Fave or Fail? (11-15 Feb 2019)

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

Faves

Marlon’s Wake-up Call

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

Nicola’s Downfall

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

Sharma Spark Back?

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

Fails

Jessie’s Boys

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

UnBEARable and Unfunny

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

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Fave or Fail? (7-11 Jan 2019)

faveorfail

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

Faves

Life or Death

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

Old School Vibes

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

Remembering the Past

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

Fails

The Final Finale

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

Heeeere’s Donny

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

Scene of the Week (7-11 Jan 2019)

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Unlucky Vanessa was in the wrong place at the wrong time this week as vengeful Donny, doing son Lachlan’s bidding tried to set fire to The Woolpack. Fearless Ness tried to confront him and ended up being stabbed with broken glass as the pub lit up in flames and Donny bolted, with little Johnny in the backseat. The episode’s best scene was Vanessa trying to scuttle away from the fire, clutching her side and already suffering with the wound. After a trembling call to Charity, the Dingle gathering dispersed to put out the fire. It was quite arresting to see the pub on fire and it’s been a while since the pub’s been at the heart of a stunt like this. It was full throttle tension as the blaze roared and Vanessa bled out on the ground, crying for her boy. At the heart of any good stunt should always be an emotional punch and Michelle Hardwick’s performance was the real highlight, as Vanessa’s gave desperate pleas for Charity to find her son.

Fave or Fail? (31 Dec 2018-4 Jan 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! New year but not so happy, as Matty faced a horrific attack and Dawn overdosed.

Faves

Matty’s New Year Hell

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-14h01m34s182Showing Matty facing a transphobic attack, and his emotional and physical struggles in the fall-out, was original ground for Emmerdale this week, but a story worth telling. I love stories that dig deep into a character and this story did just that. Alongside Matty’s resilience, he leant on his support network and aired his pain in a series of emotive conversations. Enjoyable stories also use supportive characters in interesting ways and Cain was a welcome, refreshing presence in Matty’s life. It was also a smart move to link Matty’s desire for revenge with Cain’s PTSD over Joe’s death and use this as a bridge between stories. We’re used to seeing Matty as a happy, well-liked guy in the village so the attack really resonated and the fear in Ash Palmisciano’s performance was chill-inducing – hopefully an eye-opener for viewers ignorant to transphobia.

Tender Loving Care

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-13h56m01s854Without question Bernice and Liam’s relationship is one of my Emmerdale favourites and this week was a perfect example as to why. After Bernice’s age obsession and amusing health kick (in which poor Liam faced a future of quinoa), she took things too far and got Kerry to inject her face. After hospitalisation her relationship with Liam was fragile after her stupid mistake but after a brief wobble he called her beautiful and perfect, wishing she would realise he loves her as she is. As the pair realised he’d said those three special words they shared a kiss. I’m a sucker for their sweet and funny romance and unlike other Dales couples, their love has blossomed into something that feels right for both characters. There’s enough personality and comedy in this partnership for it to last and last, and I would love to see them make a go of this troublesome big happy family!

Hospital Heart-to-Hearts

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-13h59m35s261I loved seeing Bernice’s family rally round her this week in the wake of her horrible allergic reaction. Not only did this give Samantha Giles something serious to get her teeth into, but I enjoyed all the conflicting personalities in the big family scenes. One of the week’s most surprising and touching moments was Nicola and Leanna bonding, as Nicola opened up to the meddling teen, in an effort to stop Leanna trying to split up Bernice and Liam, telling her how she’d devastated Rodney by trying to ruin his relationship. With Leanna’s own backstory making her more sympathetic this week, she shared a touching scene with Bernice as the two made progress in forming a bond. This week was full of great character moments and conversations and this story had plenty.

A Change in Cain

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-14h01m54s752Several Emmerdale fans mentioned it this week – but it was a funny turn of events when viewers are sympathising with poor beaten-to-death Cain, because he was unable to use his trademark violence – and all because Cain thinks he killed Joe with one punch! We’re so used to seeing Cain pulping someone black and blue that seeing him be the target was shocking viewing. The change was quite a shock, and an interesting direction for him, but not one I hope will last. It’s not one of my favourite stories, particularly as the warmth from Cain and Moira’s marriage seems to have evaporated since she became a mob wife, but Jeff Hordley’s shaken performances have been well worth watching.

