Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you waffle so much that a bottle of Aunt Jemima showed up on your door? Did you destroy a perfect good shirt in the process of not taking a hint? Did you see how to make a family tragedy work to your advantage? These and more situations faced the Forresters this week!
Allow me to mark the passing of Beth Logan, the matriarch of the Logan family. Let's all take a moment of silence -- and that means you, too, Brooke and Logan haters! -- to pay our respects to one B&B's few remaining legacy characters. [bows head in silence]
I'm not sure the show spent enough time on the realities of Alzheimer's disease. Sure, they couldn't be expected to explore it for years (as was done with As The World Turns's Mac in the '90s). And Beth was diagnosed with it last year already (or was it even 2008?). But to suddenly bring her in now, have her forget a few things, kill her off, and practically forget about her over the course of two weeks is questionable. Also questionable -- at least to me -- were Beth's symptoms. She seemed more crazy than suffering from dementia. (Those of you who have dealt with or are dealing with Alzheimer's sufferers in your lives will know better than me, so please pardon me if I'm off.) It's just that this seemed like a really good opportunity for B&B to three-dimensionalize the disease, but somehow they didn't quite get there.
Some of you had strong words regarding Stephanie's behavior leading up to the tragedy:
• "I'm appalled by Stephanie's arrogance!" -- Wanda
• "Stephanie's bitching is an insult to families dealing with dementia. It really angered me." -- Loren
I would have to agree -- Stephanie was a total shrew, and her agenda to get the Logans out of Eric's house so she could have him to herself was blatantly obvious. I'm surprised TPTB chose to depict her like that. Of course, I knew she'd revert to type as soon as she left Jackie M, but that's another story. It's true that Beth would have benefited from having some in-home care, but it's not like her family had much time to arrange for it with Stephanie there making a scene. And, while she ultimately did the right thing by trying to take Beth back to the house, she shouldn't have left Beth alone, even if it was to avoid arguing with her. True, she didn't know the significance of the lace or that Beth had forgotten how to swim. She seemed genuinely sorry when she explained her part in Beth's drowning to the Logans (her single "Brooke!" as if she were saying "After all these years, you don't actually believe I'd do that?" was great). But Stephanie needed to accept some responsibility, and didn't. The Logans owned theirs when they cried that they shouldn't have let Beth go to the bathroom alone, and Stephanie also played a role in how the tragedy unfolded. Declaring herself innocent just cancelled out her sincerity.
While Donna might have been pushing it by suggesting Stephanie murdered Beth, she wasn't far off when she reminded everyone that Stephanie did try to kill Brooke on more than one occasion. And how inappropriate was it for Stephanie to pop off "If I was going to kill anybody, it would be you or your nutty sister"? (Who really has the nutty sister?) It's times like these I feel Stephanie is grossly miswritten. Stephanie has stooped pretty low in her desire to preserve her family over the years, but there's a line she usually doesn't cross. She went over it when she choked Brooke and handed her a gun to shoot herself, and again in making that remark to Donna -- none of which is true to the character.
As for Eric, while he was smack-dab in the middle thanks to trying to please everybody, he should have shown his wife more support, their problems aside. And why is he flip-flopping so drastically? (Maybe Ridge is his biological son after all!) Telling Stephanie she needs to go, then saying "that was before" and asking her to stay; vowing to stand by Donna one minute and refusing to relegate Stephanie to the proper place in his life the next. It's no wonder Donna walked out on him -- twice! And I have a really hard time buying that Eric feels enough for Stephanie to be this torn. I keep remembering 1995, when Sheila (who had a gun on everyone at the time but never mind that!) told Eric "[Stephanie] made most of your life miserable! That's why you divorced her after 30 years of marriage!" Too true that.
At least Eric currently admits that not everything was rosy with Stephanie, but I just can't see him harboring romantic feelings for her. Maybe if Stephanie had grown as a result of facing her childhood abuse; maybe if she were still light and fun like she was at Jackie M (wall around her heart notwithstanding), his change of heart would make sense. But nostalgia and martinis (which they're suddenly shoving down our throats when I saw a '90s episode where Stephanie said she didn't even like martinis!) aren't enough to make me root for another reconciliation, no matter how much triumphant music they underscore it with. The upshot is that Eric siding with Stephanie over her role in Beth's death is a more legitimate conflict to justify this triangle than we had before.
And couldn't the light bulb that went off over Bill's head just light up Los Angeles! Who'd have thought his support of Donna could be sincere (considering he tried to bed her a year ago), and how impactful was it when he told Katie "When you're involved in a tug-of-war between your wife and something else, you let go of the something else -- no matter what it is"? Thanks to Steffy's shenanigans, he knows of which he speaks -- and now that he's encouraging Donna to go after Forrester Creations, revenge could soon be sweet. Mr. Spencer is definitely stirring the pot, and thanks be for that. Calling Eric a "gutless playboy" and telling him his hearing aid needed a tune-up was great stuff! Good to see him back in action. I wonder, though, how Donna grabbing a piece of the Forrester pie benefits Bill in any direct way? According to R.E.S.T., Eric only owns 25%, and Donna could only get 12½% in any divorce. An eighth certainly isn't enough to affect a takeover, and it wouldn't be Bill's anyway. Still, Bill has his reasons, and I'm looking forward to finding out what they are.
