Fave or Fail? (27 April-8 May 2020)

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Every week (every fortnight during the lockdown) I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Andrea finally learnt what Jamie’s been getting up to and Rishi’s birthday had an explosive end.

Faves

Andrea Learns the Truth

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h35m26s467The scales fell from Andrea’s eyes this week as she discovered husband Jamie has been playing away with Belle and making plans to leave her. Having only recently reunited, Andrea was devastated by his betrayal and confided in Leyla who urged her to fight for her marriage. Anna Nightingale did a good job at showing Andrea’s pain and made her immediately sympathetic, even though her and Jamie’s marriage doesn’t seem worth saving. In later episodes it seems like Andrea’s plans to win Jamie’s affections back involved causing friction between him and Belle and despite her hurt she seemed almost gleeful in her plotting. Andrea showed she could be quite smart and devious, with barbed comments and sly plans she has potential to be the next big soap bitch. Could we see the next Kim Tate on our hands? Viewers have long felt Andrea has been a bit wasted and this felt like the start of something much more promising.

Chas Reaches Out to Paddy

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h34m16s364This fortnight was the culmination of Paddy’s struggles with baby Eve, after his unfortunate mistake of leaving her in the car alone. I’ve not been a fan of how Paddy is written in recent times, the bumbling and stuttering feeling more and more like a caricature, but when Chas finally found out what he was going through, the pair were able to sit and talk it through like grown-ups finally. It was a fitting call-back to their daughter Grace, to talk about why this might be impacting on his mental health and parenting, and it was a nicely scripted scene that dealt with those issues without being mawkish. Saying all this, I do hope now that they’ve reached a turning point, that Chas and Paddy’s characters have more to do than just be parents. It’s time, for Chas especially, to get her spark back and not just alternate between nappies and bar work.

More Manpreet – Please

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h34m53s907During this pandemic, with fewer episodes and Emmerdale not currently filming, now is the time when some viewers are reflecting on the stories they’re enjoying (and not) and the characters they’d like to see more of when filming resumes. If Emmerdale are taking stock then I’d like to see more of Manpreet. With current stories dominated by the Malone drug plot, Manpreet exemplifies the ‘everyday’ that works so successfully in soap. A “normal” relatable character with a naturalistic acting style and charisma. Manpreet has slotted successfully into the village as their GP and has added a bit of sanity to Rishi’s outlandish buffoonery. She wasn’t especially central to stories this week, though we did see her support Paddy, but she’s a reminder of how even the “mundane” characters are worth watching and utilising when filming resumes. Recently we’ve seen her be warm and caring to Vanessa’s plight, but she’s also fitted in well with the Sharmas – and I’d certainly much rather watch Manpreet than the two-bit gangster stories of late!

Fails

Wimpy Will

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h40m23s665According to Emmerdale history, Will Taylor was once the infamous drug lord. So shady and destructive were his dealings, Harriet was employed to infiltrate his life and go undercover as his girlfriend. Sounds like a character with depth and a real dark side. So where is that Will? What we have now is man unrecognisable from the bloke he was originally supposed to be. He’s such a sad sack that even when Malone’s cartoon goons beat him up this fortnight (to the sounds of Land of Make Believe in the world’s cringey-est montage) it was hard to even care. Do I care about his and Dawn’s relationship? Or even him and Harriet? No. I wouldn’t care if he left tomorrow leaving only a note behind. Gone is all the menace and intrigue of his early episodes, the interesting and complex background with him and Harriet and Dawn – all that conflict of betrayal and forbidden feelings with Harriet just erased. Their family with all its tragedy and dysfunction is as lifeless as they come. To sign a successful actor like Dean Andrews should have meant Emmerdale had exciting stories lined up, not to turn Will into a miserable loser under Malone’s thumb.

Dull and Dominating

vlcsnap-2020-05-09-10h43m09s412The Malone story continued to suck the life out of Emmerdale this week, in a plot that feels closer to a poor man’s rejected Line of Duty script than anything we can expect from our favourite soap. The concept of a charismatic bent cop pulling the strings of multiple characters, which in turn has consequences for multiple families has potential but the execution has been nothing short of dull, and when it dominates episodes it’s a real drag. I can’t help but picture the difference if Malone had been introduced slowly, had even had a family himself in the village, only to unravel his power and corruption slowly as he held his grip over the villagers. Instead he’s flat and feels so much like a guest character who will be easily despatched so where’s the investment. Add to this that most of his story is connected to Will – one of Emmerdale’s most bafflingly boring characters – would anyone care if he offed Will tomorrow? The stakes are low, the story is so far removed from the dramas of village life we’re used to, and Emmerdale’s a powerhouse when it centres on relatable stories and gripping tales of love, betrayal and revenge. But most of this story is blokes standing around discussing drugs and vague threats which bare no relation to anything we can care about. The sooner it’s over, the better.

