RYAN: Even though Dena Higley's foot is barely out the door, I already feel as though changes are happening right before my very eyes! Lo and behold, this past Monday, the screen was FILLED with characters that actually matter to us and have history with the show: Roxy, David, Dorian, Clint, Viki, Lindsay, Marcie, Nigel, Todd, Blair...I mean, FINALLY an episode that doesn't feature musical escapades and the teen scene. And, by the way, I thoroughly disliked the "Prom Night" musical as well. Having just returned
from the Disney Mecca in Orlando, I can tell you that when I replayed those episodes, I felt like I was right back in the world of Mickey Mouse and "High School Musical." It just didn't work for me. But, I completely digress. What I am getting at, Denise, is this--wasn't it refreshing to see some faces we haven't seen regularly for a while and the potential of some fresh pairings in the making? In particular, how about Talia and
Antonio? I know you're a big fan of Beth Ann Bonner, and I'm slowly joining that fan club myself. But for me, I was never a big fan of the Antonio/Jessica pairing, and I think that Talia's stronger and feistier demeanor fits much better. What do you think?
DENISE: Ryan, I don't know if I'll ever completely recover from watching those "Prom Night" musical sequences. My greatest fear is that dancing Llanview teens will appear to me in nightmares from this point forward. As I said last week, this reflects typical corporate mentality in that the sole purpose was ultimately promoting a CD to a specific (and very narrow) demo group. Let's hope we never have to endure that kind of nonsense again! I couldn't agree more about what a nice change of pace it was to see all the characters you mentioned, and then some. We especially tend to take those actors on recurring status for granted, and their characters are the familiar faces who impart subtle nuances that drive story forward and add vibrancy to the overall canvas. I always thought David and Roxy would've made a hilarious "oddball" pairing, and I love what David brings out in Viki in the way of humor. In fact, I think it would be hysterical to throw David and Viki together at some point. Imagine the ire it would cause on behalf of Clint and Dorian!
RYAN: Well, first of all, I couldn't agree more about David and Viki. Those two have always shared a strange and interesting rapport with one another, and now having him "shack up" with Viki at Llanfair (albeit temporarily) is great fodder for this column!! I could really see David trying to woo Viki more for the purpose of getting back at Dorian and trying to make her jealous more so than because he truly has romantic feelings towards her. Don't forget at one point David was trying to pass himself off as the long-lost Lord heir (i.e. Viki's brother) who ultimately was revealed as being Todd. So to now have someone Viki thought was her brother for a short time "make the moves" on her would just be....BLECH! But their scenes together in Llanfair are gut-wrenchingly hysterical! Talk about one actor (Tuc Watkins) who is completely underrated.
DENISE: I completely agree - and what a wonderful way to weave Todd back into his sister's life for more than just a split-second. Judging by the feedback we received, it seems that fans are open to the idea of unorthodox pairings (i.e. David and Viki) after being spoon fed forced unions and contrived triangles for nearly three years. I am incredulous at the HUGE level of positive response we received after our first joint commentary in relation to Bo/Lindsay and Clint/Nora! We are now seeing a growing contingent of fans rallying behind the prospect of reversing these couples, and how about that? While the viewing majority still bears a soft spot for these former supercouples, fans have tired of seeing strong female characters be reduced to appendages of the men in their lives. Most fans with whom I spoke feel strongly that Clint doesn't deserve Viki at this point any more than Bo deserves Nora, and are open to flip-flopping pairings as a means to an end if nothing else. Fans want the pursuit, anticipation and romance put back into their favorite characters' love lives, and as such, they're willing to see how mixing up different characters impacts the overall canvas. Isn't that part of the "fourth wall" of fantasy which this medium is supposed to embrace, after all?