Starting Over

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-14h03m53s148Not only has Dawn become an engaging and likeable new character in the village, she’s even brought Harriet to life. I don’t want Emmerdale to rush their almost mother-daughter reunion, and nor do I want it to be as on/off as Charity and Ryan’s is, but good scripts and poignant moments as the women shared their history have helped to flesh out Harriet’s character so she’s less of a cardboard vicar. Even as Harriet revealed their connection to others, I felt invested in her attachment to Dawn and her guilt and even though the box of memories has never been seen before, I could buy into Harriet’s recently written backstory as having always been an element of why she became a vicar. I’m surprised by how good this story is, but I don’t want a quick fix after years of resentment from Dawn.

Bonus Faves:

  • The Matty/Vic/Ellis supportive trio is one I hope lasts and lasts – I hope their romantic intentions don’t get in the way of this great threesome of friendship.
  • Ryan and Dawn’s budding relationship is really endearing – don’t rush this Emmerdale!
  • The final episode of 2018 had a really good New Year’s Eve feeling – lots of celebration, a heart-warming moment for Charity and Ryan and a horrible moment for Matty to kickstart a new story.

Fails

Minor Fails

  • I know its purpose was to trigger Bernice’s paranoia, but did Priya’s flirtation with Dr C have to be so embarrassingly over the top? All her porno moans reminded me of that terrible time she was at her worst with Pete. Ugh.
  • Charity’s hypocrisy over Dawn might have been to protect Ryan but her lack of empathy felt particularly prickly after everything she went through last year. And did we really need a repeat of her on/off developments with Ryan? Just as things were looking up!

Mums at War

vlcsnap-2019-01-06-13h58m48s852Billy’s arrival has already caused quite a stir but the fall-out is really missing the mark. The root of the problems is the history between Aaron and Billy, but instead of letting those characters resolve their past or prolong their rift, Emmerdale has opted for the least interesting path of all and let their whiny mothers fight it out, acting as if their sons are helpless children. Both Jessie and Chas’s personalities grate when they’re looking out for their “boys” and it’s more like mums at war in the playground, both blindly raging on. Headache inducing. Emmerdale has a good story here for Jessie’s desperation for Billy not to become a statistic, but instead of this driving the story it’s her insistence that Billy has done nothing wrong and that Aaron is also a thug. Billy might be trying to change, but us viewers saw the impact of Aaron’s prison bullying and it’s not easy to watch it being dismissed so easily by those who are Team Billy. Marlon too is in a tough position, but asking us to invest in his support of Billy against the Dingles requires a firm belief in the “true love” he has with Jessie and I don’t think I’m there yet. Billy? Aaron? Ellis – does this affect his job or his relationship with Vic? Robert – who uncharacteristically beat Billy? Nowhere to be seen. The really gritty, interesting dynamics here are just being passed over.

Fave or Fail? (24-28 Dec 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Jessie and Marlon got married on Christmas Day and Bernice had a meltdown over turning 50.

Faves

Family Fall Out

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-13h38m47s054Billy’s arrival in Emmerdale this week gave a welcome injection of drama into the Grant/Dingle household, which until then had been rather pedestrian. In just four episodes Billy has given us a Dingle rift, challenged loyalties, tested Jessie and Marlon’s relationship and hinted at a long-term rivalry between brothers Ellis and Billy. Already Billy seems like a complex and charismatic individual, capable of trouble, but also able to fleece his mum where needed. His arrival has added some much needed depth to Jessie too, causing her to make questionable decisions but for believable reasons. Billy hasn’t done or said much yet but it’s clear there’s a lot more to him and that kind of intrigue is exactly what Emmerdale needs as we head into the new year. He’s really shaken things up and if that also means a lot more Ellis, then it’s really promising!

