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~*~
Close calls, missed opportunities, leaps in logic, mischaracterization... some happen purely by chance, a soap actor decides to leave for primetime, another has to leave (if you get my gist), a sickness, death in the family, then a story has to be changed at the last minute to accommodate the departures. But other times, it’s just another indication that the fools are running the show.
The December 7th ABC SOAPS IN DEPTH special report: “Writing Wrongs: What Plot Twists Deserve To Be Undone?” inspired me.
The SID staff went to various soap actors and one head writer for their input, receiving quite a surprising, creative array of responses.
GH’s Constance Towers (Helena) went from the nitpicky – couldn’t they have made a defrosted Stavros look as if he’d slept decades, instead of bounded out of his frozen chamber well-rested, not a wrinkle to be had, short hair in place? – to the painfully sublime – yearning to change the history between her and Nancy Lee Grahn’s characters in that one pivotal shared history involving a blade and an opera singer. “I didn’t play [what I truly felt], but it bothered me. Both Nancy and I, if we had the ‘power to undo,’ would undo that piece of history. ... to slit a mother’s throat in front of a child is a pretty awful, vicious thing to do.”
In another part of the magazine, Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) felt the same way about Helena, recalling, however, some of her more current exploits as too evil to be accepted back. Since her return is a rumored done deal, Christopher hoped she’ll return a little more human, a lot less cartoonishly evil. Not one for one-dimensional anything, the young actor – who will take off for a good chunk of early next year to film a Steven Spielberg mini-series – got excited about the chance for Helena to add relatable, dare I say, compassionate layers to her otherwise requisite characterization as a villainess. “I’m a big fan of the sympathetic antagonist, where even though people do evil, evil things, you find ways to care for them. I think it would add a nice dynamic if she would have one or two seconds of something humanistic.”
OLTL’s Hillary B. Smith (Nora) could never understand why TPTB brought fan favorite Ty Treadway (ex-Colin/Troy) back as Colin’s nicer twin, make a big deal out of Troy NOT being anything like the evil twin Colin, bail on the popular romantic pairing between Troy and Nora, only to have Troy succumb to the same madness as Colin in the end. She felt the notes would’ve played truer had Troy merely been Colin in disguise after all.
AMC’s Jennifer Bassey (Marian) saw greater potential in Mia’s appearance than merely as the product of an affair between her character’s late husband and another woman. Had TPTB seen fit to reveal Mia as Marian’s and Tad’s daughter instead, “that would have tied together the Chandlers and the Martins, and been much more interesting. Uniting families and creating complications between families is good soap opera. That’s when soaps get juicy.”
Soaps get juicier when plot twists come straight out of the blue and from left field, asserted AMC head writer Megan McTavish. She received a lot of flack from fans and critics for rewriting David’s history, in order to give Babe a father and deeper rooting value, and for Krystal, a better romantic pairing (than the ultimate failure, with snooping, do-gooder Tad). But McTavish makes no apologies for inserting yet another far-fetched stretch of the audience’s imagination. Quite the contrary, she’s rather proud of the strange turn of events. “No one thought David had any kids, but what this gives us, and gives David and Tad and Krystal, is just wonderful. So we do it. We just leap in and get all of these emotional complications out of it, which is great fun.”
For those emotional complications, McTavish is willing to bend any rule, defy any logic. The mark of a gifted soap writer, she added, is one who can go one further, by revising plot twists that turn out to ring false or end up not working. She, of course, counts herself as among the “clever” writers who could accomplish such a write-out.
So inspired, I attempted to recall past flights of fancy the writers could and should undo. Predictably, I ran into a brick wall; known in my circles as a writer’s block.
