Fave or Fail? (27-31 May 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! 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.

 

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Fave or Fail? (25-29 March 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Cain learnt Joe’s alive and Rishi and Manpreet revealed that they’re married!

Faves

The Fab Four

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

Fresh and Contemporary

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

New Lease of Life

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

Fails

Grim Kim

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

Fave or Fail? (11-15 Feb 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! 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)

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! 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)

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 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.

Fave or Fail? (3-7 Dec 2018)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Not a great week of excitement in the Dales as the teens continued to run wild.

Faves

Manipulative Maya

vlcsnap-2018-12-09-09h42m54s416Maya’s grooming of Jacob has been subtly played so far by Emmerdale but this week saw her kiss him and try and afterwards persuade him to stay quiet. Sensitive Jacob has been overwhelmed by his feelings for Maya and she’s done very little to put a stop to it and has instead planted more seeds of hope in his mind. Not once has she highlighted his age or her profession as a reason for backing off, instead focusing on her role as David’s girlfriend. Knowing how close the father and son are, she’s well aware that Jacob doesn’t want to upset David and will keep it secret for his sake. It’s a deeply uncomfortable story to watch and keeping Maya as this doe-eyed indecisive woman is a clever move away from cartoonish stereotypes of grooming behaviour. Hopefully this story will enlighten viewers about how these dangerous relationships can occur in plain sight. This is the type of story Emmerdale should be telling. I’m not quite convinced that the performances are as strong as they need to be for the impact this story should have, but I’m glad Emmerdale are giving it a go. 

Brenda Bites Back

vlcsnap-2018-12-09-09h40m52s952One of the rare highlights in the Bob and Laurel debacle was seeing dark!Brenda as she rallied against the pair’s betrayal. This week we saw her biting back again as Bob tried to lean in for a kiss. Brenda had been softening to the idea of reuniting her family but the reality of Bob treating her like a plan b really got to her and she raged against him in the cafe. I had begun warming to Bob again but his smug belief he could turn back the clock and get his feet under the table again was maddening. Brenda isn’t a favourite of mine but it’s been enjoyable to see her with some fight left in her, standing up for herself and refusing to be a consolation prize. I really enjoyed the way she laid out exactly what Bob had done to her and the family and why she was still broken over it. I was fully Team Brenda throughout and I’m glad she got to stand up to Bob rather than let him have it easy. 

Neglected Noah

vlcsnap-2018-12-09-09h43m13s808You’ve got to feel bad for Noah. Not only did he lose his only ally in Joe, but mum Charity’s parenting and support is really lacking. With her planning a move with Vanessa, Noah was all but forgotten about and in frustration he began acting out. The teen rebellion isn’t exactly thrilling TV, but Jack Downham plays Noah with heaps of sensitivity that you can’t help but feel sympathy for him when he’s continuously left out in the cold. His scenes where he tried to reach out to Charity were some of his best but by the end of the week he faced an uncertain future as he handed himself into the police. Although I like his sweet and troubled side, there were hints of him living up to his Tate genes this week, complete with smirk, and I wonder if a adolescence of trouble awaits. 

Fails

Who is Doug?

vlcsnap-2018-12-09-09h41m43s888Doug’s going through a bit of a crisis at the moment and truth be told I’m struggling to recognise him. Fact is, I’m not even sure what Emmerdale are doing with him. Not so long ago Doug enjoyed a low-key romance with Diane and was content to support Laurel and tend his garden. This week Doug was almost a different bloke. Diane doesn’t get a mention these days and Doug is all about Brenda. I wasn’t even sure what their arrangement was. Friends? Lovers? Friends with benefits? It was unclear. But this week, Doug wanted more and he wasn’t going to sit there and watch Bob worm his way back in. I’m not exactly a Doug and Brenda shipper but surprisingly Doug’s sudden desperation to be with Brenda was quite a sweet watch this week. But his steamroller focus on fighting for her and hitting Bob came a bit left field and I’m not sure I believed it from mild-mannered Doug. It’s a wonder Doug wants to get involved in the Bob and Brenda situation considering Laurel’s recent dumping of Bob anyway, but I can’t help but feel Brenda is just settling rather than having genuine feelings for Doug. Who knows what’s next for Doug but I much prefer Doug giving guidance to the young uns than this week’s weird behaviour!

