Hits and Misses – 30 May-10 June 2016

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Hits

Judgement Days

er70_0004_Layer-2After 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.

Pashing Problems

er70_0004_Layer-3This 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?

Sparks

er70_0004_Layer-5Longing 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.

Misses

Social Issues

er70_0004_Layer-1Xanthe’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

er70_0004_Layer-4Look, 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!

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.

Hits and Misses – 2-13 Nov 2015

hitsandmisses

Hits

Iconic

er53_0000_Layer-5Is it just us or has the always reliable Rebekah Elmaloglou fast becoming of the MVPs of the entire show? Yes, we’ve always loved and yes, she’s been a strong character and well-acted since day one but the last 12 months have been a revelation for the character and we feel she’s cemented herself as one of the modern-day iconic females of the show. Rebekah, as ever, just excels no matter what material she’s been given – whether it be anger at Brad and Lauren, caring for her kids or sparring with Paul. But what we’ve loved most lately is seeing this completely different side to her – something more emotional. It’s been so sad to see Terese’s world fall apart and see such a normally strong woman become so vulnerable. Not only is the acting fantastic but Neighbours has really put the effort in and crafted a character that’s multi-layered and very complex. We look forward to her each and every time she appears onscreen, so today we are saluting Terese and Rebekah and their presence among of the ranks of some of Neighbours’ finest.

Relationship Angst

er53_0003_Layer-2Kyle and Amy gave into their feelings this fortnight and had a big ol’ pash. We’ve enjoyed their friendship and budding romance for a while and after some more bonding as they cleaned up the school a snog was inevitable. Kyle’s basically been like a dad/older brother to Jimmy so they’d make a perfect family unit, but these things are never that simple. Kyle was worried about hurting them and having not long been separated from Georgia, as well as Amy ditching him as soon as Liam came back. So their happiness was shortlived and after advice from Tyler, Kyle had a fling. It did give us a great scene with Amy being sad and vulnerable which was touching. Let’s hope their crossed wires don’t stay that way for too long.

Mysterious Woman

er53_0002_Layer-3There’s something interesting and possibly sinister about the pretty new arrival Belinda. It’s not just her wild red curls that make us like her, but making her Steph’s lover and nurse was a really interesting twist. We almost wish we’d seen their growing feelings onscreen to see how much influence Belinda has on Steph. It makes a nice change for Neighbours to be exploring bisexuality since it helped wash away the horrors of that ridiculous episode where Pepper and Rosie kissed and felt confused for half an episode. We’re not sure how long Belinda is sticking around or how trustworthy she is, but Neighbours does its slightly unhinged guest characters pretty well so we’re intrigued to see where this goes.

Misses

Deathbed Confession

er53_0005_BackgroundWhen love triangles are done well, even if you dislike the endgame couple (see: Brad and Lauren), they can make for gripping viewing. Most of the time we’re left with feelings of frustration when seemingly likeable couples are messed with just for the sake of a story. In the case of Paige and the Brennan brothers, we know Tyler had a thing about her in the beginning (like he did with every other girl in the street) but we’d grown fond of Paige and Mark and they actually seemed to suit each other despite their obvious differences. Paige and Tyler were too similar and their dodgy dealings weren’t great to watch. The last two weeks saw Tyler confess his feelings and Paige tell him that there’s something there, but she’s with Mark. We keep being hit around the head with Tyler’s pining puppy dog eyes and Amber telling Paige that she has chemistry with Tyler and won’t want to settle down with Mark. But we can’t help but groan at another love triangle, more heartache and indecision and bad choices. Has anyone got the energy for Mark and Tyler to be at logger heads?

Softening Feelings

er53_0001_Layer-4Lately there’s been something of a small shift in our feelings towards Amber. While we can’t promise she’s one of our favourites or that we actually like her, we certainly feel less hatred towards her than we used to. Since she’s been away from Daniel and Josh and that sorry mess she’s actually grown up a bit and we saw just how much better she was away from those toxic relationships. Sadly we saw a regression in the last fortnight when Amber witnessed that Josh was showing (vague) signs of maturity and care. I mean, call us old fashioned but considering his kid was just born and the mother nearly died, you’d hope he was caring anyway. But no, Amber decides she might actually have feelings for him again and the world groaned. It’s inevitable isn’t it? Sadly we think so.

