Quote of the Week (28 Oct-1 Nov 2019)

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Vinny: If Lydia never knew she had the money, has she really lost anything?
Marlon: Yes, now is not the time to get existential, Vinny.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Oct 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! Emmerdale pushed the boat out (literally) for its big stunt and Chas gave birth.

Faves

Cain’s Carnage

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h46m50s408If there’s one character who owned the week, it was Cain Dingle. There’s a reason why Cain is so popular among viewers and ultimately it comes down to the brilliance of Jeff Hordley’s portrayal. This week was a blockbuster week for Cain as he learnt Moira was cheating. First he pummelled the wrong target (oops, poor Pete) and then on learning the real culprit was Nate, staged an elaborate (and let’s face it a convoluted/ridiculous) revenge plot. With Cain’s pain, fury and below the surface seething playing out perfectly in Jeff’s face, I’m not convinced the week needed a random boat explosion, when the showdown was satisfying on its own but the underwater scenes were visually impression. It’s unclear what’s next for Cain and Moira, particularly when her motivation to cheat was unsatisfying and unsympathetic, but the pair have undeniable chemistry even at war. Whatever happens, Cain’s total breakdown will be worth watching for Jeff’s performances alone.

Prison Pain

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h47m34s909Robert faced his sentencing this week in a plot thread that felt a bit lost in the show’s stunt week after last week’s thrilling focus. However this didn’t deter from the emotional performances as both Robert and Aaron tried to put on a brave face. As Aaron suffered alone at home watching a video from his husband, his prison break out plan abandoned after some tough and quite uncompassionate berating from his family, Robert faced his own despair in a prison cell. This heartbreak was a nice juxtaposition of scenes and Aaron’s dark mood clouded the rest of the week in a way that was fitting to the tragedy of the situation. The performances and grief following last week have been spot on, but my only fear is after last week’s great scenes, the momentum has been lost a little.

Faith Says Farewell

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h49m51s449We said goodbye to Sally Dexter this week as Faith, in a way that felt surprisingly final. Since it was announced Faith would be leaving the Dales, there was hope it was just a break, but the framing of Friday’s scenes felt like we might not see Faith again for a long time – if ever again. Even though her exit itself seemed rushed, especially with only a handful of characters available to say goodbye, Sally Dexter had a final week of big dramatic performances and not just the barbed comments and comedy she’s often been used for. Faith’s been quite brash and divisive but she’s also been someone who’s felt right at home from the start and fit into the village perfectly. From her troubled role as a parent to Chas and Cain to the touching romance with Eric, it was good to see both of these explored in her final episode. Faith’s been one of those great morally grey characters who can inspire empathy even in the worst of her behaviour. She’ll be a real loss to the show.

Light and Shade

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h52m35s674In among all the high drama this week was Chas giving birth in the pub toilets with only Marlon to hand. Scenes of someone giving birth in the wrong place at the wrong time are done often in soap, but these were lifted by the reliably amusing Marlon and of course the drunken chaos of Mandy and Bob next door. In fact those two, plus Lydia, would be a great full time addition to the bar staff. Every big week needs a lighter story and this worked well, especially when Chas and Paddy’s joy felt earned after last year’s tragedy.

Fails

Bonus Fail

  • It seems like someone at Emmerdale had a short term memory this week! First Chas managed to learn Moira had cheated on Cain twice, once in the first Thursday episode, then again at the end of the second episode. Baby brain or a mistake slipping through the net? Then Chas chose the name “Eve” for her new baby, totally forgetting about Eve Jenson who was her mortal enemy and cheated with Carl. Would you really name your child after someone you hated? Seems like Emmerdale forgot all about that big story. Finally, the discovery Faith had been involved in preventing Cain from knowing about pregnant Cara was baffling as we’d already seen how Faith had abandoned her kids when they were very young – so how did her involvement work? Considering the special flashback episode dealing with Cain and Faith’s past was less than two years ago, this seems like a really clunky mistake. When the big twist doesn’t gel with established canon, it weakens the satisfying element of a twist!

