Hits and Misses – Jan-Feb 2017

hitsandmisses

Hits

OMDee

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Well, well, well. It has been the biggest talking point in years, probably ever. The holy grail of Neighbours plot. The biggest unsolved mystery. The stuff fan dreams are made of and it’s finally happened – Dee has returned. Or has she? After 13 years, we fell off our seats as ‘Dee’ appeared Toadie’s doorstep and spun him a long, convoluted and still, not unbelievable story about her miraculous survival and like Toadie, we bought every word. And while many theorised that things weren’t as they seemed, we were honestly shocked to the core when it was revealed that Dee wasn’t Dee at all – but rather, being a manipulative con-woman named Andrea. Words honestly can’t do justice to this story and its impact and to do so would be to undersell it. We experienced Toadie’s joy with him, shared the scepticism of Sonya and Susan as the clues added up and felt the stomach punch when we finally realised the truth. The story is rife with incredible continuity and tender heartfelt moments that served only to become harrowing punches in the stomach when Andrea revealed her cruel plot. It brought us the return of the wonderful Sindi as Andrea’s partner in crime and took a hammer of the Rebecchi marriage and by extension, Steph and Mark. What we’ve loved most of all is the intricate plotting at play here – the type of plot that’s rarely seen in soap. Everything, every twist dovetails into the next and it’s effect on the characters and how it’s gradually drawn more in has been a masterstroke. Last but not least, Madeleine West effortlessly proves her worth as an actress convincing us not only as the troubled, fragile Dee but the ruthless Andrea. What a delight it is to see her back onscreen and we have to admit, deep deep down we’re still hoping that Andrea can serve us one more massive twist and reveal that she really is Dee after all…

Messy Ties

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Speaking of characters that have been drawn into ‘The Web of Dee’, we’ve been delighted to see the return of fan favourite recurring cop, Ellen Crabb and by extension, her ex Victoria and daughter Josie. When Victoria first popped up again the other month as part of the IVF story, we failed to realised it was actually rather brilliant foreshadowing of the bigger role she was soon to play in Steph’s life. As Steph feared she was losing Mark to the other woman in his life, and mother of his child, Sonya, Victoria was there to support Steph and ultimately make a move on her. We can’t lie, we live for Victoria’s tragic desperation for Steph as the show toes the line between two women with a connection and at the same time, two women who are escaping from messy relationships together. The fact that Mark works along with Ellen has made things even better – and of course, more complicated. It was great to see Josie return after such a long time and we’re hoping to see so much more of this brilliant little unit and dare we say, they’d make excellent additions to the core cast.

Classic Neighbours

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What can we say about the Cannings that we haven’t said before? They continue to be a highlight in every episode of Neighbours they appear in, bringing classic comedy, warmth and quirkiness to our screens. Their rivalry with the Kennedys was a fun watch with the Romeo and Juliet style romance of Ben and Xanthe at the heart of it. Ben and Xanthe have been such a funny and cute couple, the kind of made-to-be teen romance Neighbours has been lacking for a few years – but really, we just love every aspect of Xanthe from her feminism to her Japanese phrasing. Just like his mother, Gary fits into the community so well and we love his scenes with Paul and Terese and the recent sausage plot has had us howling at the innuendos. The Cannings just keep on giving and we don’t think we’ll ever get sick of them.

Pregnant Paige

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When Paige was revealed to be pregnant just before Christmas we were dreading it. Hormones and extreme mood swings – we just couldn’t imagine that was going to make Paige, who had become rather insufferable at times, anything but hateful. But surprisingly becoming pregnant has made Paige far more watchable. We’ve started to see glimpses of the Paige we liked and remembered from her introduction – the independence and the empowerment. Even though we’re not looking forward to the inevitable Jack merry-go-round, it’s been good to see Paige making decisions and being confident rather than just chasing a guy. Through this storyline we’ve also seen Paige form an unusual friendship with David which has been warm and interesting and given someone else for Paige to confide in and also support and done wonders for both characters. Here’s hoping that Paige becoming a mother will lead to new directions for the character and continue to take her down a less selfish path.

