Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did your stolen collection come from a rejection? Did you play Santa yet want your daughter-in-law to sit on your lap? Did you pull a Doobie Brothers and take it to the streets? These and more situations faced the Forresters et al this week!
All right, when I heard B&B was going to get into the plight of kids who age out of the foster care system, I rolled my eyes. I mean, they already did preachy, PSA-type "special episodes" last year at this time with the homeless, and again in February with lung cancer survivors. So I went in ready to pick it apart. But you know what? There really was some Emmy-worthy stuff in there -- just not what you might think. And we'll get to that. But first...!
Ridge baffled me this week. He's got stolen designs to contend with, yet he made time to call Liam into his office to tell him to honor his commitment to Steffy? Even usually clueless Liam couldn't understand why Ridge was covering that ground again! It was so out of left field. But Brooke questioning whether Liam should stay with Steffy "even if he's still in love with Hope" was spot-on. If only other stuff she said was as much!
I liked that Brooke told Thomas she couldn't support "his relationship" with Hope (what relationship? Two dates and a few kisses?). But I wish it hadn't been solely because she felt her daughter belonged with Liam. How about saying, "Because I don't want my daughter with her stepbrother!" But such logic seems scarce in the Bell world these days. Also strange was Brooke's reaction when Hope admitted she'd kissed Liam at Thanksgiving. Her look said, "Good for you! That's how we rep Logan!" Given the obvious connection between Liam and Hope, I don't think Hope should give up, either, but she should let it happen organically, and Brooke should counsel Hope from her own experience that kissing married men -- regardless of the circumstances of that marriage -- isn't a good idea.
Then there was the speculation that Steffy's marriage might implode over the residual attraction between her and Bill. Now, that's certainly a factor in all this. "I don't want Liam to get hurt," Hope told Brooke -- but it seemed odd that they weren't concerned how a Bill/Steffy thing would impact Katie. Somehow I don't think Katie would appreciate her sister and niece hoping for her marriage to tank so Hope can be with Liam!
And Katie had her hands full, didn't she, dealing with the Mexican holiday vacation Bill dreamed up without anyone's approval. Dumbed-down Liam would think his Dad just wanted it to be a surprise. But, when Katie called Liam out for still having feelings for Hope, he made the most sense he has in months, saying he was influenced by Thomas admonishing him to let go of Hope because he was hurting her. Could Liam be staying with Steffy, even after her lies, as a way of falling on the knife for Hope? Of course, as Katie pointed out, there's still chemistry with "Still." "We're not doing anyone any favors by ignoring it," she warned.
Justin certainly didn't! Whoo-hoo! Good for him for telling Bill what time it was. It wasn't just another business deal, Justin said, or something Bill could put in a box. Since it got Justin kicked out of Bill's office, you know it was true. Only what's with Justin -- and Donna, for that matter -- going on the prowl so soon after announcing the divorce? No grass growing under their feet, eh? And it doesn't speak well of whatever relationship they had. But I digress.
I can't quite figure out where Steffy's head is at. When Bill described "the perfect romantic getaway...for the four of us," even she wasn't buying it! Yet she went toe-to-toe with Katie, pleading with her to believe she regretted her involvement with Bill. Hell, she even owned how aggressive she'd been going after Bill -- and Liam. Katie, like me, almost believed it, but just couldn't. "I will never accept a woman who had an affair with my husband," she scowled. These gals really need a no-holds-barred, old-school catfight. But I guess we'll just have to settle for Steffy warning Katie that Bill won't take much more nagging. Someone send them Dynasty on DVD for Christmas. Please?
Liam really is becoming the new Ridge. A year ago, Ridge said he'd end his marriage to Brooke if she crossed the line with Thomas. Now, in the same office, Liam said he'd do likewise with Steffy if she crossed it with Bill. From the looks of it, Liam will make good on that waffle sometime soon, because what Bill was thinkin' about his daughter-in-law was enough to melt the North Pole! (Dearest Scoopers, you may take from that what you like. Insert emoticon here.)
Meanwhile, at Forrester, the hunt was on for that dastardly design-stealer! Do any of you wonder why no one's questioning Oliver? He's innocent, of course, but Amber was able to steal last year because of him, and I didn't forget that Pam snapped these sketches with a phone identical to Oliver's. Or that Rick stole designs the time before that. Poor Jacob Young -- he finally makes it into the credits and no story for him. Epic fail!
