Hits and Misses – 9-27 May 2016

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Hits

Longing Looks

er69_0004_Layer-3He’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…

Winning Character

er69_0004_Layer-4Have 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

er69_0004_Layer-1Sheila 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!

Misses

Clingy Girlfriend

er69_0004_Layer-5Despite 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

er69_0004_Layer-2If 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!

Hotel Death Trap Week – 4-8 April 2016

Hotel Death Trap Week definitely lived up to the Neighbours tagline “Unmissable Drama” and because it was so good, we thought instead of our usual Hits and Misses we’d just talk about what was so damn great about the week.


The Willis Family

er66_0001_Layer-6One thing we’ve been so thrilled about this week is the Willis family totally coming into their own as a key family in Neighbours. They’ve been involved in some really big dramas during their time in Erinsborough but this week really took them to hell and back and cemented them as an iconic family within the show. No death has been as tragic or effective as Josh’s for a long time and all the crucial reactions were played perfectly. With Terese at the heart of the hotel and Brad’s father dying at the same time his son returned – these made the family central to the show’s big week. We’re very excited to see how the family moves forward in the light of these events, especially with Terese so close to Paul. Terese especially deserves to fulfil her potential and become the queen of Ramsay Street that we knew she could be from day one.

Ned Willis Arrives

er66_0004_Layer-4For some time we started to wonder if we’d ever see the hardly mentioned Ned Willis, Brad’s first son (who’s mother is Beth Brennan aka 90s pop princess Natalie Imbruglia) but thank god for his arrival this week. As we’ve already said the Willis family have stepped right into front and centre of the show this week and Ned’s arrival only adds to their complicated family drama. There’s obviously a lot of unresolved history there between Ned and his estranged dad and we can’t wait to get in the thick of it. There’s bound to be awkwardness in the whole family considering they haven’t seen each other for years and Lauren has already got her suspicions seeing after seeing a gang tattoo on his chest. Is Ned going to have a bit of a dark side? So far we’ve been impressed by actor Ben Hall and we’re excited to see what Ned gets up to in Ramsay Street!

Goodbye Kyle (and Bossy)

er66_0000_Layer-7-copyJosh and Doug were not the only neighbours we waved goodbye to this week – though at least this one was in better circumstances. Yes, after eight years, Kyle departed Ramsay Street, beloved Bossy in tow, to start a new life in Germany with Georgia. The character has been on such a journey since 2008, from recurring school bully to much-loved regular and a real fun, charming part of the Neighbours community. Kyle found his life turned upside down this week with Saskia Hampele’s return as Georgia and her revelation that she wanted Kyle back. We loved how the scenes were handled this week. Despite our worries Kyle might leave on a sour note, all three characters – Kyle, Georgia and Amy were written with sensitivity and a real sense of believability about the situation they found themselves in. Chris Milligan did some very fine acting work as Kyle struggled to work out what his confused heart truly wanted and after a brush with death, he decided it was Georgia that truly had his heart. And as much as we love Amy, we found it hard to disagree with the resolution as Kyle and Georgia had such a history. Sadly, with Kyle departing, we also said goodbye to the delightful Bossy, Kyle’s faithful companion. We wish she could’ve stayed on Ramsay Street but there’s something quite fitting about Kyle refusing to leave behind the one woman who never left his side. We’ll miss you terribly, Kyle and Bossy!

Doug’s Demise

er66_0003_Layer-3This week we waved goodbye to not one, but two members of the Willis family – and one of the longest running characters in the show. Arriving in 1990, Doug and the first incarnation of the Willis family lasted four years give or take and after a long, long absence, Doug made a brief return for the 20th anniversary in 2005. No one could’ve guessed that the Willises would become a permanent fixture again in a new guise and that Doug would return and we’d see his sad dementia story play out. It sometimes seemed that we may see Doug waste away from his illness, or be placed in a home, and so we never would’ve thought he’d be a second casualty of last week’s drama. His final actions – reuniting Brad with his estranged son, Ned, were very poignant and a fitting end to a character with such a legacy and history in the show. His ghost, watching over his grieving son and grandson, smiling and walking away was oddly touching despite our feelings on ghosts in soap! It seemed that in death Doug was free from his pain and confusion, and happy again, and that’s how we’d like to remember him.

