Fave or Fail? (10-14 Feb 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Vanessa and Pierce came face to face with horrifying consequences and Pete’s final episode aired as Anthony Quinlan left the show.

Faves

Vanessa’s Nightmare

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-19h58m21s418Pierce is unravelling and fast, as his delusional plan to reunite with Rhona was interrupted by coming face to face with Vanessa. Surely you realised it would happen sooner or later Pierce?! Desperate Pierce went to an extreme length to keep Vanessa out of the way and tied her up and gagged her, even going as far as keeping poor Johnny upstairs and away from his mum. As Vanessa feared for her life, the scenes between the two were tense and gripping, and their on screen history makes it all the more chilling. While Pierce’s panto villain plotting at Home Farm was fun we saw the brutal lengths he is really capable with Vanessa and it gave Jonathan Wrather a great opportunity to show Pierce unhinged and deranged. A brilliant and exciting watch as well as being uncomfortably grim viewing for poor Vanessa. Looking forward to seeing the thrilling climax of this story play out!

Perfect Performance

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h20m23s846If I was picking a stand out character of the week then it would have to be Vanessa, who had a truly awful week but was so watchable thanks to flawless performances from Michelle Hardwick. I’ve long bemoaned the fact Vanessa is one of the show’s most underrated characters who often gets overlooked when it comes to stories of her own – but could this be about to change? This week tensions were still high between her and Charity after her lies about Graham’s money. But as Vanessa struggled with the weight of this secret, she was tearful and strained in some quiet and subtle scenes. Eagle eyed viewers might have noticed Vanessa even take a mystery trip to the hospital suggesting her mind might be on more than just Charity’s wrong moves. As Vanessa’s week went from bad to worse Pierce appeared and Vanessa was plunged into a horrifying hostage situation. Fear is something difficult to put across on screen especially in such a heightened soapy situation but Michelle played it brilliantly and the adrenaline filled fight with Pierce was one of the show’s most desperate and real looking confrontations in a while. Can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Forbidden Feelings

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h16m53s990Belle and Jamie got closer this week and shared their first onscreen kiss as Jamie moped about the situation with Andrea and Belle offered him support. These two continue to have a nice chemistry and a believable attraction (far more than their respective relationships). This week though there was another obstacle thrown at them when Kim saw their kiss and warned Belle off. Belle stood her ground in a great scene with Kim but continued to be conflicted about what to do about Jamie. These two have great potential if they keep it slow burn and obstacles are a good thing, otherwise if the only thing keeping them apart is upsetting Ellis – it’s a bit of a weak reason. The higher the stakes the more we’ll root for them.

The Rebound Guy

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h14m19s791Liam and Leyla decided to make a go of things this week, after growing even closer as they planned David and Theo’s gathering. Despite their flirtations, one person who wasn’t a fan was Liam’s daughter Leanna who warned him not to be the rebound guy lurching from woman to woman. She has a point! This was an amusing scene as Leanna gave Liam a dressing down about his disastrous relationships and suggested he be alone for a while. Liam is a naturally funny character who has fun interactions with almost everyone and although I’m not as fond of his dynamic with Leyla as I was with Bernice, they’re a fun couple. Now they’ve decided to make a secret go of things I’m hoping they find their own unique direction rather than the same heightened comedy set ups that Liam shared with Bernice otherwise they might just feel like a poor imitation than loveable in their own way.

Coming Back Fighting

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h18m28s026Moira was back in the village this week and she returned with a strong attitude, determined to make a fresh start. The first scene we saw her was the powerful woman we know and love, gun toting and giving the rustlers what for. Although Matty wasn’t keen to brush things under the carpet, Moira wanted to reunite with the kids and keep things civil with Cain. It’s hard to know where the future lies for Moira and her relationship with Cain. The week ended with her signing the divorce papers but when the two of them hint towards their lingering feelings it’s hard not to feel the pull of Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry. On the other hand, Moira’s fallen into a bit of a rut after the Nate debacle so a new direction would be welcome. Maybe it’s time we had a new farming family and Moira found a new role in the village?

