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Neighbours: Discussion Thread

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I haven't watched the show that much lately, but I saw a recent episode, UK pace I guess. When did they start the horrible dated freeze frame thing for the previews and the coming attractions? It's about as fresh as Ringo's hipster outfit...

Last year. It was all designed to attract new/old/keep viewers tuning in, after Ten lost interest in the show, and started only airing Friday night promos. So, Bower decided they needed to promote the show themselves, and designed their own previews. It all bombed really badly. The show was in a major slump when they début (boring teen stories 5 days a week), so tacking on long previews that showcased how teen-boring the next ep was gonna be, had the reverse effect of what they were meant to be. New/old/present viewers tuned out in their droves. Not many like them... or more accurately, not many like the cheap look - it reminds me of when JER implemented the same cheapness to the Days previews. Personally, the previews are too long, and give too much away, and the This Week preview - that airs at the start of Monday's ep - is unnecessary. But, even with the criticism, and the proof that they obviously had an adverse effect on ratings, they are still here. Bower loves them.

Who is this Sonia woman? Is she a drug addict? Is she anemic?

Sonya Mitchell is a dog trainer for the blind, and was Toadie's love interest/Lucas' GA sponsor. She's a recovering gambling addict, and has "issues" with alcohol. She's quite an enigmatic character, with lots of secrets. She seems to have a fraught relationship with her parents. When Toadie agreed to be the father of Steph's baby, and they conceived their sham relationship plan, Sonya became collateral damage. He loves her. She loves him. They can't be together. She's not taking the news of Steph's pregnancy very well, and has had a gambling relapse. That's the high she was on the other day - that and she's not used to drinking...

With Steph leaving, people are speculating that she will become a permanent fixture. But so far, they've chosen not cash in on Sonya's past, but instead tease us that there's more to her, without actually going there. It's annoying. Potential storylines wasting away.

Is the handsome doctor Libby is interested in a permanent character or just filler?

He's recurring at the moment. He signed a 6 months contract, with the option of it being extended if he proves popular. I hope he stays around for longer, and not just for Steph's storyline. He's interesting. The thing is, Bower's not so good at extending character's stay that viewers love - she brought back Angus, but made him unlikeable so viewers wouldn't root for him and Rachel; destroyed Sam's character after fan pressure wanted her back (she was an instant hit, but look what they did to her); Kyle is also very popular, but he's still only a minor recurring character - yet she brings in other teens, and continues to squander his potential. I guess if Bower likes Doug, then he will get an extension.

Edited by Ben

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Thanks for all your answers.

Do you think Bower destroys these characters out of spite, because fans don't like who she wants them to like? Is that why the Bridget tributes kept on, songs and all that ages after she died, because Bower kept pushing for her to be popular, at least in death? Is that why Sonny, who seemed very unpopular, got more of a sendoff than Elle?

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A part of me thinks it's too simplistic to say she acts out of spite, b/c that would all be a bit childish, would it not? It's more her vision for the show doesn't fit with the last 23 years. She has this obsession with American teen drama, and has even said that her vision for the Ramsay kids was to emulate Party Of Five! She wants Neighbours to be a teen drama, where anyone over the age of 25 are supporting players, and if you're over 50, then forget it. I really believe that if Lou wasn't a veteran of the show, she would've pushed him out the door long ago. I think this is quite evident if you've ever read any of Bower's blog posts on the official site - she writes like she's 13, or if her readers are 13. It's not good.

Her writing style is simplistic. You have your good and bad characters, or points of view, but never any shades of grey. She doesn't do ambiguity. She does Disney stories. So, Sam and Angus were the previous regimes inventions, who became very popular. They both had lots of story potential (more so Sam), but Bower had done with them. Fans got vocal, so decided to bring them back, but tweak them to fit her plot; her idea of who they should be. If fans grew tired of them, then all the better. That sounds mean and harsh, but I can't think of any other explanation for why she ruined Sam, the way she did. Or why she propped Bridget and Steve Parker, Sunny, so much, even though they weren't that popular (OK, Steve was popular down under, and Bridget divided viewers), but the balance was all wrong. Notice how I left out Miranda? She's the one Parker who Bower didn't seem to favour. When Steve and Miranda split up, Miranda got less episodes, and storylines that never went anywhere (a la EE's Chelsea), while Steve would pop up randomly, during episodes he didn't belong in.

