When I heard that Betty White was coming back for another visit to B&B, I was thrilled. I am old enough to remember White as the deliciously naughty Sue Ann Nivens on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show and as the completely clueless Rose Nylund on Golden Girls. She was hilarious on both shows, just as she was last week in her 30 Rock cameo appearance.
While Ms. White is obviously a first-class comedienne, B&B has given her a chance to showcase her dramatic skills, which are equally strong. Although I have to mention that Ann did toss out a few fun zingers last week.
Stephanie said to Ann, "I don't want you to die here." Ann looked around at the majesty of Malibu and then replied to Stephanie, "I could do worse." Priceless. Not to mention when Ann asked Pam and Stephanie to get her some medical marijuana. Or when Ann said to Pam, "You know all those fantasies you had about smothering me with a pillow? Now would be the time." Hilarious.
But I digress. Ann Douglas is not a cut-up; she is a complex character with dark undertones who has had tumultuous relationships with her daughters over the years. In her last visit to Los Angeles, Stephanie forgave Ann for turning a blind eye to Stephanie's abusive father, and Stephanie and Ann formed a very delicate truce.
But when Ann has arrived in town and informed her daughters that she is dying, and has chosen to refuse medical treatment, I wondered if that truce will last under such trying circumstances? Will Pam and Stephanie have time to work out all the complicated emotional issues they have with their mother, or brush them aside to enjoy her company in her final days?
In spite of Ann's strict instructions not to put her in the hospital, Pam called 9-1-1 when it appeared her mother was suffering a heart attack. Watching Betty White writhe and moan nearly did me in, dear readers. As she clutched her chest and cried out in pain, what choice did Pam have?
I couldn't blame Pam for her actions. Which of us could watch a beloved parent dying of an apparent heart attack and not even try to save them? Watching an aging parent suffer in horrid pain and knowing they are dying while being unable to do anything to fix it is a tragic and sad tale.
I applaud B&B for taking on such a difficult storyline. Many families struggle with end of life issues every day, so I predict this story will touch a lot of hearts. It should also make every viewer who sees it run to their nearest lawyer and get their own end of life wishes in writing to keep their family from having to make those hard choices.
I am anxious to watch this storyline unravel. Oh snap! They got me again! B&B has a nasty habit of sucking me back in after I have decided to give up on watching it entirely.
After the last round of the never-ending Brooke/Taylor/Ridge triangle, I asked myself why I was still watching the show at all. I was frustrated by the endless loop of repeated storylines sucking away hours of my life. I told myself I was done.
But then they brought in Don Diamont as the enigmatic "Dollar" Bill Spencer, and I sat down in front of the TV again. Then Justin entered the canvas and, of course, I had to see what happened when Donna was confronted by her long lost baby daddy.
Next, I heard the phenomenal Sarah Joy Brown was moving to B&B after GH killed off Claudia Zacchara, and of course, I didn't want to miss that, either. Then, the final whammy-- Betty White returned as a dying and frail Ann Douglas. Okay, it's official, I'm back on board.
I watch daytime drama because I love storytelling. When the storytelling is good, I am as solid a viewer as the networks could hope for. I started watching my first soap at age 12 -- and I'm now 48, so they've basically had me hooked my entire life. But when the storylines get lame, I wander off. Call it A.D.D. or, as one of my teachers used to tell me, "You have the attention span of a fly. Anytime something moves, you buzz away."
At present, I have no desire to buzz away, or change the channel, because they are telling stories that matter to me, and I want to know what happens next. But if they revert to another round of "Ridge can't decide between Taylor and Brooke," I'm probably out. (Until they find another clever sneaky way to lure me back in. I am such an addict.)
The aforementioned Sarah Joy Brown's new character, Sandy Sommers (a.k.a. Agnes), is another fascinating mystery to solve. Is she a decent woman trying to make a mark on the world by providing an infertile couple with a baby, or is she a scheming con woman who is up to no good? We just don't know yet, but recently discovered the added clue that she is Whip's cousin.
Readers, if you aren't familiar with Sarah's previous work on General Hospital as both the original Carly and most recently as Claudia, hold on, because I guarantee she will wow you. Ms. Brown's work has won her three well-deserved Emmys, and I hope the writers give her the right material to make it four. As an added bonus, if you follow her on Twitter, you will discover that she is also a delightful and compassionate woman who uses her star power to promote wonderful causes.
In my previous B&B column, I mentioned that Whip needed a storyline of his own and it appears that his connection to Sandy Sommers might be just that. A storyline connecting these two powerhouse actors is good for them and good for us. The wink to the audience of course, is that on General Hospital, Rick Hearst and Sarah Joy Brown played partners in crime, lovers, in-laws, and eventually enemies as Ric Lansing and Claudia Zacharra. So, for a viewer of both shows, it's fun to see the two of them working together again.
