Fave or Fail? (26-30 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! We were robbed of episodes this week as football took over, but with Rhona’s story and Arthur’s discovery it was a good week!

Faves

Survivor Solidarity

w64lrI can’t tell you how glad I am that Emmerdale decided to make Lisa a confidant for Rhona. When Emmerdale remembers its own history (like when Zak comforted David during his cancer or even this week when Pearl talked about her rapist son) it really excels and makes the most of the long running nature of soap. Lisa wa able to empathise with Rhona’s struggles like no other villager could, not even her friends, and it was so important for Rhona to have a safe person for her to express her fears and most difficult feelings to. Lisa’s comfort was wonderful, telling Rhona about how brave she was, all the while being able to reason with her irrational fears about being judged by others. It’s scenes like these that Emmerdale does so well, ones that are heartfelt and real. Lisa was the perfect choice of character for Rhona to lean on – she’s been there and she’s survived – and she gave Rhona the strength she needed to get through another difficult week.

Dangerous Discovery

Emmerdale - Emma Talks To Arthur About The Video - YouTubeThe reveal of Emma’s deadly secret is drawing closer and closer and it’s time to get excited! This week little Arthur feeling worried that he’d soon be orphaned (poor lad) decided to watch his dad’s videos alone on the pirate ship for comfort. And what video did he end up seeing? Dun dun dun! Emma upsetting Ashley and talking about the Hotten Bypass bridge. Uh oh. Arthur spent the rest of the week running away from and looking positively terrified of Emma every time she was in the vicinity until he tearfully told her that he’d watched the video. As Emma got panicky and Laurel vowed to get to the bottom of why Arthur was so upset, the tension mounted ever closer to that glorious reveal moment! But I also have to commend the ever brilliant Alfie Clarke whose expressive face makes everything from his rosy-cheeked upset to his terror so believable, but I am worried about poor little Arthur now!

Gaslighting

Emmerdale - Pierce Isn't Harassing Rhona, Pierce's Mother Is! - YouTubePierce and his wicked mother Martha made a return this week and the latter proved she was just as twisted as her son. Poor Rhona spent most of the week paranoid that Pierce was breaking into her house and gaslighting her, but when he smugly revealed to Paddy that he’d been in Amsterdam, Rhona was worried everyone thought she was losing it. Pierce is a mastermind manipulator and that was in full display in his meeting as he made Paddy look unhinged and Rhona the unreliable narrator. It’s clever but oh so maddening. His mother Martha isn’t much better as she later revealed to Rhona that she was behind all the tampering in her house and would do anything to protect her son, threatening Rhona that she had to drop the charges and walk away. With two powerful and evil manipulators at the helm this is hell for poor Rhona, but this is making for one fantastic story – the kind where you’re screaming at the telly, begging for justice.

Sisters Before Misters

w64npTuesday’s hour long episode had a great Girl Power vibe and I really loved it. Apart from Vanessa’s usual support of Rhona and the new comfort from Lisa, other female friendships came into the spotlight. Nicola played a big part in this as she agreed to look after Laurel’s kids if anything should happen but it was her new and surprising alliance with Priya that I really enjoyed. Now free from the shackles of Rakesh, Priya acknowledged her foolishness for letting him dictate her life for so long. Together her and Nicola were a supportive force as they agreed to put useless men behind them and stand strong. I like both characters as the two of them are strong minded business women so I’m glad they’ve gotten over their rivalry, even if I’m with Jai on this – how long will it last? But on the plus side, it did at least make Priya see sense when it came to Pete and she took a stand. Sadly, I can definitely see that resolve folding. Ugh.

Fails

The Thrill of the Chase

Emmerdale - Debbie Finds Out Ross Has Totally Moved On - YouTubeI won’t pretend my heart is filled with joy at the prospect of a Debbie and Ross reunion and I much prefer their characters apart however I was slightly dismayed at the direction their relationship has taken this week. It even surprised me that I didn’t mind their more fun scenes together (anything that get Debs to do anything but frown is a good thing) but then by the end of the week a different dynamic emerged. If you can cast your mind all the way back to 2015 you’ll remember Debbie left town on discovering Ross shot Robert and she’d had enough of his bad boy ways. Fair enough! So why now, when he should be making the effort (if he wants her back) to prove he’s a decent bloke, is she chasing after him? Not to mention his attitude seems way off if he really does care about her the way we’re supposed to think he does. He’s cocky and dismissive, even seeming unfazed when she seemed to soften. So if we really do have to see a re-run of Debbie n’ Ross – surely Debbie deserves more than being at the whim of Ross’s ego?

