When a show is as well acted and written as ATWT has been for the past several years, it's bound to hit a creative slump, eventually. Unfortunately, I think that time is now. OK, simmer down. Before you fire off the hate mail, hear me out. I'm not saying the show is horrible or not worth tuning in for, I'm just saying, lately, it hasn't measured up to its high standard. What's prompted my dissatisfaction? It started after I looked through my show notes for this week and discovered that half my comments involved hair. Not a good sign.
Soaps are cyclical, by nature, with some years better than ever. And after last year's fabulous baby-switch story, I'm not going to be too critical about this temporary slump. That said, I want a reason to get excited about ATWT again. Give me a strong story arc, a bad-boy I love to hate, a romance that makes me want to rush home and watch ATWT before anything else on my TiVo. I miss the days of sizzling dialogue between Carly and Craig. I miss the days of Katie and Simon's love story, Henry's scheming, and Barbara's snarking.
Here's my prescription for how ATWT can once again become must-see-TV: bring back old favorites and/or cast a strong leading man. (Hey, it's working for General Hospital. Believe me, I never thought I'd tune back in to Mafia Hospital, but Noah and Patrick Drake and Robert and Robin Scorpio have forced me to bump GH to the top of my TiVo list.) Here are my suggestions on some stories that would improve ATWT:
-- Paul needs to hit a pharmacy, pronto, to get rid of that nasty whooping cough. You'd think someone would have given this guy some Robitussin already, or at least a cough drop. And Meg calls herself a nurse.
--Henry, Henry, Henry, a $7,433 hotel bill, really? Has he heard of low-income housing? There is no way he's ever going to get out of debt, when he's living large at The Lakeview.
--Someone needs to have a talk with Katie about grateful gift etiquette. Her gorgeous, half-naked fiancée gave her a PDA for Valentine's Day and she was offended? Note to Mike: Direct all future gifts to Jennifer Biller, who will genuinely appreciate your effort (and your shirtlessness.)
--Isn't that the same memorial plate on Paul's grave at the mausoleum that they used the first time he was presumed dead, years ago, after the plane crash?
--Here's something I never thought I'd hear: Jack using the word "ducky." Maybe he picked that up from his new security guard pal.
--I guess Mike's construction business is booming. That's the only explanation for how he and the formerly broke Katie could afford a big wedding with an orchestra and full-course meal.
--Is anyone else craving Pringles, after watching this week's show? First, Maddie took a can to Will and Gwen, and then Margo unpacked another can from her bag of groceries, which also included Tide, Bounce, and Bounty paper towels. I don't mind ads like these in soaps. Those are products we all buy, and it seemed natural to see characters using them. What I don't want to see is a two-minute dialogue about the yumminess of Pringles. So, thank you show execs for not putting us through that.
--Emily is getting to Henry. She pulled him in with that, "You're the only friend I have" line. I didn't think the Emily/Henry scheme would transition to romance, but now I'm not so sure. It seems they might go there, from the foreshadowing in Henry's comments. His diatribe of how Meg wasn't his type because he goes for blondes who are love with other men seems to fit the Emily situation, don't you think? Emily wouldn't be my first choice for Henry. (She has way too much baggage.) But, if it keeps Henry in a front burner storyline, I'm open to anything.
--Maybe it was the sappy love songs this week or the sentimentality of Valentine's Day, but for the first time I saw a spark between Paul and Meg. (Not as much as I see between Dusty and Meg, but it looks like that ship has sailed.)
--Gwen, a.k.a Jennifer Landon, has an amazing voice. Who knew? Here's hoping she gets to use that guitar she found to sing the jailhouse blues, and that Will remains her loyal, lighter-toting groupie. (For those of you who asked, I'm trying to find the name of Gwen's song and who wrote it.)
--One of the best moments of the week was Meg's breakdown, after her run in with former love Dusty. She was mortified to see Dusty's genuine hatred for her. Marie Wilson's portrayal of Meg's emotional distraught was powerful and heart wrenching, the perfect realistic reaction for someone in that situation.
