Fave or Fail? (30 Oct-3 Nov 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Pete was busy accusing and Laurel returned with more secrets!

Faves

Murder Mysteries

Emmerdale - What Is Laurel and Bob's Secret - YouTubeWhodunnit plots in soapland aren’t often my favourite but the “Who Killed Emma?” story definitely became more interesting this week. With Gabby a prime suspect it gave Rosie Bentham a great chance to show off her talents under police questioning against the great DS Benton. I was also glad to see Laurel return to the village and bring with it new questions and mysteries such as – what’s going on with Bob? While the storyline does have his weak moments (namely fairly repetitive scenes of the brothers arguing and Pete accusing anyone he can) it’s gathered a good ensemble of cast and I’m genuinely clueless as to who the culprit is – it really could be any one of them! The final flashback scene lined up all the suspects nicely and it was made even more intriguing by the extra videos released on YouTube exploring motives!

Quirky Friends

Emmerdale - Friday 3 Nov 7pm - The ITV Hub (1)Sometimes it’s the strangest groups of characters that make some of the best scenes and that was the case this week at the B&B. We’ve already seen ex-con and cheeky trouble maker Gerry form an unlikely but kind of sweet friendship with Liv but having them work at the B&B with straight-laced Doug was a work of genius. It might be a very short lived working partnership – what with Gerry’s dangerous fireworks causing Doug to burn his hands – but their opposite natures worked well in giving us a fun and surprising group of characters. Doug’s serious and humourless personality clashes with Gerry’s slapdash troublesome ways but their shared enthusiasm for niche interests meant their strange relationship was a believable one.

It’s War

-995 Aaron amp; Robert 30th October 2017 Robert Only Part 3 of 3 - YouTubeRobert’s revenge might have dragged on for half a century but going up against Lachlan might be his dangerous and most interesting move yet. While Robert’s attempts to scheme, schmooze and seduce his way through the family to gain their wealth and status has been going well so far, Lachlan proved he’s Rob’s biggest threat this week. Thankfully for this endless story, Lachlan offers a more believable threat and a more worthy opponent than the other family members who seem to be hanging off Robert’s every word. It was enjoyable this week to see the conflict front and centre with Lucky being the only one to see straight through Rob and manage to unnerve him too. Lachlan has a history of being cold and twisted and is perhaps a bigger worry than Robert anticipated. Thomas Atkinson has proved himself a great little actor and his antagonistic relationship and chemistry with Ryan Hawley is the most watchable this storyline has been.

Fails

The Cringe Factor

Emmerdale - Lawrence Wants to Reveal His Fling With Robert! - YouTubeIt was Halloween this week but there were other reasons to hide behind a cushion when watching. If it wasn’t the sound of Lawrence gasping with lust as Robert played him again (oh Larry you poor fool) then it was Chas and Paddy playing doctor and patient. It’s not that both stories aren’t silly enough to be mildly entertaining it’s just that watching both pairings together in an episode is a bit much for my poor cringe glands. I’m going to go as far as to say Chas and Paddy is actually a bit worse as their OTT role play (which seems to have them gagging for it every five minutes) is the very opposite of sexy. At least with Lawrence and Robert, the carnage after his lies are exposed will be worth it, as for Chas and Paddy I’m not convinced they’re funny enough together and they certainly don’t seem like a great love match.

Advertisements

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Oct 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! We said goodbye to Finn this week and discovered that Emma’s death might have been murder.

Faves

Farewall Finn

vlcsnap-2017-10-15-12h56m01s905For a lad that spent most of the time in the village being unappreciated, Finn had a huge send off this week as Emmerdale gathered to mourn. It wasn’t just your usual church service and pub wake, but individual characters got to come and say their goodbyes to his coffin and there was a superhero themed get together in the Woolie too which was a really nice touch. All of the coffin-side mourners gave emotional and touching performances, especially Amy Walsh (Tracy) and Chris Chittell (Eric), making his death feel all the more impactful on the wider community outside his family members. Last week it felt like his death was overshadowed and bogged down under too many events happening at once, so I’m glad that this week gave enough time and space to letting the villagers grieve for him. RIP Finn, you’ll be missed.

Murder Mystery

Emmerdale - Ross and Pete's Suffering Is Far From Over - YouTubeEmmerdale went a little CSI this week as DS Benton began investigating Emma’s death as a murder rather than a suicide and kicking off an infamous soap Whodunnit. Whodunnits aren’t always my favourite plot as it often involves lots of characters doing unexplained shady things and looking suspicious all to ramp up the suspense, but so far it’s been pretty fun and it even included a suspect montage set to Kylie Minogue! I liked the twist of having the police conducting their enquires before the rest of the village knew, looking on at the Bartons as outsiders and making it seem like its own forensic spin off. There are lots of likely culprits but I hope Emmerdale doesn’t keep us hanging on for too long before we find out the truth of Emma’s death!

Baby Beginnings

Emmerdale - Moira Reads Out the Paternity Test Results - YouTubeIt seems early days for Moira’s baby storyline but the warning signs are there that she’s not bonding with him and his arrival has caused friction in the Charriet camp. The awkward tension of the paternity reveal was really worth watching this week as Pete got the news that he wasn’t the little one’s father and Cain had to deal with the consequences. Poor Harriet faced up to the inevitability that she’d always be second best while Cain and Moira remained their usual stubborn selves, insisting nothing will change. We’ve seen Cain’s reluctant father routine several times now so hopefully something new will emerge from this storyline in future and as for his future with Moira, the chemistry is there in spades, but it’s going to take a while for them both to soften up for the idea. Let’s hope for Harriet’s sake that Cain doesn’t drag out the inevitable and kid her – and himself – in the process.