FYI: There will be no Woolie Weekly posts for the next two weeks as I am on holiday, but I will be posting a summer quiz next week so I hope you enjoy that!

Fave or Fail? (12-16 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! In a week that saw Rakesh leave (bye!), Rhona bravely reported Pierce to the police.

Faves

Master Manipulator

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h06m10s606You have to hand it to the brilliant Jonathan Wrather who manages to deliver such chilling performances as callous rapist, Pierce. His return this week was bizarrely orchestrated by a clueless Paddy (it’s a debatable that even Paddy would be that oblivious) and he began a tireless campaign of gaslighting and getting under Rhona’s skin. Every performance makes you want to scream, particularly as Rhona’s friends were initially drawn into his web, believing every charming word he said. He also managed to act his socks off under police questioning (that’s Pierce and Jonathan who gave unnerving performances) making his deception look like an art form. Pierce’s slippery character, under that perfect surface, is one of the things that makes this storyline so compelling.

Rhona’s Bravery

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h04m46s022Rhona returned from rehab this week and so did Emmerdale’s best plot at the moment – hooray! With the support of loyal best mate Vanessa, Rhona managed to stand up to Pierce and his remorseless reappearance and eventually Rhona braved another visit to the police station where she was able to name Pierce as her rapist. Once again Zoe Henry’s performances continue to be powerful and surely will pick up awards next year. I’m pleased that there hasn’t been a long and drawn out process of people being in the dark over Rhona’s horrific attack with her being increasingly isolated. It gives me hope that this story will continue to move in directions that showcase the bravery and strength of women like Rhona.

Doug’s Dancing

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h08m56s582If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have already seen me proclaim this little subplot as one of my favourite stories of the year so far. Warm, funny and not a beaver in sight. Worried he was too dull for Diane and he couldn’t even woo her with his dancing, a hapless Doug sought advice from lothario Frank and later an enthusiastic Lydia who was all too keen to give him dancing lessons. Doug is brilliant in his grumpy old man routine and Duncan Preston is effortlessly funny when playing Doug out of his comfort zone, while Diane is none the wiser. Even Frank, who hasn’t been the most engaging of newcomers, was fun in this plot and Lydia’s encouraging pep talks as she compared him to Michael Douglas and told him to believe in himself is exactly the good natured comedy Emmerdale does best.

Grinning Gerry

w62gThere’s so many things wrong with the uncomfortable plot that saw Lachlan (a convicted sex offender) prepare to lose his virginity to Belle, but the one positive from this story is the reintroduction of Gerry – Lachlan’s ex-cellmate. Sure, Gerry’s quite gross, considering that a) he’s pals with Lachlan and b) his readiness to order a prostitute for Lachlan doesn’t scream maturity or responsibility. But his cheeky sense of humour, willingness to flirt with every woman in sight, made a real impression in a short space of time. Plus, the benefit of Gerry is that there’s no white-washing or sugar-coating of his behaviour – like we see so frequently in Lachlan – Gerry is unashamedly a sleazebag and a lad up to no good.

Fails

Baby Mania

vlcsnap-2017-06-18-19h04m19s132They say pregnant women have something called ‘baby brain’ which makes them forgetful and act a bit off. But if anyone has baby mania then it’s Victoria who has the accolade this week of the strangest behaviour in the midst of the much-loathed Rebecca baby plot. Not content to let “free spirited” (I know, I know, no one is buying it) Rebecca do her own thing, Vic bombarded her with messages begging for her return and the pair reunited like they’d be separated by war rather than a fortnight. If their convenient BFFship didn’t pique your cringe levels then, Vic’s insistence that Rebecca move in with her and let her be her sole support might have done. Even Adam, who isn’t always the brightest spark, pointed out how bizarre this insta-friendship is and that’s without getting into what should be Vic’s resentment of that family. And so, while Vic mouthed off at her brother, despite having always been one of the few to empathise with him and champion his relationship with Aaron, I can’t help but wonder if this dire story might end with Vic standing between Rebecca’s legs ready to catch the sprog and run away with it.

Scene of the Week (12-16 June 2017)

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There were some superb scenes in the Rhona storyline this week, but I picked this showdown between Priya and Chrissie as my unexpected choice for Scene of the Week. With Rakesh gone, Priya finally felt like the shackles were off and with that her true strong and gutsy self re-emerged as she gave Chrissie a few home truths. Chrissie too seems to have now found the perfect balance in the village – no longer a simpering victim nor the camp soap bitch with the clunky one-liners, she now has the nastiness and snobbery that comes with power as she tries to lord it over others. She’s far more believable and enjoyable, in a love-to-hate sort of way, like this. It’s how she always should have been written. Priya too, no longer weak willed under Rakesh’s shadow, stood up to Chrissie, pointing out her shameful mistakes and holding her head high in the face of Chrissie’s finger pointing. It was a real punch-in-the-air moment for Priya, name dropping Chrissie’s victims like that on the factory floor, and it’s always satisfying to see that over-privileged family taken down a peg or two!