More Torture for Victoria

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h49m27s269Some viewers had already predicted that cute hospital guy Luke would have some sort of dark connection to Lee, but I was naively hoping that Emmerdale wouldn’t go down such a convoluted and cruel route. Wrong. The glimmer of hope and happiness for Vic was not to be, which considering what she’s suffered through this year feels particularly mean spirited. This week she discovered Luke was Lee’s brother, another spawn of the vile Wendy’s and so Vic’s chance for a fresh start away from her trauma and her rapist is not to be. Isn’t this a bit needless? If Vic couldn’t have justice, then a clean break, empowered against Lee’s awful mother would have been a start. I fear Emmerdale will explore a relationship between the two and try and soften Wendy that way but Victoria deserves much better.

Twist Shock?

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h51m21s558So, Nate is Cain’s son, eh? Who’d have thought it? Well…quite a few viewers to be honest. Was there ever going to be a twist big and shocking enough to please every viewer? Probably not. But there was something uninspired about this predictable route and I’m not convinced it made trashing Moira and her marriage worth it. Perhaps if Emmerdale had worked harder to establish Nate as a character in his own right, or avoided the repetitive affair scenes by having his seduction more prolonged and subtle, perhaps if we as viewers had been in on Nate’s motivation and secret then the gut-punch for Moira and Cain might have meant more. Perhaps if we’d seen hints of Nate’s ulterior motive or even Cain growing to like him so his betrayal and hatred hit with more impact. As it was after the budget blowing stunt, the impact of the secret unravelled quickly in a series of confusing and dull exposition scenes about a character we’ve never met (Cara), that made the backstory of Cain and Faith’s relationship muddled (Faith WAS around in his life apparently and Shadrach was a racist) and wasn’t as exciting as it might have been if we’d been in on the shock all along. Not to mention the fact that Cain is interesting enough without another secret child being brought into the equation – we’ve only just had Ryan and Charity. What Emmerdale seems to have assumed is that Nate is automatically interesting because he’s Cain’s son, but if they want us to be interested in another father/son bonding journey, then they’re going to have to make a bit more effort to write Nate as more than just a plot device.

Scene of the Week (21-25 Oct 2019)

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This scene might not have had a twist, or blown the budget, but it was full of heart. After Chas and Paddy’s tragedy last year it was good to see this quietly happy moment for them and the family. It was played with tenderness as their family shared their love and relief in light of last year. It was a nice touch too for Lydia to be moved, after we learnt of her tragedy this year. Marlon and Paddy had a moment, and even Bear managed not to be a pillock. It worked too for Chas to check in with Aaron and to wonder about Cain, in a way that tied all the big stories together.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Sep 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that saw Jessie leave the village, Aaron and Robert had a revenge mission in mind.

Faves

Jai’s New Challenge

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Jai had a big shock this week when Dan turned up on his doorstep with Jai’s estranged son Archie and learned Rachel had died suddenly. That family don’t have much luck with Ruby, Ali and now Ali’s sister Rachel all dying, the latter two off screen. Admittedly it’s a lazy move to kill off female characters to give male characters some angst, but no one is really going to be missing Rachel in a hurry and with Jai shaping up to be a great character since they ditched the villainy and made him more human, this seems like a good move story-wise. Jai opened up to Laurel about his absence in Archie’s life in exposition heavy but well written and performed scenes and Jai has since really struggled to connect to or talk to his son in any way. Laurel seems like she’ll be the perfect rock for him as she too struggled with addiction and her children experienced the loss of a parent. This also gave another opportunity to unite the families, as Arthur stepped in to try and make Archie feel at home. Who could believe Jai would become one of Emmerdale’s strongest characters at the moment, but it goes to show how a change in direction and a new relationship can do wonders. I hope Emmerdale doesn’t make Jai and Archie’s relationship too easy to fix but I’m looking forward to seeing more of Laurel becoming a key figure in Jai’s life. They could really go the distance.

Robron’s Revenge

vlcsnap-2019-09-22-14h07m52s318It made a surprising change for Aaron and Robert to have some fun this week in stories which actually gave them a win. First they helped Marlon against Al by stealing his vintage car and presenting it to Marlon as a gift – to smash! After this fun deviation from their intense and sad plot leading to Robert’s exit, they also got involved in Mandy’s shady behaviour. Mandy’s return so far hasn’t had the fun and vivacity her earlier stint gave, this time round we’re seeing a meaner, harder version, but she’s still managed to give a new kick to the Dingles. Having learnt she was scrounging off the family, despite having a load of stolen casino chips, Aaron decided to teach her a lesson, by stealing the money back from her and making her believe he’d burnt the cash. It was all a ploy, cooked up by Aaron and reminiscent of the time where Robert had burned a briefcase full of cash to prove his love. This time Robron were laughing, throwing money around before eventually, of course, having sex on it. Mandy was less than pleased to learn they were keeping the cash and using it to make their own family comfortable while Robert’s in prison, but Mandy isn’t keen on letting it lie and there seems much more to this money problem. While it would have been good to see slightly more build up to the rivalry between Mandy and Aaron the revenge stories this week were good fun and gave the actors a chance to do something besides wallow in the tense and devastating impact of Robert’s imprisonment.