Sarah’s Return

er66_0002_Layer-5The big week wasn’t complete without a high profile return so we were delighted to see Karl open the door on Sarah at the start of Tuesday’s episode. Long before Izzy Hoyland, there was Sarah Beaumont, the original other woman and was arguably part of the story that really cemented the legendary status of the Kennedys. Last seen in 2013, we thought we’d seen the last of Sarah and received closure on that part of Karl’s life, so it was surprising to see the character return and even better to see that she’s got a secret locked in her closet. Despite how much Karl and Susan have moved on and made peace, Karl’s behaviour around Sarah awakes Susan’s deep insecurities and before we know it, all the tension long since put to bed (so to speak) is unsettling the Kennedy union. We never like seeing Erinsborough’s most iconic couple fighting but we love when their rich history is explored and proves that Karl and Susan have earned their place as the show’s most enduring characters. What’s Sarah hiding? We have no idea but we hope this isn’t a flying visit!

Rebecchi Drama

er66_0005_Layer-1It seems no big week would be complete without Toadie somehow managing to get himself caught up in at all and being at death’s door – the Lassiter’s explosion was no different. Yes, let’s get it out of the way: Toadie’s life is in peril a lot, and yes, so soon after the Erinsborough High fire, it may have been better to swap characters and have Sonya in peril. However, putting that aside, you can’t help but be quickly won over and engrossed in any kind of Rebecchi drama on the strengths of the actors involve. Ryan and Eve are one of the longest-running couples the soap has ever seen and as the years pass, their relationship grows even more real, deep, and immensely believable onscreen. Eve seizes any dramatic acting opportunity with both hands and her despair, worries and upset never fail to move us. Their conversation (one that could well have been their last) tugged at the heartstrings and the tantalising hint that Toadie has something he wants hidden from Sonya make us hopeful that some big Rebecchi drama is on the way.

Other things we loved: Nate’s return! Nene’s meltdown! Paul’s panic!

Hits and Misses – 28 March-1 April 2016

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Hits

Ben’s Back

er65_0000_Layer-4It was lovely to see Ben Kirk back on Neighbours this week. Felix Mallard gave great performances the last time he was on the show and it’s always nice to have characters in the show who are links to the past. The Kennedys’ place was feeling a bit empty with Nate gone so even better to have grandson Ben back in the family home. This time Ben’s trying to knuckle down with his studies, as well as playing his guitar, but we hope he still makes time for fun with his friends. When he was in town before we watched his great friendship with Tyler develop and with Piper too. But Ben might have more on his hands than he bargained for if Xanthe Canning has any say, seeing as she is completely smitten with the boy. We loved their scenes together as Xanthe took on Paige’s advice to be a ‘bad girl’ and ended up getting drunk with Ben. Vom all over Susan’s shoes – yikes!

Control Freak

Ter65_0003_Layer-1he Brodie plot stepped up a gear this week and we quite enjoyed the darkness of it (if you ignore the number of times they said the word “dumped”). Chas/Brodie/Chas/Brodie had his pride hurt this week when Brad pushed him too hard on training and after sulking wanted to move away (he’s only been around for five minutes). Enchanted by his pouting Piper was seduced into a night away at the motel. But things so moved onto a darker path when Brodie began deleting texts from her phone and sending messages on her behalf. The controlling alarm bells began ringing. Driving a wedge between Piper and her family and running away to Perth sounded all very Romeo and Juliet to her at first, but having discovered he’d taken her phone and had locked her in the car, Piper got a wake up call. Luckily for Pipes Tyler came to her rescue and she left him crying by the roadside. But with Brodie bitter, twisted and controlling and looming omniously over Tyler in the Lassiters boiler room, we’re not sure this is really the end…

The Quill-ainous Family

er65_0001_Layer-3Now look, the accents may be all over the place and don’t even get us started on trying to work out the Quill extended family tree… Honestly we have no idea, we’re pretty much smiling and going along with it at this point but we’ve loved the increasing presence of the Quills on Neighbours recently. The show’s decision to open up Erinsborough and create an expanding wider community makes the show feel bigger and full of life for the first time in years. We’ve loved the likes of Courtney, Tim, Andreas, Hilary, Doug… We could easily go on… And the Quills are no different. So long has Lassiter’s been under control of the Robinsons that you often forget that for a period in the early 00s, the small (but no means bad) Lambert family were providing plots for our regulars. And so too are the Quills. We love the nasty Julie throwing her weight around and going up against Paul. And we’ve really enjoyed Erinsborough expensive shoe connoisseur Tom exploiting naive Aaron. We highly suspect some combo of the family is responsible for upcoming events but we hope the show is in no rush to get rid of them entirely when they provide so much villainous fun – and having such active guests stirring trouble mean our regulars aren’t driven to out of character villainy in order to further plots.

