Fave or Fail? (9-13 Dec 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

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

Archie’s Anguish

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

Arthur’s Anger

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

Jimmy and Nicola United

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

Chemistry Calling

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

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

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

Befriending the Enemy

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

Fave or Fail? (14-18 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! It was a life-changing week for Aaron and Robert as Victoria’s rapist died and Faith suspected Pete and Moira of having an affair.

Faves

Rob-run

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h02m18s069Robert’s rollercoaster exit storyline ramped up a gear this week as we draw ever closer to the end. This week saw Robert and Aaron attempting to flee the country when they learnt Lee had died in hospital and Robert faced a murder charge. Unwilling to be parted from each other, Robron made a desperate attempt to stay hidden, but that meant some painful goodbyes. Seeing how difficult the situation was for Aaron and knowing their future would forever be blighted by this chain of events Robert made the ultimate sacrifice and handed himself into the police. This was a brilliant bit of character growth after five years spent with this incarnation of Robert, but one that came at a huge price. Before Robert put his love for Aaron over everything else, the two hid in the woods, fantasising about their future in France, but as Robert kissed him goodbye, giving him the promise of loving him always and the best life, we could all see what was coming. All of us except Aaron. And the beauty of it was in the absolute tragedy. The storyline this week was Emmerdale at its best – an exciting, tense story with huge performances and an emotional core viewers are deeply invested in.

Painful Parting

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h02m43s293The aftermath of Robert’s arrest was just as compelling as the event itself with lonely Aaron and Robert torn apart. With their impossible situation pushing them both to breaking point, Aaron lashed out at those around him in satisfying scenes that felt fitting to the high stakes of the day before. When Aaron finally got to speak to his husband he was overcome with emotion and once again Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley managed to convey so much of their characters’ history and pain, even down a phone. Having watched their love story play out for years, their tragic separation carries a big emotional weight, and while it’s a painful resolution for the characters to suffer through, it’s one being executed so well it’s impossible not to be moved. Their relationship has been at the heart of Emmerdale for so long now that it’s going to be difficult to imagine it without them.

Twists and Turns

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-11h58m35s152One of the best parts of this exciting week was the element of surprise, with each episode in Robert’s storyline bringing a new twist. The only spoilers released for the week covered Aaron and Robert’s initial escape after Lee’s death, but after that, viewers were in the dark. This spoiler lockdown meant we had no idea what was in store, how or even if they’d be caught. Mandy’s involvement came out of the blue, moments after a siren sound had Robron panicking. Then there was Liv’s arrival, Paddy’s sat-nav landing them in it, and of course, Robert’s heartbreaking sacrifice. Then, just as you’d expect the aftermath to take a straight-forward direction, Friday’s episode ended with Aaron shocking us all, ringing a secret contact to help break Robert out of prison. It’s been a while since Emmerdale has had a story this compelling, where the next episode is must-see, but it’s really felt like that this week. Let’s hope they can carry on with this momentum!

A Bit of Happiness?

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h01m22s976Vic had another chance meeting with cute hospital café worker, Luke, this week. While there’s plenty of speculation that Luke might be super shady, I can’t be the only one hoping he’s the real deal? Luke seems like a sweet, relaxed guy and that kind of connection could be exactly what she needs. It’s understandable she wouldn’t be in any rush to take a chance on a relationship, but here’s hoping Emmerdale do something with them and this wasn’t just a way to keep her around the hospital. With Ellis gone, Adam gone and the Matty romance seemingly abandoned, Luke could have real potential for her happy ever after.

Bonus Fave:

  • In a shock twist – shout out to Pete Barton this week for being the most switched on and relatable character in this Moira/Nate travesty. His home truths to Moira were spot on.

Fails

Slow Down

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h03m40s992Hey Emmerdale, what’s the rush? Long-term couples might be thin on the ground right now, particularly with two big fan favourite couples about to end, but why do Emmerdale keep rushing to get new pairings together. Surely everyone loves to watch a beautiful slow burn love story unfold over months? When the chemistry works and there’s tension bubbling away, there’s nothing better than waiting (impatiently) for a couple to realise their feelings, but lately Emmerdale has skipped all this good stuff and often that means investment is low then. Recently we’ve had Will and Harriet whose lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers story could have sizzled for months, but instead they’re already settled and cosy before we care. Then Jai and Laurel who admittedly do have the cutest chemistry and had a little while to grow into their feelings, but have now almost become one big family already. Now we have Rhona and Graham who, after weeks of weird off screen flirting, have now escalated thanks to another shoe-horned Graham backstory addition about his brother. Fans seem to be on side with their connection so why not let it take time to blossom? Rhona’s barely out of a serious relationship and Graham’s still a bit of an empty vessel. What would be the harm in making the audience wait? Tension, pining, crossed wires – it’s about time we had a new romance to really root for.

