…Well, almost everybody. Either way, the joint was hopping this week in Llanview, as evidently, nobody could get enough of that famous flan. Perhaps Top Chef Chicago's first eliminated contestant, the dour Nimma Osman, should've taken a lesson from Carlotta Vega in order to save her own flan recipe last week. The diner follies with Viki, Gigi, and the rest of Llanview were a great capper for a week of episodes that felt like treading water: We had a lot of entertaining character scenes and moments, but there was very little real development for major storylines, as we eagerly await the return of the full writing team from the WGA strike. From where I'm standing, however, we did get a lot to be happy with: More political intrigue! More emotional material for Jared, Natalie, and Charlie! More of Gigi doing a job I wish I had! More filing system foreplay for Clint and Lindsay! More of Viki cutting loose! A hot love scene for Antonio and Talia! ….And yes, more Starr and Cole. Well, nothing in life is perfect.
Let's get the difficult stuff out of the way: The deathless saga of Starr and Cole. It's like audio/visual Sominex beamed directly into my brain. I find myself doing math during their scenes, and I don't think I even passed Calculus. I just adore Kristen Alderson and/or Starr, and always have, and I hear the official ABC.com blog she's doing as part of this storyline is very good, but this whole arc seems so beneath her. Maybe it's Cole, maybe it's the juvenile way Starr's portrayed, but I know her character is smarter and stronger than this. It was one thing when, a month ago, her impulsive immaturity seemed to be leading to a major clash between Starr and her friends, because that was organic to Starr's own pyrotechnical nature, but this reheated Romeo & Juliet "teens vs. Todd" stuff screams "focus group results" to me. Words cannot adequately describe my level of apathy for Starr and Cole's endangered "twoo luff" at this point, and unless Todd does something psychotic every week there's just no way to sustain my interest there. Of course, after Todd's last feat of chemically imbalanced derring-do, it's an ascending scale of crazy, isn't it? He'd have to keep topping himself to make this work - for example, next time, terrorize Langston by dressing up like the jeep that killed her parents; the time after that, simply set Cole on fire… Anyway, the point is, this isn't doing it for me. Kristen Alderson, Brittany Underwood and Jason Tam are all wonderful actors, not to mention TSJ and KDP, but they all seem to be straining to make this work and still come off fresh even though this story has been done a thousand times. I'm just saying, I don't think it's the storyline you want to keep promoting heavily in ads the way they are now. It's not a hot track, as the radio DJs would say. Why doesn't Jared and Natalie's forbidden love story get that commercial airplay, or Antonio or Talia, or even the Buchanan Enterprises mystery, which has the classic Nora vs. Lindsay dynamic? Oh, let me answer my own question: Because they're not sixteen years old. All I can say is I am still really enjoying the actors' performances, as everyone's giving it one hundred and ten percent, and I hope this throws me a creative curve soon, because right now I'm not inspired here. The new generation deserves better.
It wasn't all tear-stained paperback novel fodder for the Mannings this week, though; they did have a few other run-ins around town. Starr's foolish attempts to strip Todd of custody of Sam led to her hurting Marcie badly with her allegations of child abuse. Kathy Brier put in a great performance which was neither hysterical nor too detached. We got to see how Marcie has changed and begun to understand the weight of her actions; she didn't follow her first instinct to run for the hills again, but instead realized that it would be impossible. She took responsibility for herself and her past, and you could feel her pain. Also on the agenda: Blair bought Capricorn, and Todd realized Ramsey had taken his sweet pad from him. I was happy with both developments - Ramsey's a cool new character who needs a cool place of his own, and I'm dying to know who he keeps talking to on the phone. Also, Blair desperately needs more work and personal drive - I was never happy that Dena Higley carelessly took her own magazine from her. Her scenes with Cristian and Sarah were delightful. I was afraid Blair would come down on Sarah after her involvement with Hunter and Miles last summer, but Blair treated her like the flower girl from her big wedding to Todd all those years ago. Now if Sarah would only get more scenes with "Ali the genie"…
Speaking of Lee Ramsey, the reason the character works so well for me was in full effect this week, as the new Police Commissioner continued to shake up relationships all over town. The longtime "bromance" between John and Antonio hit the skids over the Ramsey issue this week, and while I felt the character development was rather sudden (and scab-ish), I could totally understand and sympathize with Antonio (a phrase I have not written in over seven years, until Ron Carlivati - thanks, Ron!). John is apparently so used to doing anything he wants, when he wants, and seemed to have next to no respect for his office superior. Whatever Ramsey's motives may be, and despite what happened to Marty, he has yet to do anything at the LPD to warrant John's insubordination, but I guess when you're John McBain you have to throw your weight around. Meanwhile, Antonio is stuck in the middle and just trying to do his job, and earn a pension he now desperately needs. I look forward to seeing the fractures in the cop shop relationships widen, just so long as it's not the expense of Antonio and Talia - who finally had a muy caliente romantic interlude this week. While it might not have been a wallbanger like the notorious scenes between, say, Troy and Lindsay, or the early Max and Blair, it was definitely one of the most heated and passionate love scenes I've seen on daytime in a long time. And the best part is, their passion and love is convincing because the writers took the time to actually develop the personal relationship between these two characters; they weren't just smacked together and thrown in bed. We got to know them as two people in love first, and that's what matters. Daytime often forgets that.
