*ADULT LANGUAGE. Duh.
Some spoilers. Doh!
POINT OF NO RETURN
From “Elizabeth” every other sentence, to “You know what…?,” to hearing from every other Tams fan how butch this new Carly is, to watching a child actor have to pretend he just remembered he killed his own father, GENERAL HOSPITAL was an exercise in torture the last two weeks, until May 11.
“It’s not [A.J.’s] fault. He didn’t teach that little kid to be a killer. I did that… Parents teach from example. I taught mine to kill.”
–Sonny to Jason, May 11, 2005
The earth shifted on its axis the day Sonny stopped Jason from condemning A.J. (yet again) for crimes against humanity. But stop Jason, he did, to finally, dear Lord, own up to his own culpability.
On Wednesday last week, Sonny and Jason discussed the ramifications of Michael as A.J.’s killer, in hushed tones after the women-folk left the room, after the denials. Jason began to light into the late A.J. for brainwashing Michael and causing his own murder when Sonny interrupted angrily.
This one, Sonny could not lay at the scapegoat’s feet. The mobster continued to speak in hushed tones, that of a scared child’s, harkening back with his words to a “moment in time,” where he became intoxicated with the power of vigilante justice, a precursor to the mob life he would embrace and curse. “… you don’t see it coming, sometimes you don’t realize how much it’s changed your life, until later, sometimes years, but it’s that moment that defines everything from that point on.
The day Joe Scully killed my stepfather [Deke], I told him, I said, Hey, y’know, my stepfather beats up my mother and I wish he was dead. And then, he was. The justice that Scully gave to me that day, no one’s ever given to me and I gotta tell you, it felt so powerful. That was my moment, the point of no return.”
That power led him to this point, wracked with guilt over what his choices have done to Carly’s son Michael. The guilt will, for the next few days, compel Sonny to right the wrong path he’d taken as a child because he didn’t know any other, by pleading guilty to a murder he didn’t commit.
I should have been moved to tears and goosebumps at Sonny’s admission. I should have seen it coming.
Yet, nothing. Just words, delivered powerfully in a vacuum, the before and after window dressing for a red herring at the 11th hour, to save the man who himself believes should not be saved. I hazard a guess that Michael will turn out not to be the killer, but maybe John Durant (Corbin Bernsen’s contract isn’t for forever), who left the tell-tale pillow on the floor beside the bed first.
Durant tried, convicted, Sonny freed, redeemed, Michael cured, recovered, all’s well again with GH’s cash-cow mob, back to recycling the S&C machine, ad nauseum, with barely supporting players who resemble walking zombies on Prozac.
Everything leading up to Wednesday’s confession, however heartfelt at the time, failed to strengthen Sonny’s damning words of conviction. And everything since, faded back to the inevitable glorification of the self-sacrificing martyrs who just happen to kill and money launder for a living.
Plot over character. Gimmick over substance. Means to another repeat. Something ventured, nothing learned.
It’s what co-head writers Bob Guza Jr. and Charles Pratt Jr. want, after all.
They had a chance to serve the characters the day Tamara Braun (ex-Carly) focused on contract negotiations, and another chance when they found the third actress to play this pivotal role in Jennifer Bransford (ex-Georgie, ONE LIFE TO LIVE). They could’ve thought out this current story to showcase the characters, their histories, past motivations, what matters most, and introduce the new Carly – finally coming into her own with last Friday’s episode, coldly warning Sam away from Jason, with or without child – with such thought, so as not to further perpetuate the growing assumption that soaps today are nothing more than pathetic cries for attention, the next flashy bandwagon.
Instead, they chose to rush the recast, rush the debut, spitting on long-time GH fans in the bargain. Oh, these stupid fans won’t notice or mind, because it’s only about the incidents, not the actors. Actors are expendable anyway, merely slaves to labor, wind-up dolls to do with as the writers may, whether they approve or not.
GH’s PTB [Powers That Be] focus so much on getting to the finish line, showing off how noble Sonny can be despite his troubled past, how much Sonny has been damaged by that past and yet still rewarding him with save after save, that they’ve forgotten an important component to gaining the audience’s sympathy.
Incidents are merely…incidental.
The audience needs to see Sonny go through an evolution, from beginning to end, to the next level of development – without as much shock value. It is not enough for Sonny to announce, like he deserves a cookie, that he was abused and continues to react dysfunctionally, but this time, the residual fallout ends with him and his false confession. He needs to quit the mob, seek counseling, enter another line of work, immediately get counseling for his son Michael, get pissed off at his enablers (that’d be Jason and Carly first and foremost), start spending more cumulative, quality time with those he’s shunned (that’d be Mike, Luke, Courtney, Lucky, Lois, people he knew back in the day), and turn his life around.
Or it’s all just one cliqueish circle jerk.
One hour of confession (only to be rationalized away by the ever-dimwitted Jason) will not wipe out traces of the poison that Sonny has become since TPTB realized his mob-related angst equaled solid gold in the ratings.