Bernice’s Birthday

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-13h34m32s196This week had episodes full of classic Bernice hilarity as her feud with Nicola continued and she despaired over turning 50. After another bust up with her sister on Christmas Day, Bernice spent the rest of the week feeling fragile about her impending birthday, especially now she’s with a younger man. When she found out Liam and Nicola had been talking about her birthday, she charged over to see her, crying “Snake!” and proceeding to get smashed on white wine with Matty. Samantha Giles delivers Bernice’s amazing one-liners and brilliantly bonkers behaviour with fantastic timing and the scenes got even funnier when she walked in on her surprise party and popped all the balloons. We’ve been treated to so many funny OTT Bernice moments over the years and these were up there with some of her best.

Made for Each Other

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-13h39m34s308As Marlon and Jessie made their vows during the Christmas Day episode, after Jessie had planned such a huge surprise wedding, I couldn’t help but wish it was Sam and Lydia in their place. Not only had Sam’s enthusiasm about marrying Lydia been so endearing, and his subsequent disappointment so crushing, but they’re a couple who we’ve known for much longer. If any Dingle wedding should have been a big feel-good bonanza, it should have been them. With young Samson realising how upset his dad was, he spoke to Lydia and got the pair of them to have their own sort of ceremony outside, complete with cracker ring. It was a short but sweet moment, but it carried a lot more emotional weight than the big wedding carrying on in the barn next door. Maybe next year, eh?

Christmas Celebrations

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-13h43m44s580Christmas was mostly centred on Jessie and Marlon’s, but we did get a nice glimpse into other Christmases in the village. The opening montage showed us all the traditional Christmas festivities, with present opening and the kids playing with their toys. I really enjoyed seeing all the dysfunctional family Christmas dinners and disasters as it’s these slices of real life that make Emmerdale feel like an authentic, real-world place. The wedding itself was a highlight if only to see Cain Dingle on the dancefloor, but it was Christmas in the midst of Nicola and Bernice’s war that was most fun for me. I could have done without vomiting Marlon and friends of Jessie who we’ve never heard of before!

Bother for Bob

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-13h38m12s127Emmerdale have managed to achieve the impossible with Bob – they’ve actually made him likeable again! After the disastrous Bobel affair, sympathy for Bob was low and we lost the cheeky café owner for someone far more cold and selfish. Now that Bob’s down on his luck, with nowhere to go and short of money, it’s hard not to feel sorry for him. You could argue Bob made his bed, but over Christmas week we really saw Bob struggle and feel unable to ask for help. Bob’s always trying to please and after letting the kids down, he did his best to give them the presents they wanted, resorting to degrading work, pawning the watch the kids gave him and only managing to buy them one gift, second-hand. With his disappointed kids and high living costs at the BnB, the pressure is piling on Bob, but I’m just glad he finally feels like the man we know and love again.

Fail

Anti-Climax

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Billy’s Christmas Day arrival didn’t just cause friction in the Jessie and Marlon household, but sent Aaron into turmoil when he recognised Billy as someone who helped torture him in prison. This was an unexpected plot twist and as well as splintering Marlon’s Dingle loyalty, it gave Aaron some horrible reminders of what he went through in prison. This was made even worse when Billy moved in next door and Aaron faced the prospect of seeing his abuser every day. Though we’re well used to Aaron-angst, the surprises continued when it was revealed Billy was attacked and Robert faced a GBH charge when he handed himself in. While audience speculation was rife that Rob was covering for someone else, the story’s conclusion fell flat as Billy dropped the charges just a day later. Surely Emmerdale could have milked the tension a bit longer? It all felt a bit stop-start after a gripping beginning. The Billy drama rumbles on in Marlon’s household and is brimming with potential, but considering Robert’s extreme act and potential life-changing consequences, the resolution for Robron felt far too abrupt and was a waste of potential.

 

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2018 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a big year that saw arrivals, returns and exits, Emmerdale 2018 had many memorable moments. Here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20. Brenda Bites Back

Brenda isn’t usually a character that makes my Top 20 list, but after being cheated on by Bob, Brenda’s really come into her own. Lesley Dunlop has shone this year in emotive performances as Brenda expressed her agony, but as the pain turned to bitterness, her wicked one-liners also proved entertaining. After Brenda’s devastating discovery of Bob’s affair she bottled her heartbreak and began a secret campaign against Bob and Laurel, saving the explosive showdown for much later in the year. Having hated Bob and Laurel, I was firmly Team Brenda all the way especially after their wedding day crumpled when she realised how unhappy he was with her. Since then, Brenda had to pick up the pieces with the kids and remain strong, even when weak-willed Bob came crawling. Maybe Brenda is the true hero of 2018 after all.

