Fave or Fail? (27-31 May 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Fewer episodes this week as Emmerdale made way for Britain’s Got Talent, but the Dingles reeled in the wake of Lisa’s death.

Faves

Unsung Hero

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h51m37s679The aftermath of Lisa’s death continued this week as the Dingles all struggled to cope in individual ways. Surprisingly it was Sam who seemed to take it the hardest, acting out of character and hiding away to cry alone. Sam is often used as comic relief in the family, on the sidelines as the ‘nice but dim’ member of the family, but this week Sam – and actor James Hooton were the unsung heroes of Emmerdale. To see Sam taking Lisa’s death so badly and worrying that he had to hold it together and keep the farm running, scared that both Zak and Belle’s vulnerable mental health would suffer, was a poignant and affecting choice. Because we don’t often see Sam so emotionally raw the scenes had a greater impact and it was a reminder just how good James Hooton is as an actor. If there’s anyone Emmerdale should be lining up for their next big emotional story, then they should consider Sam.

Fake Dating

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h50m22s542Fans have long been speculating there’s romance on the horizon for Laurel and Jai and Friday’s episode this week was a mightily satisfying tease of that. Jai spent the week venturing into online dating (which was a pretty charming and fun story between the sadness of Lisa’s death) and thought his luck was in when he ended up with a gorgeous date. As his employees came in the pub for an ogle, Jai realised he had in fact hired an escort instead (oops) and Laurel stepped in to help scare her off. Laurel’s technique involved everyone’s favourite rom-com/fanfic trope – fake dating – and Laurel and Jai were soon forced into sharing a pretend kiss to prove their romance. But a funny and awkward scene soon had sparks flying at the pair found themselves caught up in the moment and shared a much steamier snog. This looks like it might be the start of a big new romance and I can’t wait to see it develop!

The Fun Side

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h53m05s990When Kim returned there was anxiety from Emmerdale viewers that her ruthless personality would veer into pantomime and we’d be left with less of a character and more of a cartoon. Certainly her brief stint last October was divisive and when her immediate plans were to shag Cain and put a hit out on Joe, there was more concerns. But lately we’ve seen a much more well-rounded Kim, trying to rebuild her relationship with Jamie, employing Lydia and Sam, and forging an almost-friendship with Rhona. She almost seemed pleased of the company when Rhona popped round Home Farm, even giving her the hard sell on some biscuits – but then if you’re stuck with Graham all day every day you’d be grateful of a friendly face too! This side of Kim is much more like the woman we can see in the weekday repeats of classic Emmerdale on ITV3 and gives her a greater chance of longevity. Of course Kim’s always going to be the “soap bitch” but that doesn’t mean she needs to be an ice queen. Friends and smiles are welcome from time to time.

Fails

A Slow Goodbye?

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h49m27s223It was a struggle to invest in Megan’s storyline this week as she fretted over her future after causing Eric’s accident. Not only is her relationship with Frank dull and chemistry free, her connection with stoic Graham isn’t much better. Even Megan’s rivalry with Kim feels tired and uninspiring, doing no favours to either character. Emmerdale have had plenty of opportunity in the past to do something emotionally engaging with Megan and her daughter Eliza, and yet even this story, with so much at stake for Megan, it treads a boring and dry path with these uninspiring men. It feels like this is leading to Megan having a lacklustre exit, but the pace is glacial. With actress Gaynor Faye exiting the Dales, is Megan’s storyline really the start of her long goodbye?

Fast Turn Around

vlcsnap-2019-06-01-08h48m31s444Despite the whole coffin incident, I was curious about Will and Harriet’s chemistry from the off. We’ve been here before with Harriet, she might be BFFs with God, but it’s the bad boy she really likes. But just like her fling with Cain, there’s just something not quite clicking with Will. It’s not as electric as it could be on paper. Part of this problem was the ridiculous speed this week’s events took. Will’s epiphany over his terrorising and stalking of Harriet, prompted by seeing the impact of his actions on vulnerable Dawn, felt far too soon. Had Dawn been hospitalised or close to death, then perhaps his complete turn around might have been more believable but this week’s escalation seemed a rushed way to force the Harriet hook up. Likewise, I fully believe in the pairs lingering and complicated feelings but it just didn’t feel believable that Harriet could forgive Will so fast and end up in bed with him. I can never put my finger on what’s missing with Harriet’s stories but this one just isn’t hitting the mark anymore. Like other fans commented on Twitter, I could see this trio making a good family unit, but I had hopes this was going to be a slow-burn of enemies to lovers, but skipping to lovers before it’s earned squandered that. Shame.

 

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Fave or Fail? (20-24 May 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! We lost an Emmerdale legend this week as Lisa Dingle died. And we witnessed another big moment as Maya was arrested.

Faves

Lisa’s Death

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h47m51s914We’d only just got used to beloved matriarch Lisa Dingle being back in her rightful home and before we knew it, we’d lost her all over again – and this time, for good! After a fortnight of special “goodbye” scenes with individuals in the village we should have guessed Emmerdale were subtly hinting at her fast demise. But after the nostalgic and warm feeling of the Dingle wedding (see below) Lisa’s death was both understated and very fitting. When the time came Lisa was at home, with the doe eyed and expressive Monty, and one by one her family came to learn the sad news. These were impressive and heartfelt scenes. So much was done in the quiet, tender moments between the family members and Lydia also did a great job holding the family together. It feels like soon she and Sam will play a vital role in keeping the Dingles together, as others struggle to cope. The aftermath of Lisa’s death was particularly moving and the quiet scenes which panned over their homestead were a nice touch. Lisa will be a huge loss, but this was a fitting end to a treasured character.

