CAUTION: My girl, Carol, speaks her mind in a strong, brassy and vibrant fashion. If you are offended by straight talking, adult oriented language (sometimes, there's a "very" in there), please be aware that you may well find it here. Carol shoots from the hip and tells it like it is, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners. That's why I love her & why I hired her. If it's not your bag, let's part still friends and salute our differences in tastes (I'm sort of a strong strawberry flavor...) ~*~Katrina~*~
But the Joneses are over-40
We’ve heard from ABC Daytime’s executives (Frons) on the importance of being young. But the proof just ain’t there, not to this 39-year-old soap fan.
A Media Life article cited ratings statistics that seem to diverge from the party line of the ABC Daytime executive Brian Frons and his minions: Viewers aren’t getting any younger, but SORASing, point by point. In the last few months, the audience has looked positively middle-aged, pushing the 50s, as they’ve tuned in, in droves, to catch the latest goofs, gaffes and guffaws of five mostly middle-aged (save the 20-something from a Survivor show) women in a contemporary but timeless talk show about celebrities, fashions, make-overs and social issues, called The View.
The youngsters are outside, at nightclubs, cruising malls, surfing beaches, and when inside, late after-midnight, they’re tuning out to recordings of mindless pabulum on MTV, the Comedy Channel, HBO, WB, FOX, for the quick peeks at hard bodies and dumb lines. A lot of ‘em remain transfixed by the bad acting but beautiful brawn of NBC’s daytime fare, DOOL and Passions. But they’re not, by any means, checking out ABC, and they’re not planning to any time soon, no matter how many trumped-up summer specials and Times Square billboards the idiots in charge think will attract them. (But they might if enough of that rare and valuable buzz from the rest of us catches their attention.)
In the meantime, ABC’s already got a treasure trove of veteran fans and a ready new audience of middle-aged, well-incomed mothers and fathers waiting in the wings to come back or try out the daytime dramas. The daytime dramas themselves are rife with veteran actors waiting to work.
Yet, Frons continues to point to cable and the WB/Fox channels as fine examples to out-copy in order to steal the youth-demo numbers, referencing expired hits or, in the case of The Sopranos, soon to be. He refuses to acknowledge the original challengers to the status quo, the shows that defy description and forge names for themselves purely on the merits of a high-caliber cast and a unique take on the world.
CBS – known for a more age- and race-diverse representation – took a risk in greenlighting Joan of Arcadia, which airs on primetime for one hour every Friday and stars a little-known former soap star Amber Tamblyn (ex-Emily), who, at the time of hire, had done maybe one well-known horror flick, The Ring, but her character gets killed off in the very beginning. The drama touches on all the taboos in today’s youth-oriented shallow end: religion, family, friends, a healthy mix of age gaps in school and police settings, with a supernatural twist, a thinking, feeling, real-looking teenaged girl may be able to talk to God through His visitations of other people, of all ages, races, creeds, punks and Beverly Hills madams accepted.
Another hit, in the sitcom arena, also from CBS, happens to be Everybody Loves Raymond, featuring an older cast, a grandfather, a grandmother, an older brother, a father and a mother. Their children, under the teen radar, are seen and rarely heard. The laughs come from experience, and the show has been regularly feted by the critics and the crowds at every Emmy awards ceremony.
It’s easy for me to sit in the sidelines and encourage the ABC Daytime honchos to risk, to challenge and to stop copycatting past hits, instead of resting on past laurels based on 1960s-80s principles, when it’s not my money to spend and the money isn’t that much to begin with. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and if these executives can so thoughtlessly throw away the good ideas and great stories of the writers who are only trying to do their jobs and who value their soaps (OLTL), how much worse could it be?
Surely Frons and co. can stop wasting money on fruitless promotional campaigns with has-beens and wannabes, as well as hand-picked preferential versions of skinnier, beautiful soap fans, to let the hired help do their jobs, from the executive producers to the writers to the actors—ALL of them.
Maybe the soaps will then be making history, setting trends and showing the rest of the world that it may be easier to copy from others, but it’s better to create an original.
“How long before some no-neck goons put the squeeze on you for moolah?” Kendall to Bobby. “Blah blah, look at me show off my street-wise, blah blah... Lady Luck shining her pearly whites, blah blah.” Who talks like that? Oh yeah, a Greenlee wannabe, who should aspire higher, like, say, be herself. But then it’s really head writer Megan McTavish talking, and that lady takes her act straight from the cliché book of yesterday’s slang.
