Fave or Fail? (24-28 July 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a big week for Rhona as she finally saw justice against Pierce.

Faves

Courtroom Dramas

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h08m09s085We waited with baited breath this week as the verdict of the rape trial reached its conclusion. I had a feeling of dread that Rhona wouldn’t get the justice she deserved and that she, like many who have survived marital rape, would be forced to watch her attacker go free. Emmerdale chose to go with the rare outcome of ‘guilty’ and the relief was felt by characters and audience alike. The performances of the main players alone have made this story a standout and although at times it has followed similar patterns of other soap stories, Rhona’s journey, her emotion, bravery and determination, is one which I hope will earn Zoe Henry awards. There were some powerful choices of direction in scenes this week too (like Rhona running into the open air after the verdict) and Lisa’s role in the conclusion was a fitting choice and an emotional call back to the past. I expect Rhona still has a long road ahead but I’m just glad Zoe has been given this powerful material.

Chilling Until the End

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-11h54m27s636I can’t say I’m sad to see the end of Pierce as such, but I’ll really miss what Jonathan Wrather gave to the role. As Pierce, Jonathan managed to keep us guessing a lot of the time but when Pierce’s darker sides were revealed he really owned those chilling moments. Pierce was cruel and charming, managing to manipulate in subtle but ultimately devastating ways, and in part I will miss that feeling of rage when watching him at work! To some extent his final week on the show seemed all too quick as I’d have liked to see more of his twisted relationship with his mother Martha, but there was something deeply satisfying to see his horror at being taken to his cell and being locked in.

A Broken Man

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-11h53m52s192It wasn’t long ago that we only got to see two modes of Robert Sugden: villainous or sexy. Sometimes both at once. But as time’s gone on a more layered character has emerged and his vulnerabilities explored. Last year during October’s Super Soap Week I praised Ryan Hawley’s performances as he showed us a more sensitive and emotional side to Robert, one we’d rarely seen, and this week he excelled again. With Aaron gone, Robert’s been a mess (emotionally and physically) but only when injured did he allow himself to fully break down in tears and admit to his mistakes and regret. Ryan really sells these more fragile moments of Robert’s psyche, giving him heart and making him far more rounded than simply just a devious villain.

Still Got It

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h06m32s695Sometimes onscreen partnerships just work, much like favourites Cain and Moira who haven’t been sharing much screentime together lately but had a moment this week, reminding us of their magic. Even though Cain’s been trying to move on and find some of that elusive spark with vicar Harriet, for me there’s just something missing between them, especially when you compare their chemistry to “Coira”. This week it was obvious. All Cain and Moira had to do was sit side by side in the pub and there was a palpable tension between them. Sure, she was advising him how to win over Harriet, but there’s still something between the pair simmering under the surface and I hope it won’t be much longer before they’re reunited.

Fails

Tracy’s Trust Issues

Emmerdale - Monday 24 Jul 7pm - The ITV HubThere are some Emmerdale stories that seem stuck on repeat, and this week it was the turn of Tracy to fall victim to the cyclical storytelling. Having lamented earlier this year that it would good to see something fresh for her, we were back to the “Tracy falls out with Frank” merry-go-round. It’s not surprising that she has trust issues with her dodgy dad but any development seems to go round in loops. This week she locked him in the shop (will she ever escape it herself?!) and told him to come clean or she was done with him “for good”. How many times have we heard that? We all know he’s a shady man and she struggles because his promises are always just a few empty words – but within moments he uses those same tricks with her and it’s all forgiven. Perhaps if I cared more about Frank this would feel like worthwhile drama for Tracy, but she seems to have far more potential than just policing her dull dad.

Getting Lucky

vlcsnap-2017-07-30-12h22m24s031I’ve gone into my issues with how Emmerdale handled the aftermath of Lachlan’s assault of Alicia countless times, but I’m still clueless as to how we’re meant to see him now. It’s a hard sell that a smart young woman like Belle could be so blasé about his past, even in light of her past – accidental – crime, especially when her mother is a rape survivor. That aspect of the story just doesn’t work for me. She’s always been unbelievably sympathetic and kind towards him but starting a sexual relationship has made the whole thing even more uncomfortable. This week Lachlan expressed some sort of remorse for his actions but it was all too brief and long overdue, especially in the past where he’s seemed to dismiss the crime. So is he genuine? Are we meant to believe that? Or is he still just as twisted? Was he using it just to gain sympathy from Belle? It’s like Emmerdale can never make up their mind. With Gerry in the frame Lachlan is probably meant to look the reformed and decent guy, but his warped behaviour from the past is hard to forget, especially playing alongside Rhona’s story.

