Fave or Fail? (10-14 Sep 2018)

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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! Bails got sent down this week and Emmerdale revealed what happened to Rebecca.

Faves

Worthy Winner

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-14h17m41s438It was perfect timing for Emma Atkins to win an award for Best Soap Actress (at the TV Choice awards) the same week as she gave a string of outstanding performances during Bails’ trial. She’s without question one of Emmerdale’s finest performers and she really got to show that off, and prove her worthy win, as Charity stood for questioning and then had to deal with the emotional aftermath of the guilty verdict. I’ve had issues with the pacing of this story (from the dragged out Ryan reveal, repetitive conversations and then a very rushed trial) and felt that the narrative has been far too similar to Rhona and Aaron’s stories, taking place very recently for this story to feel fresh. But despite the story’s weaknesses, Emma’s been fantastic. Even when Charity is saying nothing, when she’s brooding, Emma performs the moment with a storm brewing inside of Charity so powerful that viewers can feel it too. With Charity really struggling and putting on an act, I’m sure this is just the start of impressive moments from Emma.

Support System

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-14h16m51s043Despite some of the AWOL Dingles, I was glad to see Charity had a group of people surrounding her and giving her love this week, even faces like Tracy and Harriet who have been there from the start. Noah and Ryan’s bonding was great to see, and it was a powerful and moving moment to see them arrive in court, and give Charity that boost she needed. Although at times her loved ones have struggled with the right words and knowing how to best support her, the unflinching support from Vanessa this week was touching, even when Charity tried to push her away and bottle up her real feelings. It’s a long road ahead for Charity and I’m glad Emmerdale haven’t shown that a guilty verdict feels gratifying or like a relief for everyone, but hopefully the right people will be there for her when she needs it.

Three’s a Crowd

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-14h14m45s599It wasn’t a big story this week but I’ve been really entertained by the trio of Rodney, Eric and Faith as Eric realised he was enjoying having Rodney around, just as Faith was getting more and more fed up. As Eric and Rodders bonded over love for the same auction telly show, Faith was asked by Brenda if their set-up was polyamorous like she’d read in the magazines. But Faith’s hope for an end in sight seemed unlikely as Eric turned down the generous offer on his statue and pretended to want rid of Rodney. This story might not have the must-see tension of a trial or soapy disaster of a serial killer, but it’s everyday fun and we could do with more of that.

Tracy Unleashed

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-14h15m22s475I’m definitely not here for a Ross and Tracy romance, and Ross’s wild-eyed cocaine ravings aren’t a pleasure to watch either, but I loved the cathartic scenes of Tracy smashing up a car on Friday. Tracy’s become one of my absolute favourite characters and after her emotional and mature reaction to her split with David it was fun to see her let loose and have a bit of fun, releasing all that pent up anger. There was something childlike about Tracy’s joy in the scene that I loved and I hope there’s something brighter on the horizon for her.

Fails

Dingle No-Show

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-14h19m09s969They’re the first family to talk codes and rules, but when it comes to support, the Dingles can be flaky at best. Perhaps the lack of consistent family support for Charity can be blamed on real world production issues considering many of the main players in the Dingle family are involved in big stories of their own (be it Chas’s pregnancy, Sarah’s heart transplant or Lachlan’s chaos) but it feels like a massive oversight to not have them there by her side, especially when they’ve been missing in most of the story. Charity’s relationship with Chas has all but disappeared, Debs was too busy to be there for the trial and Aaron, who had been through similar himself two years ago, barely gave more than a passing comment. I don’t buy it. The idea that Charity is a strong woman who doesn’t need support might seem a believable perspective for them to take at times, but I didn’t believe that her loved ones would really behave in such an uninterested, nonplussed way knowing what she’d been through. It felt a contrived way to isolate Charity and exacerbate the aftermath of the trial. Take Marlon, for example, who is known for his huge heart, but spent the time he could’ve been with Charity, bonding with Ellis. It might be an actor availability issue but it didn’t ring true, not in this context.

