Fave or Fail? (16-20 March 2020)

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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 Vanessa underwent surgery as part of her cancer treatment and Marlon suffered a heart attack.

Faves

Vanessa Starts Treatment

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h28m11s907Vanessa went under the knife this week in the first stage of her cancer treatment with her loved ones right by her side. While it’s difficult to watch a health storyline in current real world circumstances, so far Vanessa’s storyline has been handled really well showing the struggle with symptoms and the reality of life with bowel cancer. As Vanessa had to face the difficult reality of her future she wrote a will and visited a chemo ward. Her sisterly relationship with Tracy continues to be touching, but scenes with Charity this week were a real highlight as the writing found the perfect balance of humour and love in difficult times.

Marlon’s Health Terror

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h27m33s854Marlon suffered a shock heart attack this week as his trauma following prison has made both his mental and physical health reach breaking point. After taking a drive with Paddy, Marlon was rushed to hospital after experiencing pain in his arm and chest. Later, an emotional Marlon opened up to Rhona expressing how he felt his life was in tatters. With heartfelt dialogue and tender performances between Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry these were moving and authentic feeling moments between characters with a lot of history and who have suffered greatly in recent months. Even though the scenes were filmed before the world’s pandemic crisis, the dialogue felt very apt about a better future ahead meaning these scenes were even more poignant.

Arthur’s Bullying Continues

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h31m25s635The divisive Arthur and Archie plot continued this week after his cruel behaviour was revealed to everyone last week. Following from last week, Arthur was under the spotlight still, forced to apologise to Nicola and the Kings. But having been falsely accused last week when Archie hurt himself, he decided to get his own back and plant Sandy’s smashed ship in a bottle among Archie’s belongings. The family cottoned on quickly but despite an uneasy truce, Arthur still looks set on revenge for Archie’s lies. This plot has it flaws and while many are sad to see a sweet boy like Arthur turn into a bully, it’s a complicated family situation and the story benefits from some great performances at the heart of it. It’s unclear how this story will pan out but I hope soon the focus will shift to more attention on the psychology of Arthur’s problems and getting him help.

Fail

Vinny’s Backstory Secret

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h26m31s210This week we finally got to learn more about elusive Vinny, as he and Mandy opened up to the Dingles about his past. While it was very welcome to hear more about his backstory and give both him and Mandy some deeper, emotional material, the secrets of Vinny’s past fell a little flat. When he and Mandy first arrived it seemed like the writing was suggesting something much more intriguing about Vinny’s identity, with some viewers even speculating his parentage was linked to characters in the village. With both Vinny and Mandy desperate to keep it hush hush and not reveal that he wasn’t a “real” Dingle, surely there had to be some big reason? Well, this week with Mandy revealing Vinny’s sad backstory, they explained they felt they couldn’t admit Vinny wasn’t a Dingle by blood because he wouldn’t be accepted. Huh? This is the same family who gave Lachlan the Dingle welly to drink from and treated him as part of the family! This angst of his acceptance just didn’t ring true and was a disappointingly flat revelation and not the juicy secret that had been hinted at.

Andrea Confronts Kim

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h30m46s912Andrea seemed as if she’d lost a few brain cells this week as she trusted a complete stranger to help her bring down Kim. With Andrea desperate to prove Kim’s involvement in Graham’s death, thus ensuring she had custody of Millie, she was blinded in her futile mission, not realising Kim was scheming behind her back. Andrea’s grand plan was, of course, all a set up. Kim plotting could have been entertaining but Andrea and Jamie’s repetitive arguments, forgiveness and rejecting of Kim feels like a never ending story we’ve seen time and time again. The stakes are low in this story because we know Jamie and Kim will be back living as mother and son again soon enough (we’ve seen this fall out before!), and Andrea and Jamie are hardly the couple we care about when plenty of viewers prefer Jamie with Belle! Individually these characters have the potential to be part of engaging stories but the merry-go-round with and against Kim isn’t doing them any favours.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 March 2020)

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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! Kim incurred the wrath of several villagers over Graham’s funeral and DI Malone arrived and threatened Will.

Faves

Kim’s Many Layers

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h27m13s717It was another week where Kim shone, delivering both campy soap bitch antagonism in the village, as well as showing us her heart. Although I always struggled to buy into her bizarre relationship with Graham when he was alive, her grief this week, combined with her guilt about planning to have him killed, felt the most believable she had ever been about her complicated feelings for him. It’s this type of balance that was missing in her initial return in 2018 and it finally feels like the show has remembered that beyond the pantomime Kim enjoys, there’s a heart in there, however steely. There also continues to be something enjoyable about the way she insults, riles and antagonises various members of the village and does so without giving a f. Despite her fall out with Rhona, I’d still like to see them re-find a kinship because a war over who knew Graham more is tedious when he was a character who changed more than the weather.

