Neighbourshood: We want more!

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Like us, you’ve probably been loving Neighbours YouTube fan show, Neighbourshood, but after ten brilliant episodes it’s come to an end – hopefully not forever. Fronted by the hilarious Ben “Stingray” Nicholas, we looked forward to it every week so here are just a few reasons why it’s so great and needs to return!

Ben Nicholas – The Perfect Presenter

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Where would Neighbourshood be without its excellent host? Ben Nicholas brings every bit of the energy to Neighbourshoood that he brought to the parent show during his tenure. There was a reason why Stingray was a breakout favourite of his era: Ben has such a natural charm and charisma that he remains a pleasure to watch all these years later. He clearly has a great relationship with the longtime cast he knew from his original stint and quickly seems to have gelled with the slew of newer cast who joined in the years inbetween. He also has a real affinity and affection for Neighbours and that shines through every segment. To be honest, tongue in cheek as it is, we really do wish Neighbours could believably bring back Stingray. His natural comedic skills would be an asset to the show in any era. But with that impossible, we’d love to see him get a chance to wreak more havoc behind the scenes in a second series!

Seeing Cast Favourites in a New Light

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One of the things we’ve loved most about Neighbourshood is seeing a number of the cast getting a chance to shine in a way that we’ve never seen them before. Away from playing the characters onscreen, it’s been so much fun to see more of the people behind the actors. Different from the Q&A videos of the past, we loved how natural, relaxed and improvised Ben’s chats with the various cast members have been. Whether it be the cast getting being absolutely terrified by Ben’s pranks, their faux (and sometimes real!) horror at being named the weeks’ caketaker or best of all, the co-host aspect – it’s been so entertaining! The latter in particular never failed to make us smile as Ben’s chemistry with the cast removed any sense of awkwardness or stiltedness and frankly, we could’ve watched several hours of Ben and Rebekah Elmaloglou messing about and falling off chairs!

The In-Jokes

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The best part of having a fan show is being able to involve the existing fandom with jokes and winks that include them. Neighbourshood did this perfectly with references to ‘Terage’, the Brennans being topless, many of Susan’s adoptees ending up dead and other references just for fans. And don’t ask us why, but Mavournee Hazel playing the tuba, ala Harold Bishop, during the credits just cracked us up every time. This is a fan show made for the geeky fans like us who love all of the little Neighbours quirks and we love that Neighbours aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

The Pranks

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One of the highlights of Neighbourshood without doubt has been the weekly pranking of the cast. Yes, it’s simple, yes, it’s silly and it’s downright hilarious. One would think knowing Ben is on set would raise the guards of the cast but it would seem not as Ben effortlessly week after week frightened the life out of a number of cast. We loved that it didn’t feel fake, forced or put-on for the camera for the sake of a funny segment – he clearly did manage to terrify them and the reactions provided some absolutely hilarious moments. Our favourite? It doesn’t get much better than Rebekah Elmaloglou in episode 1 literally running away from masked Ben, screaming and launching into an expletive-laden attack on Ben. Hilarious!

The #BringBackStingray Skits

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Never, in the history of all soap, have we wanted to undo a death so badly as we do Stingray, seriously who cares about believability or the fact Stingray’s ashes were scattered, we want him back. Neighbourshood took the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how possible (or plausible) this idea might be in a series of campaign pleas by Ben and granted, it’s not very likely but the sketches were brilliant. The best one? As much as we loved the first one, with Ben recreating the infamous death scene and getting a diagnosis from wonder Doc, Karl, it had to be the witness protection idea. Of course that involved the other fan favourite talking point – is Dee still alive?! In this skit Toadie had Dee in the basement and Stingray had to go into witness protection for his own safety when he learnt about the cover up! Now if only that were real…

Caketaker of the Week

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There was someone oddly satisfying about seeing the cast be presented with a nice cake and then be read a series of mean(ish) tweets about their character. Not only did we love the name of the feature, taking us back to the days of spiggin’ huftas and the glorious Timmins family, but the feature gave us a good laugh seeing the cast – sometimes hopelessly – defend their character. It was especially funny when the cast weren’t expecting their behaviour to be judged so harshly and they were left sheepishly smiling, just like Kip Gamblin who has to play useless Brad!

So there we have it – six very good reasons why Neighbourshood was so great and why it deserves more episodes! Make it happen please Neighbours!

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Scene of the Week – 11-22 April 2016

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This may not have been the first time Paul got some home truths but we’ll be damned if it wasn’t one of the most powerful. Our favourite scene, among many many candidates simply had to be Terese tearing into Paul and delivering a damning character indictment. One of the reasons we’ve always loved the idea of Paul and Terese is that she isn’t like many of the other woman in his past. Terese isn’t weak, or easily fooled, and refuses to let Paul walk all over her or be easily plied. Even though we know he’s innocent, we loved Terese angrily tearing Paul apart, and pointedly calling him out on the many shortcomings she’s witnessed in their few short years as colleagues. What made the scene even better is knowing Terese has begun to fall in love with Paul and feels betrayed at the thought of him being involved in Josh’s death thus making her condemnation all the more damning. Who knows when the pair will manage to come back from this but we love every second of Rebekah Elmaloglou and Stefan Dennis’ onscreen chemistry.

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!