The Big Dingle Wedding

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h50m34s696There’s nothing quite like a Dingle wedding! We’ve seen a few big do’s over the years but the nostalgic humour of pigs’ muck and a big Woolie knees up was the perfect calm before the sad storm of Lisa’s death. Emmerdale even reunited legendary show band The Woolpackers to perform their big hit (and yes, still singing it now). These episodes were fun, family filled and had a classic Emmerdale feel that was a truly warm-hearted send-off for Lisa. Even the central relationship of Zak and Lisa (though tainted by the stupid decision to split them in 2015) had a sentimental renaissance as the pair put the past behind them and celebrated their love. If I had only one niggle it would be that despite the family do, there were far too few village members at the reception and there are many who should have had a chance to say goodbye in their own way.

David’s Showdown

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h51m31s159David’s adamant refusal to call the police was getting to be teeth-grindingly frustrating but after days of waiting, he finally did the right thing. His delay this week was because he wanted to confront his wicked ex face to face and after tricking her to the cricket pavilion he got his wish. It was all a little convoluted getting to that point but the tension and the spiky dynamic between Maya and David was worth the wait. Louisa Clein continues to be brilliantly manipulative as Maya twists the truth and Matthew Wolfenden’s restrained fury and disgust was a satisfying watch. Just don’t leave us waiting for that all important justice, Emmerdale!

Diane’s Despair

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h49m55s582Since Victoria went away with Robert for a break, her sad plot has been put on hold for the time being but rather than lose momentum, I like that the story has continued through Diane and Aaron. This week saw Diane distant and struggling, coping alone with Vic’s secret tragedy and not knowing how to help her. Aaron, who had a nice turn this week as sage and comfort, did his best to reassure her. These were a surprisingly touching set of scenes and it’s nice to see two characters who rarely interact (despite being family) come together in comfort. It was a welcome change to see more of Diane too, who is one of Emmerdale’s most underused since she left the pub. More please!

Fails

Sacrificing Justice

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h53m37s328Maya’s arrest this week should have bought relief to Jacob’s loved ones but Leyla’s vigilante justice efforts threatened to jeopardise Maya’s conviction. Knowing she could get in serious trouble with the police, Leyla persuaded the other women to lie for her and they attempted to cover up the night of Maya’s kidnap. This posed a problem because Priya’s sighting of Maya and Jacob kissing should have been key evidence but of course, none of them spilled on that part, meaning Maya’s lies could very well see her go Scott free. We all know Leyla can be self serving at times but in this insistence it just didn’t sit right. How can the women that had helped to raise Jacob sit back and lie, knowing their words could seriously mean the difference between justice for their beloved family member and an abuser walking. I didn’t buy it and it lessened the emotional impact of their discovery. Perhaps they will realise their selfishness and confess but I was seriously disappointed to see them act so self-servingly instead of protecting a vulnerable child.

The End of the Line?

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h47m22s572I was once one of the biggest advocates for Pete and Rhona’s romance, from their sparky chemistry to Pete’s lovely relationship with Leo, but now the shine is starting to wear off. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve still got a nice chemistry and it’s good to see something different from Pete, but the strain on their relationship is starting to drain. After Rhona’s accident things haven’t been the same and while their differences of opinion on their future have always spelled trouble, the aftermath of Rhona’s hysterectomy should have been the bittersweet end of them. Let’s be honest, they’re doomed and they know it. Right now their struggle to stay together seems futile, the end is nigh and current scenes feel like a repetitive way to delay the inevitable. If there’s a way to rescue them and make them fun again I’m all for it but their prolonged break down is a chore to watch.

Fave or Fail? (22-26 April 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a huge week in Emmerdale as Thursday night took a dark and mysterious turn…

Faves

Three is the Magic Number

vlcsnap-2019-04-26-22h13m14s633The big question on everyone’s lips this week is – what happened to Maya? At the heart of this story is a pact between three great women – Leyla, Tracy and Priya – who were the first to learn the terrible truth about Maya and Jacob and since that reveal it hasn’t disappointed. Priya was the surprise first witness to Maya and Jacob kissing and this crucial moment was jaw-droppingly brilliant. We’d all been waiting for things to kick off and the delicious tension was a fitting climax to Thursday’s episode as Leyla could barely conceal her disgust, but like with the other key stories, we’ve been left in the dark as to what happened next. As the three women met up, they warred with a mix of guilt, fear and disgust as they tried to process both what had happened and the consequences of both their behaviour and Maya’s. This story offers everything and speculation is rife. Did their vigilante justice go too far? Will one of them crack? These three women are unlikely friends but now common allies against Maya and the events of that fateful night. We’ve been promised the ‘right’ ending for victim Jacob, so presumably the focus will return to him in time. But for now, I am gripped and thrilled by this turn of events and the chance for these three brilliant women to take centre stage.

The Morning After

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h06m08s376Perhaps the best part of this week’s promoted episodes actually came in the aftermath. Not only did the tension hinge on the three women’s role in what happened with Maya, but it was also discovering and scratching our heads over what else happened that night. Much like your typical ‘Whodunnit’, characters were looking shifty and behaving oddly, holding back until later flashbacks reveal all. Press has already revealed Victoria was raped on the night out, and even though we haven’t seen the scenes yet, Isabel Hodgin’s vulnerable portrayal has been affecting from the off and she’s bound to be the star to watch over coming weeks. Billy and Ellis’s rocky relationship looks set to shatter even further as we learn more about the stabbing, particularly as Billy himself was the one carrying a knife. And then there’s Rhona who seems to be carrying secrets of her own. This week set the stage for the arrival of some unmissable, compelling stories which admittedly is the aspect Emmerdale has been lacking lately – aside from the Maya plot. It feels good to return to have that excitement back!