DI Dodgy

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h29m44s728I’m going to be a little cautious about singing a newcomer’s praises so soon, because newbies have recently started strong and then petered out, but I was excited by DI Malone’s arrival week. He’s started on solid ground, charismatic and wicked, subtly making dangerous threats and being generally ominous. There’s also another intriguing side to him because he’s a crooked cop, meaning he knows how to put on a good performance and the stakes are high. He already knows Harriet and his police role means he has a frightening level of power and the ability to get involved with a number of villagers. Multiple connections means his character has potential to go in a number of directions and although Will might not be the most engaging character now, a strong antagonist could help. On paper Malone has everything to be the show’s next big villain, let’s hope he lives up to that potential!

Secret Struggle

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h26m09s660Vanessa’s story continued this week as she stayed firm in her wish to keep her cancer secret. Despite Charity trying to persuade her otherwise, finding it hard herself to maintain a facade of strength, Vanessa was adamant. There were some strong scenes as Vanessa reflected an attitude which I’m certain many cancer survivors could relate to – that she didn’t want the cancer to become her identity or be victimised. So far this story has done a great job at subtly showing both the physical symptoms but also the psychological and emotional. It’s only a matter of time before more people know about Vanessa’s situation, but I hope we continue to get this intimate focus on Vanessa’s feelings as it’s a refreshing change to see her central in a story.

Fails

Custody Battle

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h27m37s233It was another battle of words this week as Andrea and Jamie had another boring spat over Kim’s role in Graham’s death and Millie’s custody. Does anyone really care about their marriage? They’ve always been a weird match and when their arguments just result in the same circular row about Kim, with Jamie whinging for England and changing his mind about his mother every five minutes, it’s impossible to believe they were ever happy together. The stakes aren’t exactly high, especially when neither of them have had any meaningful scenes with Millie lately and most viewers seem to prefer Jamie’s chemistry with Belle far more than with Andrea. Andrea’s quest for truth also struggled with the same pointlessness of Marlon’s story this week. Pierce killed Graham, we all know it now and he’s been locked away. So why the angsting over what Kim planned when she actually had no involvement in his death? Andrea won’t get anywhere with proving the truth. Surely if Andrea wants real dirt on Kim, she’d be better off digging up the past!

Another Dingle War

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h30m40s460Did anyone else suffer from a headache this week with all that shouting? The aftermath of Graham’s murder rumbled on this week when Rhona, for contrived reasons, told Marlon about Charity and Ryan and the stolen money. With Marlon already in a bad place after prison and seeing the effect on April, this sent him over the edge and there was an all out war amongst the Dingles. Considering the efforts the family had put into the Free Marlon campaign, Marlon disowning everyone and ranting seemed disingenuous and overblown. Sure, he suffered inside and was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, but the story would have benefited more from showing the intensity of his suffering inside or even giving April a harder time with the bullying to show us how badly Marlon was damaged from his experience. The impact has been lost somewhat meaning his behaviour has felt over the top and hard to empathise with, even when we acknowledge the wrong behaviour of his loved ones. After all, the real enemy here was Pierce and even coming clean about the stolen money probably would have done little to help Marlon considering the evidence against him, so the time spent this week arguing about Graham’s murder felt overblown when the killer has been found and is back in prison. The reason for the blame seem pretty tenuous. Dingle wars also feel a little tiresome when they’re frequent and resolved with little consequence not long after. The whole family is hypocritical and full of dodgy behaviour, it’s about time they gave the “code” a rest. Perhaps Marlon will have an epiphany and acknowledge the real reason he is shutting everyone out is because he can’t unleash his fury at the real perpetrator Pierce, but Pierce seems to have been all but forgotten about so we live in hope…

The Woolie Weekly will be taking a week’s break. See you again for another week’s highlights on Sunday 22 March.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a year that saw big exits, shock deaths and the end of Emmerdale’s two biggest couples, 2019 had lots of surprising moments. Here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20 – Nicola’s Rise and Fall

Way back at the beginning of 2019, Nicola and Robert put their efforts into scamming Home Farm out of shed loads of cash. After that backfired, Nicola had a lot of making up to do with both her husband and the villagers she’d betrayed. Nicola’s acid tongue doesn’t always earn her many friends or fans, but there were some fun comedy moments in this story (like when she took Bernice hostage) and touching family moments too. The year got better for her when she got selected for the council – in a role completely perfect for her character – and we got to see her back on top. Nicola and Jimmy continue to be one of Emmerdale’s best and most believable partnerships and here’s hoping they both get good material in 2020.

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19 – Old School Feel

If there’s one noticeable improvement to Emmerdale this year then it’s the return to an old school feeling. Emmerdale’s USP in the soap world has always been its rural setting but in recent years that’s faded into the background. This year however there’s been a return to its roots with more farming and outdoors shots, Kim on her horses, and community events like the village panto. There’s still so much potential in exploring the dramas of a country village that I hope next year continues to make the most of the show’s unique setting.