They never gave me X. Bo and Nora, in the elevator July 23, playing the alphabet game with famous rockers, Bo winning with Warren Zevon. But I’d like to know what he or she came up with for X (how ‘bout the speed-metal band, Racer-X?).
Kevin called all of the newspaper’s shareholders to a last-minute meeting a day earlier to vote Todd out as editor-in-chief of the Banner-Sun, without his mother’s approval and under questionable means in the July 28th episode. Not exactly legal in the real world, but this is OLTL, where a daytime president can just go in and ruin sense, sensibility and story integrity. Run, Michael Malone, run.
What the heck has gotten into Natalie? Was her resentment at the Buchanans brewing in the background or did I miss the pivotal, telling scenes of a legitimate reason for her reverting to bratty, pouty, defensive, stupid bully Natalie? Signs of another Frons interference run?
A little JR-like harsh there, Todd II. Kevin’s being a maroon, sure, but to openly smirk about a stillborn baby (July 28th eppy)? That’s going too far. But I’m sure portrayer Trevor St. John’s wetting himself over the chance to go irredeemably dark. He’s been clamoring about the evil side to the press, spinning everything, even simple good ole American love for Blair and Viki with underhanded, manipulative undertones.
Again, let me reiterate: R.J. is being railroaded out of his own love story by TIOC again. There is so much wrong with this story from left field about Evangeline suddenly taking off her clothes and riding the John that I can barely formulate the appropriate responses. First of all, R.J. would never go so far as to exact violent revenge over a flighty female. He had ample opportunity with Tea and so far as I can remember, he only torched his club (but that was more about a vendetta with Bo than Tea). When Tea returned, ignoring him and stalking Todd all over again, just the other year, did R.J. blow up, have a P.I. follow her around, hire Rex to confirm Tea and Todd are an item again, then hire two goons to beat up Todd as retribution? No. But R.J.’s doing it now, because...??? Because he loves Evangeline so much more? Nope, never saw it.
Well, it’s better than the alternative, story limbo. Besides, the current writers in charge have gone on record with their version of R.J., as a villain, nothing more, nothing less. It stands to reason that they’d only whip him out as a weapon to showcase the heroism and the tragedy of the real core characters we’re supposed to love and worship, instead of R.J., the loan shark, shady club owner and violent criminal. Of course, given this stupid logic, R.J. would never have had a chance with Evangeline, Nora, or any other female, much less be given permission to bed them for our viewing pleasure. As far as I know, he and Evangeline never had sex. Check out Sherry’s Jubilee on the matter, dated July 28, for an even better take on this travesty.
I disagree with columnist Sherry Mercurio in one final aspect though. I still say R.J. belongs with Blair, the two are OLTL’s answer to AMC’s Tad and Erica, two soul mates who settle for knowing acquaintances, almost siblings, because to experience the alternative would be to set off annihilation.
Put the boys together in any scene, and I’m a happy, riveted camper. Right now, the only story with any legs is the building feud between Kevin and Todd, who are dragging Blair, David, Dorian, Kelly, Jessica, Viki into the mix. I still don’t buy the immediate loyalty by Jessica to Todd over Kevin, but hey, any chance to include the pouting kewpie doll...
Dan Gauthier (Kevin) and Trevor St. John (Todd) have said they try to present their fight scenes in different ways from the shove ‘em, and knock their blocks off variety typical in soaps. Todd waving at the air near Kevin’s shoulder after ramming home the point of Ace not being either his or Kelly’s is one example of creative sparring. The fake-jocular expressions when one of them lands a verbal punch is another. With David in there, his one-liners and befuddled, bemused expressions, it’s pure gold.
Not that I’m paying much attention to Jessica and Tico, mind you, but Saturday was a slow day for me, as usual, and that’s when I caught Friday’s (July 30th) episode, where he gifted her with a box of used haircare products, i.e., his dead mother’s hairbrush and mirror. However antique they looked, solidified in silver, I would never accept a gift like that. And when he told Jess that his mother brushed her hair with that hairbrush the morning before she was slaughtered, even less so. Why doesn’t he just hand over her rotting bones while he’s at it, crushed into a nice talcum powder Jess can slather on after every shower?