Fail

Wendy Woes

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h15m16s374For a show like Emmerdale, which has a fantastic track record of well told, sensitively handled stories that cover important topics, it beggars belief how far they are going out of their way to try and get the audience to sympathise with Wendy. Wendy isn’t a rapist, but her treatment of Victoria just months after her horrific attack was harassment. She intimidated, gaslighted and stalked Victoria to the point she felt she had to move away. Even when Lee died, Wendy forced Victoria to relive her trauma again and again by moving in a few doors down. This behaviour is inexcusable and unforgivable and yet rather than tell an empowering story of Vic finding her life again, almost all of her recent screentime has been putting words in her mouth that excuse Wendy’s behaviour. Rape survivors shouldn’t have to forgive their rapist or their cruel family. It doesn’t make them a bad person. And yet Emmerdale continue to paint a harmful image of the “good victim” who is forgiving and empathetic. The narrative is: Vic has forgiven Wendy because she’s a “good person”. What about survivors who can’t and won’t? Wendy says she saw Vic was a “good” person so could see she wasn’t lying – but this choice of dialogue is harmful for survivors who carry a stigma and an image of being promiscuous or aren’t your typical “good person”. Telling a story about a mother who learns the awful truth about her son’s behaviour could have been a great story and I have to believe Emmerdale had those good intentions but the reality has been a horrible watch. If Wendy and the Posners were brought in as a new family and we got to know them and it was only later we learnt Lee was a rapist, we’d be on the same journey with Wendy and empathise ourselves. As it stands it seems like Emmerdale have bent over backwards to absolve Wendy and deny Vic an empowering journey in order to force this story. It’s stomach churning to watch Wendy portrayed as a victim, sobbing over her son and his innocent childhood when we saw the horrifying rape Victoria faced and the way the Posners bullied her afterwards. Whether it’s realistic for the mother of a rapist or not, the narrative has been ill conceived at every turn, stealing Vic’s agency and forcing a concept that the Posner family deserve a second chance because they are Harry’s biological family. Why? It doesn’t work. It’s disheartening to see this unwatchable, harmful writing continually tarnishing the show’s excellent reputation for crucial stories.

Fave or Fail? (30 Dec 2019- 3 Jan 2020)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A brand new year began and two new babies made their mark.

Faves

Dad Dilemma

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h37m03s635The most compelling story this week was David and Jacob continuing to struggle in the aftermath of the baby’s arrival on their doorstep. Although David had made an agreement to be the baby’s father no matter what, things were tense as they waited for the paternity results. It was revealed, quite surprisingly, that David is the father of Maya’s baby and there was a flood of relief and discomfort. As Jacob attempted to return to a normal teenage life, David struggled, not knowing if he could accept his son with everything Maya had done. There were some moving and thought provoking scenes as David battled his conscience and spoke to Eric about giving the child up for adoption before ultimately realising he did have the captivity to love the boy in spite of everything Maya had done to their family. This story has had interesting developments and I almost wish the struggle had lasted longer even if it had made David look heartless. I’m also intrigued as to how or if this will impact on Jacob’s recovery. So far he seems pretty unaffected by Theo, especially

Baby Drama

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h39m00s782It was baby central in Emmerdale this week as it wasn’t just David dealing with a newborn but Victoria too, as little Harry Sugden was born. After Victoria’s traumatic year, the birth of Harry was initially played for laughs but when he came into the world, Vic was panicked she would see Lee’s face and be unable to love him. Of course Vic fell in love at first sight and her world has been brightened by his arrival. There’s still the Wendy issue although I’m holding out a possibly futile hope that they’re going to let Wendy go full on Emma Barton style villain and embrace it rather than be the victim. This story though has been a welcome lift for Vic and it was nice to see her reunited with her friends for support as well as the addition of Aaron’s believable struggles with Harry’s arrival.