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?

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? (27 Feb-3 March 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! An unbearable time for poor Aaron in a week that saw the comedy kidnap of Rakesh.

Marvellous Marlon

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h56m47s947Marlon was a man of many talents this week as he got stuck into some emotionally fraught drama with Laurel at the start of the week, relationship tension of his own and then finally some brilliant comedy with Charity on Thursday. Having been a great comfort to the struggling Laurel, Marlon was forced to defend their almost-kiss to Sandy and to girlfriend Carly when the dust settled. While it was nothing but an emotional and difficult moment, Marlon was forced to defend their behaviour and gave Sandy an impassioned speech about how difficult Laurel’s life has become. As for Carly, cute as Carlon are, I’m not convinced she’s really as ready for the serious commitment Marlon is offering as she makes out she is – even with the promise of bubbles in the bath with him. Finally Marlon tried to rescue Charity and Frank from Megan’s discovery (despite him earlier being very narked that Charity wasn’t serving any customers) and ended up seeing A LOT more of Charity than he planned. Not even a wine glass held up to his face could hide that awkward moment!

Team Jai

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h59m30s877I have to be honest with you and share something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to admit. Okay. I like Jai. I’m fond of Jai. I even find myself agreeing with some of his opinions and this week I was all ready to have the “Team Jai” t-shirts made. Who’d have thought it back in 2015 when he was so unlikeable and cold-hearted? Jai was firmly in the “get Rakesh away from Priya” camp this week, even going as far as to try and pay him off. Sure, he doesn’t like the guy and there may be selfish reasons too but ultimately we’re in agreement: that Priya can do so much better. Jai’s scenes this week also involved him trying to jeopardise Priya’s move by dropping the bombshell on David and leaving before the fireworks and I admire his technique really. But whatever he has against Rakesh, he’s spot on about his sister and he did seem genuinely worried she might relapse and it’s impossible to disagree with the guy when he called Rakesh a loser and that she shouldn’t just forgive him. Too right, Jai. Too right.

Brutally Compelling but Too Cruel?

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-17h36m17s348When it comes to Aaron Dingle’s latest storyline I’m torn. It’s full of uncomfortable, dark and important material and it’s performed so superbly that the pain Aaron’s suffering feels very raw and real, but I can’t help but feel it’s too much and too cruel for someone who has been tortured their whole life. We know tragedy follows Aaron at every turn, but this time it feels too oppressive. On the plus side, Danny Miller is unquestionably and consistently fantastic, and Aaron’s pain alongside his family’s struggle is as compelling as it is heartbreaking and the portrayal of homophobia in prison is a worthy story to be told. Also the actors playing prisoners are excellent, particularly the chillingly good Samuel Edward-Cook who plays twisted Jason. But coming less than a year after Aaron saw his abusive father sentenced, Aaron had barely begun to step into the light of a hopeful future before even more pain was poured onto his life. Does there come a point where it’s all just two much on one character’s shoulders – one with a history of unbearable and untreated mental health struggles – and  particularly when we know this is just the start of his hell? Aaron’s had a life of self-torture, did we need to see such a brutal treatment of him so closely linked to his traumatic childhood? Gordon has become present again, even after his death, and the claustrophobic and devastating treatment of Aaron in prison feels like a particularly sickening punishment of an abuse and rape survivor when that story was handled so well. I’m hoping Emmerdale doesn’t lose sight of Aaron’s strength and that they can find the light again when his time inside ends.

Fails

Comedy Kidnap

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h57m12s021I don’t think there’s ever been a soap with more kidnaps than Emmerdale, but this week’s one came with a bizarre comedy element. Having set up a laughable “who bashed Rakesh over the head?” plot with multiple suspects, the real perpetrator was revealed to be Jimmy, who had tied Rakesh up in the Mill in an effort to prove his authority and avenge Nico. After trying to ease the bruising with a pack of frozen peas, Jimmy’s embarrassing backtracking began before he realised Rakesh thought he was harmless. Then came the bizarre tortures – the Aqua playlist (the whole album and not just Barbie Girl on repeat) and the threats of torching the place (only it was water rather than petrol). Sure, elements of this were mildly amusing, but Jimmy could only carry half the comedy himself and the rest fell as flat as Rakesh did when he tumbled out of Mill’s window. The heart of Jimmy’s revenge – his being devastated at Nicola’s paralysis and insecurity – was lost in the scenes bizarre nature and the truce both sides came to in the hospital seemed hollow when Rakesh’s injuries were only superficial. If this was soap karma, I’m not sure this was enough – or the right tone either.