I know OLTL is, again, undergoing turmoil in the writing department, but some of the scenes seem plucked right out of an acid-tripping vagrant’s head as he’s passing by, out of nowhere, to be explained (maybe) next week. Take the final scene between Todd and Blair, where suddenly he comes up with a scheme to pretend he’s the father of Ace and she’s pissed off about it just as Asa returns to the hotel bar. How is that going to help them steal Asa’s mansion out from under him? Let me think aloud... if Asa believes Todd is the biological father of his grandson, he might do anything to win the court case for Kevin, even give the mansion away? I don’t get it.
If there’s going to be a double- or triple-murder – and there is – why only sacrifice Trent and Sage, and then throw Mary in there too? Why not spare Mary, a viable romanticized female character, and use this murder spree to get rid of the deadweights, Emily, Sam, Carly, Faith, Mikey? If I have to stare at Emily’s consternation, constipation and constant nitpicking bossy demanding, “Why are you here?” “What are you still doing here?” “Why aren’t you licking my sneakers by now?” or Sam’s woe is me, but I look so hot in this revealing top and my lips are oh-so kissable... er, where was I?
Emily and Sam are my two all-time least favorite soap characters. Why? See previous columns. Check out the message boards. And this past week... more of the same. Everything about Emily’s face, expression, stance, tone and verbiage tells me she’s an unsympathetic, stingy, narcissistic, demanding, exacting shrew. You know how Skye’s eyes get all soft, liquid and mushy despite her body language and her misdeeds? Same with Nu Lois. Emily’s, however, remains stiff, tight, unyielding, mean and soulless. If Satan had a helper on Christmas, it’d be Miss Furrowed Brow, Blinding Lipgloss, Ain’t Had A Mylanta In Ages Emily.
The day Sam makes Carly preferable to watch is Armageddon indeed. And indeed, she did, during her hospital bed scenes, where helpless damsel with the huge knockers once again sat back and pouted, rolled her eyes and got smarty-pants with the people, Carly included now, who are moving heaven and earth for her Highness, as Carly eloquently put it. If it’s one personality flaw I despise more than cruelty and arrogance, it’s ingratitude. Unfortunately, the world is littered with Sams, who expect you and your next-door neighbor to move heaven and earth for them, simply because they breathe the air, and when we don’t do enough, according to their unconditional, all-inclusive standards, they sure let us know it.
In the July 28th episode, where Brook Lynn acknowledges to Dillon the she should sing for the public, he quotes a common adage, quoted often by Lois, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” After Brook Lynn asks what that means, ‘cause it doesn’t make sense, Dillon laughs and sounds, I swear to God, like a horse.
The subsequent scenes back at the L&B Records studios, however, made even less sense. What music producer worth his gold records would not be able to tell that: a) the four girls were lip-syncing, b) the four girls all sounded like the one girl, Brook Lynn, harmonizing or not, and c) the fourth girl was obviously a guy in drag. Oh yeah, I’m supposed to suspend my disbelief (and common sense) to go along for the laughs. This won’t last, though, because the girl band is set to disband when one of them, Sage, is killed by Mary by accident after Georgie and Astrid throw her in a walk-in freezer for a laugh, then leave her there. Ha ha, my sides ache from laughing so much.
AND RIGHT ON CUE, THE NEm SET-UP...
In a bit of irony and total bullcrap, right after Emily threatens to continue stalking Nikolas out of her misguided, idealistic, psychotic belief that they share a one and only true love, eyebrows in perpetual furrow, Ned declares in a separate story that she’ll have a lock on the competition for Lila’s millions by being inevitably declared the Q with the most virtue. In that July 28th show, Emily must’ve popped up, lurked around and made herself known about five or 57 times delivering her greatest hits one nauseating liner note after another, from tattling on Nikolas to Lucky, to using Lucky to nail Lorenzo to the wall to avoid Nikolas taking off on a yacht cruise with Mary, to doing exactly what Jason repeatedly told her he hated after he suffered brain damage... insisting on following Nikolas around, despite his request to the contrary, practically begging him to remember, showing him in every way that she does not love him but desires to own him as her boyfriend trophy, interfering with a business transaction, his job, because she deems Lorenzo unclean, everything Jason would hate if Jason weren’t a hypocritical, brain-damaged hitman.
Here’s what baffles and frustrates me. Emily kept the truth from Nikolas to avoid him going violent and self-destructive like Jason did, even when Jason and later, a doctor, told her the injuries were not similar. Then, when Nikolas finally does find out, from Mary, and reacts violently and self-destructively, Emily does everything in her power to do what she never would dare with Jason, for fear of alienating him further, forcing him through her pure love to remember, by any means necessary, and this week, perpetrating a fraud by using Lucky, that love-sick sap, to evoke jealousy out of Nikolas; thus, basically, playing with fire, farting around with a young man’s already broken memories. But it’s not the same as Jason, you argue? Well, then why didn’t she simply tell Nikolas the truth the second she saw him? Because she has control issues, as Nikolas justifiably accused her of, mixed in with an unhealthy dose of an idealistic, demented image of love.