Baby Steps

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h01m59s141Aaron and Robert made progress on their baby dreams this week when after much to-ing and fro-ing, Natalie agreed to be their surrogate. After Faith’s disastrous attempts to sell the lads’ as dream candidates, Aaron and Robert were nervous about making a good impression. As they sat down for a frank chat, details about some of the more unappealing aspects of their pasts came out. After the lacklustre Billy drama and the previous stop-start surrogacy saga, it was a pleasure to have the pair front and centre of a storyline again. It’s always a bit surreal to have characters discuss their outlandish lives on screen and hearing just part (and thankfully for them it was only a tiny part!) of their lives relived, it was no wonder Natalie got scared off. Getting their extended family involved has been something of a poison chalice for the guys, but getting Faith, Paddy – and finally some input from the Sugdens – gave the story a wider impact and made it feel more real. While reports have suggested Natalie won’t be back, I for one hope they’re wrong, as actress Thea Beyleveld had great comic timing and already a nice rapport with the other actors involved.

It’s All Fun and Games

vlcsnap-2019-04-26-21h33m25s055By the end of their Big Night Out there wasn’t much fun to be had, but it was a welcome slice of entertainment to have Bernice and Kerry’s bold sense of humours on full display at the club. Earlier in the week too we’d also seen Robert celebrate a drama-free birthday and the Sugden-Dingles gathered to see in 33 with shots of Sambuca and Diane got right involved. Sometimes it’s nice to see odd moments of normality, of joy and happiness between the dark and the disastrous lives these village folk lead.

The Beginning of the End?

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h08m17s088No one expected Rhona and Pete to last as long as they have, least of all the characters themselves, but their surprising sparky relationship has been an unusually popular hit with viewers. Ever since Rhona’s accident and hysterectomy, however, we’ve seen them become more strained and it seems as if they’ve reached breaking point. While some viewers have found Rhona’s angry and paranoid outbursts frustrating and unlikeable, Emmerdale have done a good job at making her breakdown believable. There are multiple factors at work here – self doubt, insecurity about her age and her inability to have children, a lack of trust in Pete and that’s without her huge hormonal changes and challenges with her painkiller addiction. Pete is struggling to cope with her unpredictable moods and unreasonable reactions, and it’s hard to watch knowing how genuinely committed he is to her. With the Big Night Out episodes hinting Rhona may have cheated, this looks to be the beginning of the end for Pete and Rhona. It’s a real shame, but I can’t help but enjoy the layered way they’ve let this relationship collapse play out. Great performances and great writing.

Fails

Minor Fails

  • The much anticipated, much hyped (complete with glossy promos) Big Night Out episodes left us with a buzz of anticipation (though probably, the real fun begins in the aftermath) but the club scenes themselves lacked atmosphere. The character groups may as well have been in different locations considering how little they crossed over and despite Bernice and Kerry, the stilted behaviour of the other club goers seemed like they were waiting for the drama to happen rather than enjoying themselves. Even the fire alarm moment lacked panic. Can’t help but feel this was a waste of an exciting location.
  • It was another near-miss for Jacob and Maya this week and Emmerdale once again toyed with the idea of them being caught out in a web of lies. Predictably it didn’t happen, but Maya’s bullying fabrication really stretched the boundaries of believability! Thank god we’re reaching a climax of this story.
  • Can’t help but feel we should have seen a shot of a bloody Ellis to end Thursday’s episode – him already being in hospital on Friday skipped the most shocking part!

Never Go Back

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h01m05s932Anyone who reads this blog knows what a big Tracy fan I am and how much I enjoyed her realisation last year that she deserved better than hapless David Metcalfe, so it was unfortunate this week to see them kiss. This isn’t the first time Tracy and David have revisited their old relationship, but this time felt far more contrived, just to trigger Maya storming out of the club. While the kiss was understandable on David’s part as he licked his wounds after a failed proposal, Tracy is settled, strong and growing close again to Billy – so why regress her character with the kiss? It might have been a minor plot device but I just hope it doesn’t give Emmerdale any ideas. Tracy deserves better than that.

Fave or Fail? (8-12 April 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A fantastic week on Emmerdale as the Maya and Jacob storyline escalated – a week so good, it was without a single low point.

Faves

Heart-breaking Discovery

vlcsnap-2019-04-13-14h13m44s870Liv had her worst fears confirmed this week – and then some – when she discovered Jacob and Maya in bed together. Isobel Steele brings so much vulnerability to the role that hearts were already breaking when she thought Jacob was getting bored of her and got herself dressed up and prepared to have sex with him. Alongside her scenes with supportive Robert, it was Gabby that offered comfort and reassurance too, and it was a pleasure to have their friendship back in the spotlight. Making this move with Jacob was already a huge deal for Liv, as she considers herself on the asexual spectrum, so it came as an even bigger blow when Jacob turned her down then dumped her. Things got even messier when she discovered the ugly truth, but the mix of pain, betrayal and teenage heartbreak caused her to make a risky and naive move in blackmailing Maya. This was an unexpected twist (and kept nicely under wraps by Emmerdale) but it worked. We’ve already seen Liv struggling with the weight of this secret, knowing Maya is a master manipulator and that she stands no chance in being believed. Considering no one believed her over Lachlan, it’s no wonder she’s wary. Her battle of conscious is also impacted by a personal pain of having her heart crushed, so her empathising with Jacob’s situation is complicated too. Now that she has a recording, things are moving quickly, but I really like how many layers there are to this story and how many lives it will impact. It’s only a matter of time.

