This week will be a little different for me. Usually, I like to focus the column on one particular plot that is driving the show in a given week or to focus on the outstanding or the absolutely dreadful (if necessary). However, this week I find myself unable to do that. I couldn't find one particular story that dominated the others this week. Although I'm not a fan of every story featured this week, OLTL did an amazing job of offering a great many stories that featured some underused actors and great scenes. So, I'll be limiting my commentary to the expansion of my "Thumbs Up" and "Thumbs Down" discussion this week. And before I forget, much thanks to all of you who wrote to me last week pointing out my error with the hotel door I thought was left unlocked. As I explained to those who wrote to me, I often am correcting student papers at night while I watch the show, so sometimes little moments like David sticking the gum into the lock to keep it open slip past me. Knowing that certainly helped calm my frustrations with that part of the storyline, so thank you to all. So without further rambling on my part, let's talk Llanview…
1. Weren't those scenes in the bridal store with Marcie and Lindsay just great? First, once again addressing Marcie's weight (and perhaps any insecurities she has with it) was probably pretty realistic as Marcie starts looking for JUST the right wedding dress. Most of the girls I know who have been shopping for dresses are ridiculously picky about their dresses and how it's going to make them look, so as Lindsay pointed out, it's important for them to find a dress that emphasizes her best features (well put, Lindsay!). But I focus too much on this one element from the scenes. What I most loved is the natural bond that is developing between the two women. Marcie is looking for that maternal figure, the mother that every bride wants to share each and every planning experience with. And Lindsay is probably using Marcie a bit as an extension of Jen, the daughter she can't have this experience with anymore because of her tragic death. I loved it when Lindsay sent Marcie to look at dresses and then succinctly and firmly put the bridal assistant, Hope, right in her place about criticizing Marcie for her weight. These scenes were especially touching, and it was great to see that caring and compassionate side in Lindsay once again. Unfortunately, it also reminds me what a mistake OLTL is making by not awarding Catherine Hickland with a storyline of her own (and putting her back on contract). One small nit-pick though: I read someone on the message boards point out that Marcie's worrying about spending $6,000 on a wedding dress seemed strange since is a best-selling author of The Killing Club. That got me to thinking how right this statement is. I'm certainly not an expert in book royalties, but it would seem to me that while spending that much money on a dress that one would wear just one time is a valid reason to voice concern, I can't imagine that the money itself would be the obstacle. Fortunately, this is one point I won't dwell upon since Lindsay offered to pay for the dress anyway!
2. Go Starr! Although Blair probably should have put a quick end to some of the harsh language coming out of that girl's mouth, I can't blame the mother, considering the extreme situation, for letting her daughter just get all of her thoughts off of her chest. All I know is that I found myself cheering that girl on as she put her mother and her bed buddy (the slimy Spencer) right in their respective places. Everything she was saying seemed to be coming directly from my own mind! She pointed out the lack of loyalty and faithfulness that Blair was showing for Todd, and she also mentioned the deceitfulness that Spencer showed in grooming the family to his graces only to have a plan to seduce Blair. There is no fooling this girl-she is definitely Todd's child! And speaking of an affinity for Todd, is there any doubt that Starr would pick Todd over Blair in a heartbeat? I probably even shouldn't even say that, but Starr has always been her "daddy's girl." Even though Starr knows and sees that her father is far from perfect, she recognizes his devotion and his love for his family, something that she has just now witnessed her mother throw away for a cheap roll in the sack with Spencer. I can hardly wait for the look on Blair's face when she find out she's been duped by the slick doc.
3. Okay, the good news is that Trevor St. John won me over this week as Todd. The bad news is that I've never really liked him in the role. Now before I get bombarded with a million emails from his passionate fans, let me clarify the second remark before I heap my praise upon him for this week's work. I really like the actor-a lot. He's very good, and when it was first revealed that he was really Todd instead of Walker, I thought I could accept it. My initial reaction was, in fact, quite positive. But the more time that passed and the more I started to have to see him talk about his past with Marty and even see Susan Haskell as a ghost, I just couldn't separate Roger Howarth from the role. St. John's Todd is watered down, quite frankly, and doesn't have the edge and the danger that Howarth brought to the role. With that said (because this is, after all, in the "Thumbs Up" section), I really found myself rooting for Todd this week. I have been sick to death of this storyline for months now, and I've been aching for it to end, but seeing Todd succumb to the police and then plead his case to Bo and John made me become a Todd fan. While I still can't see Howarth portraying Todd in this manner, I thought that St. John's nuanced performance---going from desperation with the police-to conviction with Bo and John in his assertions about Spencer-to paternal affection when Starr came and hugged him-to disgust when he confronted Blair about Spencer-back to desperation again when he tried to tell Bo that Paige knew more information than he was sharing-and ending in anger and frustration in his conversation with Evangeline in jail. He nailed each and every one of these emotions, and he made Todd the underdog (that's a first!). I finally can't wait to see Todd's storyline change in the weeks leading up to his "execution." Trevor St. John just might do the unthinkable and make me a fan of Todd the Second, as I like to refer to him.
