SICK, BUT CAPTIVATING
True, ALL MY CHILDREN’S Kendall has had way too many suitors for my liking, and she could very well be wasted on the hunky likes of Zachery (I want him for myself), but the two have the potential of blowing the lid off all this lovey-dovey posturing from Ethan.
“That a ring, or a paperweight?” –Ethan to Kendall, April 26, 2005
The above quote is the only interesting thing to come out of Ethan’s lips in a very long time.
I’ve hesitated on slamming the guy because his portrayer, James Scott: a) shares the same name as my honey bunny little boy, b) seems like such a nice guy in interviews, and c) has been known to traverse the soap community and I wouldn’t want him thinking bad thoughts about my bad thoughts.
But alas, me being me, I’m bursting already. Ethan is a dolt, a redundant, simple, buttoned-up dolt. Besides his useless, by now nonsensical vendetta against Daddy Dearest for denying his birthright, his stultifying enunciating adherence to every syllable as meaningful, rendering nothing of importance drives me bonkers. I spend more time squinting my already squinty eyes waiting and watching for his next syllabic enunciation, as if in wait for a stammer, a stutter, a screw-up. It never comes, but that’s because nothing else does either, least of all distinctive groove.
Distinctive groove is a trait shared by both Ethan’s Daddy Dearest, Zach, and Ethan’s arch enemy hiding in friendly clothing, JR. Even JR, with his tendency toward immutable villainy, embracing his dark side a bit too unconditionally for my liking . . . even he’s able to convey an animalistic savagery in his lust for Kendall.
…Leaving Ethan pale in his precise, clipped, almost too clean British delivery. I can hardly imagine him naked and bending over to pick up a penny, much less romping in bed with a real live woman. Just the attempt causes a blush to flush over these chipmunk cheeks of mine.
Zach, however, and HOW ever!
It’s oh-so-totally not in character given the newest plot turn – arch enemies Kendall and Zach teaming up to scratch each other’s business deals – but just look at Alicia Minshew’s cat-like features light up around Thorsten Kaye. She really does resemble the late Vivien Leigh (Gone With The Wind’s Scarlett), as co-star/gal pal Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) first observed upon the soap newbie’s entrée into AMC several years ago.
The sapphires for eyes sparkle, the porcelain skin glows, the countenance entirely morphs – as if against her will – from that of watchful watchdog, full of bite and venom, into that of a hopeful, vulnerable child revealing all soulful jugulars.
But then, look at Kaye’s Zach. No other soap actor around can change expressions as quixotically, as if by magic. In a climatic hospital scene, he comes on like gangbusters, all charm and sex appeal and mischievous devil may care around Kendall, for Ethan and Greenlee’s benefit, to rub their faces in his marriage proposal. (One shudders at the thought of a truly in-love Zach turning it on.)
Then, in the next throwaway hospital scene, when Kendall and Greenlee have scurried off to the storage closet for a con-fab about the former’s insanity in even contemplating a ring from Zach, father and son face each other with the consequences of what they’ve done in the name of payback and the Cambias Curse.
Literally within a split second, Thorsten Kaye’s rugged confident façade shifts, drags, transforms into that of a tired, sad, lonely weathered man, about to give up on happiness, the lines of experience and stress appear, the true Zach beneath the player. This Zach wants only to reconnect with his son, to possess the instinctive capability of a decent, honest human being without the prison of a family legacy to haunt him, to throw off the shackles of duty, dignity at all costs.
I forget what Zach offered Ethan, perhaps one final chance to make amends, and throw down the gauntlet, knowing in the end it wouldn’t matter. It didn’t.
What survived for me was the surreal ability of one actor to create his own story within a script, raising the stakes, deepening the meaning, humanizing the often cartoonish in the clichéd father versus son for a fair maiden’s affections
But I shouldn’t be all that surprised. This is Thorsten Kaye, who did it on the now-defunct PORT CHARLES, as a reluctant (and I do mean reluctant) vampire, Ian, torn between giving up his life for eternity and eternity for his life.