Liam and Leyla

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h38m26s238Too soon – you might argue! And I’d probably agree with you there. I was a bit fan of Bernice and Liam’s relationship so this rush to pair him up with smitten Leyla does seem too soon. Bernice has only been out the door five minutes. However, reservations aside there’s no doubt they did make the perfect comedy pair this week – although admittedly I find Liam’s scenes almost always brilliant. This week he stepped in to help with a kids party at the salon, impressing everyone with his unicorn hair and gel nail skills. This was the perfect acting role for Liam and we all know how much he loves the am dram. Leyla of course couldn’t contain her feelings but this set Liam off into a path of confusion. These too could be a good couple given time, but even if there’s no viable romance, they’ve at least proved how much good fun they can be on screen.

Jamie Bites Back

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h36m40s558Not long after his arrival, downtrodden Jamie retreated into dullsville and for the son of one of Emmerdale’s most formidable characters, he didn’t have much personality. However this week saw Jamie grow a backbone and gain a bit more bite as he began to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. First it was Graham he confronted and later Rhona as he tried to get her out of the vets by revealing her shocking behaviour to retrieve Millie’s DNA. There’s been something pretty self righteous and unlikeable about Rhona of late and it made an interesting change to see Jamie take action. With him being one of the suspects in Graham’s murder, it seems hopeful we might hold onto this more forthright Jamie for a little longer.

Mates Before Dates

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h38m04s230Kerry got a spot of the green eyed monster this week as she noticed Mandy flirting with Dan. I’m not opposed to the idea of those two as a couple but with Kerry and Mandy forging a friendship it doesn’t look like that’s on the immediate cards. While some viewers are finding it hard to move on from what Kerry did last year to laugh at her latest shenanigans, at least Mandy is making her more entertaining. This week they both got smashed and woke up in the barn, forgetting all about their salon duties. I think less is more with these two but their fraught love hate friendship could work a treat in the salon.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2019. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10 – Jai and Laurel

Who could predict that one of Emmerdale’s latest favourite couples would be Jai and Laurel? This time last year we were finally free of the massively unpopular Laurel and Bob romance, but her new love with Jai has been a surprise hit. Early days for the pair was something of a sweet slow burn of crossed wires and a pretend kiss to get Jai out of a dodgy date, but now they’re finally together it just works. The actors have a good chemistry and their cuteness has been pretty sweet. Lately their merged family is under threat as Arthur cruelly bullies Archie – could this destroy Laurel and Jai’s relationship so soon? Hopefully not!

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9 – Vanity’s Engagement

2019 started in a hugely dramatic way for Vanessa and Charity when Vanessa was stabbed outside the pub by Lachlan’s dad Donny. After her brush with death, Charity was more convinced than ever of her love and decided to pop the question. What followed was a brilliantly humorous attempt by Charity to hijack an unsuspecting groom’s outlandish proposal at Home Farm to surprise Vanessa. Although it was classic Charity madness, Vanessa was less than impressed when she realised what Charity had done. Nevertheless Vanessa returned to Home Farm to hear Charity out and after some drunken rambling, the couple’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. This moment had everything – laughs, vulnerability and a great script. Will their wedding be as similarly funny and romantic when it happens?

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8 – The Immediate Aftermath of Victoria’s Rape

I have some serious problems with how Vic’s rape story ultimately transpired but there’s no denying that the initial scenes in which Victoria revealed she’d been raped to Moira were outstanding. In the aftermath of Vic’s rape, Moira tried to help her understand she wasn’t at fault in any way with writing that deftly dispelled every myth and misconception surrounding the assault. Emmerdale made interesting choices in the beginning of the story, with Lee seemingly like the nice guy helping to walk Vic home before attacking her in her own home in brutal but effective scenes. The aftermath also featured stunning performances from the underused Isabel Hodgins and it’s a shame the story derailed so quickly.