BAD MAMA JAMMA
All good things to those who wait came to fruition during the special May 12th episode on ALL MY CHILDREN featuring Phoebe’s life, loves and unfortunately, death.
It took just one hour of a memorial service to a veteran character on ALL MY CHILDREN on Thursday, May 12 to remind me of what I and countless other long-time faithful soap fans have been missing since the late ‘80s. AMC fans clamored for the writers to address the real-life death of Ruth Warrick (Phoebe) on-screen in a proper send-off. They had to wait close to a year for it, but when it came – with creator Agnes Nixon amongst the grieving – it kicked ass over all those other soap memorials (compare Phoebe’s funeral with that of GH’s Lila last summer, c’mon!).
Flashbacks of the ferocious force of nature-Phoebe further drove home the point that soaps have fallen far from the glory of the genre’s humble but captivating beginnings. Today, you’d never find such a character, because Phoebe wasn’t young enough or model-thin enough, or blonde bimbo enough. But damn, Phoebe made one helluva catalyst, the true embodiment of evolution, through the years. She went from being the baddest bitch in town (GH’s Faith Roscoe and Helena Cassadine don’t hold a flicker of a candle to her) to a salt of the earth heroine, from Phoebe, the racist snob to Dear Aggie, earth mother to all.
I would’ve appreciated the old-timers interacting with Susan Lucci’s Erica instead of just Michael E. Knight’s Tad and Julia Barr’s Brooke, and I would’ve really appreciated the entire soap welcome these other surviving veterans back into the fold – Linc! Benny! Chuck! Kelly! – permanently. Otherwise, I’ll take what I can get, actors who know what the fuck they’re doing, they’re there because they can act, not just because they’re pretty, and TPTB who honor the characters they took so long with so much effort and creativity to build.
They just don’t make soaps like they used to anymore, certainly nowhere near the caliber of AMC. It felt good to go back in time in the time it took me to relive Phoebe’s high and low points and explain to my husband what it meant to be an AMC fan back in the ‘70s. I cried for the loss, a smidgeon of me glad that at least on one ABC Daytime soap, not all of Agnes Nixon’s hopes and dreams were dashed.
On a side note: Go Phoebe, go with your bad self, girlfriend! She called Babe a “strumpet” to be excised like a leech off Jamie! She made JR pray to the heavens in thanks! I, too, am starting to feel pushed into forgiving and liking Babe. So, of course Babe will try to get Jamie to dump her so he can inherit the bulk of Phoebe’s estate and become a doctor… that’s so the rest of us in the audience will be further swayed to Babe’s side and go, Awww, she ain’t so bad, maybe we should give her a chance. What’s next? Babe saved a school full of pre-schoolers from terrorists?
DEATH IS WELCOME
Who’d have imagined Jen’s murder on ONE LIFE TO LIVE would cause such a commotion in so many? Or that it would bring out the heroics in one so cynical, Rex?
Just my luck. In the last column, I thoroughly condemned ONE LIFE TO LIVE with a shit list only to be won over the following week as Rex discovered Jennifer’s dead body. Did I criticize this show’s lack of identity? Foolish me. Identity exploded in dark drama intermixed with dark humor. The perfect example being, Rex digging through evidence amidst Paul’s effects, wondering aloud what a scammer would do, then correcting himself, I AM a scammer, what am I talking about?!
By no means 100 percent fixed. Any improvement, however, is better than what’s been floundering for the past two years.
Nora is still dumber than a bucket of rocks and fast becoming dumber than Jessica, if that’s possible. In a move that had the online throngs screaming foul, she waltzed into Lindsay’s art gallery right before Jen’s memorial service in last Friday’s episode to OFFER. HER. CONDOLENCES. That’s right. Nora. Lindsay. Condolences.
R.J. tried to warn Nora to stay away, Lindsay’s wounds were still fresh. But Ms. Never Wrong pushed her way through, put on her sad wittle face and dared speak to the woman she has belittled, demeaned, downplayed and mocked for years, and as recently as right before Jen’s body was found on Mother’s Day no less.
When Lindsay blamed Daniel for Jen’s death and suggested murder instead of suicide, Nora did her usual arched denial (she and GH’s Alexis really should get married). This week, practically everybody BUT Nora will realize that Daniel’s a psychopathic jackass, even when a few people confront the broad with the truth, despite her own misgivings, and after all she’s been through with psychos in the past.
I can’t wait until her humiliation. For the Nora haters, believe me, that day will come. I got dibs on the front row.
Then, there’s Marcie, Ms. Sanctimony, lecturing Mark about morality into his confession – to carrying on with a married man – instead of just listening and supporting. Of course Mark knows the relationship is wrong, and he’ll get to that point soon. He hardly needs the after-school Marcie special. She didn’t even let him get four words by without laying into him about right and wrong.
