Over the course of a season, Neighbours needs to pull itself into the 21st century. Here are my ideas (maybe I will update them later).
Paul buys a handful of adjoining properties on the street. To do this, Paul manipulates the other characters into his debt (maybe by operating a dodgy home loan service which offers them a ‘better’ mortgage) and then takes their houses from under them, at a low price (thus getting rid of some of the crap characters, who move to a poorer area). Paul then has the houses levelled, and sells the property to Affirmacon at a vastly inflated price. He swindles them with a deceptive contract, binding them to the sale. Affirmacon try to force Paul to their will by framing Elle for lese majeste while she is holidaying in Thailand. Paul refuses to budge and it seems Elle will serve a life sentence in a Thai prison. Meanwhile Affirmacon build a four storey apartment complex on the land, and a massive shopping mall/movie complex. They also sell part of the land to the government, who build a freeway through the middle of it all. To get to the end of the cul de sac you have to cross an overpass (No. 22 is in the cul de sac). On the opening day of the mall/movie complex (last day of the series), the mall collapses, killing the remaining shitty characters, including the ultra-boring Paul. Elle comes back from Thailand after the King grants her a pardon and she runs his business. Her experience has made her somewhat nicer as a person, if meaner in business. Apart from Elle, the only characters to remain alive are Harold and Lou.
We start the new series with Elle firmly esconced at number 22, seemingly living by herself. But in reality she is hiding a man from Thailand who came back with her and is hoping to emigrate. He has already overstayed his visa and the couple are running out of ideas. Lou and Harold freak out because they think he is a drug dealer or gang leader. But actually he is a nice guy and Elle is pregnant to him. Pity he actually has a wife in Thailand, whom he hasn’t told Elle about. His wife thinks he is working overseas to make money but he has no intentions of returning.
Meanwhile the apartment complex becomes the focus of the show. No Melrose Place, it is a bleak, badly designed piece of concrete. A mix of characters from different backgrounds have moved in already when we start the new series. It seems their children are happy to make friends (and trouble) with each other but because the parents are from different racial backgrounds they have strong ideas about each other, which when coupled with a dose of Australian territorialism makes them grudging apartment-sharers at best.
Because the mall collapsed, some new sets will be needed. Naturally a coffee shop and restaurant will be there- an extremely pretentious restaurant deigning to serve ethnic cuisine, which only the European characters and the children frequent. The adult migrant characters order takeaway or cook at home instead (thus forming a further division between the characters, allowing strange ideas to formulate and drama to increase). There will be a new set- a train station, where some of the characters will work. Not all of the characters have a car, some of them actually catch the train instead. Bitching about public transport becomes a pass-time for these characters.
Lou and Harold fight with the council to have a park put in. A memorial goes up for the dead characters. Harold is elected to the local council and uncovers the truth about Affirmacon framing Elle and having her thrown in jail. He reveals to Elle that Paul knew about it and did nothing about it. This trashes the memory of Paul for Elle, and makes her hate Affirmacon even more. But she is managing the apartments for Affirmacon (and adding a nice illegal commission for herself to their rent, which Affirmacon know about) so she has to deal with it. Besides, she is extremely comfortable in her new life and needs to keep it together in order not to lose it all.
Erinsborough is a noisy, messy hive of activity. Elle (and whomever she eventually marries) live in riches at Number 22. Harold and Lou cling to the house they still own, despite rising property prices, and realise that they really need each other in order to keep afloat. The more they realise this the more they realise their differences. The new characters’ drama is tempered with intolerance, tunnel vision and excessive pride amongst the adults- however their children do not share these faults. The childrens’ main concern is to come out on top in a competitive world. Neighbours is now about divisions, real (money, law) and artificial (pride, mistaken beliefs), and having to overcome these divisions to get by.