Misses

Bratty Behaviour

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We’ve really enjoyed the Tyler and Piper chemistry for ages – from their friendship to their romance – so much so we’ve been able to look past the slightly iffy age gap. However, we’ve not seen them in their best light since they got together and we haven’t enjoyed their scenes so much lately. The main problem is that we actually agree with Brad and Terese’s reservations and Typer aren’t exactly proving themselves to be mature by acting out this way. We know they’re in love and want to be together but Piper just comes across as a brat when she tries to fight for their respect instead of trying to approach the problem rationally. Moving out of home and having to cope alone is not going to end well and it’s a fairly well-trodden plot that we’re a bit tired of. We’re sure somehow the Willis family will come around to the idea, maybe with Tyler doing something to prove he’s worthy of their daughter’s heart, but for now they’re less star-crossed and more unlikeable.

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Hits and Misses – 27 June-22 July

hitsandmisses

Hits

Night To Remember

er72_0004_Layer-2Whilst the build-up has divided viewers with some questionable behaviour from some of the characters, obsessed with dresses/Tyler respectively, the big much-hyped formal finally arrived. Now as any long-term viewer will know, even characters mentioning formals fills us all with a deep dread, so damaged are we from Kate Ramsay’s formal era from hell. This, however, was much more bearable and the event itself actually resulted in quite a great turn of events. Whilst all the cloying references to Instagram, likes, vlogs and general youth culture has been prevalent (and we’re not fans), the episode set all this aside for what Neighbours does best – old fashioned, character led storytelling. Xanthe and Ben finally got it together  after months of build-up and provided some very sweet moments. Xanthe’s destroyed dress prevented things from being too saccharine, thankfully! The real fun came from the arrival of Elly Conway and the effect she had on Piper and Tyler’s already-faltering relationship. Piper drenching her love rival (and accidentally Xanthe too) in sangria before realising it was her new teacher was a brilliant episode end and capped off a very goo episode indeed.

Making a Mark

er72_0004_Layer-1Last week also saw the return of famed, iconic character and Neighbours icon, Elly Conway. Oh wait, who? Yes, Elly made her unremarkable first appearance back in 2001 and lasted less than a year before he packed off to live with her mum again as the show reinvented itself and soon populated the teen cast with much stronger characters such as Sky. We all thought we’d never hear from Elly again until the casting announcement earlier this year and it’s safe to say she’ll be working much better in her current incarnation than she ever did back then. Jodi Anasta brings all her previous soapy experience to the table and really hit the ground running in the role. It’s so nice to see the show hiring experienced actors in comparison to some questionable signings lately. Elly is fun, flirty, mischievous, and just a little bit bitchy. She immediately gave the show a fun and much-needed kick of life and we’re really excited to see what trouble she can cause.
Belinda’s Back

er72_0004_Layer-3This month saw the surprise return of the slightly unhinged Belinda, Steph’s ex, with the incredible hair. We loved her in her first stint, even when she donned a surgeon’s mask and got a bit too involved in Toadie’s operation, so we were thrilled to see her return to screens. This being Neighbours, her return was all down to Paul Robinson’s meddling with a cunning plan to split up Steph and Mark. Luckily for Paul this has already worked out pretty well, what with Steph and Belinda’s chemistry and Mark’s paranoia over their history. Belinda’s presence seems to have already driven a wedge between them and this only increased when the fabulous-haired-one planted a smacker on Steph! Even though we know Belinda is a bit of a loose cannon, her scenes with Steph are consistently watchable and despite her dark side we wouldn’t be opposed to the two of them making a real go of it and ditching dull Mark!

Misses

Character Regression

er72_0004_Layer-4We’ve already mentioned that the big formal night set piece was a great climax to the teen plots but the lead up to it seemed never-ending! Anyone would think Xanthe was planning her wedding not just the end of the year dance for school. It was disappointing to have Xanthe’s fun and complex character reduced to a sole focus on a designer dress and pouting over whether Ben would ask her out. It seemed crazy too that Ben, who is usually so morally upstanding would take the money Gary offered him to ask Xanthe out (let’s be honest, he’s smitten with her anyway). Piper’s character regression and giant fall in maturity was the worst offender of the lot. Since Josh and Doug’s death, we’ve seen Piper really grow up and the romance with Tyler seemed not only inevitable but actually pretty believable. And then things rapidly went downhill. Pipes began lying and stropping and screaming at her parents Kevin The Teenager style. Yes, Piper life is unfair. We know she’s a teenager whose always thought of herself as an adult, but what happened to the smart and mature young woman who has now regressed into a baby at the thought of not getting her own way? Just as we had begun liking ‘Typer’, alll that we enjoyed about the pairing seemed to be reversed. Can we have the teens we’re fond of back? Heads screwed on?

