Our search for someone to be my Two Scoops partner continues this week. This week's column comes from Marcello, who you may have seen as a trial columnist last week in our GH Two Scoops section. Please read over his column and let us know what you think. Would you like to read more from him? Click here to let us know!
This week, I'd like to talk about cast changes and newbies. I know recasts are part and parcel of the genre, but what's with the gratuitous shuffle of perfectly good actors out, and actors with a completely different take on their character in?
But first, I have to say that Melissa Claire Egan has been great as of late. Annie's best at her craziest. I know some people may be critical of a mentally ill character who can't stay permanently stable but, as one who's had a few stays at the psych ward myself, Annie is actually a more realistic character than all the people on soaps (usually women) who have a breakdown, stay at Oak Haven or St. Anne's or Willowbrook, and get cured.
Some of this is changing as soaps continue to strive for more realistic human relations. In Sonny's continuing discussion of his bipolar disorder and Robin's postpartum experience, both on GH, depression was handled well. Likewise, Charlie on OLTL and JR on AMC continue to struggle with their addictions and sometimes slip. Well, that sometimes happens to those of us who suffer other forms of psychological dysfunction. Annie's long struggle to maintain balance, despite her obvious borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia, or whatever she has, has been both dramatic and convincing. I will greatly miss Melissa Claire Egan's Annie. What a loss to Pine Valley (well, to those of us who regularly visit, at least).
A tangent: why is it that people always get into car crashes with people they know? Just sayin'.
Onto the newbies. What do you think about Griffin? I don't know, he just doesn't do it for me. He's hot; there's no denying that. I just don't see the attraction though. There just seems to be something missing. Maybe it's the character, maybe it's Jordi Vilasuso. I do, however, see potential for both the actor and the character. During the surgery in the ambulance, his passionate commitment to saving Kendall's life was the most zeal I've seen from him yet. Okay, he shows promise to grow on me. In the meantime, I remain unimpressed.
Likewise, Rev. Ricky initially failed to capture my fascination. Frankly, Eddy Matos just didn't leave me wanting more of him, at least in this role. I dunnow, maybe I just have an issue with goodie-goodie types. If I was a writer serving Donna Swajeski and David Kreizman (thereby unable to off any of the characters), I would at least give the good reverend an internal conflict that makes him question his life's path.
Hold up. I wrote that earlier in the week. The writing team seems to be laying those tracks, so I'll wait to see where they'll lead. His interaction with Griffin at Krystal's allowed a little of the bad boy within to escape. I now see potential for this character as he struggles to reconcile his desires with his faith. If that doesn't happen, I'll still want him shipped off to some far away land to do missionary work or something.
How about the new Bianca? I know Eden Riegel is irreplaceable but, if they had to pick someone to take over the role, I think they struck gold with Christina Bennett Lind. Riegel leaves behind big shoes to fill. But, so far, I've been quite pleased. I feel that Bennett Lind has studied the character and has a good grasp of her history. She exudes the goodness that is the essence of Bianca. Yes, I know that flies in the face of my early statement about goodie-goodie types, but Bianca is more than capable of tapping into her darker side. She is Erica Kane's progeny, for goodness sake.
What about the new Marissa and Scott? This is actually what got me going on this topic in the first place. I'll confess, I never liked the original Marissa (Brittany Allen) or most recent Scott (Adam Mayfield). Mayfield eventually learned not to chew the scenery so much, and the character of Marissa Tasker became more attractive to me once the writers gave her more of an edge. But something about her still annoyed me a little bit. I'd love to hear your thoughts about the original Marissa.
The new one, Sarah Glendening, is a fine actor, but I just can't accept her as Marissa. She's too...bubbly, I guess. If I had my druthers, I'd have kept Allen in the role and let the character evolve. After being so naïve for so long and putting up with JR's lies, not to mention her continued irrational support of David despite all his shenanigans, it makes sense that she'd begin to get a little bitter. At the very least, an actress who even remotely shares some of the aspects of Brittany Allen should have snagged the role.
Daniel Cosgrove as Scott sure has cute dimples, I'll give you that. But that's not enough for me. He's too suave, too sure of himself. Adam Mayfield conveyed an innocence that was in keeping with his side of the family tree. He embodied the next generation of kind and gentle Stuart's branch, even as Scott tried to live up to Adam's legacy and compete with cousin JR as a scheming, do-anything-it-takes-to-win Chandler. Add to that Mayfield's striking resemblance to David Canary, and he worked. After Adam Mayfield, Cosgrove (another recycled GL/ATWT vet - and a former Scott) has too much swagger to be Stuart's son, and I'm not sure there's anything this actor can do about that. If, however, he gets shirtless on a regular basis, I'll stop complaining.