Fave or Fail? (23-27 March 2020)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Jamie and Belle reignite their affair and Brenda’s mistake had terrible consequences for Dan.

Faves

A Triple Christening

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-10h01m01s706There was a lovely community feel to Monday’s episode, as three christenings took place at the church and with the current real-world situation, it had the warmth and family spirit we need right now. The scenes also saw a welcome return of Zak, Aaron and Liv and an amusing set of “The Godfather” impressions as the men tried to out-do each other. It’s not often we see so many villagers gathered in one place and with all of the babies having bittersweet arrivals, it was nice to see the happy occasion, and despite Chas and Paddy’s tensions and Wendy being her usual self, the feel-good event was a nice watch.

The New Love Affair

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-09h58m37s325Jamie and Belle got it on again this week as their simmering tensions lead to a row, and then a shag, in the middle of a veterinary call out. With longing looks and repressed feelings, Jamie and Belle’s affair is certainly one of the most watchable in recent times, helped by their natural chemistry. It also helps that while the stakes are high in terms of Kim’s involvement and Jamie’s custody problems, viewers on the whole aren’t that invested in Belle and Ellis or Jamie and Andrea as couples. It’s not a Nate and Moira situation where their affair ruins a beloved couple. This also comes as a bit of a drawback as it means it’s hard to believe Belle wouldn’t just ditch Ellis (whose been written as a wet weekend since the actor change) and Jamie come up with a long term custody plan, and end things with Andrea. However, a slow burn affair of forbidden feelings can be a good watch when you want to see the two together, and if it stops Jamie whining for five minutes then even better.

Brenda’s Big Mistake

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-09h59m40s620Brenda made a dangerous mistake this week by not labelling her ingredients correctly on her café food, leading to a horrific allergic reaction for Dan. This storyline already had subtle build up previously when Brenda gave Dan vegan food with nuts in unaware of his allergy and he suffered a minor reaction. This week however, Dan went into anaphylactic shock and now is experiencing paralysis, sending Brenda into turmoil. After initially trying to cover up her mistake, Brenda admitted what she’d done to Dan and his family after a prompting from Eric. While a story that centres on the Spencers might not be everyone’s favourite idea, this story has been really effective so far, showing how a tiny action can escalate into something so serious which impacts many characters. Not every soap story needs extreme behaviour or guns, a smaller story like this is like a classic soap story which can have just as many twists and turns. I’m glad it’s also given a focus to older characters like Eric and Brenda who are often underused and underrated.

Fail

Too Much Too Soon

vlcsnap-2020-03-29-10h01m47s193This week, after sleeping together, Victoria ended things with Luke again, telling him it was too soon to get into a relationship. As Luke begged for another go and Wendy tried to get involved, it felt like a serious case of déjà vu. I imagine the intention here is to make Luke and Victoria the couple you root for, and to give Victoria time and space to recover from her rape trauma, but with their reunion boringly inevitable, these efforts to drag it out seem pointless. Vic, Wendy, Luke and baby Harry are already participating in the world’s most unlikely and icky happy families but the fact Emmerdale have gone this route undermines any efforts to make Victoria’s aftermath believable. When she talks of her struggle to move on, to feel anything during sex, you can’t help but think had Luke (her rapist’s brother) not been her chosen partner, this story would have held the weight and emotion it deserves. Instead, this is too tacky to get involved with.

With Emmerdale now showing only three episodes a week rather than six, The Woolie Weekly will be posting fortnightly, to cover a “week’s worth” of episodes as they were originally intended to air. Next blog update will be Sunday 12th April.

8 Emmerdale Wishes for 2020

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Happy New Year! We’ve hit the ’20s, and it’s time to ponder what wishes we have for another year of Emmerdale. I put the call out on Twitter too and thought about what I’d like to see, and here are my top wishes for Emmerdale in 2020.