Misses

Bad Decisions

er65_0002_Layer-2It was a week of really bad decisions and look no further than two of our favourites, Steph and Terese! Steph, obsessed with trying to get Charlie back and being able to provide for him by running a successful basis could have seriously undermined her chances this week by trusting her friend. Cutting costs she may have been but Steph surely knew that there was no way the goods were got by entirely legitimate means and when Paul is the one moralising, you know you have problems! This proves that she really needs Paul’s business acumen and why the pair make a surprisingly good team. And poor Terese, stuck between a rock and a hard place, is torn between loyalty to Paul and fear of upsetting new boss, the power-suited, icy Julie Quill. But by putting her faith in Julie and her (incredibly mobile) scale model Lassiter’s future plans, Terese runs the risk of upsetting friends, family and getting sucked into the Quill’s dodgy deeds. Furthermore, she might also regret assuming Paul is responsible for all Lassiter’s current maintenance issues! Hopefully Steph and Terese, both intelligent, strong women, soon see the light and do what’s best for them and keep things above board.

Trust Issues

er65_0004_BackgroundIt wasn’t a good week for Kyle and Amy as the ghost of Georgia (not literal, but with upcoming events, who knows!) coming between them. We’ve already said that Amy’s mistake to go behind Kyle’s back to read the letter after he threw it away and affirmed his commitment to her, was a crucial mistake. It showed Amy’s lack of trust in Kyle, but worse, showed how her curiosity got the better of her despite the fact that, at that point, she had no real reason to doubt Kyle. In the aftermath, instead of letting the subject drop, Amy’s guilt and insecurity drove a wedge at the heart of her relationship in a way that the mere existence of the letter couldn’t. By finally telling the truth, the damage was unfortunately already done. How could Kyle continue to trust Amy? And how could Amy be angry that Kyle’s curiosity was now piqued by Georgia’s letter?! No one is coming out of the story smelling of roses and it’s sad to see the happy relationship implode at a disastrous rate, even though we’re loving the reality of the drama.

Scene of the Week – 21-25 March 2016

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Nene’s major nono was revealed this week and we loved it! She’s not been here long but we’ve really enjoyed how quickly she’s made an impact with her manipulations and lies. She’s set her eyes on Karl in record time (even Izzy took a month or two!) and took advantage of Doug’s illness to protect herself. But Doug is no fool and we loved him standing up for himself and quickly making old friends, Karl and Susan, aware of Nene’s deception. All the actors delivered in the reveal scenes but particularly Ally Fowler who plays Nene in such a believable way that she remains grounded and free from panto villainy. We also loved the friction she’s caused between Kyle and Amy, the Kennedys and of course, for the Willises. We were glad to see that this was really only act one in Nene’s story and with the truth out in the open, the character isn’t being shipped off quite so quick. We think she has the makings of a great long-term arc in her and we’re excited to see what happens next.

Hits and Misses – 29 Feb-18 March 2016

hitsandmisses

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.

Scene of the Week – 18-29 Jan 2016

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Now anyone who reads our blog or Twitter knows how we feel about Ramsay Street’s resident pooch, underwear thief, ball stealing and all round gorgeous girl, Bossy. So you can only imagine how badly we’ve dealt with this recent illness story. We’ve been in floods! Both Chris Milligan and indeed, Bossy herself, really sold it to us and turned what could have been something trite or sentimental into something really heartbreaking. This was nowhere more evident in last week’s scene where Kyle faced saying a final goodbye to Bossy. It was one of those scenes where Neighbours ceased to be a soap and instead was more of a mirror of that most heartbreaking experience in real life: saying goodbye to a pet. I doubt anyone who has ever lost an animal could watch the scene and not get misty eyed. Seeing Bossy grow up from puppy to full grown dog before our eyes made it all the sadder as it felt like we too might be saying goodbye. Amy’s 11th hour heroic act had us overjoyed as we really, really couldn’t face the idea of losing Bossy in such awful circumstances. The last-minute save, however, didn’t take away from a powerful and very human scene. Now, please, Neighbours, no more pet illness plots ever. We can’t cope.