Eternal Paige Rage

er72_0004_Layer-5Where to even start with Paige? She’s the one character in Neighbours that gets steadily more unlikeable as the weeks go on. Since she fell in love with John/Jack in his coma, we’ve been questioning whether she hit her head SO hard during the hotel explosion and her personality damage was caused by that, OR she really is just THE WORST. The latter probably. Paige’s main problem is that at every turn she’s enabled, told what a great girl she is, yet behaving in a completely selfish and loathsome way. Now that she knows Jack is a priest, you’d think it was about time she gave up on her defrocking fantasies and either got a hobby or sorted herself out with a trip to the Erinsborough equivalent of Ann Summers. But she hasn’t. She’s continued to whine and sulk and try and make Jack feel guilty for sticking to his vocation, even going as far as stripping in the pool to try and lure him away. We’ve even seen her move away from nipple-flashing and try other tactics – jealousy (didn’t work), being a charitable, Godly citizen maybe in an attempt to force a threeway between her Jack and God (also didn’t work). The sad thing about this whole mess is that now her entire personality is a selfish obsession with herself. Not only can she not cope without a man’s affection and attention, but she never thinks of anyone but herself. Hold onto your hats readers – Paige might have just crossed the “worse than Amber Turner” line.

Scene of the Week – 27 June-22 July

sceneof theweek

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Now, it’s safe to say that very few of us have approved of Piper’s behaviour lately. In trying to prove her parents wrong, all she’s done is prove them right with a series of immature and rash decisions that have blown up in her face. Not only has she ruined her parents’ trust in her and her judgement: she ultimately lost Tyler. Tyler has always loved Piper’s maturity (as have we!) but the formal and her desperation to bring Tyler along placed a bomb under their blossoming romance. It culminated with Piper inadvertently pushing Tyler into the (reasonably innocent) arms of Elly, who got drenched for her flirtation and getting dumped by Tyler. While we’d love nothing more than to see the pair together after all this time, it’s clear she has a bit of growing up to do. The break-up scene was performed beautifully by Mavournee and Travis who make a really compelling, watchable pair onscreen. The dialogue was well-written and had the depth and maturity Piper has sorely missed these last few weeks. We really hope the pair can work things out but sadly it seems Paige is on the horizon again…

 

Scene of the Week – 13-24 June 2016

sceneof theweek

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It was a long time coming but finally, after months of sashaying around in the same, dated white suit, throwing Scottish shade and blowing up hotels, Julie Quill got what was coming to her – a well deserved slap in the face. For you see, not only was she responsible for emotionally devastating us by accidentally killing Josh and make us weep into our late-night special bowl of crisps, but by proxy, managed to come between Terese and Paul’s blossoming relationship – and that is unforgivable. While we can’t deny we were also wishing Terese would get a chance to publicly attack Julie as she did to Paul on the regular, it was Piper who got a chance to shine this time. And boy, did she. We’ve often talked about how big of an asset the talented Mavournee Hazel is and she did not let us down. She delivered a fantastic emotional performance as grieving Piper and we cheered as she absolutely walloped Julie across the face. It was a brilliant scene, and a fitting climax to months of build-up. Now please let Paul and Terese be okay…

Hits and Misses – 30 May-10 June 2016

hitsandmisses

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!