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19. Losing Grace

One of Emmerdale’s biggest storylines this year was Chas and Paddy and the loss of their baby Grace. This long-running story is one which resonated deeply with a lot of bereaved viewers and explored a range of emotions, from anger and denial to numbness, during the couple’s grief. For me, the moments Chas and Paddy suffered privately were their strongest, breaking down alone and too scared to talk, but their explosion at each other showed a believable ugliness in the aftermath. Supportive characters like Marlon and Faith were a welcome, warm tonic from the prolonged periods of sadness this story produced.

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18. Kim Tate’s Return

The hotly-anticipated return of iconic superbitch Kim Tate shook Home Farm and its visitors when, straight from her prison release, she rocked up in October. This was more of a teaser than anything long-lasting, but her sharp tongued cattiness was a fun injection of camp in the rather dry halls of Home Farm. Unfortunately Kim’s presence was bogged down by a plodding backstory with Graham and an anti-climactic masquerade ball, but her ruthless reintroduction was merely a taster of what’s to come, and I’m hoping for great things in 2019!

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17. Sarah’s transplant

As usual it was another year of misery for Debbie, but it was her daughter’s health crisis which was the most believable and compelling story. Young Katie Hill did a great job with this sad story, displaying a stubbornness just like her mother as she suffered heart failure and initially refused treatment. This story was rife with divisions as Sarah learnt Debbie was behind Ross’s acid attack, but it was characters like Joe, Charity and Faith who brought some much needed levity to the situation and helped show Sarah she hadn’t even begun living yet. This was another story grounded in reality, a horrible situation many parents face and the onscreen relationship between Charley Webb and Katie made the vulnerable hospital moments authentic and heartbreaking.

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16. More Community Spirit

If there’s anything a village should have, then it’s community spirit. Sometimes in Emmerdale that isn’t always the case, but this year there have been plenty of times we’ve seen a real community feel and I hope this carries on into 2019! Whether it’s impromptu strip shows with the men of the village, rebuilding Wishing Well cottage, a group outing to a gay bar, parties and celebrations, fireworks to remember Gerry, or even a big masked ball at Home Farm – there have been plenty of occasions this year for the villagers to mix. These events give characters who don’t usually interact the chance to chat, forming new friendships and fun interactions. More importantly it’s an entertaining way to make Emmerdale village feel more real and have stories intersect rather than filming blocks distract from the everyday authenticity of village life.

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15. Noah Tate

Noah had a big year as he tried to find his place in the world when 2018 began with the Dingles at war with his villainous big brother, Joe Tate. With mum Charity hating Noah’s bond with Joe, Noah became more determined to learn about his roots and soon the brothers were bonding well. Mischievous Noah brought out Joe’s softer side and the actors had a believable onscreen rapport. Actor Jack Downham impressed me several times throughout the year as he faced difficult times within his family, managing to be empathetic even when he can be a bit of a teenage brat. Since Joe’s “disappearance” and feeling isolated by Charity, Noah has really struggled. With Jack’s performances getting better and better, and Noah’s complex relationship with Charity being one of her most interesting dynamics, I hope big things are ahead for him in 2019.

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14. Adam Barton’s Exit

January 2018 feels like a long time ago now, but back then we lost one of Emmerdale’s original Barton boys as Adam went on the run for Emma’s murder, protecting his mum, Moira. Adam’s imprisonment was a bit of a mess story-wise, and even though his last episode was the trademark “on the run” Emmerdale exit, the final episode itself had an entertaining escape plan and finished with scenes that were full of heart. Actor Adam Thomas really pulled on the heart stings as he left Moira an emotional voicemail to say goodbye and shared meaningful final scenes with best mate Aaron and estranged wife Victoria. It might have happened months ago now, but much like it has for Victoria, it still made a lasting impression!

