Neighbours – Bonus Post 4

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Well. That’s all over with. The ‘Dee’ storyline has come and gone, wrecking numerous relationships and apparently pissing off a lot of viewers. I found it all desperately sad and was holding out for some miracle that fake Dee was real Dee in the end. Alas. Presumably Dee/Andrea or the kid will come back in the future, but for now they are gone and Toadie is a hundred grand poorer and has been thrown out for slipping one in.

Elsewhere, we’ve had the revelation of who Leo and David’s father is and the associated fallout, Brad and Lauren left, and Toadie’s brother Shane and his family have moved in to the street. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here so I can drone on for a while about some of my favourite residents, past and/or present, and today we’ve reached the letter KAY. And that can only mean one thing – MISTER….. KENNEDYYYYYY!……………. KENNEDYYY (Anderson). Wha?

Billy Kennedy – Jesse Spencer (1994 – 2000, 2005)

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Significant Others: The Kennedy Family. Anne Wilkinson. Melissa Drenth. Caitlin Atkins. Toadie. Lance. Amy.

Billy was arguably the central figure of The Kennedy family when he first arrived, his friendships and romances a focal point for many years. He was good looking, a little naive, was always getting into trouble even though his heart was in the right place, and his friendship with Toadie and Lance became a major draw, along with the other core members. It was however his on again off again romance with Anne Wilkinson that kept viewers intrigued – the closest thing to a Scott and Charlene that the show had in the 90s.

Special Power: Grows cabbages under his fingernails.

Where Are They Now:

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Billy left with Anne in 2000 and subsequently got married and had three kids – a new generation of Kennedys to appear in the future no doubt, hopefully not after Anne and Billy divorce. Billy appeared in the 2005 20th Anniversary show, strolling along a beach in LA. That’s because Jessie Spencer landed a hot job in the US – main role in House, followed up by a starring role in Chicago Fire, which sounds like an American London’s Burning. 

Libby Kennedy – Kym Valentine (1994 – 2014)

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Significant Others: The Kennedys, Drew Kirk, Ben Kirk, The Kinskis, Darren Stark, Daniel Fitzgerald. Steph Scully. Taj Coppin.

It’s fair to say that Libby is one of, if not my favourite Neighbours character. Bad ass all around. Her introduction greatly pleased my adolescent self, thanks to her assets. She was smart, feisty, yet always got involved with the wrong man. All until Drew came along and she finally felt settled. Till he was killed by a horse. Of course. Libby became a teacher, following her mum’s footsteps, and drama continued to follow her until she began a series of departures from the show – first in 2005, returning in 2007, and popping back and forth until 2014 where it appears she has left for good. I missed many of those last years after I stopped watching around 2007 or 2008.

Special Power: Breasts

Where Are They Now:

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Kym Valentine has sadly had several health issues in the last few years which contributed to her leaving the show. Of all the characters I’d want to see ending up happy, whether that means in a stable relationship or whatever, I’d love to see her coming back to reach that dream as Kym does such a great job in the role. There’s always a chance she’ll be back of course, given that Libby’s teenage son Ben is in the show now while she is teaching in China. Fingers crossed!

Mal Kennedy – Benjamin McNair (1994 – 2014)

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Significant Others: The Kennedys, Danni Stark, Stonefish, Catherine O’Brien.

There are many rumours and suggestions for the origins of my nickname – Mal – it’s part of my name, it’s Latin (etc) for evil, and because people knew I was a Neighbours fan back in the day and thought it was funny to call me this after one of its characters. Anyway, Mal was never a major figure, at least to me, in the show – he was the one Kennedy with the less interesting plots and the least screen time, so it seemed. Still, he’s a familiar face and has popped back every so often, typically with some new personality traits, and he’s alive and well so can return again at any point.

Special Power: Can swivel his pelvis 360 degrees.

Where Are They Now:

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He left after three years and it looked like he wouldn’t be back. Then he came back in 2002, his mischievous ways replaced by a ruthless, money-driven ego. Since then he was been away and been back several times, never staying longer than a few months. He and Catherine are still together in London now, both successful business types or something.