Sinking to New Depths

vlcsnap-2019-04-13-14h15m55s154It goes without saying that Emmerdale viewers are united in their hatred of Maya Stepney, but we have to commend the great job Louisa Clein is doing in the role. This week saw Maya’s big secret blown, but she wasn’t going down without a fight and decided to employ some very dirty tactics to make sure Liv wouldn’t spill. Not only did Maya use Liv’s past and her issues with drink to prove her an unreliable witness, but she also manipulated Jacob to repeat the lie. But she stooped even lower after that, flipping deftly between emotional blackmail and crocodile tears to twisted threats. This week really ramped up the tension and it finally feels like the story is close to breaking point – I can’t wait for the fallout!

Unlikely Alliance

vlcsnap-2019-04-13-14h10m16s476Moving on from the never-ending Joe plot has done Kim Tate wonders and now that she’s got her heart set on reuniting with son Jamie, she finally has a tangible motivation – and not just messing with people’s lives because it’s fun. This week was a welcome change as Kim showed her softer, human side when helping Rhona out after she collapsed. This was a very unlikely partnership but these two are relative strangers so they were able to talk candidly in ways they couldn’t with others. Besides dead weight Graham, Kim’s allies are thin on the ground so this heart to heart with Rhona gave us a fresh perspective on her character, making her more than just a panto villain. She had empathy and humour, without it feeling forced. Of course, Kim being Kim there was an ulterior motive in sidling up to Rhona, but at least it seems she genuinely likes her and there wasn’t any over-the-shoulder smirking going on!

Maybe Baby

vlcsnap-2019-04-13-14h15m08s169There was a rare sighting of smiles at The Mill this week as Aaron and Robert’s surrogacy storyline was revisited. It wasn’t completely clear what triggered Robert’s change of heart to start pursuing their options in the UK but both lads were excited to get started. Although most of their plans have been off screen and hypothetical so far, it’s been a pleasure to see them united and in scenes again, having had a quiet year so far – particularly as it feels like it’s been a while since they had something really meaty. This week their family scenes nicely overlapped with Liv’s horrible time and it was good to see the three of them just hanging out and fully involved in supporting each other. As the surrogacy plot continues, let’s hope Emmerdale give them plenty of powerful scenes to get stuck into.

Carry On Vet

vlcsnap-2019-04-13-14h16m43s991You’d be forgiven for thinking once Kim Tate involved herself in the vets’ business it would be full of earnest moments or evil threats, but this week’s scenes proved that Kim being a silent partner can actually be a lot of fun. After Paddy and Vanessa agreed to take the infamous Ms Tate on board, they were petrified of owning up to their slightly scary partners Chas and Charity. Both Dominic Brunt and Michelle Hardwick are natural at physical comedy so their panic wide-eyes didn’t go unnoticed in the pub by their other halves and even a covert phone call in the gents and ladies’ loos couldn’t stop the landladies finding out the truth. Thankfully for our hapless vets, their deal with the devil got the seal of approval from Chas and Charity, leaving Paddy and Vanessa stunned. We know all too well that Emmerdale comedy can be hit and miss, but these brilliant scenes were an effortless win on the laughs front. More please!

Expanding the Family

vlcsnap-2019-04-13-14h12m32s620The Sharmas have been going from strength to strength lately, especially now that Manpreet has married Rishi added more drama to the fold. The family have felt a bit isolated in recent years with their sole focus either being comedy or factory scenes, but Manpreet’s money issues have given the family a bit of a rift, with Jai’s suspicions making things difficult with Rishi and Priya too. It’s an interesting dynamic as we as viewers aren’t even totally sure of Manpreet’s true intentions – though I’d prefer her feelings to be legit! I loved the family scenes this week at the wedding reception and the fall out afterwards, and there’s a good balance of drama and comedy. But with actress Shila Iqbal fired this week, I hope producers recast Aiesha so we can see what she can offer to this bigger and better family unit.

Bonus Faves

  • It was all about the ex’s this week as Vic and Ellis contrived a situation to get Tracy and Billy talking again. Both couples are fun, bursting with chemistry and this week was a real reminder that both pairings are good together – time for some romance, Emmerdale!
  • Bear seems to be sticking around in the village now and after this week’s scenes I’m pretty glad about this. From annoying Aaron at the scrapyard to making arm-wrestling pals with Eric and Diane, he could be good comic relief.
  • Harriet’s stalker storyline has only just begun but it could be the most interesting she’s ever been. Bring it on!
  • It was a week of powerful and sometimes unusual partnerships on screen. Rhona shared her fears with Paddy in a well-acted scene showcasing their enduring chemistry, even as ex’s. Later on, Pete had his own confidante in Diane. Diane managed to be both blunt and completely brilliant, as she necked the champagne and dragged Pete for his inability to understand Rhona’s problems.

Scene of the Week (18-22 March 2019)

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Rhona’s struggle to deal with her hysterectomy hasn’t been a bells and whistle plot with cliffhangers and silly twists, instead its been driven by understated yet powerful performances. This week again Zoe Henry’s underrated talents took centre stage as the pressure of dealing with life after her operation took its toll. In light of Paddy’s baby news, and anxieties that Pete would soon get fed up of looking after her, she confided in Marlon about the emptiness she felt. Not only has Rhona had to contend with the pain, especially considering her ongoing addiction to painkillers, but the surge in hormones has affected her emotions too. While Rhona had made the decision for no more kids, the hysterectomy took that decision from her and this emotional scene felt like fairly fresh ground for Emmerdale. Even though Nicola also faced a similar story about the menopause a few years ago, Rhona’s got even more on her plate and the scene was an affecting moment to explore Rhona’s sense of self. The chemistry and long term friendship between Marlon and Rhona gave the scene real poignancy and it was nice to see them paired up in this platonic way again.