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7 – Truth about Maya

It was the moment viewers were eagerly waiting for and when the truth about Maya came out, it was worth the wait. For months Maya had been grooming and seducing Jacob right under his family’s nose and after Liv’s discovery it was only a matter of time before the truth came out. The reveal took the centre stage of the Big Night Out episodes as Priya was the surprise witness to a kiss between the pair. The tension was delicious as Maya accepted a lift from Leyla, Tracy and Priya – although we had to wait a few weeks to find out what they’d actually done to her, suspecting she might be dead. The beginning of the end came with a gripping confrontation in the woods, but David learning the truth was equally compelling with a strong performance from Matthew Wolfenden and an uncomfortable but authentic range of emotions on display. With Maya and Jacob hiding out, there were some must-see twists and turns as the truth emerged, but disappointingly, the dramatic climax fizzled out and the conclusion of this story just didn’t live up to the gripping revelation.

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6 – Robert’s Exit

The end of 2019 also marked the end of Emmerdale’s most-shipped couple as Robron were torn apart due to the departure of Robert from the show. After his sister’s rape, Robert was unable to move past his need for revenge and when Lee’s torment of her continued, Robert saw red and hit Lee over the head with a shovel. For a while it looked like Robert’s charges would be minimal but things changed when Lee woke up and later died from his injuries. Facing the prospect of life behind bars, Robert went on the run, with Aaron by his side. With the desperate couple willing to sacrifice everything for their love, the reality of their future weighed heavily on Robert’s mind and he selflessly turned himself in, breaking Aaron’s heart in the process. Robert was sentenced to fourteen years inside and scheduled to be moved to the Isle of Wight and while Aaron was determined to hang onto their marriage, Robert made the crushing decision to cut all ties and allow Aaron to live his life. While Robert is a big loss to the show, Ryan Hawley gave some of his best performances throughout his exit and his exit managed to be both gripping and heart-breaking. Despite this story meaning the end of Robron, their epic love story was honoured in Robert’s final episode and the plot stayed true to their depth of feeling until the very end.

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5 – Flashback episodes

There was a real buzz around Emmerdale’s much promoted Big Night Out episodes, but the real excitement began just a few weeks later as we got to see what really happened during that fateful night. Flashbacks have been overdone in Emmerdale lately but withholding what really went down for two weeks was just the right time to keep things gripping and keep us all guessing. Of all the flashbacks Billy’s was the weakest but even that managed its own twists and give us glimpses of the other storylines in the background. The thrilling showdown between Maya and the trio of Leyla, Tracy and Priya let to a brilliant blackly comic confrontation in a horror movie pursuit in the woods. Victoria’s strand was unsurprisingly the hardest to watch as what could have been a rom-com style episode had a horrific end, and knowing what was coming gave the episode an unbearable dread. Overall this was an exciting dose of episodes, giving Emmerdale back its must-see bite while these big stories played out.

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4 – Women’s Day Special Episode

Emmerdale celebrated International Women’s Day this year with an episode dedicated to the women of the Dales using a mostly all women crew too. Not only was this an inspiring decision behind the scenes, but the episode itself was full of pathos, joy and warmth. Emmerdale managed to use almost its entire female cast, interacting in surprising ways and having a wonderful community, character driven feel. There was also a surprise inclusion of Lisa with the sad reveal she was dying, but despite this the episode still managed to be funny and full of heart, instilling a sense of confidence and strength in being a woman. An episode with ambitions like this made me even prouder to be an Emmerdale fan. And hey, if it pisses off the backwards likes of Piers Morgan and co then it’s doing something right!

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3 – The Mere Existence of Liam Cavanagh

If there’s one character who’s made Emmerdale 2019 a joy to watch then it’s Dr Liam Cavanagh. Not only has he shared a sweet and funny romance with Bernice (a relationship so right for their characters I was sad to see end), but in his own right he’s managed to be both charming and laugh out loud funny. This year highlights have included his painfully awkward encounter with Cain, the discovery that he loves murder mystery roleplay – leading to a hilarious misunderstanding where Bernice thought he was a murderer – and of course his adventures in costume from the sheriff to the panto’s Farmer Christmas. Although Liam has lost his love, there’s potential with Leyla, but also his relationship with daughter Leanna and colleague Manpreet to explore. Liam’s the sort of character that easily feels at home in the village (he even made Bear briefly watchable) and Jonny McPherson’s natural charisma and comedic timing, he’s a character who consistently puts a smile on your face. If I could only make one wish for 2020, it would be more Liam!