The Worst Excuse for a Human

er53_0004_Layer-1Where to start with Brad Willis? Well, putting aside his continued lack of respect of Terese, he made matters work by leaving her in the Erinsborough High fire in favour of saving Lauren. Don’t get us wrong, we know that Terese was trapped and that getting Lauren out made sense but it was how he handled the ordeal that annoyed us. First of all, he didn’t try that bloody hard, secondly in true Brad Willis style, any time he was confronted on the issue, he huffed and puffed and left the room. Never does the man truly explain his actions such is his continued obsession with playing the martyr despite being at fault. His nauseating declarations to Lauren outside the room where his wife is recovering from burns says it all doesn’t it? Selfish and thinks only of himself. Let’s not get started on him trying to reprimand Imogen for disrespecting Lauren whilst he lets Paige continually torment, berate and criticise Terese…

Hits and Misses – 26-30 Oct 2015

hitsandmisses

Hits

Powerful Performance

er52_0002_Layer-2  Amy really came into her own this week as Jimmy went missing and she found out that Liam was not as reformed as he claimed to be. There were times where Amy has seemed a little snappy and harsh with people, but we’re really loving her as a character. Like all the other successful Neighbours characters, Amy has intergrated well into the street. She has friends in Kyle, Steph and Rebecchis and of course works well with her father Paul, even if they do clash now and again. This week we got to see Amy take centre stage as she grappled with the guilt of letting Jimmy walk to Kyle’s yard alone and then had the nasty discovery that Liam has been dealing with some very dodgy people. We were pleasantly surprised that the new Steph and Amy friendship wasn’t ruined by Amy jumping to the same conclusion others had had – that Steph was involved in the disappearance. We’re really looking forward to Amy’s future material as Zoe Cramond showed us what she was really capable of this week.

Heart to Heart

Ier52_0000_Layer-4t was a very minor plot point this week, but we really liked the scenes between Sheila and Susan at the school. For starters – it’s Susan and Sheila! – what’s not to love? They’re two of the shows biggest, brightest characters and definitely the matriarchs of the show. Sheila is known for being brash and outspoken but it was nice to see a softer and more vulnerable side to her as she revealed to Susan that she had not finished school. Initially she’d taken a very Sheila, defensive approach when Susan kept saying the wrong thing, but like all good Neighbours they resolved their differences, with Susan offering Sheila some tutoring. We’re not sure (with the impending school drama ahead) whether this will actually happen, but we can’t get over how fun it would be for Susan to teach Sheila. Make it happen!

Tall Dark and Handsome

Ler52_0001_Layer-3et’s be honest, Liam makes our hit list mainly because he was pretty damn gorgeous. We’ve had enough of the waxed Brennan blandness so it was nice to see someone come into the show as a bit more rugged and charming. Now of course Liam was dodgy – was anyone surprised? – but he was an interesting and charismatic character for the short time he appeared. Neighbours seem to cast guest characters pretty well (if you ignore people like Dimato) and sometimes it’s a shame they only come in for a short time to stir and then leave again. But Liam did a good job of that, being a feckless dad and having a good rapport with his onscreen family. We don’t reckon we’ll see him again, not unless he decides to go straight and be a good dad to Jimmy, but thank you for the eye candy for that short time Neighbours!

Misses

Daniel Danger

er52_0003_Layer-1Now don’t get us wrong, we’ve become big fans of Daniel in his post-‘Danber’ guise. He quickly improved as a character away from the love triangle of doom and the blossoming romance with Imogen served to lift his character out of the rut he had fallen into. Imogen’s cynical seriousness dilutes Daniel’s wearying cheeriness and they make a great double act. With that in mind, we’ve really appreciated this recent attempt at a storyline that isn’t related to his love life or supporting his uncle but we’re sorry to say it isn’t quite working for us. The idea of Daniel being attacked and this having an affect on his personality is a great idea in theory but in execution, it isn’t quite hitting the mark. Rather than Daniel’s behaviour feeling like someone who found themselves victim of a crime and reassessing their outlook, they feel like weird mood swings. It’s early days so we hope things can improve from here as it would be disappointing for Daniel’s first proper solo plot to be a misfire.

Missing Child

er52_0004_BackgroundWhat is it with kids on Neighbours and being lost? Or running away? Or running away and then getting lost? Lucy Robinson – the first, did it, many many years later, the offspring of everyone’s favourite character, Ned, did it and now 8 years later, Jimmy Williams is picking up the mantle. It’s bad enough they they already did a similar plot within his first few weeks onscreen and that’s made this repeat performance all the more disappointing. It’s not like the adult characters aren’t strong characters or the performances weren’t good (they certainly were!) but it’s the fact that it’s just so repetitive. And worse still, cheap drama. This is Neighbours, we know nothing bad is going to befall Jimmy. It’s not in the spirit of the show and knowing the outcome is going to be a completely happy ending, you just have to wonder what’s the point? Hopefully this is the end of Jimmy’s disappearing act for a long time.