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18 – Cain Learns the Truth

In October, an explosive secret was revealed when Cain learnt Moira had been having an affair right under his nose with farm hand Nate. It had been a challenging year for Cain, who had been bogged down in the Joe dead-or-alive storyline for months but his reaction to the Moira/Nate reveal was satisfyingly explosive. The best thing about Cain though is not just his avenging efforts (which this year ended up on a boat, implausible and outlandish and arguably too contrived for a punch-happy bloke like Cain) but his range of emotions. Cain’s pain and fury played out below his seething surface and Jeff Hordley’s performances ultimately are the reason he’s so popular. However unpopular the Moira and Nate fling was, Cain’s immediate reaction was one of the most gripping of the year.

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17 – Mandy’s Return

One of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters returned this year in the form of Mandy Dingle. Never far from chaos, Mandy’s first reappearance was far too brief but teasing enough that made viewers hope for a longer return. Later in the year she was back, scamming money from her family and revealing her part in a big casino heist and with son Vinny holding secrets of her own, there’s clearly more to come. Mandy’s return has been an injection of fun and nostalgia and she feels right at home at Wishing Well, even forming a great new bond with Lydia. It’s unclear how long she’s sticking around but there’s something comforting about her presence in the Dingles that makes me wish she’d stay for good.

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16 – Liv’s Jacob Discovery

It’s fair to say it’s been a hellish year for Jacob as he was groomed by Maya but the story as a whole was patchy. However one of the best parts of the story involved the addition of Liv, and running the Jacob plot alongside her exploration of her identity was an interesting choice. While Emmerdale haven’t put the asexual label onto Liv’s identity yet, she progressed further in the vocalisation of her feelings this year, leaning on Aaron and Robert for support. Making her the first person to discover Jacob’s relationship with Maya was a great twist making an already complex story more layered and gripping as she blackmailed the evil teacher too. Isobel Steele continues to portray Liv with real vulnerability and I hope, given the big topics thrown at her – drinking problems, asexuality, seizures – Emmerdale chooses one and gives it the focus it deserves.

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15 – Kim Finds Her Place

After Kim’s brief and divisive return in October 2018, fans were nervous about her permanent role in Emmerdale. Would it work? Would Kim be too panto? Her initial months in Emmerdale were met with apprehension. At first, bogged down with the bloated and retconned history of Graham and Joe it seemed as if Kim had been reimagined as a soulless mob wife, sending out hits and grimly trying to  blackmail Cain to sleep with her. It was an uncomfortable watch, but there were glimmers of hope. As Kim started to integrate and they dropped the Joe storyline there were signs they had plans for her beyond a cartoon villain. Eventually Home Farm reformed, and Kim reunited with son Jamie and met her granddaughter Millie and through all of this – and a friendship with Rhona – she found a heart. While the Tate household has not always been engaging to watch, Emmerdale have finally got the balance right with Kim, she’s both a great foe for the villagers but she’s more than just a campy “soap bitch”.

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14 – Manpreet Settles In

This year Manpreet moved into the village and cemented herself as a regular character by marrying Rishi and giving the Sharma family a more serious focus. Manpreet is a breezy fun character and a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than someone destined for extreme behaviour. She slotted in well to the village, both with the family and with her doctor role, which isn’t always easy for new characters to do. Rebecca Sarker is a really natural actress and her issues with money gave Manpreet a depth and even a little bit of a dark side. Manpreet helped lift the Sharmas out of their comedic rut and she’s been a little gem of a character with much more to her than meets the eye. Can’t wait to see what else they do with her in 2020.

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13 – Bob’s Homelessness

Cast your mind way back to January 2019 and you might remember that Bob was at the centre of one of Emmerdale’s most emotional stories. After the end of his disastrous romance with Laurel and struggling for money, it was a bleak Christmas for Bob. By January he was sleeping rough, struggling for food and so very isolated. After Harriet found him suffering from hypothermia, Bob was hospitalised and the truth came out to friends and family. Bob’s story was sensitively told and a timely reminder of how quickly a situation like his can escalate. Unfortunately Emmerdale skimmed over the aftermath and Bob is back, full of life, in the pub. It’s nice to have him back where he belongs but this was such a strong story that it feels like a missed opportunity.

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12 – Bernice’s exit

In a year of high profile exits, Bernice’s departure was one of the most poignant. Despite the unfortunate way it was squeezed into just two episodes, it was fitting and emotional that just as Bernice’s happy ending was within her clutches, she had to sacrifice it. Bernice’s exit story gave her that moment of growth and self-reflection. Her final episodes were the perfect blend of humour and serious emotion, giving her a great send off. She was a character like no other and she’ll be sorely missed – here’s hoping for a return one day!

