Don't call it a comeback
For the Week of June 16, 2008
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Andrea Evans (Tina Lord) and Susan Haskell (Marty Saybrooke) were in rare form last week when they made their triumphant returns to Llanview.
...how did the rest of the song go? Oh, yeah; well, they haven't "been here for years," but I think most of us really, really missed them anyway. And Andrea Evans (Tina Lord) and Susan Haskell (Marty Saybrooke) were in rare form last week when they made their triumphant returns to Llanview, allowing the audience to let out that giant exhalation and breathe, "finally!" I realize this week's Two Scoops is late, and I apologize for the delay; there was a personal emergency that required my presence, but I didn't want to leave you guys without any column for one of OLTL's biggest weeks of the year so far. First, let me acknowledge all the wonderful feedback I've gotten over the past few months; everyone's been so warm and welcoming, and when people say they want me to address something, I try to oblige. But then, even though it wasn't my week, even though it was a request, I would simply be remiss not to mention Bree Williamson's incredible work as Jessica in the episodes surrounding Nash's death (another legendary week for OLTL when you count the great BE takeover story). It was truly a classic, soapy "photo finish," not a forgettable stunt, and Jessica's anguish was probably Williamson's best work in the role since she began, period. I will miss Nash, even though I felt his creator, Dena Higley, helped to ruin and marginalize his character; I really enjoyed him with Jessica despite it all. I also think his death, while painful and heartbreaking, has created classic daytime drama fodder for OLTL, dating back to so many of the "accidental deaths/clumsy family members" storylines that seemed so prevalent in the '60s and '70s. Hey, remember when that woman on As The World Turns died by falling up the stairs because she was doing nudity on Broadway and Irna Phillips didn't like it? Yeah. Anyway, it was a week of wonderful performances by everyone, especially Bree Williamson and Forbes March, who should definitely be commended. Now, as to the topic of last week, there's a lot to dish on, so let's get to it.
Firstly: OMG TINA OMG OMG!!! Yes, she was great, wasn't she? No one can make an entrance like Andrea Evans. I was afraid she would be all full of Passions Jim Reilly tics and dialogue ("I know you can keep Ethan from that SLUT Theresa!"), but Evans was able to shed that tacky skin and emerge a sleeker, more subtle (but still classically camp) animal. So either Tina is not really Crown Princess of Mendorra, or Jonas Chamberlain (the great daytime vet Kevin Spirtas) is not really US Ambassador to Mendorra, or both. She has to want the jewels for herself, but as Crown Princess they would be her rightful priority, so why have them stolen by Lee Ramsey? Who's zooming who here, so to speak? It's great fun so far, but I have a hard time believing that in Viki, Asa and Cord's apparently tireless searches for Tina that they would not make note of her emerging as royalty in Mendorra, a country Llanview is quite familiar with and something that would surely make international news. (You would think at least Prince Raymond - or was it Roland? - would put in a call to Bo.) But I trust Ron Carlivati to explain it all to me, and BTW, where the hell is CJ?! Where is the goldenhaired Nazi child I remember from my youth, the boy who believed in genies with grunge-era hair? Seriously, it's getting ridiculous. According to the storyline from 2003, CJ ran away from Tina and Cain first. He's been "deployed on a carrier in the Indian Ocean" for five years. He's supposed to have been on the BE board as per Asa's will (he was specifically mentioned), but has not been referenced again since the start of that storyline. Come on, let's get on it. Anyway, Tina, she's delightful. I personally feared that Andrea's Tina might not adjust well to the modern age, and that perhaps Karen Witter was a more prudent choice, but as soon as Andrea walked in and spoke all doubt was erased. She's still letter-perfect. There is no longer any other Tina. She just is. And how cute was little "David Vickers?"
In talking about Tina we have to talk about the overall storyline, and that includes the exit of Hunt Block as Lee Ramsey, late but perhaps not so unlamented, at least not to me. I've always enjoyed Block and I feel he flowered in this role, though I also understand why he was killed. Ramsey finally displayed some humanity and pathos as it was made clear he cared for Marty (perhaps as an echo of his unrequited love for John's Caitlin) and regretted his foolish actions in Ireland; he seemed to cling to a hope that his honor and pride would be restored as an officer of the law when he returned her to her loved ones, even to John, who he hated. He's a man we didn't get to fully know but somehow his enigmatic side made Ramsey even more compelling to me. It was poignant when his last act, even though he was riddled with bullets, was to crawl towards the penthouse stairs to try to protect Marty. Ramsey's death was sudden, shocking, and brutal, but it was effective in a way GH's many violent crimes are not because it was a rarity on OLTL in recent months. It's not overused or cliché, not just a stock trick. It all happened for a reason. The entire Marty/Ramsey/Tina/Todd/etc umbrella is another classic "Carlivati Configuration;" an incredibly well-constructed, astonishingly elegant series of interlocking storylines that come together in the final, crucial moment like a gorgeous symphony. This isn't the first "umbrella story" we've seen come together like this and I'm sure it won't be the last, but it definitely had the most pulse-pounding tension last week, and the tension in the cross-cut editing with Tina, Todd, Marty, the thugs, and John was downright Hitchcockian.
