Fave or Fail? (14-18 Jan 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! It was a huge week for the Dingles as Charity and Vanessa got engaged, and Cain told Debbie he killed Joe.

Faves

For Better or Worse

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-11h00m50s589After last week’s shock stabbing for Vanessa, Charity only had one thing on her mind this week as she sought to stage the best proposal of all time for her girlfriend. Feeling the pressure, especially when Tracy got involved, Charity was left to her own devices and hijacked a posh guy’s huge and OTT proposal at Home Farm. From Charity’s panic and scheming with Chas and Tracy to her hilarious attempts to steal the outlandish proposal, the Vanity proposal plot was full of laughs and a script of brilliant lines. It was only later when Vanessa returned to Home Farm, wanting to hear Charity out after the earlier disappointment, that the pair’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. The laughs of the earlier scenes were Charity at her best, but the mixing of her dry and drunken humour in the love declarations really worked in showing her vulnerability. As we move towards the wedding here’s hoping the stories allow Vanessa’s character to become more fleshed out and not overwhelmed by Dingle drama.

Maya’s Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-11h01m31s517Maya’s grooming of Jacob continues to be Emmerdale’s biggest story, but it’s still not an easy watch. The fact the story is so excruciating is a sign that it’s working, particularly as Maya devised ways to keep Jacob quiet as well as pushing him to go further in their liaisons. Their school hook-up and meeting point in the kids’ den felt particularly sordid, but Louisa Clein’s delivery of Maya’s butter-wouldn’t-melt manipulations are perfect for the role. I did feel a concern this week that perhaps the subtly in the story had been dropped in favour of showing Maya enthusiastically twist and play Jacob for her own amusement – but perhaps she’s growing comfortable because she’s done this all before? I do wish however that Emmerdale had spent longer bedding Maya into the village, giving her friends or allies, before embarking on this story, because it inevitably means that David, Jacob and family aside, the impact is going to be minimal, even with ex Liam in the village, and that might make the resolution flatter.

Debbie Finds Out

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-10h58m43s348Finally – finally – all that whispering can stop at Butler’s Farm because Cain’s secret was out, and he told Debbie that he killed Joe. Understandably Debbie was horrified and Charley Webb’s performances were some of her best as all her pain and horror at her Dad’s cover-up came pouring out. Both Charley and Jeff Hordley work so well together that even though I find the story a bit of a dud, their on-screen chemistry is compelling. Jeff somehow manages to make Cain’s lashing out and his downfall empathetic, even when you’re screaming at the screen begging him to stop hurting his loved ones. I think the writing in this story has been damaging for Moira, who has become less and less like the woman viewers liked and more of a ruthless mob wife. Naturally the Cain and Moira’s relationship has lost the warmth and heart too. Here’s hoping that in time both characters can move away from this story (if Graham ever owns up to the truth) and become more grounded again.

Bonus Faves:

  • After this week’s fantastic comedic partnership between Charity and Tracy – and now that they’re about to become in laws – I hope we see lots more of them. They have so much hilarious potential.
  • This week was the first time we saw Eric and Ellis interact as Eric learnt about ‘gains’ and Eric gave Ellis all the shade about his hockey lessons. More please!
  • Spamela Henderson the piggy of our dreams. Great idea Sam. The more animals in Emmerdale the better.
  • After seeing Kerry and Jimmy at the school careers fair – let’s have more of these sorts of community events!

Fail

Dead or Alive

vlcsnap-2019-01-20-10h59m04s801The biggest problem in the long running saga of Joe’s death is the biggest question of all – is he really dead? With Emmerdale seemingly unwilling to break any hearts and reveal whether he has actually carked it, and interviews with the cast hedging their bets, it’s removed any real tension. With half the audience expecting a “shock” last minute twist with Joe returning to Home Farm, it’s difficult to invest in the full fall-out of his absence. Had we seen Graham’s grisly dumping of the body then perhaps his meltdown and then Machiavellian plan to let Cain take the rap would have had more impact, but for now there’s the potential that all this gravel-voiced angst is for nothing. Admittedly it’s a plot that requires everyone to a) find Graham’s monotonous threats compelling b) to have invested in the Joe/Debbie love story and find her plight sympathetic and not at all hypocritical and c) believe Debbie’s hatred of Cain will last more than a few months – so it’s a bit of a losing battle for me. But if Emmerdale confirmed Joe’s status one way or the other then we’d get part that wishy-washy aspect at least.

