Hits and Misses – 21 Sep-2 Oct 2015

hitsandmisses

Hits

Twenty Years of Toadie

er49_0002_Layer-2  If the Kennedys are our Neighbours mum and dad then Toadie is definitely our big brother. Over the past twenty years, since his mullety arrival, we’ve laughed with him and cried with him and most importantly watched him grow into a man and remain a firm favourite. He’s had a rough time of it of late and has taken it out on his loved ones but we still really loved the chance to look back at some of the Toadie history. We already enjoyed the Angie appearance but we got to see Stonie and Callum too which really helped to celebrate Toadie’s twenty years on the show. The fundraiser was a lovely touch, especially the heartfelt speech from his surrogate parents Karl and Susan. If we could have asked for one more thing perhaps flashbacks would have been fun, but here’s hoping for many more years of the Rebbechis!

Breakdown

er49_0003_Layer-1Paul and Naomi have been quite a strange pairing – powerful and still devious, they have made an interesting watch but this past fortnight the cracks really began to show. Naomi isn’t one to settle down so the prospect of becoming the new Mrs Robinson (how many have their been now?!) made her panic. Paul, seemingly blind to this, kept making matters worse by not really noticing her reluctance and awkward behaviour and then putting his foot in it by suggesting she needed to change her ways if she was going to be accepted by the public as his wife. Not a great start to an engagement Paul! Naomi reacted as Naomi does and acted out by indulging in a one night stand with Josh. As ever Morgana was superb in showing us every vulnerable side to Naomi as she wrecked her relationship with Paul. And although she might think Paul is willing to forgive – we all know this won’t be the end of it!

The Odd Couple

er49_0004_BackgroundWe love Nate and Aaron has proven to be a really endearing new addition, so we’ve really enjoyed their slow burn romance in recent weeks. Neighbours isn’t always known for its realistic pacing so it’s been great to see Nate and Aaron awkwardly dance around their feelings. Their love/hate relationship slowly become softer, and friendly, has really amused is and last’s week date, complete with Nate making an adorable effort with a trendy shirt and some cocktails was adorable. Their first proper kiss was a long time coming and a world away from Neighbours’ first few chaste gay kisses as recently as a few years ago. We have high hopes for more of this sweet odd couple.

Misses

Immaturity

er49_0000_Layer-4It’s fair to say that over the last six months or more, Paige has gone from one of our favourites to one that has irritated us more often than not, particularly due to her obsession with reuniting her parents. This week, however, she annoyed us for an altogether different reason as she used Tyler to concoct an excuse to leave lunch with Mark and the Rebecchis. While the conversation was hardly the most exciting, they are Mark’s best friends and Paige seemed unable or unwilling to even indulge him or put aside her own selfishness in order to try and enjoy the afternoon.More than anything, it showed Paige’s immaturity which is baffling for a character that once prided herself on being mature and independent. What was even worse was the way Kyle, and the show at large, seemed to write the aftermath scenes as though Mark had to try and understand Paige more, when the opposite was true! Let’s hope they finally get Paige back on track sooner than later.

Reality Check

er49_0001_Layer-3Josh Josh Josh. Where to even begin? Let’s look at his most recent actions, sleeping with Naomi knowing full well that she was with Paul. Even though they have history and even though he didn’t know she was engaged (like that made a difference!), he slept with her and actually repeated the same mistake as he did a few months prior with Amber, having learned nothing at all it would seem. It’s sleazy and a horrible recurring character trait. Speaking of horrible character traits and treatment of women, we can’t ignore his appalling treatment of his mother in the aftermath of Brad’s night of passion with Lauren. Josh has, from day one, been firmly #TeamBrad but what’s been shocking is his complete disregard for his mother. He’s blamed Terese’s alcoholism and worklife for the ruination of his parents’ marriage, going as far as labelling his mum and sister “jerks” while Brad has got off scot-free from sleeping with the neighbour. I guess it’s hardly surprising given his own behaviour but Josh needs a bad reality check if he is ever to be likeable again.

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Hits and Misses – 2-6 Feb 2015

hitsandmisses

Hits

Real Love

er18_0004_Layer-4I think it’s fair to say that when Nate rocked up in Ramsay Street last year with severe PTSD and found himself in a serious relationship with Chris in weeks, we all feared that the show’s first long-term gay relationship could be too rushed and disappointing. However what has surprised us most has been how Chris and Nate have really grown on us as a pairing. Sweet and loving, Chris and Nate have faced every challenge with maturity and the kind of realism one expects of real people. In the world of soap it’s an unfortunate truth that characters have melodramatic love lives – Amber Turner, we’re looking at you! – but Chris and Nate stand out as a genuine, heartfelt and at times, moving depiction of a young couple. Neighbours have done themselves proud with Nate and ‘Teddy’.