Bonus favourites:

  • Gerry’s continued integration into the village – he was sweet and supportive of Liv, helping Doug with his gardening (wingman goals), the comedy torture scenes with Zak and Sam
  • Vanessa finally getting a storyline
  • Sam and Lydia getting engaged!
  • Belle being there as a mentor of sorts for Liv

Fails

Silly Filler

Emmerdale - Tuesday 10 Oct 7pm - The ITV HubWith the big Barton plots dominating the screen this week, it was disappointing that many of the other plots felt a bit pointless. While there were good aspects (Sam and Lydia getting engaged, Gerry being a rather entertaining addition to a scattering of stories), the teen plot and the factory story seemed to go nowhere. Both Lydia and Rishi add comic value to Emmerdale and regularly make me laugh, but this week’s story of the elusive Una was short on giggles. With Lydia unable to let go of her old home and memories of Steve, her fake alias of Una was exposed by the Sharmas. It wasn’t the worst plot ever – it just wasn’t funny enough. If they needed a mix up to get Sam to propose surely there was a better way. As for the teens – we’ve seen so many of their alcohol inspired antics now – surely it has to be leading to an actual story soon?

Shouty Man

Emmerdale - Pete Can't Accept the Truth About Finn's Killer - YouTubePete Barton is the human equivalent of nails down a blackboard. One shout from him and that’s my teeth set on edge for the day. And boy did he do a lot of shouting this week. I get it, okay? He’s grieving, he’s angry at the world and he was told he was a dad – and then he wasn’t. Pete’s got a lot of things to be upset and angry about, but there’s still something so unsympathetic about him. If you’re able to put aside his sleazy behaviour with Priya and forgive him that (miraculously Leyla managed to, while still spouting off at Priya), you’d recognise that he’s suffering a big loss right now. The world is against him. But still, his sadness turns from zero to “I’m gonna thump you” in thirty seconds and all the aggression and gurning doesn’t exactly lead to much sympathy, sorry mate. In fact, Dale View is a bit too heavy on the male posturing and aggro right now which isn’t helping. Also there is the knowledge that Pete’s moods vary between just two – aggressive and dull – and if we were picking Bartons to lose, I’d have picked him over Finn any day.

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Sep 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Liv ended up in hospital this week and Robert’s schemes took a twisted turn.

Faves

Sibling Solidarity

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h43m51s959Liv returned right into the middle of a storm and this week found herself caught up in the mess, and in hospital. Despite Liv’s trip to A&E seeming to be just to pile more angst onto Aaron and Robert, and give Aaron a brief love interest, the end of the week ended on a much more positive note for the siblings. On Thursday’s episodes Aaron and Liv had a touching heart to heart, bonding over their shared heartache and Aaron’s struggle to cope after the split and in prison. With Isobel Steele, superbly cast as Aaron’s sister, the two have a great rapport which works naturally in scenes like this of honesty and openness. I wasn’t sold on Aaron and Liv’s instant connection when they first met last year but this week in their quiet, difficult chats and teasing humour their relationship felt real. Is it too much to hope that they might one day get their unconventional little family back on track?

Going it Alone

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h20m06s590I’ve been really impressed by the subtle way Emmerdale have continued to tell Laurel’s story of grief and loneliness since Ashley’s death. It’s not been played as a big story of weeping and wailing, but something much more true to life. This week saw Laurel try and sort through Ashley’s things and there was a wonderful moment as Eric welled up as he bonded with her over their loss – of Ashley and of Val. Like others who have lost someone, Laurel is painting on a brave face as she tries to move on and keep busy, finding company wherever she can. It’s worked well as a slice of reality, even alongside the humour of Nicola and Jimmy’s desperate attempts to have sex and Bernice’s bulldozer behaviour, and gives Ashley’s death the long lasting impact it deserves.

Gamut of Emotions

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h42m43s923There are few characters that run through as many emotions in one week as Robert Sugden and this week he had the full spectrum. Trying desperately to cling on his scheme to win Home Farm as well as deal with the prospect of Aaron moving on, he spiralled through rage, panic, heartache, jealousy, before finally ending the week feeling pretty smug. Standard. While the charming schmoozer routine does work its Machiavellian magic, it’s always a welcome change to see that veneer shatter and Ryan Hawley’s pained expression manages to resonate in the heart, even when you think it’s only fair that Robert does suffer a bit. Even when stories have Robert awkwardly lurching between heartbroken man and twisted villain in the space of ten minutes (whiplash anyone?), Ryan manages to make Robert watchable, even when the plots do their best to make Robert unlikeable.

Early Sparks?

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h17m30s567This week Debbie got dressed up for a business meeting/date with Tom but the smooth businessman’s idea of lunch wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. We only briefly got to meet him last week and mostly in a stuffy setting, but Tom’s cheeky-charmer attitude seemed to work well up against Debbie’s frostiness. He might look like a pretty Apprentice candidate but his jokes about “Mayo-nose” warmed me to him quickly and even Debbie seemed to enjoy herself, despite being unsure about his intentions. Debbie’s last big romance plots have been a bit lacking, and I still prefer Debbie as a bit of a homegirl rather than a dodgy schemer, but there’s definitely potential there with Tom.