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Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2018 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2018. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10. Bernice and Liam

Three of Emmerdale’s best decisions in 2018 were these: making dishy Dr Liam Cavanagh a full-time cast member; Bernice ditching dull Daz and finally, making Liam and Bernice a couple. In just a short time, Bernice’s giggling crush on Dr C turned into a mutual attraction and the pair were carrying on like a couple of teenagers. Their relationship has managed to be both sweet and laugh-out-loud funny and uses both characters to their best. With Gabby and Leanna on their hands things won’t be easy, but as long as we keep having this Carry On humour and a relationship full of warm then I hope Cavastock last and last.

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9. Matty Barton

Matty has fitted into village life so well it seems strange to think he only arrived in June! Matty’s shock appearance at Butler’s and the subsequent fall-out was Emmerdale at its best. Matty’s reveal was great character led drama about a family and this continued as characters like Moira, Cain and Victoria reacquainted themselves with him. Actor Ash Palmisciano has brought so much warmth and humour to the role, that apart from it being interesting to have a trans character in the show and explore new ground in storylines, he’s also been great fun to have around, be it in the pub or in David’s shop. I’ve been torn between liking his friendship with Vic and loving the slow burn romance, but regardless, Matty’s one of the best newcomers in 2018.

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8. Pete and Rhona

When spoilers circulated at the beginning of the year claiming Pete and Rhona were going to hook up, put me down as someone that thought it sounded ridiculous! Fast forward 12 months and they are one of my favourite couples in Emmerdale. Pete was one of my most hated characters in 2017 after the Priya affair, and after Pierce, Rhona needed something fun and sparky, someone who would treat her well and communicate with her. Did anyone expect that from Pete Barton? These two have cracking chemistry, as well as Rhona performing miracles and actually making Pete seem mature and likeable. Who knew?! One of this year’s highlights was seeing Pete try and bond with Leo, even learning Makaton and it was moments like this that added real depth and heart into the pairing. I’m a big fan, Emmerdale – don’t let me down!

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7. Joe Tate Reveal

For one minute, just forget what a massive watered-down disappointment Joe Tate ended up being and cast your mind back to January 2018 where “Tom Waterhouse” revealed to a packed street that he was in fact “Joseph Tate”. It was the twist all viewers had been waiting for and delivered with such punch. Debbie and Charity’s world shattered and every criticism about the shallow Tom and Debbie fling and the golf course story all made sense. Joe swaggered around the village as the arrogant, campy soap villain, demolishing Wishing Well and injecting a real sense of Tate ruthlessness back into Home Farm, making the Dingles’ lives a misery. It was a glorious time of fun boo-hiss antagonism. It’s just a shame it all went so wrong…

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6. Ellis Chapman

Ellis only arrived in September, but already he has become one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale. When Ellis rocked up in September to see his mum Jessie, no one could have predicted how quickly he would settle into the village, but with a relationship with Vic, a job at the scrapyard and the best friendship with April he feels right at home. Not only does Ellis have the charisma and humour (and the dress sense) to carry any scene he’s in, he also has the slightly cynical, disenfranchised millennial vibe, which has been an entertaining clash with Marlon. Now that Billy’s finally arrived I’m expecting to see new sides to Ellis and I can’t wait.

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5. The Coira Reunion

It’s fair to say that Cain and Moira had a very rough start to the year, surrounded still by the lingering fall-out from Emma Barton’s death. But Coira were meant to be and their on/off tempestuous relationship could only end in one way. With Moira ready to leave the village for good, Cain made a last-ditch attempt to reunite with her, telling her to meet him at the bridge at 5pm. This was real rom-com stuff and when Moira finally arrived (late), Cain’s teasing quip melted all tension and the two kissed to seal their future together. Natalie J Robb and Jeff Hordley’s chemistry is addictively good and after a long wait, the reunion was so worth it.