The Perfect Blend

er18_0004_Layer-3It’s just occurred to us lately that as we enter the show’s 30th year, it appears Neighbours appears to having done a bit of growing up in a completely different way! The show has gone through several reinventions during its time, sometimes edgier and sometimes saccharine to the point where the show lacks its bite. What has been great to see recently is that the show isn’t afraid to tackle bigger issues and darker scenes, even if we do have the odd “substances” reference to put up with! Chris and Nate are being treated like any other couple in the show, and their onscreen kisses and moments of affection are not shied away from – a far cry from Chris and Hudson’s sexless pecks on the lips. The Lucy baby plot, with discussions of IVF and gay parenting are fresh ground for soap. Sonya’s surprisingly effective mugging, finally labelling Sonya and Erin as “junkies” and Erin offering sex for drugs were frank and great moments. In our opinion, the perfect blend of Neighbours is comedy mixed with real, grounded drama – and if that involves the show pushing the boundaries of its G rating, then so be it.

Teenage Kicks

er18_0004_Layer-1Erin’s daughter Cat arrived this week and with it she brought an injection of fun into the Rebecchi household which has been missing since Callum moved to America. On her bike with bushy hair, Cat reminded us of a female Toadie in his youth – a lot less rebellious of course – but it was great to see his fun dad role return. The Erin plot continues to be a really interesting a well written story and Cat easily added to this, showing us a different side to Erin too. Seeing Cat play cricket on the street with a hapless Bailey made us think that she could quite happily slot into Erinsborough if the show decided to make her a surrogate Rebecchi and we’d be happy with that.

Misses

Water Works

er18_0004_Layer-2If there’s one thing we hate on Neighbours, it’s overly contrived plots. If there’s two things we hate, it’s stories where characters bear grudges over an accident (and no, we will never forgive you, Miranda and Steve Parker) so you can imagine our happiness this week when we got both plots in one! We are of course talking about Karl drinking Brad’s chemicals when he accidentally mixed up identical water bottles. Leaving aside the fact that they both had the same water bottle (Harold’s must have a sale on), it was the clunky writing that signposted the twist scenes ahead that made the twist so jarringly predictable – even if seeing Karl in hospital, on the other side of the stethoscope, is not a sight we enjoy! It seems like the story may just have been a way to kickstart Susan’s disappointment with Brad as a teacher and if that’s the case, they could’ve found a much better story to begin hostilities. Or, if criticising Brad’s teaching is really hiding Susan’s anger at the accident, we hope she gets over it fast.

Sherlock Moans

er18_0004_Layer-5Does anyone else get the same deja vu that we do when watching Brennan? It seems a month doesn’t go by when he’s not calling an old police mate and investigating someone who has a set of dodgy eyebrows. And we had that again this week, where once again Brennan investigated and no one believed him. We’ve been here so many times before and it never gets any more interesting to watch. Not even our favourite Naomi could save it and we hated to see her dragged into another boring Brennan plot. It looks like the two are being set up as a new romance which we’re hoping isn’t as stale as it has been so far – vivacious Nomes deserves someone with more life than Mark!

Neighbours 2014: Top Ten Best Bits

It’s been a great year for Neighbours, so much so we wanted to celebrate the best bits of the year. We think 2014 was the year Neighbours really cemented itself as a soap in great shape. 2015 looks set to be even better, but let’s take a look back at our favourite bits of this year.

10 – Neighbours Tornado!

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When Neighbours announced a tornado storyline, a lot of fans were unsurprisingly worried. How would this ever be managed on the small budget on the show? The answer is quite well indeed! Set aside what felt like hours of Amber whining, what we got was a slick, well shot story. Cleverly making use of Power Road and great design effects, it was brilliant to see the roof torn off Amber’s car as the tornado waged destruction on Grease Monkeys. More impressive however was the aftermath. That incredible shot of Ramsay Street, the morning after, wrecked and a shell of its usual self had a brilliant visual impact and the attention to detail was stunning. Even better was the fact that the tornado served as a catalyst for the reveal of the kiss – one of the biggest plots of the year – making it clear that Neighbours could nail both style and substance.

9 – Kyle and Georgia’s Wedding

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Who doesn’t love a good wedding? They’re a soap staple and this year it was the turn of Kyle and Georgia to get hitched. Sure it wasn’t without its disasters – like Georgia ending up stranded before the wedding – but all in all it was a cute and refreshingly happy day. We’ve not been too fond of plots where these two have struggled with problems in their relationship but keeping them together and in fun plots seems to have worked well for them. Plus we’ll never forget their hilarious attempts at role play to keep the spark after their honeymoon. Really funny stuff. We know there will be Canning drama ahead but we hope they keep the new Mr and Mrs Canning happy together.