Bonus Faves:

  • Gabby’s return and lovely reunion with Arthur
  • Nicola and Jimmy’s choice of role play costume
  • Lydia’s insistence on historical accuracy, even in role play
  • The thought of Paddy and Pearl at the bingo!

Fails

A Step Too Far?

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h44m12s570By the end of the week Robert Sugden had deviously managed to secure 30% of the Home Farm estate and one step closer to being king of the castle, however his twisted plot might’ve gone too far. Having realised his future as a settled family man at the Mill with Aaron and Liv was long gone, Robert’s ruthless scheming ramped up a gear as he managed to convince a drunken Lawrence that they’d slept together. While many people would find the prospect of a naked Rob in their bed pretty appealing (Lawrence too if the truth be known) the whole plot twist was nothing short of gross. With Finn walking in on the scene and Robert’s comedic glances and coughing to stir a zoned out Lawrence, the incident was played mostly for laughs, but with Lawrence’s troubled history with his sexuality the whole thing seemed too sleazy and uncomfortable to be funny. This was pitched as a fun revenge story but Finn’s request for bleach seemed more apt. It seemed far more disturbing than it was fun. Robert’s schemes have lurched from improbable to ridiculously transparent and with the clueless Whites painfully unable to see through his plans the whole thing has become ludicrous. Not to mention – besides being heartbroken, does anyone really know why Robert is going to all this effort anyway?

5 Longterm Ways to Fix Robron

Last week Emmerdale super couple Aaron and Robert split up, with Aaron unable to cope with the pressures of his marriage, in light of Rebecca’s pregnancy. It seems only five minutes ago their engagement sealed off a perfect movie-style romance in Super Soap Week and their wedding was an unconventional TV treat. Now their marriage is broken, fans are fed up and it seems like everyone’s tired of their endless angsty storylines. What went wrong?

Aside from the Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley magic, here’s just a few ways I think Emmerdale can attempt to fix one of their most popular couples and make viewers start caring again.

fix1

Back to Basics

It’s never been smooth sailing for Robron and their relationship was always unconventional, but it seems like The Powers That Be have really lost sight of what made the pair so popular. Part of the pleasure in watching a soap is seeing characters and relationships develop. With Robron it was the interest in watching someone as angst ridden as Aaron fall for someone with their own troubles, like Robert, hoping that one day they’d make a go of it. As the story progressed fans didn’t just like watching their two personalities clash and challenge each other, they liked their passion for each other and the fleeting shot at happiness. That they understood each other and supported each other. But lately there’s been a real drought in hope and happiness and we rarely get to see them enjoy each other’s company. Aaron’s history of tragedy made fans long for his happiness and despite Robert’s bad boy instability, he gave him that. It was never going to be easy; part of the enjoyment was watching them work for that. We fell in love with their sexy and tumultuous romance, but their bond and happiness at being together has taken a real knock in the quest to give them more obstacles.

fix2

Give The Misery a Rest!

Arguments, angst, fighting and tears. It’s been the story since day one, but after Aaron’s horrible abuse trial ordeal I think everyone hoped it was about time for a break from the misery. Danny Miller’s tears are award-winning but there comes a point where the heartache reaches saturation point and people are desensitised by Aaron’s latest pain. Soaps don’t really do happiness, unless you’re a comedy couple, but everyone needs light and shade. Even Robron’s wedding was doused in sadness knowing Aaron was heading to prison a day later. Emmerdale couldn’t even give him a day! So this one’s a pretty simple fix really – give them some happier times! We’ve had the same old arguments for well over six months now and it’s time Emmerdale figured out how to find a better balance. We know they’re meant to be, but we’ve stopped seeing that side of them – unless we’re due a four episode argument and another break up, of course!

fix4

Explore New Ground

Their Super Soap Week special showed us that Aaron and Robert are a lot more than angst machines – they’ve got a great comedic partnership too. Not only would a bit of humour give the actors something fun to do, it would be the “light” we’re crying out for. It doesn’t always have to be violence, cheating, drugs and death, you know! But not only that, Aaron and Robert have slipped into a pattern, and a bad habit of behaviours that form many of their stories. It goes something like this: Robert does something bad or something Aaron doesn’t like (intentionally or not), Aaron gets angry and upset, they argue and Robert begs for forgiveness. Sound familiar? How about something different to watch, eh? Test the characters in different ways, explore sides to the lads and their relationship we haven’t seen before. Both of them are complex – there’s a lot to delve into rather than the same old ground.

fix3

Break The Bubble

This is a problem shared by many of the characters in Emmerdale, but one – if fixed – could lift Aaron and Robert out of their rut. Often characters stay in their “bubble” – take David and Tracey, for example, who often seem superglued to the shop, but the last few months, with most of their drama revolving around their marriage and personal issues Aaron and Robert have only interacted with a select few characters. Friendship and family should be the central factor in Emmerdale, but with Chas and Liv gone, Paddy busy, Aaron’s a bit of a forgotten Dingle and the Sugdens are even more fractured – Robron seem stuck in the same conversations with the same few characters. Again and again. So this rescue remedy is all about variety. Some of their more surprising interactions (Aaron’s awkward friendship with Finn, Robert allying with Bernice) have been a welcome change from the angst, but we could really do with more integration into village life and less rehashing of the same issues without resolution.