As miraculous a touch as he’s obviously gifted with, Kaye (Zach) can do nothing but lob home runs at James Scott (Ethan) and hope the young man swings, instead of fouls out. So far, I’ve seen nothing but strikes, Kaye’s barely restrained emotion to Scott’s automatic deadpan, that exacting voice making sure every written word is understood but the layers left untouched.
Kaye fares better with Alicia Minshew (Kendall II). It helps that the two actors are buddies off-screen. He introduced her to her current boyfriend, some entrepreneur bar owner type. They share the ribald tendencies.
Minshew is one of those actresses who improves with the right combination of partners. Put her in a pit with an amateur, and it’s like talking to a wall (try simulating love with it). But with someone who knows what he’s doing like Kaye?
The strength of their off-screen chemistry, combined with Minshew’s reflective, absorbent nature and Kaye’s intelligence meets combustible, could produce one of the most visceral, textured powerhouse soap couples since . . . I don’t know when or who.
That’s the beauty of a couple who just fall in together for reasons other than love. They create a new genre all their own, based on talent, intuition and this strange, hypnotic, subconscious dance together that no award-winning production team could ever hope to rehearse or script.
I saw it right off, from the scene where Zach proposed to Kendall at her place with a glint in his eye, as if daring her to say yes, and Kendall saying yes with her leaning body closing in every step away . . . to the scene last week where Zach pronounced his proposal to Ethan and Greenlee in the hospital, circling his prey, Kendall helpless to do anything but open her body up by reflex, his pink rose, her capture, a toss, a catch.
Maybe it’s too soon after Maria. Maybe Maria’s Eva LaRue jumped the gun before her character’s sexual healing could begin. Maybe Kendall has her pick of the litter way too often – is this chick the unofficial welcome wagon to stray eligible bachelors, or what? – biding her time until Ryan’s free from Greenlee (Budig’s rumored to leave). Maybe Zach should spread himself around to the other ladies who deserve some attention.
Maybe this, maybe that, maybe maybe . . . It doesn’t make any sense, but I don’t care.
I just like Kendall and Zach together, God help me.
Tamara Braun column [CARLY CONSPIRACY, week of April 25, 2005]
For expressing some of the disquiet I have been feeling over Tamara Braun's departure. And for giving props to an actress who, as you said, "slaved through day in and day out trying to make sense of the complete misogynistic, Sonny-centered bullshit, all with a smile on her lips and only a kind word for the show and its fans." I may not have always been a Carly fan but today I count myself as a TB fan. Her talent was very under-appreciated next to the "Lee Strasberg taught me this technique" posturing of many of the soap world's leading males.
I, too, read that TV Guide article and all I can think to say is: HACKS. I am almost shocked at what they were saying, that any actor (read: Billy Warlock and the entire female cast of GH) is completely replaceable. Are these the same writers who made Santa Barbara arguably the most compelling soap to watch in the late 1980s? Would they have willingly recast Eden and Cruz with actors other than Marcy Walker and A Martinez? The ones who wrote actors out of Melrose Place instead of recasting the character? The ones who made Sunset Beach such a fun, campy watch, littered with compelling and fun female characters like Annie (Sarah Buxton), Olivia (the great Lesley-Anne Down), Rae (Kelly Hu), Gabi (Priscilla Garita) and Bette (Kathleen "Fucking Amazing" Noone)?
This crap from the same man who acts as Consulting Producer on Desperate Housewives?
Poor Jennifer Bransford. In one fell swoop, TIIC managed to insult her AND Tamara Braun.
"Guza: We like to dazzle our audience with incidents, and we feel there is enough going on to disguise the recast." She's not even a PERSON anymore. Just "the recast."
"- Has there been a change in Carly's demeanor now that Jennifer Bransford is in the role?
Guza: Not at all. Carly is one of the most clearly defined characters in all of daytime. It would be suicide for us to try to accommodate the character to fit anyone.
Pratt: There is an expectation with the audience for Carly to behave a certain way, and it's really up to the actress to get up to speed."
