RYAN: Legendary film actor Marlon Brando once said, "Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite." As an online columnist, it is probably my responsibility and duty to comment on the chain of events leading to Nathaniel Marston's suspension from OLTL; however, I'm choosing not to do that. Frankly, it's none of my business, and as Brando points out, Marston is entitled to some privacy. My job is to comment and reflect on what I see ON-screen, and to tell you the truth, Marston is giving the performance of his career! He is involved in a front-burner story filled with drama, angst, and desperation. Along with his on-screen partner, Kathy Brier, they are giving show-stopping, Emmy-worthy reels episode after episode. THAT is all I care about, and for me to comment or speculate on his personal life or the incident that took place recently in New York City would be grossly inappropriate and disrespectful. If OLTL opts to write out Marston's character and drop him from the show, that is ABC's prerogative, but I will continue to assert that Marston has been one of the great anchors to his story involving Tommy's custody battle. Enough said. Now, on to more important matters---Viki! I've been to Paris three times in my life, but I don't ever remember it having characters like Moe and Charlie nor hosting a diner with "blue plate specials." Oops! That's because we're in Paris, TEXAS!! Viki's sojourn to Texas is proving to be delightful and engaging. I really love these characters, and I think they are being weaved into the fabric of the show quite nicely. What do you think, mon amie?
DENISE: What do I think? In the immortal words of Everybody Loves Raymond's Debra Barone, "I should be drunk every single day." THAT is my reaction following a week of second-guessing, speculating and what-iffing, which has run rampant in cyberspace in relation to the Marston incident. I cannot even begin to articulate the insane number of emails I've received strictly about this issue, and my response has been the same each and every time: NO COMMENT. I co-write this column on a voluntary basis and truly enjoy doing so, and my role is to provide a forthright analysis of each week in review. I possess a thirty-year history with OLTL and I am fully vested in the show's longevity and success. So as far as I'm concerned, this issue may be a matter of public record, but it's simply none of my business. While it may be our joint responsibility as columnists to acknowledge last week's chain of events, commenting any further would not only be distasteful, but it would be outright negligent in my opinion. Now onto Paris, TX, where life at the Bon-Jour Café is much simpler, the pace refreshingly slower, and diner food is prepared with flair and served with a genuine smile. Ryan, I am absolutely thrilled with how Carlivati has penned this story thus far! In fact, I think it's brilliant. One of my greatest fears was that these new characters would be shoved down our throats (ala Higley) and steal the emphasis away from Viki. Nothing could be further from what's unfolding, and THIS is how a good scribe conceives and introduces new and/or supporting players onto the canvas while keeping the nucleus of his story intact. Not only am I drawn to these new characters and find them fascinating, but I enjoy watching them more than the "Island of Misfit Toys" crew that frequents Capricorn. I'm very curious to get your "read" on these new characters, because I've formed strong opinions about each of them that I'll share in return.
RYAN: "Put a sock in it, Moe!" Ah, the beautiful sound of a strong, feisty, interesting character! The moment Farah Fath stepped into the Bojour Cafe to greet Viki and to sound off to Moe, I knew that Gigi would be a character I will come to love. What makes Gigi so likeable is that she tells it like it is, has an affable personality, and commands our attention when she's in a scene. Clearly, she has her own secrets (which any good character must have!), and I'm sure her back story will be as interesting to us as Viki's will be to her. There is an interesting relationship between Viki and Gigi, and I'm sure down the road when Gigi ultimately comes back to Llanview with "Vic," that friendship will continue. But in fact, Noelle, Moe, and Charlie are all amazingly likeable and charismatic characters. There is a "real" quality to each of them---they seem like someone we all know somewhere in our lives. The cranky, ornery kitchen cook who wants to have his girls suggest his "high class meal" of the day over the chicken fingers and fries. Couldn't you just see someone like Moe getting involved with Roxy?! How fantastic would THAT be?