Hits and Misses – 2-13 Nov 2015

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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…

Scene of the Week – 26-30 Oct 2015

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 We do love when a deserving character is forced to eat some humble pie and after weeks of being completely non-chalant  about her behaviour, it was great to see Lauren do the right thing and apologise to Terese for believing she trashed Harold’s. It was a great scene and as usual, Rebekah and Kate played everything to perfection, the awkwardness, Lauren’s guilt, and Terese’s bitterness masking her real emotional upset. It’s fair to say that Terese has had a rough time lately and most surprisingly of all, has dealt with it as best as can be expected so it was nice to see Lauren and Brad realise they were wrong to accuse her and to see Terese properly vindicated. What we also loved was Lauren’s visit coinciding with Terese toying with what to do with the jar of memories for Piper. Terese, upset, ushering Lauren to take it as the memories have been tainted was a great moment and as usual, real and believable. Now if only Lauren and Brad’s rude, aggressive daughter could ever be forced to take responsibility for her actions and similarly apologise, we’d love it…

Hits and Misses – 14-18 Sept 2015

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Hits

The Fantastic Three Hander Episode

er48_0003_Layer-1 In light of the show’s historic three hander, it’s only fitting this week that our three ‘hits’ are dedicated to the episode that will surely go down in Neighbours history was one of its most memorable. Since the announcement that the show would air a landmark episode featuring only three characters as the climax to the Brad, Terese and Lauren triangle, fans were eager to see how the episode would be pulled off and whether it would live up to the very high expectations. In our opinion, it exceeded them. In this day and age, viewers aren’t used to plots running for long periods of time. Things escalate and climax with dramatic, unrealistic pace, so it was so refreshing to watch this plot really play out as a slow burn since 2013. And because it’s played out so naturally and realistically, it made this pay off all the moer48_0002_Layer-2re satisfying to watch. We’ve seen Brad gradually fall for Lauren, time and again we’ve witnessed Lauren’s longing for Brad, and we’ve watched Terese morph from strong, confident, happily married woman to a desperately insecure alcoholic losing her husband to another woman. The episode itself was peppered with wonderful character moments. It was so heartbreaking to see Terese admit her alcohol issues on the day her husband betrayed her and the moment she witnessed the evidence was gut-wrenchingly played by Rebekah Elmaloglou. The explosive chain of events after that moment were soap at its finest! From Terese delivering an ice-cold jab about Matt to Lauren, to the jam jaw throw ( the ‘Susan slaps Karl’ moment of the 2010s in our opinion) and of course the massive garden fight complete with an iconic dip in the pool for Lauren. Similarly, it was great to see that, as theorised, Lauren truly did have feelings for Brad all along and for the character to be made much more morally grey that has sometimes been presented in the past and allow Terese to cement her role as the victim of their betrayal, despite her flaws. Kip and Kate did some of the finest work in the episode, with Kate’s post-soaking recollection of her feelings for Brad a particular highlight. The star of the episode though was the wonderful Rebekah Elmaloglou. The episode felt like a proper moment for her character and Rebekah smashed it. From the aforementioned moment of realisation to the desperately sad er48_0001_Layer-3scene where she tried to seduce Brad in vain, to her fury at Brad and Lauren – the episode belonged to her and in our opinion, Rebekah joined the pantheon of iconic Neighbours actresses and has become an indispensable asset to the show.

Misses

Attack of the Drones

er48_0004_BackgroundOkay, drones might be a very modern, 21st Century thing for Neighbours to explore, but we seemed to learn about these council drones the same week they had a huge role to play in Neighbours’ biggest story. We can’t help but feel there must have been a better way for Lauren and Brad to be caught in the act. A photo or a phone video – just anything that didn’t scream plot device as much as the drone capture did. Terese’s reaction to the email was brilliant and we enjoyed the episode as a whole so much that we’ve been able to overlook it, but will we ever hear about these drones again? Perhaps we should, perhaps Karl should go on a one man mission to get them banned if he’s worried about privacy invasion – something that makes their inclusion in this plot a little more believable.

Like Father Like Son

er48_0000_Layer-4Once again we find Josh Willis at the bottom of our list for basically being a horrible jerk. If there was anyone to sympathise with lying, cheating coward Brad – of course it would be his equally vile son. We stil don’t think Josh got a fair lashing after his creepy catfish antics and now he goes one step further to be on our hate list. He’s been on Terese’s back now for weeks claiming her drinking issues are her own fault, her marriage breakdown is all her doing and on discovering Brad has cheated on their vulnerable mother he starts pointing the finger of blame at the victim in all this – his own mother! Terese isn’t faultless but Josh’s attitude towards the situation was a damning indictment of his horrible personality. We’re firmly on the side of the Willis women and if Josh and Brad want to team up in their holier than though “the naggy woman just made my pants fall off” attitude then we hope there’s some bad karma coming their way.

Scene of the Week – 10-14 Aug 2015

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Scene of the week for us this week is slightly different than usual, rather than something big and dramatic, or funny, it was a mostly silent scene where Sheila became aware of what viewers had been suspecting for some time – Terese is an alcoholic. Sheila’s shock as she watched the black and white camera footage was a great moment. The scene didn’t need dialogue – it was sold entirely on Colette Mann’s surprise and Rebekah Elmaloglou’s subtle guilt as she pocketed some wine and left. The best part is that this isn’t one of those soapy shocks that make no sense, or a sudden plot development out of nowhere. Terese’s alcohol reliance has been steadily building for several months too and we can’t wait to see where it goes next.