Bower follows her own train of thought, which is why Sunny got a bigger exit than Elle. She favours the teens over anyone else. There were a lot of characters that left in 2008/09, and most of them were adults, only to be replaced by teens. Rosie, Frazer, Riley, Ned, Kirsten, Oliver, Carmella, Marco, Sienna, Nicola, Steve, Miranda, Bridget, Ty, Rachel, Harold, Elle, Dan... And in there place we got: Donna, Sunny, Kate, Harry, Sophie, Callum, Mia, Andrew, Summer, Lyn, Sonya, Doug, Chris (the guy that hangs with Harry) - the ratio is just all wrong. You'll also notice that any new adults are recurring, including Lyn. ETA: I forgot about Lucas. But my point still stands.

I've really babbled. :lol: Hopefully I did manage to answer your question, but as you can see, I'm really passionate about this; I love Neighbours, and have been watching for a very long time. It's like how you feel about MAB destroying Y&R.

Edited by Ben

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Ben, I find your thoughts really interesting. I've watched Neighbours since I was about 2 and this era really is the first I've been so completely bored by. Objectively looking back at 1999-2002, there was plenty there that was more boring and offensively ignorant to history but for some reason the teen quotient really pushes me over the edge.

Susan Bower has done some amazing stuff but she's got herself into a mess. I've said to a friend of mine that while 2004-2006 was solid gold with a few [!@#$%^&*] stains, the show is now one massive turd with flecks of gold.

Can I ask how you felt about Nicola West? I really enjoyed her arc in spite of myself and I'd love it if they found a way to bring her back. She was the kind of dynamic 20 something character the show's missing. They just don't even have that age range anymore.

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James, I think we've been watching for the same amount of time, give or take. Although, I don't really have any physical memories of the 80s (not really). And you're right, there have been boring periods in the past; I was also one of those people who believed the show needed a creative change back in 2008 (it did), but I never imagined it would come to this. 2008 had life; it wasn't on life support, which is sometimes how it feels. I don't think its just the teen quotient, but the general writing. Imagine if the storylines had more punch, more heart and soul, more maturity, the teens would be more bearable to watch, no?

You're also right again, in that Bower has done some really good stuff, especially when she took over in 2008, and the beginning of 2009, the aftermath of Bridget's death, which are important to remember. But, now it all feels tainted, b/c the show is in a mess; it doesn't help that Bower doesn't want to acknowledge it. If she believes there are problems, then surely she would attempt to fix them, not add to/continue them?

I loved Nicola West. I thought she was awesome from the moment she rocked up in her flashy convertible, and began an affair with her adopted nephew, Riley. During this time, the show didn't really know how to use her, but Susan Bower shaped her, and gave her layers, even though most of them were rushed through. Her decent into an emotional breakdown, was enjoyable; it felt like a Neighbours storyline. But, what I didn't like was how they downplayed Steve's role in it, and basically took away any responsibility he had. Cramming it all into 2 weeks didn't help, either. Nicola had the kind of energy that the show is missing. She had a good rapport with Toadie, Callum and Karl; had developed a kind of frenemy relationship with Susan, and as you say, fleshed out the missing 20 something group. I think they could easily bring her back by having her discharged, and with no where to go, decides to pay Toadie a visit, hoping to rebuild bridges, and find herself again. I'd just love for her to come, but I know that is quite unlikely, as Bower has stated that she doesn't want to bring a load of characters back, as she feels the show should be looking to its future.

I think it's also interesting to note what other age groups the show is missing/are under represented. 20s, over 50s, 30s could do with a boost in numbers, especially with Steph leaving. As we know, the kids and teens are covered. ;)

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Harry's leaving, right? The actor is so lifeless, it's painful to watch.

I don't think the kids on the show are too bad. Callum is too fake but he has his moments. Sophie is the type of kid you don't see on TV very often now, the sort of tomboy young girl.

I liked the mini-story where Lucas convinced Callum to accept babies. Lucas is a good character, don't you think?

Ringo's song for Bridget was not good at all, and did you notice the people in the background not caring? He seems very thin now, although he looks good in the right places, I wonder if they have forgotten his eating disorder story. The paramedic story with the dramatic music kind of cracked me up. So he saves a girl's life and she's a stalker? Isn't that like telling people not to try to save lives?

I liked the moment where Libby teased Karl about his face pack. She's better this way than as the tortured heroine.

