After 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.
This 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?
Longing 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.
Xanthe’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
Look, 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!