You know us, we love a big, dramatic, character-led plot and they don’t get much bigger than this – the surrogacy plot. It’s been an absolute joy to watch unfold in recent weeks, but particularly because it all comes from a very real place for the characters. As quick and hasty decisions may have been, the show has made a point of showing them as deliberately so – and as such, that’s how the characters have ended up in the frosty, friction-filled mess they’re currently in. We’ve loved everything – Steph’s desperate longing and doubts, Mark’s sincere joy at becoming a dad, Sonya’s eternal optimism and selfless nature and poor Toadie’s feelings of inadequacy and betrayal. The show hasn’t shied away from the maturity of the situation and it’s great to see the show use appropriate language when discussing the ins and outs of what the surrogacy involves – instead of the cliché Neighbours euphemisms. Our particular highlight is the devastatingly real scenes where Toadie and Sonya employ therapy tactics to get through their issues but sadly, we’re fearing for the future of one of our favourite couples…
There’s something so very “Neighbours” about the brashy and bubbly Cannings that have just made them one of the best parts of the show. The last few months have seen Gary embark on a very surprising but brilliantly entertaining affair with Terese where we learnt far too much about their sex life in scenes which actually had an intense and unexpected chemistry. We’re not sure we can get the image of Gary naked in a bush out of our heads very easily. Of course just as it looked like Terese and Gary might be getting a bit softer and more serious (if you ignore Terese’s sizzling feelings for Mr Paul Robinson), Xanthe’s con artist mother, Brooke showed up to give things a good stir. Brooke’s arrival – though familiar territory for Neighbours – gave us some good family drama, especially for our favourite, Xanthe, whose heart was bound to be broken when she idolised her mother so dearly. With all Brooke’s meddling it seems like cute teen sweethearts Ben and Xanthe could be on the rocks too which is a bit gutting after all their heart-eyes on the Gold Coast. But one moment we won’t forget in Neighbours and Canning history was their surreal and hilarious appearance on TV gameshow, Family Feud. Love live Sheila’s teeth gritting!
The Return of the Lamb-Crabbs
Not only has the surrogacy delivered some great scenes four our regulars but it’s been made all the stronger by the presence of two great recurring cast. It’s not secret we loved every second the brilliant Ellen Crabb is onscreen and we’re sad to learn she and her partner had split. What we didn’t expect, however, was to see her significant other, the very lesser-seen Victoria Lamb to return and play a much bigger part than she ever got to in the past. Showing the Lamb-Crabbs experience with surrogacy as an aside to Steph and Mark’s struggle, was a masterful touch and showed a great, alternative opinion about how their own surrogacy plight had a detrimental effect on their relationship. We’re hoping so much that the plot somehow brings the two women back together and that there could be a much more permanent future for the pair on the show, complete with the return of the much-missed Josie.
Insufferable “Love” Story
All these months later, and Paige and Jack are STILL absolutely insufferable. The on/off relationship, the boxing, the bizarrely prominent ‘Blaze Outreach’, more of the on/off relationship, the one sexual encounter, snarking, bitterness, promising they’ll get over each other, theological discussion… it never ends. A slow burn relationship is usually, without fail, the way to progress in soap. It gives the viewer something to get attached to, to root for and enjoy seeing things move at a realistic pace. When things get in the way of the characters getting together, we should be annoyed for them – certainly not at them. Paige and Jack’s mutual stubbornness and at times, very unlikable character traits make them impossible to root for and there’s not end to the dramas in sight. All we can hope for is that the inevitable happens, Jack leaves the church and they might be a bit more bearable when they’re together…
These last few months you’d be forgiven for thinking Neighbours was a medium for launching pop careers rather than the tagline of “unmissable drama” because not only did we suffer the tedium of Maddie’s pop career but we had to endure Angus’s too. Performances, moody autotuned strumming, pop video making – it felt like Neighbours was a big advert for Jai Waetford rather than really giving Erinsborough’s answer to Dick Van Dyke a story. Then did come a story, the tried and tested teacher crush, this time with added sexual assault. Sure the issues of consent raised were worthy (even if it was so soon after the messy portrayal of Xanthe’s assault) but a combination of soppy crooner Angus and Elly the lush – it was never going to be a great story. Elly’s own back and forth flakiness, her ex, her “love” for Ned and the wine-fuelled self pity are becoming tiresome too, but at least now that this student/teacher ordeal is over and Angus is gone we might see something more watchable from her.