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 Two Scoops: March 28, 2011 columns
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Tuc Watkins
Ides of late March
For the Week of March 28, 2011
Finally, David and Dorian are back together. Our Man Vickers displaced Cutter in the La Boulaie boudoir, ending Dorian's latest May-December flirtation.
Here we are again, my lovelies. It's great to be with you again, wherever you may be -- I don't know about you, but spring is decidedly not coming in like a hurricane here in New York, where a sixty-degree day is followed swiftly by an icy blizzard. What did I do to deserve that, I ask you? And why does my landlord keep turning the heat off every time we get a day of moderate sun? Anyway, cold as it may be here, things in Llanview are heating up. Wow, that analogy hurt. Let's move on -- there was some (often modulated) good, some bad, and some really ugly on OLTL last week, and we've got a lot to dish about.

THE GOOD

David and Dorian (and the shotgun) It had to happen: Finally, David and Dorian are back together. Yes, Our Man Vickers displaced Cutter in the La Boulaie boudoir, ending Dorian's latest May-December flirtation. And I guess I'm pretty happy about it -- I loved their sparring, and I love how unabashedly happy Dorian is again -- but at the same time, I'm beginning to sympathize with the fans who are starting to find everything with David to be a bit half-hearted. They never give him enough time with his new family, and he never seems to hang around long enough. Already, you can see the hook coming to drag David offstage again as he informs Dorian that -- once again! -- he cannot marry her. Really, David? Really? What's that about?!

I did love David confronting Clint -- it's about time someone turned Pa Buke's own 12-gauge on him -- but unfortunately, Clint is approaching ridiculous levels of invulnerability (as I will elucidate shortly). Almost everything I enjoyed this week, in fact, has some kind of downside to it, because no matter how they play a story or character beat on OLTL these days, they aren't doing enough with it, and the handling of David is the major symptom of a larger problem. They give him a couple scenes here and there, then call it a win as he skips out of town. David deserves more, his family deserves more, the David/Dorian coupling deserves more, and certainly, after ages on the backburner, Dorian Lord deserves a lot more. I say lock Tuc Watkins in for six to eight months at a time, or pre-tape the bejeezus out of his scenes. This come here/go away game with one of Llanview's most beloved characters is tired and is now hurting the larger show.

Ramapalooza Rama, on the other hand, is someone I can unequivocally enjoy. Anyone who makes Aubrey's life difficult is A-okay in my book. I can't say enough about her, and I think I've said a lot already, but I love that she's starting to have her story horizons broadened across Llanview. While she has amiable enough chemistry with Cristian, just about everyone has that thanks to David Fumero's easy charm -- I think she's far more interesting with Joey, despite the fact that he's a complete dimwit right now, only just now beginning to piece together the tissue of lies surrounding Aubrey and Ford. Joey needs someone wild, but not as stilted or cold as Kelly often is these days. Yet I like Vimal too, and Rama's clearly devoted to him; I'd hate to see a story where he is just forgotten behind bars. What are your thoughts on Rama's future? It's about time more characters of Indian descent were represented on daytime long-term, and I think Rama is just the lady and OLTL is just the show.

Look, Diversity! Yes, it's true: OLTL hired another black contract character! And it's a woman! Will wonders never cease! Unfortunately, it's not Daphnee Duplaix back as Rachel Gannon, but whateva -- Nafessa Williams seems decent as "Deanna" so far. The story, on the other hand, is lame; James has an admirer from his past back in Dayton who is stalking him and hiding out in the bushes outside the Buenos Dias. Who cares? And more to the point, how much of these stories does OLTL have to tell on the "Myface" social network? It is unbelievably tiring watching people goggle at various characters' "Myfaces" over and over to drive story; it kills momentum entirely. I applaud the hiring of Ms. Williams, who seems talented enough; I just think her entry story is already not great, and I'd like to see her move across the canvas instead of being stuck solely in the, frankly, very dull Starr and James sphere.

If This Couch Could Talk ...it would say, "John who?" Sorry, that's all it takes for me with Brody and Natalie at this point -- awkward couch love! "Oops, we slept on each other!" Ain't no oops about it; these two are hot, and I want more of them. I expect the show to hurl Brody back under the bus for Ford and John, not necessarily in that order, but I'm enjoying this wannabe couple while I can, because honestly, everything else for Natalie this week with her ex just went straight to the Ugly section. Ron Carlivati said last year that he went for the Brody/Natalie one-night stand on a whim after seeing the actors' chemistry together, and changed the planned storyline to do so -- why can't story trajectory change this year, too? Is it so wrong to give these two a real shot while John and Jess/Tess embarrass themselves all over town?

