Fave or Fail? (19-23 June 2017)

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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 War of the Rs this week as Robron took on Ross and Harriet got stabbed.

Faves

Back in Action

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h03m40s668Cain was back properly this week and it feels like we haven’t seen him in ages. I really appreciated how many different stories converged, as the Barton money woes and war with Robert led to Harriet being stabbed, her fling with Cain being exposed and him seeking revenge. Cain’s revenge missions – usually involving car boots – are often enjoyable viewing but it’s a long time since we’ve seen him take the violent approach and he wasn’t holding back with Ross. It came as a bit of a shock and with Moira involved (Coira tension ahoy) we were guaranteed good scenes as awkwardness bristled at the hospital. Cain might have mellowed as he’s aged, but it’s entertaining to see his reckless side now and again.

Pot Pranks

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h02m33s935It was testosterone o’clock this week as Ross and Robron started a war. Having blackmailed Robert not long ago, Ross had the upper hand until Robert and Aaron decided to crush his last remaining taxi and only source of income. After some brilliant tag-team one liners, Ross sought payback and stole Robert’s pride and joy – his Porsche. The rivalry rumbled on as Robron discovered Ross and Finn’s weed stash and held it hostage in a woodchipper until Ross returned the car. Unlucky for Ross, Robert wasn’t in a forgiving mood and all the Barton’s cash hopes were sprayed to dust as Finn was captured by the dealers. Oops. With some great sparky dialogue and schoolboy rivalries this was a fun plot to start the week and cause bigger drama later on, plus it was a very welcome break from the tedium of the dreaded baby plot.

A Welcome Presence

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h00m42s441There was a great community feel this week as Doug’s attempts to be less boring led him to the brilliant village hall dance lessons with Lydia and co. But I want to talk about another comedic star of the village – the consistently funny Bernice. Since her return Bernice has found herself working a number of jobs in the village (Kerry’s driven away customers at the salon unsurprisingly) and it’s been fantastic to see her get stuck into gossip in the café, butting her nose in where she really shouldn’t. From getting Cain’s sandwich order wrong to her tea tray throwing, she’s been amazing in this role. But even later in the week, when she went back to the salon and massaged Pete, she was hilariously pervy (she never could resist a young buff male) and ended up giving him severe burns with chilli oil. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of her antics, whether it’s her ill judged comments or the physical comedy, she just brings such warmth and fun to the whole show.

Finding Her Place

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h02m08s776Chrissie White has been in Emmerdale for almost three years now but it seems like finally finally the writers have figured out how best to characterise her. Fingers crossed it seems like the days of being a daddy’s girl victim or – on the other end of the spectrum – the uber camp soap bitch are behind her. She feels settled. Ruthless, cutting, snobby, lording it over the other villagers, holding court at Home Farm – she seems powerful and bitchy without the cartoon one-liners. She’s always had this potential and I even enjoyed some of her really cold-hearted moments in the past, but it used to seem like they weren’t really sure what to do with her. Now the balance is just right. Here’s hoping that she stays like this!

Fails

The Exposition Family

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h01m05s107It’s common knowledge that Lawrence is on his way out of Emmerdale but this week we were given seemingly never-ending scenes of exposition as Lawrence sat the family down to explain about Chrissie’s biological father. As we all listened to story time with Lawrence again it struck me how much this family has relied on exposition heavy backstory to make them more interesting. What with Lawrence’s prison story, his romance with Ronnie, Rebecca’s past with Robert, Chrissie’s true paternity and now the story of her father – they’re all tragic backstories intended to give the family depth but in reality they’re just lengthy, heavy and unengaging scenes of exposition. It’s hard to care when it’s all happened in the past and we didn’t get to see it. These kinds of stories are much more involving when a newcomer forces them to confront the past (like when Ronnie rocked up) but with shady Lawrence seemingly lying about Chrissie’s biological family, things might get more interesting!

 

Fave or Fail? (5-9 June 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! As Rakesh was exposed as last year’s arsonist it was another fairly low-key week. 