Nothing Changes

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h58m53s640The hugely repetitive White family dramas were back this week with Chrissie’s suspicions being at the forefront. Lawrence remarked to her that she says sorry a lot but nothing seems to change with her. Well, you could argue the same for the whole family who never seem to move forward and outside of their own bubble – meaning their inter-familial conflicts are on a loop. This week, once again suspicious of her father’s choice in partner (yep, we’ve been here with Bernice AND Ronnie before) and believing Ronnie to be scamming Lawrence for money, Chrissie ended up falling out with Lawrence. Once again we had scenes of Lawrence shouting about his disappointment in her, how she was bitter and money grabbing and how she was forcing him to choose sides. If it sounds familiar it’s because we’ve been here countless times before, no doubt leading to Chrissie yet again be welcomed back into her father’s arms. Without any other ties to the village the Whites are stuck up at Home Farm with only a passing nemesis now and again. Chrissie could be sympathetic, she could also be a soap bitch character but neither side is ever fully explored in any depth without us going round in circles. Ronnie’s character didn’t fare much better with him going to extremes to teach Chrissie a lesson – he’s not really the rival to challenge her villainy and with no real opponent Chrissie just comes across as a spoilt brat again.

Fave or Fail? (20-24 Feb 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! A hugely emotional and fantastic week in Emmerdale as Aaron and Robert married and were tragically torn apart just a day later.

Faves

The Wedding of the Year

21022017-208You can read exactly why I loved the Robron wedding here, but how could anything else top the week? The episodes were filled with love, warmth, humour, emotion and were a worthy celebration of one of the biggest and most-talked about romances to hit the Dales. For two characters with such a turbulent past, they were never going to have a typical wedding but the payoff was completely worth it to see them at their peak of love and happiness – even if it did only last a day! It was special, romantic and intimate and really got to the heart of both men and the reasons why their love story is so cherished by fans and their relationship is so successful. Here’s hoping Emmerdale keep them together for as long as possible – and that when Aaron gets out of prison they can sign on the dotted line and make this Mr Dingle and Mr Sugden thing properly official.

Prison Blues

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h19m03s835While I’m always going to advocate giving Aaron Dingle some happier times in his life, it’s easy to see why the writers put Aaron through hell so frequently when it makes such good TV! Just a day after getting married, Aaron and Robert were cruelly torn apart and Aaron was sentenced to 12 months inside. To go from the romantic joy of the wedding to the agonising scene of their goodbye was pure torture but so superbly acted by Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley that you could almost forget you weren’t living through this tragic separation too. (Who’d think we’d ever be crying over a bottle of shower gel and an exchange of names? Not me!) Once inside Aaron faced the difficult decision to hide his sexuality in scenes which were particularly painful to watch knowing how far Aaron had come in his own life in terms of acceptance. The prison scenes are already an uncomfortable and claustrophobic viewing experience so I can only imagine how much worse it will get, and when paired with Robert and Liv’s misery – it’s really hard hitting on the emotions.

The Thomas Family

emmerdale-thursday-23-feb-8pm-the-itv-hub-1It feels like I write about how good the Thomas family are every week, but I just can’t help it. With Ashley now living in a care home (and what heart-wrenching scenes those were at the end of the week), the Thomas family are adjusting to live without Ashley at home. This week it was hard for Laurel coping on the anniversary of Daniel’s death and the realisation that Ashley wouldn’t remember. After confiding in carer Will there was an awkward mix-up for Laurel as she panicked he was interested in her after the mysterious Valentine’s Day flowers too. Once again it was the adorable Arthur who was behind the sweet surprise and I didn’t think I could find him any cuter until his confession to Sandy and their mission (on Sandy’s scooter) to get to the pub on time. Sandy too has a wicked sense of humour meaning the Thomas family are just so watchable at the moment.