Fave or Fail? (15-19 May 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Off screen Emmerdale bagged a BAFTA, sadly on screen this week was a lot less exciting!

Faves

Mates Before Dates

w58pmPaddy and Marlon’s friendship is the anecdote to any average week on Emmerdale so they were easily the highlight for me this week. Having been best mates for so long there’s a natural joy in their scenes which arises from the long-term working partnership between Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnock and that kind of fun is infectious. This week, as Marlon’s romance with Carly hit troubled waters, Paddy was there to coo, gasp and practise his proposal to her on (much to the mocking of Charity). The pair also had to cover up Marlon’s failed attempts to propose by inventing a story about their friendship anniversary – n’aww. And even though Paddy might be the worst at giving Marlon confidence in his status as Carly’s beloved, the pair of them and their friendship will outlive any romance and for that I’m truly grateful. Who needs a girlfriend when you have a best friend like these two?

Handsome Stranger

Emmerdale - Matt Has Just One Thing to Say to Carly - YouTubeRight at the end of last week, a tall, dark, handsome and bearded stranger arrived in the shape of Carly’s ex-Matt, and poor Billy’s father. It seems pretty much guaranteed that Matt won’t be around for long and that he and Carly are going to break Marlon’s little heart but in the meantime it’s been nice to have a charismatic new arrival in the village. Now you might say I’m swayed by his nice accent and good looks and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but if things were different I’d say Matt would make a good new addition to the Dales. He’s already proved he can carry a believable and exposition-heavy scene and make his emotions towards Carly and the loss of Billy complex and emotive, but up against Charity’s creepy OTT flirting, he’s proved his comedy worth too. So, while we might not have him for long and it’s a shame his role seems to be a facilitator for Carly’s exit, Matt seems like a pretty interesting character.

Different Direction

w58dSince my Emmerdale viewing habits became religious, Debbie seemed to be stuck in a cycle of two plots which never really endeared me to her as a character. I never bought into her Barton love triangle, nor her supposed love for Ross and the gangster/heist stories she got mixed up in left me cold too. For me, Debbie works best around her family, being a mother, running the garage rather than being at the centre of a money or love-triangle drama. Living with her kids, Faith and Moira has breathed life into her and this week I really enjoyed seeing her at the heart of the garage, back in her overalls and concerned with making a living rather than this just being an excuse to stir up old feelings with Ross. I enjoyed seeing her go up against Chrissie and her cutting one-liners to both White sisters were pretty satisfying too. I’m sure before long she’ll be back with Ross, trying to muster up some sexual tension, but for now Debbie seems assured and independent and I like that a lot.

Fails

Filling the Gap

Emmerdale - Jai Walks In On Nell Crying After Harming Herself - YouTubeRhona went to rehab on Monday this week meaning that most of my interest in village drama went with her. That’s not to say there are no characters I like in Emmerdale right now, but in terms of stories there just aren’t any plots holding my interest. I’m warmed massively to Jai, but his plot with the insipid Nell is odd and unengaging. Should we trust her, but more importantly why should we care? We’ve only known the girl five minutes and her budding and uneasy relationship with Jai has nothing on the short-but-sweet connection Holly and Jai had. Dan vs the bullies was the other main story of the week and even with a ‘whodunnit’ element, the teen gang were still as unthreatening as ever. Neither Dan or Jai are exactly leading man material with these uninspiring plots. Even with Amy Walsh’s great performance at the end of the week, the teen thug story is one that feels cold, lacking a ‘must-see’ factor. Other stories this week involved Zak Dingle being even more useless than ever and serving meat to vegans and the beginning of the end for Marlon and Carly. In isolation these plots might have made good B or C plots, bubbling in the background but front and centre they’re not the best – Emmerdale, we know you can do better.