On to Lindsay Hartley. While the dreadful Passions was on the air, I would watch it while there were commercials interrupting real soaps. One of the few highlights of the show, though, was Lindsay Hartley. She always brightened up the screen as she did again this week when Cara confessed to Jake that she'd come back to Pine Valley because she'd never gotten over him. Am I off-base to think that he feels the same for her? Of course I'm not. He's never stopped loving her. Besides, Jake and Amanda have been happy for nearly a year. Time to shake them up and see what fizzes out of their marriage.
Since I'm concentrating on cast changes, though, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't address Cara's morphing ethnicity. She started out in 2003 as a very Irish-looking Caroline Finn with, to my memory, no allusions to a Latina lineage. Suddenly, she's a very Hispanic woman with the surname Castillo, and the explanation is that she'd impersonated Dr. Finn all those years ago. Interesting historical revision. But, you know what? If that's what it takes to get Hartley on the screen, so be it. Plus, I applaud any reason to diversify any of the shows.
Missed opportunity: Damon Miller. What was the point of him? Why would the writers spend all of that time and effort to build a compelling story that tapped into the rich history of the show and do nothing with it? I've been eagerly anticipating the return of Hillary, if only for a brief period, to address her ongoing connection with Tad. I also find it hard to believe that she'd put up with that jerk of a husband of hers; the Hillary I knew had much better taste. I understand that Carmen Thomas, the original actress, may not have been available or willing to reprise the role, but that character is worth bringing back even as a recast. It's been 23 years since we've seen her so, with the right casting, it would totally work.
Back to Finn Wittrock, a mighty fine actor, as Damon. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Damon's transformation from a troubled teen, his struggle with ADHD, his developing conscience. The twist on the old Tad-sleeps-with-Liza-and-her-mother storyline really worked for me. But just as he was settled in town and in our hearts (mine, at least), they ship him off to law school. Doesn't PVU have a law program? The writers didn't have room for both Damon and Asher? I mean, come on. What a perfect triangle they made with Colby.
Speaking of her, I know she's not new, but the latest in the long line of Colbys is my least favorite. Natalie Hall is too much of a valley girl, and overacts on a regular basis. I'm not sure how many other fans feel that way, but she just rubs me the wrong way. In addition, maybe I missed something last week, but is Colby really so feeble she can't move an end table? Seriously? Couldn't the writers have at least had Annie handcuff her to something stationary at the beach house?
And, don't get me started on the Pennsylvania Ocean! What were they thinking? I know it's been awhile since Pine Valley became an oceanfront town, but it's always irked me to no end! Had they written in a massive earthquake, I'd be a tad more accepting. What was wrong with Willow Lake? Did Agnes approve this? Okay, I'll stop myself now.
Though not a brand new change, I just can't stop imagining Marcy Walker as Liza. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved to see Jamie Luner on the screen, going all the way back to Just the Ten of Us. She was marvelous in Melrose Place and splendid in Savannah. But she just isn't Liza Colby Chandler to me. There are certain characters, I believe, who should just be killed off or sent far away rather than to be recast. Could you imagine anyone but David Canary as Adam or Stuart Chandler, Michael Knight as Tad Martin, Susan Lucci as Erica Kane?
I know Liza has never been quite the cornerstone of the show, but she did a lot for (maybe to) Pine Valley. I'm showing my age, but I remember Liza plotting against Jenny while they (and I) were in high school. I was there the entire time Tad was dating both her and her mother (!). I later saw her marry Adam in the hopes it would ruin Tad and Brooke's relationship. All of this made an indelible imprint of Liza in my mind.
Jamie Luner is a fantastic actor (though, I must point out that Walker's Liza was as blonde as can be, and there's no hiding the fact that Luner's Liza is a redhead down to her core), but I still see Marcy's face and hear her voice every time Jamie is on the screen. I'm not saying I'd can Luner or write Liza out. I just yearn for Marcy Walker to return and reprise the role (who likely won't, given her deep commitment to her ministry). In the immortal word of Cher, if I could turn back time...
A few remaining thoughts. Kendall, please come back home to us. I'm so over the mousy, mealy-mouthed woman you've become. When, exactly, did you become such a wuss? It was long before Zach's death, though I know that's exacerbated your stress. I guess I should be more charitable; you've been through a lot lately. Writers, Alicia Minshew has great range as an actress. It is my sincere hope that the feisty Kendall will return to Pine Valley, pronto
Greenlee: I can't imagine Rebecca Budig being any more perfect for the role. 'Nuff said.
As for everyone else on the canvas, I can't think of too many quibbles. My biggest? I'd like to see more Opal. I guess I should mention that, as much as I like Jill Larson in the role, I still often imagine Opal's lines coming out of Dorothy Lyman's mouth. Yep. Showing my age.
Though I'm still struggling to be as captivated by AMC as I've been in years past, I have seen some improvement in the past year. The move to LA and the new writing team seems to have resulted in some renewed energy. Please don't misunderstand, there's much room to improve, but at least I'm not skipping days at a time out of sheer boredom. Maybe I'll have the honor to share my thoughts on that in this column in the future.
One final comment: Randi, what were you thinking wearing that wig???
Until next time, keep the suds bubbling.