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11 – Tracy after Frank’s death

Tracy was my stand-out star of 2018 with Amy Walsh delivering exceptional performances during the storyline that explored her past as a sex worker and split with David. This year Tracy was dealt a massive blow when her dad Frank died in the factory explosion and Amy Walsh continued to impress as one of Emmerdale’s best actors. As the question of the real culprit remained a mystery for a while and blame fell to Frank, Tracy’s determination to find the true thieves intensified leading her finally to the satisfying showdown with Kerry. As Tracy cycled through a range of emotions it was another masterclass from the brilliant Amy Walsh. What will the next year bring for Tracy?

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2019.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Dec 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! Aaron and Cain reached low points and Liv had another seizure.

Faves

Festive Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h45m56s323The Emmerdale Christmas panto continued to be the gift that kept on giving this week as Leyla’s crush on Liam intensified and Kim stepped up to be the villain of the piece. There’s so much to enjoy about this story. It has a great sense of community, from director Manpreet’s heavy hand on the script editing much to the frustration of writer Bob, to Dan and Mandy teaming up to play Liam’s horse, to Rishi stepping up – of course – to play the dame. Rather than force the laughs by us seeing just the slapstick stage performances, we’re seeing the natural humour in the preparation and practice, the bickering and disagreements. It’s also fun seeing real life actors pretending to “act”, particularly Liam’s joyously camp murder-mystery inspired performances and of course Kim’s superb stepping up as the villain. Very meta and lots of fun. More community stories in the new year please!

Dingle Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m52s569Since their marriages ended, Cain and Aaron have been united in sullen moods and angry behaviour, even turning back to crime. But there was something cold and guarded about these reactions suggesting there was a lot more pain under the surface. This week saw both characters break down and open up, with Aaron trying to swallow his grief and fail to move on, and Cain admitting to Charity that he didn’t think things would pass. Rather than seeing them explode with rage or make Wendy and Nate’s lives a misery, it was a welcome change to see them both human and empathetic again as they expressed how they really felt.

Noah’s Drug Dilemma

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h55m24s465Desperate to make Sarah see sense over Danny and the drugs, Noah was at breaking point this week. Stubborn and petulant Sarah continued to risk her life trying to impress slimy Danny, but a worried Noah was trying his best to look out for her and stop her making dangerous choices. By the end of the week feeling isolated and ignored, Noah sat alone and took the pills himself. Jack Downham’s a capable young actor and it’s good to see him get some emotional material again. Noah’s often felt pushed out and neglected in his family so it will be interesting to see if this is a turning point for those around him.

Liv’s Seizure

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m24s299Poor Liv had another seizure this week and could be facing an epilepsy diagnosis. Isobel Steele continues to be one of Emmerdale’s best young actors and her performance of the seizure and her fear and upset afterwards was really well done. Predictably it was Wendy that came to her rescue, but thankfully the focus was on Liv’s recovery and not Wendy’s heroics. The last time Liv had a seizure, the impact was brushed under the carpet fairly quickly, the collapse used in a plot device-y way, so fingers crossed it won’t be the same this time. Friday’s episode saw her worried about looking after Eve and hopefully this is a story that won’t just be used to inject a bit of Thursday jeopardy into the family. Given what a capable actress Isobel is, it’s about time she had a big ‘issue’ story with longevity.

Fails

Dawn’s Determination

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h52m30s910With Christmas approaching, Dawn’s mind has returned back to her son Lucas. It makes sense that she would think of him over the festive period, but there’s something about this determination of hers to get custody that doesn’t sit right. We’ve seen Dawn make a big recovery from her drug problems and create a stable life, but with her son settled and happy with a foster family – is it right he should be taken from that? It feels like we should be on Dawn’s side in this story but there’s an entitlement to her attitude that seems to paint a negative light on legal guardians. In the long run, I can’t see what stories a young son would offer to her character – I think she has more potential without him.

Nate’s Pity Party

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h54m52s098The violins were out for Nate this week as he sulked around the village wondering why he wasn’t welcome. Much like the Wendy story, it seems like Emmerdale are going out of their wait to paint Nate as the victim, when the reality is, he helped cause this friction. This week Cain decided to turn Kyle against Nate in the hopes of driving his estranged son from the village. The Dingles took pity on Nate and invited him to an Xmas movie night in a tone-deaf way that seemed designed to piss Cain off even more. But – is it any wonder? Cain might be a nasty piece of work at the best of times, but who can blame him for not wanting Nate around after everything he’s done? It seems by the end of the week the Dingles might have realised that Cain won’t be forced, not when his whole life has shattered, but the idea that they would take Nate’s side anyway feels convoluted. Nate came in with a mission to destroy Cain’s life – why are we supposed to feel sorry for him?

 

Fave or Fail? (2-6 Dec 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! Andrea suffered a miscarriage this week, giving Kim a change of heart and Lydia tried to put the past to rest.