fix5

The Rebecca Problem

Since her arrival last October, when she tried to tempt Robert back to bed, Rebecca White’s sole purpose in Emmerdale seems to be just to trigger repetitive and tiresome problems between Aaron and Robert. And let’s face it, it hasn’t exactly made her popular with fans of Emmerdale’s super couple. But if you thought we might one day see the end of their age-old arguments about Aaron’s insecurities and Robert’s cheating past, Rebecca’s pregnancy doesn’t offer much hope of that! So does this mean we’re destined to watch a future of her being the third wheel, rolled out whenever they need a bit of drama (read: argument they’ve had a hundred times before)? Well let’s hope not, eh? Because then we’ll never get the above fixes. There are a number of ways this story could go – but one thing’s for sure, Rebecca’s continued presence as a convenient thorn in their side isn’t doing any character favours and I’m longing for change, however that may be.

Fave or Fail? (6-10 March 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Dark times for many villagers, but we also saw the return of Lydia and Zak learnt about safe spaces – so not all bad times.

Faves

Dangerous Games

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (1)Vanessa and Pierce were thrown together for Minion cake making this week, the day after Pierce proposed properly with a ring to Rhona, but their bonding didn’t exactly go to plan and the week ended with Ness vowing to show Rhona Pierce’s true colours even if it killed her. Not the sort of thing you should be saying in a soap, Vanessa! But it wasn’t just the tense and bitter battle between Rhona’s best friend and fiancé that was such compelling viewing, but Pierce’s subtle control of Rhona that continues to be intense and unnerving. This week he convinced her to strip and have sex on camera, trying to make her feel boring for not wanting to go along with it initially. It’s that kind of scream-at-your-TV drama where you want to reach in and grab Rhona, show her what Pierce has been doing behind her back, shine a light on his subtle powers of persuasion as he drills away at her doubt and insecurities. It’s only going to get worse, where we’ll feel frustrated and worried all at once, but if it continues with this sort of nail-biting intensity then it’s going to be really and unbearably good.

Private Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m44s161I made my thoughts and concerns about Aaron’s prison hell storyline very clear earlier in the week, but one positive aspect to this storyline has been seeing the individual struggles of Robert and Liv as they try and cope without him. Monday saw a special episode divided between the three of them as we discovered Robert was unable to sleep in their bed and was struggling with the pressure of relying on short phonecalls with his husband to get him through the day. Liv was being picked on and felt isolated too, made even worse when she had to keep the secret of Aaron’s drug taking later in the week. Ryan Hawley and Isobel Steele managed to be quietly heartbreaking in their scenes but it’s also given a chance for the characters to grow closer in Aaron’s absence which has felt organic and heartwarming to watch. While my reservations about the long term implications of this storyline direction still stand, the impactful performances are worthy of praise.

Better Together

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV HubThe Metcalfe family contingent (and I’m including the wider circle of Eric, Leyla and co) were a highlight this week as Jacob’s anxiety issues came to light when he panicked about losing his lucky coin. Not only were these scenes touching, as the family (and even Emma Barton) rallied to help and reassure Jacob, we thankfully had this family to give us some much-needed lighter moments in another heavy and dark week of plots. Sure, seeing David’s bare bum is getting a bit repetitive but it’s always good to have Pearl and Tracy’s saucy book plot slipping into the week’s stories, especially with Tracy’s endearing enthusiasm and preppy outfits. I really hope Jakey’s anxiety issues don’t just disappear either, because it’s an interesting issue to explore in a young character, particularly one in the midst of a difficult family illness.

Some Self Awareness?

Emmerdale - Wednesday 8 Mar 7pm - The ITV HubI couldn’t help but notice that there appeared to be a change of heart this week from a few characters and displays of self-awareness which felt like an admission of storyline missteps. Take Chrissie, for example, who finally backed down over Ronnie (over the Home Farm family fall out #802) and decided to move out of the big house and stand on her own two feet. Whether she actually follows through with the drastic action is another matter but might we finally be seeing more to her than just Daddy’s spoilt little rich girl? I won’t hold my breath, but at least she admitted it. Then there was Finn whose acknowledgement of his crazy ways and escape to Australia feels like a way for the audience to wipe their memories clean of the disastrous “stalker Finn” plot than actually something he would choose to do. And with another appearance of the fantastically bonkers Lydia, maybe the powers that be at Emmerdale are actually aware of what is and isn’t working on screen – and this can only be a good thing.

Fails

Only Scratching the Surface

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (2)Ronnie and Lawrence almost broke up this week, then almost got engaged when Ronnie decided he didn’t like who he had become (the Whites have that effect on people) and Lawrence realised he couldn’t live without his silver fox odd-job man. Don’t get me wrong – I love their backstory of pain and pining and I love that Emmerdale is showing an older gay couple, but the handling of Lawrence’s sexuality since getting together with Ronnie has been such a disappointment. Last year when Ronnie returned to his life Lawrence was forced to confront the things he had been running from and him deciding he wanted to be with Ronnie properly it was a satisfying moment. Since then it’s sort of fizzled out. Despite living together and being in love, we’re still no closer to Lawrence dealing with his intimacy issues or even touching on his years of self-denial and self-hatred. Even though those elements are familiar ground (with Aaron and briefly with Robert) – are we meant to believe Lawrence’s journey of acceptance is over? Narratively it feels unsatisfying and half-finished – does Lawrence still have intimacy issues? Is he comfortable with being seen or labelled as a gay man? I can’t help but feel Lawrence and Ronnie’s story would be richer if their present was given the same depth and care as their past.

