Scene of the Week – 4-8 April 2016

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A huge week for Neighbours began with one of the most emotive and tragic deaths in the show’s history when an explosion in Lassiter’s hotel lead to Josh Willis suffering fatal injuries. Harley Bonner gave a stellar performance in Josh’s grim final scenes with his family as he struggled for breath. UK viewers were given specially edited bloody scenes in an hour long special and the use of stirring pop music made these scenes unforgettable. Each goodbye Josh shared really tugged at our emotions and covered the character’s history on Neighbours well. All the Willis family performances were the best they’ve ever been. We were especially moved by Josh’s final scenes with twin Imogen and we were utterly choked when he told her to “Smash the world for both of us” but it was those last moments, video chatting to Amber and daughter Matilda that were so poignant. Josh left his daughter with heartfelt advice as he died, showing he had grown from the immature man he once was and once his eyes closed and Matilda cried, the Willis family held each other in the rubble. It’s a scene that will go down in Neighbours history.

 

 

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Goodbye Josh Willis!

Have you stopped crying yet? Only just? We’ve barely recovered from the emotions of last night as we watched the tragic death of Josh Willis in the widely publicised Hotel Death Trap. We’ll talk more about the heartbreaking moment and the tearjerking performances later in the week but we wanted to write a little goodbye to Josh.

We’ve gone back and forth with Josh over the years – the full spectrum of emotions. From loathing to loving but after all that we’re very sad to see him die. Josh made some bad decisions in his time on Ramsay Street but he was a guy with a big heart. Sure there were times we might have wished death on him – when he was obsessed with swimming, when he was with Amber, when he sided with awful dad Brad, when he sleazily tried to win Amber back with catfishing etc etc… BUT he’s had his good moments and Harley Bonner brought a lot of warmth to the role. Here’s a look at a few best bits.

His sibling relationship with Imogen

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Everyone knows that off screen Harley Bonner and Ariel Kaplan are the world’s cutest couple, or certainly we can’t help but feel a little bit romantic every time we see their insta pics, but on screen Josh and Imogen’s relationship was just as enjoyable. Sure they fell out, got involved in a messy love square, but ultimately they made for a believable pair of siblings (although, twins – really?). We’ll miss their friendship and the love they had for each other and their scenes as Josh lay dying broke us. Heartbreaking. We’ll miss their relationship a lot.

Josh and Naomi’s saucy fling

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Let’s face it, everything Naomi touched was gold, but the Josh and Naomi fling was a surprising hit for us. Before then we’d been bored of Jamber and his swimming plots, but after the way Danber had treated him he deserved some fun. Step forward Naomi! Their casual affair started with a romp in a lift and then the fun continued as they began sneaking around for some secret fun. There was a natural chemistry between the pair and it was a welcome change to see a carefree and flirty Josh. One of the best bits of the plot was seeing Josh be forced to escape Sheila’s without a single item of clothing and only a gnome to hide his crown jewels. Classic.

The coward punch story

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Although at times the coward punch story bordered on an after-school special, it was a really strong plot for all the actors involved. After Josh had a bad reaction to being dumped by Naomi and learnt Danber had got engaged, he got drunk (a bad move for someone who is allergic to alcohol) and delivered a dangerous punch to Chris. Chris suffered badly and the case ended up going to court. With Josh’s life in tatters, Harley Bonner really shone in showing a sympathetic side to Josh’s plight. It was his strongest dramatic material on the show and during this storyline Josh actually showed remorse and maturity – he was actually one of our favourites for a long while!

His fatherhood struggles

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We won’t talk about Jamber. We won’t talk about Josh sleeping with Amber after she believed she was jilted. We won’t talk about Josh’s creepy attempts to reunite with Amber. We won’t even talk about the catfishing. But what we will say is that we admired Neighbours for taking a new route in a new parent plot by having Josh really struggle with fatherhood. He was tired, unfocused and he really struggled to bond with his daughter. Sadly Matilda will have to grow up without her father now, but who could fail to be moved by Josh’s final scenes as gave Amber a message for Matilda’s future. TEARS EVERYWHERE. No matter how bad Josh’s previous behaviour was, Josh still had a big heart so we’ll try and overlook the dodgy plots and remember him fondly. To be honest, we’d have left Daniel to die.

Hits and Misses – 11-15 Jan 2016

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Hits

Doggy Drama

er58_0000_Curves-1We had our tissues handy this week when everyone’s favourite canine, Bossy, suffered a bout of strange behaviour and what seems like a life threatening illness. We have all barely recovered from the time Georgia’s stupidity led to Bossy falling sick but this is even worse! It was alarming to see the ordinarily friendly Bossy lash out, not only at Kyle and Amy, but also sadly, Jimmy – an action that could have dire consequences for our beloved kelpie. It’s speaks to the talents of Chris Milligan and Bossy’s excellent training that the scenes were realistic and indeed, involved some better acting than a few past cast members we could mention! Alas, knowing Bossy is clearly ill broke our hearts and Paul sending her to the kennels made us feel even worse! We hope Bossy is soon vindicated and what’s more, nursed back to health immediately. Number 26 just isn’t the same without her!

