THIS viewer hadn't visited his Neighbours (Ten, Friday) for roughly 2,000
episodes. While that may seem terribly unfriendly, there just hasn't been any
compelling reason to drop in. But a 3,000th party for this internationally
successful sudser was just too damned tempting, so the doors to Ramsay Street
were once again flung open.
It'd be marvellous, as Harold would say, to report that nothing has changed
between episodes 1,000 and 3,000 . . . that storylines were picked up as easily
as Carr Government mistakes. I imagined it would be like tuning back into Days
Of Our Lives to find one of the crusty old Hortons finally finishing the
sentence they'd begun when you'd kicked the TV screen in during an attack of
boredom when last watching eight years ago. And since all the old Neighbours
favourites had famously moved on, the least we could have hoped for was a dream
sequence involving Des (the man with the face of a knee), Jim (the grey man),
Kylie, Jason, Craig and Bouncer (the fat labrador and my personal favourite).
But no. Only Madge and Harold remain from those heady days, and even they,
apparently, ponced off to greener pastures for a few hundred episodes before
returning in a glorious cloud of gravel-voiced earthiness (Madge) and
lip-quivering indignation (Harold). Most of the other inhabitants are bright
young things who have been struck squarely with the Spunky Stick. Sadly, some of
them missed out when the Acting Stick was being wielded.
In hindsight, it's probably an honourable thing that episode 3,000 was about
as special as a pie and sauce. It was like some trainspotting nerd going through
the books had discovered that the episode shot three weeks ago was the 3,000th.
It makes more sense that nothing happened than if the producers had got
together and thought, "Bloody hell, 3,000 episodes . . . let's have the Spice
Girls' bus getting lost and ending up in Ramsay Street . . . yeah, and Posh
Spice falls for Harold because he's a pompous git, and Jeff Kennett turns up and
says, `No way, Harry, the doggone girl is mine,' and they fight a duel at dawn
. . . or something."
In fact, trying to piece the clues together backwards, it would appear that
the nervous 2,990s were fabbo episodes. Madge must have collapsed after dizzy
spells and looked for all the world like a brain tumour victim. In the big 3,000
she went to the doctor, who confirmed that she had the flu. That very same
doctor, Karl, was seen talking to his receptionist, Sarah, in episode 3,000
about, presumably, the fact that he must never examine her again using his
trouser-stethoscope. That's right. In an earlier episode, the well-married Karl
(Alan Fletcher) and the luscious Sarah (Nicola Charles) daubed themselves with
oil and thrust their guilty, naked bodies at one another. Or the soapy-friendly
equivalent. In ep 3,000, they said they must not do this any more.
Still, we got tension from this pair. "That was a lovely speech," Sarah said
to Karl over her empty champagne glass after the good doctor had offered a toast
to his wife. But was it a lovely speech, I wondered, desperate to find intense
3,000-ep meaning in every word.
"Before everyone demolishes the food, I think a few words are in order. This
is a special occasion. My very talented wife, Susan, is about to embark on a new
job. I am not going to say I'm not going to miss her, because I will. Very
much. I'm also very, very proud of her, so charge your glasses, here's to
Obviously, Sarah's right. That's a very, very lovely speech. While Karl had
two chicks, no waiting, his son Billy seems to be in the same fix. That's right
. . . the suddenly racy Neighbourshas a father-and-son team each going the snog
with two gorgeous women. Woo-hooo! Naturally, Billy's moment of teenage cheatin'
happened in an earlier episode, but got talked about in the 3,000th. So, all in
all, it seems like there's plenty going on in Ramsay Street at the moment. I
think I'll wait only 1,000 episodes for the next visit.
Speaking of lewd sex, Coltrane's Planes and Automobiles (ABC, Monday) has
none of it. Much as I love the adipose Coltrane, he has struggled to make some
dead boring people sound interesting in this series about engines. Got up in his
mechanic's outfit, looking for all the world like a boiled egg painted for
Easter, Coltrane has done his best to make boffins yapping about pistons seem
like the kind of people you'd like to invite around for dinner. But I'm sorry,
the bloke who wrote the biography of the bloke who invented the jet engine is
never setting foot in my house.
The ABC seems intent on making science incredibly interesting. Its new
series, Hyperscience, almost succeeds. In fact, its opening episode about
volcanoes was like watching When Animals Attack. Scary music underpinned Craig
Donarski's voiceover, which hinted that when you least expect it, a volcano is
coming for you. The style was far too frantic for me, visually and aurally.
Then again, I'm probably just an old fart (no volcano reference intended).
Married With Children, Nine, 8 pm: Not much reality at work here. The Bundys
are still alive and living in a television studio where people go "whoo-hoo" at
the lowest dirty gag or the sight of Christina Applegate's breasts. Most of the
irony was leached from this show many moons ago, but the occasional laugh is
still on offer. Hear No Evil, SBS, 9.30 pm: You've got to admire a bloke who has
vampire teeth permanently implanted in his gob to help create the dark image of
his gothic heavy-metal band. Either that, or believe he is a total idiot.
Kieran from the Melbourne band Catwitch has done just that. He's a tad obsessed,
as this strange-but-true documentary reveals. It's Spinal Tap without the
irony. As part of the LOUD festival, this film looks at the band and the young
woman manager who would take them to mega KISS-like fame.
Cricket, Nine, 2.20 pm: What's to become of us? As Australian swimmers and
the occasional tennis player grab hold of glory, Seven's ratings have leapt
accordingly, sometimes at the expense of Nine's cricket coverage. Why? Because
our cricketers, in the one-day form, have been nothing short of abysmal. There
is still the chance to end the season in spectacular fashion. Today's is the
second final against South Africa. Exile In Sarajevo, SBS, 8.30 pm: This isn't
the piece of television that will make you smile. It's gut-wrenchingly tough
stuff as the Australian film-maker Tahir Cambis joins Alma Sahbaz to give us an
inside look at the atrocity that was the siege of Sarajevo. It's horrible and
powerful, ultimately asking was passive observation through our television
screens the correct way to deal with this conflict.