Teen Takeover

vlcsnap-2018-12-09-09h42m08s303We haven’t even got to the school holidays yet but the teens have taken over, with bratty Leanna leading the pack. While Leanna makes a great queen bee bitch type character and Noah’s acting out makes sense – their childish rebellions aren’t exactly the most riveting storylines. This is already the third time they’ve joyridden a car and unlike teens of Emmerdale past, these characters aren’t very engaging so their bad behaviour has been tedious to watch when it’s dominated screentime. While it’s good the stories are spread around this feels a bit like overload for the younger characters rather than exploring what the next generation are capable of. Considering their dangerous driving just lead to more stories for Daz and Graham – was it even worth it? Speculation on Twitter briefly explored the possibility that the hit and run victim might have been Joe and I can’t help but think, however unlikely, that would have been a better twist. 

Serious Spencers

vlcsnap-2018-12-09-09h41m18s617You’d think after Amelia’s kidnap they might give the Spencers some lighter storylines, after all this is where the family fit best. I’d much rather Kerry and Dan stick to TMI declarations about their sex life rather than being bogged down in misery. This week saw Daz commit a hit and run and let Amelia shoulder some of the blame. Not only is Daz one of the show’s most dreary and boring characters but now we face weeks of Daz looking guilty, Dan shouting and Amelia whining. Much like the kidnap plot, Kerry might be the saving grace but she alone will struggle to make this watchable. This really isn’t the big story that Emmerdale needs to keep viewers glued. On paper it might sound like the perfect plot to tear a family in two but we’ve been there done that with the Spencers and as a family unit they’re just not engaging enough to sustain this level of heavy drama. 

Fave or Fail? (5-9 Nov 2018)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Another good week in the Dales, as Bob stripped, then got dumped and Aaron struggled after Seb’s departure.

Faves

Better Together

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-21h30m11s028Since their longed-for reunion, Aaron and Robert haven’t really had a storyline to get their teeth into as a couple. They’ve been constantly occupied with family dramas and Lachlan’s reign of terror, but it feels like a while since we had a story about the two of them. Now that they’re married it felt right this week to have a dilemma that challenged them both, as a team. This week’s drama offered just that, giving good character-led struggles that leaned heavily on their pasts and childhood issues, as well as testing their communication skills as a couple. After last week’s sudden decision from Robert to let Rebecca take Seb, Aaron was left heartbroken at the decision. Having recently lost Grace, he struggled to cope with losing another loved one so quickly especially as he had become a dad to Seb. Aaron’s pain lead him to making the reckless decision to keep Seb and not take him to Rebecca and this added friction to his relationship to Robert. This time though it didn’t feel like angst for angst’s sake. Their rows didn’t resort to shouting and fighting and we saw a calmer, more reasonable approach. Is this a more mature Robron we’re seeing? The end of the week saw Aaron shocking Robert with a surrogacy plan and reluctantly backing off from Seb despite his anguish, but the drama seems far from over. Thankfully this story feels like it will continue to provide the pair for some juicy drama together, it certainly warrants time and talking, rather than being on the sidelines of other people’s stories. 

Big Laughs

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-21h33m47s214Comedy in Emmerdale can be hit and miss at the best of times but I thoroughly enjoyed Thursday’s efforts as the gents of the village took centre stage and stripped off! With Bob desperate to prove his worth in the pub (LOVE having him back behind the bar, by the way) he set pulses racing by hiring the popular Uptown Hunks. I’ve always been a bit undecided about Charity as landlady but her saucy enthusiasm and rousing of the crowds before the hunks took the stage confirmed to me that she really is right at home. Unfortunately for Bob, his oiled up strippers pulled out and he was forced to rope in his friends. From the OAP audience, asking for complicated orders and having palpitations over Pete, to the ladies of the Woolie enjoying every minute – it was such a fun episode. Of course these episodes would have been nothing without the awkward dancing from the men involved – Rishi, Jimmy, Bob and Pete. With everyone enjoying themselves it was a really fun watch and rather feel like a cruel mocking of these guys and their moves, they were well loved by all. Except of course for Bob, who’s fun was cut short by a mortified Laurel…awkward…