Sarah Worries About the Future

vlcsnap-2019-09-22-14h08m42s873We saw Sarah’s rebellious streak this week as Charity’s chicken pox gave her an excuse to skip school again and hang around with new friend Danny. After being caught bunking, Charity and Vanessa attempted to ground her, but Sarah had bigger things to worry about. Slightly smitten by Danny, Sarah argued with Charity that her short life expectancy means she’s unlikely to live to have the full experiences of an average adult and she worried that she would miss out on things her peers take for granted. Sympathetic to this Charity found a way to reunite her with Danny and all was well. I hope this isn’t a short flash of a storyline because it’s an interesting and heart-breaking struggle other teens and young people go through. Actress Katie Hill also does a great job with this kind of material and even while Debbie’s away there’s still plenty of time for Emmerdale to explore this storyline with Sarah and Granny Charity.

Jessie’s Farewell

Emmerdale - Jessie Leaves Emmerdale to Teach in Dubai - YouTubeJessie left this week on a downbeat note with her life in tatters, her marriage over for good. On the bright side she did have a brand new job to start in Dubai! Nevertheless she left Emmerdale in tears, leaving Marlon and April behind in some really nicely written and acted scenes. Although Marlon and Jessie’s marriage never really became beloved by the audience, the breakdown of their relationship over the last fortnight has been well done with great performances from Sandra Marvin, Mark Charnock and Amelia Flanagan. Initially Jessie tried to fight for their relationship, but both her and Marlon knew it was truly over and had to break it to April, who of course had seen many a failed relationship with her dad. Al too has been a great thorn in the side of their relationship as well as making Marlon’s life a misery. He’s been an enjoyable manipulative antagonist to watch, without a pantomime edge that some soap villains have. Despite Jessie’s exit to Dubai being fairly swift, it actually made for an enjoyable storyline, with its emotional centre.

Fails

It Was Only a Kiss

vlcsnap-2019-09-22-14h08m53s000This week Bear and Faith seemed to be stuck in a storyline from weeks ago as Bear tried to get to the bottom of what was happening with Faith and Zak in the cellar – something that happened over a month ago. Of course this is because it’s building to the secret being revealed to Belle and hopefully some decent material for her (Belle’s screen time and grieving since Lisa’s death has been really lacking) but its focus this week seemed a little excessive. The kiss meant nothing, it didn’t go anywhere and Zak and Faith haven’t even been seen together since, so to revisit the story this many weeks later felt clunky. Add to this that Bear hasn’t quite been taken to the hearts of viewers and Faith isn’t at her most enjoyable at the moment, and it was a bit of a meh moment this week.

Scene of the Week (16-20 Sep 2019)

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It’s another Marlon Scene of the Week, but let’s face it, it was another rough week for the poor man! With Al lording it over Marlon, Aaron and Robert decided a little Dingle revenge was in order and after stealing Al’s nice new vintage car they presented it to Marlon for him to smash up. After some hesitance, Marlon relished the opportunity to get pay back and the scenes of Marlon hammering the windscreen were positively gleeful. Mark Charnock played Marlon’s initial timid smacks with great physical comedy and the whole scene was really good fun. It was nice to see Marlon having the upper hand in his own way, however unexpected and it brought some lightness to an emotionally heavy story for him.

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Sep 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw the end of Marlon’s marriage to Jessie and Mandy made her return.

Faves

Marlon’s Marriage Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h15m23s499Unlucky in love Marlon can add another failed marriage to his list as this week his relationship with Jessie came to an end after discovering she’d cheated with Al. There’s always been something mismatched and ill-fitting about Marlon and Jessie as a couple, despite Emmerdale’s hard push to make them work, but ironically, it’s been the breakdown of their marriage that’s been the most watchable. From their disagreements about money, lack of communication and openness between them, the cracks had already begun to appear before Al stuck his nose in. Some couples can come back from a fling, but not Marlon and Jessie. As the pair hashed out their problems in a well written and well acted scene, Marlon acknowledged that he deserved better than being a consolation prize and Jessie deserved not to be tied down to a place and a marriage that didn’t fulfil her. There was a real rawness to Mark Charnock’s performance that made Marlon’s decision both heart breaking and somehow satisfying and their marriage troubles made a surprisingly engaging story throughout the week.

