Hits and Misses – 11-22 April 2016

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Hits

Power Couple

er67_0003_Layer-4Paul has had many wives and girlfriends over the 30 years of Neighbours’ existence, some much better than others, but let us nail our colours to the mast and say that a relationship with Terese has the potential to be one of the greatest. Their scenes this past fortnight have been electric and full of chemistry. It’s been made all the better than there hasn’t been the cliché affair we all suspected back in 2013 but rather a slow, organic story and gradual growth of feeling on both sides to this point. Terese seeking comfort in Paul provided some emotional moments and we loved Paul providing comfort by recalling his own losses. Their night together, sleeping on the sofa, was wonderful and maturely handled and of course, was made all the more devastating when Mark arrived to take Paul in for questioning the next morning. Terese’s rage in the middle of the Lassiter’s complex as well as at the funeral was fantastically acted by Rebekah Elmaloglou and was made all the more powerful knowing that it wasn’t just from a place of grief over Josh and Doug – but a place of the deepest betrayal. We think Neighbours may have found a new iconic couple…

Willises in Woe

er67_0001_Layer-3After #HotelDeathTrap week or what was probably more like #WillisWeekofHell, the Willis family struggled to cope losing both Doug and Josh in one day. We have to commend Neighbours for their great aftermath in showing the family’s grief and the solid performances – especially by the Willis ladies who kept managing to break our hearts with their impressive emoting skills. We were also given an appearance by Dream!Vision!Josh and Corpse!Josh (nice work Harley) when the funeral featured a creepy open casket. In the funeral service, Ariel Kaplan once again delivered heartbreaking performances as she cried over her twin’s death, saying she just wanted to be whole again. We were also glad to see a softer, more vulnerable side to Piper as her first few months she was quite hard to take to. All the family grieved in their own way, including Pam who arrived with a grudge against Ned and making the family reunion even more tense. It was another powerful week for the Willis family, cementing their place as a very central part of Ramsay Street.

Trio of Trouble

er67_0000_Layer-5After the angst and tears of the Hotel Death Trap Week it’s been a joy to have the light relief of Xanthe Canning on her screens. We’ve already expressed our love for her before but now she’s paired up with Ben and become BFFs with Piper, it’s a trio made in heaven. It’s the sort of friendship that works because they’re all so different. Ben, with his 90s hair and earnestness like his uncle Billy, is brooding and serious, Xanthe is zany and ditzy and Piper is level headed and a little pretentious – but together they all just work. We loved Xanthe and Ben’s dilemma over their money discovery and their awkwardness over how to deal with Piper’s grief. It didn’t take much to cheer Piper up – seeing Xanthe’s desperate attempts to stalk her way into Ben’s affections was a good start. We love all three actors too and hope there’s lots more to come, they could be the great young cast of the future.

Misses

Sarah’s Secret

er67_0002_Layer-2Now, we love the return of a legendary character as all you regular readers will know, so we were overjoyed to see the return of one of Ramsay Street’s most iconic ‘other woman’ – Sarah Beaumont. With all the sadness and drama of the hotel explosion, her return brought some much needed intrigue and was a great callback to one of our favourite Kennedy plots. Two weeks on and we’re still loving having her around but we have to say, we 100% agree with Susan on Sarah’s behaviour! While we now know Sarah is sick and has a very big favour to ask the Kennedys – one that isn’t an easy ask – Sarah did little to help herself with her suspicious actions. Her nervousness and awkwardness around Karl and Susan understandably wound Susan up and her constant delay in telling the truth led to all sorts of suspicions. As for working out the stability of the Kennedy marriage by propositioning Karl as a test? Perhaps not the best idea. But as ever, Sarah never means to cause harm and we can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.

Bedside Manner

er67_0004_Layer-1Honestly, we’re surprised Paige managed to drag herself away from coma guy’s bedside to attend her own brother’s funeral this week. Just what is she playing at?! We love the new ‘do but did she have a few brain cells snipped in the process. Okay John Doe (as we currently know him) is fairly cute and saved her life, but Paige’s behaviour is weird to say the least. Grief affects people in different ways but at the time her family need her most she’s hanging around the hospital as if John Doe is Sleeping Beauty! We all know when Paige has an obsession she just can’t let it go but this is ridiculous. First she spent all her hours trying to find out who he was – FYI not Alex Jones – and now he’s awake she can’t stop staring at him with her big doe eyes. She even missed the memorial of her precious Pop! She hasn’t a clue who he is and at the moment, neither does he. Is she that desperate for a date? Get a life Paige!

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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!

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.

 

 

Quote of the Week – 4-8 April 2016

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Josh: I want her to be happy. Tell her to follow her dreams and not to listen to anyone who tells her they’re not worth chasing. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes, everyone stuffs up. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. Tell her that I’m sorry I didn’t get to spend more time with her, I really wanted to see the sort of person that she became. And tell her, the last thing I thought about was her.

Josh’s final words to daughter Matilda.

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 – 29 Feb-18 March 2016

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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.

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.