Happy Memorial Day! With Memorial Day marks the end of May Sweeps, and while I haven't been exactly blown away (literally, given that the tornado was the impetus to this months big sweeps period), I have come to appreciate quite a number of different aspects that the show has presented to me in recent weeks. I know I've been very critical of the show in previous columns, and I haven't changed my assertion that Dena Higley has worn out her welcome in her role as Head Writer, but I will give credit where credit is due this week and discuss a handful of the areas that I am pleased about.
1. I have to put at the very top of the list the way that Todd's "execution" is being handled. From camera angles to top-notch acting performances, I must say I have been more pleasantly surprised than I expected. First, Trevor St. John deserves major kudos for the way that he has infused a deep sympathy for Todd. Don't get me wrong on this, I don't agree that this is the Todd we all love to hate. Todd has become an increasingly watered-down version of the Roger Howarth version, and I'll never accept that Todd will become some sort of hero. However, I do like when Todd's emotions---his TRUE emotions-rise to the surface, and I believe that we caught a glimpse of his raw feelings during his goodbye sequences with Starr and with Evangeline. When he broke down in front of Starr and gave her paternal words of wisdom for the future as he expected never to see her again, it was heart-wrenching. Starr's sobbing combined with Todd's inability to hold back his own tears made the scene hard to watch. Even more powerful, though, was the scene when Todd had to say goodbye to good friend (and maybe more??) Evangeline. He couldn't let go of her arm as she was drug out of his cell, and once again, Todd's genuine emotions got the better of him as he realized his one true blue friend, probably his best friend in the entire world, was leaving him once and for all. I was surprised by the volatile way that the death penalty was presented; seeing Viki condemn capital punishment while praising the protestors' rights to speak freely was an interesting position I wouldn't have expected Higley to assume. But the moments leading up to Todd's being presented to the witnesses in the execution room were brilliant.
2. I have despised the character of Margaret for so long that I often sound like a broken record. I have long felt that she overstayed her welcome and served her purpose. Margaret was played like a cartoonish villainess, and I don't fault the actress for that since that is the way Margaret is written. But for me, quite frankly, I couldn't stand it. In recent weeks, though, Margaret's amnesia, brain washing, or whatever it is has transformed the character into a low-key, tolerable woman who I, dare say, am finding interesting to watch. If this is Higley's way of keeping a fantastic actress who has earned rave reviews from fans and critics while toning down the character who was as grating as nails on a chalkboard, then "chalk one up" (sorry, I couldn't help the pun!) for Higley. I especially love the chemistry and the antics shared between Margaret and David.
3. Do I see the seeds of redemption being planted for Spencer? When he broke down in the shower after losing Duke on the operating table as he uttered, "This is not the way it was supposed to happen" make me wonder what Higley has in store for him. He's another one who has worn out his welcome with me. His story never picked up steam as far as I was concerned because I still don't know what his overall master plan is. Surely, it wasn't all about bedding Blair! After all, he didn't even know her before coming to Llanview---or did he? But I applaud the writers for at least THINKING about ways to dig themselves out of this hole they've created for themselves.
4. The performances of Dan Gauthier and Heather Tom are magnificent! Why these two have not been front and center since the infamous All My Children/One Life to Live baby switch storyline is beyond me. Can these two act! Holy smokes! Although I think it was a monumental snub in the face of history by killing off Duke, a Buchanan, I think his death and the situation surrounding why he died is enough material to mine for years (if written properly, of course!). The guilt and the remorse that Kevin will feel over losing his only son will haunt him until the day he dies. Couple that with the fact that it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Kelly will ultimately become pregnant (or will think she is) with Duke's child, and we have the makings of an Emmy reel, folks! The scenes of Kelly sobbing in the hospital room as she realized what happened to her friend as well as the ones with Kevin breaking down in the church were incredible. Unfortunately, I find that Higley has a habit of giving us all of one story and nothing of anything else. One week it's all Kevin and Kelly; the next week it's all about Todd. Why can't the writing be balanced and purposeful?
Don't let the positive nature of this column fool you, everyone. I'm not saying I've jumped on over to the Higley Bandwagon. Far from it!! As I've said before, when the writing is bad, I'll be the first to stand up and point it out and offer suggestions on how to improve it. But when it's good, I'll also give credit where credit is due. As the weeks continue on in the aftermath of these tragic stories that have been set, I'll be interested to see how the momentum continues. And if Nora doesn't somehow play a role in the action soon, there will be a BIG problem!
A Favorite Nora Moment:
Speaking of Nora, let's not let this "out of sight, out of mind" catchphrase become part of us. Unfortunately, we have several more weeks of Nora-free Llanview before we start seeing some signs of her and what Higley has planned for her recovery. But until then, I'll think of Nora's introduction to Llanview back in the early 90's. Bo has had many loves in his life, and Sarah Gordon was definitely one of my all-time favorites, so when she returned "from the dead" (thanks to Alex Olanov), I was more than excited. But soon after their reunion, she was killed again when Bo and Sarah's car was forced off the road by an unknown driver. As Bo and Nora started to get to know one another and establish a connection and a relationship, how ironic (as only happens in Llanview!) that Nora thought she was the one responsible for forcing Bo and Sarah off the road because her blinding headaches. Fortunately, this didn't turn out to be the case, and Bo and Nora's relationship forged on creating one of the most memorable, stable, and powerful couples in the show's history.
I apologize in advance if I am unable to respond to many of your messages. As it is the end of my school year, you might only imagine the added responsibilities of final exams, finishing grades, and cleaning up a classroom for the school year. But I continue to read all of your comments and opinions regarding the show and the column.
Enjoy your week,