Rebecca’s Fate

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-14h18m15s415In case you hadn’t already guessed the surprise twist, Emmerdale revealed that Rebecca is alive and well (ish) this week. Despite the fact Lachlan has no reason to keep her alive, especially considering he killed both his mother, grandfather and best mate and Rebecca knew all his secrets and conspired to lock him up in the first place, Rebecca’s been spared. This week we learnt that she’s been transferred from ramshackle shack to a bed in an unknown location where a creepy nurse is keeping her drugged and her hair well-conditioned. Yes, it’s as ludicrous as it sounds, like something from a horror B movie or American soap and while there’s always a level of outlandish soap stories, this exceeds that to stupidity. This latest development just feels like another way to extend the already stretched Lachlan plot, leaving viewers with more questions than answers. Who is the creepy nurse? Where did Lachlan find her? Why did she agreed to drug this distressed woman? Where is this random room located? How did Lachlan get her there? And so on. When Lachlan’s story should be hurtling towards a conclusion after last week’s climax, this just felt like filler. What makes the story even more tedious is that like the rest of her family, Rebecca was an isolated character with few meaningful connections in the village, meaning that when Rhona was mourning her this week, or Rishi talked about the girls in the factory being upset (characters she’s never interacted with) it just rings hollow.

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Scene of the Week (10-14 Sep 2018)

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This moment isn’t just my favourite scene of this week, but might just be one of my favourite scenes of Emmerdale this year. Between the high tension of Bails’ trial, Charity took a breather outside and was given a pep talk by Cain in a moment that was steeped in character and history and even managed to move me to tears. Although their days of being a couple are long gone, there’s a complicated history behind their interactions which is palpable in the actors’ chemistry and in this moment you could really grasp the journeys they’ve taken to get to this settled place. We’ve lived through it, just as the characters have, and this kind of reflection was a beautiful moment, quietly powerful. I found Cain’s reassurance that it wasn’t luck that Charity had a lot to be thankful for, but through her own progress, especially moving. His encouragement that she should be proud was an uplifting moment for her and the audience. Emmerdale at its finest.

7 Recent Storylines With Potential That Just Vanished

I’ve noticed a strange trend in 2018 – the disappearing storyline! While other plots drag on for months and months, some stories with potential just seem to vanish into thin air. Now, I’m not talking stories that took a disappointing turn (like Ross’s acid attack) but these are moments that were delivered with great performances, lots of excitement and press and then…vanished!

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Moira and the impact of killing Emma

Making Moira a killer was a huge decision and one that sent a chill of terror into Moira fans, but they needn’t have worried because any impact on her was short lived. After a quiet year for Moira, mainly because they were trying to keep her shock pregnancy a secret, she had a traumatic end to 2017, suffering both post-natal depression and extreme guilt for her part in killing Emma. With Moira such a beloved and ordinary character in the village (ordinary as far as you can be for a soap character!) it was always going to be difficult to give her any long-term consequences for killing off another character. But within a matter of months, she’d reunited with love Cain and everything had been forgiven and forgotten when it came to the Barton boys. The aftermath Moira’s breakdown was intense and destructive, but although she lost son Adam, psychologically she seems happier than ever now! Perhaps making Moira a killer was too jarring and Emmerdale weren’t sure how to deal with it long-term, but if this was the case, maybe she was the wrong character for the role. I love Moira and I like seeing her happy and settled, but it does feel like everything was brushed too neatly under the carpet.

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Joe Tate vs the world

Perhaps the worst offender on the list is the complete waste of Joe Tate since his wonderful reveal in January. Excitement was high when the Tom Waterhouse charade fell apart and he was revealed to be Chris Tate’s son, leading to a deliciously evil take over of the village next to stoic butler figure Graham. Every doubt we’d had about the “Tom” storyline was revealed to be deliberate, including the all-too-perfect romance with Debbie. But as Joe made enemies left right and centre, demolishing Wishing Well, taking Home James Haulage from Robert and pissing off everyone in sight, his position as top dog and loathed rich boy just couldn’t be sustained. Living in the big house and have no familial ties, it seemed like Emmerdale swiftly realised Joe needed more than just enemies and his redemption came in the shape of his new-found love for dour Debbie Dingle. While a slow love-hate romance might’ve worked, it’s now as if all of Joe’s Machiavellian behaviour has been dropped in favour of a bedside vigil for Sarah. Where is the village antagonist we were promised? Why isn’t he living up to the Tate name and has fallen into the trap of being a wet weekend who has the odd tantrum? With all his vendettas forgotten he’s an aimless character and a real waste of that Tate legacy.