Losing Laughs

vlcsnap-2019-10-19-12h04m36s153When the drug plot began and we saw unlikely pot smoker Doug get stoned, it was amusing. Seeing straight-laced characters do something a bit naughty has the capacity for humour, but now – hasn’t it just gone on too long? The pot plot didn’t need to be a long running mystery with various characters getting high, it would have been funnier to keep the joke short and sweet. Now it’s wearing thin. This week after Jimmy tucked into some hash cakes, he got high as a kite and then vomited while Nicola was trying to impress someone from the council. It might be the usual sort of Jimmy and Nicola story but by now, the drug story has pretty much run its course, unless we’re going to see everyone get in on the action. Jimmy and Nicola are regularly comedy gold, but they deserve something better than this.

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 marital 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.

Scene of the Week (12-16 Aug 2019)

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After losing her job as headteacher, Jessie was in no mood to hear any backlash about her (lack of) involvement in Maya’s inappropriate conduct. With a few drinks down her, Jessie was furious at the accusations and criticism coming from Nicola, especially after learning she was involved in parents complaining, and decided to let rip at the parents in the room and their angelic (or not so) children. This was one of those excruciatingly cringey scenes, and while she was out of line, Jessie also had a point – responsible parenting is not at home in Emmerdale. The criticisms pointed at Jessie could have come straight from social media so the whole scene was sort of meta, and felt like Emmerdale’s way of papering over the plot holes. Jessie’s meltdown caused one hell of a scene. Cringey – yes, but totally entertaining.

Fave or Fail? (15-19 July 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! I’m back from my break in time for a great week of Emmerdale as Bernice thought Liam was a murderer and Pete and Rhona split.

Faves

Dying with Laughter

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h05m40s631Comedy in soap is a difficult element to master and something viewers can’t agree on. There will be Emmerdale fans who hated the Bernice and Liam plot this week, maybe just as much as I hated the Bear Wolf boxing plot! Admittedly I’m biased, being that Bernice is one of my favourite characters in the whole village and I don’t think anyone has mastered comic timing quite like Samantha Giles has, but this story was hysterical. This week Bernice and Nicola went snooping in Liam’s bag again and found a bloodied shirt and a photograph of a woman. Bernice and Nicola’s brains went into overdrive and Bernice soon decided Liam was a serial killer and she was going to be his next victim. Cue some hilarious set pieces in Friday’s episode and amazing use of music and props which Bernice read as “signs” all pointing towards Liam’s murdering ways. From Liam’s unfortunate and innocent suggestions of a day out, to Bernice’s wild-eyed panic and mouthing “help” at roadside workers, this was a genius comedy set up. It all reached fever pitch when bickering Nicola and Jimmy got involved, knocking out Liam with a pork pie and realising that the whole thing was entirely innocent. Liam is into murder mystery role play and now the Cavastock romance is shattered. But let’s face it, Bernice and Liam are perfect for each other, actors Samantha Giles and Jonny McPherson have great chemistry and play the outlandish comedy to a tee. Ridiculous and silly? Absolutely. But so much fun.

Showstopping Performance

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h06m36s183During the last few weeks Karen Blick has given her all in Lydia Hart’s biggest storyline to date and since this blog was on hiatus I haven’t had the chance to sing her praises. She’s been incredible. This week as the papers reported on the truth behind “Jenny Finn”, Lydia returned to the school where her baby’s remains were found and broke down in Sam’s arms. Sam and Lydia are the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown at the moment, a touching and believable couple and in my eyes, a fitting new head of the Dingle household. This storyline has served to strengthen the beloved bond that already existed between them. Some characters can struggle when their past revolves around some heavy backstory, but this has given Lydia new depths and offers a believable explanation for her personality and in the scenes where Karen has had to deliver emotionally-fraught material, she’s proved she’s blown everyone away.