Master Manipulator

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h19m53s817That Al is a nasty piece of work, isn’t he? But oh enjoyably so! This week Al continues to rile things up between Marlon and Jessie and undermine their marriage. And he managed it, with his smooth talking and suave confidence. He is already shaping up to be a villain we’ll love to hate. He had Jessie in the palm of his hand, wafting a job offer in her face and then landing her in it with Marlon, only to swoop in and seduce her. Al’s scenes with Jessie showed a long standing chemistry and the way he exposed Marlon’s insecurities so deftly was painful yet engaging to watch. What Al’s role will be like post-Jessie and without Ellis, it’s too soon to tell, but Al could easily be the new puppet master of the village and it’s about time we had a smart new villain like that.

She’s Back

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h13m36s202Mandy’s only been back for two episodes so far but viewers have been promised a longer stint this time after her very very fleeting appearance earlier in the year. Mandy is exactly the spark of life Emmerdale needs at the moment to inject a bit of fun and mayhem into the Dingles and whatever secrets her and son Vinny are hiding could bring even more trouble to their door. Bringing back beloved characters is always a challenge, but with Emmerdale still Dingle central there should be plenty of familiar faces for Mandy to reacquaint herself with. Lisa Riley’s enthusiasm for Emmerdale really rubs off on her performance and she already feels right at home. Bring it on!

Cannabis Club

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h13m54s681In the show that gives us endless scenes of the dire Moira and Nate affair, we need some light relief to save us from the tedium. That came in the form of Doug and his drugs again this week. Duncan Preston has some brilliantly comic facial expressions but Doug’s luck ran out when Pollard caught him lighting up this week. Rather than blackmail him into being his skivvy or similar, Eric wanted in on the action (for his dodgy hip of course) and had soon roped in Rodney to join in this new cannabis club. It’s nice to see the older villagers up to no good with a story that’s silly and fun.

Fails

Pointless Problem

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h11m32s253Moping Harriet got right on my nerves this week after Dawn revealed to Tracy that “Taz” is actually Will, her dad and Harriet’s partner. Harriet and the rest of the family acted as if this was a grave secret akin to a murder and the vicar was distraught at the thought of their new relationship (and history) being public knowledge. But…why? This dilemma and Harriet’s stress over it made little sense. This is a village where almost everyone has got off with a murderer or ex-con, would they really care that Harriet has fallen back in love with the guy she had been in love with undercover? Sure, he stalked her, and squashed her with a coffin, but if Harriet’s moved on, why would the villagers have an issue? This is, after all, the same Harriet who used to be in a serious relationship with notorious bad guy Cain Dingle. As if anyone would care who she chooses to be with! It makes no logical sense to make a mountain out of this molehill.

Scene of the Week (9-13 Sep 2019)

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If your heart didn’t break for poor Marlon in Thursday’s final scene then you must truly be made of stone! He arrived home and discovered Al with Jessie, and Jessie in tears, making the crushing discovery that she’d cheated. Marlon’s nervous reaction to laugh in disbelief soon crumbled to grief as he realised his anxieties about Al weren’t just him being insecure and his wife had betrayed him in the worst way. When we’re used to seeing Mark Charnock deliver comedy or in a more supportive role, it’s easy to forget how good a serious and emotional performer he is and this was a scene that showed how good he is at that emotive sucker punch.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 Sep 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was Robert’s plea hearing this week and he confessed to a guilty charge, and Tracy began to suspect Dawn of the factory theft and fire.

Faves

Robert Faces the Future

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h27m00s809Robert made a huge and heart-breaking decision this week as he decided to plead guilty to his charge of GBH with intent, going against the wishes of his family. Robert was dead against his solicitor’s advice to plead guilty until his fears of a long sentence and not wanting to pile pressure on Victoria, lead him to make a last minute decision, sealing his fate. As Aaron in particular struggled to cope with the news, with all the family having lived in denial, Robert had an emotional time trying to reassure him. As Robert’s panic set in about not only his own future but the future of his loved ones, you could see the worry taking its toll. Ryan Hawley’s always given a masterclass in facial acting and this week gave him another chance to shine as Robert ran the gamut of emotions from fear, to grief, to frustration and anger. Robert’s decision put a strain on his marriage, but with Ryan and Danny Miller’s talent for Robron’s angsty moments, it was another set of scenes that prove why they’re such a popular partnership.