Harsh Truth

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-21h34m34s707It seems ironic that some of the best scenes of the Bob and Laurel debacle, have been their break up. After Laurel’s embarrassing public dumping of Bob, he spent the rest of the episode greasy and half naked pleading for an explanation. Not really how you want to have a deep and meaningful, is it? Sadly for Bob (and truth be told, I have started to feel sorry for him) Laurel was adamant that their relationship was over. Laurel was frank with Bob that she was still grieving Ashley when they got together and this admission, that she used Bob as a crutch, seemed like a genuine explanation for this weird relationship rather than the whirlwind romance we’d been expected to buy into. For many fans, their affair came too soon after Ashley’s death and their feelings felt at odds with the characters. This break up seems a promising move from the new producers, recognising that the Bob and Laurel relationship didn’t work and wasn’t well received. But the benefit to exploring this split means promising future storylines. How will this affect the children? Brenda? Doug? Will Laurel struggle, feeling like she has upset so many people? Will Bob return to the loveable fool he once was? There are so many possibilities here as well as dealing with the reality of an affair that should have never progressed to a relationship. 

Tag-Team Trouble

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-21h31m51s034Who’d have thought the new dream team would be precocious little April and disenchanted Millennial Ellis? This week April was desperate to hang out with too-cool-for-school (literally) Ellis and even gave an Attenborough style commentary as he lazed on the couch. Her hero worship and his teasing is a fun dynamic and I enjoyed seeing them hang out when she bunked school. As Ellis taught her the art of ordering a customised coffee, April used her own sneaky powers to mend the relationship between Ellis and Jessie. I’m not totally sold on Jessie and Marlon as a partnership, but I already love April wanting to be as cool and adult as Ellis. This is a great dynamic and one I definitely don’t want to lose. 

Bonus Faves

  • Once again this week, Emmerdale had a really strong sense of community. From the firework celebrations at the Dingles’ and the memorial garden, to the Woolpack stripper shenanigans, it was great to see so many characters together in one place. More please!
  • Liv’s assessment of terrible maths questions as Rob helped her with probability was right. Anyone counting a thousand coloured beads does need to get a life. 
  • Despite his sadness, it was good to see Aaron and Seb’s bond on screen more this week – he really does make a great dad.  The Dingles throwing Seb an early birthday party was a sweet move from Chas, especially at such a difficult time for her. 
  • There seems to be a lot of heart-to-heart conversations lately and I’m a big fan of these, especially when stories cross in believable ways.

Fails

Debbie Downer

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-21h34m07s574Debbie’s relentless role as the tragic heroine has gotten stale. She’s not the only villager to have been overloaded with miserable stories (a certain other Dingle springs to mind) but perhaps it’s time for a personality tweak. Debbie has little levity in her stories and no one in her life to have a laugh with, even her relationship with her kids is bogged down in tragedy. No doubt soon she’ll discover her dear old dad Cain “killed” Joe and depressed Debbie will become shouty Debbie. Some viewers are pleased Debbie is facing some consequences for ordering a violent attack (okay, she didn’t want acid but she did want revenge) but I think some time in prison could actually offer the chance to refresh her character a bit. Rather than Debbie get away with her crime or fall into familiar patterns of behaviour, I’d just like to see something different from Debbie. She won’t be smiling any time soon, but the woe-is-me personality could do with a shake up. 

Fave or Fail? (29 Oct-2 Nov 2018)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Cain told Moira he’d killed Joe and Ross and Rebecca left the village for good.

