit from friends supporting each other. I was glad to see Nicola and Laurel’s firm friendship resumed this week when she briefly moved in. Laurel wasn’t there to offer her a pity party, she wanted her friend back with a fighting spirit. Nicola also had support from fellow conspirator Robert, as he empathised with her isolation and related to everyone hating her. Robert and Nicola work well together so I hope their enjoyable partnership continues too, perhaps like Robert said, even after the nuclear winter and it’s just them and the cockroaches. More friendship scenes like these are more than welcome!

Big Spender

vlcsnap-2019-02-10-13h55m31s761Jai started getting suspicious about Manpreet this week when she moved into the Sharma household. First it was the box of things she didn’t want Jai to touch, but then he caught her trying to reason with debt collectors as they seized her car. Jai wanted answers and eventually discovered Manpreet had a spending addiction. With Jai’s history of addiction he tried to reason with her, even attempting to get her to visit a support group. This story has given Manpreet some much needed depth and is a surprising route to take a character known for a professional role in the community. I was glad to see Emmerdale use Jai’s past to inform his response rather than a kneejerk attempt of kicking her out. Stories work best when characters’ histories shape their current behaviour and I was grateful to see more of underused Jai too. Both actors have a great chemistry, but will this lead down a slippery path of more lies and infidelity if Manpreet uses Jai as a crutch?

Heart-breaking Decisions

Emmerdale - Dawn Realises She Must Leave Lucas Behind - YouTubeLately Dawn’s pinned her hopes on getting back her son Lucas, but despite warnings and hesitations from Harriet, she ploughed on this week and met with a social worker. Still trying to come off drugs and sort her life out, Dawn was optimistic but not thinking clearly as she managed to steal a glance at her son’s new address. But once she’d arrived outside his house with a toy, she started to have reservations. The “struggling mother trying to clean up her act” plot feels like a well-trodden storyline, but Olivia Bromley brings so much warmth and pathos to the role that her struggles are engaging and feel fresh.

Bonus Faves

  • Elliot King was such a scene stealer this week, from his quick-smart schemes (too much like Nicola for his own good), brilliant lines of dialogue and his sweet concern for his family. He’s one to watch.
  • Emmerdale fans are united in their hatred of manipulative Maya, but three cheers for Louisa Clein who is making her so uncomfortably compelling to watch. It’s a story almost too unbearable to watch but her butter-wouldn’t-melt softness makes her the perfect villain

Fail

Silly Stunt

Emmerdale - Maya Has a Nasty Accident - YouTubeThere have always been some strange stunts and accidents in Emmerdale. Who can forget Sam being shot in the bum?! But this week saw Maya fall and hit her head, causing a swift trip to hospital. Of course, the whole accident was to send Jacob into turmoil and prompt a love confession, and once more Maya had him back under the thumb. But from the awkwardly staged stunt to the clunkily plotted accident, it all seemed a bit of a ham-fisted way to force development in the grooming plot. Maya panicking and wanting to make a quick getaway felt believable, but her wrangling with a stubborn suitcase, while standing on a wobbly chair came across as convoluted. When it came to Jacob’s hospital panic, his dramatic reveal was conveniently cut short thanks to an interrupting medic. This story is strong enough – even if we’re all watching through our fingers and horrified over the developments – that it doesn’t need cringy stunts and desperate trips to A&E.

Fave or Fail? (7-11 Jan 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was chaos this week as Vanessa got stabbed as the Woolpack went up in flames and Lachlan got life in prison.

Faves

Life or Death

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Gutsy Vanessa fought for her life this week as an attempt to scare an intruder from the pub lead to her being stabbed. While the stabber and the story surrounding him was a let-down, Michelle Hardwick’s performance during the violence, particularly her reaction to Johnny’s accidental kidnap was heart-wrenching. You could really feel her helplessness as the fire raged and Johnny disappeared from her sight. Their emotional reunion in the hospital was strong stuff and I’d love to see Michelle get something meatier like this in future.

Old School Vibes

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h40m08s821Mandy’s visit back to the visit was short but sweet – much too short – but it really gave Emmerdale an old school feeling. Seeing Marlon and Mandy together, and Mandy and Paddy too, injected a huge dose of warmth and humour into the scenes. Viewers were left a bit puzzled over her brief return and whether she really was hiding more from Paddy, especially in regards to doppelganger Vinny, but hopefully this just paved the pathway for another return. I felt a little bit short-changed seeing how short a return Mandy had, but that’s just because I could happily see her around full time, bringing nostalgia and something unique to the village.

