It’s been less than a year since we bid farewell to Neighbours, but the Aussie soap is officially back.
The dust had barely settled on the Ramsay Street set when Amazon Freevee revealed plans to revive the show, and now the first new episode will drop on Monday (18 September).
If you remember Neighbours’ extravagant summer 2022 finale, then you’ll recall how dedicated bosses made sure all loose ends were tied up – but thankfully, the writers have found ways to breathe new life into the reboot.
There’s a time jump of two years (so yes, Neighbours is technically now set in the future) and new characters including the mysterious Reece, played by The OC’s Mischa Barton.
The opening episode will also reveal a lot has gone on since we last saw the Kennedys and co. But the biggest question is – is it still the same show we knew and loved for 37 years?
Here’s what critics have had to say…
The Guardian (3/5)
“Set two years after the finale, the producers niftily avoid awkward explanations for joining any of this together by moving the timescale on significantly. Children have been recast and seemingly aged a decade. Former cast members are referred to as if they have gone into witness protection. Long-running characters utter cryptic phrases suggesting ‘a lot has happened in two years’.
“The first episode includes the sort of twist that will leave fans shouting at their screens. It is an odd mix of nostalgia (the old sets and famous cul de sac remain the same) and unsettling change.”
The Telegraph (3/5)
“The old guard are joined by marquee signing Mischa Barton, former star of The O.C., cannily cast to add international appeal. As a mysterious American stranger staying at Lassiter’s hotel, she’s a Dynasty-style femme fatale. Shaggy rescue dog Trevor proves a scene-stealer in the tradition of late, great Labrador Bouncer.
“Thanks to the deep pockets of Jeff Bezos, production values are higher. The look is glossier, locations are glammed up, an ambient synth soundtrack bubbles away. This is Melbourne via way of California. Not groundbreaking nor any match for its Kylie ’n’ Jason heyday, but as easy-on-the-eye guilty pleasures go, these new Neighbours make for fair dinkum viewing.”
“With so much going on, it’s very clear that Neighbours producers have carefully tried to walk a tightrope in balancing the familiarity that we expect alongside new characters and fresh storytelling – and largely succeed. While there’s a lot to process as we’re reintroduced to life on Ramsay Street, the soap wisely makes the legacy cast the focus of the opening run.
“Karl, Susan, Toadie, Paul, Terese and Jane are in the thick of the drama, and the decision is one that really pays off. Not only are they among the most beloved actors in the show, but they provide a much-needed sense of reassurance that this isn’t a reboot but a continuation.”
“There is so much happening. Even after the first eight episodes, I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface with some storylines. What’s also nice is that no story or character dominates or proves overwhelming. Everything is well-paced, allowing each narrative ample opportunity to breathe and flourish, playing out as and when the time is right. Soap storytelling at its absolute finest.
“Neighbours always functioned best as an ensemble piece, with characters popping in and out of each other’s stories and houses, and this unique and totally unrealistic aspect (sorry not sorry) of the show remains very much intact. In fact, this overfamiliarity is something that the writers even poke fun at courtesy of new residents of the Street, the Varga-Murphys.”
“From wedding day jitters to snatched kisses to Lassiters somehow staying in business, everything that made Neighbours so watchable for 37 years appears to be clear and present. And it’s fair to say it returns with a traditionally soapy bang, the very first episode delivering a delicious twist so audacious I laughed out loud in delight and was tempted to rewind and watch it all over again.
“The whole fallout from this jaw-dropping turn of events, plus some clanging cliffhangers – why is Susan hiding her new bracelet from her husband? What ‘troubles in Werribee’ are the new family running away from? What’s Mischa Barton really doing here? – should keep the wheel turning. Perhaps not for another 37 years, but hopefully for a while yet.”
“We already know from the trailer that the action fast forwards two years which is quite a clever plot device as it allows them to explain away the absence of some characters and to kickstart the story for a new streaming audience who aren’t au fait with the show’s history.
“However, for those that have a passing interest in the background of Ramsay Street, cast stalwart Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) is back and updating his history book of the area, regaling anyone who will listen with tales of the good old days.
“There is also quite a bit of exposition to fill in the gaps since the finale for fans, and it made me wish they’d do a spin off movie, because it sounds like it was quite an exciting couple of years in Erinsborough.”
Neighbours: A New Chapter arrives on Amazon Freevee on Monday 18 September. New episodes will drop daily from Mondays to Thursdays at 7am.