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The Age

Ramsay Street cull a blast

Author: BRIAN COURTIS
Date: 24/10/2005
Words: 563
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: News
Page: 19
TELEVISION REVIEW: NEIGHBOURS (6.30PM, TEN)

THERE are dark days ahead for Ramsay Street. After 20 years of relatively sunny security, the producers of Neighbours have decided to turn their annual spring-cleaning character cull into an explosive joy flight somewhere over Bass Strait. Prayers, tears and a lot of water are about to hit the screen.

More friends and neighbours than usual will be lost this year as a bomb is set off aboard a plane chartered by hopalong Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) for his 1940s theme trip from Melbourne to Launceston.

It's the sort of dramatic series shake-up The Bill went through. But instead of Sun Hill and some of its finest going up in flames, we have 11 of the Neighbours regulars plunging into the damp darkness tonight. Some will battle on, others will disappear like Scott and Charlene, into the audience memory banks.

Still, this is probably the disaster the soap needed to happen. Neighbours really can do with a ratings pep-up. The titles intro, with Tony Hatch's chokingly cheesy theme song, has already been given a polish, we've seen someone wandering around Ramsay Street who looks like a cross between Keith Richards and a Joe Mangel we remember, and Izzy (Natalie Bassingthwaighte) has done about as much as she can do to be a female J. R. Ewing.

So, with cliffhanger and contract-renewal time upon us, what better than turning it all into Ramsay Street's own touch of Lost? Or, maybe, see it as a sort of TV reality show, a Survivor: Launceston?

Who will win through the plane crash, avoid becoming shark bait, and live on to put up with more of the interminable homilies of Harold Bishop (Ian Smith)?

Harold, by the way, won't be on the hit list. He gives his prize ticket from Lassiters to others of the clan.

So the guessing game on who will get through to next year is now over Paul and Izzy, the Bishops - David (Kevin Harrington), Liljana (Marcella Russo) and Serena (Lara Sacher) - Elle Robinson (Pippa Black), Connor O'Neill (Patrick Harvey), Susan Smith (Jackie Woodburne), Alex Kinski (Andrew Clarke), Dylan Timmins (Damien Bodie) and Sky Mangel (Stephanie McIntosh).

A 1940s theme? Well, it's all very '40s, from the warning note left on the aircraft seat for Izzy and, presumably, Erinsborough's Hercule Poirot, the plane itself, costumes and some delightfully old-fashioned fireworks and bathtub special effects.

Survivor: Launceston is not quite the Ramsay Street equivalent of Dynasty's royal Moldavian wedding massacre, when terrorists sprayed gunfire into all the guests in the chapel, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. And much more fun than sending anyone to Brisbane.

WORTH WATCHING

Mythbusters 7.30pm, SBS

All the things you were curious about but never really needed to follow through. Tonight, Kari and Adam test whether talking on the mobile phone while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence.

Grey's Anatomy: Make Me Lose Control 8.30pm, Seven

Emotional episode in which Cristina's condition is made obvious to Dr Burke, and Meredith is left tearful over both her mother's Alzheimer's-inspired delusions and Greg Shepard's unfortunately likeable ex-wife.

Cold Case: Strange Fruit 9.35pm, Nine

Grim memories encourage Will Jeffries to ask for the re-opening of the unsolved 1963 murder of a black teenager whose body he first discovered. The title belongs to the Billie Holiday classic, although it's sung in this episode by Nina Simone.

 
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