Quote of the Week – 27 June-22 July

quoteof theweek

Tyler: The one problem with society is how heteronormative it is. Everything in the world isn’t black and white!
Aaron: Did you just eat a thesaurus or something?!

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Hits and Misses – 29 Feb-18 March 2016

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Hits

Nasty Nene

er63_0003_Layer-2We do love a Neighbours villain when they’re done well (sit down, Dimato, no one’s talking about you) and even better, we love them when they’re genuinely a bit more grounded and manipulative as opposed to OTT gangster drama, so it’s no surprise we’ve enjoyed the arrival of Nina ‘Nene’ Williams. In a short space of time she’s already got her eye on Karl and has weaselled her way into a job, manipulating all around her. It’s so typical Karl would fall for Nene’s ‘charms’ but we love the growth in his relationship with Susan. There’s no threat of infidelity here, thank God, and it’s great to see Karl and Susan bluntly discuss Nene and her fixation on Karl. Susan really sparks onscreen when faced with characters like Nene and we loved that she caught onto her in record time. The highlight (or lowlight) has been the dreadful way Nene has been exploiting Doug in order to protect herself and get closer to Karl in the process. With Doug as sick as he is, seeing Nene lie to him as she did was really shocking and we hope Doug gets a chance to reveal her for what she truly is! That said, we’re in no rush to lose her…
Steph’s Struggle
er63_0000_Layer-5It’s been a busy few weeks for Steph as she’s struggled to deal with the stress of her custody battle for Charlie. As sad as it was to see Charlie turn on her and for Philippa to seem on the verge of ruining Steph’s chances, we loved the drama of Steph breaking down during the hearing. The mix of the heat and lack of meds took their toll on Steph and it was shocking to see how quickly she unravelled. The show has done a brilliant job making Philippa more than a 2D villain but someone who seems to genuinely care about Charlie, even if he intentions to removed Steph from his life is anything but noble. It was brilliant to see the two ladies come to an amicable agreement with the help from wise sage, Lucas. Thus finally brining closure between him and Steph and cling a chapter on Steph’s darkest moment – kidnapping baby Patrick. Other highlights in recent weeks have involved the show’s unlikeliest friendship between Steph and Paul. Even if Paul’s advice was misguided, we loved seeing him try to help Steph. Finally, the burgeoning romance(?) between Steph and Mark has taken us by surprise. Whilst we would prefer Belinda to return, we did enjoy Steph and Mark raking over the past (particularly the Marc and Flick mentions!) and it’s nice to see Mark interested in someone more on his wavelength.
A Sad Goodbye
er62_0001_Layer-3As the weeks progress on what his been a very welcome lengthy guest stint for Doug (and hopefully a sign that the show will continue to invest in longer guest runs!) it’s been tragic to see his condition gradually deteriorate. Terence Donovan, well aware that he’s in the latter days of Doug’s time on the show, is doing some very fine work and bringing out the heart in a man who is beginning to lose every sense of himself. His unwillingness to go into a home, to the point of genuine anger and hurt at the suggestion, is heartwrenchingly realistic. So too is Josh’s constant defence and care for his grandfather, and Brad’s gradual realisation that the family unit is struggling to care for him adequately. As Doug’s daily challenges become greater and moments of forgetfulness increase, it’s nice to see a character like Lou, a longstanding friend, around these past few weeks providing a much needed sounding board for Doug’s frustrations and sadness. Whether Doug is your favourite or not, you can’t deny that he has a wealth of show history behind him and a large part of the early 90s era of the show. It’ll be very sad to close a book on that and it’s made all the more powerful seeing an iconic character, played by the same actor, doing so all these years later.
Misses
Fools Rush In
er63_0004_BackgroundOh Aaron. A sniff of a leather shoe and a designer shopping bag and he’s apparently anyone’s. It didn’t take long for Tom Quill’s obvious flattery and flirting to get Aaron’s attention and that spells disaster for the future of Lassiter’s. Okay, so we can’t blame Aaron for feeling a little bit sore that Nate’s back in the country without so much as a phonecall to his so-called boyfriend, but did that mean he had to drop everything for Tom so fast? Tom comes across as a little bit of a slime ball and we know Aaron’s naive, but is he that stupid that he can’t tell he’s being played. Aaron’s struggled to find a place in the show with Nate gone and has flitted from one character group to the next without really finding where he fit. He works well as Sonya’s EA (how did he get that job from exotic dancing?!) but he’s generally pretty clueless. Now that Tom’s got him on side and smuggling information right under Sonya’s nose there’s only one way this can end, and that’s VERY badly for dopey Aaron. Let’s hope if and when Nate gets his butt back into Erinsborough he manages to ground Aaron again.
Swimming Stories
er63_0002_Layer-3One unsolved Neighbours mystery was answered these past few weeks with the arrival of Brodie aka Piper’s mystery texter Chas. We had kinda hoped for a slightly more exciting reveal that just some random vest-wearing swimmer, but it’s a testosterone dominated Willis plot so what can you expect. We could buy the idea of Piper having a secret lover that she had to hide away in Canada because of Shakespearian family strife and Pipes being Pipes, of course he was older for her to gaze starry-eyed at, but the backstory? Pur-lease. We’re meant to believe that Brodie caused such a disruption to Brad and Josh’s swimming/trainer careers and yet they’ve never talked about him? Not a moan from Brad as he carves another hideous sculpture? Not a mention in a man-paining wail from Josh post-shoulder injury? As if, we know those Willis men, they carry their grudges and their chips on their shoulder to the grave. Brodie’s arrival just meant every scene was weighed down with exposition and we had to revisit those awful memories of swimming championships and Brad as this training superstar. Yeah right. And if Brad being Brodie’s trainer is the highlight of his career then we seriously suggest he needs to get out more.