Remembering the Past

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h40m36s590It wasn’t just having Mandy around that brought on a wave of nostalgia this week, a few of the characters were reflective themselves. With everything that happens in the village you can sometimes forgive characters (and the writers) for being a bit forgetful in making the obvious links between storylines, but when the past is remembers it’s deeply satisfying. This week we had Brenda mentioning Gennie, realising that Gennie must have been related to Mandy distantly (ah the Dingle family tree), then awkwardly reminding Laurel of her marriage to Marlon, Megan shockingly remembering she too had a dead child (RIP Robbie), Laurel helping Graham with his alcoholism, and Cain talking about the time Zak conked him over the head. We don’t often get so much continuity but when we do it makes the characters and stories come alive, making their lives feel authentic rather than just a list of forgotten storylines.

Fails

The Final Finale

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h41m18s928Thomas Atkinson returned briefly this week to add another finale to Lachlan’s endless supply of final scenes and it was a real case of diminishing returns. Thomas’s performances were chillingly watchable in their creepiness before, but he was wasted this week on a needless reappearance where his villainy turned from cleverly twisted to a bit of a cartoon psycho. Lachlan’s final final (is it really the last one now?) showdown with Belle came at an unsatisfying four months late as he delayed his torment of her for no real reason. Sure the performances were decent, but when Lachlan’s story dragged and dragged anyway, did any viewers really need or want to see him again? We knew he’d get life in prison so what did this return add? This wasn’t a big escape or showdown ala Cameron Murray and if anything, its anti-climactic flatness fizzled out even more than his first supposed exit. And that’s before we even touch on Donny’s involvement…

Heeeere’s Donny

vlcsnap-2019-01-13-11h40m58s635You remember Donny, right? Donny – you know! He appeared in 10 episodes about four years ago. Lachlan’s dad? Scottish? Barely mentioned? No? Well you wouldn’t be alone, as plenty of viewers were left scratching their heads as Donny’s reappearance played a significant role in this week’s biggest events. Forgettable Donny hasn’t been seen or heard of since 2015, when he got involved with gangsters and many fans presumed he’d been left for dead by ex-wife Chrissie White as she began her own descent into villainy. Making Donny such a key player in Lachlan’s last stand was a weird decision, so much so that it was left to Charity, and Donny’s clunky speech, to reveal who he was and why he was there. When your story intentions have to be so clumsily told in the script, something isn’t working. The only character who’d ever really interacted with Donny in the village was Robert and he was strangely absent meaning there was no real significance or surprise in Donny’s actions. It was left to Belle, a character he’d never met, to interact with Donny and the story suddenly became twisted into a revenge story against the Dingles. Rather than this being a logical line of blame it smacked of desperation, being that almost all of Lachlan’s ties to Emmerdale were dead and gone. Donny’s final encounter with Lachlan was him turning the tables and finally realising how twisted his son was, but being that Donny hadn’t seen Lachlan for four years, this shock move was meaningless. We’d had a matter of minutes to invest in Lachlan and Donny’s father-son relationship so who cared? I can’t help but feel if Emmerdale had wanted to do a story of Vanessa almost dying they could have done something much more exciting by suggesting someone dark from her past or even Charity’s. Wasted opportunities and weird decisions all round!

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2018

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It hasn’t been the greatest year of Emmerdale stories and when the big plots drag, or have anti-climactic endings it’s even worse. There were some low points which didn’t make the list but need a mention – like Rodney and Misty’s horrendously cringy sex life and David Metcalfe being a scumbag – but those aside, here’s a look some of the worst parts of Emmerdale in 2018.

Come back later for my Top 10 Emmerdale Moments of 2018!

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7. Amelia’s Kidnap

When Amelia’s disappearance began it was genuinely interesting. At first we had no idea what had happened to her – was she dead? Was it an inside job? After a disappointing paternity twist, a shocking missing child plot could have been really exciting. But after the TV appeal and with Kerry the only watchable part of the story, the rest was left to more of Dan and Daz’s boggle-eyed fighting. Within a week all mystery was good and it was revealed Amelia was groomed by Beth, whose father had been killed in action by Daz. Beth’s threats were laughable, Amelia’s fixation with Beth was unbelievable when we’d seen none of its build-up. This just wasn’t the right story for the Spencers and unfortunately it went on and on.