Off Balance

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m21s065Phew. Emmerdale has got really heavy and dark lately and it’s not a complaint, rather a concern. I’m all for dark and gritty storylines with an emotional truth at the centre, but right now the balance between this weighty drama and lighter fluff seems slightly off. This week saw: Aaron’s harrowing ordeal and his family’s grief, Pierce’s coercive control of Rhona and menace towards Vanessa, Jai’s drug struggle (as well as Aaron’s) alongside his and Moira’s grief, Jacob’s anxiety all alongside the deeply upsetting and ongoing story of Ashley’s dementia. While all these storylines are worthy issues to be explored and have fantastic performances and scenes – is Emmerdale becoming a bit too heavy and miserable of late? And this is just a glance at one week – we’re not even covering David or Sarah’s cancer to mention two other serious plots. Emmerdale does the lighter storylines – the comedy and the fluffier romance so well, but sometimes sitting down at 7pm does require a stiff drink! Maybe what I’m asking for is more Bob, more Bernice, more Pearl – more of the laughs and the fun. Bring on Gustav and the sexy book and the village choir – we could do with something to smile at.

Fave or Fail? (20-24 Feb 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A hugely emotional and fantastic week in Emmerdale as Aaron and Robert married and were tragically torn apart just a day later.

Faves

The Wedding of the Year

21022017-208You can read exactly why I loved the Robron wedding here, but how could anything else top the week? The episodes were filled with love, warmth, humour, emotion and were a worthy celebration of one of the biggest and most-talked about romances to hit the Dales. For two characters with such a turbulent past, they were never going to have a typical wedding but the payoff was completely worth it to see them at their peak of love and happiness – even if it did only last a day! It was special, romantic and intimate and really got to the heart of both men and the reasons why their love story is so cherished by fans and their relationship is so successful. Here’s hoping Emmerdale keep them together for as long as possible – and that when Aaron gets out of prison they can sign on the dotted line and make this Mr Dingle and Mr Sugden thing properly official.

Prison Blues

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h19m03s835While I’m always going to advocate giving Aaron Dingle some happier times in his life, it’s easy to see why the writers put Aaron through hell so frequently when it makes such good TV! Just a day after getting married, Aaron and Robert were cruelly torn apart and Aaron was sentenced to 12 months inside. To go from the romantic joy of the wedding to the agonising scene of their goodbye was pure torture but so superbly acted by Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley that you could almost forget you weren’t living through this tragic separation too. (Who’d think we’d ever be crying over a bottle of shower gel and an exchange of names? Not me!) Once inside Aaron faced the difficult decision to hide his sexuality in scenes which were particularly painful to watch knowing how far Aaron had come in his own life in terms of acceptance. The prison scenes are already an uncomfortable and claustrophobic viewing experience so I can only imagine how much worse it will get, and when paired with Robert and Liv’s misery – it’s really hard hitting on the emotions.

The Thomas Family

emmerdale-thursday-23-feb-8pm-the-itv-hub-1It feels like I write about how good the Thomas family are every week, but I just can’t help it. With Ashley now living in a care home (and what heart-wrenching scenes those were at the end of the week), the Thomas family are adjusting to live without Ashley at home. This week it was hard for Laurel coping on the anniversary of Daniel’s death and the realisation that Ashley wouldn’t remember. After confiding in carer Will there was an awkward mix-up for Laurel as she panicked he was interested in her after the mysterious Valentine’s Day flowers too. Once again it was the adorable Arthur who was behind the sweet surprise and I didn’t think I could find him any cuter until his confession to Sandy and their mission (on Sandy’s scooter) to get to the pub on time. Sandy too has a wicked sense of humour meaning the Thomas family are just so watchable at the moment.

New Blood

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h26m39s547Faith hasn’t entered Emmerdale quietly – she’s big, bold and abrasive and probably not to everyone’s cup of tea – but being thrown in at the deep end has had its advantages. Even though she’s already gone off screen to take Sarah to Prague for her treatment she’s made a lasting impression already. It’s really helped that Faith has made herself notorious – interacting with a huge range of characters and flirting with every man in her radius – rather than sticking to a small bubble of characters. She already feels fully integrated and we already have a good sense as to who she is. It’s been a while since we’ve had a character as brash as her, perfectly able to get stuck into the drama and be believable as an awful mother to Cain and Chas, while still being entertaining with some great one liners.

Shock Discovery

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h27m27s143Right in the middle of Tracy’s hilarious porn writing plot (loving that Pearl-inspired beret btw, Trace), and David’s amusing jealousy of the fictional Gustav, came an unexpected plot twist. David found a lump in his testicles – and quickly the smiles faded as they realised his cancer might have returned. It was a real shock emerging from this frothy comedy plot and one which took me by surprise. Not only did this bring another quiet and nuanced performance from Matthew Wolfenden as David tried to keep calm, but as Jacob suffered with what seems to be some sort of anxiety, it left me looking forward to seeing more of Joe-Warren Plant as hopefully his storyline progresses to new territory.