Neighbours 2015: Top Ten Best Bits

It’s 2016 and something exciting has happened for the first time in history: Neighbours now airs the same episode in Australia and the UK on the same day! That’s called progress, people! It’s only taken 30 years but it’s finally happened.

2015 in Neighbours was a historic year too and gave us some brilliant moments in the 30th anniversary, so as we begin a brand new year of Neighbours enjoy our Top Ten Best Bits of 2015!

10 – Sonya and Erin’s troubled past

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Now if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know we enjoy when Neighbours goes dark. Not down the Dimato route you understand, but rather when the show tackles dark topics in a surprisingly gritty, head-on way. We’re all used to the show skirting around certain issues but one of our favourite things about Jason Herbison’s tenure on the show is his willingness to go to places the show would perhaps have shied away from in recent years. One of these such plots involved the arrival of Sonya’s old friend, junkie Erin. For the first time in a long while the show directly explored Sonya’s addiction – not simply to gambling, but drug abuse. Yes, they could only say substances but who cares, we got the point. Erin was unsettlingly realistic in her depiction and the actress nailed someone desperate for their next fix. Eve Morey delivers time and time again when given dramatic, meaty material and this was no exception as we saw Sonya racked with guilt at her part in the ruination of Erin’s life. We liked Sonya and Erin being labelled “junkies” for, we believe, the first time on screen, and Erin offering sex in exchange for drugs was shocking. The ending with Erin running off, unable to get clean, and once again abandoning her daughter was an unusual downer for Neighbours but perhaps an ending such a dark story needed.

9 – Amy Williams

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She’s only been in the show since the summer but already Paul’s daughter Amy has made a really positive impression on us. Once thought of as the forgotten child of Paul Robinson, Amy has already cemented herself firmly in the street, quickly forming bonds with the Cannings, Sonya and now Steph. Her friendship with Steph has been particularly enjoyable as they seem like likely friends and she has good chemistry with Kyle too. We also saw the arrival of her ex Liam (he was hot, just saying) and this gave Zoe Cramond even more chance to show us her acting chops. She’s really impressed us with her performances and she’s livened up the Robinson clan, bringing us another independent and headstrong female character. We’re looking forward to her future on the show.