Faves

Marlon Madness

w61mpIn the immediate aftermath of Carly’s exit, Marlon found himself in Lydia’s bedroom, dressed in her puntastic nightie. And who would you call in this nightmarish and confusing situation? Your trusty best friend of course! Marlon’s bizarre escape and Paddy’s distraction techniques was a strange start to the week and a bonkers comedy sequence that they only pulled off because Paddy and Marlon are the kings of physical comedy and it was alongside some brilliant visual gags in Lydia’s bedroom. Maybe from now on they should just leave the crazy slapstick stuff to Marlon and Paddy.

Brotherly Bond

Emmerdale - Ross and Finn Take Ownership of a Cannabis Farm! - YouTubeLooking past Finn’s questionable decision to become the world’s worst escort, we saw some great scenes between him and Ross this week. I’ve always thought the Barton brothers are actually at their best when they’re getting on, rather than at each other’s throats. There’s just something about all that testosterone and aggression that sets my teeth on edge. But this week saw Ross get all protective and fairly sweet towards his little brother and it’s a dynamic that just works. Later, the scenes turned comical when Finn managed to get rid of the dealers all with a handy toy police badge, prompting Ross to ask him how he learned that. His brilliant response? “Suranne Jones. Scott and Bailey.” I can’t help but think a bit more heart and a bit more fun for the Bartons could be a nice change before everything comes out about Emma and James!

Parents and Kids

w61ssIt wasn’t a major story of the week but there were some nice scenes between some of the parents and kids this week. There was a surprising and touching scene between Sam and Samson about his mother Alice (who longterm viewers of Emmerdale will know died tragically from cancer) and the books and diaries she kept. Scenes where characters remember their long histories on the show is the best thing about the soap genre – we’ve watched this history happen! And then there was Marlon and April who had a rocky week in the wake of Carly’s departure, but their emotional scene on the swings as Marlon read April Carly’s goodbye letter was a lovely moment between them.

Fails

Awkwardly Unfunny

Emmerdale - Nicola Chases A Beaver - YouTubeBritain’s Best Soap had a plot this week where a grown woman was tormented by beavers. Yes, this actually happened and it was as stupid and as unfunny as it sounds. Emmerdale’s comedy is hit and miss at the best of the times (and obviously depends on your taste!) but this really was a low point. Nicola King’s admirable ambition (something we rarely see in the writing of Emmerdale’s female characters) is often treated as the butt of the joke but this week saw that mockery taken even further with the revelation that she was terrified of beavers. Armed with this knowledge the factory girls, led by Kerry, decided to torment Nicola, even going so far as to dress up as one. There’s a good reason why we’ve never seen a woman in a mobility scooter chase a giant beaver down the street. It’s just not funny.

Sizzle? Cringe!

Emmerdale - Priya Proves Pete Wrong By Kissing Him! - YouTubeHaving listened to months of hype about Emmerdale’s sizzling new affair (a hapless man torn between too women – now there’s a surprise) it finally began this week. I’m not about to turn this post into another moan about Emmerdale reaching dismal lows in the faithfulness of its couples and yes, cheating and affairs are no new ground, but if you’re going to tease a hot new affair, then at least make it good. Alarm bells rang when it was revealed that “alpha male” Pete was going to be our cheating stud (yes, that is the sound of my eyes rolling) because really, apart from the charged passion with his Auntie Moira have we ever seen him smoulder? But still, okay silver linings, it would at least drag Priya from the life-sucking blackhole that is Rakesh. And then it arrived on screen and any tepid enthusiasm was squashed. Pete and Priya was a blank slate, they’d never had any significant interaction so this affair needed a little chemistry-infused build up, right? Wrong! Within minutes of a casual chat, Priya and Pete were talking openly about their lives and problems like old friends and then snogging faster than you can say we-threw-these-characters-into-a-hat-to-find-our-affair-candidates. Did Priya feel guilty for sleeping with her BFFs boyfriend? No chance. Did moral dullard Pete feel a tiny bit bad that one tiff with Leyla had him smirking post-coitus with Priya? Did he hell! They literally couldn’t give a sh*t. Who are these characters? They’re not ones I recognise. Leyla deserves better, we ALL deserve better. This is our big summer plot?

Fave or Fail? (1-5 May 2017)

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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! Not the most exciting week of storylines in the Dales, but it wasn’t a quiet one for Moira, as she gave Charity a Glasgow Kiss.