Faves

Custody Battles

vlcsnap-2018-11-03-19h52m49s025A good soap storyline is one that gets everyone talking and as Ross and Rebecca planned their exit from Emmerdale village alongside the kids – that’s all anyone could debate this week. Just who should Moses and Seb live with? There was harsh words and desperate pleading on both sides as the adults fought it out between themselves. As Ross and Rebecca hankered for a new start away from their miserable memories of the village, Charity, Robert and Aaron were furious that they wanted to up-root the kids from their homes and families. Viewers had plenty to say about this emotive decision, as did the characters, and I liked that Emmerdale didn’t shy away from making the characters fight selfishly and with emotion. The debate was well balanced, with all parties making a good case as to why the kids should live with them as well as history revisited to argue why they shouldn’t: Ross’s drug habit, Charity’s disinterested parenting, Rebecca’s dangerous behaviour, Robert’s revenge and Aaron’s convictions. Emotions ran high and both characters and viewers were torn and that’s why the story was easy to invest in. With Robert making the impossible decision to let Seb go (without consulting Aaron first) it seems like the aftermath will be just as fraught as the divide. 

The Farewell Tour

vlcsnap-2018-11-03-19h47m04s808When Ross’s exit was announced all those months ago, it seemed like for a long time the writers teased various options for his demise. Was he going to get involved in dodgy gangsters? A downward spiral of drugs and crime? Start a new life with Dawn? There seemed to be a lot of options hinted at but in the end, Ross’s ending was surprisingly low key. While it’s rare and a bit weird to see a happy ending in soap, after everything he and Rebecca had endured this year, there was something satisfying about them finding solace in each other. Perhaps a high octane ending of Ross going out all guns blazing or as a lone wolf might have felt more fitting for a character at the heart of so many stories these past five years, but his farewell tour of the village, complete with multiple goodbyes lead to a surprisingly effective exit. Ross has had a turbulent relationship with almost everyone in the village, so although certain goodbyes seemed to whitewash the past (his thank you to Moira seemed particularly jarring considering she killed his mum!) I liked that he came full circle, apologising to Laurel and reconnecting with April. I liked Ross best when we saw his more sensitive sides, so for me his final episode was an emotional reminder of Ross’s time on the show and a real end of an era. 

Cavastock Caught Out

vlcsnap-2018-11-03-19h48m28s854Thank god. Daz finally found out about Bernice and Liam’s relationship this week after he mistakenly followed Dr C’s elaborate romantic trail of rose petals. As Bernice and Liam (#Cavastock) shared a picnic by the cricket pavilion, they were interrupted by Daz’s arrival who fumed at their deception. Rather than sympathise with Daz’s anguish, I was too busy laughing at Bernice’s tactless response and the fact she had chocolate over her face. After the fall out, the loved up pair were forced to confess to their daughters that they’d been seeing each other. With spiteful Leanna and Gabby’s trouble-making past, I’m sure it won’t be long until the happiness shatters and mayhem ensues. I can’t wait!

Where is the Love?

vlcsnap-2018-11-03-19h46m22s501One of the year’s most unpopular storylines had to be Bob and Laurel’s affair  and subsequent relationship. While it’s provided us with some priceless moments of dark!Brenda, the idea that Bob and Laurel were in love has never really felt right. After all that upset and upheaval with the children it seems a bit of a mess to dismantle this pairing but hopefully this is a sign the showrunners have realised just what hasn’t worked on screen. As Laurel grew increasingly tired of Bob’s presence, Dotty mistakenly calling him “Dad” made her reconsider everything and she confessed to Harriet that the feelings weren’t there anymore. Could we finally be seeing the end of Bob and Laurel? I saw hope so! 

Bonus Fave:

  • Moira coming face to face in a showdown with Graham. I wouldn’t want to cross her either!

Fail

New Love

vlcsnap-2018-11-03-19h50m18s575It’s always difficult when characters we know and love return from some time away with a new love in tow. All their love story happened offscreen so despite wanting our favourite characters to be happy, it’s difficult to invest in their relationship. That’s the problem with dodgy Clive now that he’s in Leyla’s life. With ex-cellmate Frank trying to expose his history of bad behaviour and untrusting that he’s changed, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Clive’s innocent routine falters. I’m struggling to take any interest in this story. Clive and Leyla’s chemistry is lacking and I don’t believe in his nice guy routine. This feels like a story we’ve seen hundreds of times before and doesn’t seem to be showing us anything new from Leyla either. If Clive ends up playing the long con and Leyla ends up heartbroken, will anyone be surprised?