"Neighbours" returned from its break the second week of January, with a new opening and characters rearranged in different places. The Tanaka brothers are now in the credits, and we finally have an updated shot of little Nell.
Toadie had to deal with the shock of his deceased wife Dee returning to Erinsborough. Dee had help and escaped from the sinking car. The person who looked after her, who has yet to be announced, thought Dee was being abused, so she stayed away. Eventually Dee recalled that Toadie was a good man, but didn't want to disrupt his life. She didn't remember everyone or everything (like she couldn't recall Elly), but Mark had a DNA test run that proved her legitimacy. At the ending moments of the month, Toadie discovered that Dee had a child named Willow, and he was her father. Mark and Steph's engagement was a bit rocky, as Victoria kissed Steph. She is devoted to Mark, but frustrated over the surrogacy situation with Sonya using her own egg, which was fertilized with Mark's donation.
Tyler and Piper continued to see one another upsetting her parents. Everyone else was more reasonable about their relationship, but Brad and Terese wouldn't have it. Terese and Paul were getting along better, and tried to team up against Leo. Eventually Piper moved out of the house and in with Tyler at the Backpacker's hostel. Leo was using this to get back to Terese who tried to ruin his career. Tim Collins is a partner in Leo's hostel. The other story in the redesign of the men's shed had to do with a wombat. For Australia Day, they got an animal mascot. In need of money, Gary kidnapped the wombat, but after Amy shared the financial problems Leo was having, he returned the mascot. (The scenes with Gary talking into a voice disguising machine were very amusing.) Aaron also took a job with Leo promoting the new cheap option for visiting their town.
Paige tried to make things better for Piper, but admitting her pregnancy at an event where everyone was trying to dissuade her from seeing Tyler. Paige said the daughter they need to worry about her, as she's having a child out of wedlock. David agreed to state he is the father of Paige's baby. Jack was surprised to hear she was pregnant, and felt conflicted. While he loves being a Catholic priest, he would also love any child that was biologically his. How long will it take for someone to figure out that Jack is the father? Ned was out of prison, but he and Elly haven't gotten back together.
The fight being Xanthe and Ben continued, and moved into sports. There was the cricket match in the cul-de-sac, and now dodgeball. Susan now knew about how Karl bought fake jewelry from Xanthe's mother, while he gave her a CD for their anniversary. Xanthe and Ben lead separate teams, and are doing everything to best the other. Sheila ended up throwing food at Ben, and was banned from the recreation center. Later Sheila and Susan had a fight, as Susan sprayed Sheila with water after Sheila made a lowbrow about Kennedy men being cheaters, and then they began throwing mud. Jimmy is now in high school with Ben and Xanthe. he told his mother that she needs to do things for herself.
Those were the highlights of "Neighbours" for January. I'm glad the show is back from its hiatus. I find it interesting how many more outdoor scenes we've gotten recently, and wonder about the pacing of the major stories.