Faves

Emmerdale Farm

Emmerdale - Who Did Moira Shoot - YouTubeOne of the many things I love about Emmerdale is its USP – its gorgeous rural setting. But in recent years storylines have moved away from the country life and the farming profession. While stories about stolen cows aren’t the most exciting thing to ever happen in the Dales it made a nice change for there to be some actual farming plots in Emmerdale this week. Who can resist an overall clad, gun-toting Moira, or Charity chasing lambs and threatening them with mint sauce. Granted, more of stroppy Ross isn’t exactly my favourite thing, but pairing him up with Charity gave a nice excuse to revisit their sparky chemistry and I’m always happy to see these two plotting and sniping. Then there was Leyla, reluctant in the fields but making a hilarious distraction as a damsel in distress and a very welcome addition to gruff Barton rivalry. Not a favourite story by any means, but I’m always happy to see more on the farm.

Extra Laughs

w55deIt wasn’t the most thrilling week of Emmerdale, I’ve got to be honest. Most of the big stories seem to be on pause (that is unless you count the Jai and Megan custody battle as a big story!) but still, this week has been a step away from the more dark and hard-hitting plots. One thing that certainly injected life into this week’s episodes were the continued inclusion of Lydia, and the appearance of other zany guests like David’s derriere devotees at the book launch. The off-the-wall and exaggerated humour might not be for everyone, and it certainly works best in small doses, but these guest characters and their ability to rub our regulars up the wrong way works a treat. Take for example, leather clad Scotty B who kept calling David “Dave” or Voltaire quoting Lydia who takes five sugars in her tea. Their eccentricities make for a few good laughs and for me they’re a welcome slice of humour between the drama.

Never Too Young for Trouble

w55nsMost of the year it seems like Noah and Samson are kept in cupboards, steering clear of any major drama despite being part of the Dingles. Friday’s episode saw them have a little subplot of their own as Noah convinced Samson to steal from an unsuspecting Sam. There was something really enjoyable about these scenes with these rarely seen boys, Noah talking openly about how he uses Charity’s credit card and Samson feeling guilty. His and Sam’s relationship has been seen more lately as Sam tried to prove himself as a cool dad, much to Samson’s continued embarrassment but it’s been a nice change to see a little more of them. Once again Emmerdale proves it has the best young cast and I’m sure it won’t be long until they’re causing more havoc like the Dingles do best.

Fails

Never-ending Story

w55dtWould you believe me if I told you Tracy’s erotic novel saga has been running for three months? Three months! What started as a fun and frivolous story involving the ladies of the village and the brilliant Pearl and her saucy suggestions has now become a never-ending story for David and Tracy. The comedy in the plot has almost all but dried up and now all it does is highlight the things about the couple that are repetitive and unlikeable. Tracy looking stupid or being laughed at by others, moaning at David for not believing in her and then having moments of no self-belief. And David, one minute the proud and supportive husband and next belittling Tracy and holding her back. The erotic book plot should have lasted a few weeks or moved at a quicker pace, but now it’s dragged on for three months and has been reduced to a humourless vehicle for David and Tracy at their worse. Can we have new material please, not a sequel?

On Repeat

Emmerdale - Robbers Beat Up Eric With a Baseball Bat - YouTubeIt’s not just the sluggish David and Tracy book plot which had a repetitive nature this week, as a number of stories seemed to tread familiar and stale ground. Last week I berated Megan’s storyline for being boring and it didn’t get better this week as her and Jai went head to head over Eliza’s custody. Debbie and Charity fell out for the six hundredth time when Charity schemed with Ross for extra cash (pot kettle Debs) causing Charity and Moira to clash again. Dan’s paramedic tales came to the forefront again as he stepped in to help Eric after a moment of fear held him back from helping, but will this end up going nowhere once more? Cain and Harriet’s fling was discovered which was a good thing considering their scenes have consisted of being cock-blocked by Emma and vestry snogs for weeks and Emma’s treading water, clinging to Bible verses as another Barton war wages. She needs to step it up a gear! For all these stories and characters an injection of something new or unexpected is needed to liven things up a bit!

5 Emmerdale Characters That Could Do With A Shake Up

We’re lucky as Emmerdale fans to have such a brilliant cast of characters, many of whom are capable of inspiring everything from belly laughs to gut-wrenching sobs. But there are a few great characters who are stuck in a rut and feel like they need a little change in direction, a curveball or something unexpected. These are not tired characters ready for the chop, these are good characters whose storylines just need a shake-up. Let me know if you agree!

