You asked for it, you got it! This is Sage, Uncensored. Here, you will find my innermost thoughts and opinions about ABC soaps and life in general. This page is not for the light of heart or faint of breath. It is definitely not for those on the verge of or already well into a white hot hatred or even mild dislike of Sage. You aren't going to dig it most likely unless you are an avid fan. It's sure to shock, sure to offend and definitely...uncensored. This particular segment is about Sage's view and does not necessary reflect the opinion of Eye on Soaps, its staff, yourself or other rational, sane folks. Not much gossip here, just ranting and raving. If you accidentally stumbled onto this looking for the other side of Sage that is far more civilized and focused on gossip, click here. Proceed at your own risk (of being offended!!) This column will be updated on an as-inspired basis.
This column would normally not be considered an Uncensored column because it's not much of a rant but more of a ramble and I'm kind of all over the place with my opinions since they have changed over time, long past and recent past. It does however, contain opinions that are bound to piss off a few people, so I'm giving it the old Uncensored stamp and letting the chips fall. I ask that everyone please read it with an open mind and understand that these are my own thoughts. I don't expect others to share them and there's no need to write and try to convince me to think differently.
Well folks, you had to know it was only a matter of time before the Uncensored found its way to the most dysfunctional couple in town, the Wild and Woolly Corinthos Duo. I was about to write about them back when the Uncensored Sage first came into being, but it was during the time that we are on All Cortinthos All the Time TV and EVERYone was bitching about them and I couldn't see linking my voice with all of the already screaming masses. I'm glad now that I didn't, because recent, subtle (and profound) changes in GH have brought out opinions in me that I think will give more texture to the column. I've also had a fairly profound revelation about the actors, for which I am very grateful.
I don't know how many of you corresponded with me when I first started doing this waaay back in 2001, but I used to be quite on board the Sonny wagon. I liked the character of Carly right from the beginning and I think Sarah Brown is wonderful (although that nostril flaring thing became something I COULD NOT stop seeing, much like the lick-lipping by Kale Brown as OLTL's Sam Rappaport). I was one of the ones who said, "What??" when I read the spoiler that Sonny and Carly would hit the sheets and pretty much figured it was a printing error. But no.
If there is ANYONE out there who has seen nothing of this powerful scene, you can see photos of it here and bits of it in a slide show here. Both are from the website Wicked-Games.
I was beyond mortified at the way Sonny treated Carly after their hatesex and as a true fan, instead of thinking that I just never really knew Sonny or how cruel he could be, my first thought was that I had just never known this side of him. It did not feel as though it was not organic to Sonny. It was like seeing a really bad side of a loved one and being embarrassed for them and of them. My heart broke for Carly, mostly because I have a huge, gaping soft spot in my heart for women who put up a strong front when their spirit has been broken and their self-esteem has been destroyed. When women/people are told and/or shown over time that they are not worthy of respect, that they have no right to dignity and that they should not be expected to be treated as such, it's a crime against humanity. I guess I'm a little more protective of women in this respect because I know from being a man that men are afforded a baseline respect in our society just because they are men. It's unfair, but it's true. Women start out shooting uphill and have to work from there, which is just wrong. They are our nurturers. They are our life-givers. They deserve to be treated as sacred and THEN work from there. I have always seen Carly as a broken person. She's strong, but she feels she's had to fight for everything she's ever gotten, then had to fight keep it. People then wonder why she's so combative! She is in a constant state of defensiveness and with that energy out there, people are always trying to take what is hers and she's never had a minute's rest. Just when she thinks, on the surface at least, that she's found happiness, a new threat surfaces. Because that is the life she's used to leading, sure enough, she found love in a place where her happiness would always be challenged: with a mob boss.
But I digress. When Sonny treated Carly as nothing more than a gutter whore after they both reached out to one another in pain, I wanted to vomit. The sex had been hot...white hot...and unexpected for everyone involved. Here was Carly on the verge of having everything she wanted with Jason and when she has the breath of an idea that it's in jeopardy (sees him dancing with Liz, comforting her over Lucky's death), she becomes her own worst enemy and has to destroy it before someone else does. I will confess that this put me off Sonny for a while. Sure he's in pain and sure he's had a hard life and blah, blah, blah, but I've never believed that a person's past excuses their behavior as an adult. It might explain it, but it doesn't excuse it. I feel we are all responsible for how we treat one another and behave. I feel we all make a split decision at any given moment to react in a particular way and regardless of our past, any non-brain-damaged person who was not raised in a barrel has an idea of what is and isn't shitty behavior. This treatment of Carly made me look at Sonny more objectively, without the worship glasses on and more critically evaluate the way Sonny treats people in general. I realized he was quickly becoming, in my revised vision, a character I could no longer support or enjoy. He was just a hateful little bitch with a Mommy Complex who abused people because, God forbid, he was hurting. Lord, aren't we all. Now I was hurting too... and after I stayed with him through the bleak and dark Hannah Scott days!! Blech.