Hits and Misses – 25 April-6 May 2016

hitsandmisses

Hits

Ned Willis

er68_0004_Layer-5Ned Willis is hands down our favourite thing about Neighbours right now. Not only does he have the whole brooding and slightly mysterious thing going on, but Ben Hall is charismatic and really bringing everything to the role. The hard-done-by kid can come across as slightly bratty (see: Paige) but somehow Ned is sympathetic, watchable AND we’re enjoying his slightly unhinged ways too like when he flipped out and trashed Josh’s grave. We are LIVING for the sizzling scenes between Ned and Lauren too. She might just be helping to fix his relationship with Brad, but he’s definitely got a crush and the chemistry is off the charts. Lauren’s probably a bit too straight laced to go there but we really wish she would. And who could blame her? If someone that good looking was hanging about in the pool we’d not be able to say no either! Reports are saying Ned is only a guest character and we think this is a huge mistake. Ned has made a great impression already and he’d be a real asset to Neighbours if he stuck around.

Happy Ever After

er68_0004_Layer-1After all the Willis heartache lately it was lovely to see light at the end of the tunnel for poor Imogen. We had a nice blast from the past when she received a text from Naomi offering her a job in LA and of course, in true Neighbours style, she had only a matter of days to decide and move away for good. In need of a visa (and also because they love each other) Daniel and Imogen decided to get married in secret, but again – being Neighbours – their families found out and in record time the Willis house was converted into a pretty wedding venue. Luckily Terese had her old dress knocking around and it fitted Imogen without so much as an alteration needed! Amazing! With Susan on hand and emotional speeches the wedding was a lovely, heart-warming affair and although we were really sad to see the pair leave, we were just glad it was a happy ending for them. It’s Imogen who we think will leave the biggest hole in Erinsborough for us as Ariel Kaplan brought such warmth to the role that even in her most self-righteous moments we loved uptight Imogen and her brainy ways. She’s the kind of girl we’d have liked to be friends with and a down to earth character who’ll be sorely missed.

Changed Opinion

er68_0004_Layer-4Tyler and Piper (Typer?) have really grown on us in the last few weeks. Piper has settled down lately and in the wake of Josh and Doug’s death we’ve seen a more mature side to her and with that the chemistry between her and Tyler has grown. Tyler was super shady believing he was responsible for the Lassiters explosion (although now we know he’s innocent, phew!) and spent a few episodes being shifty around her, but Pipes was oblivious, just happy to get close to him again. One reason we’ve found ourselves warming to the pair of them is that this no longer feels like Piper’s silly schoolgirl crush but a mutual affection that runs a bit deeper. Sure, there’s the age gap situation, but they seem pretty well suited. The scene which really stood out was when Piper was torn – relieved Tyler was innocent but hurt that he’d lied. Their relationship has changed now, but here’s hoping it can get back on track.

Misses

Please Don’t Return

er68_0004_Layer-2We’ve waxed lyrical in the past about the arguable successes and failures regarding Daniel, the son of the iconic Scott and Charlene. Whilst some things worked about the character, a lot didn’t and it’s fair to say he perhaps didn’t live up to the massive expectations on his shoulders and perhaps no one could. With that in mind, one character that’s certain never to live up to her parents’ legacy is the dreadful Madison Robinson. In one of the most head scratching decisions we’ve seen in a long time, Madison arrived and immediately disappointed. We’re not going to get into the discussion of the acting skills of Sarah Ellen but what we will note is the failure to show any kind of longer term potential for the character. Madison doesn’t seem like the fiery daughter, journalist type she was supposedly being characterised as. She appeared more like a clothes horse who gifted Xanthe her entire wardrobe (seriously, who does that?) and delivered some terribly twee advice. When she promised Paul she’d be back, we were left hoping she’d get lost on the way.

Awful Angus

er68_0004_Layer-3We’ve loved the return of Sarah and the plot has improved immeasurably once Sarah stopped messing Karl and Susan about and revealed the truth behind her return. We were glad that Karl was able to pull some strings and hopefully save Sarah’s life and we thought the idea of Sarah leaving her son temporarily with the Kennedys was a really interesting move. It’s just a shame that son was Angus! He wasted no time in ruffling feathers, particularly those of Ben, who found himself robbed of Tom Quill’s money. Angus’s personality is rude, abrasive and antagonistic. And that’s without discussing that horrendous accent! There’s little joy in watching him complain about his situation and make creepy moves on Xanthe, who quite frankly can do better than Sarah’s brat of a son. We hope Karl and Susan manage to reform Angus ASAP and that Sarah returns, well and recovering, to usher him away.