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2 – Lydia’s past

There was one stand-out star of 2019 and that was Karen Blick as Lydia, effortlessly taking Lydia from kooky oddball with a big heart from tragic matriarch of the Dingles. This year we learnt more about Lydia’s tragic past, revealing that she had taken on a false identity and was really named Jenny Finn. As the remains of a baby were found by the school, Lydia turned herself into the police revealing she had buried her stillborn child there and kept it a secret all this time. Karen Blick’s performances were nothing short of incredible and together with Sam, they were the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown this year. This story not only made Lydia more loved, but it also strengthened the bond between the couple. Giving Lydia this fleshed out backstory offered a believable explanation for her personality and the material, never short of gut-wrenching, proved what an incredible performer Karen Blick is. With the question of Huntingdon’s disease playing on her mind, I hope 2020 continues to give Karen the material she deserves.

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1 – Lisa’s death

We lost a real Emmerdale legend this year as Lisa Dingle passed away suddenly. We had only just seen her back in the village and in her rightful home when we lost her for good, after a warm and nostalgic big Dingle celebration. Lisa’s death was understated and fitting, following a sentimental wedding for her and Zak, which even featured classic Emmerdale band The Woolpackers. Despite Lisa’s death being a surprise to many viewers, we should have guessed Lisa’s time back in Wishing Well was limited considering her return almost felt like a goodbye tour. When her family came home to find her dead, there were impressive scenes as they grieved and supported each other. The aftermath was moving as it panned over their homestead and the funeral was a fun and quirky affair with pig races. Lisa also left behind letters for her family which told them what they needed to hear and was a fitting end for the matriarch of the family. The Dingles haven’t quite felt the same without her, but her final episodes were a beautiful tribute to her treasured character.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2019 and Happy New Year!

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Dec 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 Christmas week and as the villagers indulged in some festive fun, some smiles didn’t last for long.

Faves

Dinner Drama

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-15h02m06s682There was real traditional Christmas Day soapy goodness at Home Farm this year and it all kicked off in their beautifully decorated house. With Marlon doing the catering there was a “classic” Emmerdale feel with Kim displaying her wealth and power and there was an enjoyable amount of humour in this set up. Of course, Marlon was mainly there to see Graham’s destructive behaviour firsthand, but it made an interesting change to see a posh Christmas rather than just the Dingle knees up. Graham managed to put a grenade in proceedings by revealing he’d slept with Andrea but it was good that Emmerdale subverted expectations and kept Jamie as Millie’s father while still managing to tear the family apart with the revelations. I’m glad we get to keep Granny Kim at least! As the fall out rumbled on it helped make the family and the individuals more engaging to watch, with Jamie cycling through rage and grief and Andrea struggling to cling on. The magic has finally clicked into place for Kim and the last few months have ironed out all her teething problems. As we build to Graham’s exit though, I wonder if there’s enough motive in the Tate household to make Graham’s death feel organic rather than contrived if this continues over many more weeks.

Doorstep Delivery

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-15h01m21s517There was an unwelcome delivery at Farrer’s Barn on Christmas Day as Jacob discovered a baby on the doorstep. As the family stared at the bundle confused, they found a note, revealing the little boy to be Maya’s. As the panic and realisation set in, they tried to keep the baby secret, only contacted Liam when they realised they needed a DNA test. With David vowing to be the baby’s father (or pretend) whatever happens, both him and Leyla deluded themselves with the idea that this could protect Jacob from any more trauma. The baby story continues to be an unexpected direction for the story to take and is an interesting way of exploring Jacob’s long term recovery and bringing a new challenge for the entire family. This week’s scenes were gripping and well written and was even an interesting way of introducing Maya’s mum and building on Liam and Leyla’s relationship.

