Fans of the Aussie soap Neighbours were recently treated to an extra feature-length episode entitled Hit and Run. Being a lifelong Neighbours fan (whilst also being keenly aware of its failings), the teasers for this episode got me pretty excited, especially since it was all going to revolve around a 1990s-themed party, and there are few things I like more than 1990s Neighbours.
The backdrop of the episode was Toadie’s belated 21st birthday party, which came about due to yet another baffling competition – I mean, we’re all still reeling from the heady excitement of the “Most Liveable Suburb” contest from last year – where Lassiter’s agreed to throw a bespoke party for one lucky Erinsborough resident. Steph and Shane rigged the contest so Toadie would win, because he’d been down in the dumps about Sonya going away, and also about having to actually do some work for a change in the run up to Tyler’s murder trial.
And that brings us to the big plot running alongside the party storyline – Tyler’s murder trial and Piper’s plan for them to go on the lam. There are two types of story in Neighbours – ones that come from absolutely nowhere and reach an unsatisfactory conclusion within a couple of episodes, or ones that drag on interminably for months and months. The murder story is definitely the latter, having been dragging on since early November. It seemed there might finally be some sort of resolution in this special episode.
Toadie’s 21st got off to a great start with the return of a few familiar faces. There was a “House of Trouser” reunion, with Lance and Stu returning to dress up as Teletubbies for the party, along with Toadie and his brother Stonefish. Teletubbies seems like a great shout for a nineties costume, until you realise that it makes talking rather difficult, and so lead to them all sporting comedy big trousers and T-shirts for most of the episode, having had to ditch the heads. Also, everyone knows Tinky Winky is purple, Stu.
My favourite thing about the party was the costumes. A special shout-out has to go to the Tanakas, with Leo as Neo and David as Forrest Gump (which is a look he pulled off exceptionally well), but as far as I’m concerned, Sheila won all the prizes for coming as Austin Powers. Xanthe and Ben were great as Britney and Justin, although it did make me feel ancient to hear two millennials gasping in wonder at the very idea that Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears used to be a couple. Props to the nerd in the costume department who kitted Mark out as the Eighth Doctor, although the scriptwriters disgraced themselves by having him refer to himself as Doctor Who. Any true Whovian knows the character is simply called The Doctor. Having said that, it’s typical of Mark to be useless at being a Whovian, as he is pretty useless at almost everything else. Aaron upheld the unwritten rule that at least one of the Brennan brothers must be topless at all times and came as Baywatch-era David Hasselhof, in a move which surprised nobody.
I’m still baffled by Angie’s costume, I have literally no idea what she was supposed to be, except that her hat resembled something one might use to saw logs. In the most Paul move ever, Paul came as Paul – deep down we all knew he’d be that guy at a fancy dress party who doesn’t enter into the spirit of things.
Not much actually happened at the party, apart from Stu very clumsily revealing that Sindi Watts had reared her head again and informed him that Andrea, who last year tricked Toadie into believing she was his dead wife Dee, was back in the country.
Also, Susan managed to run over Ginger Spice, AKA Izzy Hoyland, whilst dressed as Camilla Parker-Bowles, which was a gloriously ridiculous scene that you would truly only ever see in Neighbours. Izzy is back and is obviously up to no good, seemingly having inherited a boatload of money, and with her beady little eye on the inexplicably irresistible Dr Karl yet again. I wouldn’t really blame Susan if she’d run over her on purpose.
We were also introduced to a shady new character, who appears to be on holiday from Coronation Street in some sort of soap opera exchange programme. He didn’t do much apart from lurk around ominously and then stand over Paul, watching him sleep, which wasn’t creepy in the slightest. Was I the only one secretly hoping he was yet another surprise child that Paul didn’t know he had? How many are we up to now? About fifteen?
While everyone was busy at the party, Tyler and Piper made a run for it to the city. Piper has an uncanny knack for making everything about her, so obviously the main issue with Tyler standing trial for murder is not that he’s going to go to jail, but how sad Piper’s going to feel when that happens. Her big idea is to put on the world’s worst disguises and go on the run.
In an episode where most of the characters looked vastly different to how they normally look, the two characters who were really trying to disguise themselves did a very poor job. Tyler cut off his ponytail, which seemed quite drastic, but then he put on a hat and ended up looking largely the same, only with a hat on. Piper’s disguise consisted of a wig that was very slightly longer and darker than her own hair, plus an outfit that wouldn’t be out of place on an affluent mum doing the school run in her 4×4.
Piper made two crucial mistakes in the execution of this plan – first she told Xanthe, who then told Terese, who went straight to Mishti, who subsequently called every active police officer in Victoria. Secondly, she put on slip-on shoes. Why would you go on the run in slip-on shoes? If ever there was a situation that required a sturdy pair of lace-ups, it’s being on the run from the police.
The tentpole moment for the whole episode was the “big stunt” where Tyler leapt from the rooftop of one building to another, except that the moment had lost all its impact due to it having been shown on the teaser about six times. Despite being told to stay where she was, Piper made the whole thing about her again by trying to follow, leaving her dangling perilously from the edge of the building. That’s what you get for trying to run in slip-ons, Piper.
To be honest, nothing that happened in the special would have been out of place in a regular episode, but if the producers want to keep doing extra episodes then I will gladly find the time to don my PJs and settle down on the sofa to watch them. I can’t wait to find out what Izzy’s up to, and I’m really looking forward to the gnome-murder plot finally reaching some sort of conclusion. Please can this storyline end now?