Ross Barton

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For many viewers Ross Barton is the sexy, lovable rogue. He’s a bit of a bad boy but soft around his adorable son Moses. It’s been like that for a good few years now and after a shouty-testosterone fuelled feud with brother Pete, the Barton bros are living in relative harmony. Nothing has really changed for Ross. His big turning point came very early on in his time in Emmerdale as he had a star-crossed, and ultimately fatal relationship with police officer Donna Windsor and despite attempts to recreate that winning spark and thrilling love affair with Debbie Dingle, nothing else has quite captured that Ross/Donna magic. You know what you’re getting with Ross – lad bants, posturing, brotherly aggro, Middle Child Syndrome, maybe even a bit of pining for Debs.

So what next?

Something different! We’ve had the lucklustre Debbie and Ross romance, it’s time for something new. Something different, maybe even more emotional. Someone who challenges Ross in a different way. Show us a new weakness, give him something else besides a dodgy deal in the garage or bother with Pete. Make Moses more than a prop or find him a new rival.

Tracy Metcalfe

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Tracy suffers a very similar fate to David (and Bob, who I’ll come to later) in that they are literally, physically stuck behind a counter. Most of Tracy’s scenes now take place in the shop and while this often works for those who work behind the Woolie, we never seem to see her anywhere else these days. Once Tracy was a bit of a no-good schemer but now she has the “loveable-if-a-bit-dim” tropes covered. Because of this, both her and David have fallen into a pattern of sitcom style misunderstandings and mishaps which often end up in a little tiff and David getting his bum out. We do need the comedy capers (now more than ever in this dark and heavy period in Emmerdale) but Tracy has a lot more to give – and so does actress Amy Walsh – than just silliness.

So what next?

Get her out of the shop for one! Tracy’s movements and interactions have been so limited to the same bubble of characters lately. Even though the Finn stalker storyline was almost universally hated, it was good to see her giving Finn a hand. Give her some modest success and see how she and David deal with it, get her out in the community rubbing up Emma the wrong way with her “smutty tat”!

Aaron Dingle

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When Aaron returned to screens in 2014 the beginnings of his shock affair was something brand new for the character – we saw him betray his own morals for a bit of a lust fix. Fast forward two-and-a-bit years and a lot’s changed. Aaron’s grown into himself. He’s comfortable in his sexuality in a way he’s never been. He has a husband, he owns a business, a house and has his own family to look out for, rather than just being smothered by Chas. The problem? The misery overkill. Seriously, do the writers have a big book they work through labelled Miserable Stories For Aaron Dingle? When most characters have one problem to deal with, Emmerdale give him six and any sort of growth in his character is suffocated by the next new tragedy he’s given. The main issue of this tiring repetitive reliance on misery is apathy – you just know that whatever happens there’s a new agony waiting round the corner.

So what next?

If Aaron can’t have happiness, then can we at least give him a problem which doesn’t directly damage his mental health? Can his concerns and angst be about the wellbeing of someone else rather than turning in on himself? Or can therapy take his character into new and less self-destructive directions? Let Aaron enjoy that maturity of having adult responsibilities for a change.

Priya Kotecha

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Okay, let’s get this out the way. Priya’s problem is one thing and one thing only. Rakesh. Since being tied to him, a man that really lives up to the ball and chain metaphor, Priya’s character has suffered. She’s a strong and capable businesswoman who has real guts about her and we’ve also seen her face difficulties as she struggled with her eating disorder. But since being with Rakesh, she’s had to sit back and fold time after time, forgiving him for each latest mess up. Why?! She has the same ambitious fire as Megan and Leyla but her repetitive relationship with Rakesh just keeps dragging her down.

So what next?

Ditch Rakesh. Once he’s out of the picture maybe we can finally see Priya have some fun and away from her stuffy role in the factory. It’s about time Priya found someone decent for her, who she has a spark with.