And this is the condescending, know-it-all moron I’m supposed to be rooting for to reunite with Nikolas, whether I like her or not?
Sadly, folks, she will reunite with him in the weeks to come, as Mary, the true romantic heroine, is sacrificed on the altar of NEm’s facsimile of romance, however instantly fabricated by TPTB who need serious therapy and Lasik eye surgery. Nikolas will make a liar out of himself and his self-righteous lectures to Emily (and Lucky) the past few weeks against trying to control him, against issuing patronizing diagnoses on his mental and emotional state, against manipulating him to remember when it pains him to try... by falling back in love with Emily and remembering their love anyway.
IOW, another lame, short-term plot device made cliché, to delay the inevitable. I had to wade through horrible under- and over-acting to get to nothing but just another vehicle to showcase NEm’s logic-defying love stinks.
Lucky should really cut the self-righteous act himself. Pretending to be tough with Lorenzo (July 29), telling the drug lord off, protecting big brother Nikolas, and denying any interest in using Nikolas’s memory loss to his advantage with Emily. Oh really? Isn’t that what Lucky tried in fact to do when it was first revealed that Nikolas made it out of the car crash alive but with a few memory bolts missing, use it to his advantage, by going so far as to tell Nikolas as much??? I’d like Lucky more if the actor, Greg Vaughan, would stop interspersing the distracting, “you know what?” nonsense throughout his conversational speech.
What Nikolas is going through seems exactly the same thing Jason did, except this time, I’m supposed to believe that Emily and Lucky are right in forcing the issue of Nikolas regaining his memory and steering clear of a dangerous mentor like Lorenzo who, like Sonny did for Jason, let Nikolas decide his own fate. The difference, I gather, is Nikolas can remember himself one day, Jason never can, the difference between Tyler Christopher stuck in the role of Prince Cassadine to Emily Quartermaine, and Steve Burton refusing to budge from Morgan back to a Q and his reindeer sweater.
Once again, SoapTown USA’s Max, now of GH Chronicles, parallels my universe while watching GH and fuming over the complete waste of Greg Vaughan’s Lucky in this loaded triangle of two in her latest commentary, “Lucky Guy?” I like that she agrees with me, sure, but I also admire how she does, by pointing a little more of the limelight on the third wheel constantly being ignored and manipulated by Emily, taking over where sad, sorry dead Zander left off. Read this part: “There’s no real focus on Lucky, he sort of just floats in and out of scenes, used as a point to convince the audience of what we already know, Emily wants Nikolas. How much more of a sledgehammer do we need?”
Also on July 29, Brook Lynn goes to the counter at Kelly’s, sits down, and casually picks up where she left off with Nu Lucas, pitching in as a waiter behind the counter... only the last time they left off, she was chewing him a new one for not watching where he was bumping into outside Kelly’s, and left in a huff. When did the connective scenes happen, where Brook Lynn began to accept Lucas as a nice guy and someone she could talk shop with?
Speaking of Brook Lynn’s teenaged mumbling, speak up! I had no idea what far-off exotic locale she was referring to, when referring to a far-off exotic locale she once visited at age 13, a locale Lucas wanted to visit one day. I give Ryan Carnes about another week or so, before he’s replaced. He’s too tentative.
Because I respect and adore Jane Elliot’s Tracy from way back, I do not appreciate it when other characters start using her as a punching bag or TPTB as a form of slapstick comedy. If they’d research her history, they’d know she’s capable of much more than tumbling into the rose bushes.
Juxtapose Ric and Alexis’s spontaneous-, authentic-, sharp-feeling, heavy-breathing wit and parry in front of the hospital elevators, to Carly and Courtney’s meandering, hesitant, pedantic schoolgirl regurgitation over Sonny and Jason, especially Carly’s imbecilic rationalizations for deciding to give Sonny another chance. She loves him? She loves his penchant for throwing glassware across the room, roughly grabbing her, screaming bloody murder at her and the children, threatening to take their children from her, calling her whore, tramp, slut, taunting her to kill her lover with a loaded weapon? That ain’t love, honey.