Susan Haskell is still stunningly beautiful, and she is the only Marty Saybrooke, one of the only "youth characters" I truly loved as a young viewer and one of my favorite OLTL characters of all time. I despised the Christina Chambers recast beyond the telling of it, and I still don't care for Cole or for John, but I trust in Susan Haskell (and Ron Carlivati) to make just about anything work. She hasn't aged a day, and in an instant, with a day, crippled and amnesiac or not, Haskell brought all of Marty's old fire, grit, and visceral-ness back. As Marty struggled to pull herself back into bed you could feel every gut wrenching second of her agony, all thanks to Haskell's performance. When she confronted Todd, every inch of her instinctual anger and fear was on display. Susan Haskell as an actress is a true master and always has been, and I am so thrilled she is back and that Marty did not merely die as a brief, unlamented recast. Unfortunately, Marty is again at the mercy of Todd's crazy whims, so who knows what's coming, but as long as it has Todd's hilarious, hypermasculine bodyguard-slash-"motivational speaker" "Keyes" I am all for it. That guy is a trip. And when Susan's Marty turns the tables on Todd, you know she won't let him off easy!
Last week featured Rex and Adriana's break-up, and Adriana's exit to Paris, and while it may not have had the violence or bombast some expected, I felt it was the right note to leave them on. Ron Carlivati's greatest strength is that he seems to dearly care about all his characters no matter who they are; he seems to feel that almost all of them have some innate goodness or decency. He was able to remember that Adriana was not a stock bitch or villainess, and display that in his writing; he showed us a fully evolved character, who had gone from Ingénue to black hat and was trying to find her way back while desperate to save a bad marriage. John-Paul Lavoisier gave the performance of his career, and in the last few months Melissa Fumero has redeemed her stint on the show. While I'm a Rex and Gigi fan, I'm sure Adriana will be back to wrap up this story, and I will welcome her. Together with Fumero, Ron Carlivati has helped to remind us that nobody in real life is just "good" or "bad." There's so much in-between, and what's become of Adriana has helped us remember that. Equally of note were some of Dorian's scenes with Langston, in which they tried to communicate about Dorian's fractious relationships with 'her girls,' and we got a glimpse into Dorian's most raw neuroses regarding love and loyalty.
Also gotta give props to Michael and Marcie last week: They were hot. Usually their romance and intimacy is treated with kid gloves or worse, condescension by OLTL, but it seems that Carlivati no longer wants to try to pretend. Marcie and Michael are sexual beings like anyone else, and you actually could believe in their naked (pardon the pun) desire. There was no attempt to apologize for it, or to "tastefully" cloak it, or worse, to burlesque it, as I felt was done in Michael and Marcie's most notable "love scene" in 2004, when the show overreacted to fan complaints and instead did something that felt wholly artificial to me. What we got from the McBains was naturalistic intimacy and love, and also humor when Michael brought Sexy Back as he threatened Todd with his medical mojo. Also, once again, can you say "Juno?" I knew you could! Starr is so pawning that kid off on the McBains. Suck it, Cole. By the way, Ron, you can't fool me. I know you are finally doing the story of Blair's father. And I love you for it.
Viki and Jessica had some great scenes last week too, as Viki reflected on how she coped with losing Joe Riley. Unfortunately, Jessica did not repeat her righteous pimpslap of Natalie last week, but once was enough, I guess. I feel for both Jessica and Natalie; I believe in Natalie and Jared's relationship and their best intentions, but I also know how it looks to the family and cringe and wince at their efforts, however well-intentioned to "make it right." I see both sides of the story and can't blame Jessica or Viki for their fury, and equality in writing - not just assassinating Natalie like Dena Higley did - is what I love about Ron C.
So, voila! Another column down, and I'm sorry about the wait. I hope you guys enjoy, just like I'm enjoying every week on OLTL these days. We're truly blessed, and I feel blessed to get to write about it and keep people reasonably amused. See you in two!
Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.