Kind of like Bill and Katie Spencer, who once interacted as Brad Carlton and Victoria Newman on Y&R. Readers, the Bill Spencer/Katie Logan wedding was precious. I have seen a lot of romantic soap weddings in my day, but this one really hit home. I think more of us can relate to being little girls staring out our windows daydreaming alone in our rooms as Katie did than we can to galloping down the side of a beachfront mountain on a white steed like Brooke did .
Katie and Bill's wedding hit all the right notes because it was accessible and real. I was thrilled when Bill wadded up the vows someone else wrote for him and spoke from the heart. There's a real person in there! I thoroughly enjoyed their wedding and like their chemistry and their relationship in general. If Steffy ends up coming between them, I will be extremely displeased.
I wasn't quite as fond of Eric's lurking and pouting, because sometimes you just have to suck it up. If Eric didn't want Bill and Katie's reception at his house, he should have told Donna no up-front instead of saying yes and then acting like an ass all night.
My hunch is that all of this is leading up to a reconciliation of Eric and Stephanie. Eric wants to support Stephanie while her mother Ann is dying, and Stephanie wants to support Eric over the loss of his company and Donna's insensitivity. And Donna seemingly only wants to support her own burgeoning TV career on The Catwalk. Should we place bets on whether Eric will cheat with Stephanie before Donna cheats with Justin?
What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will Sandy take some of her surrogate money and hire a Molly Maid to come and clean her filthy apartment? Will Jackie M make a line of designer maternity clothes for Sandy? Will Steffy find someone else's marriage to wreck while Bill and Katie are away on their honeymoon? Will Ridge keep moping because he's so mad about still getting paid lots of money to draw pretty dresses and make out with his wife on his desk all day but his name is no longer on the door? Will Pam offer to bake Ann some "medicinal" lemon bars?
Only tomorrow knows dear readers, and I will tune in tomorrow as long as there are tomorrows.
Tamilu © 2009
And here is Mike's column.
Has your week been boldand beautiful? Did you get implanted with an embryo? Did you join the Mile High Club? Did your mother come to visit and turn your life upside-down? These and more situations faced the Forresters this week in L.A.!
Hello, all -- I'm Adam-Michael James (just call me Mike!), and this is my début column for Soap Central. If you like me, I stay; if you don't like me, I go! Either way, I'm happy to be opinionizing about a show I've been following since 1988. Quickly, I'm a writer (2 books and a musical -- see the web sites below for more!), and I also did lots of extra work -- including a 2-episode stint on B&B back in '98.
Anyone remember when Rick, Amber, and CJ (where's CJ? I miss CJ! He and Clarke should've continued Spectra!) did The Beatles' "Baby You Can Drive My Car" at Insomnia, right before the big accident where Amber gave Rick her kidney? Those were my eps! I've got a few more B&B encounters to share; if you keep me around, I'll tell you about 'em in coming weeks. But enough of that -- we've got some Scoopin' to do!
What a week to dig back into B&B! After the many cartoonish directions of recent years, the show has really returned to form, even if we started lightly with Katie and Bill's wedding reception. It was mostly a charming affair, with lesser story points fortunately not lingered on for too long. Of course Eric's still bummed about Forrester Creations: A Division of Spencer Publications, and they're still trying to create an Eric/Donna/Justin triangle, although it was interesting that Justin tried to get Eric to be supportive of Donna hosting The Catwalk . Speaking of which, it seemed like Stephanie was actually trying to help Donna by pointing out how much her job is hurting Eric, which doesn't hurt as much as that Catdance -- yowch!
Donna wasn't wrong when she pointed out how unprofessional Pam was. And Stephanie was right when she said Donna shouldn't be hosting the show, at least not under these circumstances. Never mind that she's completely unqualified to be a talk show host, especially when she's not as familiar with the fashion industry as, say, Brooke (now wouldn't it have been a kick to put Brooke in that chair instead?). But it does seem a bit insensitive of Donna, considering. If it had been a talk show not affiliated with Spencer, then Eric wouldn't have as much of a beef. But then there wouldn't be a reason for Donna to take another look at Justin, would there?
As for the newlywed Spencers, what's next after Vince Guaraldi-esque video montages and experiencing (ahem) turbulence on route to their honeymoon rendezvous? Is Bill really as sincere as he seems? And will a big deal be made of Bill's missing necklace? Where could it be? And will it have something to do with that one tiny kiss with Steffy, who really needs to be packed off to Forrester International pronto? It's certainly nothing against her portrayer, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, but this character has been a misfire from the beginning -- I don't think they're quite sure what to do with Steffy, and she grates every time she's on the screen. It only makes her look bad to have her chasing after Owen one week and Bill the next -- okay, so she's got good taste.
Have you all noticed that all of Brooke's relatives have been recast? I've been watching some old late-80s/early-90s B&B on YouTube lately, so maybe it's just jarring to me because of it. With all the emphasis they're putting on the Logans' history in "the Valley" these days, somehow it feels like it would resonate more if we were seeing the original actors. I think Patrick Duffy and Robin Riker are doing fine jobs as Stephen and Beth, but...well, they're not Stephen and Beth.