New Blood

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h26m39s547Faith hasn’t entered Emmerdale quietly – she’s big, bold and abrasive and probably not to everyone’s cup of tea – but being thrown in at the deep end has had its advantages. Even though she’s already gone off screen to take Sarah to Prague for her treatment she’s made a lasting impression already. It’s really helped that Faith has made herself notorious – interacting with a huge range of characters and flirting with every man in her radius – rather than sticking to a small bubble of characters. She already feels fully integrated and we already have a good sense as to who she is. It’s been a while since we’ve had a character as brash as her, perfectly able to get stuck into the drama and be believable as an awful mother to Cain and Chas, while still being entertaining with some great one liners.

Shock Discovery

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h27m27s143Right in the middle of Tracy’s hilarious porn writing plot (loving that Pearl-inspired beret btw, Trace), and David’s amusing jealousy of the fictional Gustav, came an unexpected plot twist. David found a lump in his testicles – and quickly the smiles faded as they realised his cancer might have returned. It was a real shock emerging from this frothy comedy plot and one which took me by surprise. Not only did this bring another quiet and nuanced performance from Matthew Wolfenden as David tried to keep calm, but as Jacob suffered with what seems to be some sort of anxiety, it left me looking forward to seeing more of Joe-Warren Plant as hopefully his storyline progresses to new territory.

Fails

Dragging Her Down

emmerdale-thursday-23-feb-8pm-the-itv-hubPerhaps my biggest shock this week was that I was in agreement with Jai Sharma as he quite rightly assessed that Rakesh just drags Priya down. Couldn’t have put it better. Priya can be fun, feisty and is a smart and gorgeous woman so what the hell is she doing still wasting her time with a lowlife like Rakesh. Really though, what does she see in him? Secret liaisons and office desk hook-ups are soap bread and butter and illicit flings are one of my favourite things to watch, but even when they’re trying to be sexy like this week, they just don’t really cut it. To make matters worse, it’s frustrating that Priya has forgiven him so easily for the events of the summer. Why reunite them when their relationship does Priya no favours (and yes, I’ve given up all hope on Rakesh ever being engaging). Priya deserves better and so do we. Or at least a decent storyline (and partner) for her.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 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! In the heartbreaking week that saw Aaron and Robert consider calling an end to their engagement, Nicola was top boss, DS Wise returned and Finn went way too far.

Faves

Marriage and Strife

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h14m43s200When it comes to “power couples” – a staple in the soap world – Emmerdale have really lucked out when it comes to Aaron and Robert. Not only are they a fan favourite and brimming with palpable chemistry in everything from their fights to make ups, but their personalities and histories make for believable and complex conflict. Aaron’s insecurities and lack of trust stem from his tragic past and Robert’s history of cheating mean he’s never been Mr Trustworthy, but together the pair have forged an unbreakable love for each other. But this week they reached crisis point. With Aaron’s jealousy growing over the past few months it came to a head when Robert was caught out lying about his whereabouts. Whilst Aaron’s paranoia was unfounded it didn’t take long for the argument about trust to escalate and Robert temporarily called off the engagement. Heart crushing and beautifully acted! Like the fiery spats Cain and Moira have, Aaron and Robert’s scenes have that same undercurrent of temper as they both lashed out, hitting each other where it hurt. What was most engaging about these scenes was the level of depth explored in their arguments as they dealt with all the complicated issues surrounding trust, jealousy, insecurity and sexuality. Bisexuality is very rarely talked about on mainstream TV and the scripts seeing Robert defend his attraction to men and women again and challenge Aaron’s ignorance and insecurities, as well as display signs that he isn’t completely comfortable either were compelling. Scenes this week really dug into the psychology of both characters, giving Robron some of their best scenes since Super Soap Week.

Creeping Darkness

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h07m30s965The slow build of Rhona and Pierce’s story about control and abuse is one created with nuance and an undercurrent of dread that’s really serving to make it a success. Their story wasn’t a huge focus in the week, but as it operates in the background we’ve already begun to see Rhona making changes to her behaviour based on Pierce’s subtle hand of control. He dropped in comments about “the state” of her after the night out, offered to answer her phone and got it out of her bag, accused her of ridiculing him, avoided her and freezed her out to lower her self-esteem. And this is just the start of it. It’s chilling. This week saw Rhona be made to feel guilty for going out with her friends (something she hasn’t done a great deal of anyway) and she vowed not to go out and get drunk with them again like she had done at the Hunk Night and played exactly into his hands by isolating herself. I have a feeling this storyline is going to get even darker and more uncomfortable as time goes on.