8 – The Return of Steph Scully

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It’s far to say all Neighbours fans got a real shock earlier this year when it was revealed that Carla Bonner was returning to the show as Steph, not for a guest stint or closure for her character but rather, a whole new beginning as a series regular. Many wondered whether Steph had anything more to give, and many more wondered whether the show could really redeem her after her actions in her last stint. The answer to both was a resounding yes. Carla Bonner, as ever, delivers great performances and immediately brought back a warm sense of history. Her redemption arc has been wonderfully played and if anything, Steph’s tragedies, her mental illness and her desire to not only win her children back but indeed, win her neighbours back brought a real sense of freshness to a character that first appeared an amazing 16 years ago. Steph feels more exciting, interesting and perhaps relevant now than ever and we can’t help but root for her to overcome her troubles and become a positive figure of someone living with, and coping with, a mental illness. Paul’s dark plot of revenge and the fantastically dodgy-but-interesting Belinda have been highlights of the latter months of the show and we really can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for this Neighbours icon.

7 – Nasty Nick

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Ah Nasty Nick! Who doesn’t love a good villain and Neighbours certainly had that this year with evil Dr Nick Petrides. Introduced as Terese’s ambitious brother he gave us a chance to learn a bit more about Terese’s past and how Nick had helped her succeed. It didn’t take long for Nick’s bad ways to surface, after placing a bet that he could seduce Georgia he then spent weeks sending her into a mad descent trying to prove he was the villain we knew he was. It was one of Neighbours’ darkest plots in a while as Nick tried to secure funding for his specialist centre by convincing Paul he had cancer and giving him treatment – yikes! Nick was truly evil but oh so fun to watch. He was sleazy, slimy and dastardly which made his downfall a very exciting plot.

6 – Nate Kinski

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When we left 2014 we weren’t totally sure we were that keen on Nate. On paper his PTSD army struggles were great but we weren’t completely taken by him. In 2015 this completely changed. Nate has easily become one of our firm favourites and we’ve seen new sides to him. At the start of the year it was all about Chrate – Chris and Nate were a sweet couple that we really got behind as they both dealt with their own issues. They had nicknames for each other and everything. Sadly this ended with Chris moving on, but Nate working in the Waterhole with Sheila was a genius move. These two have been comedy gold, with Nate’s eyebrows doing most of the work for him! We really like his dry and serious approach which is a good foil for Sheila’s madder ideas! We also saw him forge a bit of a bromance with Tyler which was good fun too and later in the year saw him get together with Aaron. While we don’t like it as much as we enjoyed Chrate, Nate remains one of our favourites and we hope he continues to get good comedy material in 2016!

5 – Erinsborough High Fire

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Stunts in soaps are a staple but for budget reasons when Neighbours does a stunt it has to be for good reason. This year’s Erinsborough High fire did exactly what stunts should, but often fail to, do. The fire brought so many existing stories crashing together, furthering the plot of each of them and making things even more complicated – it wasn’t a fire just for the sake of it. Brad had to make a huge choice between Lauren and Terese which lead to huge repercussions for both families, Amber went into labour with her sick baby in the burning classroom, Toadie (now paralysed) was trapped by a staircase and left by a panicked Sheila and Paige and Tyler got trapped in a lift forcing them to face up to their feelings (we won’t dwell). All the heightened tension really added something to these plots and the stunt involved many characters and was even more effective than 2014’s tornado. We wonder what’s on the cards for next year.

4 – Comedy Capers

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As ever, a key ingredient of success of Neighbours (the perfect blend if you will) is the show’s ability to mix drama with comedy and this year was no exception. Not only did the comedy highlight of last year – The Book of Secrets – rumble on with Karl’s first draft exposed to the community at large but we had a number of other highlights. Sheila treated us to some dining in the dark, Andres (The Waterhole sex god) repeated his one line of English, the inaugural Erinsborouh bake-off brought he return of the fantastic Janelle Timmins (bring her back again, thanks!), Hilary Robinson’s acerbic tongue had us cackling (who could forget her casual shade of Harold in the Lassiter’s lift?), Bossy revealed her lingerie fetish and the men of Erinsborough got some unfortunate tattoos… Not only did we got some classic comedy plots but in the Neighbours tradition, a lot of the humour comes from within the characters and their witty exchanges. Karl and Susan never fail tot make us laugh and that continued this, Nate’s comedy skills were used to great effect and really softened the character, the much-missed Naomi lifted every scene she was in and of course, Sheila provides fun to each and every scene she appears in. Her popularity among the LGBTQI society being one of our particular favourites as Sheila embraced her gay icon role. We hope 2016 brings many more laughs our way.