RYAN: You bring up such good points, Denise. I, for one, was definitely rallying for a Clint and Viki reunion when Jerry verDorn was cast as Clint. And when he and Dorian started their romance, I was more than a little skeptical. It didn't make sense from a historical perspective, and I wanted to see baby steps taken with the two of them professing their "deep, undying love" to one another. But, I've grown to love the coupling. I'm open to a new relationship for Viki despite wanting this former "supercouple" to be reunited. So while I'm not ready to see Viki play around with a boy-toy in David, I am ready to see Carlivati create a new love interest for the "Grand Dame" of Llanview! Now, as for Bo and Nora...I could be shot for this having been a long-time Bo and Nora fan, but I'm actually starting to resolve myself to the fact that these two will never reunite as romantic partners but will be joined together forever by their son, Matthew. Seeing Lindsay and Bo spend more and more time together has just been so refreshing to me! After so many years and so many life-changing experiences in their characters' lives, to see Lindsay flirt with Bo and see him picking up those signals has been cool! I forgot that Catherine Hickland has such a great chemistry with Robert S. Woods, and watching Bo catch Lindsay when she fell off a stool, the two of them eating donuts in honor of Jen's birthday, and the both of them sharing meaningful, character-driven dialogue really has made me change my mind about couples I originally wanted to see reunited. Don't get me wrong, Nora needs a love interest, too, whether it be Clint or someone else! How do you feel about Lindsay's gradual transformation into a more sympathetic---dare I say it---heroine?
DENISE: I'm betting Lindsay's claws are hiding just below the surface - and that her transformation into a more empathetic character will do a sudden 360 if she and Nora start battling for the same man! While Jen's death has forever impacted Lindsay and laid a common foundation that she and Bo now share, I'd prefer Carlivati restore the "edge" that turned Lindsay into a bad girl that viewers love to hate. Lindsay's screen time was reduced so greatly during Higley's tenure that most of us forget Catherine Hickland's mastery of balancing equal parts venom and equal parts vulnerability within the character. I believe those layers are vital to Lindsay's core essence, so it's imperative her opportunistic and ruthless side is reestablished. This is a woman who was burning up the sheets with Rex in spite of her daughter, and I'm pretty sure she'd take advantage of that opportunity again if it presented itself! Speaking of Rex, I'm desperately trying to save this character from Adriana, which is a fate worse than death. What are your thoughts on connecting Rex with Sarah Roberts? I think it would create interesting complications because of Bo's link to both characters, as well as the fact that Sarah is Todd's niece. Once Todd uncovers the ugly truth of Rex's involvement with Tommy's parentage, imagine his reaction to Rex being romantically involved with Sarah! THAT could get interesting...
RYAN: Ooooh, I hadn't thought of the complications a relationship like that would pose between Rex and Sarah because of Rex's involvement with hiding Tommy! Good thinking! Initially, as I was thinking about what proposed with this pairing, I thought---ya know what? Rex is just one of those characters who never really sat well with me. He came on as a mischievous kid tied to Natalie and Roxy, but I never just really liked him. Maybe it was the storylines he was saddled with---I mean first, he was stuck with Jen Rappaport, just a blond version of Adriana if you ask me. Jen was a dull, dull character, and as much as I love Lindsay, I wasn't feeling their little torrid affair either. Then, he was stuck with the worst partner of all--Adriana! So maybe it's just a matter of my fast forwarding through most of his scenes that I just hate to stick Sarah Roberts with this guy. I'll tell ya what though, that actress playing Sarah is quite good! I remember how annoying Sarah (or should I say, "Flash") was during the last stint she appeared in Llanview, but from what I've seen of her so far, I think I might welcome her return to Llanview with open arms! So, only because of your theory of Rex's involvement with Tommy would I go along with a Rex/Sarah pairing. But, how old is this girl? Would she be too old to give Starr a run for her money with Cole?
DENISE: According to data from SOC's character archives, Sarah should be around sixteen years-old , but she was SORAS'ed (as is typical for daytime) and is now supposed to be in her mid to late twenties. She's in an age demo right now where she and Rex are right around the same age - so this could get very interesting, indeed! While Sarah's character does have historical significance, I simply cannot fathom why TPTB continue bringing on new characters considering the current state of this show. ABC is notorious for its circus-sized casts and as far as I'm concerned, there should be a moratorium on introducing characters for months to come. It appears that a few new characters were already in the works prior to Higley's departure, and I fail to understand why the writers are following through with developing them at this point. We know that Farah Fath is set to join the cast this fall, and we also know that Natalie has a new love interest coming on board. Natalie has been bounced around between so many men and I simply cannot see how adding a new face to the mix is going to improve her character development. We currently HAVE characters that aren't utilized to their fullest. What about testing the waters between Natalie and Michael McBain (who will forever be Al Holden in my eyes)? I'm still trying to determine what we saw take place between Natalie and Vincent last week - are they friends, or was Higley building towards something that is now a moot point?