Bob Hope

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As we know, Bob Hope can be the life and soul of a party. He’s not afraid of a bit of fun – be it stripping or role play. But Bob has the same problem as Tracy and David – he’s stuck in one location, one set and we rarely see him elsewhere. When we do though, it’s a breath of fresh air. Bob was a great addition to Ashley’s last few weeks, he was hilarious at the hen do events, great at the graveside with Carly and it’s been a joy to see him work behind the bar now and again. Let’s be honest there’s only so much story to be had when serving someone a latte and Bob is such a fun character that trapping him in the café is a waste.

So what next?

I’m not suggesting anything hasty in regards to Bob’s day to day life. I’m not willing to let Bob and Brenda (one of Emmerdale’s few stable couples) part ways, but I would really love to see Bob work part time in the pub now and again. Pubs are way more likely to be the centre of the drama than the café and Bob does like a bit of a gossip. Like Tracy, Bob just needs to get out there in the community more and be on hand for when his supportive or stripping duties are required!

Which great characters do you think are in need of a storyline shake up?

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Jan 2017)

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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 made this history this week as they scooped “Best Serial Drama” at the National TV Awards for the first time ever! On screen, Debbie returned.

Faves

Chilling and Compelling

emmerdale-rhona-humiliates-herself-at-paddys-party-youtubeAs we know, Emmerdale is going from strength to strength -particularly when it comes to its challenging and societal issue storylines. I’ve already praised the subtleties of the Pierce and Rhona storyline but it just gets better and better, all the while being dreadful and uncomfortable to watch. It’s not an easy viewing experience to see Pierce’s games at work – to see him manipulate and dig at Rhona’s insecurities – from the slut-shaming to the humiliation in front of her friends, but it’s one that highlights a troubling relationship dynamic. As outsiders we are able to see what Rhona is going through, seeing how Pierce’s control and rape of her (a manifestation of his dangerous inferiority complex) is crushing her, but we’re also seeing how she’s made to doubt herself, how her friends are pushed out, how his actions are almost normalised. Rhona already feels isolated, now not just socially but in her own head – because Pierce is making her feel like he’s blameless. It’s complex and confusing for her – when their passion has now been tainted with his manipulation, degradation and non-consensual sex. It’s chilling and sickening – but a hugely important story to tell and I’d go as far to say it’s already shaping up to be one of the best stories in soap in the last six months.

Little Star

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h40m35s147This week Laurel referred to Gabby Thomas as a little star and I’d agree, but I’d go one further than that and extend the sentiment to actress Rosie Bentham. Gabby’s at the centre of her family’s heartbreak right now and Rosie continues to portray Gabby’s agonising predicament as daughter and care giver in such a relatable and beautiful way. It’s been lovely to see Gabby look after her father, but the scene on Monday when she broke down crying to reveal to Laurel that Ashley had wet himself and she had pretended everything was fine just to keep him in their lives, was such a tragic and fantastically portrayed moment, full of pathos. I can’t begin to imagine how Gabby’s reaction to the loss of Ashley will shatter our hearts.

Physical Comedy

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h44m17s145Comedy can be hit and miss in soaps, but there were plenty of laughs to be had in Charity’s winning impression of Chrissie White at the bank. When Emmerdale does their favourite disguise plot (an outfit, a wig and a foolproof plan) it can border on the farcical and this bank job certainly did but Emma Atkins just about pulled it off thanks to an amazing posh voice and a killer outfit. Throwing in a liberal amount of ‘super’ and ‘lovely’ you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching Ab Fab but the nervy bank manager and his Home Farm enthusiasm was a good giggle too. The tranquiliser scenes in the street, with the shaky camera work and unicorn visions might have been a bit much, but it’s Charity so we’ll overlook it.

Bonus Fave: The return of the brilliant Lydia!!!

Fails

Paddy’s paddy

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h40m57s988When Paddy’s affair with Tess saw his popularity and likeability nosedive, it was great to see him back in the village as a fun and comedic character again. He played the fool, revisiting his hilarious relationship with Marlon and after some enjoyably silly attempts to get Rhona back, realised she’d moved on and so should he. This week he grew to be irritating again after being pushed out by Chas in favour of the very lovely DS Wise (who can blame her?). Rather than show concern for Aaron, or be supportive of Chas, he spent most of his time bitching and moaning about Jason Wise, seeming petty and jealous about the whole thing. Paddy’s best when he’s childish in a fun, cartoonish way, not childish in a bitter and immature way and it wasn’t enjoyable to revisit. He says he’s going to let Chas get on with things in her own way so let’s hope he sticks to it!

