IF soap is a label reserved for continuing unresolved drama, then this
country produces four - E Street, Neighbours, Home and Away and the declining
Chances. A fifth, The Sullivans, has yet another re-run as each day dawns.
A Country Practice and G. P. miss out, because their stories, which have
some sudsy elements, are delivered complete in weekly packages, though the
British are considering stripping G. P. to 25-minute chunks.
Neighbours and Home and Away are the long-runners. Both have weathered
major facelifts and have so many similarities that an hour spent watching both
can be confusing.
Neighbours has become moralistic and is light years away from its original
concept, when it was played as a high-camp comedy doorknock. Nowadays, Bouncer
provides the smiles, rescuing discarded embarrassments from the rubbish,
schoolgirl Phoebe comes to terms with pregnancy and Cathy faces the fact that
she can never be pregnant again.
Home and Away has the better look, the better writing, the busier sets,
and spends a generous amount of time on location. The program generally gives an
air of being more in touch with its young audience.
Neither program makes life easy for new viewers. Soap that does not cling
risks disappearing down the gurgler.
Current best bet for Neighbours is Raymond Chambers, looking for trouble
after acquittal on the abduction charge, while Home and Away has the artful Adam
as the character most in need of a good old-fashioned come-uppance.