Touching Scenes

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h12m45s465Gabby and Ashley’s relationship, just like his relationship with Arthur, has been a real highlight of the dementia plot – even if Gabby has been a challenge at times. The tragedy that the Thomas family face is a heartbreaking one, especially for someone like Gabby who is old enough to recognise her father’s deterioration but wants to cling onto him and keep him in her life. As she looked after him this week, she was offered a small glimmer of his former self when he told her what a wonderful young woman she was becoming, but this was only a fleeting moment as she began to realise his illness was progressing and getting much worse. The harsh realities of this story are told in such a realistic and emotional way that it’s hard not be moved and it benefits greatly from not having too heavy a focus every week so that it isn’t too much of a hard watch.

Wise Guy

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-21h51m42s296Returning to our screens this week was dashing detective Jason Wise who we last saw being a dreamboat to Chas, after she struggled with her PTSD following their date. This week he was back to offer her another friendly ear and the support she needed as she broke down after Aaron’s arrest. Despite DS Wise’s suggestion that he help change Aaron’s statement, he was soon scared off by Pierce in an attempt to push Paddy and Chas closer. And while the sitcom silliness of Paddy and Chas has been fun at times, it would be nice for Chas to have someone as grown up and lovely as the handsome DS Wise. I’m rooting for them, and I’m petitioning right here to make Jason our regular resident detective.

Unbroken

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h08m13s159I mentioned last week how much I enjoyed seeing Nicola get her business mojo back as she kicked Home James back into shape but this week she took it to another level as she got revenge on Rakesh and the Sharmas. Instead of going to the police about Rakesh’s arson (*grumble grumble*) she decided she’d rather be managing director of the sweet factory, lording it over the Sharmas and banning Rakesh from the premises. It was fun seeing Nicola screw over Jai, making him fetch her lunch and coffee, belittle Rishi and kick the workers into shape – especially the useless slacker Kerry. Not only was it great to see Nicola fighting strong, refusing to have the “broken” label attached to her, but it brought some much needed fun and a change of regime in the factory.

Fails

Like Mother Like Son?

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h09m45s238Finn’s obsession with Kasim peaked to its most worrying level as this week he hired escort Nathan to make Kasim jealous and then really upped his clingy behaviour by stalking him to his house and confronting his dad. Yikes! You know it’s a worry when even his mother (who isn’t exactly known for her reasoned and rational behaviour when it comes to love) was worried about him. Smitten Finn is pinning so much on his relationship, when it helped him with his dad’s death, that he’s just not reading the signs, even when Kasim is telling him that he’s going overboard and looking crazy. Despite this plot making Finn’s unhinged behaviour get worse and worse, I’ve enjoyed the way it’s blurred into other plots and characters and it’s been interesting to see a bit more to Finn’s character rather than sitting on the sidelines of his brothers’ plots. Just how similar he is to his mother, time will tell, but I can’t help but wonder just how far Finn will go in his quest for Kasim’s love. Surely Kasim should be googling restraining orders right about now? He always seemed a bit too okay with Finn’s bedside vigil in the first place!

Rak Off

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-22h07m44s043Rakesh’s arson secrets were exposed this week to Nicola, the woman whose life it has affected so greatly and while I’ve already mentioned how thrilled I was to see her fighting back in full authoritative power, I was mostly excited about the prospect of getting rid of Rakesh. I’ve long lamented Rakesh’s place in Emmerdale, the dead weight he is around Priya and the Sharmas’ neck, the personality vacuum he is, the boredom he brings to a variety of storylines. He’s dull, unengaging and I’ve reached the limit of patience with him. Really, what does he bring to the show? We even have Pierce now, bringing to the table the shady lawyer character, so we just don’t need him. Yet, instead of reporting Rakesh to the police and freeing us from his mundanity, Nicola decided to punish him in a different way. Gone now is my hope of getting rid of him and we’re not left with a slightly anticlimactic resolution to the underwhelming summer fire plot. Oh well, here’s hoping he just fades into the background this year.

 

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2016

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Emmerdale had an INCREDIBLE 2016 winning awards left right and centre, but it can’t be flawless all the time. Later I’ll be continuing my countdown of the Top 20 Best Moments of the year, but here’s a brief look at the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016.

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6. David’s never ending proposals

David and Tracy’s relationship had a really tender beginning and I was fully on board, but when David rushed into proposing and Tracy eventually said no, he wasn’t going to let that be her answer. What followed was months of David trying to wear her down and bulldoze over her feelings by proposing in increasingly outlandish ways. Perhaps the intention was to be seen as funny and sweet but instead David just seemed like a bit of a creep, without respecting that Tracy thought it was too soon. By the time they finally got married, I was sort of beyond the point of caring and David hadn’t just worn me down, he’d made me reach the point of irritation.