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A Big Gripping or Issue Led Story

Emmerdale’s two biggest ‘issue’ stories of 2019 were Maya’s abuse of Jacob and Victoria’s rape, however both stories had their ups and downs meaning they weren’t always ‘must see’ TV. Emmerdale had consistently strong performances in 2019 and some interesting moments, but individual moments aside it all felt a bit pedestrian, what it lacked was a compelling story that made the show unmissable. Of course, their big story doesn’t need to be an awards-baiting, headline grabbing ‘issue’ story, but those are often the ones that inspire the biggest reaction and those that Emmerdale do so successfully. In 2020 I’d love to see something fresh for an unexpected character.

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Bolder Characters

Is it just me or were the newbies in 2019 all a bit dull? Sure, characters like Will and Al and Jamie all began with potential but any real personality soon seemed to drift away. They became moany and self-pitying, all carrying baggage and sob stories that knocked the edge out of them. In 2019 we lost some big characters with distinct personalities, characters like Bernice, Faith and Robert who were bold and sometimes divisive, handling both comedy and tragedy. If 2020 brings us any more new characters then I hope Emmerdale make some bold decisions and invent some striking personalities, not characters who begin strong and then become watered down and forgettable.

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A New Farming Family

It’s been disaster central at Butler’s Farm this year and it’d be no surprise to see the business in ruins considering Moira’s priorities last year! With Emmerdale using its rural setting more lately and with viewers keen to hold onto its farming roots, wouldn’t now be the perfect time to introduce a new farming focused family? Afterall, when the original Bartons started they injected new life into the show and helped maintain the countryside feel. Lately Emmerdale’s newcomers have been characters coming in alone, already having existing connections to current villagers, but a whole new farming family would be an interesting change and a return to Emmerdale’s roots.

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A Story for Gabby

It was an especially quiet year for Gabby Thomas in 2019 as she’s one of the most side-lined teens when it comes to stories. We’ve already seen what a capable actor Rosie Bentham is during the Ashley storyline but she hasn’t had much chance to shine of late. With Jacob taking on a huge story in 2019, it shows Emmerdale isn’t afraid of letting their younger actors take centre stage, so why not put Gabby forward for the next big story? There’s bound to be a fresh and contemporary story Emmerdale can tackle which would be perfect for her.

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Romance for Belle and Jamie

When Jamie Tate arrived in the village, for a while we thought he was young free and single. He started at the vets and immediately struck up a rapport with Belle. Some viewers saw sparks and predicted a new romance, but then Jamie’s wife and daughter (shock!) showed up. Jamie and Andrea’s relationship has taken a long time to gel but at the end of 2019 it’s on the rocks. With Belle for comfort and those old sparks revisited, viewers have been seeing chemistry again. Could these two be the next new romance? Could it be a slow burn? A forbidden will-they-won’t-they disrupting both families?

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Chas Gets her Spark Back

After a tragic 2018, it’s no surprise that 2019 was both a quieter and happier time for Chas. Most of the year was spent preparing for the birth of her new baby and also supporting Paddy through his trouble with Bear. Even though Chas has settled down these days, I can’t help but feel she’s been reduced to either the nagging whiney wife or an interfering mother and much of her fun spark has been lost. Isn’t it about time Chas got her mojo back? Had a bit of fun or got herself in trouble? It’s all become a bit serious and moany for Chas of late – it’s time for a change.

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A Big Villain

Kim grew a heart in 2019 and serial killers were so 2018, so who’s going to be Emmerdale’s next big villain? There was potential in Will and Al when they both arrived, so might either of them take a dark path? The next big bad doesn’t need to start digging graves any time soon but maybe it’s time we had a new love-to-hate villain to enjoy, bonus points if their descent to pure evil starts slow and leaves them unravelling and dangerous. A story where we get to see what makes the big bad tick would be good as that was a missed opportunity with Maya in 2019 – let’s really get to know them before we see their downfall.

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Continue Community Feel

I’ve loved the bigger community feel to Emmerdale over the past year so long may it continue. The more Emmerdale revels in its small village roots, the more effective the stories will be. This year we’ve had a murder mystery, a panto, a council election and more – but I’m still holding out for a village fete! Community gatherings means surprising interactions and story crossovers and that are a real treat for fans. Let’s see what the year brings!

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2019

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It’s been a divisive and controversial year of Emmerdale stories where big plots have had their ups and downs. Kim had a dodgy first few months settling back into the village and we lost nice guys Matty and Ryan to some dodgy toxic masculinity which came as a big blow to their popularity. Then there were characters who started with real promise like Billy and Will and Jamie, who then turned out just to be a bit dull.