Hits and Misses – 5-16 Oct 2015

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Hits

Familiar Faces

  er50_0001_Layer-3  One aspect of the show that has really improved under Jason Herbison is the show embracing its past and featuring the return of a whole host of familiar faces, popping in and out of the show as story dictates. It’s really refreshing and is Neighbours taking advantage of its fantastic 30 years of history. The latest of these was the return of Lucas in order to take over the garage and provide a sounding board for Sonya. Lucas and Sonya have one of the most believable, real and deep friendships that has been developed by the show in the last 10 years and their scenes are always a joy to watch as it truly brings out a raw, and emotional side of Sonya. No one quite gets her like Lucas, and we love that rare example of a male/female friendship free from sexual tension or implied feelings. Whilst we don’t see a permanent return for Lucas and Vanessa possible, or even necessary with the insane amount of babies Vanessa seems to be popping out, it will be nice to see the show continue to make use of Scott Major’s offscreen presence and pop in front of the camera from time to time.

The Dark Side

er50_0002_Layer-2Paul is a character who has gone through a lot of developments in the 11 years since his return to the show – some good, some bad. It’s fair to say the show’s  insistence at one point to push the pantomime villainy side to Paul’s character was a huge mistake, one that almost had Stefan Dennis written out – something that’s unthinkable now. Similarly, Paul will never be a ‘good’ or properly reformed character as it’s not in his nature. He is selfish, he is money-driven and he lashes out when hurt or threatened and when the show manages to take these elements and ground them within character development that they can be pulled off successfully. The character has been on a real upward curve since the death of Kate and his fake illness so it’s been very sad to see how Naomi’s betrayal has undone all Paul’s hard work to change

. His bitter goodbye to Naomi was sad to watch and deep down, we quite liked seeing Paul try to get Josh sent down. It’s not panto silliness, it’s the desperate plotting of a lonely man, getting a taste of his own medicine as one of his many love interests betrayed him as he so often betrayed them. That said, we do hope the character finds a way through his issues and the show doesn’t take his villainy too far.

New Man in Town

er50_0003_Layer-1Jimmy’s dad rocked up this fortnight just as Amy was starting to see romantic potential in Kyle (which was pretty cute we have to admit) – typical! Guest characters always have a hard job in Neighbours, they have to fit in quickly, whip up a storm and then leave but we think Liam’s done a pretty good job already. You can pretty much see the neon sign above his head spelling

out trouble but with his charm, good looks (forget the Brennan boys, seriously – Liam is fine) and ability to put on voices when reading, we can see why Amy is a bit taken with him (again). Of course it’s only Kyle who can see the dodginess coming off him in waves, but Liam’s played an enjoyable part in a predictable story. We’re guessing he won’t be around long, but he’s hot – can we keep him?

Misses

Pining and Whining

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Is that the whiff of a love triangle we can smell? Another one? Just after we’ve cleared up after the love square mess? Really? Really? Must we? Well – sigh – it looks like it might be the case. Tyler’s had the hots for Paige for quite a while now and for a short time it looked like she was going to reciprocate with the ponytailed one, that was until Mark “boring but moderately cute” Brennan decided he wanted her again. We really like Paige and Mark together and we don’t like when Neighbours mess around with things that are working – especially not if it’s going to involve Paige flitting between the two. Luckily she rejected Tyler’s kiss but with Amber suggesting Paige is fun and flirty with Tyler and Mark not too serious about her – we can see where this is headed. Tyler is a great character who really doesn’t need a love triangle dragging him down. Make it stop.

Enemy Number One

er50_0000_Layer-4It feels like he’s become a regular in our dislikes section but with good reason – Yes. shocker, Brad annoyed us once again. Why you may ask? Where do we begin? The fact that he continues to treat Terese badly and seems to have a bizarre notion that he has the moral highground, shamelessly continuing to criticise her and storm off the moment a conversation isn’t going his way. There’s also the fact that he refuses to parent Josh properly, allowing him to bad mouth his mother and take his side in the split. The fact that he was the one who broke up his marriage and faced with the scenario of having to stay in a hotel, whines endlessly about a perfectly standard room in a desperate bid from pity. And who pitied him?! Erinsborough’s own professional victim, Lauren Turner, who hovers around Brad like a bad smell, smirking too herself but turns on the waterworks whenever someone rightly criticises her behaviour. The breaking point for us? Lauren inviting Brad to move in “as friends” and Brad, clearly willing to hurt his wife and kids as much as possible, taking her up on the offer. Get lost, please.