Faves

Well-rounded Kim

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m54s325Top of the highlights this week is Kim, who seems to have hit her stride, almost a year since she made her full return to the village. Early months indicated Emmerdale weren’t quite sure what to do with her and the brief panto stint last year didn’t help much – and nor did the Joe and Graham muddle. Now, with tangible motives and a family around her, Kim feels a lot more well rounded. I really enjoyed that she was a big part of the village this week, funding the lights and having a sense of power that is reminiscent of the Home Farm contingent of old Emmerdale. Rather than cartoonishly making people’s lives misery, it was welcome to see Kim’s ruthless attitude towards Wendy whilst being sympathetic towards Victoria’s plight. Similarly her war with Graham is more watchable now it’s about something relatable – her son and granddaughter. There was also an element of fun too, with Harriet scamming her to give the light fund to the homeless instead, and this has helped to make her more than just a outlandish soap bitch, but more of a believable character and that can only benefit the future of Home Farm.

Lydia Deals with the Past

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h41m26s341After another emotional week for Lydia, Emmerdale are surely paving the way to give Karen Blick some award nominations next year? This week Lydia struggled with the pressure of her newly found biological family and the news that she could lay her son to rest, now that she had his ashes. Feeling suffocated by her mother, Lydia opted to scatter the ashes with just the Dingles (or the few that turned up!) and later asked for space from her mother and sister, acknowledging there was no quick fix to her years of feeling isolated and abandoned. As much as I liked the casting for Lydia’s family and it gave her character new dimensions, I’m glad Emmerdale didn’t rush to make them close, with everything forgiven. However with the Huntington’s test still looming, I’m interested to see what happens next now that Lydia’s drawn a line under her new family – will they just be forgotten about? Stories lately have felt a little stop start and I hope Lydia’s doesn’t go the same way.

Upset Uncle

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h40m31s225Noah was in full protection mode this week as his concern for Sarah grew. Since her secret pill popping at the party, he’s been suspicious of her new friend Danny and the reckless way she’s been behaving. This week saw Noah spying on her and later confronting Danny about her health. Bratty Sarah was furious at Noah for damaging her street cred, despite Noah tearfully telling her how worried he was. I’ve always been a big fan of Noah and he’s been absent for some of this year so it’s been good to have him taking a prominent role in this storyline. I like his sensitivity and big heart, helped by Jack Downham’s vulnerability in the part. Spoilers indicate Noah’s got some gritty material ahead which is something to look forward to.

Jamie and Andrea’s Grief

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m06s819I was impressed and surprised by the performances this week as Jamie and Andrea came to the forefront of the show with their tragic miscarriage story. While this heartbreak was a way to trigger Kim’s change of heart for the first time it actually made me believe in their relationship, bonding them closer. Both characters have felt a bit flat since their early promise and the scenes this week suggest they are capable of much more, especially if it means delving more into their relationship in a more emotional way, separate from the convoluted history.

Fails

Losing Support?

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h45m57s005Moira continued her drunken spiralling this week, losing an ally in Pete and losing grip on herself when she repeatedly turned to the bottle. There was some friendly support from Vanessa, but with Matty away and Pete now working with Nate, Moira’s completely on her own and in this state losing work and access to the kids. Unfortunately though, this time round, Moira just isn’t very sympathetic. When she’s had drunken meltdowns before, when she lost Holly and after Emma’s death and the PND she experienced after having Isaac, Moira’s had our sympathies and support – but this time I’m not so sure. Moira’s cheating was clumsily handled and almost universally hated by viewers so it’s no real surprise her self-pitying meltdown isn’t quite hitting the mark. She might be on self-destruct, but what the scenes lack is a sense Moira is taking responsibility for what happened, instead what we’ve been seeing a rather cold and unsympathetic Moira and she’s difficult to root for.

Lost the Plot

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h42m19s643Wendy moved into Emmerdale village this week in another twisted turn to this continual torture of Victoria. As Wendy continues to blather on about her innocent son, it appears some villagers have completely lost the plot. Wendy’s support of Lee and harassment of Vic began long before Lee’s death, so to hand-wave her behaviour as grief or as a grandmother who just wants contact is sickening beyond belief. Even characters like Chas, who should be unflinching in support of Victoria, defended Wendy and bonded over the “bad behaviour” of their sons. Yes, that’s right, comparing the survivor of childhood rape to a rapist. What is Wendy’s narrative purpose in the village beyond more hell for Victoria and to plunge Aaron into a bigger meltdown? Are we supposed to feel sorry for her? To paint Wendy as a victim – her house vandalised and unwelcome – and putting empathetic words in the mouths of characters who should know better is completely tone deaf and unless she becomes the show’s next deranged nurse then these latest developments are a hard pill to swallow from a show that has had a strong history of empowering their rape survivors.