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Liv’s drinking and asexuality

Viewers had long been promised a gritty plot for talented Isobel Steele and it finally emerged onto screens this year. Or did it? Compared to issue-led plots for other characters Liv’s drinking problems have been vaguely handled and half-arsed. Don’t get me wrong, Isobel has given sensitive and emotional performances as Liv tried to navigate adolescence, but after a spell in youth offenders and a brief Lachlan-fuelled relapse, her problem with alcohol has almost been treated as “fixed”. Are we meant to believe she’s all fine now? That her time inside “fixed her” (a worrying implication if so)? It feels like this complex issue has been brushed under the carpet rather than giving it the treatment it deserves. Is this so they can make Liv start drinking again when the story needs it, or has it just been forgotten about? It’s a similar case with the hints about her asexuality. Liv has spent a little time questioning this, but it hasn’t been given the airtime that it deserves and that seems like another waste of Isobel’s talents to leave Liv’s interesting struggles untouched. Instead of piling on more angst (like her recent exam failures) can’t Emmerdale do a better job of resolving the stories they’ve already laid the foundations of?

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The Kings – business and health problems

I’m a huge fan of the Kings so I was excited to see them get involved in the Tate take-over at the start of 2018. Jimmy had long been relegated to comedy buffoon with Nicola as his nagging wife, so it was great to see a bit of the powerhouse King family history remembered. But after teaming up with Robert to double-cross Joe, the story collapsed and disappeared. We haven’t heard anything about the new Home James Haulage work team or what a nightmare Joe is as a boss. It’s business as usual. All of Jimmy’s health issues and stress have disappeared (is he okay? Who knows!) so there was no emotional story there and so instead the Kings have been underused for another year which is a real shame as they’re one of Emmerdale’s biggest assets.

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Priya’s struggling mental health

Before she took on a role at Home Farm (which seems like a great move!) Priya had a difficult start to the year. The first few months of 2018 we saw signs of Priya feeling lonely and exhausted and with Jai using her as a babysitter, it all got a bit much for her. This really seemed like it could be the beginning of a decent storyline for her. It isn’t the first time Priya’s had mental health struggles and with 2017 seeing the end to her marriage, and a disastrous affair with Pete, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her feel her life was in tatters. Priya’s an ambitious woman so to see her have a bit of a breakdown about her stalled life could have been a great story, but it just fizzled out instead. It’s about time the Sharmas had something a bit more serious and emotional to do and Fiona Wade would have done a great job with it.

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Syd MacFarlane’s threat to Aaron

If you don’t remember Syd MacFarlane then I don’t blame you. Syd had a very brief appearance in January and was let free during Adam’s escape from his prison van, but he made another cameo in April, blackmailing Aaron and Robert for some hard cash in one of the most lacklustre plots of the Spring. Syd rocked up, threatened Aaron, then held him hostage for all of half an episode just so that Robert could sign away their flat and his business to Joe Tate for the ransom. As we know, that rivalry with Joe had no real long-term consequences and Syd’s random arrival was just as fleeting and insignificant as his exit. Syd and his threats had no impact, even though Aaron and the MacFarlanes had a long history that could’ve been explored, meaning Syd was a 2D “villain of the week” character. Gone and forgotten instantly. The MacFarlanes could have started real trouble for the Dingles, for Robert’s business or even given Joe some tips! Instead it turned into one of 2018’s most pointless and disappointing subplots, wasting both fan favourite couples, Robron and Coira, who briefly joined forces to take down Syd.

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Eliza’s health problems

Instead of helping his dad with dating disasters, Jai could have had a much more emotionally engaging storyline had Emmerdale continued to be true to the drama of Eliza’s health concerns. Megan is wasted in wishy-washy romance plots with Frank and Jai spends too long in the factory – but when Eliza was taken ill, I thought this was the start of a relatable and engaging story about parents and their disabled infant. When Eliza was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in late 2017 I thought this was going to be the start of a great story for the parents, but that went nowhere. Then again at the start of the year when bruises appeared on her and they suspected Eliza, this looked to be like a dramatic and heartful family story, but nothing ever came from it. All the actors involved are capable of big performances, but this is another non-starter wasting their talents.

Fave or Fail? (3-7 Sep 2018)

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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! Justice prevailed this week as Lachlan was finally arrested.