There are so many confusing plot twists out there I could never list them all. Lately, on GH, I’ve been wondering why Diego’s case worker did not see fit to at least give him the cash his “sister” Maria left him and keep him out of the Port Charles area as she’d asked. Diego found letters from his sister too that the case worker kept in a bundle in a desk. Later, Diego found his sister in Mexico about to marry. There, she insisted he stay away from Port Charles and from her until told otherwise. When Diego confronted the case worker, she told him Maria did not want him to have the letters (and the money) or to be in Port Charles. Then why did the case worker hand Diego over to her last resort, Courtney Matthews Morgan, who lives in the middle of the forbidden small town? And why did Maria even bother sending the letters with the money in them to Diego if the case worker was holding on to it all, for what in the end? Was this merely a matter of timing? Maybe Maria didn’t see fit to tell the case worker about the no-PC clause till after.
Too many questions. The only answer I have in this particular case is, GH’s PTB again are tacking on plot twists after the fact, as they do as a daily habit over at OLTL.
Tico and Sonia arrived in Llanview with secrets, but clearly, it had been Sonia marked for evil. She’d practically spit on the angel statue, barely walking away from the event unscathed by a lightning bolt from the Almighty one minute. The next, she’s talking pious to Antonio about the same angel she’d cursed, just as Tico begins to unravel as the secret mobster wannabe, EL TIBURON. Convenient, and last minute.
Then, there’s the matter of how to pronounce Adriana. Half the town says, “AH-DREE-ANNA,” the other half, “AY-DREE-ANNA.” Yet, the young woman herself never bothers to correct any of them. Perhaps this is the only way the cast can get through another mind-numbingly boring scene, the way they do with La Boulaie and that word game they used to play when Roger Howarth (ex-Todd) was around, the one Erika Slezak (Viki) always won – first person to include the oddball word of the day in conversation on-screen, wins.
I don’t even have the stomach to get into the plot holes on AMC. Ryan and Greenlee as the destined, star-crossed lovers sharing psychic links alone is enough to compel a Gillian – Esta Terblanche wants back in daytime, yuck – and Leo flashback (I couldn’t stand the former and I miss the latter).
At a loss and needing some examples of where TPTB went TIOC, I went to the fans. Some are regular readers, others are fellow soap board posters I’ve become acquainted with for their insights, humor and ability to cut the crap when it counts.
I appreciate their taking the time to send me valuable feedback on this important issue. Perhaps their constructive criticism will get to the right people in the soap industry in time for February Sweeps (it’s not arrogance, you’d be surprised who reads my columns):
I'll divide it
in two sections...where the [AMC] writers have already missed the boat and
what's missing now...and what I hope for the future.
AMC has fallen asleep at the wheel by not giving Bianca a real honest to goodness romance. A peck between Lianca and one between BAM is not enough. If you're going to take a pivotal character on the canvas and make them gay then tell the real story, don't run and hide from it. The audience is clamoring for Bianca to get a little loving...do it already, we can handle it, I promise! Aside from the writers obviously not being able to follow through, the only other time I wish Bianca weren't gay is when she's with Ethan. I see major sparks there and James Scott never looks livelier than in his scenes with Eden Riegel.
Less Ryan as the soul of Greenlee's universe and more interaction between Greenlee and Jackson and her two half-siblings are in order. More Montgomery/Kane/Cambias interaction. If I try to tolerate Greenlee/Ryan, it’s because of my deep-seated fear that if this relationship goes kurplunk, Ryan will be back to sniffing around Kendall and she'll be too much of a dope and take him back.
If the writers intended to have Babe be their newest heroine, then they should never have had her find out about the switcheroo so early on. Now all that happens when I see her whining about Bianca having to get Miranda back, all the while she's holding her son...is a race for me to the john so I can lose my lunch gracefully. While we're at it, I could more readily understand David's adoration and choosing her over his loyalty to Bianca, his surrogate daughter, if he'd actually had more time being her long-lost daddy. Some father/daughter bonding would have helped me understand his willingness to screw Bianca over had that revelation happened much earlier.
Kendall/Zach scheming together to put the smackdown on everyone who kept
Miranda/Bess secret and in the process, I want them to develop an
attraction they find hard to ignore, but feel they have to because of
their loyalty to Ethan. And if Maria chooses to stay with Edmund, I want
more than attraction to form between K/Z because the two of them together,
with all their screwiness, passion, demons and reckless actions could
become the "real" power couple of AMC and pairing two talented and
experienced pros like Thorsten & Alicia together would be an acting combo
to be reckoned with.