Hospital Festivities

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-14h59m04s494Poor Noah had a miserable Christmas, stuck in hospital after he was found in the woods, unconscious after his drug taking. Luckily he was on the road to recovery by the big day and Charity, Vanessa, Tracy and the kids rallied round his hospital bedside to give him some festive cheer. There were games and presents and sparkly clothing, but most of all, it was the touching scenes between mother and son that were the highlight. While this wasn’t a conventional family gathering at Christmas, it made a nice change to see a slightly unusual celebration in the episode. Sarah covered up her bad behaviour and continued to be pretty insufferable, but perhaps it’ll be worth it for Granny Charity’s reaction in the end!

Fails

Rhona’s Rage

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-14h57m03s095There was something particularly unlikeable about Rhona during Christmas week. Since her menopause story some viewers have taken objection to her mood swings and short temper, but I can’t help but feel the character has lost her way a little in recent months. This week saw her continue to lie to Marlon about moving away with Leo and then, once again, changing her mind on Graham, only to change it back again. I’m finding their relationship all a bit tiresome now. Then when Marlon found out the truth about Rhona’s plans to move, the exes exploded at each other in a way that brought out the worst sides in both of them – let’s face it, neither of them have made good romantic choices. Will Graham’s exit help to return Rhona to a more likeable character again?

Public Enemy No.1

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-14h58m11s001In the run up to Christmas Emmerdale released a very glossy new trailer teasing Graham’s grisly murder and a number of suspects who will be lining up to end his days. However, with a whodunnit plot comes ferocious rivalries and exacerbated grudges, all so there are a few more murder suspects in the line-up. This week we saw evidence of that as Charity lashed out at Graham after Noah’s drug taking ended up with him in hospital and Marlon was ready to fight – and lose. There’s nothing out of character about impulsive and emotional reactions making characters threaten and want a war with Graham, but no one surely believes Charity and Marlon capable of actual murder? Their responses to Graham this week felt more like a clunky suspect set up and over-blown, rather than a believable desire to want to murder the man! Here’s hoping there isn’t too much more of this as we build to his demise.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Dec 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Aaron and Cain reached low points and Liv had another seizure.

Faves

Festive Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h45m56s323The Emmerdale Christmas panto continued to be the gift that kept on giving this week as Leyla’s crush on Liam intensified and Kim stepped up to be the villain of the piece. There’s so much to enjoy about this story. It has a great sense of community, from director Manpreet’s heavy hand on the script editing much to the frustration of writer Bob, to Dan and Mandy teaming up to play Liam’s horse, to Rishi stepping up – of course – to play the dame. Rather than force the laughs by us seeing just the slapstick stage performances, we’re seeing the natural humour in the preparation and practice, the bickering and disagreements. It’s also fun seeing real life actors pretending to “act”, particularly Liam’s joyously camp murder-mystery inspired performances and of course Kim’s superb stepping up as the villain. Very meta and lots of fun. More community stories in the new year please!

Dingle Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m52s569Since their marriages ended, Cain and Aaron have been united in sullen moods and angry behaviour, even turning back to crime. But there was something cold and guarded about these reactions suggesting there was a lot more pain under the surface. This week saw both characters break down and open up, with Aaron trying to swallow his grief and fail to move on, and Cain admitting to Charity that he didn’t think things would pass. Rather than seeing them explode with rage or make Wendy and Nate’s lives a misery, it was a welcome change to see them both human and empathetic again as they expressed how they really felt.

Noah’s Drug Dilemma

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h55m24s465Desperate to make Sarah see sense over Danny and the drugs, Noah was at breaking point this week. Stubborn and petulant Sarah continued to risk her life trying to impress slimy Danny, but a worried Noah was trying his best to look out for her and stop her making dangerous choices. By the end of the week feeling isolated and ignored, Noah sat alone and took the pills himself. Jack Downham’s a capable young actor and it’s good to see him get some emotional material again. Noah’s often felt pushed out and neglected in his family so it will be interesting to see if this is a turning point for those around him.

