12 January 2006

Shark Jumping, Part 2

Big Sean, he of Wat Tyler and the parody skinhead oi band, Hard Skin, whose parodying skills are apparently so effective that they are now selling a phenomenal number of records to skinheads willing to believe that they are a serious oi band, used to say to me, "No one watches Neighbours except children and unemployed people."

He's not far from the truth there, although for someone who typically has several weeks of British soaps backed up on his VCR waiting for his careful perusal, it might be a bit arrogant. Besides, at least until the late 90s, there was one other category of person who might still watch Neighbours, i.e., the British university student, legendary for his/her willingness to do just about anything rather than attend class or do coursework.

I should note that most North Americans will have no idea what I'm talking about; for their benefit, Neighbours is Australia's longest-running soap opera (21 years and counting), and possibly it's best-known export to the United Kingdom with the possible exception of Foster's Beer. For a few years, it was the most popular show in the UK, and though its glory years (Kylie Minogue is just one of its many gifts to the world of pop stardom) are long past, it's still broadcast twice daily on the BBC. And I, having the mind of a child and having been technically unemployed for some time now, must admit as one of my guiltiest secrets the fact that I still watch it.

Knowing that I was coming to the ancestral home of Neighbours even lent a certain cachet to my first trip to Australia, and though the novelty has since worn off (this is my third trip, after all), I was still pleased to know that I'd be seeing the launch of the 21st season a couple months ahead of my fellow sad Neighbours-watchers back home. But now that the season has been underway for four days, I must report that some serious shark-jumping has been going on in Ramsay Street (for those not familiar with the expression, it refers to when Fonzie jumped a shark while water skiing on Happy Days, and was taken to mean that the programme had completely run out of steam and/or ideas).

Well, on Neighbours this year, the ever-tolerant, ever-pious, Salvation Army-volunteering Harold Bishop has suddenly metamporphosed into a vengeful psycho killer (he hasn't killed anyone yet, but not for want of trying). Always a bit of a God-botherer, it looks as though the tables have been turned and Harold is the one being bothered, as he's getting messages to the effect of "an eye for a eye" direct from the Big Man Upstairs.

Harold, of course, has played is part in some preposterous goings-on before, like the time he was washed away at sea and presumed dead for many years until his long-suffering wife Madge spotted him playing in a Salvation Army band and afflicted with that all-purpose soap opera device, amnesia (the only ailment more common in soapland seems to be the coma). But I'm afraid this time it's all gone a bit too far, and if they keep this up, I may even stop watching. Or not. I just realised that if it weren't bedtime, you'd probably be subjected to another couple pages of Neighbours synopses and analyses, so count your blessings.


kendra said...

if you're going to stop watching neighbours for that, why are you still watching corrie? isn't it just a panto year round now? (except for the whole rosie/craig sex thing- i'm loving it!)

Larry Livermore said...

Did I actually say I was going to stop watching? As opposed to "may stop watching?"

As for Corrie, we're talking Shakespeare compared with Neighbours there, and even the original Shakespeare seldom shied away from a bit of panto.

Speaking of Rosie and Craig, they'd just started having it off when I left England, so I'm not up to date on what kinky twists their sex life may have taken. I was more fascinated with their Goth-ness, especially the one heartfelt discussion they had about what it means to be Goth. Craig: "I guess it means we have to do all sorts of dark and horrible stuff. But when I'm with you like this, sometimes I don't feel all dark and horrible, I feel, like, happy and stuff. Does that mean we can't be Goths?" Or words to that effect.

kendra said...

i remember that discussion about being happy goths. i immediately thought of the song by divine comedy. nothing new really, other sally going insane.

if it weren't so much effort (and if i weren't committed to celebrity big brother), i might have tried neighbours. oh well.

hardskin's playing gilman tonight.