Also, they really seem to be pushing the fact that Katie's such a loner, the outcast Logan sister. Refresh my memory, anyone, but I don't recall Katie being quite so isolated, do you? Even if that were the case, the way they're repeating it so many times, it feels like Katie's rubbing it in Brooke and Donna's faces, as if she's being hurtful -- and I don't think that's the intention. Lastly, is it just me, or wouldn't it have been nice if Beth had catered the reception, just for old times' sake? I realize it's an old time she may not remember due to her unfortunately advancing Alzheimer's, but still,that would have been a neat touch.
It's good to see other couples solidifying -- Bridget and Nick, Ridge and Brooke. It's becoming easier to forget they've all been broken up and remarried more times than we can count. Let's hope the writers realize that couples can have strong storylines that actually involve staying together! As for odd couples, what was up with Rick and Marcus' suddenly friendly exchange at the reception? Rick has not redeemed himself for his treachery this year in my eyes, and "Hey, Rick, how's it going?" is not what you'd expect Marcus to say to the man who stole his girl out from under him and shipped him off to Paris, even with that storyline resolved. Maybe his memory is gone along with Katie's heart scar! But I digress.
Check out Whip and Cousin Agnes! Who knew they'd be relatives and not the typical former lovers? Whip finally gets a storyline -- although, did anyone else find it odd that Whip would just sneak into Sandy's room like that? He really had no business being there in the first place, so to just duck into a stranger's room, even out of sheer curiosity, is just this side of implausible. While it did seem they introduced and explored Whip's connection to Sandy at lightning speed, how fascinating was it that he covered for Sandy when the Knights barged in? And Jackie's so excited about her son having a baby that you'd think she wouldn't have fussed so over having her own -- don't you think Owen would be just a little hurt by that?
Since the surrogacy story has started off unconventionally with us knowing from the get-go that Sandy isn't what she seems, it's all the more intriguing to see where it will go. What happened to Sandy that she'd change her name -- and want to "do something good" by carrying Nick and Bridget's baby? Is it a coincidence that Sandy and Bridget look so much alike? Since Owen's the one who found Andrea (Sandy's surrogacy "agent," or whatever you'd call her), will he be blamed when the truth about Sandy comes out? Not that Nick and Bridget shouldn't have checked out Andrea and Sandy more thoroughly (or at all!).
If I were Nick, I'd be more alarmed at Sandy's lack of enthusiasm than the fact she pulled her hand away. And would the Marones really be allowed in the room while Sandy was being implanted? Nick, at least, should have been booted to the hallway instead of being allowed to peek from behind a curtain. Eww! Hang a sign on Sandy's cervix that says, "Privacy, Please!" Looking forward to Whip's continuing involvement in this storyline.
Of course, this week's motherhood theme wouldn't be complete without Mama Douglas coming to town. I'd been thinking when Pam went crazy on The Catwalk that Ann should send Pam to bed without dessert, but I had no idea that Ann would show up -- much less drop the bomb that she's dying! Like many of you, I grew up on Betty White's goofy Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls characters (okay, and Password!), so I was surprised in '06 when she turned out to be such a dramatic powerhouse, and it makes it all the more sad that she won't be on B&B's canvas much longer.
In a couple short episodes Pam stopped being zany and reverted back to who she was when we first met her, and I love how Stephanie transforms when Ann is around. As Brooke rightly pointed out -- and it's a great use of history -- Ann's failure to protect Stephanie from her father's abuse is the reason Stephanie is so overprotective and controlling. Eric describing Stephanie's childhood to Donna wasn't at all expositional (not like some of the other filler scenes that day), and they even managed some comedy, with Ann asking for medical marijuana and telling Pam "this is my moment, not yours." Shame on Ann, though, for dumping her pills into the Pacific Ocean without a second thought -- that wasn't very environmentally sound, now, was it?
But WOW, was the drama compelling. Ann's attack was very suspenseful, and the dilemma Stephanie and Pam are now in is good soap -- even with Ann not wanting to be hospitalized, how could Pam help calling an ambulance? How could Stephanie not be more sympathetic to Pam's plight? And now, how far will the Douglas sisters go to hono r their mother's wishes? I wouldn't be surprised if they try to sneak her out of the hospital. It's a meaty, substantial storyline, and a relief from the usual romantic triangles and other hijinks that have dominated B&B of late -- even if Taylor is a shrink and can't prescribe cancer meds; I don't care if she was Caroline's oncologist all those years ago!
Those are my thoughts -- and of course, they're only mine. I leave you with two other thoughts:
Best Line of the Week:
Owen: "Do they make cards for embryo transfers?"
Steffy: "I know they don't have vegetarians in Chicago!" (Slap her-- somebody slap her!)
November sweeps aren't over yet, so stay alert and be BOLD! Thanks for giving me this chance to Scoop! "Beep beep, beep beep, yeah!"