Striking a balance
For the Week of March 19, 2007
Where are the vets hiding? Sweeps gave us a healthy dose of veteran actors, and now they have simply fallen off the canvas.
After a week of shake-ups, break-ups and extraneous newbies, I must pose this question: Where are the vets hiding? Sweeps gave us a healthy dose of veteran actors - these amazing professionals who have carried this show for years and those whom we yearn to see - and now, they have simply fallen off the canvas. True, Robin Strasser was featured this past week, and her emotional scenes with Tuc Watkins continue to make me contemplate whose decision it was to ever rip Dorian and David apart. We saw Erika Slezak interact with Trevor St. John, which is always delightful, as Todd and Viki reconnected ever so briefly. What concerns me is that the vets continue to be pulled out and utilized as plot devices. They are enlisted to drive story, but remain far from front-burner. Viewers are consistently promised that these fan favorites will be repositioned in the forefront, and as months pass and storylines fail to materialize, I feel as though I am reliving last year all over again.
Veteran actors are the backbone of this medium. They are the glue that binds daytime, and continue to perpetuate a viewing legacy from generation to generation. This is perhaps the one remaining genre within the television medium where mature actors can put forth their best work and truly shine. Mind you - I am not advocating "all vets, all the time." I believe in a balance of veteran and younger actors, and adeptly blending and weaving the different populations is truly the key to a daytime drama's long-term success. However, it is insulting to see these seasoned professionals used to "prop" everyone around them. Where is their story? I am still waiting for follow-through to the Dorian/Clint/Viki triangle that has been promised for months but hasn't been fully developed. I continue to wonder what deliciously dark thoughts are running through Lindsay's head in relation to Bo and Paige. What is next for Nora and Matthew, now that her insurance company is giving her difficulty and they continue to reside at Asa's? The list goes on, but the point I am attempting to drive home is that these vets are being used versus being utilized.
I genuinely believe that we control how these veteran actors are treated. While the network is attempting to reinvent its dramas and in doing so, targeting a younger audience, I remain convinced that viewers of all ages appreciate what these vets have to offer. Many of you have voiced your displeasure with the incessant flow of newbies onto the canvas, both in correspondence to me and through discussions on the board. Again, this isn't about eradicating younger actors or failing to develop fresh, new talent. The goal herein is balance, and to treat these veteran actors with the respect and appreciation they so richly deserve. Most of us would agree that pairing vets with younger actors in storylines makes for some of the most powerful scenes we have witnessed. How riveting were the scenes between Erika Slezak and Bree Williamson when Viki first realized that Jessica suffered from DID? How touching are the interactions between Bo and Rex that employ a father-son dynamic? We have witnessed these veteran actors be mistreated and watched in horror as they are forced out the door on a widespread scale across the daytime spectrum. If we do not support these professionals and fight for them, no one will. It is time to take back our show, and time to express our gratitude to these vets for decades of faithful service. It is about balance, accountability and respect - and the network owes its viewers that much for certain.
Some of the standout scenes from last week indeed emerged from OLTL's younger actors. Forbes March and Bree Williamson both deserve huge rounds of applause for their work together. Though the ongoing Antonio/Jessica/Nash saga is dizzying, Bree and Forbes were spectacular this past week. As Jess and Nash were arguing in the hospital, both actors connected on such a powerful, emotional level that I was left riveted and breathless from their interaction. This is the kind of material these actors were given during the Tess/Nash storyline, and what enabled them to connect in a way that transfixed viewers for months on end. My heart truly does ache for Antonio, and his character is taking a serious beating in this storyline. Kamar de los Reyes always makes the most of what he is given in the way of story, but the writers have truly belittled his character and insulted Antonio's intelligence. Perhaps more troubling is that I see no immediate end in sight to this merry-go-round, and all three characters continue to stagnate as a result.
I was particularly impressed with the scenes between Vincent and Nash. I find the fact that both characters would bond over women and woes completely credible, and there are many parallels between both characters' lives. Unlike the friendship between Nash and Antonio, which is forced and implausible, Nash and Vincent are cut from the same cloth and I would like to see them tied together in future interactions. Both have emerged from tough backgrounds, both are unlucky in love, and both have huge back stories that have yet to be written. I thought Tobias Truvillion and Forbes March played off one another very well, and I am interested to see where future interactions between both characters may lead. Nash and Vincent teaming up together are reminiscent of the Lindsay-Dorian dynamic, in that both could inflict some serious damage if on the same side of the table. My deepest regret is that the writers have failed to tie Vincent's character to R.J., because Tim Stickney's absence from the canvas is glaring. Further, if Vincent were, hypothetically speaking, R.J.'s long-lost son, this would drive serious story that created lasting repercussions on the canvas, and give Vincent's character some rich history in the process.