As for the rest of the Logans, Heather Tom and Patrick Duffy turned in some really nice performances, and you can always count on Katherine Kelly Lang to portray pathos with perfect pitch (deserving of alliteration!). Brooke is essentially the Logan matriarch now, and she stepped into that role with ease and grace, offering comfort to her sisters and daughters. It's strange -- even though most of this story is being played out with Donna as the focus, the once-flighty Brooke is really solid here, unifying her family and being the voice of reason. She spoke volumes as she reacted to Stephanie's claim of innocence, looking like she wanted to believe her but just couldn't be sure at the same time, all without uttering a word. Katie's grief was palpable, too, although her premonition of ill tidings after Bill took her mind off things with sex seemed a bit implausible (unless she managed to coax Miss Cleo out of retirement). And I'll cut Donna some slack for her somewhat over-the-top shrieking at the pool, because who's to say that wasn't realistic under the circumstances -- if not a little much for TV?
Yet, I can't help wondering if Beth's tragedy would have packed more punch if Beth and Stephen hadn't been recast. Now, that's no disrespect to either Robin Riker or Patrick Duffy, who are both fine actors and handled their material with aplomb. It's just that Beth seemed so much younger than she should have been -- she looked more like Stephanie's daughter than her contemporary, and, even though Rick has been aged significantly, this Beth hardly seemed like his grandmother (which I guess is all a compliment to Ms. Riker!). Imagine if Nancy Burnett (1987-2001) and Robert Pine (1988-2001) were still playing the Logan parents? Katie could have gone through her photo album and seen pictures from the late '80s instead of recreated ones -- Stephanie could have flashed back to actual arguments with her former rival. It's true every single Logan has been recast except for Brooke (all the more reason Brooke is the connective thread to this storyline), but we've at least had time to get used to Heather Tom and Jennifer Gareis as Katie and Donna. Recasting Stephen and Beth may have seemed like a good idea when they did it, but, because of it, this arc lost the really wonderful layers it could have had, especially since Beth, at least, was a legacy character.
And B&B sure has killed off its share of core characters the last few years -- Darla, Storm, Phoebe, Ann, and now Beth. For what? A few weeks of story -- in Ann's case, a few days? I think shows like 24 set a new standard of suddenly killing off major characters -- but on a show where people are always in mortal danger, that's not entirely unexpected. Not so for a soap that's supposed to be about the fashion industry! Beth hasn't been dead a week and suddenly it's all about what Donna might get if she divorces Eric; her determination to bring Stephanie to justice dried up in a couple of days. And Lt. Baker ended any investigation before it even started. Granted, what the show doesn't need is another drawn-out wrongly accused storyline, so maybe it's good they chose not to go there. But between the recasts and the here's-your-hat-what's-your-hurry treatment, Beth's death isn't leaving the emotional mark that it should.
Finally, in the Why Did They Bother department, what was the point of showing us a second Cabana Boy shoot for all of three seconds? It looked like we were going to continue with Bridget and Owen's baby bungle, but all that happened was Owen saying he'd do anything for Jackie and making out with her in front of everybody. (Ick.) And why the hell isn't Whip on his honeymoon with Taylor? With Stephanie/Eric/Donna taking up the airtime, this is the perfect opportunity. Or did Taylor follow Ridge to Europe already and Whip just hasn't told anybody? Also, I suppose the 45 seconds of Marcus and Hope joking about the upcoming line wasn't necessary, either, but it was genuinely amusing, and almost gave the impression Kimberly Matula and Texas Battle were having fun improvising. How interesting Marcus becomes when he's given a sense of humor! By the way, wasn't that morgue attendant just a little too perky? Quite a step that they actually went into a morgue; I don't think that's done on soaps too often, at least not in this way.
And, in the They Need To Be Slapped department, Pam is at the front of the line. Okay, there's no reason she should care about Beth, but she practically clapped her hands with glee when the drowning resulted in her sister staying on in Eric's house. Thorne at least showed a little compassion toward Donna's loss, but likewise should be clocked for telling Stephanie she was "finally home" in light of it. No matter how many times Stephanie and the others refer to that house as Stephanie's home, it ain't! Eric didn't leave it to her in the divorce, and it doesn't matter how many years she lived there. But -- and why am I not surprised -- the biggest slap goes out to one Steffy Forrester. Not on for one episode this week and she purrs to Oliver that she consoled Hope by saying Beth's death was a blessing (!), proceeding to rip Hope's boyfriend's shirt open and all but turn on a red light and display herself to him like an Amsterdam hooker! Thanks, Steffy; I had run out of adjectives for you, but now we can add "vile" to the list. The only interesting part was the reminder that Steffy and Oliver know what Bridget and Owen did last summer (I mean "winter"), and so does Aggie. One can only wonder when that bomb is going to go off!
Hey, at least it's all interesting! What will Katie think of Bill's revenge scheme involving Donna? Will anybody remember Beth in two weeks? And will Thorne ever get a storyline? Do your own speculation on the Soap Central message boards, and feel free to send me comments about this column. In the meantime, keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!