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13. Ryan Stocks

Perhaps the best part of Charity’s story this year was the arrival of the son she thought had died, Ryan Stocks. Ryan has been a breath of fresh air to the village and in Charity’s life, being full of cutting humour as well as having a kind-hearted nature. Charity and Ryan’s first meeting were some of the best scenes of the year, as she dealt with her shock and guilt and he showed her compassion. Newcomer James Moore has made a great impression on Emmerdale fans already and it’s been refreshing to have a prominent disabled character join the village in a likeable and quick-witted role.

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12. The Robron Wedding

Hearts soared this year as Robert and Aaron finally got their much-longed-for legal wedding in a touching special day. 2017’s wedding was hit with Robron fans, so any second shot was going to be hard to match, but Emmerdale pulled out all the stops for a classy affair this time, with romantic speeches, happy tears and matching décor. A happily married couple on their wedding day is a rare event in soap, but after the struggle to get there it was earned.

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11. Charity’s Flashback Episode

Last year’s trip into Cain and Faith’s past, complete with young recasts was such a success that Emmerdale went back in time again, this time to Charity’s dark past. Arguably the strength of Emma Aktin’s retelling of her abuse in earlier episodes rendered this flashback episode surplus to the story, but the special scenes illustrated Charity’s captivating history and the transitions between past and present were nicely done. This kind of episode relies on a killer performer and thankfully Emma fulfilled that role perfectly, but it’s probably time for Emmerdale to give the flashbacks a rest for a while.

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2018.

Fave or Fail? (17-21 Dec 2018)

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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! As the villagers prepared for Christmas, Sarah trashed Home Farm and Bernice slapped Nicola.

Faves

The Perfect Couple

vlcsnap-2018-12-22-11h39m37s680Eric and Faith are one of Emmerdale’s finest assets. Both actors are capable of intense emotional drama (as we also saw when they first got together and Faith worried about her scars) but their comedy has warmth and big belly laughs. With Rodney hanging around like a bad smell, Faith was getting seriously fed up with their bromance and set out to cause friction between Pollard and Rodders. After her interrupted seduction plan with Eric (see my Scene of the Week) failed, she tried to bribe Eric to do the job for her. But when Rodney believed he was being invited for Xmas dinner, the only trick Faith had was a rouse with Eric on board. Knowing the awkwardness would cause Rodney to leave, Faith set to work pretending to seduce Rodney (as his escort alter-ego Hunter) only to be rumbled by Eric. The plan worked perfectly and the saucy couple had the house to themselves again. Eric and Faith have great chemistry and their wickedly fun scenes gave Emmerdale a huge source of fun this week. This pair are a dream to watch and I hope they last and last. Emmerdale is a poorer show without them.

Gripping Story

vlcsnap-2018-12-22-11h40m34s782The Maya and Jacob story really stepped up a gear this week as we continued to see Maya’s manipulations at play in her efforts to groom Jacob. The writers are mastering Maya’s subtle techniques as she piled on the pressure to keep Jacob quiet and guilt him into feeling bad. She’s belittling him, as well as keeping the other adults at bay, ensuring Jacob feels isolated and gaslighted. Poor Jacob is already heartbroken by her behaviour but as he tried to make Maya jealous, things got even messier as he involved both Liv and Gabby. With Liv struggling with her asexuality, and Gabby always holding a torch for Jacob, the fall out looks like it’ll be ugly and complicated. Now that Maya’s moved in with all of David’s exes, I worry that Maya’s smart enough to turn the whole situation around on Jacob and act like Little Miss Innocent. It’s an uncomfortable, difficult watch but increasingly gripping. Emmerdale needs more stories like this.

Christmas Spirit

vlcsnap-2018-12-22-11h37m57s803The village certainly wasn’t lacking a festive feeling this year as we saw Christmas jumpers a-plenty, beautiful decorations and a lovely community spirit. I’m glad my funny favourites Sam and Lydia are playing a big role over the Christmas period as Sam chasing round “Chrimbo” the turkey was typical Dingle silliness and Christmas is a good time to see as many of the villagers as possible having a good time. I loved seeing the Christmas choir and all the everyday preparations, as it’s these elements that give the village that authentic feeling. Jessie and Marlon might not be my favourite pairing, but I’m looking forward to all the Christmas clichés and traditions among the unconventional surprise wedding.