Liv’s Seizure

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m24s299Poor Liv had another seizure this week and could be facing an epilepsy diagnosis. Isobel Steele continues to be one of Emmerdale’s best young actors and her performance of the seizure and her fear and upset afterwards was really well done. Predictably it was Wendy that came to her rescue, but thankfully the focus was on Liv’s recovery and not Wendy’s heroics. The last time Liv had a seizure, the impact was brushed under the carpet fairly quickly, the collapse used in a plot device-y way, so fingers crossed it won’t be the same this time. Friday’s episode saw her worried about looking after Eve and hopefully this is a story that won’t just be used to inject a bit of Thursday jeopardy into the family. Given what a capable actress Isobel is, it’s about time she had a big ‘issue’ story with longevity.

Fails

Dawn’s Determination

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h52m30s910With Christmas approaching, Dawn’s mind has returned back to her son Lucas. It makes sense that she would think of him over the festive period, but there’s something about this determination of hers to get custody that doesn’t sit right. We’ve seen Dawn make a big recovery from her drug problems and create a stable life, but with her son settled and happy with a foster family – is it right he should be taken from that? It feels like we should be on Dawn’s side in this story but there’s an entitlement to her attitude that seems to paint a negative light on legal guardians. In the long run, I can’t see what stories a young son would offer to her character – I think she has more potential without him.

Nate’s Pity Party

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h54m52s098The violins were out for Nate this week as he sulked around the village wondering why he wasn’t welcome. Much like the Wendy story, it seems like Emmerdale are going out of their wait to paint Nate as the victim, when the reality is, he helped cause this friction. This week Cain decided to turn Kyle against Nate in the hopes of driving his estranged son from the village. The Dingles took pity on Nate and invited him to an Xmas movie night in a tone-deaf way that seemed designed to piss Cain off even more. But – is it any wonder? Cain might be a nasty piece of work at the best of times, but who can blame him for not wanting Nate around after everything he’s done? It seems by the end of the week the Dingles might have realised that Cain won’t be forced, not when his whole life has shattered, but the idea that they would take Nate’s side anyway feels convoluted. Nate came in with a mission to destroy Cain’s life – why are we supposed to feel sorry for him?

 

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Dec 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 Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

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

Archie’s Anguish

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

Arthur’s Anger

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

Jimmy and Nicola United

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

Chemistry Calling

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

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

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

Befriending the Enemy

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

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Nov 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a big week for the teens as Sarah took a pill and Jacob struggled knowing Maya had been released from prison, and Vanity were reunited.

Faves

Lydia’s Life Gets Harder

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h15m14s886If one thing proved that Lydia Hart is one of THE best Emmerdale characters, then it was this week’s episodes. When we first met Lydia, Karen Blick delivered comedy with aplomb and soon made quirky odd ball Lydia a fun part of the Dingle household. But as we’ve heard more and more of Lydia’s tragic past, she’s become one of the warmest and most loveable characters in the show. I’d probably go as far to say Lydia doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. This week she learnt her sister Beth had been lying and her mum was actually alive. As the pair got to know each other, both Karen Blick and Judith Barker did a superb job, particularly as two characters talking about the past we haven’t seen can be cold and unengaging (see any Graham backstory, Cain, and Nate’s mother). Their emotional conversations felt authentic but with the focus on Lydia’s heart breaking, made the scenes all the more emotive. And then the bombshells continued as Lydia learnt she might be a carrier of Huntington’s. At the moment on screen there’s a lack of emotive “issue” based storylines but Lydia’s long lost family and the dilemma about getting a life changing test is the closest to their best type of story. If Karen’s performances don’t earn her some awards recognition it’ll be a travesty.