But those aside, what were the worst moments overall in 2019?

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6 – Joe – dead or alive?

It feels like a long time ago now, but for the first few months of 2019, everyone was still banging on about what happened to Joe Tate. Viewers were left wondering if he was alive or murdered by Graham, while Cain and Debbie were torn apart with Cain believing he killed Joe with a single punch. Come March it was revealed Joe is in fact alive, but after all that ambiguity the climax was as flat as a pancake. Ned Porteous made a cameo only in photographic form (which screamed hasty rewrite) and disappointed many who were begging for his return. This story also meant the torment Cain went through was for nothing, it meant Graham’s agony and spiral into drink about ending the life of his best friend came from just letting him free, and Kim’s murderous intent fizzled into nothing. The Joe, Graham and Kim business was a muddled mess anyway but as we continued to watch Kim and Graham interact, the confusing backstories and rivalries made even less sense. Thankfully since Joe was revealed to be alive, everything has been brushed under the carpet and it felt like a weight lifted – phew!

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5 – Kerry and Amy

Chances are if you were watching Emmerdale in the summer, two of your most hated characters would have been Kerry and Amy. After splitting with Dan and reuniting with Amy, there was promise for Kerry and after all, she was one of the few highlights of the Amelia story last year. Then came a sudden and contrived dilemma from Amy – she needed money and fast. Kerry cooked up a plan to break into the factory and steal the charity money. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they eventually started a fire which destroyed the factory and killed Frank. Not content with those crimes, Kerry implicated Frank and then cosied up to Tracy to assuage her guilt. For over a month they kept their crimes secret, with minimal guilt beyond Amy’s repetitive “I feel terrible” refrain. After a showdown with Tracy, Kerry hit her head and was hospitalised and there was an attempt to say that this was her payback rather than actually owning up to the truth. With neither character leaving its no surprise that there was no confession and now, months on, it’s all been glossed over. Frustratingly however, Kerry and Amy’s attitudes and behaviour were so unlikeable and manipulative it might have sullied them for good. They were downright unpleasant to watch and if we were meant to feel sorry for them, it failed. Can we really laugh along with Kerry when there was no comeback for what she did to Tracy and Vanessa?

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4 – Maya anti-climax

Maya’s grooming and abuse of Jacob was Emmerdale’s biggest and most controversial story of 2019. It benefitted from moments of great high tension and suspense – particularly during the reveal of her behaviour in the Big Night Out episodes – and some solid performances. Louisa Clein especially was wickedly manipulative and the character deserved to go out with a big finale. Unfortunately though, justice for Jacob and a comeuppance for Maya was sorely lacking. Rather than the abuse be treated in the same vein as say Charity and Bails or Aaron and Gordon, with a victory for the victim and a satisfying (albeit unrealistic) sentence, Maya wasn’t even tried for the actual crimes she committed, but a lesser charge. In the lead up to her exit, Emmerdale told a muddled story with lines of dialogue that sounded like she and Jacob were some forbidden love story and with-holding his realisation that she abused him for months. Granted, the sentencing and Jacob’s reaction might be more true to life, but it didn’t make for a satisfying conclusion. By the end of the story, it was going in circles without any sight of a police enquiry or anything resembling a shocked response from the villagers. The teens were absent, as was Jessie, who all should have been playing key roles. The impact was completely wasted and with only the Metcalfe clan effected, it suffered from repetitive scenes and a really flat ending.

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3 – Bear Wolf and the Wrestling

We all know when it comes to humour, it can be really hit and miss. But a real low of Emmerdale in 2019 was the character of Bear Wolf and his excruciating wrestling shenanigans. After Mandy’s brief return at the start of the year, Paddy’s paternity was in question and he went looking for his biological father, an infamous wrestling letch known as Bear Wolf. I’m not convinced Paddy needed any big family discovery story and certainly not one that involved such a loathsome and unfunny character, but his quest took him as far as Belfast. Anytime wrestling was involved, it was an embarrassment to watch, laboured and painful at times. On paper the hilarity of a grown man in a wig and a costume calling himself Bear Wolf might have sounded comedy gold but the reality was one of the worst moments of 2019. Since those scenes Bear has toned down and has all but slotted right into Paddy’s family and you can just about forget how woeful his introduction was.