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Lucas is awesome. He's a fave of mine, and one of the positive things Susan Bower has done. He's the type of character the show needs, and I hope Scott Major sticks around for a little while longer. His scenes with Callum were really nice.

Yeah, Harry's leaving. He always appears to be in some dream world, with his far away look. It is a shame that he's going, purely b/c it makes the mess they made trashing the Ramsay/Robinson history pointless; this, and he suits Summer way better than Andrew, who I hate.

Sophie is the kind of kid Neighbours does well - they have a history of tomboy girls dating back to Charlene. I don't think Callum's fake at all. He's another great addition that Bower got right.

Karl is so much more that these silly mini plots. I wish they would use him to his full potential and give him a major story that is about him, and not the teens.

Ringo's singing was pitchy to say the least, but I put that down to Sam Clark being nervous singing it live for the first time on set. They really should've had him record it like they normally do. I noticed he looks thinner, too, but then I guess he never used to where skinny jeans, before... And yes, they've forgotten his eating disorder. I think we were lucky that he had a momentary relapse back in 2008, as Sam was adamant that Ringo should not just get over it... pity the writers weren't so adamant. :rolleyes: I think he should have a relapse; he's had plenty of opportunities to, and it would add more to his character.

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'Neighbours' picks talent hunt finalists

Neighbours' UK talent search has entered its second stage after show bosses picked five finalists for the role of new character Poppy Rogers.

More than 1,500 British fans applied for the chance to play Poppy after the special contest was announced in April. Following the closing date for entries at the end of last month, producers in Australia drew up a shortlist of five budding stars to proceed to the next round.

Miriam Locke-Wheaton, Gabriella Darlington, Jennifer Hall, Jo Gleave and Olivia Kennett were picked by programme chiefs and their fate now lies in the hands of the public, who are being invited to vote for their favourites.

Voting opens today on Five's Neighbours website and will stay open until June 27. The two most popular finalists - to be announced on Live From Studio Five on June 28 - will then fly out to Australia, where Neighbours bosses are to pick a winner.

Poppy is a friend of Malcolm Kennedy who will arrive on Ramsay Street for a one-month guest role later this year. The character has been described as a "free-spirited young woman in her early 20s".

A similar talent hunt carried out in Australia led to the casting of Sam Clark (Ringo Brown), who has been in Neighbours for over three years.

550w_soaps_neighbours_talent_hunt_finalists.jpg

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I've gone for the girl on the right...

2008 had life; it wasn't on life support, which is sometimes how it feels. I don't think its just the teen quotient, but the general writing. Imagine if the storylines had more punch, more heart and soul, more maturity, the teens would be more bearable to watch, no?

You're also right again, in that Bower has done some really good stuff, especially when she took over in 2008, and the beginning of 2009, the aftermath of Bridget's death, which are important to remember. But, now it all feels tainted, b/c the show is in a mess; it doesn't help that Bower doesn't want to acknowledge it. If she believes there are problems, then surely she would attempt to fix them, not add to/continue them?

Oh absolutely. The 'G' rating is a chore but they have worked round it plenty of times before. I absolutely loved 2004-5. By 2006-7 they were still pushing the envelope (Katya's drug past, Sky murdering Terrence, Rob Robinson shooting Paul) but there was no introspection in the characters. The pace was so ridiculously fast that nothing had any lasting consequences. I still find it bizarre that the same team that wrote the Kennedys' 12 month long marriage breakdown was responsible for Susan planning a wedding 48 hours after her best friend was blown up in the Bass Strait.

There are always ways round the rating issue. I just wish to God they'd find the balance again as Susan Bower seemed to be getting there at the start of the regime change.

The more I think about it though, the more I think she's merely towing the party line. She EPed Canal Road which was a fairly sleazy show - she's clearly no prude. I have a very strong suspicion that Ten became more obsessed with the demos than the ratings and at some point in 2009 pushed to focus on the teens and their CBBCesque adventures. I'd also hazard a guess that at some point, Bower's gone for a compromise and that's why we're starting to see a slight shift again with the teens having active sex lives and older characters getting more focus. I certainly would never have imagined Jane Badler coming on as a camp superbitch in 2009, followed by Rosemary Daniels.

So weighing it all up, perhaps at least some of Bower's perceived arrogance is down to carrying the can for Ten's tinkering (which they have a long history of e.g. the Bishops'/Timmins' being axed). She wants to keep her job so she tries to publicly make the best of a bad situation.