DENISE: Now that would be hysterical! First of all, I loved Carlivati's nod to history by weaving in references to the 70's-smash sitcom, "Alice." I got a huge kick out of the fact that Viki replaced a waitress named Alice, who had recently quit. I couldn't help but notice similarities between Moe and Mel, who was always bellowing at Linda Lavin's Alice and the rest of his diner employees, yet who possessed a big heart and genuine concern for their welfare underneath his crusty demeanor. Flo's "Kiss my grits!" has been replaced by Gigi's "Put a sock in it, Moe!", and that's where the similarities between past and present end. Yet I LOVE the fact that Carlivati paid tribute to a bit of television history here, because in doing so he acknowledged those viewers who are in an age demo that the network virtually ignores - despite the fact that we carry this show and have done so for decades. So while this seems irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, it signifies this Head Writer both knows and respects his viewing audience. I definitely think Moe and Roxy would be a hoot together - and a character like Moe would morph into a fixture in Llanview because he is so genuine and colorful. I was very impressed with Noelle, who possesses this refreshing sense of innocence that is laden with wonderful curiosity, fire, and a down-to-earth persona. Yet her innocence - which almost borders on naiveté - is authentic and also very characteristic of someone who hasn't had opportunity or means to travel outside the environment in which she was raised. I'm equally impressed with Charlie, who comes across as understated and honest, but is charming and witty. Personally, I think he is EXACTLY what Viki needs right now. As far as Gigi is concerned...the jury is still out for me. I'm highly impressed with Farah Fath thus far and am enjoying the character equally, despite the fact that every time I hear the name "Gigi" I want to break into song and envision Maurice Chevalier and Leslie Caron. What I like most about Gigi is her high-spirited demeanor, and am very interested in the details surrounding her son, because there's definitely a story to tell. I also really like the fact that Viki and Gigi have bonded and cultivated an almost maternal/daughter bond. Yet Gigi's character has been built up so greatly that I'm uncertain if reality will match the hype when all is said and done, but I'm reserving any judgment as far as she's concerned. So while I'm very impressed with Gigi, I'm no less impressed with any of these other characters, and it's going to be quite interesting to see who survives the trek back to Llanview once Paris, TX fades.
RYAN: I've got to wonder if "Gigi" is actually her real name or if it's a nickname for something else, because you're right---how in the world will people like Dorian and Renee take someone named "Gigi" seriously? To see these refined women (and, yes, I do remember Renee's sordid past) utter the name "Gigi" would just be...well, awkward. But I like the fact that she appears to be different from any of the other characters currently residing in Llanview. For me, my jury is still out on whether Charlie is up to par to be the next big love interest for Erika Slezak's Viki. Granted, we've only really been introduced to him for a single day, so there isn't really anything that we know about him; however, my first impression is that he might be TOO understated for Viki. Whether that is what Viki needs right now, given her current life crisis, remains to be seen. Viki is known for falling in love with a wide array of men---from younger bartender Ben to cowboy Clint to newspaper editor Joe Riley to Reverend Carpenter's father Sloane, she certainly has met men from all over the map! Charlie has the potential to fill a very large hole in Viki's heart, but what hole will he fill in Llanview? THAT is the question!
DENISE: Absolutely, Ryan - and here's another wonderful aspect of how this story is unfolding. Not only did Carlivati take us back to the day when Viki purchased a plane ticket and departed Llanview for destinations unknown, but he reminded us of the intense discussion between Dorian and Viki in Asa's wine cellar that prompted her exit. That impressed me greatly, and the fact he took the time to utilize flashbacks AND illustrate how Viki came to find herself waiting tables in Paris, TX really set the tone for this story and these new characters. This makes viewers feel as though they are experiencing each day right along with Viki, and encourages us to remain in the present and accept developments as they unfold. I believe this is incredibly important, because the medium is, after all, supposed to embrace that "fourth wall" and create a fantasy existence. While it's amusing to speculate on what may or may not happen with our favorite characters, it's easy to dwell too much on future happenings and by doing so, we miss all the fun and entertainment that each day has to offer. Granted, most OLTL viewers (me included) felt they had little to enjoy or anticipate during Higley's tenure…but that is all in the past, and Carlivati continues to provide renewed hope for the medium and demonstrate his commitment to restoring OLTL's integrity. We are surely in for some delightful moments as more citizens of Llanview make their way down to Texas - and what transpires at that point will undoubtedly set the stage for offshoots of story. So I find myself taking each day one episode at a time, because the richness of Carlivati's writing and those subtle nuances are easily missed by looking too far down the road. A dear friend once told me that focusing too greatly on what may happen and not appreciating what IS happening is simply borrowing trouble. So while Charlie may not prove to be another one of Viki's great loves, he may be just what she needs at the present time. The best thing we can do as far as I'm concerned is enjoy what Carlivati is putting forth, keep an open mind, and see where the road to Paris, TX leads.
Have a wonderful week!
Ryan and Denise