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4. The Robron Reunion

Cain and Moira weren’t the only pair to have a reunion to rival the best rom-coms. After a year of hell for Robron, Robert was dragged to a gay bar by his girl squad to help him move on from Aaron. This hysterical ensemble of characters made for one of the best episodes of 2018, but the hilarious turned to heart-wrenching as Aaron realised he couldn’t be without his estranged terrible dancer of a husband. After all the best rom-com tropes, the crossed wires, a meaningful location (the garage!) and heart-stopping conversations, Aaron delivered a desperate speech to Robert, listing all the reasons he loved and appreciated him and the two were back together where they belonged. This had buckets of romance and emotion and proved that after all this time the Robron magic is still there.

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3. Emma Atkins’ Winning Performances

Arguably Emmerdale’s biggest character of 2018 was THE Charity Dingle. After fairly low-key stories since her reintroduction after prison, this year was a gamechanger for Charity. From discovering her son was still alive, to finding love with Vanessa, to getting Bails sent down for rape and abuse, Charity’s 2018 was huge. Elements of the Bails story felt repetitive and drawn out, especially coming so soon after two other big rape stories in Emmerdale, but Emma Atkins’ retelling of the abuse Charity faced stayed captivating. Through the ups and downs of Charity’s year, be it her sharp tongue, humour or fragility, the consistently brilliant performances from Emma Atkins have been a constant. Charity’s entertainment factor is endless and her caustic humour can liven up even the dullest week of stories.

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2. Thomas Atkinson’s Killer Portrayal

The second week of January 2018 featured one hell of a car crash as Lachlan White tried to kill his entire family, wanting “make all the monsters disappear”. We’ve been waiting years for Emmerdale to fully embrace Lachlan’s cold-hearted and entitled darkness and this year Lachlan went from deranged to serial killer as his behaviour escalated to tormenting, gaslighting, imprisonment, torture and multiple murders. Yikes. The story suffered from lags and disappointments, but actor Thomas Atkinson was incredible in the role, progressing from a lost-boy out of his depth to stone-cold evil. At his best, Thomas made Lachlan creepily empathetic and then, in the next breath twisted and cold. In the end, the story let him down but some of Emmerdale’s best scenes in 2018 had Thomas at the helm.

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1. Tracy’s Powerful Year

So, my top spot? The brave and beautiful Tracy Shankley. The year began with another lazy cheating plot as David slept with Leyla (offscreen) and shattered Tracy’s heart, but worse was to come when a man from her past appeared, pallying up with David and blackmailing Tracy over her secret past as a prostitute. As David turned a cold shoulder and blamed her, ashamed of her past, Tracy – with the help of some allies – realised she deserved far better and dumped him for good. Amy Walsh is one of Emmerdale’s best, delivering raw and vulnerable performances and making Tracy an incredibly empathetic and strong woman. I’ve loved her empowered speeches this year as she made so many right, but difficult choices, and she has been my stand-out star of 2018. It was a real shame her storyline about prostitution was rushed and that Amy Walsh has been overlooked for award nominations. Here’s to a bigger and better year for Tracy and her new business in 2018 and please Emmerdale, please, don’t reunite her with David.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2018 and Happy New Year!

Fave or Fail? (19-23 Nov 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A great week of Emmerdale – not a fail in sight. In the week that Robert and Aaron decided to have a baby, Leyla helped with Clive’s con. 