In Need of a New Path

emmerdale-debbie-gets-her-kids-back-from-hugos-goons-youtubeDebbie came back this week, on the run from a French gangster named Hugo and his henchmen. As you do. I’ll hold my hands up now and say I’m not Debbie’s biggest fan, mainly due to the life-sucking love triangle from 2015 where chemistry evaded both Debbie&Pete and Debbie&Ross (sorry, but it’s true), but with her hotly anticipated return on screen I was ready to give her a chance. Debbie as a mother and Debbie as a daughter, Debbie trying to hold everything together and be strong – that is the kind of Debbie I can get behind. Plastic gangsters, a railway track and a moodily lit warehouse – ticking every cliché in the straight-to-DVD mob movie book? Not a plot I ever enjoy in soap. There’s no real tension or drama in it. We don’t know these cardboard villains, but we do know Emmerdale won’t kill off the Sugden kids, so there’s zero jeopardy. In amongst this lack of threat we have Cain displaced from his spot of Top Dog (always disappointing) and Ross’s resurgence as a love-struck yet ultimately cowardly thug. Ross was a great character and his romance with Donna was beloved, but it’s hard to get past Emmerdale’s fixation on the Ross and Debbie romance when it was such a weak (yet dominant) part of 2015. Ross’s watery eyed declarations to “Debs” really take away from Debbie’s potential as an independent force when we know she’s still hung up on him. If I believed in their love, then it would be easier to buy that she might be tempted by the guy whose bedded her mother multiple times but as it stands, their good looks don’t make up for their lack of chemistry so I’m praying we see Debbie’s return take a new path, rather than watch Ross win her back.

Emmerdale’s Christmas episode: The Best Bits

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

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The music montages! The REAL snow!

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

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The little touches

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

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The humour

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

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The heart

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

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

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

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Hope for Cain and Moira

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

Fave or Fail? (19-23 Dec 2016)

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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 run up to Christmas, Ashley’s special episode proves that Emmerdale’s showing us the very best in soap.

Faves

The Dementia Special

vlcsnap-2016-12-27-17h08m13s047Emmerdale have had an outstanding year and if their award cabinets aren’t waking up the country to the fact that it’s on top form, then hopefully episodes like Ashley’s special will do the job. Emmerdale employed a range of excellent techniques to try and showcase life with dementia for the audience, really helping to portray the struggle and confusion life can take when you can’t see the world as others do. As Ashley tried to get home to his mother, a hipster record shop baffled him, but luckily the shop worker was a good man and gave Ashley some spare clothes and tried to help him. Along the way Ashley met with people he saw (and the audience saw) as strangers, but through clever reflections and subtle signs, they were revealed to be familiar characters, recast. These recast actors had a real challenge on their hands but they fitted seamlessly into the story, managing to inhabit these well-loved characters in their own way. The episode also had nods to Ashley and Laurel’s past, such as her bumblebee pin (the costume she wore when she first arrived in Emmerdale) and Ashley’s desire to stop Laurel leaving for Finland – a storyline that happened in 2004! The episode also featured scenes shot in Esholt, the first time since 1998, and the old Woolpack pub. Not only did Emmerdale go to an incredible effort to tell Ashley’s story in a fresh and creative way, but it was told with real emotional punch and if there is any justice then they will surely pick up awards for this storyline in the new year.

Fighting Fire with Fire

emmerdale-moira-and-cain-kiss-after-an-epic-fight-youtubeMany Emmerdale fans have been missing the winning partnership of Cain and Moira (Coira to the initiated) ever since they split earlier this year, but this week saw them temporarily reunite and the scenes were electric! With Moira on full meltdown mode, even going as far as to sleep with her own nephew(!), she refused many of Cain’s attempts to help, despite him telling her he just can’t stop caring about her. After Moira drove drunk and fessed up to her liaison with Pete in an effort to push Cain away, the pair’s tension exploded, giving us an impressive display of the fiery on-screen chemistry between Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb and reminding everyone why they’re so popular. With the destructive and vicious extent of their passion on show, there were harsh words exchanged, slaps thrown, tears and Cain’s violence resurfacing. After their history together and a tumultuous year behind them, it’s no wonder their scenes were so tempestuous but their confrontation really did unleash all the frustration that’s been building. Moira brought out a better side to Cain, but it seems like neither of them are in a good place right now and their happy marriage seems out of reach, but as we saw at Christmas there does appear to be some hope left…