Fails

Dragging Her Down

emmerdale-thursday-23-feb-8pm-the-itv-hubPerhaps my biggest shock this week was that I was in agreement with Jai Sharma as he quite rightly assessed that Rakesh just drags Priya down. Couldn’t have put it better. Priya can be fun, feisty and is a smart and gorgeous woman so what the hell is she doing still wasting her time with a lowlife like Rakesh. Really though, what does she see in him? Secret liaisons and office desk hook-ups are soap bread and butter and illicit flings are one of my favourite things to watch, but even when they’re trying to be sexy like this week, they just don’t really cut it. To make matters worse, it’s frustrating that Priya has forgiven him so easily for the events of the summer. Why reunite them when their relationship does Priya no favours (and yes, I’ve given up all hope on Rakesh ever being engaging). Priya deserves better and so do we. Or at least a decent storyline (and partner) for her.

9 Reasons The Robron Wedding Was One Of The Best Soap Weddings Ever

In one of the most hotly anticipated soap weddings ever, Aaron Dingle and Robert Sugden finally tied the knot and in true unconventional Robron style. Despite their first ceremony being interrupted by the police, their special day was a romantic success – even with Aaron’s sentencing looming – so here’s a look at just some of the reasons why the Robron wedding was a treat.

References to the past

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h20m26s041.png

Having been at the love game for well over two years, Robert and Aaron have a colourful history and the wedding episodes had some great references to their memorable past. Not only were these fun references to spot (and if you’re a hardcore shipper you’d be hard pressed not to get a kick out of lines such as “dirty little grease monkey”), but for two characters who’ve been on this rocky journey for a long time it felt fitting to have call backs to their significant moments – such as their familiarity with kidnapping and car boots! It was never going to be a conventional wedding for Robron so the garage setting, marking one particular milestone of their passionate affair, seemed so very right for them.

Fitting for the characters

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h20m57s107.png

One of the most successful aspects to the Robron wedding was its unexpected and unconventional moments. It’s taken Aaron and Robert a long time to vocalise their feelings for each other, so having them perform their own marriage ceremony alone was a heartfelt and intimate moment one that could never be bettered by a formal or traditional ceremony. Ultimately the legality of it seemed meaningless because the commitment and sincerity of their vows shone through – even in the dimly lit garage setting! There’s never been a soap wedding in a car garage before but there’s no question that Robron managed to pull it off in their own special way. Their beautifully written vows highlighted the couple’s complicated issues and troubled past and there’s no question that this wedding was perfectly in keeping with their characters.

Satisfying romance

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h21m29s336.png

Now that he’s stopped trying to cover his tracks in deadly plots, Robert Sugden has firmly established himself as a swoonworthy romantic hero. No complaints here. But what’s been a lovely and surprising development is Aaron’s growth as an out and happy (ish – well, it is Aaron) gay man. With his history of self-hate it was hard to imagine him ever being comfortable in a relationship, but with Robert, Aaron has found true contentment and the wedding was a heartwarming showcase of this growth. Not only did we see some serious heart-eyes and giddiness from him, we even saw him kiss, flirt and DANCE in public. When you grow up with soap characters it’s always satisfying to watch them come full circle, particularly with someone like Aaron whose had such a tragic life.

The emotion

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h24m27s443.png

Like other great soap weddings, the Robron wedding wasn’t without its own drama but the main focus of the event and the episodes was the men’s love for each other and quite rightly, was just about the two of them. That being said, it wouldn’t be the Aaron and Robert we know and love without a twinge of tragedy. The final scene of the episode saw Aaron open up and find comfort in his new husband’s arms, both heartbroken that their happiness was soon to be taken from them. That poignant moment was bittersweet and made their earlier happiness even more significant. And what’s a wedding without a good cry, eh?

The performances

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h23m02s699.png

I couldn’t write a list about the best bits of the Robron wedding without mentioning actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. We’ve seen Aaron and Robert deal with a whole spectrum of emotions and feelings towards each other from love to hate and everything in between but their chemistry skyrocketed this week as Aaron and Robert fully committed to each other. We’ve known for years that they nailed the passion of the affair and fraught moments of high drama but in the quiet intimacy of the wedding we saw the actors at their very best.

The Dingle décor

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h18m03s655.png

It was a given that any wedding involving the Dingle family was going to cause chaos and even with Robert showing a touch of the Groomzilla, no one really listened to his request to keep the decorations looking simple. It wasn’t long before the Woolie looked like every season and holiday had vomited all over the bar and Robron were forced to walk up the aisle with snowmen, doves and grim reapers watching. And yet, while looking ridiculous and fun, the outrageousness kinda worked! It was great too having the little character touches – like Sam misunderstanding the request to bring empty jars and bringing full, pickle jars instead.

The mishaps

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h19m41s274.png

With every great soap wedding comes disaster and for Robron, first of all it was the struggle of keeping Aaron away from the secret wedding. Initially it was Paddy, the naysayer who definitely did not want his surrogate son marrying “Mr Shifty”, but after a slight change of heart it was him and Adam (the self-titled “wedding champions”) who let Aaron loose. Oops. Cain happily stepped up to the plate and readily locked Aaron in the boot of his car. As Cain does best. But even with all that out the way, it was Granny Faith who caused the biggest issue when the police rocked up, leaving the ceremony in tatters after the brilliantly camp and soapy moment when she was accused of murder.

The gathering of family

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h24m27s442.png

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I love when events get the villagers gathered together or plots interlock and crossover. Well what’s better than a wedding for that? Not only did we have the Dingles and what’s left of the Sugdens (come back Andy!) and co together in one room, meaning a mish-mash of personalities and storylines, we also had the other plot lines running alongside the wedding, like Sarah’s illness, Kyle’s custody and Chas and Paddy’s ill-fated attempts at romance. It was great fun to see all those big characters in one room and in fun celebration scenes.