Amicable Split

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h07m32s039Pete and Rhona’s relationship reached the end of the road this week, just as their engagement party was in full swing. The writing has been on the wall for a long time and ever since it was revealed Pete wanted children of his own (and Rhona didn’t), we’ve all been wondering how they long they could last. Their romance was a surprise hit at first but since Rhona’s accident, this has all felt like a prolonged break up as their differences and expectations for the future diverged massively, and their connection struggled against Rhona’s menopause. It’s a shame we saw them force themselves back together because if had they split after Rhona’s hysterectomy (while they had huge audience support) I think the emotional impact would have resonated more than it did this week. However the scenes where they decided to go their separate ways this week were beautifully written and well performed. It was the right decision for the pair and a welcome change to see a split that came with civility and calm and a couple who were still very fond of each other.

It’s Lee or Me

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h18m12s753Aaron and Robert were divided this week as Robert couldn’t see past his revenge plan on Lee. With Robert getting increasingly hopeless about Vic’s situation, he took it upon himself again to master a revenge plan, paying a desperate Dawn as a honeytrap. Aaron was horrified and the pair set out to rescue Dawn, which they managed, just in time. After learning his husband had been secretly stalking Lee too, Aaron gave Robert an ultimatum, him or Lee. After Robert promised to leave things alone and to concentrate on their family, Aaron caught Robert borrowing money from Seb’s account to get legal help and he exploded, struggling to trust Robert’s promises to stay away from Lee. While we know the pair are doomed, following confirmation of Ryan Hawley’s departure, and the pair’s lacklustre “make up” scenes left everything feeling unresolved, there’s no question that the scenes exploring the highs and lows of Aaron and Robert’s relationship bring out the best in Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry. Their charged arguments were well performed and conflict was empathetic on both sides, especially when as viewers we know Aaron’s only going to be proved right and be left on his own. If anything these scenes prove how unmissable the pairings final scenes will be.

Fails

Rinse and Repeat

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h15m48s881The performances in the aftermath of Victoria’s traumatic rape cannot be faulted and it’s been great to see Isabel Hodgins get some meatier scenes of later. As Robert’s struggled too, Emmerdale have done a good balancing act making both his and Vic’s plight sympathetic, with viewers able to see both sides, but in the build up to Ryan Hawley’s exit scenes are starting to feel a little repetitive. How many scenes have the siblings reached an understanding, over the baby, moving away, revenge, only for Robert to make a massive misstep and the two bust up again? How many times can we expect Robert to pledge to listen to Vic and put her first before doing the exact opposite? It’s reaching Groundhog Day levels, not helped by Wendy and Lee reappearing like clockwork to plunge Victoria into a new despair – and the new summer trailer shows more of this is on the horizon. In the immediate aftermath Vic was central to the whole story but lately she’s felt more passive, her choices reduced to reacting to Lee and Wendy’s appearances or to Robert’s latest mistake, whereas it would be good to bring back her friendships and career – or even Moira again – so we can see her rebuild her life.

Same Old Story?

vlcsnap-2019-07-21-09h11m18s292Dawn’s a great character with a complex past, played with a lot of heart by Olivia Bromley, but does anyone else feel her story with Lucas is a bit dull? There are lot of mothers in Emmerdale who’ve had traumatic pasts and difficult relationship with their children, but Dawn’s story following hot on the heels of Amy’s desire to have a relationship with Kyle again, feels a little bit overdone. There’s still mileage in her rebuilding bridges with Harriet and Will and it would be good to see her more involved with existing members of the village rather than keeping her confined to the small group of characters she interacts with. I’m not convinced that taking on the responsibility of a young child would be a dynamic direction for her character, unless they were going to deal with the struggle between being a mother and battling addiction. It remains to be seen if she will gain access to Lucas, but I think I’d like to see a different story for another young female.

Scene of the Week (15-19 July 2019)

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In this dark times, sometimes all you need is some physical comedy to brighten your week. Slapstick comedy can be hit and miss, and often divides viewers, but it would be hard not to make this ridiculously silly moment my Scene of the Week. In a week that also brought us serious and sombre scenes, it really was Liam getting knocked out by a pork pie that hit the spot. With a wailing Bernice believing her beloved Liam was about to finish her off, she was rescued by a gung-ho Jimmy and taskmaster Nicola, who was convinced Bernice was headed for a shallow grave. All four actors threw themselves fully into the silliness and while it might have tipped slightly over into cringe, it was a thoroughly entertaining moment. Samantha Giles continues to prove herself as the queen of comedy but no one will be forgetting Jimmy’s jump, and scream, nor Liam’s toppling in a hurry.