Fave or Fail? (11-15 March 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Kim made her big return to the village this week as Maya dropped the L-word to entrap Jacob.

Faves

Right at Home

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h21m39s127Admittedly when I read Amy Wyatt was making a return to Emmerdale I wasn’t that fussed, but a week in I already feel like her return was a good decision. She feels right at home. Unlike Kim, Amy feels very relevant to the current cast – she knows multiple characters in the village and her reappearance actually threw up story opportunities for several characters. Not only did Amy mean trouble for Cain and the Dingles in light of her eagerness to spend time with Kyle, but she’s breathed life into the Spencers’ household, given Eric back another daughter figure, caused friction with David and Maya and given Vic another friend. The custody battle for Kyle is a well worn story, but newbie Natalie Ann Jamieson has brought lots of warmth and sensitivity to Amy which helps to soften the harder edges that Kerry sometimes influences. I’m looking forward to seeing the future Emmerdale has in store for her and hope, unlike her last stint, it’s not all fixated around Kyle!

Support Network

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h27m19s794My favourite moments of Emmerdale show families coming together, remembering friendships and connections, and showing the far-reaching impact of storylines across the community. A good story is one that affects multiple relationships and characters, and Rhona’s accident is still having an impact now, weeks on. This week saw her have a hysterectomy (something Emmerdale have already revealed they’ll be exploring) but not only have we see its personal, emotional impact, we’ve also seen its effect on her relationship with Pete, her enduring friendship with Vanessa and this week its wider impact with the business and Moira’s farm. Unlike some soap accidents that have little follow up, Rhona’s debate over whether the vets should sue Moira and the farm will have consequences for both the future of the vets business (with opportunity for things to get messy if Kim gets involved), and even with Pete if his loyalties are tested. But perhaps the biggest strength of this story is down to the underrated talents of Zoe Henry who continues to be one of Emmerdale’s brightest stars. Any story that uses her at the forefront is going to be a hit!

Glimmers of Potential?

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h23m37s930It’s always difficult to bring back a character who has since been dubbed an icon, especially when the character is famed and remembered for just one aspect of their personality and the soap landscape has changed in their absence. In Kim Tate’s case, she’s renowned for being the classic soap superbitch, but the danger in her returning to her old stomping ground is that she becomes more of a caricature than the woman we love to hate. Kim’s return rides on a fragile premise – they retconned the entire Graham and Joe history to give her relevance – and she knows next to know one still kicking around the village. Emmerdale have to work quickly to give her enemies and make it feel worthwhile, rather than her antagonism feeling petty and pointless. A great villain is always a treat, but balancing the classic campy Lady of the Manor can often give way to OTT performances and dialogue that tries too hard to be cutting. There are promising signs in her latest return that Emmerdale are aware of this tightrope, and the mixed reception to her cameo last October, but here’s hoping they remember less is more when it comes to Kim. Her scenes with Charity, and in the pub with others were far watchable than her posturing at Home Farm and smirking in every scene. We could well do with seeing Kim’s more human sides soon, before the writers get too carried away with the cartoon villain one-liners.

Fails

Robot Wars

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h25m40s419Perhaps the biggest issue with Kim’s return is that she’s stuck, trying to shake some life into cyborg Graham. Such is Graham’s rigid and monotonous ways, Emmerdale has even started to reference it in the script! But when their scenes hinge on a bloated and retconned history, relying on an absent, scorching chemistry – it’s a tough ask. Kim’s treatment of Graham is more like a dog than a lover, and unless Graham’s into a BDSM set up, it’s baffling why he’s under her spell. Friday’s episode seemed to reopen the Joe death mystery AGAIN, but it felt like the first real hint to him being alive. This ongoing saga is as much clunky as it is sluggish so by the time we find out the final final truth, it’s a wonder if anyone will care. If Emmerdale really want Kim to work this time around, then the situation at Home Farm needs a fast rethink.

Fed Up with Faith?

vlcsnap-2019-03-17-11h26m49s708Oh Faith, there’s so much to love – the sharp tongue, the saucy humour, the outrageous behaviour, the wise straight-talking, the moments of fragility – and yet this week, none of that. We really saw the worst, most unlikeable aspects of her personality and it’s surprising how intolerable she became. Her vicious and hypocritical campaign against Amy might have been rooted in her own failings as a mother, but there was none of this nuance or depth and she seemed spitefully gleeful at the thought of sending Amy to prison. This combined with her strange and underwritten vendetta against Kim has brought out the worst in her character, and an aspect I hope doesn’t stick around – let’s have more of the fun Faith back please!

Fave or Fail? (4-8 March 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a week of big episodes as Emmerdale took a trip to Belfast and celebrated International Women’s Day.

Faves

Who Run the World?

vlcsnap-2019-03-09-21h21m55s533Friday’s episode had a very female flavour as Emmerdale celebrated International Women’s Day with an all-women episode on screen, using mostly women off screen too. Not only was this an inspiring decision behind the scenes, but the episode itself was full of pathos, joy and warm fuzzy feelings. Emmerdale managed to use almost all of its female characters, with them intersecting in ways they don’t normally. It’s always a treat to see characters sharing scenes who never normally, like Diane and Rhona, Nicola and April, and despite there being no men involved, it was the most community feeling episode in a long time. Alongside Chas’s pregnancy reveal, April’s insecurities and Rhona’s hysterectomy worries, there was also the sad announcement that Lisa is dying. I really liked the slow surprise reveal of her appearance in the episode and was glad Emmerdale managed to keep it completely under wraps. Although Charity and Lisa’s sad discussions took a central role in the episode, it still managed to be warm and funny, with a firm feeling of strength and confidence among all these women. It’s episodes as successful as this, with big heart and ambition, that make me proud to be an Emmerdale fan.