Sisters at War

vlcsnap-2018-12-22-11h41m56s769After Nicola’s determination to be in Graham’s good books (to further her and Robert’s scheme), she’s ended up falling out with her sister Bernice after she handed her an eviction notice. Nicola and Bernice are two of my favourite Emmerdale characters and their barbed bitterness has already been entertaining as they grumbled over the prospect of spending Christmas together. This week’s scenes produced some hilarious singing rivalry in the church Christmas choir as well as using Laurel as a go between when they refused to speak to each other. I loved Diane getting involved too, threatening to give Nicola a fat lip in the funny way only Diane can. Christmas Day around the turkey is bound to be good fun!

Fails

New Lows

vlcsnap-2018-12-22-11h35m32s328Daz’s attempts to leave the village must have reached double figures now, but once again he stuck around after Amelia begged for him to stay. The question here should be: why? Daz’s biggest fault thus far has mostly being criminally dull, but he sunk to a new low this week as he let Amelia confessed to his hit and run crime. Why has she forgiven him so easily? Sure he might be her bio dad but he’s not been a constant presence in her life. Why would she go so far to protect him and then beg him to stick around? This was a really flimsy story. Luckily for her Graham lied to the police so the kids could go free and Daz was saved any consequences, but Dan’s anger was minimal at best. Were the producers just rescuing us from another big Spencer brotherly split? It seemed like Kerry was the only one rightly outraged as Daz shrugged off his behaviour, but the way the rest of the family acted, you’d be forgiven for thinking Kerry was in the wrong. I can’t understand all these second chances for Daz. He offers little to the Spencers, and he offers even less to Emmerdale. Who knows, maybe there will be another bus ticket with his name on soon…

Getting Away With It All

vlcsnap-2018-12-22-11h35m45s801If there’s any character who needed a change of pace it’s Debbie Dingle. It was always going to be difficult to punish Debbie after the acid attack and it seems like Emmerdale tied themselves in knots to try and make her seem as guilty and remorseful as possible. But since Joe’s exit, feeling betrayed, Debbie’s chip on her shoulder has got even bigger. She might not have meant for acid, but her and the family’s indignant response to her facing the consequences have been a bitter pill to swallow. Even young Sarah has taken on her mother’s most unlikeable traits. This week Debbie walked free and many viewers felt frustrated at the lack of justice, made worse by the face the trial happened completely off screen. Were we meant to be relieved she got off? Debbie seems to have learnt nothing from her selfish actions and this is making her character stagnant and unlikeable. If anything I’d have liked to see Debbie face community service, just to shake her up and set her on a different path. All this woe-is-me bitterness is only going to get worse when she finds out about Joe. Debbie’s personality needs an overhaul and it’s a shame Emmerdale wasted the opportunity.

Fave or Fail? (10-14 Dec 2018)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Debbie’s trial began this week and Graham cleaned up his act.

Faves

Consequences of the Past

vlcsnap-2018-12-16-13h32m37s427Dawn is a great new addition to Emmerdale, whose troubled life is played sympathetically by newcomer Olivia Bromley but it looks even more promising now that she’s got a complex history with another villager, vicar Harriet. Dawn’s stunned reaction to Harriet, or “Michelle”, lead to the interesting revelations that Harriet worked undercover as Dawn’s dad’s girlfriend for a big drugs bust. His arrest had many consequences for Dawn, who struggled in care and has recently turned to drugs and prostitution to get by. Dawn’s arrival has thrown Harriet, who believed she was doing the right thing at the time but now faces a moral quandary. While this story has mostly been told in scenes that rehash the past, there’s potential to make Harriet reassess her life choices. This is a topical story too, for those whose lives have been rocked by undercover relationships. I’ve never found Harriet a particularly compelling character and Emmerdale have never given her much to do beyond the church, but this is the perfect chance to peel back the layers. It’s going to be good to watch Harriet and Dawn’s relationship change, but it’s a shame they killed off Dawn’s dad because his arrival could have really shaken Harriet to the core and given her more conflict in her current life rather than just her past.

