Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you earn the world record for the most weddings to one guy in one year? Did you attempt to audition for Easy Rider? Did you have to start picturing The Bold and the Beautiful without Ridge Forrester? These and more situations faced the Forresters -- and us! -- this week!
Hello, Scoopers! Like a soap character come back from the dead, I have finally returned to delve into all things bold and beautiful. I was away for a few weeks, dealing with a soap opera of my own (25th high school reunion, Emmy-worthy family business), so I didn't catch much in the way of televised soaps in that time. But lo! I return to B&B, and what do I see? Hope planning another wedding, Steffy trying to talk Liam out of marrying Hope, and every other character weighing in on the above. Are we sure this isn't 2011?
Seriously...last week marked a full year since Steffy hit her head in the bathtub and B&B began this ridiculous odyssey into which girl Liam should end up with. Why can't Brad Bell get it into his head that nobody cares about this story anymore? Y&R finally ponied up and got themselves a new executive producer and head writer -- and the soap gods know B&B is long overdue for the same kind of overhaul. For as wonky as Y&R can be anymore, I caught half an episode on my trip, and it was far better than anything B&B has offered us in the past year.
The current "drama" (and I use the term loosely) is predicated on the fact that Hope and Liam's Italian wedding was invalid. Oh, please! Like Brooke wouldn't have checked into the legalities as she was doing all her Puglia planning? Was Thorne and Macy's Italian wedding declared invalid once they returned to L.A.? I think not. Here I finally thought we might be done with the Never-Ending Story, only to find out there may honestly be no end in sight.
How many scenes did we see last September and October with Steffy spelling out all the reasons Liam shouldn't choose Hope? Now we're treated to more of the same, except now Steffy rides a motorcycle and DJs at clubs. And her message is, "Marriage equals a lack of freedom." Really? She wasn't preaching that gospel when she was Liam's Wife of the Moment. And what was up with Steffy being all chummy with Othello, whom we've only known as a skateboarder that worked with Rick and Hope against Steffy? I guess Madonna was right: music does make the people come together.
Pam was all butt-hurt that Stephanie doesn't tell her anything anymore. What does she expect? Pam only stole Forrester designs and by rights should be cooling her lemon bars in jail. And now we're supposed to believe that the woman who helped arrange Steffy's "HO for the Future" sabotage two years ago is on board to be Hope's wedding planner? Would you let Auntie Pam prepare your nuptials after that? And what, is Brooke so tired from speed-planning Hope's last two weddings that she's letting Pam take a turn at it?
Even Queen Stephanie, who should be ruling the storyline roost, was used to prop up the Leffy/Lope silliness. Cough, cough, Hope helps Stephanie through an episode, all so Liam can childishly think Hope stood him up and return the favor by not showing up at Wedding #4. I wish I could join R.J. at camp, because B&B has become absolutely unwatchable. It's not Hope's wedding that needs a do-over. It's the entire show.
Seems both Allison and I have come to feel that B&B would benefit from writing off the last year as someone's dream, though we've concocted different ways of arriving at it. But here's how you do-over B&B: you get Hope and Steffy to realize that they are above being mere pawns in Liam's I-don't-know-who-I-want-to-be-with game, and have them blast Liam with both barrels. Let them unquestionably and finally turn their backs on the twit. And then walk away.
That would be some drama. Which this show is in desperate need of. Kick Liam to the curb and then stick a fork in him, 'cuz he's done. Seriously: no offense to Scott Clifton, but I want Liam off my screen. Permanently. He's played out, and B&B has done a thorough job of ruining him.
The only interesting thing that happened this week was Katie wondering how Deacon happened to show up at Hope's Italian wedding. Only took two months to get around to that, but okay. Not that it matters, because even when Katie finds out that Bill was behind it, she'll just slap him on the hand again. Meanwhile, we brought Danielle in for two seconds so she could ooh and aah over Thomas and Caroline. Unfortunately, none of these folks are on long enough for us to truly invest in what happens to them, so, when they do appear, we're hard-pressed to care.
I hate to be so hard on the show, I really do. But if absence didn't make my heart grow fonder, it made it grow smarter. Coming back after weeks away just made me realize that B&B is in some really serious trouble. Their contract with CBS/Sony is up for renewal next year, if memory serves. What do you think the chances are B&B will last through 2013 if they continue at this pace? And if all the viewer backlash against Leffy/Lope isn't enough of an indicator, last week the message came in loud and clear, because Ronn Moss is leaving the show after 25 years.
I can't even begin to get my head around this. Many of you love Ridge, many of you hate him, many of you have less than favorable opinions about Ronn Moss and his performances. But there's one fact of B&B life that is absolutely undeniable: Ridge Forrester is B&B. He's been there since Day Freakin' One. Through all the Forrester intrigue, merry-go-round romances, and family rivalries, Ridge has been front and center -- yes, sometimes to the detriment of other characters, but his presence was as sure as the sun rising in the east.
Now, barring a dramatic behind-the-scenes change, we will be forced to bid adieu to the chiseled designer September 14. Ronn Moss filmed his final scene this week! Final scene? It's like finding out the moon is a marshmallow or that Michael Jackson is really hiding out on a deserted island with Bubbles!
On the one hand, it shouldn't be all that surprising. Ronn Moss isn't the first veteran soap actor to hang up his plot twists and move on. The guy's been on the show a quarter century. He's certainly entitled to do other things with his life and career, isn't he? Yes, Scoopers, that he is. It's just that I don't think that's the only thing behind this sudden inexplicable departure.