I can wait an eternity until Marcie goes blubbering about her bestest friend Jen, doing 100 mea culpas for failing to live up to her reputation as a saint. <insert gunfire here>
And, why the fuck is Ginger in Blair’s business every other second, or in Tess’s or Duke’s? Unless she’s a Buchanan relative, I don’t give a shit about her. Pair Adriana up with Kevin, drop Kelly and Duke, already!
Otherwise, it’s all good. No, really.
TPTB have finally wised up and given Rex’s John-Paul Lavoisier his anti-hero due. He’s one of the few young soap actors around who deserves to be in the spotlight, as often as possible. His handle on grief, after so long as the cynical cut-up, was a revelation for me.
And to pair Lavoisier up with veteran Robert S. Woods (Bo), adding life to the guy, as the two team up to bring Daniel down, is sheer genius. Points for integrating a relative newbie with an established character, and in such a twisted, macabre, contemporary tale as a closeted gay man with issues who kills to keep clean.
Get ready to cry, laugh and cheer uproariously this week as Bo and Rex follow the trail to a gay bar and a meeting between Daniel and his lover Mark. Bo and Rex will fend off the advances of interested gays. Rex will pretend to have a thing for Bo (!!!!) so they can be left alone to spy on Daniel and Mark. Bo will try to (but fail) reach Nora about Daniel’s shady past. And next week, Bo will put the hammer down on Daniel very publicly.
All I need now is Natalie in a white lacy push-up bra and panties, and my week will be complete.
PRE-NOM POPULARITY PARTY
SOAP OPERA DIGEST just came out with an in-depth piece about the Daytime Emmy nomination process and the controversy that plagues it. I just want to understand what the hell everybody’s bitching about.
First, forgive me. Three years ago, I became a first-time mom, and my brain hasn’t recovered since. I’ve been known to delete programs from my replay TV system without ever having watched them for no reason other than I spaced out, or ask my husband how he doctored the mac and cheese when I meant to say the macaroni salad.
So when I admit to complete ignorance of how the Daytime Emmys work, even after reading about every step-by-step detail from several different sources 50 million different times, I’m being genuine.
Here’s what I think I understand of the process (stop me if I start talking about my mother’s golf score):
Before, any soap could submit as many nominees as it wanted. From the names, a judging panel composed of fellow actors deemed those worth nominations. The nominees must then turn in sample reels for nomination judging and the final winners, announced at the May ceremony.
Now, as of about three years ago, after a few adjustments to deal with industry criticism of the unfairness of it all, each soap (cast and crew) must submit only two actors for consideration in a pre-nomination process. The actors must then turn in their submission reels (one per person unless it’s B&B, then it’s two) for judging. Judges will determine the final nominees from those reels. Final nominees must then turn in two reels (four for B&B) for judging.
For the pre-nom judging, a panel of peers from the same network (judging works from peers of another network) must view the reels in the course of one Saturday in a hotel room, no rewinding, no farting around.
For the final nom judging, a panel of volunteers can take the reels home to view at their leisure.
As of June officially, the press can get a hold of the submission reels before voting begins, and do the annual predictions based on those reels.
Here comes the bitching:
It’s still unfair. Quite often the panel of judges comprises of actors from the same show, or not enough actors on the East Coast compared to the West Coast.
The pre-nom process is basically a popularity contest, with names chosen by each soap’s cast based on familiarity and likeability, not ability, and can be abused by a few jealous, petty peers.
If six actors from GH possess that ability, Cameron Mathison (Ryan, AMC) said, those six actors have every right to be up for nominations, instead of this two-actors-per-show deal.
How does one determine who’s a lead and who’s supporting? A lot of actors go from younger to supporting just to have a better chance of winning, or from supporting to leading to give the other guys a chance, like Steve Burton (Jason, GH) did. The criteria for each acting category needs a major overhaul.
The press shouldn’t be allowed to dictate voting, which could happen when members are allowed, for next year, to view submission reels before the voting process, said Ilene Kristen (Roxy, OLTL), who served as a panel judge last year. “Laying down odds sets up an environment for that particular night that can be very hurtful.”
Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil is one of the leading members of the press who had been pushing and boycotting, bitching and whining about NATAS opening up access to the submission reels in a timely manner. He finally got his way recently, and believes the move will help the Daytime Emmys rise up from the fallen ranks, by giving press to the entire process, including those all-important reels. “In every show business award, without exception, we the public can see the nominated stuff the day the nominations are announced.”
NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) chairman, David Ashbrock, worries that the press could unduly influence the voting, but doesn’t seem to have a problem with letting the press see the reels after the fact. Ashbrock also said that with any procedure of this magnitude there’s bound to be a few kinks to work out, and the organization tries to, when the kinks are brought to the members’ attention. [Quotes: SOD, May 24, 2005]
What do I think?
I’m still trying to figure out what the big deal is, what the difference between the past and the present is, how it’s better to have a pre-nom process because actors can’t be bothered to view their peers’ work, and why Natalia Livingston (Emily, GH) managed to slip through the cracks.
How did my husband think to put soy sauce and macaroni salad together? It’s delicious!