And so I have returned from a fantastic 17-day stint in China. Seeing the Forbidden City, next year's Olympic stadium in Beijing, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and Hong Kong were once-in-a-lifetime memories---and I mean that! It's always unforgettable to interact with the locals and experience their love and zeal for life, but it's also comforting to come home and appreciate what we have. At any rate, because of my little sojourn to the opposite end of the world for several weeks, I missed quite a bit of Llanview happenings (the denouement of Tate's storyline, Paige's departure to name just two), but since I've tuned in I can already tell that there are some noticeable changes in the way stories are being told. Although Ron Carlivati's material isn't fully airing yet (I believe we have another month or so before we're completely Higley-free), there are clearly indications that former head writerDena Higley's influence is diminishing by the minute.
1. First, I love that Beth Ann Bonner's character of Talia is "letting her hair down" (literally and figuratively). Maybe I will look back at this and realize that Higley did something right in the way she introduced Talia. Initially, she was completely professional, 100% of the time. She was dressed in her uniform, hair pulled up, and all-business. But over the course of the months we've gotten to know her, she has relaxed. Her outer shell has started to break, so to speak, and her crush on Antonio slowly is starting to become obvious. Just in watching this past week, I was taken aback by how feminine she appears. She's got a sex appeal and a vivacious and appealing charisma that just POPS on the screen. Maybe Carlivati's seeing that potential and is now playing that up to the screen. At any rate, it's a smart move.
2. And I loved seeing Nora back in action in the courtroom! This strong, fierce District Attorney is the intelligent woman we spent so many years watching and admiring for her dedication and commitment to law. I like seeing Nora reclaim her life after her stroke, and I enjoy seeing her command the attention of a courtroom. Hillary B. Smith perfectly captures the essence of her character, and it's finally time that we are seeing her as a formidable presence in the courtroom.
3. As much as I'm totally over Todd and Blair, I was floored that we had an opportunity to witness a tender family moment between the Mannings! I can't tell you how long it's been that we have been spared the angst in their lives to see a happy moment with Starr, Jack, and his parents all together. It's simple scenes like the family "camping out" in the living room watching Starr's musical video that actually pull me back into the "well, maybe I'll give them another chance" camp. When they are happy, they are REALLY happy, and as dysfunctional as this clan can be, their loyalty to one another is as unconditional as it comes.
4. It's nice to see some progress being made with the reveal of Tommy's true parentage. I'll admit--the groundwork really started to be placed for some time, but with the recent bombshell that Marcie can't have children of her own coupled with the dramatic confrontation between brothers Michael and John when John announced he figured out that Todd is really the true father of Michael's son, the stage is set for one intense custody battle. I really appreciate that this storyline was played out in real time. Michael and Marcie have established themselves as tender, loving parents to Tommy, and the love that they have given to this child is unparalleled. To see Michael act so desperately to keep the truth from his wife is heartbreaking, because we know it's only a matter of time until the truth is finally exposed. How can viewers not feel sympathy and remorse for poor Marcie and Michael, yet how can one not feel as though Todd has a right to know his son? Perhaps allowing viewers to see those nice family Manning moments is Carlivati's way of reminding the audience that Todd isn't all bad! At any rate, this is going to be a powerful, intense explosion once the truth is out!
5. Unfortunately Jess and Nash still don't do it for me. It's strange, because when Jess was "Tess," this pairing had Supercouple written all over them! But when the personalities combined, Jess became completely uninteresting. I like that there is a really definitive ending being given to Antonio and Jess's relationship, but my hope is that Carlivati can do something to invigorate the relationship of Jess and Nash that will make it as exciting and as enjoyable to watch as it was before. We know that Bree Williamson and Forbes March have chemistry together, so it's not the actors who are at fault here.
6. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes of Bo & Co. having a few beers at Rodi's as Bo instructs everyone that he does not want to talk about Paige or relationships. Sure enough, Rex appears, hears the news about Paige and tries to push the issue. Seeing Bo relaxed, enjoying his time with his friends, and drowning his sorrows in a couple of cold beers was refreshingly different. And is Carlivati setting the stage for Bo dealing with his problems by using alcohol? Word is that alcohol plays a role in how he deals with Asa's death this week.
With OLTL's 10,000th episode appearing later this week, I'm hopeful that the show is on the cusp of turning around. A lot of Higley's influence is now gone, and I'm sensing better, crisper dialogue as well as a sense of what the bigger picture is in terms of story. We've certainly waited a long, long time to see this show restored to its former glory, and I'm excited that the seeds have been planted. We're just waiting for them to grow!
Enjoy your week,