The laughs

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-13h23m25s142.png

Despite tears being shed, there were plenty of laughs to be had at the wedding too. From Cain’s kidnapping, Faith’s theatrics, to the guests’ dance moves – there was a lot of fun to be had. Perhaps the best part of all had to be the Dingles ambushing poor Robert with their infamous welly of ale. As soon as the marriage was announced Zak stepped up with the boot to make Robert a proper part of the family, with the chants forcing him to drink from the welly. No crazy Emmerdale wedding would feel the same without some sort of weird tradition – only the Dingles could get away with it!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part One (#20-11)

top.png

Another year of Emmerdale is over and what better way to celebrate than to look back at some of Emmerdale’s best moments from 2016. This post covers moments I’ve ranked from 20 – 11. Tomorrow I’ll post the moments I’ve ranked 10 – 1 and a quick run down of the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

top2020.png

20. David’s testicular cancer

Overall David’s testicular cancer plot was a mixed bag, marred by prolonged and irritating “comedy”, but it makes my Top 20 for Matthew Wolfenden’s committed and emotional performances. After a results mix-up, David was devastated to learn of his diagnosis, but moments of very “David” levity (such as his drunken and naked conversation with his balls) were balanced by his emotive conversations with Zak and the touching father-son relationship with Jacob. David’s treatment, supported in lovely scenes with his family, saw him meet upbeat Dylan, who later tragically died (predictable but still sad) and David eventually faced his illness with bravery and a middle finger up to cancer.

top2016.png

19. Teenage Dream

This year saw the arrival of Liv and the recast of Gabby, giving us a very talented trio including Jacob. Their plots have been a little hit and miss on the likeability front but all of them have had tough emotional and sensitive storylines to shoulder and delivered at every turn. The casting for both Liv and Gabby has been fantastic and their friendship (when they’re supportive rather than destructive) has great potential. My hope for next year is that Emmerdale give all three (and especially the girls) room to grow from their experiences, rather than reverting to bad and immature behaviour when the plot needs some instant friction. As we’ve seen from interactions with the adults that surround them, they’re capable of being astute and considerate – they can be teens without being brats.

top2005.png

18. Community Spirit

One of new producer Iain MacLeod’s goals when he took over the reins of the show was to give Emmerdale a greater community feel and I think it’s definitely improving. Apart from attendance at funerals and weddings we’ve seen more of an overlap between characters and stories existing outside of their bubbles. This subtle shift has included things like the charity fundraiser hosted by Megan, the fireworks night and the pub quiz – all with little character groups mixing and hovering in the background. This has also benefited the balance of characters with this year feeling as if everyone’s getting a chance to shine, rather than a heavy focus on a select few. The Christmas episodes too had a great feel for family and community but I’d definitely like to see more of this.

top2007.png

17. Tracy Shankley’s vulnerability 

One of the real surprises of 2016 was Tracy Shankley and some show stealing performances from Amy Walsh. While Tracy can be a bit brash and Marmite, we got to see more of her vulnerabilities this year and some heart-tugging emotional moments that made me soften towards her. The jury’s still out on dad Frank, whose secret fell flat, but it’s been nice to see Tracy settle in to the village a bit more and her relationship with David has had some sweet moments too, but this is possibly overshadowed by the unlikely friendship she’s forged with Eric.

top2023.png

16. Lisa Dingle’s big heart

Lisa Dingle had a rough old year. 2016 started with her having to watch Zak and Joanie cosy up and then marry, but things got even worse as Belle’s mental health problems saw her go missing. It’s been a busy and miserable year for Lisa but I remain forever impressed by the size of her heart and the wealth of kindness and compassion she bestows on others, and Jane Cox gives Lisa the warmth that we all love. This year we saw Lisa find a new friend in Ronnie Hale which was exactly what she needed. I can only hope 2017 is better for Lisa and that if she lets Zak back into her life, then it’s on her own terms.

s19

15. Chrissie White goes Gone Girl

One of my controversial choices for the Top 20 is Chrissie White’s foray into superbitch territory, which for a few weeks was fun viewing. On discovering that Andy had slept with Bernice again and wasn’t the perfect man she’d assumed of him, Chrissie decided to make him pay and began a twisted revenge. The scenes in which Chrissie double-crossed him and saved her villainy for us, the knowing audience, was a treat. Slightly camp, slightly outrageous but enjoyable to see Chrissie with her claws out rather than the simpering victim she had been before. Sadly this moment of twisted villainy didn’t last long and the magic was lost as the plot descended into a family war.

top2018.png

 14. Adam and Victoria’s solid relationship

They might not be the most dramatic couple in The Dales but they’re easily the sweetest and one of the most settled. At the start of the year Adam had to face the heartbreak that baby Johnny wasn’t actually his son after all and it’s a real shame that this heavy emotional drama, which gave Adam and Vic some great material, was brushed under the carpet very quickly. After this they both settled into the background, but they remained a constant reminder of what a cute and well suited couple they are as they dealt with their families’ bigger dramas. Adam and Vic are a nice reminder of a solid and relatable couple and Emmerdale should use them a lot more!