Karl Kennedy – Alan (1994 – Present)

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Significant Others: The Kennedys, The Kinskis, Sarah Beaumont, Darcy, Izzy, Ben Kirk, Holly Hoyland, pretty much everyone on the show for the last 20 odd years.

The legend. The daddy of the show’s longest running stable (sort of) family, Dr Kennedy, a some time singer, womanizer, and tight-wad, Karl has had several spicy affairs, fights with his kids and their partners, brushes with death, law suits, and everything else. But he’s still standing, and now acts, along with Susan, as the show’s emotional, nostalgic, and humourous core, like Harold and Lou before. That’s not to say he doesn’t still get his fair share of interesting stories, but more often now Karl is there to put a smile on your face or a laugh on your… feet? We’ve known him for so long now, he is Neighbours. 

Special Power: Obscene limericks.

Where Are They Now:

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Still on the show! 23 years now, and still going strong.

Susan Kennedy – Jackie Woodburn (1994 – Present)

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Significant Others: See Karl’s entry (matron)

The other legend. I’ll be honest, I had a crush on Susan too. Maybe it was some adolescent fantasy that, while I was more interested in Libby I didn’t think she would ever like me so I’d have a crack at her ma instead (never mind the fact that we were thousands of miles apart and they were fictional characters). Fun fact – I did eventually have a Maths teacher who looked an awful lot like her, though I did not have a crack at her. Fun fact 2 – I did have a crack at her daughter though – more than a crack in fact. MUCH MORE. Susan has seen and done it all in her years on the show – she has been teacher and Headmistress at Erinsborough High for decades now and has had her fair share of sexual escapades. She did a Twin Peaks, losing her memory and thinking she was 16, she has had to put up with Karl’s cheating and singing since the 70s, and has been through surrogacy and health scare storylines often being the character who most honestly depicts difficult real life plots.

Special Power: Her long black hair isn’t gone – it’s hiding in her tear ducts and it can be spooled out at a moment’s notice and used to garrote unsuspecting visitors.

Where Are They Now:

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Also still on the show, and still with Karl, and still in the School, and still taking on strays and family members such as Ben, Elly, and Angus. This pair and Toadie and Steph are my main ties to my peak viewing period so long may they continue!

How many more of these things will I write? To find out, keep coming back for more – it’s torture! Feel free to add your thoughts about The Kennedy family or any of the other Neighbours characters in the comments below.

1971 Academy Awards – An Introduction

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The 44th Academy Awards had three films with runaway success – pity for everyone else. Fiddler On The Roof, The Last Picture Show, and The French Connection each received eight nominations with the latter taking the most wins with five. It was another sign of the film landscape leaning towards more gritty output – realism rather than fantasy, and real people struggling with genuine problems which viewers could relate to.

As usual the standard list of performers were called upon to present awards and sing – Frank Capra, Betty Grable, Tennesse Williams, Gene Hackman, and Liza Minelli all presented, while The Carpenters, Issac Hayes, and Henry Mancini were among those performing. Another notable moment was when Charlie Chaplin arrived to receive an Honourary Award, also picking up the longest standing ovation in Oscar’s history.

As for my thoughts on the films of 1971 – some of the major official players will feature heavily while a few under-represented, cult, and personal favourites will get some stealth nominations. Join me over the next few weeks and share your thoughts and picks in each category!

Best Cast – 1970

First, apologies for my absence last week – I was gallivanting around the countryside and couldn’t be arsed doing any internet things. Now, this:

My Nominations: Airport. Catch-22. Cromwell. Five Easy Pieces. Kelly’s Heroes. The Kremlin Letter. MASH. Ryan’s Daughter.

Another of my favourite categories, in that it has been unsullied by Academy rules and politics, this one you are free to choose between ensemble performance, a smaller group of strong performances within a larger cast, or simply having a stellar cast performing together. Pick what you like, basically. With the 70s, many of my most favourite performers, and some of the most respected of all time, began coming to the fore meaning we have films with these up and comers reaching their peak in films alongside past masters and veterans. The historical epic was given way to smaller director led films, though there was still plenty of room for films with ensembles thanks to the disaster movie.

