Sunday, August 7, 2022

Neighbors: The finale is a weak, haunting end to an era

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How do you end a show that has been running for 37 years and has nearly 9,000 episodes? It’s a Herculean task of resolution: nearly four decades of storylines that unfold like a frayed rope. How to put all this together? Well, William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright in the history of the English language, used either a wedding or a bloodbath to end the scene. The authors of Neighborsarguably not the greatest playwrights in the history of the English language, opt for the former—but casual viewers may lament the lack of the latter.

In a conspiracy (admirable in its shamelessness) the residents of Ramsay Street decide en masse to sell and move. At the same time, Mel and Toadie (Lucinda Cowden and Ryan Moloney) tie the knot (in a comfortable wedding and street party) and, in the final strand of this farewell triumvirate, Harold Bishop (played by Ian Smith). , a man who will have to put up with being called “Harold Bishop” by strangers every day for the rest of his life) is still doodling and updating his History of Ramsay Street Book (“the last of the Guardians” to start work). As with shows like friends and MASH, the Neighbors Finale is offered a longer runtime at the end, a creative choice that only prolongs the agony.

But the main thrust of the plot revolves around the return of an old face. Guy Pearce is back as Mike Young, a role he played for a number of years in the 1980s before heading to Hollywood. He leads his daughter on a memorable tour of Erinsborough while relentlessly hitting on his ex, Plain Jane Superbrain (Annie Jones). Pearce’s return is a reminder of what an effective talent incubator he was Neighbors has been over the years but also casts an unwelcome light on all those Australian actors who Not manage to break out of Ramsay Street. This is a finale that renders in deep chiaroscuro the contrast between the show’s clumsy soap cast and its A-list runaways: Beth (Natalie Imbruglia), Flick (Holly Valance), Charlene (Kylie Minogue), and Scott (Jason Donovan). ) are all drove on for glimpses of it Neighbors is as much a talent agency as it is a TV show. “My years on Ramsay Street were some of the best of my life,” says Donna (Margot Robbie), and it’s clear the actress is speaking about her own formative years before rising to Oscar nominations and global superstardom.

The problem with this cameo-centric approach (which also implements a clip show to add to the nostalgia factor) is that it forgets what makes soap operas so compelling: the plot. Instead, this finale has almost a meta quality. “Everyone deserves a place in Ramsay Street history, even those who watched us from afar,” says Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) in her closing monologue, seemingly acknowledging that the show’s main audience was in the UK. Only the most devoted viewers, who have been monogamous with the show for decades, will be in tears as the camera pans up and away from this famous suburban cul-de-sac.

It’s a banal observation to say Neighbors is not The sopranos. The writing, the acting, the production quality, the sensibility – it’s all from a very different school. But people tuning in to these final episodes, possibly after many years – I haven’t seen them myself since my very teenage interest in Holly Valance’s career – will no doubt find the production so cheap and flimsy that it’s hardly a surprise apart favor. Everyone could use something good Neighborsbut that is not what we were given.

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