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5. Jermaine and Belle’s affair

Ugh. That’s Jermaine and Belle’s affair summarised in one word. It wasn’t just due to the icky age gap and his professional status as a doctor, but the way this plot went on and on. Their sudden uncontrollable passion for each other never felt very believable and when the affair came out, Dr Bailey was quick to let Belle take the fall and say it was all in her head. Bastard! Unfortunately that wasn’t the end, as Belle tried to hang onto him by claiming to be pregnant and what followed was a harrowing breakdown plot for Belle as she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While Eden Taylor Draper’s performances were great, Belle’s visions of “Ellie” were just way too similar to last year’s story when Belle heard Gemma’s voice. Again we faced the oblivious Dingles and repetitive moments of Belle reacting to the voices and hiding this from everyone, which overshadowed the sensitive issues of the plot. Jermaine did stand by her and became more fun working behind the bar, but thankfully they’ve broken up now and we might get something different from Belle in the future.

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4. Kerry’s spiralling out of control

There’s been a noticeable shift in Kerry Wyatt this year and her goofy and loud comedy has been overtaken by a selfish nastiness, which has got worse in recent months since her relationship with Dan ended. Ever since Kerry sided with Joanie against the lovely Lisa, we’ve seen a colder and less loveable character meaning that when she is funnier, it doesn’t always have the right tone. Kerry can be sympathetic and she has had a rough time of it but her attitudes and behaviour in the workplace and towards others haven’t been a pleasure to watch. Instead of wanting to rescue Kerry from her bad decisions, there’s a greater feeling of wanting her to snap out of it and just stop this immature behaviour!

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3. The Whites vs everyone and each other

I have a very difficult relationship with the White family. I enjoyed Chrissie in camp bitch mode, I enjoyed Lawrence’s tragic backstory and I think Thomas Atkinson is a good performer, but as a family unit they’re still such a muddle with their motivations being unreadable or all over the place. Their position as antagonists in the village works to an extent but seems to go round in circles when it’s clear they will never be defeated. Watching the Whites vs the Sugdens is still as tedious as it was from the beginning when it looks obvious Andy won’t return and Lachlan won’t go down for Lawrence’s shooting. Lachlan as a character doesn’t work, since the lack of remorse and no real resolution to the sexual assault storyline makes his existence in the show uncomfortable and irredeemable; the Whites’ lack of any real connections in the village two years on from their arrival mean their interactions are limited and repetitive and often we’re left in an endless cycle of the same disputes, including the ones with each other.

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2. Rakesh’s money woes

Sorry Rakesh fans, but he has got to be the biggest soap bore of 2016. Okay, he might have had an eventful summer committing arson and insurance fraud in a bid to dig himself out of debt but that hasn’t made him any more interesting. Money plots rarely work on screen and watching Rakesh sweat as he lost it all just wasn’t dramatic or even emotional. Emmerdale even tried to go down the tragic backstory route but there’s just no intrigue or empathy to be found in Rakesh. He lacks any sort of charisma, he’s a dead weight around Priya’s neck and he’s dominated the show far too much this year. Now with Kirin gone there feels like even less of a purpose to him and I wouldn’t miss him if he had to leave the village forever.

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1. Cheating plots

If I could change two things from Emmerdale 2016, one would be less misogynistic writing (be it the way some female characters are written, how some female characters interact with each other or how men treat them without consequence) and two would be to cut down on the cheap cheating plots. Sure, cheating has been a soap trope since forever but this year has seen an unnecessary amount of “shock” kiss scenes used as a fast device for conflict and drama. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick (and probably incomplete) list: Moira/Pete, Nicola/Dan, Chrissie/Rakesh, Moira/James, Kerry/Ross, Rebecca/Robert, Bernice/Jimmy, Lisa/Zak, Laurel attempting to kiss Marlon, Holly attempting to kiss Cain, Ross attempting to kiss Victoria… Not only is it repetitive and lazy it’s a miserable viewing experience when you can’t rely on any stability between your favourite soap couples. We expect drama and conflict in relationships but with so many of the Emmerdale couples in tatters, don’t keep ruining every other couple with these endless cheating plot devices!

Fave or Fail? (31 Oct -4 Nov 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! It was James’s funeral (again) this week and we saw Emma get cruel in a bid to cover her crimes, but there were a lot of good deeds done this week too.