Airport surely kicks things off having both a large cast of stars and a couple of acting awards and nominations. The cast includes Burt Lancaster, Helen Hayes, Dean Martin, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, George Kennedy, and Jacqueline Bisset, and doesn’t only feature them in minor roles. Likewise, Catch-22 goes for big names with Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Jon Voight, Art Garfunkel, Martin Balsam, Bob Balaban, and others as military misfits. MASH gives its key players bigger roles – from Donald Sutherland to Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt to Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall to Carl Gottlieb. On the smaller side of things, Five Easy Pieces features strong outings from Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspatch and The Kremlin Letter has Bibi Andersson, Orson Welles, Max Von Sydow, Richard Boone, Nigel Green and more.

My final three choices are more of the same – Kelly’s Heroes brings together old pals Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas once again, Cromwell sees Timothy Dalton joining Richard Harris, Alec Guiness, Patrick Wymark, Charles Gray and others while Ryan’s Daughter has Sarah Miles, Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, and John Mills hamming things up.

My Winner: MASH

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It’s a toss-up between the ensembles, so in the end it may come down to who you prefer or which film you like more. Let us know in the comments which film of 1970 you would give the Best Cast Award to!

Groundhog Days

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

This is another one of those songs which I forget over the years – not because I don’t like it, just because it never seems to do enough to latch on to my psyche. In that way it’s always a treat to hear it again after a year or more as it instantly rushes back to me, but still is hidden enough that it’s a charming surprise. It follows a simple quiet verse, loud chorus format, melodies are fine throughout, but it’s most notable for that Nicky Wire ‘rap’ at the end followed by Bradfield solo. It’s a B-side from Ocean Spray and offers a more caustic sound than the single and given the experimental shown on the album this is the sort of song which easily have made the cut.

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Groundhog Days: 3/Good

Misheard Lyric: Chocolate or cum/my knees are artificial

Actual Lyric: Chocolate or coke/my needs are artificial

If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

How to follow up the mammoth unexpected success of your last album? Release your biggest song? This single became the band’s first UK number 1, and remains their only single released in the US. Based around the idealism of young (Welsh) volunteers who signed up to fight with the rebels in the Spanish Civil War, the song has since been used for any number of causes, ironic, apt, or otherwise. With powerful, poetic, literary lyrics it is one of those songs it was always amusing to see people with barely a thought in their head singing along too, especially when it was released. The song is so effortlessly catchy that everyone gets swept along with it’s melancholy verse, string-drenched chorus, and it still holds probably the finest example of the Manics ‘ooh and aahs’ trademark thanks to that extended ending.

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If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next: 4/Great

Misheard Lyric: Hosing your hair today/but I am past a feast

Actual Lyric: Holes in your today/but I’m a pacifist

Best Stunt Work – 1970

My Nominations: Brewster McCloud. They Call Me Trinity. Catch-22. Little Big Man. Kelly’s Heroes. Tora Tora Tora.

We return to one of my favourite awards, namely because it has never been an official award, and also because stunts are one of those things which draw you to Cinema at a young age – a good stunt will stay in your mind just as much as a powerful line of dialogue or piece of acting. Many people will tell you that, for practical stunts, the 1970s are the finest decade. Certainly we saw an explosion of car chases and stunts, and not only on the big screen, but also through hit TV shows which continued into the 80s, such as CHiPs, Knight Rider, The A-Team, The Dukes Of Hazard etc etc. There’s something unique about the stunts of this era – the way they were filmed, up close, from multiple angles, with realism, and with plenty of slow mo. And they always seemed to take place on some dusty LA highway or desert road. Brewster McCloud has a plethora of stunts, from the aforementioned car chases and crashes to fisticuffs, well placed bird crap, and a boy flying like Icarus. Little Big Man features some stunts which deserve to be more well known and are visually iconic if not part of the public consciousness – the horsework and leaping from carriages here is second to none. They Call Me Trinity doesn’t come near the iconic status of the other films, but is still an underrated and very funny spaghetti western with plenty of action.

Our last three movies are three standard war movies each with their own flavor of action and stunts – Tora Tora Tora most notable of course for its aerial scenes – the same can be said for Catch-22, while Kelly’s Heroes is a more traditional mixture of gunplay, tanks, explosions, and punch-ups.

My Winner: Brewster McCloud

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1970 you would hand the Best Stuntwork Award to!