When people weren't chowing down at Carlotta's this week, they were catting around in their power suits at Buchanan Enterprises. I never thought I'd see BE play a major role on this show again so I'm thrilled that this storyline is still going strong, and drawing in so many major subplots - Jared and Natalie, Rex and Gigi, and of course, the Buchanan brothers and their dueling lovers. First, let me say that I'm still loving every minute of Gigi and Rex with their down to earth, screwball-comedy charm. Their fresh-faced honesty is an antidote to so many other pre-fabricated "sexy" young couples currently sending daytime ratings into the toilet. Sure, Gigi swapped spit with Jared on Thursday when they both were lonely and vulnerable, but hey - that'll happen. What I love about Gigi is that we get to see her struggling to make it like the rest of us; get a job, keep a job, not screw up too much on the job (like this week), raise a child, find a sitter, and so on. That kind of domestic drama is what daytime was built on, what it's all about. Sure, we all love the glamour and glitz and the dynasties of the Lords and Cramers, but you've got to have someone or something out there that still helps the viewer keep his or her feet on the ground by staying there with them. For me, Gigi is that character. She works for what she can get and she doesn't complain (or fake a pregnancy), but nor is she a saint. She got some great scenes with Jared, Natalie, Rex and, yes…Adriana this week. Yeah, that "oops, wearing my headphones!" confession was a cheat, but it was good drama. However, Adriana's nasty little jabs at Gigi's bargain wardrobe were the height of bitchy, and she and her Mini-Me Layla have begun to resemble a 21st century version of Heathers to me. I certainly won't miss her when she's gone. Perhaps she could exit just like the lead Heather in the film, as Gigi and Shane spike her coffee with Drano, and the stiletto-heeled Ms. Cramer goes plummeting through a glass table, her dying words being "corn…nuts…!"
Yes, Buchanan Enterprises was the temple of repressed desires this week: Gigi for Rex (and Rex for Gigi?), Jared and Natalie for each other, and of course, Clint for…THE HARRIS YORK FILE! Clad in the same slinky black and pink number as the Virgil Webster file before it! I love that Lindsay keeps dressing her Folders Of Corruption in the same attractive yet devilish color scheme; you can practically smell the faint perfume of brimstone wafting off the paper. Oh, Clint, how can you resist?! Call John Black, he was a priest! Seriously, though, Clint and Lindsay grappling with the mixed legacy of Asa's power is fascinating, electric and intelligent stuff, and I sincerely hope the Powers That Be understand that that extends to the personal chemistry between Jerry Ver Dorn and Catherine Hickland as well. Watching Lindsay draw Clint further and further into her (and Asa's) web of questionable morality is compulsive, soapy viewing, and so is the potential for a reunion for the more-principled Bo and Nora. But over at the "kids' table", Jared and Natalie are no chopped liver, either - for those out there who were concerned, Jared showed in his conversations with Nigel and Charlie that he has not forgotten the consequences of his actions, for himself or for Natalie, the woman he still loves. We also got a window into the Banks family psyche as Jared poured his heart out about the death of his little brother, an event he still blames himself for (and wasn't Brian Kerwin's face heartbreaking as he broke down after saying goodbye to Jared on Friday?). And Natalie was looking pretty pissed about Gigi stealing a kiss from her "uncle". Events are building to a climax between "uncle" and "niece" and I can't wait for the bubbling sexual tension to finally boil over. Jared may have started out as a vengeful schemer, but he's emerged as a flawed, complex man who wants to do right by both his "adopted family" and Natalie - will his angst drive him to finally confess? And how do you feel about Jared as opposed to other men from Natalie's past? Let us know, because I'd love to hear from you! Even if you liked Seth Anderson or something!
For all the drama this week, though, everything ended up at Carlotta's, where Viki got to unwind and break out her newfound skills waiting tables with Gigi for a day. Erika Slezak is always amazing, but she was particularly a delight as she gamely took on each shocked Llanviewite who came through the door to see Viki Davidson slinging hash - especially when she tackled Lindsay's snide request for gouda and sprouts (so Lindsay), and Dorian's questions about money trouble. Finally, we got to see her rest her tired bones and reconnect with Charlie after a long day. (By the way, what name did Charlie put on his BE job application?) Everything ended with a spirit of community, be it through fistfights, like Jared and Rex over Gigi, or backstage warfare, like Dorian and Mayor Lowell's mysterious conspiracy, and Viki was right in the middle of things, right where she should be. Despite some bumps in the road, Llanview made me happy this week, even though it seemed like everyone was killing time until April or May…and in the end, happiness is all I can ask for. As always, it's a pleasure writing for you here at SOC, and thank you so much for the warm welcome. I hope to interact more with everyone on the boards, and I'll see you right back here in two weeks!