In what should have been a most memorable February Sweeps period across the board for ABC, it seems that "One Life to Live" was the only ABC drama to drop the ball. "All My Children," while still problematic in several areas (I'll leave that for the AMC Two Scoopster!), still made me turn on my TV and watch with events leading up to and concluding with the Mardi Gras Ball/Explosion. "General Hospital" took a cue from "E.R." and "Grey's Anatomy" and kept the action in the hospital with a virus epidemic that affected EVERY character on the canvas. Both were must-watch for me. "OLTL," on the otherhand, had the POTENTIAL to be blockbuster, but it only came up lukewarm. I thought I'd take a look at some of the key stories playing out over February and evaluate them individually.
The Evolution of Cristian Vega: C Since Cristian's release from prison, all he seems to be doing is mostly playing it cool. His ultimate goal, of course, is to once again win Natalie's heart and find a way to make her truly forgive him about not revealing the truth about his real identity sooner. In what could have been a key February Sweeps period for Cris and Nat, it instead turned into Cris's foray into boxing. Well if anyone remembers Sylvester Stallone's and Mark Burnett's "inspired" reality-TV series called "The Contender," then that person knows that the public's interest in boxing is not exactly on the level of "high interest." Perhaps it is just a ploy on Cris's part to evoke some sort of emotion-that of disgust, worry, or protest-from Natalie. Who knows? I do know that Cris's continued scenes with Evangeline have made me say "Hmmmm…" to the possibility of a potential friendship progressing to that of a romantic situation. OLTL does not have a good history with advancing romantic entanglements, and this is the perfect example! The John/Evangeline/Natalie triangle went on for a horribly long time, one past the point of caring, and it seems like the writers' attempt to make us long for and desire a Cris/Nat reunion is backfiring. Soon, there will not be any interest at all!
Niki and Tess on the Run: D
I have always been an advocate of Tess and Jess and the ongoing struggle with her sanity. I have been outspoken about my enthusiasm for Tess and Nash as the next supercouple. I have also been vocal about the wonderful, yet not overdone, way that Niki Smith has been re-introduced. So why waste all of those wonderful talents, characters, and stories on a plot that went in circles? Having Niki and Tess go off on the run together provided a few laughs and a small handful of great scenes that made me stop and watch closely, but the storyline didn't go anywhere! One of the great aspects of February Sweeps is for the audience to look forward to plots moving in a new direction, wrapping up, or leading viewers into asking more questions. All this storyline did was generate frustration. It almost seemed like the writers didn't QUITE want to let us in on any secrets, so these stories, especially this one of Tess/Niki on the run, were just stallers---ones designed to buy more time until another month…perhaps May when another Sweeps period will take place. Claudia is a ridiculous, unnecessary character designed just to add one more obstacle for Tess and Nash to surmount (as though they need any further complications!). In all, I was hoping for a more solid lead as to why Tess emerged in the first place and for a sign that the story isn't just stalling in neutral gear. Guess I was wrong on both counts.
The Todd/Spencer/Margaret/Paige/Blair Show: B
I give this a particularly higher grade since this is the only area of the show that provided any sort of entertainment for me. FINALLY, the story is progressing to some sort of climax. Just to review some of the key moments coming out of this story and you'll see my point: Todd and John in an airplane crash! Todd on the run. Blair and Spencer have sex! Paige thisclose to telling Todd about Spencer's duplicity. Margaret killed for real this time?? Spencer's still-undisclosed secrets involving Asa and the Buchanans. There are some really key moments described here that are surely going to advance a plot that has been in limbo for over a year, but are any of them of the "WOW" factor? Not really. Blair and Spencer jump into bed? Who really cares? We all saw that one coming for months now, especially given the decline in her brain activity (I mean, Blair hasn't been thinking clearly for months now). The only thing keeping me on the seat of my chair is Paige debating whether or not to tell Todd the truth, because THAT will be a moment I don't want to miss!
Who is Paige's Son?: B+
Okay, I admit. I'm an Internet Spoiler Junkie (ISJ, for short). I wish I weren't, but I can't help it. So I've been much too influenced by the chatter of "It's Rex" or "It's definitely Hugh" or even "No way is it Nash!" On the one hand, I'm easily of the mindset that Rex is the obvious choice-the clues are there, the nuPaige looks so much like Rex, the Rex/Bo relationship would be strengthened even more. But I'm also of the feeling that these are red herrings and Nash is a better fit. Hugh is definitely out of the running for me because the character is a complete snooze. If he left Llanview tomorrow, I'd probably forget what he even looked like by the end of the day. Nash, however, is another story. That would tie him to a character on the show other than Tess and would give him more storyline opportunities. So, in all, I'm thoroughly confused, and I think that is what the show and the writers are trying to do. And that guessing, that mystery, is what good soap opera is all about….but I hope it's Rex!
Now, on to other matters…
1. I loved the scene when Paige opens the folder to reveal who her son is…and it pans to the three usual suspects. "My son is standing right over there," Paige whispers. And it's all three of them-Hugh, Nash, and Rex---all standing (of course!). Let the wagering begin!
2. Seeing Todd have a reason to fight back is refreshing. It's been so much of what I believe to be a resolve that he's been beaten that he hasn't had the oomph to give it back. With Paige, he's turning on the charm, and when that doesn't work, he resorts to typical Todd behavior---threatening her. Todd's a charmer, for sure, and it will be fun to see him try to use Paige to get to the truth. 3. Who ever would have thought that Matthew Metzger as Duke was a BETTER actor when he was playing drunk?! Go figure!
1. As I've said before, Claudia is a completely unnecessary character. She is tied to ONE person in Llanview (Nash) who doesn't even have any ties in Llanview himself (other than Tess and those connected to that story), so what makes anyone think this is a character with the potential for longevity? Not gonna happen.
2. A District Attorney drawing a gun and fighting a fugitive (Nash/Todd)? Please!
"A FAVORITE NORA MOMENT."
In my continued quest to make Hillary B. Smith a permanent fixture in Llanview again (more than just the next year of her contract extension), I take a moment to reflect back on a favorite memory of Nora.
The likeabilty factor. Some characters have it, others don't. Nora is definitely one of those characters everyone (well, almost everyone…neurotic Lindsay doesn't count!) likes. Think about the major loves of her life-Hank, Bo, Sam---all of them are men who have been deeply involved with Nora yet also were men who maintained strong relationships with her once their romantic relationships ended. Note that I don't include Troy and Daniel in this category because both of them were completely unstable and lacking sound judgment. But of those men who WERE sane and upstanding, Hank, Bo, and Sam were men who saw Nora of a woman of moral integrity (with the exception of that one time…) and of great intellect. I use this as my example because over the course of her many years in Llanview, I always loved the playful scenes between Hank and Nora. Even with their marriage over, Nora and Hank never really mentioned their racial differences and always focused on their friendship and their daughter, Rachel. Hank looked out for Nora at all times, and he was even supportive when his best buddy Bo married his ex-wife! When Bo and Nora ended their tumultuous marriage (at least the end of it was that rocky), they eventually maintained a civil and somewhat cordial relationship until it once again became quite friendly. Nora just has that likeability factor that allows her to have great friendships (Viki, Evangeline, Jen, Sam, R.J., and even people like Marcie). I am counting down the days for Nora to open her eyes and start a new journey in Llanview!
I hope to see many of you at Hillary's first fan club luncheon in New York City on May 6! Information about the gathering is on her official website, and I'd be happy to send you in the direction of that information if you shoot me an email. I look forward to meeting any faithful readers who may also show up for the event. If you haven't sent in your check and request, do it today! It should be a great time!
Enjoy your week,