Family Feels

vlcsnap-2018-12-16-13h40m49s891After recent dithering and dilemma, Jessie took a big step this week and decided to spring a surprise wedding on Marlon. I’m not totally sold on Marlon and Jessie as a couple, but I love their budding family unit and especially the big dose of fun Ellis brings to the household in his banter with April. I loved the scenes this week as they prepared fajitas and Jessie plucked up the courage to ask for April’s permission. With Billy’s arrival bound to cause big upsets in the family, I hope we continues to at least see Ellis bringing his happy-chappy charisma to the village!

Reclaiming the King-dom

vlcsnap-2018-12-16-13h35m11s709Jimmy returned to Emmerdale after a long haulage job took him away and much had changed on his arrival, not only Nicola’s hair do but her career too! Already Nicola’s efforts have been uncovered by Graham, whose giving her increasingly difficult tasks, but it’s been nice to see the Kings with a story again. There’s always something entertaining about these two, even though they do seem to fall into familiar tropes within their marriage as Nicola’s nagging and ambition always results in Jimmy’s weary cries. Nicola’s partnership with Robert is well matched good fun and her marriage to Jimmy is by far one of my favourite relationships in the show. When the rest of Emmerdale is a bit dull story-wise I don’t get tired watching these characters. For a change I’d love to see the Kings gain a little bit of power and I hope the fallout doesn’t damage their lives too much.

Fails

Dull Dates

vlcsnap-2018-12-16-13h39m06s932Megan might not be the most popular character in Emmerdale, but you’ve got to feel bad for the woman. She might have a taste for smooth-voiced men who think they’re sophisticated but they’re also complete bores. She’s been finished with Frank for all of five minutes but now she’s cosying up to Graham and curing his drinking problem. They might have their silver fox charms but their personalities don’t exactly set the relationships alight with chemistry. Rather than hanging off the arm of a schmoozer, I’d love to see Megan in a relationship with a bit more bite than bore. It’s about time her character was given a bit of a shake-up.

Forgotten Child

vlcsnap-2018-12-16-13h34m44s047Even though Noah’s back-chatting and misbehaviour has got him in trouble with the law, Charity’s parenting efforts keep missing him off her list of kids that need her. She might be pre-occupied moving in with Vanessa, but everyone seems far more concerned about Charity’s relationship with Ryan, than the son who needs her the most. Ryan’s an adult, but Noah’s in a precarious hormonal stage and has struggled losing his brother. And yet he’s rarely given a second thought by anyone. It made matters worse this week when Charity hit Marlon after he accused her of being a bad mother and he gave her some harsh home truths. He might have crossed the Dingle line, but didn’t he have a point? Charity’s parenting leaves a lot to be desired and she’d be the first to say it. Her flaws are why she’s such a great character, so why did Marlon have to apologise? Someone needs to give her a wake-up call about Noah before it’s too late.

Fave or Fail? (26-30 Nov 2018)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! After last week’s fail-free list, this week has three. Amongst the laughs this week, Noah rebelled and Vanessa and Charity decided to move in together.

Faves

Hopeless Romantic

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-22h11m01s121Bernice is one of my favourite Emmerdale characters by far, so to see her so crushed this week was heartbreaking. Samantha Giles is a really underrated actress, capable of both laugh out loud comedy as well as something far more poignant. Paired with dishy doc Liam Cavanagh, it seemed like Bernice had a real shot at happiness, if it weren’t for the meddling of Leanna and Gabby. Poor Bernice, desperate to impress Liam, was made a fool of by his daughter and then he had the audacity to side with his vicious daughter. Thankfully Gabby had a change of heart and saw how devastated her hopeless-in-love mother was and did her best to fix things. I really loved Emmerdale exploring their unconventional relationship and Gabby’s love for her mum was clear in scenes this week. I was glad to see that Bernice realised her worth too and didn’t rush to let Liam get away with his callous behaviour. She made him work for it – and too right. I’m a big fan of Bernice and Liam’s romance, but more than anything Bernice needs to be loved and appreciated for who she is. It’s time to shape up, Liam!