Scene of the Week (21-25 Oct 2019)

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This scene might not have had a twist, or blown the budget, but it was full of heart. After Chas and Paddy’s tragedy last year it was good to see this quietly happy moment for them and the family. It was played with tenderness as their family shared their love and relief in light of last year. It was a nice touch too for Lydia to be moved, after we learnt of her tragedy this year. Marlon and Paddy had a moment, and even Bear managed not to be a pillock. It worked too for Chas to check in with Aaron and to wonder about Cain, in a way that tied all the big stories together.

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Sep 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! This week Millie’s accident lead to a paternity twist and Harriet was shunned by her so-called friends.

Faves

Harriet Bites Back

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h14m54s375Harriet had a bit of a tough week as she turned 50 and her relationship with Will came out in front of all the congregation. They’ve kinda wasted what could have been a delicious slowburn of love-turned-hate-turned-love between Harriet and Will (for a vicar and an ex drug lord they are actually very dull) but still, the hypocritical villagers decided to shun her for this relationship (baffling). Nevertheless a highlight this week was seeing a downtrodden Harriet confront Moira and ask her what we’ve all been wondering – what the hell is wrong with her? As Moira let rip, Harriet bit back, reminding her that she knew all about what had happened with Emma. It was less of a threat and more of a reminder of her double standards and it was good to see a Harriet that comes back fighting. Really, I’d have liked to have seen Harriet drag each and every villager for their hypocrisy, but this tense moment at Butler’s was the first time I’ve really thought “Yes Harriet! You tell her!”.

Dingles Reunited

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h14m14s806The kiss secret was out this week and Zak and Faith become enemy number one among the Dingles. Despite there being a complete overreaction to the kiss that meant nothing to either party, both Belle and Chas seemed to take the strongest objection to their betrayal. Thankfully the over the top outrage and bluster blew over quickly and Zak sought to repair the damage with Belle by explaining what really went on. Eventually Belle was won round by Zak’s honestly and his enduring love for Lisa. As the two shared a hug, united by missing Lisa, Zak apologised for upsetting Belle and asking for another chance. It was lovely to see the Dingles get some more screen time related to Lisa’s death as we haven’t seen much of how they are coping lately and Zak and Belle’s father-daughter relationship brings a lot of warmth to Wishing Well. It’s nice to see a family having a cuddle every now and then!

Doug’s Drugs

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h16m29s776Doug’s drug storyline continues to be one of the strangest stories in Emmerdale but it has its entertaining moments too. As the story ran alongside the exposure of Will’s drug trafficking past (the tonal shifts were a little jarring if I’m honest), Doug began to panic that his new hobby had grown out of control – literally! Doug now has his very own farm, but as he sweated about the police catching up with him, Rodney did his best to reassure him to continue. Seeing straight laced Doug unravelling is pretty amusing, although I wonder how long this story can continue before the laughs dry out.

Fails

Moira’s Meltdown

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h15m45s370Just what is happening to Moira? Her behaviour has become so unlikeable and erratic that fans are even jokily speculating her personality change is down to a brain tumour or an evil twin. This week saw her repetitive affair with Nate get almost busted again and discover that Matty had been smoking weed. This hit hard on the anniversary of Holly’s death and was even worse when she discovered Harriet’s latest love interest is a former drug trafficker. As Moira‘s rage exploded, she outed their relationship to the entire Harvest Festival, and Harriet’s reputation was shattered. While I think the villagers’ reactions bordered on the ridiculous (they’ve all done bad things) it was Moira’s response that did the most damage to her character. Sure we can reason that the pressure of the affair is getting to her, but it’s still not clear her motives for cheating in the first place. She’s off with everyone who speaks to her at the moment and it was only in those scenes with Cain by Holly’s grave that we saw glimmers of the Moira we know and love but even that seemed fleeting. Can Moira ever regain her popularity – or at least feel recognisable – again?

Who’s the Daddy?

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-12h13m54s663Andrea and Graham spent much of the week having the same conversation around Millie’s hospital bedside this week as they wrestled with their secret past and the question of Mille’s paternity. Viewers, however, might have been wrestling with a bigger question about the timeline of these characters and the baffling way it all ties together. Graham’s backstory is a muddle of different producers and cast changes so his engaging enigmatic early days seem a distant memory. Without an interest in Graham (and without Joe, Emmerdale are really trying their hardest to keep him relevant), all relies on newbie Andrea, who honestly feels too new to care too much about. It also requires us to see some sort of bristling tension between the pair, which until Monday didn’t really exist so the whole twist felt like an afterthought cobbled together plot based on fans’ speculation. This twist isn’t helped by Jamie, who has become a colourless drip and is unbelievable as a husband and a father, nor the painfully on-the-nose dialogue from Granny Kim who has now taken to her position as grandmother with aplomb. Had Andrea and Graham expressed sizzling chemistry or lingering looks throughout their time at Home Farm perhaps we could take an interest in this oncoming family explosion but the idea that Andrea was sleeping with both 17 year old Jamie and a drunken Graham at the same time is all a bit grim.