Faves

Perfect Performance

vlcsnap-2018-09-08-20h44m16s261Unquestionably the star of this week’s episodes was the flawless performance Thomas Atkinson as Lachlan White. Even when the story has creaked and been overstretched Thomas has given bone-chilling and sometimes comically-black performances that made him so watchable. There was always potential for Lachlan to embrace his dark side and Thomas’s performances have never disappointed. Whether it’s the creepy smiles or the deluded speeches, he makes Lachlan a great villain even when Lachlan’s not smart enough for his plans to be a success. This week had some brilliant episodes as Lachlan faced off against Sam, Robert, Belle and then finally the police. I only wish Emmerdale hadn’t killed Chrissie, because she is the one person who I think deserved to be there during his downfall to see the twisted individual he has become.

Belle Fights Back

vlcsnap-2018-09-08-20h54m56s492Belle had a horrifying week as the truth of Lachlan’s killings unravelled in front of her. She had to play a careful, cautious game to keep Lachlan on side and it was gripping viewing to watch her struggle against the voices in her head to outsmart Lachlan. The two characters had a great dynamic in these scenes, with Lachlan easily bought and tricked by his twisted love for Belle, and her managing to keep so calm in the face of his terror. I loved seeing Belle so active in her pursuit of escape, not only using her wits and running but also managing to start the car without a key. I hope the future of Belle’s mental health isn’t dependent on what Lachlan does next, because I think she deserves to out-do him after he gave her the illusion of a good future for so long.

Doctor Love

vlcsnap-2018-09-08-20h50m43s356I’m as smitten with the idea of Bernice and Dr Cavanagh as they are with each other. This week Bernice caused havock with Faith’s facial and Liam was on hand to soothe Faith’s skin and defend the hapless Bernice. There were coy sparks between the pair, especially when Liam stayed around for a taste of Bernice’s honey bush (a cracking innuendo as always from Ms Blackstock) and it all got a bit steamy when she gave him a shampoo. This is Bernice at her best and it was great to see more of Liam Cavanagh and in a more humorous role. I’m definitely ready for Bernice to ditch dead-weight Daz and have some fun with Dr C instead!

The New Boy

vlcsnap-2018-09-08-20h51m15s100He might not have been right for Vic, but there was something immediately charismatic about newcomer Ellis this week. It’s common that new characters can talk a while to settle on screen or are restricted by just a few interactions but Ellis seemed to fit in immediately, making small talk in the café, eyeing up Priya and that was all before reuniting with mum Jessie and meeting Marlon and April. There’s a natural warmth to him and he seems particularly skilled at comic timing so it bodes well. His arrival also seems to give more grounding to Jessie and I’m intrigued by the secret they’re hiding. Can’t wait to see more!

Bonus faves:

  • Noah’s recognition that his brother is marrying his sister – Emmerdale summed up in a sentence
  • Justice for Doug finally, poor love. Shame Diane wasn’t a bit more gracious!
  • As an honourary member it was good to see Robert got welly-deep in Dingle family drama this week, even getting thanked by Cain (it’ll all change next week but it was nice while it lasted)
  • Glad they didn’t rush to make Matty kiss Vic back – slow burns are worth a bit of patience!

Fail

Woe is Joe

vlcsnap-2018-09-08-20h43m36s266The weakest storyline this week had to be Joe’s spiral of self-pity at Home Farm after Debbie’s proposal rejection. He really showed his sulky immaturity, pushing away Noah who was the only one looking out for him and regressing to rudeness over a bottle of whiskey. I wouldn’t have minded this outburst if it had inspired something interesting like a return to form, like the nasty piece of work he was when he arrived, or had given us something with a bit more bite in his weird relationship with Graham. Instead it took all of five minutes for Debbie to change her mind and everything to return to normal. The only tremor of intrigue was Graham’s mysterious phone call about the proposed nuptials. Will this mysterious caller lift Joe and Graham from the doldrums or will they continue to waste that spark of potential they arrived with?

Scene of the Week (3-7 Sep 2018)

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Shock twists and surprises are hard to pull off in soaps these days where spoilers and savvy viewers can see them coming from miles off, but this moment holds my Scene of the Week title for its pure shock value. With Belle on the run from a gun-toting Lachlan (not too dissimilar from Rebecca’s recent escape) it was the glossy camera work that made the shots intense and adrenaline filled. But did anyone predict what followed? A bickering team of Robert and Ross had clearly learnt nothing from Emmerdale stories of recent years and took their eyes off the road, only for a fleeing Belle to walk straight out in front of the car and roll off Robert’s roof. This scene was brilliant in its unexpectedness and it was fun to have a genuine shock in this kind of episode.