I kept my affection and protectiveness for Carly going as she moved back into the Q's house and was subjected to their abuse on all levels. I felt her pain as Jason turned his back on her and AJ berated her at every turn. Sonny redeemed himself by ultimately protecting and rescuing her from the Q's and I was cheering like mad when he pulled her and Mikey into the limo. Sure, they bickered and fought after that, but you could feel the spark and there was the promise of things to come (this was before, back in the olden days, when the promise of things to come seldom left you cut and bleeding on the sidewalk = Liason). Things to come came and we saw some powerful work from these actors as the characters married, grieved the loss of their baby, married some more and grew ever closer. Yes, I'll admit it, I loved Carson. Despite their horrid beginnings born of hate (stop trying to rewrite it as if they liked each other all along - eyes rolling, Baby, eyes rolling), despite the deplorable treatment at the hands and vicious voices of one another, they loved.
Then came Jill Farren Phelps. Then came Megan McTavish. Then left Sarah Brown. Then it hit a wall. As soon as the story of Carly selling out Sonny to the FBI via Roy (before it was rewritten to be Roy's betrayal and not as we saw it, with Carly begging Roy to help her do it and pretty much blackmailing him into helping her) so she and Sonny and Michael could go into the witness protection program. It was at this precise moment (early on in their tenure) that it became glaringly obvious that the Executive Producer and Head Writer did not know their star couple at all. Carly knew Sonny better than that. She knew that as much as he loved his family, he would NEVER betray business loyalties. From there on, it was downhill. Sarah Brown left (despite the rabid spin-doctoring, I still believe it was because she could well see that the character of Carly was being decimated). Tamara Braun was hired and Sonny and Carly were lost to me.
It was impossible to adequately follow a powerhouse like Sarah Brown and hope to recreate a super couple like Benard and Brown. They had that *something*. To me, Benard is either hot or he's not, all depending on the fire in the person they pair him with. I know others disagree and that's cool, but this is how I feel. When I saw him with Lilly Melgar, Lisa Vultaggio and Angel Boris, it was like watching grass grow, except that I was the one who was green (with nausea). It felt forced and cumbersome and clumsy and painful to watch. God help me, beyond that first fantasy kiss (which hey, I thought was HOT), I felt the same way when he was with one of my favorite actresses, Nancy Lee Grahn. When he was with Vanessa Marcil or Sarah Brown, it was an inferno.
Sadly, Tamara Braun was, in my opinion, hired in way over her head. She was brought directly into a heavy part in a front burner story that had been dominated in trumps by a fiercely strong actress. Braun simply did not have the experience or dynamic presence to support the role at that time. Even more sadly, she just didn't have the *something* with Maurice Benard. I and many others recoiled in horror. In the tragic hands of JFP and McT, to my eyes Sonny and Carly became dull caricatures of the people they had been and it was a struggle to watch them. They stories sucked (Loon Lake, for instance) and the acting was cardboard. I spat on the grave of Sonny and Carly. Yes, I knew they would reunite after the break up and assured everyone about it, but I wasn't excited by the prospect.
[Which brings me to a side note. It still amuses me that people think they know how I feel about a character or couple based on the gossip I report. : Þ If the news isn't good for Sax and I write about it in my column, I'm labeled a Sax hater. If I'm open to the idea of seeing what can happen with Jason and Courtney, then I'm suddenly their biggest fan. Pfft. Just because I don't swear allegiance and kneel at the foot of the same cross as (insert whatever fan group) doesn't mean I'm anti-them. Just because I report spoilers or gossip doesn't mean that it's what I think/feel/want. One more time, I'm going to say that I watch the shows and judge my like or dislike of a character, actor, couple or story based on what I'm seeing on screen at the time. Call it fickle or call it open-minded, but that's the way it is. No one is sacred with me (except Coleman, of course) and everyone is open to adoration or crucifixion, so they'd best mind their p's and q's.]
So for me, Sonny and Carly were off the list and I'll admit that when they became the focus of 19/20ths of the show, GH was off my list as well. I watched it for you guys and tried to look for the silver lining around the big, black cloud, but it was not a pleasing experience. I watched as the show brought out the worst aspects of characters I either loved or had previously loved and showcased them for 45 minutes a day.
It is definitely true that Tamara Braun "came into her own" (how many times have we heard THAT phrase applied to her?) in the role of Carly. It took some time for her to fill the shoes of the part (much like a little girl dressing up in Mommy's shoes) but it's been a long, long time since she's had that look she carried with her for many months: that of a deer caught in oncoming headlights. I've held her primarily in the role of "benign non-offender" for a while now. I was not particularly enamored with her, but she didn't grate on my nerves either. For quite some time, probably since Sarah Brown left, I've felt Maurice Benard's performance was fairly lackluster. The stories were cumbersome and it seemed as though the writers were making up them up on the fly without much forethought or planning. The dialogue was stiff and stilted.
