Ned: Today we’ll be interviewing Piper Willis on what it’s like to struggle through life with the hair of a Star Wars groupie.
After weeks of build-up, the long-awaited trial to find out whether Paul would be rightfully set free or wrongfully sent down for the Lassiter’s bombing arrived and boy, did it deliver. First and foremost, it was great to see some more location shooting. It’s one of the things Jason Herbison was quoted as wanting to do more of this year and considering the show can sometimes feel insular and cramped, we loved every minute of seeing the characters out and about on real streets and in real buildings. It heightened the drama of the week and really hammered home the impact of the trial. Although it was predictable to see Toadie represent Paul, we also really enjoyed seeing him taking on his neighbours and doing his most to help Paul escape conviction. Terese’s distress and ultimate moment of redemption by admitting her lies was great to watch and we can’t deny we’re still rooting for Paul and Terese to find some way to put this all behind them and get together. The scenes were stolen by Stefan Dennis’s very fine acting as the ruling was announcement and reminded us why, all these years later, he’s still one of the show’s MVPs.
This fortnight saw more excuses for Ned to get his kit off and swan around the pool area (we approve) and then after weeks of sexual tension, give Lauren a full on snog. Their scenes have been simmering and a pash seemed so inevitable that we’re surprised Lauren was so taken aback by it. Sadly for Ned, and us, Lauren pledged her allegiance to dull Brad and denied that there was anything between her and Ned. Shame really as Ned and Lauren had more chemistry in their flirtatious scenes than she’s ever had with Brad. Plus who doesn’t love to watch an illicit hook up that’ll tear a family apart? We’d like to hold out hope that Lauren could change her mind, if only because it would be fun to see Brad’s life ruined and wouldn’t it be good to see a different side to straight-laced Lauren?
Longing looks, lingering smiles, driving lessons, metaphors about toy cars and Pad Thai – oh yes, it’s the simmering tension between Tyler and Piper. We weren’t a fan of them a few months back but there are definitely sparks between them now and thankfully Pipes has matured and mellowed and Tyler stopped mooning over Paige so it looks like they have real potential. Tyler seems like a big hearted guy and even if he has worked his way through most of the Willis women, his affection and caring for Piper seems like it could be long lasting. Piper could really do with the support and while some might think the age gap is icky, Tyler is goofy enough that it doesn’t seem too jarring. Piper is shaping up to be one of our favourites so we’re hopeful the relationship might lead to some long deserved happiness.
Xanthe’s plots have been really disappointing lately. While we love her slightly ditzy sense of humour, her relationship with gran Sheila, her scenes with BFF Piper and the sweeter scenes with crush Ben, the body image stuff has been really lacking. Xanthe’s issues were really rushed and the plastic surgery appointment stretched believability even for Neighbours standards. And we’re not sure what it is with Neighbours and their buzzword plots but the moment they try and use ‘social media’ (said in that vague way that your granny might say it) everything just feels very cringey and after-school special. Aaron’s involvement seems bizarre and pointless and we can’t believe a few old rags from the neighbours would actually raise more than a few dollars. Angus is of course another big factor spoiling our enjoyment of Xanthe and each time there’s a threat he might go back to London we want to buy the plane ticket for him. Frankly Xanthe deserves better stories and we hope she gets them.
The Kids of Erinsborough
Look, we’re not ageist but it’s fair to say that we’re fairly curmudgeonly when it comes to the use (or overuse) of young characters in Neighbours. We all remember the dark days of 2007/2008 where the young kids were overused to the point where that good old cliché running away plot was lathered, rinsed and repeated on a monthly basis. It’s fair to say we’ve come a long way since then with the younger kids actors as supporting components to the drama as opposed to creating it. That said, every so often it can still grate and that was nowhere more obvious than it the last couple of weeks. While Jimmy’s anger at Paul was well-done and we must say, very well performed, the ‘Jimmy joins Paul on the run’ episode was not something we ever wanted or needed, nor was the blindingly obvious ‘Jimmy gets himself injured’ “”twist” the plot took to facilitate Paul’s return. And frankly, the less said about Charlie versus TheEvilQuillSon, the better. We don’t see that much of Charlie and we certainly don’t want to see any more of Julie’s bizarre offspring, nevermind the two at loggerheads!
Susan: We’re family! My son is your uncle!
Susan really stretching those tenuous links.