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Sep 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! This week saw the end of Marlon’s marriage to Jessie and Mandy made her return.

Faves

Marlon’s Marriage Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h15m23s499Unlucky in love Marlon can add another failed marriage to his list as this week his relationship with Jessie came to an end after discovering she’d cheated with Al. There’s always been something mismatched and ill-fitting about Marlon and Jessie as a couple, despite Emmerdale’s hard push to make them work, but ironically, it’s been the breakdown of their marriage that’s been the most watchable. From their disagreements about money, lack of communication and openness between them, the cracks had already begun to appear before Al stuck his nose in. Some couples can come back from a fling, but not Marlon and Jessie. As the pair hashed out their problems in a well written and well acted scene, Marlon acknowledged that he deserved better than being a consolation prize and Jessie deserved not to be tied down to a place and a marriage that didn’t fulfil her. There was a real rawness to Mark Charnock’s performance that made Marlon’s decision both heart breaking and somehow satisfying and their marriage troubles made a surprisingly engaging story throughout the week.

Master Manipulator

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h19m53s817That Al is a nasty piece of work, isn’t he? But oh enjoyably so! This week Al continues to rile things up between Marlon and Jessie and undermine their marriage. And he managed it, with his smooth talking and suave confidence. He is already shaping up to be a villain we’ll love to hate. He had Jessie in the palm of his hand, wafting a job offer in her face and then landing her in it with Marlon, only to swoop in and seduce her. Al’s scenes with Jessie showed a long standing chemistry and the way he exposed Marlon’s insecurities so deftly was painful yet engaging to watch. What Al’s role will be like post-Jessie and without Ellis, it’s too soon to tell, but Al could easily be the new puppet master of the village and it’s about time we had a smart new villain like that.

She’s Back

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h13m36s202Mandy’s only been back for two episodes so far but viewers have been promised a longer stint this time after her very very fleeting appearance earlier in the year. Mandy is exactly the spark of life Emmerdale needs at the moment to inject a bit of fun and mayhem into the Dingles and whatever secrets her and son Vinny are hiding could bring even more trouble to their door. Bringing back beloved characters is always a challenge, but with Emmerdale still Dingle central there should be plenty of familiar faces for Mandy to reacquaint herself with. Lisa Riley’s enthusiasm for Emmerdale really rubs off on her performance and she already feels right at home. Bring it on!

Cannabis Club

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h13m54s681In the show that gives us endless scenes of the dire Moira and Nate affair, we need some light relief to save us from the tedium. That came in the form of Doug and his drugs again this week. Duncan Preston has some brilliantly comic facial expressions but Doug’s luck ran out when Pollard caught him lighting up this week. Rather than blackmail him into being his skivvy or similar, Eric wanted in on the action (for his dodgy hip of course) and had soon roped in Rodney to join in this new cannabis club. It’s nice to see the older villagers up to no good with a story that’s silly and fun.

Fails

Pointless Problem

vlcsnap-2019-09-14-11h11m32s253Moping Harriet got right on my nerves this week after Dawn revealed to Tracy that “Taz” is actually Will, her dad and Harriet’s partner. Harriet and the rest of the family acted as if this was a grave secret akin to a murder and the vicar was distraught at the thought of their new relationship (and history) being public knowledge. But…why? This dilemma and Harriet’s stress over it made little sense. This is a village where almost everyone has got off with a murderer or ex-con, would they really care that Harriet has fallen back in love with the guy she had been in love with undercover? Sure, he stalked her, and squashed her with a coffin, but if Harriet’s moved on, why would the villagers have an issue? This is, after all, the same Harriet who used to be in a serious relationship with notorious bad guy Cain Dingle. As if anyone would care who she chooses to be with! It makes no logical sense to make a mountain out of this molehill.

Fave or Fail? (3-7 June 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! As the village gathered to say goodbye to Lisa, we also saw the arrival of new Tates, Jamie’s wife and daughter.

Faves

Weird and Wonderful Funeral

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h08m50s152The village said their final goodbye to Lisa Dingle this week as her funeral took place. The first half of Thursday’s episode saw a more traditional service as the villagers gathered to pay their respects, but with Charity seeing out Lisa’s final requests, there was some Dingle craziness to be had in the form of a pig race. It was a lovely community moment and a bittersweet scene of outrageous fun which truly felt like classic Emmerdale. Of course, after the humour came the sorrow again as the family received their letters in an incredibly moving montage but the double episodes were a heartfelt tribute to the matriarch of the Dingles.

