Did we like it?
It’s nothing like its predecessor, Neighbours, so yes, we did. Whether this Australian drama about the reunion some of torn-apart 30something friends is strong enough for us to record every day and watch after a hard day’s work is another matter. After episode one, we’re tempted to to stick with it but the novelty may wear off before we get through all 135 episodes.
What was good about it?
• Most of the opening episode contained utter normality, with sun in the sky and upbeat music in the background. But, just when it was getting too cosy, wham – in came the sinister soundtrack and dark clouds gathered for the otherwise cheery characters – an ex-girlfriend turned up with her recently dumped, persistent, bearded lover lurking; a gun and a stash of cash was found in a kitchen; brothers threatened each other; a sinister villain demanded money with menaces. It’s a combination of sweet and sour we liked and found intriguing.
• “In less than 48 hours, our lives would be ripped apart again because one of us would be dead and someone close to us, maybe even one of us, would be the killer,” the otherwise perky narrator Gabby told us. They don’t make promises like that on Neighbours.
• The characters are all exhuberant without being tiresome… yet. We suspect Poppy, a replica of Phoebe from Friends, who plays mandolin and makes up silly songs, will be the first we’ll want to see succumbing to a shark attack, but so far, so good. We can cope with them all.
• Addy, the buffoon with frizzy hair and no dress sense, is like a reincarnation of EastEnders’ Nigel who we always had a soft pot for. Pity that he’d got a villain on his back, demanding $1500 a week (Addy was an innocent party in some sort of embezzlement, we gather), with henchmen called Thunder and Lightning doing the baddie’s bidding. Sadly, Addy ended episode one with his face smashed into a steering wheel after a car chase. (You don’t get many of them on daytime TV.)
• The rivalry between brothers Philby (born again goodie, back from England with a pregnant mouse of a wife called Tess) and Daniel (who looks gay but is a hoodlum) wasn’t explained so that’ll be interesting to follow. Especially if Daniel continues to come out with lines such as: “Take that cow you knocked up and get out of here.”
What was bad about it?
• The barbie, beer and beach cricket clichés didn’t take long to wash up on the Sydney beach of Manly where Out Of The Blue is set.
• There were quite a few tired old lines in the script (eg “You’re my brother. You’ve been in Queensland for the last five months”, “She’s the girl we all wished we could be” and “I could tell ya but I’d have to kill ya.”).
• The beach scenes were obviously filmed on a cold day (check out the nipples on Italian stud Stava for proof).
• Philby and Daniel’s overbearing mother Deborah insisting that mad-for-muesli Tess tucks into eggs. She’s just a stock soap character we could have lived without.
• Little brat Zoe had to go and win the running race. Now she’ll be more annoying than ever. (Was it cruel of us to cheer when she took the skin off her knee when she tumbled on a rock?)
• The worst bit of being-woken-up acting we’ve ever seen – from Dr Bec, “the girl who took off and broke Jarrod’s heart”. (He is now married to bad-hair-lady Tracy and irritating Zoe is their kid).
• The secret lover storyline. There was no reason for the Gabby-Paul liaison remain a secret (he’s a lot younger than her, that’s all) so it seemed clumsily contrived.
• We’re not keen on narrators in drama and certainly didn’t like it when Gabby said: “Imagine how much you’ve changed in nine years. Think about all the love and heartache you’ve had.” “Mind your own business,” was our reply.