Drunk Delight

vlcsnap-2019-03-09-21h23m14s224It was Vanessa’s birthday this week and never one to shy away from a good time, she decided to get absolutely wasted. Off her and Rhona headed to Ellis’s party, where she proceeded to party hard, even beside a stone cold sober Rhona. Actress Michelle Hardwick has brilliant comic timing and her drunk Vanessa was lots of fun, only bettered when an irate Charity showed up. Vanessa’s expressions, excitement at the thought of a puppy and insistence she say goodbye to everyone. Charity’s irritation contrasted perfectly with Vanessa’s attempts to squeeze in one last shot (and slut drop), but when they got back to the house, the shouting got far too much for poor pouty Vanessa. Hungover Ness the next day was just as entertaining and I think Emmerdale should definitely make more of Vanessa’s party girl habits and use Michelle’s comedic talents to their best!

Adventures in Belfast

vlcsnap-2019-03-09-21h24m11s671It’s always a fun novelty when Emmerdale goes on location and this week it was a one-day jaunt to Belfast for Marlon and Jessie’s mini-moon. While the circumstances to get Marlon, Jessie, Paddy and Kerry all in Belfast for the day was clunkily contrived, the unlikely foursome ended up being quite entertaining. Despite Paddy and Marlon being the best of buds, it was Paddy and Kerry, then Jessie and Kerry who made for the most fun duos. As the drama initially resulted in sitcom silliness over room provision, Kerry brought out a much warmer and funnier side to Jessie, and it was amusing to have Paddy’s patience tested by someone other than his nearest and dearest. Though the beautiful locations shot made for a nice change, I can’t help but feel a trip away deserved more than just a Thursday double for it to be really worth while.

Mother Daughter Reunion

vlcsnap-2019-03-09-21h22m30s570Amy and Kerry were reunited in Belfast this week, as newcomer Natalie Ann Jamieson took over the role. It was great to see Kerry given something to do outside of the Spencer dramas and their tumultuous relationship looks set to still cause friction even now as Amy has made a return to the village. Amy’s return nicely recapped her history in Emmerdale and explained too why she didn’t return for Val’s funeral. On Thursday’s episodes she was reluctant to step back into Kyle’s life, which seemed like fitting characterisation for someone who had a troubled relationship with motherhood, but by Friday’s episode she was already causing friction with the Dingles, saying she was going to fight for him. It’s a little disappointing that we’ve already rushed towards an all-out war with Cain, when really they could’ve spent longer growing her feelings towards her son. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing how Amy works in the village now.

Fails

Enough with the Wrestling!

vlcsnap-2019-03-09-21h25m10s761There were elements of the Belfast trip that definitely felt like a dodgy Dingle VHS spin off. A rowdy bar of stereotypical drunks, Marlon’s dodgy accent and a misunderstanding that lead Paddy to don a cape and get in the ring against a terrifying clown. When Bear Wolf turned up again in full wrestling gear, I dreaded a rehash of the cringeworthy scenes from the other week and the whole farce was almost unwatchable. On the bright side, once Paddy had got Bear on his own and spoke to him in a serious discussion about being his biological father, about Paddy’s loss of Grace, then there was real potential in both the character of Bear and the actor who played him. That just made the inclusion of the pathetic wrestling stuff even worse – if we’d have dropped that so-called comedy then perhaps by the time things got serious with Bear, we’d have been far more invested.

Pointless Plots

vlcsnap-2019-03-09-21h26m29s189On paper, Aaron and Robert’s foray into surrogacy should have been an interesting and emotional journey. Instead we had a plot that sent Aaron baby mad for a few episodes and get resolved in such a way as to wonder why they bothered in the first place. This unsatisfying resolution is nothing new for the pair and is actually becoming a disappointing trend. Back in November, after losing baby Seb, Aaron’s unresolved grief about Grace and losing Seb seemed to be tapping into a much larger storyline. Then…nothing. Fast forward to the beginning of the year and Billy’s arrival shook things up in the Robron household. Billy’s impact had Robert arrested and Aaron suffering poor mental health, all for it to be swept under the carpet and Aaron is seemingly back to normal. With the surrogacy storyline offering lots of potential to cover the struggles, pitfalls and joys of a same sex couples becoming parents, it’s no wonder that expectations were high when Aaron and Robert began their journey. After Robert’s plan backfired and the money disappeared, Aaron and Robert seemingly put a hold on their plans, then last week, after Chas’s encouragement, it was back on. Then, just one week later it was abandoned again. Whiplash, or what? Back to square one. Aaron’s desperate attempts to secure a surrogate, going as far as to steal from Robert, had no real follow up and what should have been a significant conflict between the two was glossed over, without even scratching the surface as to Aaron’s motivations. This on/off storytelling for the pair is destroying all momentum and any emotional investment in their storylines – and when you’ve got great actors and a popular couple, it’s a complete waste of their talents.