8 – Kate Ramsay Shot Dead

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How do you solve a problem like Kate Ramsay? Apparently you shoot her in the back. Kate had been one of the more divisive characters in the show with some loving her but others were long tired of her various romantic pursuits and victim status. When it was announced that Ashleigh Brewer would be bowing out of the she and Scott McGregor would be returning for a guest stint, a happy ending was a foregone conclusion surely? Except it didn’t happen. In a shock twist, Kate was gunned down by Victor Cleary, as vengeance for Paul killing his brother Gus ten years prior. Such exits are not what we expect from the traditionally “safe” Neighbours but that rareness is what made it work. Surprising, exciting and emotive, we have to praise the show for pulling the rug from below us and giving Kate the iconic exit no one expected.

7 – Coward Punch

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Chris being knocked out by a drunken punch by Josh got a bit preachy at times but it was a well written story that seemed to divide viewers. While we were a bit fed up to see Chris in hospital again, it was impossible not to feel his plight as he struggled to cope following his head injury. We were pleasantly surprised at how sympathetic Josh came across too and his pained regret meant we were relieved at his lesser sentence. James Mason and Harley Bonner did a fantastic job with this morally grey issue so it was an easy highlight of the year.

6 – The Josh and Naomi Affair

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This time last year Josh was up there with our most disliked characters. Then a magical thing happened: the Jamber love story ended and Josh became likeable. Then, quicker than it takes to strip in a lift, Josh indulged a little no-strings hook up with newcomer and amazing older woman Naomi. We were totally hooked. They were funny, flirty and sexy and they actually seemed pretty great for one another. We enjoyed every second. Of course it wasn’t to last and we were sad to see it finish, especially because the inevitable prospect of losing Josh to Amber’s charisma black hole is something we dread when he’s now one of our favourites.

5 – The Book of Secrets

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The saucy Fifty Shades tribute started out as a simple throwaway comedy plot which grew and grew into a hilarious long running comedy plot involving so many characters and in-jokes. Easily one of the greatest things Neighbours did this year and it just seemed somehow so wrong yet so right that Karl would be the one behind the kinky tale. Not only did it give us great Kennedy moments, it left many of the residents flustered including our favourite Sheila who begun having saucy dreams about Lou and then Paul! It’s the type of comedy Neighbours is so good at and we hope this isn’t the end for The Book of Secrets!

4 – The Kennedys

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In 2014 the show celebrated twenty years of the Kennedy family and what a celebration it was! Karl and Susan recovered from a very quiet 2013 by coming to fore once more with a great mix of everyday drama and classic, inimitable Kennedy comedy. Jackie and Alan were as ever in their element and it was fantastic to see the spotlight shine on them once more. Not only this but we were overjoyed to see returns from Zeke, Mal and in particular, Libby and Ben made overdue and welcome returns. And as the year ended, Karl and Susan in true Kennedy form took in a new stray in the form of troubled Nate. The pinnacle of the anniversary came in the form of a special episode, filled to the brim with flashbacks and references to the past. It was a touching look back at the characters’ amazing history and an absolute joy to watch.

3 – Brad and Terese’s marriage woes

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The arrival of Paige Smith had a massive impact on the show and characters but no more so than the effect she had on Terese and Brad’s marriage. What once seemed like one of the most stable marriages in the street slowly but surely began to break down in a series of lies, hurt, mistakes and arguments – and understandably so! Brad’s betrayal caused Terese’s deeply hidden insecurities to bubble to the surface and it wasn’t long before they pair’s relationship grew toxic and bitter. By year’s end, we loved hearing that their relationship was born from an affair and getting some much needed backstory on the family. In addition, Terese has quickly become one of the show’s most fascinating characters and been a real star throughout 2014.

2 – Rebecchi struggles

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It was a big, big year for the Rebecchi family this year as they waved goodbye to Callum and faced their biggest hurdle in the form of minxy Naomi Canning. What we loved most however was that this wasn’t a cliché affair story – far from it. The reason we really loved the Rebecchis this year was the fact that it brought some of the best character-driven writing the show has seen in a long time. Eve and Ryan delivered as always and cemented their place as one of the show’s most iconic couples. Sonya’s addictions and backstory have a constant impact on every move she makes and it’s been incredible to witness the contributed exploration of such a complex character. Toadie’s loyalty to his wife was both moving, and much welcome in the modern day soap era of affairs and betrayal. Time and again we got powerful, raw and superbly performed scenes and we can only hope 2015 remains as strong for this fantastic family.

1 – Paige Smith Revealed as Lauren and Brad’s Child

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One of the most engaging and interesting stories this year had to be Paige Smith’s arrival and subsequent reveal as Lauren and Brad’s long lost daughter. It was a story that rocked both families before she even appeared on screen and her reveal set a chain of events that totally transformed the Turner and Willis families. Not only were the reveal scenes beautifully played and gripping, but Olympia Valance has made a fantastic addition to the cast. Paige is gutsy and headstrong and we love her interactions with her new siblings. We hope to see more of the same great material for Paige in 2015.