Faves

Devious Duo

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-20h56m27s544Emmerdale struck gold this week with a surprising and massively entertaining partnership between two of the village’s most ambitious residents. With Robert’s babysitting efforts making him broody and keen for some more cash to pay for surrogacy, Nicola set the cogs turning about how to make Home James Haulage into a money spinner and the pound signs lit up in their eyes. The next day it looked like Nicola had royally screwed him over but the clever two had double crossing in mind and smugly celebrated their duplicity at the Mill. With Aaron rightfully worried about the dangers of Kim Tate and Graham, and Robert’s tendency to go too far, there might be danger around the corner but in Robert and Nicola they’ve got a winning formula. Both ruthless and devious with sharp tongued wit – this is a business partnership made in heaven. These two and their barbed comments could keep me laughing for weeks. And I don’t know about anyone else but I’d love to see a despairing Jimmy and Aaron make their own team as their spouses blunder on.

Heart to Hearts

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-21h06m38s259I might have bemoaned a lack of juicy and gripping stories in the Dales at the moment but one thing it has had, and especially this week is some wonderful character led moments and especially heart to hearts. First in the week was Nicola and Rodney who still hadn’t patched things up after Misty left town. We don’t often get the time to explore rifts and familial upsets to that degree and it was nice to see their father daughter relationship given the space on screen. There were others this week like Tracy and Vanessa, Paddy and Marlon, Rhona and Dawn but perhaps the most emotionally effective was between Chas and Eric. When underrated Eric pours his heart out it really tugs at the heart strings and Chris Chittell did a superb job especially when you consider most of the scene was him retelling an aspect of his past that we never saw. Eric offered his sympathy to Chas and spoke about the destruction of his first marriage and his spirit at the loss of their son. Not only did the scene have a lot of poignancy it actually added a lot more to Eric that we’d never known before and helped to explain why he had been so crotchety and mean when he was younger. I have a real fondness when Emmerdale gives us powerful scenes of two characters talking but even more so when it’s characters together you wouldn’t expect. Great stuff.

Dawning of a New Era

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-21h10m23s592Pete and Rhona had a shock this week when they found Dawn squatting in Dale View. Even though Dawn was brought in for Ross’s drugs story it seems like show bosses recognised Olivia Bromley’s talent and now have a new purpose for her. Dawn’s arrival immediately added friction to Pete and Rhona’s blossoming romance and this gave us some really strong scenes between the pair. Their relationship has become a surprise hit with Emmerdale viewers, and the drama Dawn provoked came entirely from their personality differences. Pete’s lack of empathy clashed with Rhona’s history as a drug addict and while she wanted to support Dawn, Pete was far less trusting. This confrontation, the first real stumbling block in their relationship, was the perfect example of character led conflict, dipping into the show’s history and adding depth to their relationship. As Rhona tried to explain her past to Pete to make him understand, you could see it from all sides and it was another of those quite conversation scenes Emmerdale does so well. Who knows what’s in store for Dawn or Pete and Rhona, but I’m a fan of all so this can only be a good thing!

Good Giggles

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-20h57m15s005We’ve got used to seeing Vanessa in a more serious, supportive role, whether that’s for girlfriend, Charity, sister Tracy or best friend Rhona, but this week she relished a more humorous role again and it was very welcome. Even though Vanessa gave her usual cheerleading support for Tracy’s new business venture, she still had time to make vegetable puns and give a scene-stealing walk by interrupting Rhona and Pete’s make out session. It can’t always be laughs, especially living in a village as tumultuous as Emmerdale, but Vanessa’s dorky fun streak is something I’d definitely like to see more of!

Grief Explosion

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-21h16m25s098Grief in soap is something tricky to explore. In real life there’s no time limit and it can be a slow and difficult process, which is why soaps often speed up this recovery period and the dead can feel forgotten about. It’s been different for Chas and Paddy’s story. Emmerdale are still showing Chas and Paddy’s struggle since losing Grace and although this has led to fairly repetitive scenes of miscommunication between them, I was glad to see this finally explode this week. The performances of sheer frustration, anger and grief felt authentic and gave a different slant on the familiar scenes of their relationship distance. The public confrontation was ugly and painful but it was far more watchable to have it be aired in this raw way than the bristling tension it had been before.