Storyline Amnesia

w58wEmmerdale has never been afraid to have a wealthy, snobby family living in Home Farm, lording it over the other villagers and being generally antagonistic to everyone they meet. It’s a dynamic viewers are used to, but one the White family has always struggled with, leaving their role in the village a mess. I’ve never hid the fact I like the family best when they’re embracing their dark side with full self-awareness and that the weakness comes when Emmerdale tries to paint them as insincere victims rather than privileged villains. Stepping away from their tedious in-fighting this week, there was a puzzling turn of events as Victoria worked and grovelled at Chrissie’s feet as she catered for a vegan event. What’s the problem there you say? Well, the last time Vic interacted with Chrissie she called her a poisonous cow and didn’t hold back in light of Chrissie setting up Andy, meaning he was on the run and absent from his ill daughter’s life. Now Vic is working for her, BFFs with Rebecca and bending over backwards to please them with no explanation. It’s as if the whole (boring) Whites vs Sugdens plot never happened! Andy who? Then there’s the continuing problem with Lachlan, a character still defined by the fact his history of sexual assault was wiped from the history books rather than him having any sort of redemption. Sorry, but whether they were friends or not, whether he rescued Alfie the dog, I still find it hard to believe that Belle would ever talk to him let alone kiss him. In this middle ground, where their rivalries and devious pasts are forgiven and forgotten with no explanation, the Whites just don’t work as well as they should. Make them hated, make them powerful but stop with this wishy-washy middle ground.

Fave or Fail? (1-5 May 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Not the most exciting week of storylines in the Dales, but it wasn’t a quiet one for Moira, as she gave Charity a Glasgow Kiss.

Faves

Emmerdale Farm

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

Extra Laughs

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

Never Too Young for Trouble

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

Fails

Never-ending Story

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

On Repeat

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

5 Emmerdale Characters That Could Do With A Shake Up

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

Ross Barton

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

So what next?

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

Tracy Metcalfe

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

So what next?

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

Aaron Dingle

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

So what next?

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

Priya Kotecha

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

So what next?

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

Bob Hope

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

So what next?

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

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

Fave or Fail? (17-21 April 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that saw Vadam implode, we saw Pierce continue his twisted control over Rhona.

Faves

Sibling Love

w54agWe’re used to sibling rivalry in Emmerdale. Sisters that hate each other and throw slaps, brothers who try and kill each other. So what a joy it is to have the lovely Arthur and Gabby relationship to showcase something touching among a grieving family and prove that siblings can love each other and get along. Poor Arthur was upset at the thought of losing his big sis Gabby to Australia and worried she wouldn’t come back and so tried to block out his pain in that classic kid combination of sulking and avoidance. But Gabby soon broke through his act and gave him her teddy Widget to look after and the pair had a heartwarming heart-to-heart. Honestly, it was like allergy season and my eyes were definitely leaking. The sadness and doubts soon turned into smiles as Arthur gave Gabby his best advice for dealing with sharks and they gave each other a goodbye hug. We’re so lucky to have these brilliant young actors and here’s hoping that when Gabby returns we’ll get to see more of these wonderful family moments.

Building the Mystery

Emmerdale - Who Keeps Calling Pierce - YouTubeAs the build up to Rhona and Pierce’s wedding edges nearer, so does the intensity of his manipulation and darkness. Vanessa fell into a familiar pattern of meddling this week (just after she’d begun repairing her friendship with Rhoan, d’oh!) as she managed to get Pierce’s mother, Martha into the village. Since meeting Pierce last year we’ve actually learnt very little about him, and most of it comes from his own mouth which we know can be deceptive at best. We knew from his late wife Tess that their marriage wasn’t a happy one, but this week there was a big dollop of intrigue when it came to Pierce’s past and we were left pondering. Just how much did friend Gavin know and why was he okay to pop up to manipulate Rhona into moving? Just what was Martha like as a mother? And if everything Pierce has revealed about his childhood is a warped story, then what was his past really like? And what about Pierce’s previous behaviour does she know, was Tess just as much of a victim as Rhona? The mystery surrounding Pierce is an interesting one. He’s slippery, good at putting on a performance and twisting situations to his advantage and all of this in a subtle, underhand way. There are layers of darkness we’ve only scratched the surface of and if you’ve seen any of the press surrounding next week’s episodes, this seems to be only the beginning of his monstrous behaviour.

Crash and Burn

w54adI’ve got to say I don’t like this Adam and Victoria story AT ALL but the reason it makes my Faves list is simply down to the performances from Adam Thomas and Isabel Hodgins. Adam and Vic might be on a collision course to destruction in record time but the actors have given the big emotional and challenging scenes their all, even as the plot creaks around them. Though rarely used, when we have seen Adam and Vic they’ve been strong, supportive and really loved up. They’ve been believable as a couple and out of everyone in Emmerdale, they’d be the ones you could imagine staying together for years to come, deserving of happiness and their own big brood. If the rumours are true and Adam is on his way out, something which seems ever more like the way this story is being hurtled through, then it’s a real shame. We’ve seen everything from Adam this week – the bravado and his nastiness, the comedic and the flirty, and the pain in his vulnerability. But both actors have shown they are great at the gritty stuff and getting more accomplished as the years have gone on, so why are we only seeing them get a big story now and why so clunky and rushed?