Victoria Shares Her Plight

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h16m53s983Victoria returned home to the village with Robert this week but the reality of her trauma soon set in. Uncomfortable about returning to her own house, Vic stayed with Robert and Aaron but tensions soon arose when she revealed she was keeping her baby. Vic was adamant in her choice, but Robert struggled to cope feeling helpless and guilty, and tried pressuring Vic into a decision. However the intention, Emmerdale’s writing when it came to abortion felt clumsily pro-life and that’s something which continues to grate, but Isabel’s performances continued to impress. Despite their strained relationship and opposing coping strategies, it’s been good to see more of Vic and Robert as a family and the divisive issues between them felt authentic. Also this week Victoria told friends about her attack and her scenes with Marlon especially were appropriately tender and lovely. It was good too to see mentions of empathy from the village’s other rape survivors, adding again to Emmerdale’s renewed sense of community.

Hiding Something?

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h08m27s638This week as Sam found comfort in Lisa’s final letter to him, both him and Lydia realised how important their relationship was and Sam wanted them to stop stalling and set a date for the wedding. It’s been years since Sam and Lydia got engaged but just as the touching moment seemed to indicate we might get a kooky and cute wedding, a look passed Lydia’s face. Is she hiding something? Back at the start of the year hinted there was more to come from Lydia but we’re only just seeing hints of it now. Lydia’s one of Emmerdale’s greatest recent creations and her Sam and Samson make the perfect quirky family. While on the one hand I’d love to see them settle down and be the new stable couple of Wishing Well, I’m also welcome to seeing more of them and that means drama. So what is going on in Lydia’s head? It can’t be a reluctance to marry Sam per se, maybe it’s related to her past. And if this means more Lydia – then I’m a happy viewer!

A New Era of Tates

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h18m53s701This week two new arrivals upset Kim Tate and it was quickly revealed that Andrea and little Millie are in fact Jamie’s wife and daughter. Say what? If you can get over the fact that Jamie, who is meant to be 22, has a family already, why the hell didn’t he mention them to anyone, not even Rhona? Something seems suss there! Still, Millie’s adorable and Andrea, though it’s an ask to believe she’s married to Jamie, already has a fun and bitchy antagonism with Kim. There’s definite promise there, far more believable than the attempt to make Kim and Megan enemies. Filling Home Farm with family seems like the best way forward as it doesn’t work so empty and isolated. But is there really much longevity in Andrea and Jamie as a pairing? However things work out between the two, Kim’s miles better with these kinds of stories than the outlandish mafia style characterisation she was receiving previously.

Fails

Kiss Chase

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h10m19s849Ugh. Really, David and Leyla? Again? If there are a worse parenting team in the village right now I’d be surprised because these two sure know how to make Jacob’s life a hundred times worse. Thank god for Eric who gave them a dressing down this week for shagging while Jacob’s head is wrecked. Really though, what are they playing at? I really thought this storyline might finally see David reach a turning point, that we might see some maturity and responsibility from him but nope, same old David. If his and Leyla irresponsible handling of the police wasn’t bad enough, this was peak selfishness. And why would Leyla even go there again, after everything? I could more understand if it had come from a place of grief but the pair’s self involvement was so tasteless and short sighted. If Jacob’s plight hasn’t made them grow up, what will?

Going in Circles?

vlcsnap-2019-06-08-21h14m00s534Emmerdale’s most important and controversial storyline is in danger of losing all momentum, as the Maya and Jacob story seems to have been derailed in favour for more twists and turns. From Maya’s disappearance and the flashback reveals we were all on tenterhooks desperate to see Maya’s downfall, but as time has dragged on, we seem to have lost the main crux of the story. While troubled Jacob is stuck in repetitive scenes where he rages against the injustice of being kept away from Maya, all the progression the police enquiry is happening off screen. Jacob’s loved ones continue to stretch believable by doing stupid and desperate things in the name of protecting him, but this far along in the story it’s becoming tiresome and sluggish. Emmerdale were onto a winner in the immediate fallout of the abuse discovery but now the pacing seems to have been diverted into stalling tactics. Even more bizarrely, obvious routes for this story to take, to show us its impact, have been avoided. The other teens, Liv, Gabby, Noah and Leanna are all but absent, Jessie – who should be playing a key role is AWOL and Liam’s reaction to the news has barely been touched on. If this story only impacts on the Metcalfes when all is said and done it’ll be a complete waste.

Scene of the Week (3-7 June 2019)

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This week’s Scene of the Week choice was one of my easiest decisions in ages. An emotional montage full of beautiful performances and brimming with character and warmth? A big win all round. As Lisa Dingle’s funeral drew to a close, thankfully Lydia had rescued the personalised goodbye letters from the charity shop and handed them around to the gathered Dingles. What followed was a moving collection of scenes as each member of the family read their letter (with a lovely voice over from Jane Cox) with Lisa’s poignant advice and kind words ringing in their ears. From telling Charity to be happy, calling Sam her son, tricking Marlon with the rabbit stew recipe to helping to patch up Debbie and Cain’s relationship, this was a truly perfect scene. Each Dingle heard the words they most needed to hear and it was wonderful.