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6. Lachlan’s Anti-climax

One of Emmerdale’s biggest stories in 2018 was Lachlan’s descent into serial killing. With Thomas Atkinson at the heart of the stories, many of the disappointments were saved with his chilling performances, but this story dragged on for far too long. For months Lachlan’s evil behaviour stalled and characters conveniently went on holiday just so he could get away with his crimes. When it came to the end, everyone expected a huge Cameron Murray-style climax, but his showdowns were staggered across a week, followed by a stint in jail and his eventual exit was a tame affair of some wise-cracking detectives telling him he’ll be in prison for a very long time. Spoilers tell us he’ll be making a return to terrorise Belle soon from behind bars, but I’m not convinced even a delayed climax can save story that stalled and swerved any real excitement.

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5. Ross’s Acid Attack

Ross’s acid attack story began as a contemporary story with some stellar scenes in the aftermath, but quickly the direction veered away from a sensitive handling of a modern day issue and got bogged down in guns, gangsters, drugs and Debbie Dingle. Making Debbie, a pivotal character in the village, the accidental mastermind behind the attack meant she could never really face justice for the action and Emmerdale did their very best to absolve her of blame. At times her guilt was empathetic but many viewers felt there was too much focus on her role rather than Ross’s recovery. While Ross’s identity and self esteem struggled, it was the regression to form that was so disappointing. Rather than the attack letting us see the more vulnerable, likable aspects of Ross, we saw him become a cocky thug, taking coke and destroying all his relationships. This might have been a prolonged reaction to his attack but it was ugly to watch and made Ross’s last months on Emmerdale unpalatable.

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4. Bob and Laurel

It seems like the new producers of Emmerdale have seen sense and ended the Bob and Laurel relationship and this was arguably one of 2018’s most hated plotlines. Last year in my rundown of 2017 I praised seeing more of Bob but this year I’ve eaten my words as we saw selfish Bob destroy his marriage for a midlife crisis affair with Laurel and become a really unlikeable man. There were elements of empathy and good viewing within this story, it just became difficult to buy into this apparent deep emotional love Laurel and Bob shared when there was no chemistry on screen. At one point during the year it seemed like Bob and Laurel spent every episode sucking face and when we knew how it was hurting Brenda, and later the kids, it became even more unwatchable. Much like how showrunners backtracked on Zak and Joanie, it seems everyone saw sense and Bob and Laurel’s romance is well and truly over now, thank god.

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3. Home Farm Flops

One of 2018’s biggest disappointments was how fast Emmerdale destroyed Joe and Graham. From the masterpiece of the Joseph Tate reveal, he was the perfect antagonist, held back from the edge by the mysterious Graham. But just months later, Joe turned lovesick puppy for Debbie, forgiven by all the villagers he’d wronged and eventually killed by right hand man Graham. Graham, who’s dark past was revealed in great scenes with Debbie early in the year, is stuck in the big house isolated and twiddling his thumbs until Kim’s return. Apart from Emmerdale sucking all life and interest from Joe during his short time on the show, my interest in Graham has quickly waned as Emmerdale have swerved any real depth to him by keeping him aloof and monotone. Not only have they given him a lifeless romance with Megan, but following on from the same mistakes as The White family, Graham’s only interesting feature is his exposition-heavy backstory. There’s only so long you can stay interested in a character as robotic as Graham and I’m afraid I’ve lost all patience.

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2. Rebecca and the Crazy Nurse

When Rebecca became Lachlan’s prisoner in the woods, we finally saw a side to her that had been missing in her previous storylines, she fought back, determined to survive and see Seb again. But after her many many near death experiences, Emmerdale revealed Lachlan had kept her locked up with a deranged nurse who kept her drugged and tied to the bed. Rebecca managed to escape and returned to the village in a nightie at the graveyard like a ghost. She then proceeded to retell her whole trauma to police, despite having severe memory problems due to her executive dysfunction. This ill-conceived story was like something from a terrible American soap opera, not just outlandish and implausible, but a laughably stupid turn of events from what had been an enjoyably grisly part of the Lachlan story.

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1. Killing Gerry

Emmerdale’s decision to kill off Gerry wasn’t just the worst thing they did in 2018, in fact I think it’s one of Emmerdale’s worst decisions in recent years. Gerry was the sacrificial lamb to Lachlan’s reign of terror, but what a waste it was. Gerry was a loveable cheeky chappy who had so many interactions in the village and unlike some “comedy characters” he was a genuinely funny guy. He had a lovely relationship with Doug, wound up Aaron, befriended Liv, walked Tip the dog for Jai and had a very keen interest in older ladies. His connection to Lachlan might’ve meant his death was inevitable but much like losing Val in 2015, I think it was a big mistake. It’s hard to replicate a character like Gerry and I think it’s a huge loss to the show. RIP Gerry lad, miss you.