GRAPHIC BY KATHY BRAND
Contrary to majority opinion it would appear, I'm one that is not yet infatuated over the Kethan pairing and don't think I ever will. I believe James Scott is a great find, but I just don't feel that much of a connection between Ethan and Kendall, aside from a friendly/familial one. My feeling is that once the newness wears off of seeing Kendall with a "young" man (which is part of my problem with them and has nothing to do with their ages) who treats her well, as opposed to say...Ryan, Kethan will slowly lose its steam because it lacks passion and fire, two words that describes Kendall and her relationships to a "T." If TPTB aren't careful, they may have them walk down the same path that Ryan/Greenlee did...a forced, too sweet pairing between two actors that have more chemistry as friends than they do as passionate lovers.
Lastly, all I want for Christmas is to see Ryan knocked down a peg or two or three <g>! He has become totally insufferable stemming from his delusions of grandeur since he became Mr. Dynamite Kiddo and a billionaire by default. Maybe there is something to the Cambias Curse after all. <g>
With [AMC’s] Bobby, there's the obvious Bobby/Greenlee pairing that would have actually utilized two actors with chemistry, thus allowing for the more organic Aidan/Kendall/Ryan triangle to be pursued. Aidan loses, gets together with Anita and that leaves us with three separate, yet overlapping couplings that wouldn't insult the viewers’ intelligence. But alas, that would give us three couples and not a newbie in sight. Last time I checked, writers aren't bonused for using the cast they have.
Have a nice day,
AMC is by far the best soap on ABC right now! My only complaint is to GIVE SIMONE A STORY! Now that Tad is free from KWAK, explore the Tad/Simone story. IMO, fans warmed up to Simone more when she was with Tad! She was getting the airtime she deserved and she had lots of chemistry with the talented Michael E. Knight! Then KWAK came into the picture and Tad dumped Simone like yesterday's news! I love everything about AMC right now (except KWAK/David), but I'd be an even happier AMC fan if they used more Simone!
There have been countless missed opportunities and mischaracterizations this year on OLTL.
One of the biggest offenses has been the ridiculous change in fan favorite, David Vickers. The take-charge, quick-witted Vickers, is now be pinned up against everyone's least favorite whiny mess, Kelly. And TPTB would like you to believe that David has some hidden, unresolved feelings for Kelly. Expecting the audience to believe that our selfish, eternally scheming David would not only go out of his way to help Kelly, the niece of his true love and fiancée, Dorian, but the notion that David would have any emotional interest in Kelly whatsoever when there is nothing in it for him, is just too much to swallow. David is too clever to be blinded by the insanity that is Kelly Cramer. But it appears as though David is being used as a prop to make Kelly more likeable to the audience. I don't think it's working.
David has been further misused by the show by them not taking up on the delicious suggestion that Roxy Balsom and David are somehow related, making Rex either his son or brother. The comedic timing comparisons between actors Tuc Watkins and John-Paul Lavoisier (painfully underused) would make this a no-brainer of an idea for most writers, but on this show, I'm doubting if they even had it as a passing thought. It would just make too much sense. But, building a new family around Antonio, the cop with the Darth Vader breathing, made all the sense in the world. There goes some more logic escaping again.
Then there is Viki who has become nothing more than a talk-to for her children. Most people would be going out of their way to experience new things, diving in head first after a life-altering heart transplant. Not our Viki. She'd rather quit her longtime career as newspaper editor to mentor a bunch of preachy teens in college. And then in her spare time provide brief moments of wisdom to her brainfully challenged daughters, Natalie and Jessica. What was the point of giving Viki a new heart when she now no longer even has a life of her own to remind herself, let alone us, that her heart is still thriving? Maybe it's time for another transplant to get things beating again in Viki's life.