Fave or Fail? (12-16 Nov 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In a week of Debbie’s short lived pregnancy drama, Graham turned to drink again and Jacob kissed Maya.

Faves

The Ick Factor

vlcsnap-2018-11-17-21h15m01s991Emmerdale’s new and controversial story really got going this week as Jacob kissed Maya and she didn’t put much of a stop to it. Being a teacher Maya should be well equipped to deal with the crushes of hormonal teens, but with Jacob, her behaviour has become too close for comfort. Is she really that naïve, or is there something more deliberately manipulative at play? Maya’s motives don’t seem all that innocent, but the questions this story pose gives this story bags of potential. I hope that Emmerdale continue to play this in the same subtle way they have been, much like the early days of Pierce’s character, and let the storyline live up to all its complex potential.

Amy Appreciation

vlcsnap-2018-11-17-21h16m48s128When it comes to talented actors whose characters deserve a juicy story, then Amy Walsh is top of my list. Tracy has had quite a busy and miserable year, from her traumatic past coming back to haunt to her split with David, but these have been short and intense bursts of drama for her. Amy Walsh hasn’t been nominated for awards and is often overlooked when it comes to accolades. Surely it’s time that changed? With Tracy’s aunt dying this week, Amy did a lot with a relationship we’d never heard of and it seems like Emmerdale is lining up a new business story for her. I just hope this leads to something big for Tracy, she’s far too good for the background.

It’s No Joke

vlcsnap-2018-11-17-20h42m44s487Truth be told I wasn’t completely sold on Manpreet and Rishi as a pairing and I could see her being a much better fit for Jai, but this week gave me a new perspective. While the Sharmas often make me smile, it’s a shame their stories have been diminished to silly sweet factory farce, but when it comes to Rishi – Manpreet is deadly serious. Emmerdale could have gone down a predictable route with their relationship and made her embarrassed to be with Rishi’s larger than life personality, but instead she loves him for it. The scenes where Manpreet reassured Rishi and gave him a confidence boost were exactly what he needed after the trolling. And the fact Mapreet wants to take things slow and sensible is a good indication that Rishi’s zany ways isn’t going to make this crash and burn too fast!

Fails

Lost the Plots

vlcsnap-2018-11-17-21h18m11s634It wasn’t the strongest week for stories in Emmerdale and it left me feeling like there’s a real shortage of “must see” ongoing plots at the moment. There are always ups and downs in terms of excitement but I’m struggling to think of a story with any momentum.  Emmerdale has no shortage of great characters and it’s them, rather than the stories, that make it watchable right now. This week’s biggest stories involved the aftermath of Joe’s death but Graham and the Home Farm dramas seem to be killing time until Kim shows up and that feels like a risky move when her return lacked the oompfh it needed to shake the cobwebs from that group of characters. Debbie and Cain also seem in limbo while Joe’s fate is still a secret. There are a number of stories that seem to be just beginning, but where are the gripping plots taking shape or hurtling towards an exciting conclusion? We’ve had lots of teasers about returning characters in the New Year but I’d love to hear from the new producers what thrills await!

The Long Con

vlcsnap-2018-11-17-21h17m10s449You’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a low budget version of the Thomas Crown Affair if you’d caught a glimpse of Friday’s episode, as Clive and Frank began an art-based con. It’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for any story that involves a smarmy new character conning a woman we don’t know and Frank, who’s been dull since day one. There was nothing to invest in here. All those scenes spent whispering and glaring in the art gallery held zero interest and even characters like Eric and Leyla, who could’ve provided some fun, were pushed out the way for more chat about forging art. It seemed endless! Clive and Frank are too similar and too flat to spark any interest together and since his arrival, Frank’s dark potential has been sidestepped for low-rent schemes. So why should we care about more of the same from Clive? One of Emmerdale’s most boring plots in a while and a terrible waste of Leyla and Megan.

Fave or Fail? (1-5 Oct 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In a week of tragedy for the Dingles, everyone united for the happy event of Aaron and Robert’s wedding.