Fave or Fail? (27-31 Aug 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Ryan finally met the Dingles and Joe planned a proposal.

Faves

Honest conversations

vlcsnap-2018-09-02-14h02m46s891I was so impressed with the writing for Pete and Rhona this week as they navigated the serious issues in their relationship. Perhaps they should have talked about this before moving in together, but love can do that to logical thought. After last year’s cheating debacle I never thought I’d ever like Pete Barton again. It wasn’t funny or sexy, it was sleezy and unpleasant and that did nothing for a character who most people had previously just written off as boring. But a year on and a mellowed Pete has grown up and thankfully the writing is putting a lot of effort into making his and Rhona’s relationship one of honest and frank conversations. Their conversations were an extension of last week’s chat about trust and the future and how Pierce has damaged Rhona’s self esteem. The pair of them also have great chemistry and Pete’s earnest attempts to make a real effort with Leo were heartwarming and the kind of character led writing that gives me hope for the quality of writing going forward. With Pete seemingly keen on kids and Rhona unsure, this gives them plenty of room to explore natural conflicts in their relationship and I really hope they keep this up!

Matters of the Heart

vlcsnap-2018-09-02-14h07m13s501Poor Rodney! After Misty left for Thailand last week, with some more than gentle nudging from Nicola and Bernice, Rodders learnt the truth about his daughters’ conspiring and took it very very badly. It wasn’t just heartbreak Rodney felt and he was quickly rushed to hospital after collapsing. Things were made even worse for him when he saw Misty had already moved on and into the arms of a young attractive traveller. What a bad week! It’s been years since actor Patrick Mower has been given any decent serious material so this was a welcome change from the norm and even though I hated the cringe-fest of his randy relationship, I really did feel for the guy. But with Misty gone, Rodney got back to familiar and more enjoyable ground by returning to his love/hate relationship with Eric.

Ditch Daz

vlcsnap-2018-09-02-14h06m14s413Thank goodness for Bernice finally seeing the light on dull Daz and realising she deserves a guy with a bit more life to him. There were hilarious scenes this week as Nicola expressed her continued dislike of Daz and her sister tried not to grimace when Daz made her cringe. Then there was Pearl, always a favourite of mine, distrusting and brilliantly cold to him. Bernice already has her eye on dishy Dr Cavanagh and I’m in full support. Daz is a drain and it’s about time we saw Bernice with someone special!

Dingle Welcome

vlcsnap-2018-09-02-14h03m45s468After what feels like years, Ryan Stocks finally got introduced the Dingles after an awkward showdown in the pub. Emmerdale have stalled this story more times than I can count and the back and forth hasn’t done the story any favours. Luckily the performances from actors Emma Atkins and James Moore in particular have been worth watching. Unsurprisingly Debbie reacted badly and the rest of the family were left open-mouthed with confusion at the start until they all came around, baring Noah. The next day a lot of other Dingles gave Ryan a warm welcome and Charity was made up. I can’t help but worry that after all that build up, they’ve rushed through his initiation into the Dingles and it really should have been given more than two episodes. Seeing as how many fans were eagerly awaiting the scenes of Ryan bonding with the rest of the clan, don’t say it’s be over before it’s begun.

Fail 

Love Changes Everything

vlcsnap-2018-09-02-14h04m04s709This week, sparked by lonely musings from Priya, Joe decided to propose to Debbie. Trying to do the right thing, Joe approached Sarah and asked her permission first and she was pretty thrilled for someone who hated Joe five minutes ago. But there sums up the entire problem with Joe and his whole existence. Sure, it’s not the first time love has changed someone and forgiveness has been found after evil deeds (a certain Robert Sugden anyone?) but the difference with Joe is that his brilliantly villainous intro was quickly abandoned, his many rivalries forgotten or forgiven and a rapid and all consuming love for Debbie changed him. I’m not a Joe/Debbie hater and in fact I think they have a good chemistry, but they’d have an even better chemistry if Joe’s whole personality and motives hadn’t been diluted to nothing. I’ve said before on the blog that slow burn romances are a big favourite of mine and someone like Joe who was so cruel and cold needed a long and slow redemption story if that was the intention. As it stands the proposal seems rushed and I can’t help but watch Joe now and see the complete waste of his potential as the biggest richest villain in the Dales.