Jackie held her ground when confronted by Stephanie, but with Eric she crumbled. Turned out she stole his designs because she loved him! She did? The only reason I'm not going to take this suddenness to task is because of the way Lesley-Anne Down knocked this scene out of the park. Yes, now we're to believe that Jackie still loved Eric while madly in love with Owen. And that Jackie betrayed Eric because he chose to work things out with Stephanie. But somehow the motivation made perfect sense. And you really felt the depth of Jackie's emotion. "Yes, I'm admitting it! What are you going to do, have me arrested and throw away the key?" she blurted out, sipping champagne all the while. (Now here's someone who watched Dynasty.)
Despite the missed beats and plot holes that led up to this, I'm sorry now, because it pretty well ruins any future Eric/Jackie canoodling, doesn't it? And Jackie was right -- Eric and Stephanie resolved what amounted to a major issue way too quickly. Of course, Jackie won't go to jail. Neither will Pam -- you know it's true. But how about Miss Pammie getting a conscience when Beverly was accused of her crime? Weird, though, Pam asking Jackie "Am I going to prison?" Just moments before, she wanted to call the cops herself! Not that it matters. Donna will be toast when Pam finds her with "her" sailor...either way, Pam's going to end up behind lemon bars! (Sorry; couldn't resist that one.)
Beverly got it from all sides, especially from an unusually mean-spirited Hope (guess she had to take that Liam angst out on someone!). At first I found Beverly's self-pitying "stuff like this always happens to me" attitude annoying. But didn't she fire back at her accusers! I laughed when Pam said Beverly "brought this enthusiasm" -- I didn't see any! -- so it was nice that Beverly drummed up some spunk. I just don't get how she was allowed to walk out of Forrester. She was being accused of a crime, and bolting just made her look guilty. Plus there was little merit to the Forresters' claim that they couldn't hold her because they didn't have any proof.
Still, Beverly needed to run so Stephanie and Hope could follow her into our latest social issue story. Last year, it was a scarf. Now it was Beverly on a bus, with Dayzee in tow. (Those are real L.A. buses -- used to ride them myself when I lived there!) Their conversation was mixed. In some ways, it felt heavy-handed and statistical. But there were genuinely crackling moments as Beverly popped off about being pegged an illegal alien while Dayzee rode around in a new car! You know what? This location shoot was a thousand times better than Aspen, because the story and emotions wrapped up in it were real.
Who didn't love Stephanie stepping in front of the bus to make it stop? Isn't that just what she'd do? (That's probably the closest La Forrester has ever been to a bus in her life!) This led us to the home for aged-out foster kids, where more facts and figures ensued. Then, Stephanie and Hope were invited in...and suddenly we dropped out of the show's fictional format, broke the fourth wall, and heard Susan Flannery's announcement that we were about to hear real stories from real foster kids. In the middle of an episode. Huh?
At least Wednesday's episode picking up with a similar voice-over was more logical. And I think hearing what these young men and women endured -- and how they're triumphing over those adversities -- was most definitely uplifting. I just question the presentation. It's supposed to be cinema verité, yet Susan Flannery still introduces herself as Stephanie? Cavity-inducing music? Slow-motion hugs and montages? I thought Oprah went off the air!
Yes, parts of this well-meaning sequence rang false, not helped by Brad Bell obviously bucking to win another Emmy. He left his homeless storyline to rot all year, then suddenly jumps in with a "special episode"? I'm sorry, but that's pretty transparent to me. The reason B&B's 1991 homeless story was such a knock-out was because we got to live Stephanie's experience on the streets right along with her. We felt her pain, her confusion -- and when we were presented with the harsh realities she was up against, it didn't feel like bulleted points being read out of a brochure. If B&B really wanted to make an impact with a story about the foster care system, why not spend some time on it so we don't forget about it as soon as the soap characters do?
That said, what I did think was Emmy-worthy was Stephanie sitting Beverly down and getting real about her own childhood. In those days, she said, what we consider child abuse was called discipline. She told Beverly how she got pregnant because she knew she couldn't have a child out of wedlock and getting married was a way out of her father's house. Score! Not only did Stephanie peek out from behind that hard shell of hers to let Beverly know she'd also suffered, but it brought the whole show full circle! Everything we've seen the last 25 years was because of that decision! Blew. Me. Away.