--What is it with the Snyder boys and having sex in vehicles? First, Holden and Lily talk about the fact that she got pregnant in the pickup truck. Then, Jack and Carly were ready to head for a police car during their Valentine's Day romp at the station.
--After a long list of notes about hairstyles, I decided to combine it into one post. So, here goes: Casey was working those 90210 sideburns and his new 'do on Valentines Day. He looked phenomenal. But the next day, he was back to that messy comb over. Yuck. I don't like messy 'dos on men. Two of my favorite guys, Henry and Jack, are also sporting this new trend. I'm not a fan. I like them clean cut. Does anyone else think that Paul's hair makes him look a little like Jesus or a Ralph Lauren male model? Lucinda's wig is fabulous, or is it a wig? Whatever, she looks striking as a blonde. Gwen's hair is growing and looks gorgeous.
--There are at least two people in town you can't get one over on: Dusty and Lucinda. Thank you, Lucinda, for demanding a DNA test from Jade and persuading Lily to call Joe. Thank you, Dusty, for seeing that psychic for what she is - a fraud. Dusty and Lucinda are savvy. Love them.
--I like Nick's casual wardrobe. That said, I don't think it's fitting for a cop. He looks more like a skateboarder or a bartender than a detective, but his style is cool.
--Jennifer has a sixth sense about people not really being dead. Dusty should have listened to her. She was right about Johnny, and she's right about Paul. And she had a point about people in Oakdale sometimes not really being dead. Hello, Jack Snyder.
--I guess Paul's disguise is better than I thought. He fooled Jennifer and Meg, looking directly at both of them.
--What was a bathtub doing at Metro? Did I miss something? I'm not complaining about Will and Gwen's bubbly love scene, but it just seemed strange.
--Note to Lily: Um, Jade isn't really that intuitive about your pregnancy. She simply looked at your old photo and then looked at you and noticed the obvious changes. Martha Byrne's real-life baby bump is showing.
--I'm going to miss Mike. I know Marc Collier is trying out for pilot season. While I wish him the best of luck, it'll be a hard day if, or when, he leaves Oakdale.
Best Lines of the Week:
(Nick walks in on Carly and Jack making out at the police station.)
Nick: "Jack, good news."
Carly: "You're transferring?"
(Emily and Henry discuss their plan to find Paul by following Meg.)
Emily: "We need to stick on Meg like white on rice."
Henry: "You know, I've never understood that phrase 'white on rice.' Not all rice is white. You've got yellow rice. Some of it's brown."
Emily: "Henry, focus please."
(Henry tells Emily he is finished being part of her illegal scheme.)
Emily: "I pegged you for a lot of things, really, but never a coward.
Henry: "When it comes to jail time sweetheart, I've got a streak down my back the size of the Yellow Brick Road."
(From Two Scoops reader Mike.)
"Is it me, or has the KKK come to Oakdale? I stopped watching this show for a while, after 10 years of loyal viewing, but when I left, there was Ben, Jessica, Marshall, Bonnie, and in the wings some hunky African-American sportscaster with eyes for Margo. Now, they're all gone. What the hell happened? I know it's the Midwest, people, but really..."
Mike, don't you know that black people don't live in the Midwest. And that no gay people work in the fashion industry (at least at Barbara, Jennifer and Carly's companies.) Perhaps we could blame the KKK, but I think it's bigger than that. Yep, I'm thinking government conspiracy. ---Jennifer
(From Two Scoops reader Linda.)
"When is Meg going to put on a coat? It is the middle of winter in the Midwest, and she is going everywhere with a sweater on."
Well, Linda, she did don a lovely scarf this week to match her sweater. Here's hoping she'll use some of that money Paul is paying her to buy a jacket to go with it. ---Jennifer
(From Two Scoops reader Jean.)