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2 – Mishandled Rape Aftermath

The immediate aftermath to Victoria’s horrifying rape was Emmerdale at its best. However, what followed has been misjudged and uncomfortable viewing with poor Victoria used as a passive torture victim in her own storyline. Victoria has had barely any agency in this story beyond the odd line of empty dialogue and at times the writing for her has been horrible, even seeming to side with her rapist over her brother. Tying in this story with Robert’s exit meant repetitive scenes of the siblings reaching an understanding, only for Robert to interfere, and the constant harassment by Lee and Wendy without contacting the police meant Vic’s decisions often bowed to the cogs of the plot, rather than narrative choices which empowered her. Now with Wendy in the village acting like a victim, the framing of the story is all wrong and continues to force Vic to live in the constant hell of what Lee did to her. She didn’t get justice, and still she’s continuously punished. This story quickly derailed and given Emmerdale’s successful history of handling rape stories with sensitivity and care, it’s been an even bigger disappointment. It also felt an especially cruel choice to give a character who always wanted to be a mother a baby in such terrible circumstances. Victoria deserved better than this.

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1 – Nate and Moira affair

Without question the worst story of 2019 was Moira and Nate’s affair. Not just was this story loathed by fans but it dragged on for months and tarnished its main characters in the process. Cain and Moira had a rough start to the year, but even that couldn’t begin to explain why Moira’s head was turned by the new and creepy farmhand who had less personality than a stack of hay bales. Cain and Moira’s turbulent marriage might not have worked the same since their split and reunion in 2018, but they were loved by viewers and Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry was unmatched. So why trash it? Emmerdale followed a predictable path of Moira cheating with Mills and Boon style romps in the barn, but with sub-zero chemistry, all it did was remind viewers of Moira’s scorching fling with Cain way back when. With Moira’s weak motivation to cheat, the story threw her character under the bus, jeopardising her marriage and family for nothing, all the while viewers suffered through week upon week of supposedly sexy hook ups and on-off arguments. As for Nate, viewers long suspected he had ulterior motives but with no hints that he had a mission in mind, he came across as vapid and dull, but when he revealed himself as Cain’s son we were supposed to become suddenly interested just because he was Cain’s. Alas, it did not magic him an engaging personality. Even with a clunky backstory for his mother and Cain, sympathy was thin on the ground. In an attempt to make Nate likeable and fit in Emmerdale have now framed Nate as the lonely victim and he’s even won round the Dingles, as for the audience? Jury’s out.

Fave or Fail? (28 Oct-1 Nov 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Robert’s sad final scenes aired this week as Mandy came clean about her scams.

Faves

The Last Goodbye

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h54m09s542Robert’s final scenes aired this week in what was a heart-breaking exit for the much-loved character. With Robert informed that he was being moved to the Isle of Wight, he made the painful decision not to tell Aaron, not wanting him to uproot his whole life while Robert served his 14 year sentence. Across the visiting room table, Robert and Aaron struggled with the lack of contact, expressing how much they missed each other. As Robert braced himself to reveal where he was being moved to, Aaron interrupted and Robert could no longer own up to the truth. With call backs and references to their love story, from “their” lay-by, a repeat of their phrase “You know/I know” and of course, the final, gut-wrenching play of their wedding song, this was a tribute to the couple and a love letter to fans. Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry continued to be powerful until the end, with Ryan delivering some of his best performances to date as Robert struggled to say his final goodbye. It was painful to see such a tragic ending to the show’s most popular couple and a character so memorable as Robert, but it felt fitting all the same. To also have Robert’s final act be one of selflessness, at a time where he was truly comfortable in himself, was the perfect end to his journey. His snark smugness, facial expressions and charm will be sorely missed.

The Aftermath Continues

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h57m41s553Following on from some huge weeks of drama, the fall out continued this week with engaging aftermath. After drinking himself numb, Cain escaped the village, surprisingly with Amy, throwing his wedding ring at Moira in the rain – ouch. When he returned he wanted her to pack her bags and the two had a face-off that showcased once more how naturally dynamic Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb are in scenes together. Bristling! Moira, despite defending herself to Cain’s supporters, still hasn’t been especially sympathetic but that’s mostly down to the affair taking place for nonsensical reasons in the first place! Then there was Chas and Paddy, coping with Faith’s exit and new baby Eve. Their moments have continued to be bittersweet as well as giving them some nice quieter moments to enjoy being new parents. That reprieve of happiness was much needed. Victoria saw Luke again, who admitted he believed her over Lee. These two have fantastic chemistry but it still doesn’t sit right that Emmerdale would tie Vic to her rapist’s family like this. Finally Aaron, whose week had a devastating end, but his wallowing and grief felt well done and believable but it was a lovely touch and a welcome change of pace to have him look after Seb and continue to explore his role as a parent. As the Cain and Moira dramas and Aaron’s heartbreak continue in the coming weeks we are bound to see more of these great performances soon.