He’s spent weeks fishing the leaves out of Lauren’s pool but it seems like Ned wants to do a lot more than that – and we bloody love it. Ben Hall has made such an instant impression on us and we find each and every scene he’s present in to be utterly riveting. What’s more is his continued lack of faith in his deadbeat dad, who, as much as he insists this is all Natalie Imbruglia’s fault, fails to get any sympathy from us. Therefore it’s no surprise that as Ned began to look longlingly at Lauren, and even better, she began to reciprocate, we were willing the pair to share an illicit kiss! What we’ve loved most is that it isn’t as simple as Ned wanting to ruin his dad’s life, he seems to have found a genuine connection with Lauren and while he may be pressing all the buttons to make her doubt her relationship with Brad, it’s clear she too is enjoying Ned’s growing fixation on her. Is it wrong for us to be willing the pair to get together and really teach Brad a lesson? After all, his treatment of women is far from admirable and perhaps this is just what he needs…
Have we said lately that we love Sonya? Because if we haven’t, we do! It goes without saying that time and again, the fab Eve Morey delivers scene after scene, week after week. She’s a natural with comedy and is surely one of the finest dramatic performers the show has ever had. What’s even better is that Sonya is such a nuanced, wonderfully written character and every action, everything she does always feels real and makes sense – it’s all a reflection on who she is and where she’s come from. What we’ve love lately is how her mayoral career has given the character a much stronger standing in the community and providing some great new interactions. Her continued marriage troubles with Toadie always feel so raw, real and natural. The current plot with the real Uncle Walter is giving Eve a chance to flex her acting muscles once again and as we’ve said many times before, we love her past getting explored in depth. We can only hope Walter doesn’t break her heart but we aren’t exactly hopeful…
A New Family
Sheila and Amy shared some great scenes in the last few weeks and a lovely hug. After Xanthe’s attempts to take things to the next level with Angus (ugh) both Amy and Sheila had words of wisdom to impart and their own unique ways of going about it. Amy wanted the honest, safe approach – matey advice and lessons on how to use that big box of condoms Xanthe had – it is 2016 after all. Sheila, true to form, went in all guns blazing and embarrassed the poor girl. But both matriarchs realised that they both wanted the same thing for Xanthe and bonded over their mutual respect and reluctance to let Xan get up the duff when she wasn’t ready! They’re their own little family now and it’s pretty nice!
Despite being fairly intrigued as to who John Doe is and what connection he has to the explosion, we’re a bit sick of Paige’s creepy stalker routine. We get that she feels a “vibe” because he saved her from injury in the Lassiter’s explosion but her behaviour is pretty intolerable. This story is showing us the worst of all her traits. Bratty, immature, selfish – you name it. It almost seems like she doesn’t even want John to learn about who he is because she’s scared of losing him. Paige has form for blinding trusting dodgy strangers and yet she’s fallen into the very same trap. Argh! To make matters worse she even ran to her ex, Mark (who she was going to marry five minutes ago) to see if he’d suss out if John fancied her. So playground! We miss the fun, independent Paige who arrived on Ramsay Street, not this girl who drops everything to follow round a cute guy with amnesia. It’s growing old.
Spoiled and Unlikeable
If there’s one thing we don’t like about soap is the tendency for guest cast to get away with far too much merely because they’re ‘troubled’ or had a tough background. It’s particularly more annoying when said guest character is spoiled, and genuinely quite unlikeable. Step forward Angus, who ticks all the boxes for us in the annoying character stakes. He’s ungrateful, sarcastic and generally not very appealing to watch. It doesn’t help that Karl and Susan are tripping over themselves trying to placate him over their own grandson. We know they’ve agreed to help Sarah but it’s all a bit much. Even worse is the way Angus has toyed with Xanthe’s feelings, stringing her along and knocking her confidence. Not to mention it hasn’t brought out the best in Xanthe who has thrown her friend/potential boyfriend Ben under the bus for a bit of attention. Hopefully a recovered Sarah quickly returns and takes him away soon!
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this moment would be our Scene of the Week. As if we could think of anything else after witnessing this! Ned has spent a fair few of his scenes topless, hanging out by the pool and giving Lauren meaningful looks, but he stepped it up again this week by hanging out the washing in the buff and then dropping his towel. Lauren chose this moment to walk into the garden and oops got a sight of Ned completely starkers. Oops. Owing to the ridiculous and frankly alarming levels of sexual chemistry between them, Lauren lingered and stared for a little longer than was needed and Ned took the opportunity to bask in this attention. Sadly for all of us, Neighbours is family viewing so we didn’t get to witness what made Lauren get all hot and bothered and once she was back inside, he wrapped the towel back round himself. But let’s just say this is a scene we won’t forget in a hurry. And neither – understandably – will Lauren.