RYAN: Yeah, what WAS that between Vincent and Natalie? I was totally confused. One day he's telling Natalie he isn't interested in her, yet there are still some weird "vibes" being given, then another day, he's putting the moves on Layla. Quite honestly, poor Nat needs some direction of her own. John is so far out of her universe right now and in the thick of things with Marty and her crock of a marriage to Miles that their reconciliation is out of the question. So, she clearly needs someone new, I guess. Although here's my question---why does EVERY character have to be attached to someone? Why can't Natalie enjoy being single for a while? Sure she's young, but look at her mother---Viki hasn't really been involved with anyone since Ben, and that was years ago! My point is that Natalie (or anyone else for that matter) can have a decent storyline WITHOUT having to have a "significant other." I'm hoping that the Vincent/Natalie pairing doesn't pan out, because I just don't see the potential there. A new person is probably the best bet. As for Vincent and Layla---I can take 'em or leave 'em. With Evangeline gone, I just don't see the purpose Layla serves anymore when other characters who have languished on the backburner for too long aren't being allowed to step up to the plate.
DENISE: You hit the nail on the head in terms of why every character (specifically every female) needs to be attached to a significant other. THAT has been my pet peeve for nearly three years, and feeds into the cycle of female victimization on the canvas that will hopefully come to a swift end with Carlivati. Vulnerability is vital to a character's growth, but there's a huge difference between being vulnerable and being victimized. Perhaps no character has been victimized more than Blair. It's been nauseating to watch her follow Todd around like a lost puppy, and I know you feel as I do in terms of the Todd/Blair seesaw. I have to say, though - something intrigues me about Blair's relationship with Cris. I can't quite pinpoint it, but I like the friendship that has evolved between these two which has served as a base for some interesting dialogue. They may perhaps be the most "oddball" pairing yet, and I'm not necessarily sure that I want to see them progress in the romantic sense, but here's what's interesting. I don't view Cristian as a "conquest" in Blair's endgame - and even though she slept with Cris out of spite and anger over Todd and Evangeline, there's something different here. I'd forgotten that Blair can actually have a conversation with someone of the opposite sex and that it can be appealing and dynamic to the viewer - like when Cris encouraged her to rethink allowing Starr to see Cole.
RYAN: Hmmmm....you've made me think about this one. I've already indicated before that Blair and Todd are over for me. I've had it with those two (even though the show probably hasn't judging from the fact that Trevor St. John and Kassie DePaiva were representing OLTL during the Friday morning "ABC Soapnet Secrets" program). I really think it's about time that Blair moved on, but I'm not sure Cris is the one to fulfill that job. I think that their friendship, using the examples you illustrated, has grown on me. I like that despite that quickie hook-up, they have remained friends and a support system to one another. Blair needs that, and I almost think that (again, aside from the fact that they slept together) Cris is to Blair what Evangeline was to Todd---a close ally, a friend of the opposite sex, and a temptation---all wrapped up into one! So, I'll continue to enjoy their close rapport, but I'm not interested in seeing a relationship form between them. And I can't really think of anyone else on the canvas suited for her, so maybe in a couple of months, Carlivati needs to work with the casting department and find someone who goes head-to-head with DePaiva. Ya know, come to think of it, Max is coming back to Llanview! With that, it's been a lot of fun having this dialogue again, Denise!
DENISE: I was a HUGE Blair and Max fan! Perhaps it's that DePaiva magic that emerges whenever they're together, because I can tell you that I seriously miss their onscreen union. Personally, I think it would be hysterical if Blair and Roxy vied for Max - and again, what a wonderful way to connect existing characters without creating new ones. What I enjoy most about the bond between Blair and Cris is that it reminds us how members of the opposite sex can actually be friends - just as we saw with Todd and Evangeline. Not only does Carlivati need to cultivate some compelling love stories that put "Love in the Afternoon" back on the map, but a priority should also be exploring platonic and other unique relationships between characters. Sometimes the best "couples" consist of characters that share a friendship chock full of rich history, or siblings that possess a special connection. We are simply starved for complex relationships that provoke and entertain, and I am deeply hoping Carlivati fleshes out all the unique bonds that were forged over the years and those which have been suppressed for far too long. This has been tons of fun Ryan, and I look forward to doing it again very soon!
Enjoy your week!
Ryan and Denise