An example of a missed opportunity came in the form of Starr Manning. After blowing us away with the story last spring that found Starr Manning on the run with a boy, Starr has spent the summer and fall since in Siberia. It's one missed opportunity after another when you have a young actress like Kristen Alderson, who blows a lot of even the older crowd out of the water. Starr could have found herself in the Internet dating story that resulted in her being assaulted. A difficult, hard-hitting story, but one that would delve into her father's own life as a convicted rapist. The storyline was rather rushed along and ended with a whimper instead of the bang it started with.
It's not too late to correct some of this. It is, however, likely too much too hope for.
I think GH turned for the worse when 9/11 happened and TPTB decided to scrap the storyline with Stavros and Helena since they were planning to poison the world. I agree that it was probably best not to do that story, but I don't think they should have ended everything Stavros-related because of it. The writers should have been able to come up with something else. In hindsight, I think their laziness then was the beginning of the end of "General Hospital" as a traditional soap opera. It has never been the same.
Like Dr. Bruce Banner of "The Incredible Hulk" comics, GH was hit with gamma rays and morphed into the all-consuming, boring beast known today as "Sonny Hospital." Unlike The Hulk though, GH never morphs back into its more likable, former self. We are just stuck everyday with a ranting, raving, selfish, predictable mobster yelling, "Me Sonny! Sonny want! Sonny need! Sonny smash!" And...JenJen yawns and watches something else.
I could've thought of a lot more, but I've always felt that when Stavros went down that hole, the show went with him. If I could go back in GH Time, that is where I would go and that's what I would change. Oh, and I'd kill Sonny and Carly off, too, just for good measure.
The above observations – which I either already agreed with or have become convinced of (thanks, Alina!) – went from poking holes in plot twists to downright complaining about crappy plots in general. That’s okay.
all comes out in the wash.
“I LOVE MAGGIE... IF I KEEP GOING INTO THIS AND I END UP LOSING HER, IT’LL KILL ME.” --JONATHAN
Uh oh. I’m seeing stars.
God help me, but Jonathan and Maggie... his twisted games locked tight, leaking rivulets of spent emotion each time he glances her way, her safe haven, once the subject of high school ridicule, their inappropriate, stunted at 13 clique-ish support group...
I don’t get it. Why am I not moved an iota by Greenlee’s medicated insanity – caused by Jonathan, btw – and Ryan’s utterly lost without her crash to the hospital floor? And yet, one shot of Jonathan unflinching in his utter grasp of intentional cruelty, then practically letting go in a sorry, confused heap at the only home his abused heart will ever know, Maggie’s lonely doorstep, and I’m putty in their hands.
Insanity fits him better, because it’s real, a secret he will kill to hide and it’s killing him to hold back the rest of his tormented past from Maggie.
3/4ths of the props go to soap newcomer Jeff Branson (Jonathan), whom I ridiculed in the past for his over-acting, under-acting, Rick Astley-style vocal stylings. But mostly, because I could not quite bring myself to look between his obviously self-involved, self-destructive lines and his duplicitous, violent behavior.
Jonathan, too, can barely bring himself to look at his reflection whenever he strikes out unthinkingly, or whenever bathed in the warm, unconditional glow of his ice cream on a diet, Maggie.
Her, I never liked, at least until a SOAP OPERA DIGEST interview a handful of months back, where I got to know a little bit about the personality behind the annoying characterization – on a level slightly above head cheerleader of the next bimbo squad – ... of a young woman as exasperated with the lack of airtime, back story and motivation as I was. Elizabeth Hendrickson would run off the set in tears, wondering when, if ever, she’d be given any handle on her character and her character’s direction, besides, Bianca’s convenient best friend whenever the writers did not forget her or when it suited them in merely a superficial hands-off way.
Branson’s influence over Hendrickson on-screen has done more for the immature, petty character of Maggie Stone than any longing looks by the holier-than-thou, often two-faced snot hiding behind a saint image, Bianca. Certainly Bianca’s anointed approval has done little to endear, only to further distance me from their AIN’T WE SO PERFECTLY CHARMING YOU COULD BARF SPLENDA? persona together.