Like most women, I am helplessly drawn to one archetype of male, yet seek out the other for my own self-preservation and mental well-being, in the full light of day. Think Wuthering Heights, or—since I adore Damian Lewis, The Forsyte Saga. In both, two archetypes of the male are presented, Lewis’s dark, brooding, tortured and wrong Soames and Ioan Gruffudd’s brilliant, effusive, kind boy-next-door Bosinney. As usual, I fell madly in love with Soames, but would’ve married Bosinney.
It’s the ole Scorpio vs. Libra conflict, if you’re into astrology as I sometimes am. Astrology helps delineate and define relationships in a neat, clearcut, summarized outline for me (sure beats fighting the crowds). I have fallen madly in love with Scorpio men, had an affair with one, but remained happily, steadily married to a typical cerebral Libra.
So whenever I hear of an actor rising up through the ranks by sheer hypnotic sex appeal and simmering, smothering sizzle alone, as with Tyler Christopher (Nikolas), I pay attention. I’ve paid attention to him not because he’s built like a brick house, no doubt, but because the very way he carries himself, reserving monumental quantities of intense passion behind a thick veneer of reserve, politeness and being “shy” turns me on, reminds me of the dark archetype I so often crave in the depths of midnight, right before I dream of a free world without consequences or guilt... a true Scorpio.
In the August 10th edition of Soap Opera Digest, page 29 of “Editors’ Choice, The Truth Hurts, GENERAL HOSPITAL,” a line stuck out, reverberating in my very loins, in reference to the editors’ thumbs-up of the “Nik has amnesia” story: “The soulful Tyler Christopher has always presented Nikolas as a man possessed by a dark force that he wills himself to suppress.” For Nikolas Cassadine, too, is a November child. This line, kudos to the writer (probably a Gemini), sent shivers down my spine. I might as well have had an orgasm.
This is the kind of man that embodies romance for me. For other women, he could be the adventuresome, light flights of fancy of a Lucky Spencer, toothsome grin, affable nature, nothing sinister hiding in the corners.
But for me, there’s something strangely exciting about the dangers, the complications, the maze of conflicting emotion and thought of a man who has to, much less, who can hold back a tidal wave within himself, possessed by a dark force... wills himself to suppress... just calls to mind the archetype for me, starting with John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost. I start to think of what would happen if this kind of man gave up, let his force of will subside and let the rivers drown him, how so very romantic! Just don’t sit in the front row, you’ll be terribly drenched.
That he feels he must hold back the dark side indicates he’s essentially good; the inevitable fact that he must fail, is great drama. A man who has a dark force to suppress in the first place is no shallow, mindless dimwit, but a man of complex thought, feeling, who has had much to overcome in his childhood, who cannot afford to take anything lightly or for granted...more than the average Playboy-perusing breeder.
The conflict given way to delicious surrender reminds me of a time back in the ‘90s when I secretly watched Xena, Warrior Princess (before the lesbian crowd took hold), thrilling to her fight scenes, especially the slow-mo ones where, as if she were about to pop her cork, Xena grabs a guy on his horse, holds onto the back of his skull and glides her sword across his throat, face a revelation in ecstasy.
Or, on the now-defunct, half-hour ABC soap, PC, where Ian (played with utter abandon, yet grounding realism by Thorsten Kaye) gives in to his vampiric urges and confronts Kevin with the evil wonder of its allure in almost a Shakespearean iambic pentameter, done with the magnifying control of a groaning man on his last legs of physical surrender.
It’s not about evil for evil’s sake, though. It’s about the fight to contain the evil urge within all of us, at least those of us who are cognizant enough to recognize the disparity and despair. It’s about fearlessly treading where most of the barflies refuse to tread.
Since time began, paving a way for civilization to create venues of entertainment, writers have tapped into this classic theme and the classic archetypes. Some of the most popular stories in the movies and on TV have touched on the bad boy meets good girl torn also by the good boy next door.
Furthermore, could you imagine the ratings if a soap opera like GH could tap into this universal classic of warring archetypes, in a throbbing, pulsating love story, with the dark and the light vying for the young girl’s affections? Of course, the young girl should be portrayed by an actress who can actually convey something beyond co-dependence, obsession, vanity and constipation, provide legitimate reason for the dark to be attracted in the first place, prove an understanding of those darker depths besides using cancer as cavalierly as make-up to attract a handsome boy.
GH has done this classic theme justice before. Luke and Laura and Scott, Sonny and Brenda and Jax... Yeah, Sonny used to be like Soames.