3 – The 30th Anniversary Celebrations

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Another year another milestone for Neighbours. This season celebrated an incredible 30 years on air and as the big anniversary approached, fans wondered how it would be celebrated. The big anniversaries in Neighbours have been very notable in the show’s history. The 20th remaining the one to beat with its mass returnees via the documentary, whilst the 25th was a limp, anaemic affair with a wedding no one cared about and an attempt made on Paul’s life. The 30th repeated the wedding no one cared about (but thankfully it didn’t go ahead) but instead celebrated Neighbours’ past in a much more warm, nostalgic way. The year was full of returnees from Lucy to Hilary to Guy to Harold to continuing appearances from Lucas and Vanessa. The most prominent and perhaps most exciting of all were the wonderful (and surprisingly touching) return from Delta Goodrem as Nina, and of course, the return of the legendary Anne Charleston as Madge. Fans were wary of the idea and indeed many feared for Harold’s life but Madge’s return was handled beautifully and it was a joy to see the iconic couple reunited. Her part in ensuring Harold’s happy ending, settling with Sky and her kids (it was brilliant to see Steph McIntosh too) was a fitting end for the character and a jewel in the crown of a fitting anniversary year.

2 – The Canning Family

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Families are at the heart of Neighbours and one family that were firing on all cylinders in 2015 was The Cannings. Headed up by matriarch Sheila you can’t go wrong. Sheila is exactly the type of character Neighbours does best. She’s hilarious and full of life, not afraid to flirt or fight and we couldn’t love her more if we tried. We’ve seen the emotional side to the family at the arrival of Kyle’s dodgy dad Gary and all members of the family slip between comedy and drama effortlessly. Kyle always has faithful Bossy by his side but this year saw the breakdown of his marriage alongside finding love again with newcomer Amy. How could we discuss the Cannings without one of its biggest stars – Naomi. Everything she touched was gold once again this year. Perhaps the Paul romance wasn’t as dynamic as it might have been but we liked her lighting the touch paper of his downfall. Obviously we were absolutely devastated to see her go, we’re just glad she got a happy ending and a nice goodbye seen with her unlikely best friend Imogen. We’ve got a feeling 2016 will bring another Canning departure but here’s hoping for more arriving!

1 – Lauren, Brad and Terese

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It was a story that was over two years in the making and this year it finally exploded in epic fashion – yes, the Brad, Lauren and Terese triangle reached its dramatic climax this year. We’ve loved this slow-burn story, almost reminiscent of the fantastically plotted, slow unravelling of Izzy Hoyland’s baby lie back in the 00s. However, as with any slow-burn, the pay off has to be worth the gradual build-up and it certainly was. Once the kiss between Brad and Lauren was revealed in 2014, it seemed like Lauren and Brad seemed capable of remaining friends and parents to Paige without things becoming complicated but the tragic death of Matt early this year changed things forever. Terese’s growing insecurity and turn to alcoholism was brilliantly handled acting as a co-catalyst (and in our – and Brads eyes – justification) for Brad and Lauren to finally take things to the next level. The fall out, and in a Neighbours first, a three-hander episode, was excellent and the show was stolen by Rebekah Elmaloglou’s powerful turn as Terese. The story has cemented her role as a modern icon of the show and the sad, painful and real break-up between Brad and Terese in the final weeks of the season were very touching indeed. We can’t wait to see what the newly single Terese does next and we hope that Brad and Lauren learn the grass isn’t always greener and face their own relationship dysfunctions as they inevitably reunite.

Scene of the Week – 30 Nov-11 Dec 2015

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After weeks of torment, Steph finally uncovered the truth behind the campaign to drive her out of Erinsbough – and insane in the process – and the culprit was none other than Paul Robinson himself! Our favourite scene was the fantastic moment where Aaron developed a conscious, having realised the extent of what he has helped Paul do to Steph and sent her a text to tell her everything… just as Paul drives Steph out of Erinsborough and out of his life. Everything about the moment was great. Paul is smug that has plan succeeded and Steph is still feeling the effects of Paul switching her medication. Her realisation, accompanied by Paul’s classic music playing in the car, helped set the scene perfectly and the threat of what Steph could do to confront Paul on a deserted, dark road was a brilliant moment.