Dingle Chaos

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h55m20s330Mandy was forced to come clean about her shady dealings this week as her and Vinny faced the infamous Dingle Court. Caught red-handed trying to steal Lydia’s money, Sam came down hard with the Dingle law and the family gathered to hear her case. Even if the whole Dingle Code stuff has been overdone, there’s always something entertaining about classic Dingle capers. It was a great twist to have Charity secretly involved (if only that had been left out of spoilers!) and fun to have her in the thick of a family scheme again. It’s still not completely clear the point of Vinny not being Mandy’s son (and why it matters) or if there are any more longer term plans for them, but her story is at least an amusing relief from the heavier stories in a way that feels classically Emmerdale.

Drug Bust-up

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h59m21s359The drugs story took a surprising turn this week, just as the comedy element had worn thin. After Archie had an accident, Laurel found Doug’s pot stash in the first aid box, but her first worry was that it belonged to Jai. She confronted him and the two had their first real argument, as he was horrified she would accuse him and then take it easy on the real culprit, Doug. It was still frosty between them the next day with Jai unwilling to forgive her, especially when she too had struggled to fight her addictions. This was a great way to give the pot plot more purpose and saw the relationship between Laurel and Jai truly tested. They’re a great couple but it seems only right that things aren’t too easy for them and the good thing about a fight is that we’re rooting for them to make things up. These were some nicely written scenes and it’ll be interesting to see if their pasts ever cause their relationship more problems.

Fails

Oceans Emmerdale

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h55m56s762Emmerdale aren’t afraid to try something new stylistically, be it flashbacks, time shifts or even the amazing special episode dealing with Ashley’s dementia. But this week’s flashbacks were somewhat divisive with viewers. As Mandy told the Dingles about her casino scheme, including the arrival of “Red” (aka the fabulously dressed Charity Dingle), the audience saw a glossy Hustle-style sequence of scenes. I’m on the fence about these scenes, they were fun and made the telling of the casino plot more interesting, but I’m not sure it felt very “Emmerdale”. To me, if felt more like those comedy spin-off VHS tapes Emmerdale used to make and the style of it jarred a little, but was it alright as a one off? This is one thing I’m undecided about…

Pantomime Posturing

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h58m09s196With Kim, we can all take a bit of the high-camp panto villain, but this week, as she and Graham snarled and gurned at each other, it struck me that their dynamic at the moment is tonally an odd fit with the rest of the show. There’s always a place for different types of characters and dynamics, but alongside the brutal break up between Cain and Moira, and the emotional end of Robron, Kim and Graham’s cartoonish dramatics felt almost like they belonged in a different show. There are only so many backstories and convoluted histories we can hold in our heads all at once but Kim and Graham’s “I will destroy you!!” speeches lacked the grounding and authenticity that other characters in the show have. It was only when Kim shed tears and we started to see her as more human again that the story gained interest. The problem with the Home Farm lot is the ever-shifting backstories and that confusing lack of consistency makes it hard to care what’s happening in the present. To really care about these big moments of camp villainy and revenge, we need a real grip on who these characters are and the first obstacle is making them feel like “real” people.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Oct 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! 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? (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.

Scene of the Week (14-18 Oct 2019)

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In a gripping week of stand-out scenes, one of the most memorable was the gut-wrenching moment Aaron witnessed Robert’s arrest. Aaron’s heart-breaking discovery that Robert had handed himself scene was made all the more powerful by the fact the audience was in on Robert’s plan before Aaron, so when the penny dropped, the sound of the scene did too and the direction of that moment, a close up on Aaron’s horror was the perfect choice. As Aaron and Robert stared at each other across the road, grieving the inevitable end of their future, Paddy had to grab onto Aaron to stop him running through traffic to reach his husband. Aaron and his family could only watch and pull him back as Aaron dealt with his unbearable loss and sense of betrayal. After the couple’s epic five year journey to get here, this scene was like a stab through the heart, sold completely by Danny Miller’s and Ryan Hawley’s performances of pure devastation.