Jonathan and Maggie appeared for the first half of last week, toward the end in a swoon-worthy music montage to “I Could Not Ask For More” by Edwin McCain, she lost in a mix of grief over the anniversary of her twin sister Frankie’s death and at peace with him needing her like breathing, he gently within arm’s length and yet afraid to really touch her for fear he might break.
Earlier, Jonathan scared the devil out of me sitting at the Fusion office in the dark, right before Bianca stepped out of the elevator and flicked a light on, jumping out of her skin, clearly revisiting the night of her rape by Michael Cambias. Jonathan did not care, about Bianca’s fear or her mental revisit, he probably did not even notice, distinguishing himself from the rest of Pine Valley, who make a sport of noticing every display of hurt on poor Bianca’s fragile face at every remote reminder of her novel of a list of pains – winning points with me right there.
With gun-metal bullets for eyes, Jonathan ripped into Bianca, letting his hatred of her fully known, completely out of place given her polite, if confused, greeting of him. Finally, when it became obvious to even him that he’d crossed a line, Jonathan’s face transformed in an instant, hard to gentle, an apology spreading – from years and years as a child trained to command his face, or else suffer the consequences (I’ve been there, believe me, I recognize a kindred). Yet, I’d be hard-pressed to tell whether Jonathan meant his apology, or his threat, or a little of both.
When Bianca stupidly, uncharacteristically handed over her handwritten note of shared grief over the loss of Frankie to Jonathan, singlehandedly informing him of the gravity of the anniversary date and giving him the rare opportunity to thwart a BAM moment, those gun-metal bullets for eyes reappeared, but a fragile smile remained as he promised to pass it on to Maggie first chance he got.
Of course he ditched the note, claimed sole credit for remembering for himself, and reaped the reward of Maggie’s adoration, something I sense he lives for more and more, something that will singlehandedly save him in the end.
To be able to turn emotions on and off, mix and match them on a dime, with only the (attentive) audience the wiser is usually the domain of the veteran actor, a David Canary (Adam/Stuart). Somehow, after a few months’ rough start, young, likeable, clearly open to improvement Jeff Branson has managed to do the nearly impossible:
Now, if he could only spare a few pointers for Cameron Mathison (Ryan),
one of his on-set mentors, and Rebecca Budig (Greenlee)...
“YOU’VE BEEN SO GOOD TO ME AND WHAT HAVE YOU GOTTEN FOR IT, FOOD POISONING FROM B.J.’S, AWAY FROM DORIAN...” --KELLY
As fan ChristianJ noted in the above feature, “NOTES”:
Expecting the audience to believe that our selfish, eternally scheming David would not only go out of his way to help Kelly, the niece of his true love and fiancée, Dorian, but the notion that David would have any emotional interest in Kelly whatsoever when there is nothing in it for him, is just too much to swallow.
That’s exactly what I was thinking as I sat on my bed watching David make longing eyes at Kelly, while Kelly tried to look tragically seductive (GH’s Rebecca Herbst/Elizabeth and Greg Vaughan/Lucky did the same pose a lot more convincingly at NEm’s wedding last week).
What in the world is David doing in that seedy little motel room with Kelly of all nobodies, and pouring out the story of his family life with a straight face no less? He mentioned his grifter origins before with a lot more face value when it was a successfully recast Tina (Krista Tesreau) than an unsuccessfully recast Kelly (Heather Tom).
This second time around, David is supposed to return to Llanview a little hardened around the edges, a little more serious about his intent, and a little more open to human influence than just zeroing in on the bottom line. Around Dorian, Adriana, Blair, anybody else BUT Nu Kelly, I believe, quite possibly because David Vickers, as a deeply embedded character in my TV consciousness, doesn’t sacrifice the essence of who he is around them; he’s, if anything, enhanced, wittier, sharper, with a reluctant but true compassion.