Sisters Are Doin' It For Each Other Yeah, this Viki and Dorian union is strange and a little forced, but I love the way they're interacting now, as equals and fragile friends who are finally beginning to truly appreciate each other. Seeing Viki there for Dorian regarding David, and Dorian there for Viki regarding Charlie, made my heart soar. It's happened before, to be sure, but every time it has, it's then dashed, and I fear it will be again when Viki learns the truth about Charlie that Dorian is concealing from her. It's been decades; can't we just let Viki and Dorian's relationship stay a little more layered? The Victor issue was buried in the '90s -- do we have to keep inventing petty new grudges to keep them on their toes? I'm not averse to them being "frenemies" or constantly at odds, because their conflict drives the show, but can they at least retain a core understanding of their abiding love and respect for each other, even when they become angry and hateful towards one another? Is that possible? What do you think, audience?

THE BAD

Clintvincible! Yeah, I love Clint, but this is getting tired. Week after week, Clint gets caught on stuff, is confronted and then it turns into, "oh, we can't touch him! Circumstantial evidence! Back to the drawing board, you guys!" The David case is the latest example, and next, they're looking to bust him for Eddie's murder, which he clearly did not commit. I love Pimp Daddy Clint, but when he is literally impervious at every turn after being caught over and over, it turns into a Stefano DiMera sort of tale right out of DAYS, and that is not organic storytelling. I'm just saying, Jerry ver Dorn is still awesome, but the handling of the Clint mega-arc needs to be moderated.

Speaking of Clintvincible Syndrome, I'm not sure why it is necessary in this story for Matthew to remain dumb as a post. Even when faced with David, even after hearing about Nora's ordeal, he was, at least initially, still ride or die for Uncle Clint. You have got to be kidding me. And if Matthew did off Eddie, as I am beginning to fear, and gets carted off the show while Old Face Nate lives to age another day, I will frankly be thisclose to dropping OLTL entirely.

As for everything else....

OKAY, THE REST IS JUST UGLY

Creepin' Banks and E-Trick ...at least, that is my new name for Charlie and Echo's gross, gross affair over at the scuzzy Minute Man Motel, apparently the go-to site for all kinds of Llanview lovin' these days. Again, I've said it before, but the rapid speed with which Charlie's character has been annihilated is absolutely astonishing and unprecedented. In, what, six weeks' time? -- less? -- Charlie has totally abandoned all pretense of being a faithful, loving husband, and instead become a straight-up "rush to the shower to wash the sin off" creeper, panting for Echo at every possible opportunity. Is it a brain tumor? Swamp gas? Aneurysm? What? And soon, Brian Kerwin will be gone completely, as if it wasn't obvious onscreen; everyone from Dorian to Tess is onto the affair. I don't think even the long-forgotten and unlamented Steve Burke, until now the least of Viki's husbands, got this kind of hatchet treatment. Whose car did Mr. Kerwin key? What did I do, as a fan of this couple, to deserve this? Is this because I haven't been enough of an observant Jew this past year? Is it because I never finished Hebrew school?

Look, the sooner this mess with Creepin' and E-Trick ends, the happier I'll be. I just wish I knew why OLTL was in such a damn hurry to completely defile anything anyone ever loved about Viki and Charlie. You know it's bad when Steve Burke and Ben look good by comparison.

Waiting To Inhale (or Act)/While Todd Was Sleeping And Not Raping For Once And now, several stories in one -- the bullying story with Shane and Jack remains a hot mess on toast. Austin Williams and the adults are giving it their all, but I'm really not sure where Andrew Trischitta is as Jack, or what he's thinking about at any given moment. Maybe it's first-time jitters, but his delivery has all the passion of a teleprompter, and this just isn't working for me at all. Worse, the character has no real motivation or personality anymore, so all this story is doing for Jack is ruining any goodwill the audience had for him. The dialogue and the situations are all hackneyed and tiresome, and my feeling about this kind of social issue storylines is if a soap isn't going to do them well -- and OLTL has often done them very well in the past -- they shouldn't be done. There was a germ of a great idea when this story was conceived, but it hasn't been properly executed at all. It's painful to watch due to what's on the page and at times on the screen, and young Mr. Williams, along with Kassie DePaiva, Farah Fath(!), and the occasional appearance from Kim Zimmer are the only people salvaging anything from this.