Jacob Struggles to Move on

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h24m15s779Hopeful and deluded David still seems to think Jacob getting over Maya is within reach, believing Jacob’s assurances week after week that he’s over her, despite having a volatile temperament and secretive behaviour. This week Jacob decided to ditch his hospitality plans and return to college, with the support of Liv and his family. In these touching glimpses of “old” Jacob we’re reminded just what a lovely and bright boy he was before Maya came along, and perhaps despite his clinging to the past, there is hope he can move past her. We’re seeing him now make good decisions and be a lot calmer and kinder, however it’s clear she’s still on his mind. With Emmerdale returning to this story regularly, I hope it means Jacob will soon be in a place where he realises what damage she did to him.

Saucy Humour

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h22m03s743As filler stories go, I am endlessly entertained by Jimmy and Nicola, probably Emmerdale’s most stable marriage, and their kinky sex life. While some prudish viewers complained about the saucy scenes, it’s obvious Nick Miles and Nicola Wheeler are having the best time with the one liners and the filthy suggestions, like their goodie bag from Hotten Horny. Even better was their disgusted children’s reactions. Their scenes were a lot of fun and they continue to be one of Emmerdale’s most underappreciated gems.

Smitten New Lovers

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h27m43s972I’m not totally sold on the idea of Dawn and Billy yet (I preferred him with Tracy if I’m honest), but her smitten attempts to ask him on a date were pretty lovely. With Harriet and Will trying to steal a moment together in their nice but dull romance rekindling, Dawn must have been in the mood for love herself. This is a much better option for her than Ryan, whose attentions had become way too possessive, and I could see them making a nice couple. Perhaps this would also give the characters something else to do besides being hangers-on to their family’s dramas.

Bonus Faves:

  • The beautiful camera work this week (director Suri Krishnamma) was absolutely stunning, showing the village off at its best
  • Andrea and Leyla working together could be great fun and the break from her dull scenes playing Jamie’s wife
  • Jai and Arthur’s catch up this week (as Arthur avoided Nicola and Jimmy’s sexploits) was lovely. Can’t wait to see them bond properly

Fails

Unbelievable Choice

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h30m58s464This week saw Vic struggle with her conscience and flip-flop between testifying (and lie) to help Robert’s ‘Not Guilty’ plea, or withdraw from testifying all together. Eventually she shakily changed her mind, but the journey to get there was muddled and at times unfortunately unrelatable. The decision ate her up, even leading her to a lovely heart to heart with Marlon, but the problem is, her dilemma didn’t seem all that convincing. It’s possible we have to put these story decisions down to Ryan Hawley’s exit from Emmerdale, but there were moments in the writing this week where Vic’s struggle felt like she was choosing her rapist over her own brother. It was particularly jarring to tell Robert she couldn’t support him when he was having a nice scene with his martial family, who were visibly upset at the thought of losing him to a long prison sentence. Would Vic have really done that? Vic’s choice was one not many people watching would probably be able to relate to and while Vic may feel lying was wrong when all she had wanted from Lee was honesty, in the dialogue her decision at times felt like she was punishing Robert for his actions. For someone as family orientated as Vic, it didn’t seem right. Ultimately her choice made Robert admit to his crimes, but rather than this story make Vic feel empowered, it felt hollow and false.

Double Whammy

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h31m44s270Two of Emmerdale’s least popular storylines teamed up this week as Kerry discovered Nate’s affair with Moira and blackmailed him over his knowledge of the factory fire. Although these stories are still the two plots many viewers are tired of, Kerry having the upper hand did elevate things slightly, if only for her sarcastic digs at Moira. The crossover did mean an excess of screen time for the characters involved so those of us already feeling like it’s been Kerry and Nate-dale for a while, had a double dose. Seriously, it was like Nate popped up in every scene at the start of the week. On the plus side, Kerry and Amy took a welcome trip away from the drama so that at least means a little break from that story for a while. Sadly, Moira and Nate are still around and while Cain’s away, expect more boring bonking and on/off flippancy. Yawn. Hurry up and discover the truth please Cain.