4. Weren't those scenes on the bed between Tess and Viki absolutely brilliant? Long overdue, this conversation told Tess that Viki thanked her for protecting Jessica from the horror that was done to her and it also emphasized that Viki loves Tess just as much as Jessica. To see Tess finally break down and allow Viki to be a mother to her by simply holding her and hugging her is just one more way head writerDena Higley is making Tess more likeable and sympathetic for the viewers.
1. As I've mentioned many times before, Paige has never been a character I've warmed up to. And each of the actresses who assumed this role has been so sharply different in her approach to the character that it really has been like watching three entirely different people. But with the newest actress (while very good), I'm finding the character even less likeable. Paige1 was just bland; there was no real spark to her. She blended into the cast and wasn't distinct. On the other hand, Paige2 had a sense of control and a sense of power. She was more assertive and had a presence that made Paige more of a contender to go up against her ex-husband. I believed that she could be Chief of Staff at the hospital. Paige3, though, is a complete wimp! The spine that I saw in Paige2 is completely wiped out! In its place is a slinky toy, I swear! She goes from determined and honest doctor who wants to do right by Todd by telling him the truth about Spencer's role in Margaret's "death" to a sniveling, scared waste of space who looks like a deer stuck in a headlight the moment she walks into the same room with Todd and Bo. Honestly, is what she did those years ago with David THAT bad? Of course, being drunk and operating on a patient is pretty darn bad, I don't mean that, but compared to the vast realm of possibilities out there that people can do in the world and compared to the secrets we've seen spilled in Llanview over the years, is it worth keeping her mouth shut to Bo? I believe in her mind that she is the one who killed John's father. But she has to realize on some level that she just made a really bad judgment which led to a tragic mistake. Lawsuit-worthy mistake, I might add. But is it any better to purposely let an innocent man die to protect her long-passed secret? I just have trouble accepting the severity of the situation for Paige…and it isn't because I don't think there is a severe situation, but it's because her portrayer isn't helping me feel that severity.
2. Let me reiterate this again, Nora opens her eyes to the excitement and rejoicing of her friends and family, and then we go an entire week without even seeing her or mentioning her? It's business as usual for Bo, and Matthew couldn't be seen at all. The show trumpeted her return with week-long promos when she opened her eyes, and now NOTHING? While I'm all for realism when Higley prepares to write Nora's recuperation, I would much rather see Nora up and about in two weeks than wait two months to see her struggle to utter one word (which is probably the time it would really take for someone in Nora's condition). Nevertheless, what is the sense of extending Hillary B. Smith's stay on the show if we're going to just throw away half of her year-long extension on "bed acting?"
3. I can't really tell if Dorian is interested in Clint because she really likes him, wants to make David jealous, wants to infuriate Viki, or all three. I still believe Dorian and David are the best couple the show has seen in a long time, and Dorian has to see on some level that David's leaving her at the alter as a result of a blackmail attempt by Spencer is humiliating but it also is forgivable. I like the chemistry between Robin Strasser and Jerry Ver Dorn, and I'm not saying I'm necessarily opposed to a Dorian/Clint pairing, but there is a LOT of history that must be dealt with (thank goodness Clint finally addressed this to Dorian), and for a while it seemed like the writers were dusting all of that under the carpet.
A Favorite Nora Moment:
As we fight to keep Hillary B. Smith's character of Nora on screen, there is another valued player who is rumored to already be out of the studio: Timothy Stickney as R.J. Gannon. Here is another example of a fine actor wasted by inadequate material, yet I remember when both of these great actors had a chance to shine back in the mid-1990's when R.J. confronted his brother Hank (Nora's ex-husband) by confessing that the reason his brother and Nora called their marriage off in the first place had a lot to do with the fact that R.J. and Nora slept together while she was married to Hank! That bombshell led to viewers speculating that Rachel was R.J.'s child instead of Hank's (which turned out to be false). Stickney and Smith have always had a special bond on the show; they could play enemies one minute and friends the next. The relationship those two characters have is complex, and these two sublime actors have the ability to play those subtle feelings and emotions brilliantly. Even today, R.J. has touching bedside vigils with Nora; one humorous incident had him professing to Nora that he was going to marry Lindsay (hoping that it would make her so angry that she'd wake up to lecture him!) only to find out later Lindsay was expecting him to pop the question because she overheard him. Oops! But their friendship is so special, and besides Evangeline, R.J. is probably her closest ally. He tells her most of his dirty deeds, and she doesn't judge. The rapport shared by the characters comes through in the actors, and I salute the way Smith and Stickney have allowed these two characters to remain vital to the Gannon/Hannon clan for over a decade.
Keep showing your support for Hillary B. Smith and for Nora. We can't let the character go without a fight! I really do look forward to putting a lot of faces with your names when I see many of you at Smith's fan club luncheon in New York City on May 6th. Tickets are still available by going to Hillary's fan club site. I have information if you'd like it.
Enjoy your week,