Faves

Unravelling

emmerdale-laurel-feels-helpless-as-ashley-gets-worse-and-worse-youtubeTowards the end of the week we saw huge performances from John Middleton, Charlotte Bellamy and Gillian Kearney as both stories converged in a way that’s already exciting. The camera! The camera! John Middleton continues to impress as Ashley’s dementia gets worse and worse, but it’s the impact on Laurel which might prove most interesting as the story moves forward. This week saw the strain of her family’s wishes piling on the pressure and by Friday, as she snapped at Ashley and then sat on the sofa beside him, there was a resignation to it which made me wonder if she might relapse again and lose her fight against her sobriety. Across the street Emma is on a meltdown over the loss of James and her part in it. I loved seeing her crack at the funeral and in front of Ashley because despite her cruelness you can’t help but feel her intense guilt, one that she projects onto others, especially “precious Moira”. Both these plots are powerful, steered by great performances and their merging makes them even better.

Unsung Heroes

emmerdale-thursday-3-nov-8pm-the-itv-hubIf this was a week for anyone, it was a week for those ‘good’ characters, the ones often overlooked and forgotten about. I’m talking about Noah being an absolute sweetheart and promising to look after mum Charity, making her a cuppa and giving her a box of tissues, even when she herself admits she’s not been the greatest mother to him. I’m talking about little good deeds of kindness like Liv making Lisa a dating profile and giving her a little boost of confidence. Then there’s ultimate sweetheart Sam who was prepared to cook Kerry a full breakfast and took her cruel rejection with a brave face, then later was the sweetest flirt ever in the shop and even helped Frank try and win Megan’s heart. And finally Finn, the most trod on Barton brother who had been visiting coma patient and the man he’d rescued in the crash, Kasim. Finn broke down this week with grief and finally snapped at Ross, giving him the cold hard truth that he’s been selfish. Finally someone said it!

Reopening Old Wounds

emmerdale-zak-kisses-lisa-behind-joanies-back-youtubeI’m not sure I’ve ever been as conflicted about a couple as I am about Zak and Lisa. On the one hand this week proved that they’re still a great team. They give you that warm and cosy feeling and really, I think we all know they are meant to be together. Let’s be real – Emmerdale should never have had Zak cheat in the first place, but he did and now he’s remarried so we can’t wipe the slate clean. That’s the issue isn’t it, for us and for Lisa? Lisa seems resolute that she doesn’t need a man and that she was finally getting over him when he had to go and ruin everything by kissing her. Zak made his choice and he hurt a lot of people. Really, there’s no way Lisa should forgive him and take him back. I know this and I fully support this but at the same time, Zak and Lisa apart just seems wrong. Still, them being apart and Lisa still smarting gave us some incredible shade when she had dinner with Zak and Joanie – that was classic. I have a feeling they will reunite one day, I just hope if they do that Zak works bloody hard to rebuild that love and trust because frankly Lisa deserves a lot better.  

Fails

Sharp Tongues

emmerdale-tuesday-1-nov-7pm-the-itv-hubI’ve got a real issue with two of Emmerdale’s brashest characters right now – namely Ross and Kerry. We get glimpses of their softer sides and the odd empathetic moment, but often I find their nastiness means their emotional moments don’t do enough to soften them. We know Ross is grieving for his father (see: his heartbreaking scenes with Emma) but his bragging to Dan, his snarling confrontation of Cain and his persistent misogyny is hard to overlook or brush off when he looks a bit mournful occasionally. There’s a similar lack of balance with Kerry. On the one hand her comedic lines and upset over her relationship breakdown make her more rounded, but using Sam and her general spiteful rudeness to others (she gave Lisa a hard time again this week) makes her seem cruel and unpleasant. We all know these characters aren’t angels and are vicious when they’re suffering, but there needs to be more balance to their barbed comments.

Dead Weight

emmerdale-thursday-3-nov-7pm-the-itv-hubHere we are again Rakesh, on the Fails list. Will you ever reach the dizzy heights of my Faves? Looking unlikely, isn’t it? If this week proved anything it’s that Rakesh is one of the show’s most underwritten characters and be honest Emmerdale, it’s that you’re struggling to care too, right? We finally got a glimpse into Rakesh’s sob stor- sorry, I mean backstory, only to find that it feels like a tacked on post-it note. Apparently his dad always made him feel inferior and apparently this has never come up in conversation with Priya before. It all seemed a very shallow way to try and make Rakesh’s behaviour in some way explainable but honestly the whole thing, like the rest of Rakesh’s plotlines, felt flat and uninspiring. Priya wanted them to have fun this week, a word I’d never have associated with Rakesh before – that marriage must be a laugh! They’re not a couple you can really root for because you wonder why they’re even together, no chemistry or connection, and despite Fiona Wade’s solid performances – they only serve to prove Priya would be a much better character away from Rakesh’s dead weight.