Renee Elise Goldsberry and Trevor St. John continue to raise Llanview's temperature. While the chemistry between these two is undeniable, I particularly enjoy the fact that Todd exposes Evangeline's daring and fun side. We haven't seen this aspect of her personality in a long time, and Todd has put the spontaneity back into Evangeline's character. When Evangeline is with Todd, she is unafraid to break character, take risks and entertain impromptu thoughts and behavior. Nothing comes across as forced or scripted, and the interactions between these two actors feel like a natural progression and extension of their characters' friendship. Is it messy? Of course. Are Todd and Evangeline soul mates? The jury is still out. However, I don't evaluate a pairing's worth by staying power. I believe certain couples provide necessary stability for a show and should never have been ripped apart. Examples of those that come to mind are Viki and Clint, Nora and Bo, and Renee and Asa. They are mature couples that should be forced to weather storms together, and retain their union because they provide necessary stability for the show's core families.
However, these couples are exceptions to the rule. The truth of the matter is that Evangeline and Todd click, and their connection drives story and provides a ripple effect for every major character on the canvas. The fact that both characters share a strong emotional connection, and that Todd is invested in Evangeline's state of mind, truly fascinates me. His goal simply isn't to get her into bed - he is pursuing Evangeline for the long haul. This is so uncharacteristic of Todd, yet believable because of what he endured last year and how Evangeline truly was his savior in every sense of the word. So while I've reached my breaking point with people being constantly trapped in close quarters, this is one storm I'm willing to weather because I'm curious to see how Todd and Evangeline fare from this point forward. I also enjoy seeing Blair true to form and seeking vengeance against Todd by sleeping with Cris. This is vintage Blair, and after how this character was victimized during the Spencer ordeal, I am delighted to see the Cramer "fight" in her restored. Kassie DePaiva is perhaps one of the most underappreciated actors in daytime. Emmy acknowledgement is long overdue, and though Blair has taken a severe beating over the years, Kassie manages to maintain the essence and spirit of this character, despite substandard material. She always makes the most of what she is given, and I much prefer to watch Blair full of fire and retribution than to see her being repeatedly victimized by the men in her life.
I also continue to enjoy the dynamic between Bob Woods and John-Paul Lavoisier. I was particularly touched when Rex brought Bo, who is still reeling from Rex's recent behavior, Phillies tickets for Matthew. However, I ask your feedback on this particular issue and am very curious for your comments. Does anyone yearn for Rex to revert back to being a scoundrel again? Honestly, I miss the Rex who conspired with Roxy to set fires and the rascal who jumped into bed with Lindsay! I've never been particularly enamored with Rex Balsom, "private eye." Again, I adore the dynamic between Bo and Rex, but what made it even more special was the fact that Bo was the sole source of stability and justice in Rex's illicit world. I yearn for the Rex of old, and still can't comprehend why the writers ever killed off Jen Rappaport's character. Adriana is no substitute for Cassie, and try as they may to reinvent this character, it simply isn't working for me. I believe Rex's character has suffered greatly during this pairing, and while I respect that this couple has its fans, the rehabilitation of Rex has not won this viewer over.
Starr and Cole continue to push the envelope, and honestly, I am growing more uncomfortable with this scenario by the week. Huge fan uproar would most likely have ensued if these two characters connected in the biblical sense, and the darkness surrounding their union is something I cannot shake. Perhaps this is because I am not feeling the history between Todd and Marty, as Trevor St. John and Christina Chambers were not in the driver's seat for their characters' sordid past. Something is lacking in this storyline, and because I am not embraced by the history between these characters, I am uncomfortable and conflicted with Cole and Starr's ill-fated union. Further, Starr is a freshman in high school, and we've suddenly seen this character mature way too quickly. I am grateful cooler heads prevailed and that someone recognized a physical relationship between these two characters would not bode well at this point. I also don't wish to see Starr become an appendage of the young men in her life. We have seen this scenario repeat itself with female characters on the canvas, and Starr is too special for that. This union feels forced to me, and I believe the viewers and Starr's character deserve better.
Finally, kudos go out to Renee Elise Goldsberry, Dan Gauthier and Heather Tom for their Emmy nominations. These are well-deserved, and my sincere regret is that Dan and Heather put forth such stellar work and are no longer part of the OLTL family. Our loss is certainly someone else's gain, but congratulations are in order for certain! I was truly surprised by OLTL's nomination for Outstanding Drama, and this same reaction is shared by many of you as discourse on the board has reflected. Nonetheless, I am delighted for the cast and crew. They have held this show together day in and day out during a year of great uncertainty, corporate politics and sub-par writing, and as far as I'm concerned, this nomination honors every single one of them and is reflective of their combined merits and talents.
Have a wonderful week!
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