Teen Focus

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h19m02s131The teens had a surprisingly big focus this week as both Sarah and Jacob had their own stories, while Gabby, Dee Dee and Leanna had their parents’ wedding to contend with. Sarah was in true brat mode this week as FOMO lead her to host a secret boozy party at Jacob’s Fold, incurring the wrath of Granny Charity. As Noah and Samson watched with horror (I love how both of these lads have a real ‘old before their time’ quality about them) Sarah took a pill offered by shady newcomer Danny. So far, despite a lecturing from Noah, Sarah’s covered up her drug taking but it looks like this is only the start in an effort to impress Danny. This week also saw a lot more from Leanna who has been mellowed in recent writing and had great onscreen report with the other teens and also Bernice (shame that’ll be over soon). Her mini story with Jacob really helped to soften her and shed the cold and bitchy demeanour she’d had previously. Teen stories might not be to everyone’s taste, but now and again it’s a good change, especially with watchable actors like this. Though let’s just hope Sarah doesn’t stay too whiny and bratty though otherwise we’ll have a mini Debbie on our hands!

David and Jacob’s breakthrough

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h17m28s792Jacob had one hell of a difficult week and that’s without him knowing about Maya’s baby bombshell! Just as life was looking up, more teenage and more normal – with cinema dates with Leanna – David and Leyla received news Maya was to be released from prison. Eventually they broke the news, sending Jacob spiralling. He took a bus at night to try and see Maya, but David hunted him down and the pair talked in the rain, with David desperately trying to get Jacob to see sense. These scenes on location made a nice change and it felt fresh, rather than rehashing conversations they’d already had. When later in the week Jacob reacted terribly after sleeping with Leanna and was cruel and heartless, the disgust on all sides from family and friends seemed to give him a big setback. Later David and Leyla managed a breakthrough, but it took some cold reverse psychology to do it. I was much more convinced by Jacob and David’s scenes at the start of the week and felt the tough love approach sent out a confusing message to the audience and was an irresponsible way for David and Leyla to treat Jacob given his vulnerable state of mind and trust issues. It might have worked, it might have been difficult to make him see sense, but there are aspects to this big, sensitive and challenging storyline that needed a little more care and the end of the week didn’t work as well for me.

Sweet Start

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h18m00s311Billy and Dawn’s budding relationship is the epitome of sweet. Somehow their new romance awkwardness has softened both characters and made them feel more than just pawns in their family’s drama. Around Billy, Dawn has an endearing innocence about her and Billy’s efforts to impress with an apron and a pretend home made meal were adorable. His encouragement of her job is a big improvement on the slimy way Ryan treated her and in turn it’s been a welcome change to see Billy in a more upbeat story rather than his dour moans about his past. Time will tell if these two manage to be one of those couples we really root for, but whatever happens I’ve got a feeling that Al may become a big thorn in their side.

Fail

Wendy’s Redemption

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h19m32s696If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen I’ve been trying and failing to shut up about Wendy Posner and her recurring role in Emmerdale. Rumours seem to be true that Wendy is being made into a regular character and it’s already posing a problem on screen. Don’t get me wrong, Susan Cookson is a great actress and had she had any other introduction to Emmerdale, she’d be welcomed with open arms, the problem is the way Wendy was written when we first met her cannot be glossed over. It seems inevitable that Wendy will have a redemption of sorts. She will (hopefully) realise her son was a vile rapist and struggle with the revelation – which would be an interesting story to tell. However, there’s an issue with the way Emmerdale have already started Wendy’s change of status without her having this realisation. We’ve already seen Wendy victimised and gaining Vic’s sympathises purely because Lee died and this week Emmerdale attempted to manipulatively have Wendy portrayed as the hero, helping Chas and baby Eve. Cynics like me might say, what’s heroic about Wendy doing her job? It doesn’t make her a nice person. It doesn’t make her worthy of forgiveness yet. Neither does a dead son. Not, and this is the crucial factor, when she repeatedly stalked, harassed and accused Victoria of being a liar. She has shown no remorse for this, no compassion for Vic and she still thinks the sun shone out of Lee and that she has some form of ownership over Vic’s unborn baby. Had Emmerdale tackled Wendy’s horrendous victim blaming first and given us time to see her remorse, then we might have been able to accept her into the village. As it stands, Wendy is being made a victim and a false hero, all while Vic is written to pity her. Terrible choices all round a really unpleasant watch.