Caught in the Middle

emmerdale-wednesday-21-dec-7pm-the-itv-hub-2You’ve got to feel for Leyla this week. Even though she didn’t help herself when it came to meddling in Tracy and David’s life, it’s clear she’s worried about her makeshift little family. Leyla’s pinned all her hopes on a happier future with handsome and straightforward (or so she thought) Pete, but I bet she didn’t think she’d be contending with Pete’s own Auntie for his affections. YIKES. There was an enjoyable level of awkward irony as we watched oblivious Leyla suggest Pete and Moira “kiss and make up”, but as the week progressed it was easy to feel sorry for her. As the audience reeled from the Pete and Moira sleeping together shocker (which – OMG! – was such a surprising reveal), Leyla remained in the dark, focused on her lovely relationship with Jacob. The two shared some really touching this scenes as he tried to encourage her to share Christmas with their family and she supported them in the hospital. I can’t help but think Leyla needs someone much lovelier than flaky Pete and his cursed family.

Fail

Broken Marriage, Broken Record

emmerdale-wednesday-21-dec-7pm-the-itv-hub-1It’s no secret that Jimmy and Nicola’s marriage is one of my favourite pairings in the Dales. They’re funny, compatible and kinky at times! But lately their on and off fights and make ups seem never ending and we must have had a variation of the same fight about six times in the last six months. With Nicola’s paralysis and the jumble of kids they’ve seemingly collected, you’d think there would be a much better selection of heartfelt drama they could tackle, but instead we get a lot of the same fights with Nicola and Jimmy stuck in cartoon roles of nagging wife and buffoon husband. Sure, I like this dynamic and I like Jimmy hopelessly arriving at her door with an enthusiastic “Nico!” and buying her completely unromantic presents, but I’m tired of their repetitive make ups and break ups. I’d be hopeful for the future after the Christmas Day episode, but with Nicola finding out she’s wearing Pearl’s lost necklace, Jimmy’s been kicked to the curb again.

Come back tomorrow evening for my review of Emmerdale’s Christmas special!

 

Fave or Fail? (12-16 Dec 2016)

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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! Paddy Kirk is at his comedy best and little Arthur knows how to tug on the heart strings – ouch!

Faves

Loopy Lydia

vlcsnap-2016-12-17-20h01m47s936I can’t remember a plot in Emmerdale which gave me as many big laughs as the Paddy and Lydia storyline this week. We met “bereavement Lydia” (as Eric likes to call her) back when Jimmy got caught up in his lies about Nicola and she was hilarious then, but even better this week. With Lydia arriving at the vet’s with her “depressed” parrot Steve and her terrible chat up lines, she seemed like a great match for the equally awkward flirt, Paddy. But as the date progressed and Lydia’s mothering of Steve, talk of urination and wild-eyed obsessive future planning (scheduled dates until Feb), Paddy started to panic. Not even a private tour of a lawnmower museum could save it and he tried to back out – with hysterical consequences. This is Paddy at his ultimate best and a fantastic use of a guest actress, whose exit and mic drop will be remembered for a good while yet!

Arthur’s Agony

vlcsnap-2016-12-17-19h58m57s555You’d have to have a heart of steel not to be moved by darling little Arthur Thomas this week. Caught in the middle of his hugely family struggle, Arthur is doing his best to just be a happy go lucky little boy. We saw in Super Soap Week how much he adores his dad and how he’s trying his best to look after him, but as Ashley’s condition has worsened it’s beginning to really upset and worry him. This week Doug blew the secret of Ashley hitting Laurel and fearful Arthur panicked that it might happen again. By the end of the week he’d perked up a little, with a helping hand from Marlon and the pirate ship crew, but when Ashley was hospitalised again, we saw more upset piled on his little shoulders. Arthur knows and dreads what’s coming in the aftermath of Ashley’s TIA and it’s obvious the future is going to be seriously heartbreaking. Huge kudos to actor Alfie Clarke for his emotional performances in this tough story.