Scene of the Week (4-8 March 2019)

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Emmerdale’s International Women’s Day special ended on a melancholy note, but was by far the most impactful scene of the week, as Charity read Lisa’s eulogy. This moment was a nice mirror to the opening montage of Emmerdale women bonding and considering their appearance in the mirror. In true Emmerdale style, the emotion of the eulogy scene was contrasted with Charity’s sense of humour as Lisa told her to put more enthusiasm into the opening, to which Charity responded with a sarcastic “Greetings!”. But as Charity read the tribute, including a ode to the best casserole ever, we saw a montage of the other women in the village overlaid with Charity’s voice over. Each line of the speech had relevance to the women featured and it gave feelings of shared experiences, strength and joy that made the Women’s Day episode feel so very special. Three cheers, Emmerdale!

Fave or Fail? (25 Feb-1 March 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Maya’s grooming of Jacob took more sickening turns, and Pete moved out of Rhona’s house.

Faves

Family Splits

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h15m28s306Once again it’s the fallout from Rhona’s accident which makes the top of my Emmerdale best bits. Since Emmerdale made the surprisingly magic decision to pair up Pete and Rhona, I’ve been impressed not only by the couple’s natural chemistry, but by the grown up and complex way they’ve explored their relationship. So often you see couples hook up with no thought for the impact on children or the longer term wishes of the individuals in the relationship and when characters have children, this just doesn’t feel very authentic. Pete and Rhona’s relationship has been different in that aspect as from early on, Pete’s relationship with Rhona’s son Leo has been important and well explored. The Pete and Leo relationship, which has seen Pete learn Makaton to bond with him and gain his trust, has been a big and heart-warming hit with viewers and this week we saw more of it as Pete and Rhona agreed to take a break. While both Rhona and Pete were reluctant to separate, Rhona knew they wanted different futures so the two of them made tough decisions while still making sad, longing looks at each other. There was plenty of awkwardness and Pete’s break with Rhona also meant a sad conversation with Leo. Emmerdale’s made this difficult situation feel believable and compelling – and that’s without even mentioning Rhona’s ongoing struggle with pain killer addiction. You can empathise with all parties and there’s a whole lot of tenderness involved. It’s a winner.

Crushed Hearts

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h24m24s506Watching Jacob and Liv’s budding relationship it hurts to know that without Maya messing with Jacob’s head, he and Liv could be a pretty sweet couple. Liv’s laid back personality fits with Jacob well, and his sensitivity means he’s attune to her feelings and understanding about her asexuality. Without Maya in the picture – they’d be good for each other. Therefore it’s heart breaking to watch them both trying, both liking each other, but with Jacob’s head all over the place. Maya’s grooming has a much wider impact than just on Jacob, she’s got everyone under the thumb and when her behaviour comes out, Jacob and Liv are going to be big casualties. This week’s scenes were tough watch, particularly seeing how Liv’s heart is on the line, and how much Jacob genuinely likes her and doesn’t want to hurt her, all the while trying to keep in Maya’s good books. Both young actors are giving vulnerable performances and you just know that the resolution to this story is going to crush them both.

Playing Hot and Cold

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h19m14s929With multiple stomach-churning developments this week, you can’t deny that Emmerdale are doing a successful job in showing just how twisted Maya is. This week was Jacob’s 16th Birthday and after an aborted attempt to sleep with him, Maya blew hot and cold in trying to keep him eager, while continuing to cover up their secret. Louisa Clein’s great performances make Maya maddening to watch, especially seeing how she manipulates everyone in Jacob’s life to keep them on side. Her innocent protestations show exactly how a predator like her operates and the authenticity of her part is what makes this story so horrifying to watch. It’s grim viewing to see her gleefully seduce a child and try and ignore reminders of his age, but if this story is prompting awareness of the hidden signs of grooming, then it can only be a good thing.

Fails

Custody of Kyle

vlcsnap-2019-03-03-14h22m30s647Kerry got dragged into the exhausting Dingle divide again this week as Debbie warned her Kyle wasn’t safe with Cain. On the surface we can all well believe Kerry would go gung-ho in protecting Kyle, but it’s a bit of a stretch when she’s barely interacted or mentioned him in a year. Of course, this is all just in preparation for Amy’s eventual return (another character forgotten until it’s convenient to remember her) but perhaps Emmerdale would have made it easier to invest had Kerry mentioned her family months ago, rather than this feeling like a rushed justification for Amy’s return. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Kerry’s going to have more to do than just be a hanger-on of the Spencers, but this story has felt a bit hollow.

Short on Sympathy

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As the Cain “killed” Joe saga drags on, it’s a struggle to have any sympathy for any parties involved. On paper, believing your dad killed your fiancé should make you the ultimate victim, but with the Dingles standing by Cain and protesting his innocence, and Debbie refusing to tell daughter Sarah the truth, Debbie’s anger and upset falls on deaf ears. But as both Cain and Sarah criticise Debbie’s parenting, it’s difficult not to see their point. No matter how many scenes Debbie cries in, she doesn’t have the sympathy she ought to. Is this because she’s quite a sullen, cold character who’s difficult to like, whose crimes have been overlooked, or is it because the tables have turned? Debbie’s usually priority number one when it comes to the Dingles, but now Cain’s the person they’re protecting. It’s a struggle to truly sympathise with Cain being shut out by her too, because the accident of Joe’s death – while not his fault – came with months of cover up. Cain’s not likely to face justice and wants them all to move on, yet at times it’s as if he’s expecting Debbie to shrug off his role in Joe’s death like it’s nothing. This storyline is such a repetitive, endless mess with no conclusion in sight. If Graham’s involvement doesn’t come out soon I fear we won’t ever see the back of this.

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Feb 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Emmerdale went back to its farming roots this week as a tractor accident had terrible consequences for Rhona.