Realising the Truth

er58_0001_Layer-2The scales fell from Amy’s eyes this week as she (once again) found out what her father is really like. It’s common knowledge that Paul Robinson is a dodgy guy but Amy had just come round to loving and trusting him (and going into business – really now?!) when Sonya dropped the bombshell that he’d tried pushing Steph into a breakdown. After that Amy was fuming and we got to see some great performances from Zoe Cramond again. One of our favourite things about Amy is her friendship with Steph and it was great to see the two of them in scenes together again, listening and being supportive.

Original Story

er58_0002_Layer-1There’s something very original and admirable of Neighbours to tackle post-natal depression from a father’s point of view. Since Matilda’s birth, Josh desperately struggled to bond with her and then went through the hell that every new parent seems to suffer – no sleep, low moods and lack of faith. Josh has got it bad, and now it’s made even worse now that Amber has left town with the baby and it takes a flight to reach her. While we hated the whole Jamber and baby plot, it’s an unusual route to take for the plot. It’s not the loudest or the most dramatic plot but Harley Bonner brings a lot of heart to the story even when we’ve spent 80% of the year hating what’s become of Josh’s character. It’s a difficult story to tell with mother and baby absent but Neighbours are giving it a good crack.

Misses

Teenage Crush

er58_0004_Layer-5First things first – Tyler is great and we also really like Mavournee Hazel who plays Piper…we just Piper pretty irritating. Honestly an on-screen version of a opinionated teenage vlogger is a hard sell to make entertaining to watch and now this new story with Tyler isn’t really helping. The teenage crush on an older guy story has been done plenty of times and we have no problem with it, and we can easily see why Piper would fancy Tyler – but there’s just something missing. Whether it’s because it’s been a bit rushed or the lack of chemistry we’re not sure. There’s also the slight issue that on Piper’s front it’s just a bit cringey and it’s bound to end in her heartbreak when Tyler inevitably goes sniffing back round Paige again.

No End in Sight

er58_0003_Layer-4The longest running story continued this week without a conclusion in sight. Yes, everyone, we’re talking about the reign of terror from everyone’s favourite villain Dimato. We’re not adverse to Neighbours villains, indeed they can really liven things up every now and again – but not like this. Dimato himself isn’t the charming, compelling love-to-hate villain he needs to be and what’s worse, the plot itself is left without a compelling protagonist. Mark and Paige’s involvement is dull, dull, dull, and the plot is convoluted lacking structure, coherence or momentum. The only saving grace was the surprisingly effective scene of Michelle being slapped by Dimato which brought some proper drama and action to proceedings.

Scene of the Week – 19-23 Oct 2015

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So many of Steph’s return week scenes were brilliant and we could have chosen any of them as our Scene of the Week but how could we let the week pass without a mention of this scene? If you’re not familiar with a bit of Neighbours trivia then maybe you missed the genius of this scene and thought it was a little bit random for Josh to be introduced to returnee Steph, but Neighbours fans will know that Steph and Josh are played by real life mother and son – Carla and Harley Bonner! Knowing this made the scene a very fun watch, particular with Josh feeling as if they’d met before and that her face is familiar. It was a scene that just HAD to be done and we’re glad it was in this amusing way. It was a nice wink to the audience who know the connection.

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.

Scene of the Week – 17-21 Nov 2014

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A simple but very effective scene this week with Josh crumbling before his trial. We saw Josh visit Chris in hospital after his seizure and stare mournfully though the window, only to return home, walk through the gorgeous Willis extension into the garden and sob. Scenes at night are quite novel and to have the scene with no dialogue – just music – worked very well. We really felt Josh’s anguish and regret and it must be said how impressive Harley Bonner has been in these intense scenes. He had a difficult job in playing the perpetrator of the crime but he’s played Josh in such a sympathetic and regretful way that it’s impossible not to feel sorry for him. Great work.

Scene of the Week – 20-24 Oct 2014

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The Chris/Nate/Josh coward punch plot picked up pace this week as Chris had recovered enough to leave hospital under the care of Nate. Tensions were high as Chris struggled with every day tasks and his brain blocks made him frustrated and angry. Nate found it challenging to see Chris in such a bad way and Josh continued to be devastated at the damage he’d caused. The scene where all three characters met and tensions boiled over was a really powerful and well acted moment, particularly with Josh’s shock and Chris discovering that Nate had threatened Josh. We’re impressed by the emotional maturity of this plot and the impact it’s having on all three men. All three actors, James Mason, Harley Bonner and Meyne Wyatt have impressed us.