Scene of the Week – 27-31 July 2015

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Just as we were thinking Jimmy was quite a sweet kid, the grandchild of Paul Robinson proved he has a devilish streak in his DNA when he started blackmailing the residents of Ramsay Street. It might not have been our favourite plot of the week but it was a great scene when Jimmy revealed to Sheila her knew he deepest, darkest secret. She had a crush on Paul! Of course we all knew after the cooler incident Sheila had dealt with saucy dreams about Paul but now that her daughter is dating old Moneybags the revelation couldn’t come at a worse time!  It’s not often someone gets the better of our favourite Sheila Canning but she was left well and truly flustered as Jimmy delivered his smug knowledge of her letter.

Hits and Misses – 22-26 June 2015

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Hits

Family Robinson

er36_0003_Layer-2This week saw latest arrival Amy Williams begin to settle into life in Erinsborough, as well as reveal that she’s not moving alone – she’s mother to Paul’s first and thus far, only grandchild. We mentioned last week that we’re big fans of Zoe Cramond’s performance as Amy and this week was no different. Amy is raw, hurt but independent, warm and hard working and has tonnes of future potential. Jimmy, despite our worries, avoided the cliché Neighbours plot about runaway children in peril and seems to be likeable and not at all like some of the bratty kids of Neighbours past. We enjoyed Amy quickly meeting the locals as well as the refreshingly strong scenes with Daniel as they bonded over their family history. Similarly Paul’s scenes with his daughter and grandson have been a joy. It’s put a fresh spin on the character and it’s great to see Paul with a child in the show – a true bond that rings true in a way that his fatherly concern for Kate could never did. We can’t wait to see what the future holds and how Paul, Amy and Jimmy build a relationship.

Date Night

er36_0000_Layer-5There was a lot we loved in the scenes this week where Nate took the dating plunge again. Once again we had fantastic friendship scenes between the Nate, Toadie and Kyle trio with Susan chipping in now and again. The lads weren’t that great with the love advice but Susan swooped in and managed to calm Nate down as well as giving us some brilliant insights into her and Karl’s dates from the past – with Karl trying to woo Susan with his own guitar playing. Classic, cringey Karl! As for the date itself, Kyle proved difficult to get rid of, not picking up on Susan’s subtle hints and Nate didn’t have much luck at all. With the arrival of the homophobic guy, Alistair, who verbally attacked him in The Waterhole, Nate was on an edge, ruining his date completely. Then Neighbours took an interesting soapy twist and Alistair landed a kiss on Nate! We’re interested to see what happens next!

Simmering Feelings

er36_0002_Layer-3They might not be Romeo and Juliet, but there’s still something between Paige and Mark Brennan even now. We really liked them when they got together at the time of the tornado and they still have chemistry now, even though Brennan isn’t exactly Mr Charisma. Paige is still pretending to be Tyler’s girlfriend to cover up their dodgy dealings and despite their kiss the other week, Paige and Tyler aren’t setting the world alight and Brennan doesn’t seem very keen to step on his brother’s toes. With their almost kiss this week it seems like it’s only a matter of time before they hook up again – we hope so anyway.

Misses

Snap Out of It

er36_0004_Layer-1The character derailment of former favourite of this blog, Josh Willis, continued this week and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel as he tried to indoctrinate his neighbours into a shady pyramid scheme. It felt like since the first guest return of his grandfather and in the wake of his shoulder injury, the character of Josh really turned a corner. Funny, pleasant, caring – he quickly became a great presence onscreen in the classic mould of ‘boy next door’ male teens. The only negative about his character? His continuing obsession with Amber and sadly, this has only increased with the recent revelation she’s carrying his child. It feels like Josh’s sole purpose at the minute is to plot ways to win Amber back by means of providing for their child and we’re missing the nuance of his character. How does he really feel about being a dad? We hope that in the coming weeks the character snaps out of his current predicament and recaptures the fun, likeable Josh we once knew – as well as being a (non-Amber-obsessing) dad to his child.

Poolside Pains

er36_0001_Layer-4Another week, another chance for Brad Willis to prove how untrustworthy he is. This week, spurred on by their meddling daughter romanticising about the idea of her parents being reunited, Brad and Lauren spent some quality family time with their daughter – half naked, playing games by the pool, at Lauren’s house. It’s a miracle Terese hasn’t cracked because we were throwing things at the screen due to Brad and Lauren’s appalling lack of regard for Terese’s feelings and their inappropriate behaviour. Not only that but Brad continues to make out that Terese is being unreasonable when she’s been more than forgiving of his many betrayals, small and major, since the truth about Lauren’s child was revealed. While we love the plot and relish the ‘older’ actors being given really meaty material, we can’t condone Brad and Lauren’s behaviour!