As an aside I've caught glimpses of some of the stuff airing in Oz at the moment and it's really surprisingly engaging.

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Susan's best friend was Liljana Bishop, Harold's daughter-in-law. She had an affair with Paul Robinson, her husband David kicked her out and she was living with Susan until they reconciled about a month before the plane crash. At the time Susan had also been close friends with a girl named Sindi and barely batted an eyelid when she had a nervous breakdown, tried to kill Toadie and then got carted away to a mental institution. It was all just really shoddily executed.

Canal Road was a highly publicised drama series set in a medical clinic in Melbourne but it bombed. I've only seen bits and pieces of it but it amped up the sex and drugs and had some kind of murder mystery running through it. Paul Leyden was the star.

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Andrew is so boring...

I liked the scenes where Lyn (who reminds me of Stockard Channing) found out the truth, and reluctantly agreed to stay quiet. The actress who plays Steph seemed to struggle in most of these scenes, perhaps due to some of her problems with the material. That last scene between them was great, as was the scene where Lyn needed Susan's comfort, even though she was keeping a secret that will destroy Susan's daughter.

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So weighing it all up, perhaps at least some of Bower's perceived arrogance is down to carrying the can for Ten's tinkering (which they have a long history of e.g. the Bishops'/Timmins' being axed). She wants to keep her job so she tries to publicly make the best of a bad situation.

I've thought about Ten's roll in all of this, especially with their track record of interfering, and I still come back to Susan Bower. I do believe that Ten are partly responsible for the teen overload, but as Exec Producer, Bower should be able to manage Ten's demands, and her own vision for the show in a much more balanced fashion. It's almost as if she dropped the ball at some point, and has struggled to pick it up since. I would be really surprised if the network execs weren't interfering now, or last year as opposed to now, b/c Ten don't seem to be doing anything.

So yeah, I'm willing to bet Ten pushed the change in direction, but how much story input do they have? Bower could've written more substantial and mature material, instead of weeks of the mind-numbingly boring deb/Kate's dancing, or Harry's dramas, or the numerous bully of the week stories that did nothing but bore and annoy (Saffron, Griffo, Candace, Dean). OK, Saffron was probably the one with the most potential that was squandered; she was also the bright spot in the teen dominance, seeing as she sometimes was the only adult to appear!

Andrew is so boring...

Word.

I really wanted Andrew to be introduced after Elle left, and I thought he had potential when he début at schoolies, but he's just been turned into such a one-note character. We've had all of his storylines when Elle, Cameron and Robert were around.

This week has been one of the better weeks that appears every so often (never often enough). I've loved the stuff with Libby/Doug/Karl/Steph - especially when she realized Doug is Karl's boss, and then he busted them kissing. The Steph/Lyn scenes were good, too. That scene where they reconciled, and Lyn begrudgingly agreed to keep the secret, was really sad.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that Carla probably gave TPTB plenty of notice about her leaving, which is probably why they decided to give her this big storyline. I don't think it's a coincidence. Which means that Carla probably quit for reasons that weren't about this story...

I also enjoyed the Donna/Nick scenes when she learned he was her bio dad. I hope we see more of Nick, and explore his relationship with Donna.

Edited by Ben

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So, boring Andrew trying to get the hot bartender to drive a wedge between Paul and Rebecca.

That wasn't bad, but the most amusing part was when Susan and Lucas were going on about how hot a younger, attractive man can be, and when he walked by sans shirt, she was fanning herself, and Lucas also seemed to be leering. I know that wasn't the intent but wouldn't it be nice if Neighbours had a bisexual guy. And one who manages to not be insane or incredibly dull, or both, like the bi guys on most other soaps...

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So, what are peoples first impressions of Michael & Natasha Williams, and Declan 2.0?

I like the Williams' so far, especially Natasha. I don't know why, b/c she is the female version of Andrew, who I don't like. I think Michael has potential, but I have this horrible fear that he will become a future love interest for Libby, which is something that shouldn't happen.

Declan 2.0 is nothing like the original Declan, Who I loved. And it's not just looks, but personality, too. I really wish they hadn't of recast, or at least, gave the character a small hiatus, before introducing the him. It would have been better.

Poor Steph. I thought they handled her cancer scare quite well, and the marriage proposal actually makes sense, sort of.

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