Fails

Same Old Stories

w54dtI’ll pin my colours to the mast right now and out myself as a huge Pearl fan, but ever since she was dropped from the sexy book plot, it’s lost a certain something. It’s no longer a best seller, no longer cheeky and fun, but at the bottom of the slush pile. I’ve flip-flopped when it comes to David and Tracy. They have their moments but they seem to be stuck in a rut of repetitive sitcom-style storylines which aren’t doing their relationship any favours. Tracy is dumbed down to squeeze out a forced (un)funny line, even if it stretches believability (sure, of course she has no idea who JK Rowling is or that it’s a novella not Nutella) but then is seen cleverly turning the tables on David to teach him a lesson. Tracy seems to have no belief in herself and yet David’s attempts to boost her always have the opposite effect and he comes across as patronising and insensitive. We’ve seen this story with them before and it’s getting tiresome, particularly when both actors can do more than silliness behind a shop counter.

Plot By Numbers

Emmerdale - Adam Says There's No Point in Trying for Kids - YouTubeMore of a general moan rather than plot specific, but a disappointing element to a few of the stories this week was how the plots seemed to be formulaic and rushed, following a dot-to-dot pattern. We have Cain and Harriet’s affair (a tepid stepping stone on the path back to Coira, surely?) which seems to be following an illicit liaison formula but lacking any real spark or originality – there’s push and pull, playing hard to get, sex in the garage – but even the on-the-nose dialogue about a vicar hooking up with the “local gangster” makes this ying and yang affair a bit too knowing and try-hard for me. Then there’s Vic and Adam’s struggles to find a solution to this baby making, with adoption and unconventional family set ups rejected despite the fact Vic’s brother is adopted and Adam was raised by a man who wasn’t his bio-dad. It just doesn’t ring true. Plus the fact that in the space of three days the whole thing exploded, ending a seemingly happy and secure marriage, when six months ago, babies weren’t even on the table. Not to mention Vanessa was rolled out to give Adam a supportive ear when they’ve barely spoken since the Johnny plot and all in time for him making a move next week. If these stories had been slowed down a little – if we’d had time to see Cain and Harriet’s sparking interactions play out for longer before giving in; if Vic and Adam’s fertility struggles had been developed over months rather than days, then these stories might have been stronger for it.

Fave or Fail? (6-10 March 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Dark times for many villagers, but we also saw the return of Lydia and Zak learnt about safe spaces – so not all bad times.

Faves

Dangerous Games

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (1)Vanessa and Pierce were thrown together for Minion cake making this week, the day after Pierce proposed properly with a ring to Rhona, but their bonding didn’t exactly go to plan and the week ended with Ness vowing to show Rhona Pierce’s true colours even if it killed her. Not the sort of thing you should be saying in a soap, Vanessa! But it wasn’t just the tense and bitter battle between Rhona’s best friend and fiancé that was such compelling viewing, but Pierce’s subtle control of Rhona that continues to be intense and unnerving. This week he convinced her to strip and have sex on camera, trying to make her feel boring for not wanting to go along with it initially. It’s that kind of scream-at-your-TV drama where you want to reach in and grab Rhona, show her what Pierce has been doing behind her back, shine a light on his subtle powers of persuasion as he drills away at her doubt and insecurities. It’s only going to get worse, where we’ll feel frustrated and worried all at once, but if it continues with this sort of nail-biting intensity then it’s going to be really and unbearably good.

Private Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m44s161I made my thoughts and concerns about Aaron’s prison hell storyline very clear earlier in the week, but one positive aspect to this storyline has been seeing the individual struggles of Robert and Liv as they try and cope without him. Monday saw a special episode divided between the three of them as we discovered Robert was unable to sleep in their bed and was struggling with the pressure of relying on short phonecalls with his husband to get him through the day. Liv was being picked on and felt isolated too, made even worse when she had to keep the secret of Aaron’s drug taking later in the week. Ryan Hawley and Isobel Steele managed to be quietly heartbreaking in their scenes but it’s also given a chance for the characters to grow closer in Aaron’s absence which has felt organic and heartwarming to watch. While my reservations about the long term implications of this storyline direction still stand, the impactful performances are worthy of praise.