Sorry, Jen. You're just the Carly blow-up doll. Just try and imitate Tam's mannerisms as best you can, and let US worry about character motivation and growth.
JB has so much riding on her - the out-there expectations of anti-TB fanbases ("she SOUNDS just like Sarah Brown") and pro-TB fans (CarLo and S&C - at any cost?), the fear of going toe-to-toe with Maurice Benard, Ted King, Rick Hearst, Nancy Lee Grahn and others, the pressure to parody TB's acting. She can never measure up... and I cannot see where she is going to get any sort of support on a GH lot which increasingly resembles (from what I can glean) a nest of vipers. She has my support just for the shit she is going to have thrown at her.
As for TB, well. She has implied that her professional pairing opposite TK was one of the best she has ever had. It showed. I guess if she'd had a dick to swing around, we'd be looking at CarLo angst right this very minute. :( I am astounded by the [seeming] sexism and misogyny both in front of camera and behind the scenes of this show... and by the yawning divide between FronsPruzaJFP's world and the online/offline viewership.
Oh, I know that MB and Sonny are revered by most offline viewers. These are the viewers that TIIC are banking on. Sonny was undoubtedly the dangerous bad boy many (as teens) dreamed about in high school. And, honestly, I am in no place to dress them down for liking brooding-and-tortured mobster characters, lol.
But I also think that this offline love-fest for All Things Sonny may be waning. Because liking Sonny was great for a while when he was the bad guy.
No soap viewer wants to root for the goody-two-shoes moralizing bore who TPTB are pushing as Hero/Heroine (*cough*NUm*cough*).
On GH, things have now been turned on their head. Sonny IS the Hero now and we are being told to "root" for him at every available opportunity. Offline viewers aren't blind, just unspoiled. They are already starting to chafe (at least the ones I've met) at the unquestioning worship of Sonny. They spot the inconsistencies, the whitewashing, the double standards. And soap viewers can be notoriously vengeful. Soaps are all about people doing naughty deeds... and then paying for them. Many viewers like to watch that... they want to see divine justice done and comeuppances come about. It somehow supports the myth that at least there is some fairness in the world, and that what goes around, comes around.
As for the treatment of the female actresses on this show, TIIC have also forgotten something else. The majority of their fanbase is FEMALE. Yes, they watch GH for the men who make them swoon - Jason, Sonny, Rick, Lorenzo (lol, that'd be me whose heart skips a beat whenever he's on), Lucky, Nikolas. But they also watch the women. With eagle eyes. The women, they may or may not swoon over - although even I, a straight woman, couldn't tear my eyes away from Vanessa Marcil, Tamara Braun and Kelly Monaco. But these female characters are also conduits. We relate in some way to them. When Lo or Nik grasp their swooning leading lady in their arms, aren't some of us living vicariously, for one brief instant, through the Carlys and the Ems? Aren't we seeing them through "their" character's eyes?
How long can this go on until TIIC get it?
BTW, just finished watching AJ get smothered. I think this is the part of the show where I was meant to cheer? Now that Our Hero and his "famiglia" are free from evil AJ?
TIIC have failed in that regard. I rooted for AJ all the way. Not because he hurt Sonny and Carly and Jason. But because his character was finally addressing a horrid inconsistency in the fabric of this show. His was a dark, wounded character who wanted payback. Hurting over his family’s preference for another son. And I wouldn't have wanted him any other way - except maybe just a teeny bit victorious! And alive. The PTB could live to regret killing off such a compelling and rooted character.
Can't believe that GH has made me cry for the second time this month. For all the wrong reasons. Fucking pricks. This show is breaking my heart. Not to sound all melodramatic but it sort of has at the moment.
Sorry, Coggie! If you made it this far, I congratulate you. I really needed to VENT.
I'm off to read Sage now for a laugh and last week's article at Soaptown about "disengaging" from GH, lol.
P.S.: Your cubbyhole[s ic] article this week was pure poetry. As a sometimes-lapsed Catholic, it really hit home. I hope some well-intentioned priests and pastors stumble upon it.