(Regarding last week's column,) "Yes, the continuity people are asleep. Maddie goes to Java to get food for Will And Gwen and gets 8 drinks and a large bag of food. Next, we see her with two drinks and a small sack. She gives one drink away, and then returns to Metro with 2 drinks! Math is not my strong suit either."
Oh contraire Jean, your math skills are fine, as is your keen eye for detail. Maybe Maddie got thirsty and had to throw back six of those eight drinks. So, eight minus two equals six...minus one. Oh, forget it. As I said last week, the prop department's math skills are worse than mine. ---Jennifer
(From Two Scoops reader Monique.)
"I saw a CBS Soaps Magazine blurb about Mark Collier leaving ATWT. True or not, I don't blame him. The writers have ruined his character (dumping his pregnant wife without a second thought, etc.). IMHO, Mike's fall from grace as a "good guy" made Henry's heartbreak even harder to take. Given a choice between "slept-with-everyone-in-a-skirt" Mike and "true-devotion-and-unconditional-love" Henry, I think Katie is an idiot."
Monique, you're not wrong. Despite Mike's impressive pecs and smile, Henry is my favorite, too.---Jennifer
(From Two Scoops reader Lewis.)
"Thank you for asking one of the most burning questions in Oakdale right now: How does Paul Ryan teleport himself? HELLO! The cabin is WAY outside of town and he just shows up at the church and other places? Whatever. I totally agree with you about Trent Dawson! That Emmy nom was well deserved! Also agree about those left out this year, but I'd add Colleen Zenk Pinter as Barbara to that list. She is deliciously evil in all her schemes and was a devilish delight this past year. She also showed a softer side with Jen when little Johnny "died." She's always great."
Lewis, good call on Colleen Zenk Pinter. She's an actress who is always so consistent, that it's easy to take her talent for granted. She's brilliant every day! ---Jennifer
(From Two Scoops reader Patti.)
"I have been reading Two Scoops every week for a long, long time, and this is the first time I have felt the need to send in my two-cents...for what it's worth. Nick Kasnoff.... Everyone seems quick to jump in and say they don't like him, etc. But, isn't it true that if we didn't have slimy or very mysterious characters such as Nick, BJ, so on and so forth, it can make for a boring storyline? BJ as much as I didn't "like" him, I liked watching his sick-o personality play out. I was glued, because you didn't know what was really going to happen next for a while. Same applies to Nick. On a final note, I cannot see Henry clicking romantically with anyone else other than Katie. Seeing Henry make out with anyone else other than Katie just makes me want to grab the nearest garbage can and gag. He, to me, is a one-woman's man: Katie's."
Patti, thanks for sending in your "two-cents." I agree that we need some bad boys now and again to shake things up, and Nick definitely qualifies. The difference here is that I think he is being groomed to become one of the show's heroes, where as former bad boys BJ and Doc were painted just as villains. For Nick to have some rooting value, at least for me, he needs to show me something other than his "player" game. Simon and Craig were both players of the worst kind, but they made me care about their characters and even root for them, even when they did the wrong thing. That's the mark of true hero. And I'm just not seeing it yet in Nick. As for Henry, I appreciate that you love Katie and Henry, (me too) but hold the gag reflex. It seems Katie has moved on with Mike, and if we want Henry to be more than just the town's backburner comic relief, he's going to have to "make out" with someone sooner or later. ---Jennifer
(From Two Scoops reader Lloyd.)
"Meg and Paul started out hating each other. Then, he manipulated her into keeping quiet with his sick scheme. Then, he paid her to be his nurse and his henchperson, and now it looks like they may pair up, which is not a bad thing. They have good chemistry. I love Marie Wilson already (she is beautiful) and love the idea of seeing more of her. Can't wait for this to play itself out."
Lloyd, I'm all for seeing more Meg, too. ---Jennifer
That's all for now, Scoopers! See ya next time.