Childcare Chaos

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-21h52m15s956Who’d have thought that two weeks’ running chaotic childcare would be one of Emmerdale’s highlights? This week it was Charity’s turn, desperate to prove her mothering credentials to Vanessa, and enlisting advice from Mumsnet. Charity began the day with gusto, determined to be the hands on mother, the envy of all the forum posters. But naturally, mayhem ensued. Not only were we treated to some cracking dialogue as Charity marvelled at her discovery of the infamous mum’s forum, the adorable Moses and Johnny but also the winning formula of Marlon and Charity. Pairing up Charity and Marlon in the pub was a stroke of pure genius and since then the two have shared more comedy capers than ever. Mocking Marlon teased Charity with his wicked sense of humour and his amazing facial expressions were brilliant. The two of them trying to cover up Charity’s mistakes, as the kids locked themselves in the cellar was great fun. This is the type of everyday humour Emmerdale does best. 

Golden Oldies

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-22h09m38s462Rather than giving heartfelt advice this week, Eric was busy getting legless with Rodney and nursing the mother of all hangovers behind their Blues Brothers style sunglasses. There’s something endearingly brilliant about these two chaps getting drunk and suffering the next day, especially when they involved Faith. But Faith’s a smart cookie and she realised Rodney and Eric’s plans to keep Rodders in their household was all just a ruse, giving them both a knowing glance. Faith might think there’s a crowd but it’s brilliant dynamic. Still, much like Faith, I think it’s about time Eric grew up a bit and gave Faith some proper commitment. Isn’t it about time Faith made Eric a Dingle?

Fails

No Fireworks

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-22h12m55s173Sometimes you blink and miss a whole storyline. In Frank and Megan’s case, they were reunited and split before anyone much noticed. I’ve spoken before about this couple’s lack of spark and once again they split this week, even though we must be on double figures now. But far from the soap favourite trope of an on/off couple with a fiery and destructive love affair, Megan and Frank’s relationship is nothing more than a whimper. Considering Frank is an ex-con and Megan is a successful business woman, with a malevolent brother, you’d think their relationship could be electric. Sadly all it’s done is waste two decent actors in a soulless romance. Maybe this is the powers that be getting ready for a Kim and Frank romance, but I just hope they remember to make both Megan and Frank interesting in the meantime.

What Was the Point?

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-21h53m50s636All my favourite stories this week have been ones with warm belly laughs but when it came to the art con plot, this cringy conclusion felt more like a bad sitcom (complete with dodgy wigs and accents) rather than Emmerdale at its best. For all the screen time spent on Clive and his con, he buggered off almost as soon as he arrived making me wonder what his purpose was? Was it just to give Leyla something to do outside of David dramas – in which case, she can do much better than this unfunny story – or was it just to split Megan and Frank AGAIN? Sometimes Emmerdale comedy can hit the mark and make my affection swell, but other times it’s painful. The art con was the latter and had it not been for Leyla’s glamorous appearances, I might’ve skipped these scenes altogether. Not only does she deserve better, but we all do.

Stuck in a Limbo

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-22h13m35s334Although Emmerdale seem to think endless scenes of Graham’s drunken breakdown is worth watching, I can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm. Although self pitying drunks seem to be a prerequisite for Home Farm owners, Graham doesn’t even have the hammy comedic value of Lawrence and Graham’s disheveled growling isn’t much different from his monosyllabic butler schtick. Truth be told, Graham might be ex-SAS but he just isn’t all that interesting. We have seen the same scenes over and over and it just seems to be a way to kill time for Kim’s arrival. Not even the promise of Cain’s “involvement” in Joe’s death raises much enthusiasm because even that reveal has been dragged to a snail’s pace. Rather than have Cain and Debbie’s relationship implode and explore new ground, we’re stuck in limbo. Then there’s the biggest problem of all – we didn’t even see Joe’s death, so all this glowering and menace feels hollow when they’ve left Joe’s fate ambiguous.