top2026.png

13. Rhona discovers Paddy’s affair

Okay so the Paddy/Tess affair was a real lowlight of 2015/2016, coming close to ruining Paddy’s character forever but the thrilling shock of Tess’s death and Rhona’s discovery of the affair almost made the hot mess of the storyline worth it. Rhona finding out about the affair came after the accident meaning she could never confront Tess and never really get any closure (which might be why she latched onto Pierce so readily). Paddy received the brunt of Rhona’s devastation, including a shock slap, but Rhona didn’t hold back on Tess either, calling her a bitch. After a quiet 2015, it was fantastic to see Rhona take such a prominent role in the show, particularly with Zoe Henry showcasing her skill at taking Rhona from the guts and fire of her anger to her anguished heartbreak.

top2022.png

12. Laurel’s on-going struggle

Charlotte Bellamy continues to be one of Emmerdale’s biggest assets as 2016 was another big year for Laurel. Contending with Ashley’s illness and deterioration as well as her pregnancy is enough for anyone to cope with, but Laurel had the added battle with her alcohol addiction as the pressure on her mounted. Charlotte gives impressive performance after impressive performance, whether she’s being vicious under the strain of responsibility, or quiet and fragile at her breaking point. I can only imagine how crushing her reaction will be when Ashley dies and I’m sure Charlotte will be picking up lots of awards in the new year.

top2009.png

11. Paddy’s return

This time last year the Paddy we knew and loved felt like a distant memory and many of us were united in the utter hatred of his affair plot with Tess (RIP). Fast forward to August, Paddy had been working in Germany and he came back to us, fresh and funny and like the man we’d thought we’d lost. Back were the one-liners, the stuttered buffoonery, the brilliant bromance with Marlon and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The character and the audience really benefitted from the breather off-screen. Now the Tess plot is all but a distant memory and even Paddy admitted was the biggest mistake he’d made (shading storyline decisions maybe?), but I’m just glad he’s back to his best.

Come back tomorrow to read my Top 10 of 2016!

Emmerdale’s Christmas episode: The Best Bits

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, unless your name happens to be Joanie or Zak Dingle. This year’s Christmas episode was a fairly low-key and happy affair with even the Thomas family finding happiness despite Ashley’s illness, but there was a lot to enjoy about the episode so I thought I’d share my best bits!

x1

The music montages! The REAL snow!

The episode opened like the perfect Christmas movie, with Mariah in the background and Aaron’s happy little family of Robert and Liv enjoying the flurry (and throwing a few snowballs in Carly’s direction). We cut to Zak seeing signs to do with Lisa at every turn, and Lisa herself snuggling with Alfie and Moira woke alone. It was the most festive opening to an episode you could ever hope for. And it continued throughout the episode, with a Last Christmas montage of dinners and happiness and loneliness, to a final music moment at the end with Zak slinking away cold and alone.

x2

The little touches

What made this Christmas episode so good was the little moments we could all relate to. Things like: Sandy wanting a selection box breakfast, Dan being more interested in Kyle’s present than he was, Adam’s saucy present for Vic that he didn’t want her to open in front of his mum, Jimmy struggling with the little screws and a lack of batteries, Chas’s insistence that everyone wear a paper hat, drunken charades! These all made our beloved characters come to like in instantly relatable and believable scenes. They were great character moments that made these feel like real family Christmases.

x3

The humour

With Christmas comes alcohol and giggles and there was no shortage in this episode either. From Pete’s awkward mince pie judging competition, which Ross made fantastically uncomfortable (plus Emma is just as good at comedy as she is unnerving villainy!), to Jimmy’s kettle angst, to Harriet’s realisation Pearl is trying to turn her into a Mini Me, to Chas being drunkenly touchy feely with Aaron and Robert in their loathed Xmas jumpers. Thankfully all the humour came from a fun place and didn’t involve Kerry madness, but let’s face it the turkey/peacock plot thread was a weird one!

x4

The heart

There were a number of moments where my heart was sufficiently warmed like a big mug of mulled wine in the Christmas special. Ashley’s brief reprieve where he joined in with the carol and Gabby found the heartfelt gifts he’d prepared when his condition wasn’t so bad were particularly emotive moments that brought home the tragedy of their family situation. Little Elliot King also warmed hearts as he cuddled up to Nicola, wishing that she was his mother. Total Christmas fluff and exactly what this episode needed.

x5

The end of Zak and Joanie (and Lisa fighting back)

One of the big plot points for the episode was the dissolution of Zak and Joanie, exactly a year since the wishbone debacle and the reveal of their affair (to which this year’s episode had a lot of callbacks!). Denise Black gave an impressive performance in the subtle way she showed Joanie’s heartbreak and isolation amongst the Dingle clan as Zak obliviously slipped into old habits and shut her out. Their end of episode confrontation was charged and finally gave Joanie the backbone she deserved in the face of Zak’s uselessness. Lisa too came out of the episode looking strong and powerful as she rejected Zak and fumed as she told him it was too late for his regrets. Well executed and a nice symmetry to last year’s scenes.

x6

Hope for Cain and Moira

Another storyline in the episode which offered a feeling of warmth was the thawing atmosphere between Cain and Moira. Despite her claiming their night together was a mistake, Moira still listened to the mixtape he left her and there was definite chemistry between them when Cain bought Kyle to see the reindeers. She might not be ready to let on that she listened to the mixtape, or give him another chance, but the feelings between them are lingering and there was all the slow burn magic between them that makes for a winning soap couple.