Faves

Life Changing Accident

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h41m00s565Rhona suffered a nasty injury this week after a faulty tractor, driven by a worse-for-wear Pete, smashed into a barn. Following the accident, things escalated and Rhona was told she had fibroids in her womb and would need a hysterectomy to remove them. This immediately threw Rhona and Pete’s relationship into turmoil as they’d been living a laid-back romance and brushed aside more serious talks of the future. Not only did this story have the tension of who was to blame for the accident, but this also created interesting dilemmas in Pete and Rhona’s popular romance. Emmerdale haven’t utilised their farming setting in ages so it was great to see this used to explore conflict within a relationship. This story has already got fans speculating if and how Rhona and Pete could move forward, or whether it’s the end of the road for them with the kids factor being an insurmountable obstacle, and talking points like this are the backbone of great stories. It was great to see Pete find common ground in an unlikely heart-to-heart with Paddy and a welcome return of Zoe Henry’s stand-out performances. With a relationship on the line, Rhona’s painkiller addiction revisited and a hysterectomy affecting Rhona’s hormones, I can’t wait to see how this story progresses.

Friendship Focus

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h43m07s218Friendships and great partnerships can often be forgotten depending on the storyline, so I was thrilled to see so many Rhona and Vanessa scenes this week as their friendship is one of my favourites in Emmerdale. Although Rhona has support from Pete and her exes Paddy and Marlon, there’s nothing that quite matches the tenderness of her friendship with Vanessa. Emmerdale have dropped the ball in showing them together since they both became busy with their love lives, but I hope they don’t forget about them again. I loved their scenes before Rhona’s accident as they teased each other about their romances, but their emotional hospital scenes were a real highlight of the week. Going forward I hope Vanessa continues to be supportive of Rhona, especially now that her relationship with Pete has hit the rocks.

Serious Sharmas

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h43m50s007Manpreet’s story continued this week as she stole from the factory accounts and eventually came clean with Rishi. I’ve completely grown to love Manpreet’s role in the Sharma family, lifting them away from cartoonish stories and giving them grounded family drama. With suspicious Jai and Priya worried about her taking advantage of Rishi’s big heart, they took a tough love approach, but the writing for this storyline allow both sides their time to be understood. We can accept Manpreet’s struggle with her addiction and like her, but also empathise with Jai’s kids who are trying to look out for him. Involving Manpreet with the factory workers and seeing her socialise with colleague Liam also really helped to widen the Sharma’s circle as often their stories can feel isolated. I’m glad the Sharmas are getting to do more than mess around with fancy dress and Lycra, because they’re capable of the serious and heartfelt too.

Bonus Faves

  • I can’t let this week pass without mentioning how happy I was to see villagers actually at work! Manpreet’s first aid training, Liam’s GP surgery, the BnB hosting breakfast, factory and farming centred drama – it really felt like characters had a life, rather than waiting for the next story to drop. Using work to facilitate stories makes the village life feel far more authentic!
  • I was so happy to see Jimmy and Nicola reunited this week – and Jimmy throwing himself into make up sex was this couple to a T. Perfect.
  • Speaking of perfect, is there any couple more fun, more Carry On and more entertaining to watch than Bernice and Liam? Long live Cavastock, they are exactly what the doctor ordered!

Fails

Daddy Drama

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h43m27s515Paternity drama is ten a penny in soaps, but Emmerdale fell into predictable and irritating tropes again this week as Chas and Marlon continued to badger Paddy about finding out if Bear Wolf was his “real dad”. Having been unable to take Paddy’s word for it, Chas secretly sent off for a DNA result and endlessly discussed it with Marlon this week. Chas’s insistence was tiresome and unlikeable, particularly when Paddy rightly pointed out that biology made no difference to him, his dad was the man who raised him and Bear Wolf didn’t want to know. Chas nagging about this issue of “real”  was unnecessary. This story felt lazy, relying on dated concepts of biological ties being more significant, which coming from Chas didn’t work when she’s seen herself that Paddy’s been a far greater father to Aaron than his “real” dad Gordon. To make matters worse, after wearing Paddy down into reading the result, he found out Bear Wolf is his biological father meaning we’re destined to watch more of that awful character and this repetitive story. Oh boy.

No More Mr Nice Guy

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h40m15s142Ryan’s introduction to Emmerdale last year was a big hit with viewers but the countryside air must have got to him as this week we saw a nasty side to his personality that didn’t seem like the character we’d liked so much. Being an outsider in the village meant Ryan didn’t come with all the baggage and petulance that most soap characters have. He seemed like a cool, mature bloke, open minded with a sarcastic sense of humour – a refreshing change. This week, however, he reverted to a selfish sulky teenager and went as low as offering Dawn money for sex when his jealousy and insecurity took over. After oafish drayman Leon, Ryan was supposed to look empathetic, like a guy who’d just made a mistake, but his relationship with Dawn until this point had been compassionate and nuanced so his reaction to throw money at her was a big misstep. Exploring Ryan’s issues with his own self-worth and feeling insecure against Leon’s macho act needed the care and depth to do it justice. This week’s scenes didn’t have that, and it was difficult to empathise with him. Instead Ryan looked petty and cold and when it all came out, it was impossible not to be on Dawn’s side as Ryan’s remorse was lacking and he just seemed sulky. Even Ryan’s relationship with Charity, which had once felt fresh and different, is now repetitive. Like she does with Debbie, Charity’s begun to enable Ryan’s behaviour, mothering and interfering, and Ryan was once more independent than to tolerate that. Emmerdale need a serious rethink before they ruin Ryan’s character for good.