Those words sure do have quite a nasty connotation, don't they? It's rather jarring to see those words leap off a screen at you. They create such an uncomfortable feeling that it's unfathomable to actually believe that our beloved Jessica Buchanan, whom I watched be born in Llanview Hospital and subsequently grow up to be a beautiful young woman, was part of such a sick, disgusting fantasy. But no matter what connotation I have from thinking about this situation, it's nothing compared to the feelings that I found myself having after watching the scenes on Friday's episodes during which Viki and Clint forced themselves to watch the tape that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that their only daughter was molested and taken advantage of by a stranger.
I have watched a lot of television in my life, and I've seen over twenty years of OLTL's storytelling. With that said, the scenes of Viki and Clint making such a horrifying discovery were among the most gut-wrenching and well-constructed ones I have seen the show produce. From the way the living room was completely dark to the grittiness of the homemade video tape to the scratchy handwriting on the VCR tape---every small detail was taken into consideration, I'm sure, to make this discovery have an emotional impact for both the characters and the viewers.
Just as Jerry Ver Dorn's Clint had to look away and bury his face in his hands, I felt myself wanting to do the same thing. It was certainly no secret to the viewers what road we were being led down; most savvy on-line scoopsters had predicted this had something to do with child molestation and its being videotaped. But to actually see young Jessica on the bed and watch in horror as Erika Slezak's Viki realized what was happening to her young daughter was almost more than one could bear to watch. The performances were flawless; I have no doubt that any parent in a similar situation would have reacted in similar fashions. Clint had a violent outburst as he surely felt helpless towards a situation that occurred many years ago out of his knowledge. On the other hand, Viki sobbed as any mother would in knowing her daughter's innocence (and sanity) was swiped from her at too early of an age. What does a parent do? How does one cope with the disgusting truth literally staring directly at you? I know the scenes were successful because I felt what they felt. I was sickened by what I was watching, and the "less is more" rule of thumb definitely was effective in this instance. We didn't have to see what was happening on the screen (nor would we want to), but we KNEW what was happening simply by the reaction on Viki and Clint's faces. It was tragic, and it was heartbreaking.
Getting past the abuse which led to Tess's creation, I now find myself wondering how the Buchanans will view her. Will she be viewed in a more sympathetic fashion as the family thanks her for protecting Jessica from what happened to her? Will they be grateful that Tess was able to take the brunt of the abuse and allow Jessica to have some semblance of a childhood? Or will this information be used to arm Jessica with her past so that she can deal with it, accept it, and integrate herself with Tess? A storyline that has taken so long to reach this point has suddenly found itself with many more possibilities. Most specifically, I am intrigued to see what Viki will do to Niki now that she realizes that Niki is responsible for Jessica's being subjected to this child abuse. Did Niki really know, or did she turn a blind eye all of these years? With so many questions, this is one of the few stories keeping me excited about tuning in.
1. Woah! Where did the Todd and Evangeline chemistry come from? Holy smoke! I absolutely love, love, love the relationship between these two characters. Here is my quandary though. On the one hand, I am really, REALLY tired of traveling down this road with Todd and Blair. As much as I have been a Todd and Blair fan in the past, I am really over these two. Completely. So, I'd be totally open to Todd rebounding with Evangeline, someone who seems to find herself attracted to the renegades. With that said though, I especially like that Todd has a friend, female or otherwise. Evangeline reminds me of Reiko Aylesworth's Rebecca from many years ago. Rebecca had an innocence that Evangeline is far past, but the two of them are both genuine, a quality that Todd doesn't have shown towards him often. The fact that Evangeline has risked her freedom and her career to help her friend Todd will not be lost on him. He is going to remember her loyalty, and it will be reciprocated. I'm open to either scenario, but it's just so refreshing to see Todd involved in the lives of other characters.
2. I'll suspend reality to believe Natalie is qualified for her new job/promotion at the police station, but I really like that she is helping John and starting to investigate the role of John's father in his life. We have seen John struggle with "daddy issues" since his arrival in Llanview, so it's finally about time we get to the bottom of this. Maybe it will inject some much-needed life into John McBain! THUMBS DOWN!
1. Okay, so Paige's hunting for her son occupied so much airtime. All of a sudden, it seems as though it's been completely dropped. Did I miss something?
2. Spencer makes my skin crawl. Seeing him in bed with Blair makes me want to actually vomit, and I do not care if he is related to Asa, Clint, Todd, Marcie, Nora, or anyone else in Llanview. I do not care.
3. I know a great many viewers really like the character of Margaret, but I'm over her as well. She's thought to be dead. No, she's alive and nurturing her baby. Then, she is presumed to have drowned in the lake. No, she's alive and being kept by Spencer. Then she's "dead" again. Nope, she's sipping frozen drinks in some foreign country. Dead-alive-dead-alive-dead-alive. How about we allow this entire story to R.I.P. for good?
"A FAVORITE NORA MOMENT."
Finally I can say that Nora is about to wake up from her coma. This marks the return of the brilliant Hillary B. Smith to the screen. Her recent interview in Soap Opera Weekly with Carolyn Hinsey had me cautiously optimistic. It clearly appears as though she wants to remain on the show, but it also seems as though the story she is given throughout the rest of the year will dictate whether she and Nora stay beyond her year extension or go. Let's keep those campaigns going and write to the network! You can find addresses and instructions on the OLTL Message Board. Denise (a.ka. "NoraDiva") is a great cheerleader for Smith and her character of Nora, and it is because of her and other great fans like her who continue to rally for Nora that we may find our favorite legal eagle with a front burner storyline.
I was recently in New York City and had a chance to check out the Museum of Television and Radio located on 52nd and 5th Avenue. What an experience! I went to the museum's library and had the chance to select classic OLTL episodes that I could view in a private screening room complete with my own head sets and the ability to fast forward or rewind scenes. There were quite a few to select, but I opted to watch the episode following Marty's rape in 1994 and then the classic trial scene I've already mentioned in a previous column during with Nora delivers a closing argument that results in a mistrial. These scenes were amazing! Watching Hillary B. Smith have a casual dinner with her daughter Rachel who believed boyfriend Kevin Buchanan slept with Marty Saybrooke at the frat party showed the tender maternal side of Nora that we don't see much anymore. Her relationship with her daughter was the cornerstone of her character and it helped separate her hard legal side with her softer nurturing one. Since Rachel's removal from the canvas, we have only seen limited scenes between Nora and Matthew, but none of them rival what I was reminded of recently in these scenes. Maybe it was the gift of Michael Malone's dialogue writing.
At any rate, I hope to see many of you at Hillary's first fan club luncheon in New York City on May 6 from 1:30-5pm! 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,