And then there was the Long Sleep of King Todd, Man of Peace. Slumber long, slumber deep, I say. I'm not sure what role Ninja Tomas is playing here, but I still don't think he's the sniper. I was amused at how OLTL deftly avoided showing Tomas' supposed "master karate skills" versus Shaun, but hey, he's still incredibly hot. Unfortunately, any time any character on this show says anything reasonable or rational about Todd or John's behavior, they have to be undermined, so I'm sure Tomas will turn out to be not only the sniper but a closet Nazi at any moment. I don't care how many teary deathbed confessionals Starr, Blair, Téa, Dani, or Robot Jack have at Todd's bedside -- I pray for his violent death. I do, however, still want to know the connection between him, Tomas, and that photograph.

This Is Totally Not The Nash Story Again, We Have No Idea What You Mean Yeah, right! Come on, this is tired -- they're redoing Nash and Tess, only with Cutter, and I am bored beyond words. Nash and Tess wasn't even a terribly well-told story to begin with, as far as I'm concerned; it was always about Nash attempting to prolong Jessica's mental illness to stay with her psychotic alter, and the couple only eventually succeeded (for a year) thanks to Forbes March and Bree Williamson's chemistry together. What do we know about Cutter? What does he care about? Who is he really interested in? How does he feel about anything? And why am I watching him? Josh Kelly, a talented actor, is taking the hits as they come to him, but there is nothing going on under the surface with any of this, and the show just seems to be spitballing, which leads to this retread storyline and the agonizingly stupid custody mess with Ford, while poor Brody sits at home, worrying about his fiancée and wearing entirely too many clothes. I'm just hoping Jessica has snapped out of it for good and is headed home. I have more to say about this couple-swapping, actually, and we'll get to it in a moment...

Internet Porn & Roach Motels: High Romance! I am tired of looking at the Minute Man Motel. Okay, there, I said it. That place is gross, and I hate watching everyone and their adopted brother hang out there, and often, have sex there. Remember back when the only person fit to boink in that joint was Antonio during his Santi rage bender with Sonia Toledo? Now we've got Echo, Deanna, Cutter, you name it. I don't care what kind of budget crunch the show has got -- move on, that mess is skeevy as all hell. Who's going to tune in, see these scenes at this roach dump, see Austin Peck making cheap porn, and be like, "Yes, this is the soap to watch?' This isn't even "hard-hitting" or "gritty" or "realistic," it's just grody. They're starting to make John's apartment look classy. Speaking of John...

Who, What, Where? John McBain's patented Dance Of Ambivalent McLove was back in full force this week as he treated Natalie like scum on the bottom of his shoe, asked Kelly out, then in the next breath, turned around and got all tender and husk(ier)-voiced with Nat due to her mad forensic skills. Give me a break. Once again, John is playing the field and weighing all his options at once. He's done this for years, and I can predict his movements, or lack of movements, as I'm sure the women will once again do all the work for him. Ladies, you've got better waiting out there for you -- don't waste it on John.

Speaking of "better out there," this speaks to my larger point. This show has no idea what it's doing with half its couples. Chemistry test Brody and Natalie? Sure, why not, but they'll eventually go back to John and Nat. Brody still loves Jessica? Okay, but they're more interested in Cutter and Jess for some reason, so Brody's out in the cold. What's that you say? Cutter has a thing for both Kelly and Dorian, as well, plus Aubrey? Well, he's a virile red-blooded male, what else can you expect of him, audience? Narrative continuity? Character coherence?

Does Kelly want John, Cutter, or Joey? Does Brody want Natalie or Jessica? Does Ford want Langston, Tess, or Jess? Does John just want to sleep with everyone? This is what happens when you run a show by focus group and executive fiat -- a whole lot of nothing making sense, and a lot of talented actors and compelling characters crippled by indecision and a lack of commitment or focused storytelling. If I gave you a rundown of Kelly's story since returning to town, with every man she's tangled with, it would make no sense, nor would Cutter's introduction. These mangled character dynamics are an embarrassment to watch, and they're dragging the whole show down.

So that's your week that was. The show is in an uproar, and I'm not sure where it's going to land; I'm not sure any of us are. But we've been there before, and I hope we come out on the right side with the stories and characters that work still intact. I'll see you all in two. Until then, please remember -- the Minute Man Motel is never a viable option for getting your freak on. One word: Bedbugs. Goodnight!

Michael


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.



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