Faves

A Moment of Happiness

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h45m06s201A rare, happy event bringing the village together in celebration of the love between Emmerdale’s most talked about couple – what could be better? The long-hyped, long-awaited Robron legal wedding finally arrived and despite being tinged with tragedy, it didn’t disappoint. Not only was this episode a real fan pleaser, it had a warm community feeling and showcased just how far the characters had come to make their family official. It’s not often any more that the village gets its bunting out for a big old party outdoors, but this was it. It wasn’t just an episode of romance and a display of the chemistry which has made Robron so beloved, it was also the funny and sweet little details (Bernice’s insistence that she was behind the reunion; Doug’s little thumbs-up to Liv after her speech) that made it a great watch. Weddings in soap are often all explosions and affair reveals, so it was a welcome change to see a wedding be such a success. And while the day ended in a panic attack for grief stricken Chas, the event worked well as a happy interlude to the week’s tragic events.

Family Tragedy

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h41m07s776Chas and Paddy had an unbearable week as their daughter Grace was born and died very shortly afterwards. It’s a moving and important story which resonates with many parents watching who have shared a similar pain and Emmerdale have done a good job at showing its long-term impact on Chas and Paddy’s lives as they try to move forward. Emmerdale opted for an experimental fantasy sequence in the episode of Grace’s birth as her parents imagined what her life would be life. The idea behind those moments was touching, but perhaps the overshadowing stylistic choices should have been dropped in favour of the more intimate and raw family scenes. Both Chas and Paddy struggled in the days that followed, with both of them grieving and lashing out in different ways, but it’s when they united, in spite of their grief, that the performances really excelled. This storyline also gave Emmerdale a real sense of family and village life, as it wasn’t only immediate family who were heartbroken, but other parents in the village too. It’s strong stories like this, which impact upon the whole community, that are vital parts of Emmerdale’s success.

A Whole Lot of Faith

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h49m42s806Faith is often one of my favourite things about a week of Emmerdale. She’s brash and loud, dirty minded and full of humour (just check out her dancing with Rob at his own wedding!), but she’s so much more than that. She perfectly encapsulates the light and shade of great soap matriarchs by being there as a pillar of support for her family too. Faith doesn’t sugar coat, but she gives her loved ones exactly the words they need to hear. She was the friendly ear for Chas, Paddy and Aaron this week but perhaps her most moving moment was the scene in which she gave Chas a congratulations card for becoming a new mum. It was an emotional gesture and one which I thought was one of the most resonating moments of the whole tragic storyline, such a touching and understated thought. Faith’s a true gem of a character and one I now can’t imagine Emmerdale without.

Rom-Com Queen

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h42m24s566I feel like all I ever do on this blog is sing Bernice’s praises, but I’m at it again, after another week of classic Bernice moments. Back from her relaxation trip, Bernice grimaced and groaned her way through another encounter with Daz, practising her dumping routine right in the middle of the shop. Luckily dreamy Dr Cavanagh was on hand to lift her mood and the two had a flirtation and illicit make-out sesh in the salon. Naughty! Every interaction between these two (and yes, we’re opting for #Cavastock) is brimming with comedy and teenage crush levels of awkward with Liam filling the bumbling Hugh Grant role oh-so perfectly. They are smitten and utterly charming together, which happens to make all of Bernice’s attempts to get away from Daz even funnier. This was a brilliant, silly antidote to the tragedy of the week.

Leyla’s Return

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h43m17s352Leyla returned to the village this week after actress Roxy Shahidi’s maternity leave came to an end, and it was a real pleasure to have her back. Her showdown with Tracy wasn’t pleasant to watch as her lack of compassion preceded catty comments and escalated into full blown misogyny, but it didn’t take long for Leyla and Tracy to realise the real enemy was David. With the two bonding over common ground and clinking glasses to a future without him and rubbish men, it was a fun and satisfying watch. We certainly could do with more scenes exploring friendship these days. Despite a rocky start, I’m really glad Leyla’s back as her quirky comedy and facial expressions offer something different in the village. I’m very intrigued if Leyla’s mystery fiancé transpires and if so, what’s next on the cards for Miss Harding!