With Kelly, it’s forced in every way, shape and form. For any memorable character like David to work, he has to evolve from a foundation of personality traits the audience is already familiar with. Back during his introduction in the ‘90s, with Tina, the audience saw his gentler side slowly and always with that trademarked reluctance. He’s a grown-up Rex, only Rex, oddly enough, seems harder to crack. (Another reason I, too, see fan ChristianJ’s heartfelt wish for a family connection.)
The story here should never be to prop an utter failure of a recast, but to cut the show’s losses, let Heather Tom go back to Y&R where she belongs as the spoiled, rich brat Victoria, and focus on building stories and developing the workable characters around the Lord/Buchanan clans.
David and Dorian, David sparring with Blair, David mentoring Adriana, David fending off Rex seducing Adriana, David recognizing a kindred spirit in Rex, then sudden, horrifying realization flooding over David’s face as Roxy—
But there’s David, treating Kelly with kid gloves, plowing her with compliments that are meant to be sincere, but to me, sound empty, as if I’m waiting for his punchline, right before he absconds with all her worldly possessions and takes off, smirking. Kelly doesn’t make sense as David’s secret crush, not if the under-qualified Heather Tom keeps browbeating the once-goofy, hysterically naturally offbeat original Kelly, played by goofy, hysterically naturally offbeat Gina Tognoni (trying, ironically, to be more like a Heather Tom type, in a vengeful, serious GL role as a Dinah recast). This Kelly would make better sense as David’s next mark.
The writers can always get away and around the incomprehensible mischaracterization by simply applying David’s growing loyalty out of love for Dorian, a fellow con in the best sense of the word. He loves Dorian, therefore, he is determined to take care of her and her own, with the same family devotion she holds dear, because you see, David never had such a family.
Ah, to explore David’s roots, instead of sitting around wasting his time trying to liven up dead weight. Amazing how quickly Kelly recovered from her obsessive, compulsive disorder, known as taking herself and her tunnel-vision view of preserving her marriage to Kevin with a stolen baby too seriously, to just as quickly put on the attire of a woman able to laugh at herself, at others and at David’s jokes, as the female equal the original Kelly used to be.
It doesn’t fit.
Hope lies in the next surprise casting move, though. I heard through the grapevine that TPTB might seek out Krista Tesreau to reprise her recast role of Tina, Viki’s half-sister and David’s former love. If that happens, guaranteed David and Tina revisit, bye-bye, wet blanket Kelly.
To be fair, David’s influence hasn’t completely flopped on Kelly. She really does seem lighter, able to appreciate when David’s truly funny (when he’s ripping on Kevin’s veneers), and at least makes a noble attempt at being goofy – pausing to get out of the car parked in the middle of nowhere to dance to a favorite song on the radio – but my problem is ... I can see the attempt every step of the way. I shouldn’t have to see it, I shouldn’t want to believe it, it should just be.
Maybe with a different pairing, maybe with a different Tico, one who’s not gonna flatline this week and who never killed his own mother and tried to kill Cristian...
Hey, AMC head writer Megan McTavish said, with cleverness, any plot twist can be undone.
Did I just suggest a Tico Santi resurrection? Please tell me to shut up. They’ve got me trying to prop Kelly too now.
“HELLO? HEY! WAKE UP! SNAP OUT OF IT!” --Snarly
There have been many bizarre speculations, spoilers and rumors in my 13, 14 years as an online soap fan. But none so bizarre as the coupling of Steven and Carly.
But then, the very fact that Carly still exists after Sarah Brown left her should be reason enough to believe TPTB of any foregone conclusion, however bizarre or just plain desperate.
Carly wasn’t supposed to, you know... exist, afterwards, that is... least not for long afterwards. The rumor-buzz making the rounds in e-mails and on private boards had executive producer Jill Farren Phelps – when she took over the show in 2001 – cutting much of the cast of characters, including Carly and Bobbie, bringing in a bunch of her soap friends, which she did to some extent, to take over too.
Something must’ve happened within the ranks, because a struggling actress, a newcomer to soaps, replaced Sarah Brown in the role just as Carly was about to rat Sonny out to the Feds and make it look very Carly-like (which it was not); the recast Carly was supposed to show up a few times, then quietly disappear into the woodwork, based on those rumors.