Better Together

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV HubThe Metcalfe family contingent (and I’m including the wider circle of Eric, Leyla and co) were a highlight this week as Jacob’s anxiety issues came to light when he panicked about losing his lucky coin. Not only were these scenes touching, as the family (and even Emma Barton) rallied to help and reassure Jacob, we thankfully had this family to give us some much-needed lighter moments in another heavy and dark week of plots. Sure, seeing David’s bare bum is getting a bit repetitive but it’s always good to have Pearl and Tracy’s saucy book plot slipping into the week’s stories, especially with Tracy’s endearing enthusiasm and preppy outfits. I really hope Jakey’s anxiety issues don’t just disappear either, because it’s an interesting issue to explore in a young character, particularly one in the midst of a difficult family illness.

Some Self Awareness?

Emmerdale - Wednesday 8 Mar 7pm - The ITV HubI couldn’t help but notice that there appeared to be a change of heart this week from a few characters and displays of self-awareness which felt like an admission of storyline missteps. Take Chrissie, for example, who finally backed down over Ronnie (over the Home Farm family fall out #802) and decided to move out of the big house and stand on her own two feet. Whether she actually follows through with the drastic action is another matter but might we finally be seeing more to her than just Daddy’s spoilt little rich girl? I won’t hold my breath, but at least she admitted it. Then there was Finn whose acknowledgement of his crazy ways and escape to Australia feels like a way for the audience to wipe their memories clean of the disastrous “stalker Finn” plot than actually something he would choose to do. And with another appearance of the fantastically bonkers Lydia, maybe the powers that be at Emmerdale are actually aware of what is and isn’t working on screen – and this can only be a good thing.

Fails

Only Scratching the Surface

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (2)Ronnie and Lawrence almost broke up this week, then almost got engaged when Ronnie decided he didn’t like who he had become (the Whites have that effect on people) and Lawrence realised he couldn’t live without his silver fox odd-job man. Don’t get me wrong – I love their backstory of pain and pining and I love that Emmerdale is showing an older gay couple, but the handling of Lawrence’s sexuality since getting together with Ronnie has been such a disappointment. Last year when Ronnie returned to his life Lawrence was forced to confront the things he had been running from and him deciding he wanted to be with Ronnie properly it was a satisfying moment. Since then it’s sort of fizzled out. Despite living together and being in love, we’re still no closer to Lawrence dealing with his intimacy issues or even touching on his years of self-denial and self-hatred. Even though those elements are familiar ground (with Aaron and briefly with Robert) – are we meant to believe Lawrence’s journey of acceptance is over? Narratively it feels unsatisfying and half-finished – does Lawrence still have intimacy issues? Is he comfortable with being seen or labelled as a gay man? I can’t help but feel Lawrence and Ronnie’s story would be richer if their present was given the same depth and care as their past.

Off Balance

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m21s065Phew. Emmerdale has got really heavy and dark lately and it’s not a complaint, rather a concern. I’m all for dark and gritty storylines with an emotional truth at the centre, but right now the balance between this weighty drama and lighter fluff seems slightly off. This week saw: Aaron’s harrowing ordeal and his family’s grief, Pierce’s coercive control of Rhona and menace towards Vanessa, Jai’s drug struggle (as well as Aaron’s) alongside his and Moira’s grief, Jacob’s anxiety all alongside the deeply upsetting and ongoing story of Ashley’s dementia. While all these storylines are worthy issues to be explored and have fantastic performances and scenes – is Emmerdale becoming a bit too heavy and miserable of late? And this is just a glance at one week – we’re not even covering David or Sarah’s cancer to mention two other serious plots. Emmerdale does the lighter storylines – the comedy and the fluffier romance so well, but sometimes sitting down at 7pm does require a stiff drink! Maybe what I’m asking for is more Bob, more Bernice, more Pearl – more of the laughs and the fun. Bring on Gustav and the sexy book and the village choir – we could do with something to smile at.

Fave or Fail? (20-24 Feb 2017)

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 hugely emotional and fantastic week in Emmerdale as Aaron and Robert married and were tragically torn apart just a day later.

Faves

The Wedding of the Year

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

Prison Blues

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

The Thomas Family

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

New Blood

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

Shock Discovery

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

Fails

Dragging Her Down

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