One Last Shot

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h53m13s131For many viewers, Ross Barton was at his best in the days of Donna Windsor, watching him soften through his feelings for someone else and lose that aggressive façade. Now, we might be nearing the end of actor Mike Parr’s time on the show, but it feels like the Ross and Rebecca relationship is bringing out the best in both characters as they try and rebuild their lives and showcasing the Ross Barton many viewers fell for all those years ago. Ross being Ross, Dawn’s appearance at the end of the week is sure to spell trouble in terms of his growth, but it’s been a welcome change to watch a more sensitive and caring Ross help Rebecca find faith in herself and confidence again. With his exit looming, it’s surely doom to fail, but for now their sweet and tentative scenes are a nice break from Ross’s cokehead, wannabe gangster efforts.

Fail

Not About That Thug Life

vlcsnap-2018-10-07-11h40m31s598Truth be told, I had to go back and rewatch all of Joe and Graham’s scenes with Connor the cardboard gangster this week, because I ended up zoning out. In a week of Emmerdale where we were treated to moving storylines and emotional character moments, we were also stuck watching this caricature terrorising Home Farm. Threatening he was not! For me, both Joe and Graham have lost that special something that once made them compelling newbies in the big house and unfortunately now their samey scenes are just cloak and dagger conversations that are at times impenetrably cold. With Connor desperate for revenge and Joe cowardly offering up Graham like the sacrificial lamb, this should have been a huge test and turning point of the pair’s unconventional bond, but with Connor cartoonish and the conversations between Joe and Graham stilted and mysterious it was a struggle to care. The rapport between the two is as bristling as ever and with Kim Tate’s arrival imminent, maybe all isn’t lost, but watching their scenes can feel like scrabbling in the dark to find something interesting to care about.

Fave or Fail? (10-14 Sep 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Bails got sent down this week and Emmerdale revealed what happened to Rebecca.

Faves

Worthy Winner

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

Support System

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

Three’s a Crowd

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

Tracy Unleashed

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

Fails

Dingle No-Show

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

Rebecca’s Fate

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

Fave or Fail? (16-20 July 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Aaron returned in the nick of time to rescue Robert and Liv and Tracy took the future into her hands.

Faves

Matty Making His Mark

vlcsnap-2018-07-22-18h50m56s056With mum Moira fully supportive of her son now (thank god) she was more than ready to fight his corner this week when she suspected villagers gossiping. Moira might be overcompensating with him now, but Matty’s already slotted right back in at Butler’s and it’s been great to see a more positive vibe at Butler’s. I was glad to see Matty get a warm reception in the village, even if characters like Zak tried asking inappropriate questions. Emmerdale seem to have a good balance on educating bigoted characters (and in turn the audience) about being trans whilst also creating an engaging and entertaining character in Matty. The farm feels more homely and lively than it has in a while and it’s been great to get back to more of the farming talk too. With Matty having bitten off more than he can chew on the farming front, I’m looking forward to see where they take his character next.

Stone Cold Killer

vlcsnap-2018-07-22-18h52m33s572I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s grown a bit tired of this Lachlan story (especially having hoped way back in February that they wouldn’t drag it out) but it’s actor Thomas Atkinson who’s managing to still make Lachlan so watchable. It’s when he’s gaslighting and being particularly duplicitous – those frustrating moments where you want to ring his neck – that I love the most. This week as he tried to kill Liv and Rob, it was his confrontations with Liv, persuading her back on the booze that I thought were particularly chilling. Do we really buy that he’d look so innocent to the rest of the village, with his history? Maybe not. And maybe he’s skipped too readily from impulsive psychopath to pre-meditated mass murder – but at least Thomas has Lachlan’s smirk and twisted humour down to a fine art.