Hits and Misses – 19-23 Oct 2015

hitsandmisses

Hits

Triumphant Return

   er51_0004_Layer-1There’s few things we’ve loved more about Neighbours in recent years than how much its embraced its past and featured returns from a whole host of familiar faces. For the first time one of those faces is finally back for good and it’s the brilliant Steph. After over a decade in the show, Carla Bonner departed in what was quite a dark, depressing story where she accidentally killed Ringo Brown (give her a medal!) and was sent to prison, only to be released, then steal a baby. How can you bring a character back from that? Well, apparently you can and can do so brilliantly. Steph was returned seeking redemption and feeling refreshed. The time away has done the character the world of good and all those dark plots have given the character fresh material and storylines to build on – storylines that wouldn’t have been possible had the character had a happy ending. Carla, always an excellent actress, has fit right back in effortlessly and works brilliantly with characters young and old. Not only that but as with any returning character, they bring a real sense of history with them and we look forward to the slew of characters who could possibly return due to their strong links with Steph. Libby and Lyn first please!
New Best Friends
er51_0002_Layer-3Neighbours have been great at building friendships lately and Steph and Amy discovering common ground has paved the way for what could be another great one. Someone to talk to, on her side, is something Steph was crying out for this week when she returned and it was great to see Amy grow fond of her without the baggage of the past making her hesitate. We think it seems only natural that the two more tomboy style ladies of the street would have things in common – as well as their love for their young sons. We are already enjoying it and it’s nice to see Amy’s interactions open up to more people, we just hope that things don’t turn dark in the same way Libby and Steph’s friendship did – yikes!
Save Our School
er51_0000_Layer-5Having watched this show for so many years, we’ve seen many variations of the old ‘someone tries to bulldoze the street/buy Lassiter’s’ plots and this time it’s the turn of the school to be under threat. Deep down we know that Erinsborough High will never be removed from the picture as the school as, from the beginning, been a staple of the show but we can roll with it for some fun drama. Setting aside our dislike of Brad, and his ludicruous promotion, the scene where Susan realised her livelihood and career were about to be stolen away from her was surprisingly effective and as ever, brilliantly acted by Jackie Woodburne. The show also managed to tread the fine line with Paul and his true-to-character selfishness without veering into villainy. We’ve loved watching the community pulling together and look forward to the fireworks that are sure to be set off soon..
Misses
Interfering Sheila
er51_0001_Layer-4As you know, we are HUGE fans of Sheila but it was a shame to see her meddling in quite an extreme way this week. We get that she was just looking out for the lovely Nate (and we’re a big champion of the Nate and Sheila friendship) but it was a step too far to call the cops on Aaron’s circuit party. Of course she got on the defensive about her mistake but it was a pretty big one – it could have seriously affected Aaron’s whole dance career. It was pretty sweet that she was trying to be there for Nate and it did cause him and Aaron to talk it out, but things could have been a whole lot worse! Does Sheila ever learn?
Endless Selfishness

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So Brad and Lauren. Yes, our resident most-hated characters once again are appearing in our misses of the week. They seem to be doing so on a weekly basis these days but with good reason! Setting aside their stomach-churningly cheesy romantic scenes (don’t get us started on that montage!), but they consistently go about dealing with their feelings in precisely the wrong way, even when they’re both free agents! It seems they actively do their best to hurt Terese and rub her face in their relationship. This week they got together officially, championed by cheerleader Paige but it’s a shame no one apart from Terese and Imogen given Brad and Lauren the ire they deserve. With any other characters in the past, this kind of behaviour would be judged by our nosier members of the cast and we feel we’re missing out on that drama. Not to mention the fact that they accused innocent Terse or trashing Harold’s. Upset and bitter though she may be, do they really think Terese is dumb enough to incriminate herself like that? Hopefully the lovely Terese catches a break soon!