Tamara Braun wasn’t even going to stick around show business anymore. She’d reached a point where the rejections, in audition after audition, proved to be too much to bear when a boyfriend made her answer the call to try one last time.
Braun transformed the new Carly, for the worse. IMHO, it seemed as if she took all of Carly’s flaws and exacerbated them as attributes, the impulsiveness, the rash rush to judgment, the self-centered lack of attention to detail in one of many plans to better her and her loved ones’ lot in life. The attributes left a lot to be desired, because apparently, during this transformation, the young, unproven actress neglected to hone whatever was left of Carly that kept her alive and well in the minds of her original fans and that kept her with a remote semblance of human depth.
As other fans have criticized time and time again, the new Carly acts entitled, too self-assured, cold, calculating, brutal in her spare treatment of anyone perceived as an enemy, which means anybody except Sonny, Jason and Courtney. This Carly has been known to sneer, scowl and snicker at a passing nurse or – in last Thursday’s or Friday’s scene – a former romantic rival who just suffered a stillbirth. And God help any rival daring enough to say two words to Carly in the hallway.
With the biggest of former romantic rivals, Alexis, Carly’s been downright scary to watch. I literally have to leave the room, or I’ll do something Carly-like at my TV screen, like maybe moon it, give it the finger, scream and flail my arms about it.
For much of the Kristina bone marrow storyline, Carly kept her distance, restraining herself from butting in and pushing Alexis’s buttons. But toward the end, when a clearly torn and upset Alexis refused to allow Sonny shared custody or even a glimpse at the daughter he helped save, Carly could not help herself.
A particular scene either last week or the week prior between Alexis and Carly took on a life of its own and left me with a nasty taste in my mouth.
Alexis had just warned Sonny away from Kristina for the 11th time or something when Carly swooped in, full of fire and brimstone. Alexis had a strange, faraway gaze plastered on her face, either in emotional overload from the previous week’s events on her child, plus having to be yet again, ungrateful to the man partly responsible for the child’s existence and recovery from a fatal condition... or the actress just wishing she didn’t always have to play the heavy in the Sonny show.
To me, it looked like Alexis was suffering from some bout of mental collapse, the same as Sonny had, in different guises in his past, but less volatile. But did Carly respect that?
Of course not. Carly had to stride up to Alexis’ face, practically an inch away, and start mocking her. Whenever Sonny struggled with a relapse of his – shh! don’t tell the writers! – manic depression, Carly practically melted in response, the picture of absolution, nobly tending to the sick, wounded and misplaced.
But Alexis could’ve been vomiting, crapping her pants, and had Satan himself write “Stay away!” on her forehead. Carly wouldn’t have cared.
The pure disgust on Carly’s face as she snapped her fingers, clapped and waved her hands in front of Alexis, telling her to snap out of it so she could listen to another Carly lecture about the purity of Saint Sonny had ME thoroughly disgusted.
What kind of person does that? Who was in charge of that scene? Why did Braun choose to use that specific mode of expression to inform her character’s defense of Sonny? Is she so threatened by any semblance of an equal that she HAS to appear wielding the upper hand (similar to Maurice Benard), reducing her on-screen opponent to ashes by any extraneous means necessary?
It would’ve helped the character of Carly tremendously if Braun had chosen to (or been allowed to) hesitate slightly before approaching, flinched in recognition, acknowledged Alexis with any understanding whatsoever as I’m certain the previous Carly, Sarah Brown, would. The beauty of Brown was, she never let Carly stray too far from her own innate empathy, conflict and doubt; her Carly suffered from low self-esteem, which produced such questionable ethics.
The method by which Carly dealt with Alexis turned me off to any hope of seeing better, even when Carly clearly is better off around the men in her life. As a comparison in terms of pure confrontational value, she fared less ferociously in front of Corbin Bernsen’s John Durant. I could see her respect in every movement, she kept yammering away at him about betrayal until he had to yell louder, “Shut up!” and she did. She would never acquiesce so abruptly with a) a female, b) another colleague known primarily for soap work. She would’ve yelled louder, pushed, shoved and perhaps spit on Alexis or Sam.