Liv’s Life

vlcsnap-2018-07-22-18h48m15s945With Aaron stuck abroad with chicken pox and Gabby MIA, Liv had Doug and Robert to hang out with this week, before she got involved in Lachlan’s murder plot. Although the carbon monoxide poisoning plan from Lachlan seemed to come from nowhere (how easy is it to block a flue?) the storyline did give us an opportunity to see Liv’s lovely relationships with Doug and Robert. Doug seems to have really taken her under his wing (just like he did with Gerry) and offered her advice as they did a spot of gardening. Similarly Liv’s relationship with Robert is one of my favourites in Emmerdale, having watched it develop over the years and blossom into something familial and believable. As the week progressed and Liv and Rob escaped death thanks to Aaron’s well-timed arrival home, Liv faced disbelief from her loved ones and after a confrontation with Lachlan, she turned back to the drink. This was a heartbreaking outcome but one which highlighted that Liv’s issues haven’t been magically fixed after a spell inside. Here’s hoping that once the Lachlan story is over they will revisit Liv’s drinking with the seriousness it deserves.

Living With Lydia

vlcsnap-2018-07-22-18h50m03s438It’s a shame that the week ended with Lydia getting a bit too close and trusting of Lachlan because there was some great comedy earlier in the week as she tried to redecorate Wishing Well. With Lydia wanting somewhere for her and Sam that feels like home, Zak let her make it a bit more homely by putting her own touches on the place (or so she thought). What followed was some amazing facial expressions from Zak as he discovered Lydia’s “tidying” was redecorating and rearranging the place. And of course Lydia’s redesign included an abundance of birds and kitsch, Steve included. Zak softened eventually and she toned it down, but it was a great injection of humour into the home of the resident serial killer.

Bonus Fave:

  • The brilliant, grinning Elliot King full of inappropriate questions and a really inappropriate crush on Amelia and morbid fascination with her kidnap – more of him please!
  • He might be one of the village’s most dull residents, but three cheers for Frank Clayton this week as he was wonderfully loving and supportive when it came to Tracy’s choices.
  • PC Swirling’s busy week – he might as well just move into the village at this rate. Love him.

Fails

Desperate David

vlcsnap-2018-07-22-18h53m02s856On the whole happy chappy David has always been a bit of a no-hoper when it comes to the ladies, lurching from one failure to the next, but mostly in a harmless inoffensive way. But ever since his dalliance with Leyla and reaction to Tracy’s past, David has come across as little more than a childish dickhead. If his incessant proposals in 2016 weren’t enough to irritate then, then surely his immaturity and selfishness this year has taken annoyance to a whole new level. That’s not to say that David’s comic potential has gone – on the contrary the scenes at the GP’s surgery screamed with awkward humour – but he’s become massively unlikeable in recent months. Maya (Dr Liam Cavanagh’s wife) has been on the scene five minutes and already he’s bedding her and then acting entitled when it comes to Tracy’s life. Granted, none of the Cavanaghs did themselves any favours this week either with Maya’s doe-eyed and need loitering and Liam’s unprofessional reveal of Tracy’s pregnancy, but David’s attitude stinks. Any sympathy with him is long gone and I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to behave like a man-child until the next relationship fuck-up. I’m so glad Tracy has washed her hands of him.

Scene of the Week (16-20 July 2018)

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My groans could be heard nationwide as Emmerdale revealed Tracy was secretly pregnant with David’s kid this week, but thankfully they then pulled this moment out of the bag. Rather than have Tracy agonise over whether to get an abortion, only to be shamed and cajoled by everyone around her to keep the baby, Tracy took a firm ownership of her future and got a termination. Not only did this divert from the usual predictable narratives, Tracy faced an emotional and strong showdown with David where she told him the decision she’d made, later telling dad Frank that she would not feel guilty or regret it. We’re so used to soap stories that pigeon-hole women to be at the whims of men and whose sole purpose is motherhood no matter their circumstances or ambitions. With this story, her past as a sex worker and recognition that she’s better than David’s derision and shame, Tracy has fast become the feminist character 2018 deserves. Amy Walsh continues to deliver thrillingly good performances and it’s about time she got recognised for them.