Moira’s Meltdown

vlcsnap-2016-12-17-20h10m16s342Moira’s grief escalated this week as the loneliness of Christmas caused her to hit the bottle. Despite Emma’s best efforts to support her enemy-turned-best-friend, Moira found her interference too much and pushed her and Pete away. While Gillian Kearney continues her brilliant portrayal of unstable Emma – lurching between a need for Moira’s friendship to ease her guilt to punishing her for rejecting her – it was Natalie J Robb really shining again this week. I loved the simplicity of Moira grieving on the floor, rebuilding the shattered pieces of Holly’s decoration and sobbing as the saccharine Christmas song played behind her. It was fun too to see the harsher and feisty side of her, especially with the drink talking, as she faced off against Cain and the Bartons, but Natalie’s portrayal means you’re always going to empathise with Moira.

Playing Parent

vlcsnap-2016-12-17-20h06m22s224Aaron had a tough week trying to put his foot down with Liv (her fragility beautifully played by Isobel Steele) and despite a rocky start, they managed a break-through, but it was Chas and Aaron’s relationship that was a real highlight for me. After a very difficult year and a long battle of their own parent-child relationship, the connection they have now is strong and touching. With Lucy Pargeter soon to be on maternity leave, losing Aaron and Chas’s relationship is going to feel tough – particularly when we’re given such heartwarming scenes between the two lately, such as her pride of him and her sage advice not to sabotage his own happiness. Lovely scenes!

Fails

Meddling Mess

vlcsnap-2016-12-17-18h11m29s789Leyla was the meddler and the target this week as she began vowing to get rid of Frank and ended up being messed with herself. While I loved the friendship scheming and backtracking between Leyla and Vanessa, Tracy and Carly’s mean tricking meant Pete and Leyla’s new relationship was derailed by embarrassing miscommunication. While it was great to see Leyla so involved in the week’s drama, the farce with Pete fell a bit flat, despite some funny dialogue. There was something silly and out of character to see Pete acting so OTT and dopey and it really jarred when you compared it to his dramatic material at the start of the week (grieving son he was not!). Tracy’s frustrations at the living arrangements are understandable but it all felt quite mean spirited in the end.

On the Rob

vlcsnap-2016-12-17-20h02m29s172I enjoy the sight of Aaron Dingle committing crimes just as much as his fiancé seems to, but this week’s events were tarnished by clunky plot devices. With Liv needing stability, Aaron and Robert had already decided to find the three of them a permanent home – one problem, their best option (burnt out and rotting Mill) was out of their price range. Well, apparently. Conveniently. Last we knew Robert was sitting on a tidy sum courtesy of his divorce settlement and father in law.  Yet this money has disappeared with no explanation, forcing Aaron to battle with his beliefs and decide whether to use his abusive father’s money. Another plot convenience meant loaded Rebecca White talking VERY LOUDLY about her money in front of Aaron and having a cosy drink with him and Robert – so Aaron was able to hear this and want revenge for her bad taste joke – when it’s very hard to believe after her schemes to split them up, they’d ever be pally. In what was, effectively, a plot to get Aaron to come to terms with using Gordon’s money and establish a better relationship between Aaron and Rebecca (while still showing Aaron’s insecurities), I can’t help but wish there had been a more believable way to show this. Would Aaron really be as clumsy in crime when he has so much to lose these days?

Scene of the Week (28 Nov-2 Dec 2016)

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Lovely Finn Barton is often used as comedy relief or the voice of reason in the middle of his brothers’ testosterone fuelled posturing and even if his latching onto coma patient Kasim has been slightly creepy, Joe Gill’s impressive performance makes this my Scene of the Week pick. Finn’s grief for the loss of his father, and belief he committed suicide, all came exploding out in this scene as brothers Pete and Ross took a surprising supportive role as they tried to understand why he’d been a bit of a stalker to the unconscious stranger. We’ve seen before that Joe Gill really shines in emotional material when he’s given the chance and as well as his capacity for a great comedy scene, this moment was a very effective way of showing how someone as placid as Finn can reach breaking point. Again it made a welcome change to see Ross and Pete’s selfishness and bro banter take a backseat as they tried to support him, even if Ross ended up upsetting him (no surprises there). How ever Finn’s grief and fixation on Kasim transpires, I hope Finn’s able to find some happiness and not pin too much of his recovery on the man he rescued.