In scenes with soap newcomer and Canadian actor Shaun Benson (Steven), the comparisons hardly measure up. I feel as if I’m watching a brother and a sister, not a potential love match.
I don’t know whether it’s actress transference or acting direction from the higher-ups, but Carly talks down to Steven all the time, either using him as a browbeaten sounding board, of little relevance other than to use him to help Sonny (by getting the real deal on John Durant) and to benefit from his crush on her, or correcting him with her model behavior, because she’s irritated that he’s laughing at the situation instead of taking it seriously.
It’s not just Steven though. She’s like that with any male suitor other than Sonny. She put Ted King’s Lorenzo through the proverbial wringer as well, bullying him into submission and only when Sonny had no use for her, did she let down her considerable guard for an unmemorable night of sex (her soul clenched Sonny throughout, however). Still, Lorenzo softened her, she isn’t as hard on him as she used to be.
On the other hand, it’d take a miracle to convince me that she regards Steven as anything but a colossal waste of her time.
If I thought Carly was bad, I need only take a gander at Steven. He doesn’t walk into a room, he swaggers, as if his johnson is bigger than Carly’s (it ain’t, John Holmes doesn’t even cut it). He doesn’t just issue a diagnosis, a dire warning, a call to caution, he tries to turn it into the Marx Brothers meets Kubrick. He delivers his lines too confidently, but misses entire emotional beats, as if trying too hard to be too casual, as if he’s already gotten a handle on his character when even the writers haven’t yet.
Benson might’ve done a few films up North, but he is no Maurice Benard (Sonny), Steve Burton (Jason) or Tony Geary (Luke). He shouldn’t try to compete with or maintain their level of years of accomplishment. He should, if possible, be himself.
A couple of my regular readers have weighed in on the Steven Webber situation, with disastrous verdicts. They resent his taking up airtime better served an Ingo Rademacher (Jax), a Ted King (Lorenzo), any number of GH veterans currently on the backburner. They question why he’s allegedly tapped as a kind of Sonny understudy, to take the mobster’s place in at least the wooing of Carly, when far superior characters are just waiting in the wings (how about Mykel?): “So far what I see is an average actor with limited charisma. How that would translate to becoming an 'heir apparent' on GH ahead of the likes of Rick Hearst (Ric) and Ted King (Lorenzo; ex-Luis) is something few can envision. Is it that he is less threatening to their beloved Sonny that the two aforementioned actors?”
Interesting comments made more intriguing by the rumors that ABC Daytime president Brian Scott Frons supposedly nixed GH’s first choice as the recast Steven Lars Weber and that Tamara Braun (Carly) can’t wait to leave to try out primetime/movies.
I can’t wait until Christmas, when Steven and Carly fall into bed with an Adrianne Leon (Brook Lynn) soundtrack, just for the feedback alone.
Some car wrecks are worth slowing down for.
CBW: For the historians in the group, who know their facts from their figures, if you guys remember to get the gist, the flavah, and the main points of my commentaries, we’ll be fine. If, however, you can’t get over how I keep misspelling Dissociative Disorder with Disassociative Disorder regarding OLTL’s Viki or how I just last week mistakenly applied the age of 12 to the actual age of 6-9 for a young Alexis who witnessed the brutal slaying of her mother on GH, then let’s end this ongoing, love/hate relationship now. I will frequently call myself Vivien Leigh, refer to my age as 21 (I’m 40), mix up character names after too much sugar in my morning coffee while trying to find my car keys, confirm a doctor’s appointment on the phone and figure out how to prevent my toddler son from climbing up the Christmas tree ... y’know, the usual middle-age mental lapses. The regular readers who know me, and some of you have known of me online for closing in on 13 years, read every word and GET my meaning, as if they’re already in my head. Was that you in there last week when I ordered a cheeseburger when I really wanted a plate of potstickers?