Okay, Stephanie skipped over being pregnant by Massimo yet marrying Eric. So what! This is what I'm talking about -- Stephanie's admission made all the points it wanted to make about abuse, but did it within the context of character, of history, and of emotion. That one speech could win an Emmy next year, and I'd cheer it. I'm glad Ricardo and all the others got to tell their stories; it's just that it's hard for an audience to care about strangers in a special episode. Dovetailing these messages into the history of a character many of us have followed for a quarter century? Now, that's special. And, Lord, did I care. That one's going to sit with me for weeks. Why can't B&B always be that good?
The year's almost over and I'm about to have a whole lot of opinions. But first: yours! (And if you have more of your own, send them to me.)
• "It is official: Brooke is the same opportunist she has always been. She is hoping her sister's life is derailed in order to have Liam and Hope back together...[Katie] running to her big sister and trying to destroy Steffy's marriage has stamped an expiration date on her union." -- Li
• "You are dead on about a few things but off about the bottom line. The Logan women have not only [wreaked havoc on] the Forresters' lives but one another's as well...I suggest remembering all the story lines, not the ones in the past couple of years, because the Logan women have no room to judge Steffy..." -- Mary
• "This show is just plain nasty and gross. Liam is just as dumb as a bag of rocks...Bill must have amnesia; he forgot Steffy is a liar, a cheat, a blackmailer, a stalker, a man chaser and she cheats in business. Makes zero sense that Bill would want her for herself, his son or his business..." -- moemoe321
"What do we know about her?" Brooke said of Beverly. "Just what [Stephanie] told us!" What, Forrester doesn't do background checks on their interns?... Both Brooke and Jackie pointed out that Beverly couldn't have stolen the designs: "No one can turn out a collection overnight." Ha! Forrester and Jackie M do that all the time!... Why would Pam call Nick from her work phone while said workplace hunts for the perpetrator of a crime she committed?... "Orders are piling in!" Jackie boasted. Really? Assuming Forrester alerted the press to their thieving, any Jackie M couture should be poison...
Wasn't that a great moment when Stephanie turned her back to the elevator, and it opened with Pam inside? Truly suspenseful... Also, there was a real poignancy to Eric suggesting he'd designed his last collection. But since when does the forthright Nick enjoy stealing and making knockoffs? "It worked for Sally," Jackie said. Are you kidding? La Spectra always got snagged!
"Dayzee vouched for you," Stephanie told Beverly. "That should have been enough," Dayzee countered. Oh, snap! And while having Kristolyn Lloyd sing "True Colors" was a little hammy, dig that voice! Dayzee and Amber should cut an album together... Hmm, Oliver and Hope in heavy conversation. Planning to revisit that pairing? Although anyone would be better than Thomas... "You look beautiful," Liam told Hope. Not bad considering she'd been running around Whittier all day!... Best exchange of the week? Steffy: "I am not some kind of home-wrecker." Katie: "Well, that's debatable."
What's not debatable is that the time has come for Soap Central to hand out shiny gifts or lumps of coal in the form Best and Worst coverage for 2011. As Team B&B, Allison and I will first weigh in on Soap Central Live's "Best Of" segment December 23. On December 26, Allison will further call it like she sees it right here in her own Best & Worst column. Then, on December 30, we return to Soap Central Live for the "Worst Of" installment -- and Scoopers, you ain't gonna wanna miss that!
But wait -- there's more! I'll return with my next column January 2, 2012, with a Best & Worst column you won't believe. And then, January 16, I'll kick in with how I think B&B can be fixed, with tons of suggestions. You may love 'em, you may hate 'em. But you're sure going to want to read 'em!
I want to wish all my Scoopers the very merriest of Christmases, and a bold and beautiful 2012. I really appreciate the support, and it's good to know that my humble efforts every two weeks are read by so many. It's been a tough year for soaps, between the AMC/OLTL merry-go-round of cancellations and resurrections, and the issues with our own soap. But if Christmas is a time for miracles, then let's imagine one for daytime, including the 25th anniversary year of B&B being their best ever! Keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!