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First review: Neighbours returns with shocking plot twist and on-point first episode

With a wedding, the return of some old favourites, and an astonishing reveal that left viewers speechless, Neighbours has made a spectacular comeback to television.

Reviving the beloved soap opera, which was notably taken off the air last year until receiving a lifeline from Amazon, was always going to be a tall order.

Had the creators used up all of the goodwill towards the beloved soap opera by the time its highly anticipated finale specials, which starred a slew of well-known actors including Guy Pearce, Jason Donovan, and Kylie Minogue, aired in 2022?

Fortunately, they haven’t.

Executive Producer Jason Herbison has catered to the needs of both devoted followers and casual viewers, many of whom may be tuning in for the first time when the show airs internationally on Amazon’s massive streaming platform. There’s no shortage of romance and drama, not to mention THAT wedding surprise.

Yes, we are discussing the marriage between Ryan Moloney’s character Toadie and Rebecca Elmaloglou’s character Terese.

To the utter surprise of the fans, neither we nor they anticipated that.

When we last checked in with them all during the season finale of the previous year, Terese and Paul Robinson (Stephan Dennis) were declaring their unwavering love for one another, and Toadie was walking down the aisle with Melanie (Lucinda Cowden).

In those two years, what in the world happened?

Fear not, everything will be explained in Tuesday’s episode, which also explores the developments of Mike (Guy Pearce) and Jane’s (Annie Jones) rekindled romance, adding more depth to their tale.

Neighbours returns to screens Monday September 18

Supporters receive prompt responses, and there will be many more surprises later this week.

What a blindside! It was textbook soap opera storytelling to have that incredible storyline twist play out in the final minutes of the first episode. It will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest cliffhangers in Neighbours history.

Until the very end, they had us wondering: will it be Mike and Jane? Paola and Terese? Perhaps the Kennedys were making their vows official again?

Nope! Terese and Toadie are the epitome of a chef’s kiss!

As was the decision to have the “core four” cast members of the show, Jackie Woodburne (who, in a throwback to the previous year’s finale, narrates the opening moments of the episode) and Alan Fletcher, reprising their roles as Susan and Karl Kennedy, along with Paul Robinson’s Stephen Dennis and Jared “Toadfish” Rebecchi’s Ryan Moloney. With Melissa Bell reprising her role as Lucy Robinson and Ian Smith returning as Harold Bishop, among other old favourites, their presence lends the show a feeling of continuity and makes it feel perfectly normal to be back on Ramsay Street.

We also get to meet some new faces, such as the adorable Varga-Murphy family, which consists of teenage kids JJ (Riley Bryant) and Dex (Marley Williams) and mothers Remi (Naomi Rukavina) and Cara (Sara West).

Everything is quite satisfying; they’ve relocated to the street and are renting Jane’s house on Airbnb while she goes to London to see Mike (Pearce’s cameo is limited to Facetime, but be ready to see the two of them in scenes shot in London, slated to broadcast on Wednesday).

The debut of Mischa Barton’s character, who portrays an enigmatic American woman who is shown in the first episode engaging in a sensual elevator tryst with Xavier Molyneux’s character, may have been the one overt error. She doesn’t seem right, but maybe that’s the idea. We won’t pass judgement until we’ve seen more.

Neighbours, which debuted on March 18, 1985, and has aired 8903 episodes since then, is still rather charming.

This episode had the ideal balance, in my opinion. 4.5 out of 5.

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