Then, weird things began to happen. Steve Burton returned. I was so busy wondering what would happen with Liz and Jason, that I didn't even bother to register what was happening between Carly and Jason. What was happening was that Tamara Braun was lighting up from the inside and Steve Burton was responding beautifully. The friendship between Jason and Carly became a near-tangible thing and their banter was, well, fun. Then another ruined character, Scott, decided he could blackmail Carly into getting what he needed to take Alexis out of the DA race. Their scenes were electric, not just the famous "20 seconds" (shit, was it 20 seconds? I don't don't remember and I'm too lazy today to look it up...still in my jammies, in fact) scene but also in the scene where she demanded the return of her signed statement. Hmm. I made a mental note to bookmark those scenes (but not to remember the critical time limit Scott gave her, evidently) for future reference should more wonderfulness emerge. It did because then...
... something else happened. Vanessa Marcil returned. I was not particularly invested one way or another in her return. For one thing, it had been rumored a gajillion times in the past and didn't pan out. For another, I wasn't all that impressed with the character of Brenda in her prior GH incarnations (I thought Vanessa Marcil was a wonderful actress; I just didn't care for the character) and was open to where ever her return might take us. I wasn't particularly optimistic or pessimistic. What I didn't expect was the way she would plug in so many others! I noticed the same thing when A Martinez first came on the show and in addition to his own stellar performance, everyone else's acting took an enormous jump in quality as well. It was like a Christmas tree had been plugged in and all the lights were glowing. My thoughts on the Jax-Brenda-Skye story are well known from the last Sage Uncensored so I see no need to revisit that. This is purely about what happened when Vanessa Marcil was with Maurice Benard and with Steve Burton and with Tamara Braun. They all took off like rockets and began turning in some of their very best, most natural, most enjoyable-to-watch performances. No one could have been more surprised than I was, believe me. I never expected such a catalytic effect from the arrival of one actress.
I really can't remember the last time I had fun watching GH. I know it was a long, long, long, LONNNGGG time ago, maybe as far back as the mixed marrieds. At times, I've felt like I was suffering through it out of some kind of loyalty to the site or to a show I watched for almost 30 years (that is a long time to walk out on, you know). Within the past few weeks, I've found myself having fun again, just in fits and starts. I LOVED the "proposal" and "marriage" and everything having to do with Jason and Brenda together. I thought it was great how they both came alive in the scenes and just let the improv flow. For a change, I thought the island scenes were incredible (I was still sore from the "Somewhere in the South Pacific" abortion of a story on OLTL and soundstage islands left a bad, sandy taste in my mouth). It KEEPS being great because my pal, JenJen cracked me up about it just yesterday saying that when Sonny woke up next to Brenda and the destroyed airplane fuselage, she expected him to immediately mumble, "My hair!" (it's an "O Brother, Where Art Thou" reference and if you didn't get it, you are of the sorely deprived, culturally illiterate few who haven't seen the best movie EVER made). So the island story is STILL paying off for me. The kiss between Sonny and Brenda was really smokin' and it showed me something important about Sonny and Carly that I'll remark on in a bit. The scenes with Brenda and Carly in the quick sand were fantastic and they also told me something about Sonny and Carly that I'll remark on in a bit. The scene in the hallway when Brenda finds Carly and Jason packing her things was fantastic!!! What I would remark to say is that I have learned the important lesson that at this point (fickle and open-minded, remember), I really do like Maurice Benard and Tamara Braun's acting, just not so much with each other. Basically, what I'm seeing is that when Maurice Benard and Tamara Braun are interacting with other people and are out of the Sonny and Carly box the show has been lodged in for months, they are wonderful. Brenda's return showed me that MB and TB can really light up a screen and create a dynamic scene that is extremely entertaining to watch...when they are with other people. For that, I am thankful to Brenda. I just wish she's tuck in her goddamned underwear (and that whole last Uncensored column still applies).
Tamara Braun continues to shine in other scenes, such as when Carly was with Courtney in the park and the two women were (dare I say it?) friendly. Maurice Benard's scene with Jacklyn Zeman today was even good. I'm still not totally sold Tamara Braun and Maurice Benard together. I know a LOT of people feel differrently, but for me, they just don't click (yet). I like the development of podCarly into who the character is now, which is being portrayed more as the sharp cookie she was before, matured and with a tad more confidence in herself and her marriage. While I don't think the two of them had the heated energy MB had with Sarah Brown, I will absolutely confess that they have good acting spark with other people and I am grateful that the current regime is willing to let them out of the penthouse to play with the other actors. If this keeps up, I might end up a fan of Sonny and Carly's again. For now, I'm watching carefully!
Plus, I'm diggin' the hair cut.
GH Screen Caps
Feelin' deLove, Baby!
Screen caps courtesy of: http://groups.msn.com/GHScreenCaps/
November 12, 2002
October Something, 2002