When the story first broke, Entertainment Weekly cited "salary issues" as the reason Ronn Moss was leaving the show. That appears to be unverified, or at least unconfirmed, but how much do you want to bet that's the case? Let's face it: when you learn of shocking exits by soap actors, is it the newbies leaving that has fans doing double takes? Nope. It's always the veterans. And let's face something else: soaps' younger actors work for less than the veterans. Soaps are are having to function under tighter and tighter budgets. So why pay a veteran when you can have two newbies work in his place?
"But Mike," you say. "Soaps are generally for the young, and soaps need to grab that 18-34 demographic." Sure, there's truth to that. But to the rest of it I say bullshoids. What gives soaps real depth and consistency is the veterans. And what's more comforting in the uncertainty of real life than to see the same guy on your screen for 25 years, having "lived" his trials and tribulations right along with him? You can't get that from the Liams and the Hopes and the Steffys. Maybe that doesn't have any resonance to the 18-34 crowd. But you know what? People over 34 do watch soaps. And no soap should pander to any one demographic -- which B&B has been heinously guilty of doing these last few years.
So, B&B probably offered to renew Ronn Moss's contract with a significant pay cut, and Ronn probably told them they'd have to sing him "Baby Come Back" first. That being said, could this be another Eric Braeden or Melody Thomas Scott situation? Even though Victor and Nikki weren't original characters like Ridge is, could anyone imagine Y&R without that tortured duo? No. Were Mr. Braeden and Ms. Scott asked to take a pay cut? Yes. Were deals eventually reached to keep them on Y&R's canvas? Yes. Will a similar deal be made to keep Ridge designing at Forrester? Who knows.
But, while money is undoubtedly an issue, I have to wonder if something else influenced Ronn Moss's decision to book. The guy hardly gets any screen time. When have you seen him with his own story this year, aside from the quickie olive garden engagement in Italy? You haven't. He's a veteran, but he's been there solely to prop up Leffy/Lope. Just like everyone else has. Wouldn't any actor worth his salt say "enough is enough" to that?
Yeah, call it ego, call it biting the hand that feeds you, but B&B has lost its touch and all sense of balance. I personally wouldn't blame Ronn Moss for considering that the last straw, as I wouldn't blame Susan Flannery and John McCook and Winsor Harmon and Hunter Tylo. It's like, "You want to turn this into The Hope, Liam, and Steffy Show? Fine. Then you do it without us!" I find myself wishing B&B's veterans would stage that kind of intervention on Brad Bell. But the man's got his head so far up the lower intestines of Leffy/Lope, I doubt he would even notice they were gone.
So, barring any last-minute saves, the next questions are these: how is B&B going to write Ridge off, and how is B&B going to continue without him? Bridge is the endgame couple on this show, and everyone knows it. We got Bridge past the berries and got them back on track with the olives. Are we going to get the wedding to end all weddings? And even so, what happens then? They can't just have Ridge hide out at Forrester International like they've done with Rick and Steffy and Marcus and everyone else including the freakin' janitor. Heaven forfend, will they kill off Ridge Forrester -- for real this time? (Brad Bell says no. Keep reading to find out how I know.)
If B&B were smart, they would cut some of these newbies loose and use the money to negotiate a fair deal, which they and Ronn Moss can compromise on. Spotlight the remaining newbies, but not at the expense of the veterans. And spotlight the veterans, but not at the expense of the other veterans. Imagine what great soap it would be to give Ridge and Thorne a story together -- something they've never had. Is Ronn Moss not worth getting rid of Liam? Scott Clifton's too good for that role anymore, anyway.
In the meantime, Ridge is reduced to designing another dress for another one of Hope's next-day weddings. (Can you blame Ronn Moss for abandoning ship?) And now Rick will scheme to get Caroline for himself by encouraging Thomas to go after Hope. Eww! Like we needed a do-over of that storyline! It makes me want to go out and dye my hair red and black. Oh, wait -- Liam's already doing that. Even though there's absolutely nothing that could give this story a makeover. Somebody shoot this horse and put it out of its misery!
I'll be back next week, too, during which time I'm going to talk about my favorite Ridge Forrester moments. It might be fun to hear about yours! Have you always hated Ridge? Write about that, too! How do you feel about Ronn Moss's departure, and how do you think it will impact the future of B&B? Start posting your comments now, and I will do my best to include them in next week's column. In the meantime, you guys have had a lot to say on other topics, and here's a cross-section of those comments!
• "I feel like the writers...are not listening to the viewers...[Leffy/Lope] needs to end already..." -- Nik
• "[Leffy/Lope] has gone on way too long! Give the fans who have kept you on the air something to look forward to! I've giving it one more week. That's it!" -- Beth
• "Who is writing this junk, anyway?...I'm sure that a lot of folks are tired of this back and forth repetitive crap!" -- Cathy
• "No wonder Ronn Moss is quitting. From main role to father role [to] barely a role..." -- Eleanor
• "I have had it watching the 'love triangle'!...Checking out of this soap! Enough already!" -- Michele
• "B&B has the worst stories on daytime TV..." -- Patsy
• "It seems B&B writers can't come up with any new stories so they keep rehashing this one over and over and over...And they fired the head writer from Y&R? Come on now. These writers are the ones that should be fired!" -- Dorothy
• "Get rid of [the Leffy/Lope] storyline. You can't afford to lose any viewers! -- Mary
• "It must make the actors cringe to play their parts when they're written as such tools." -- Deborah
• "OMG, what is going on with B&B? I can't believe that Mr. Bell cannot see that [Leffy/Lope] is nauseating. How many times do we have to go through the same storyline?" -- Tameka
I was going to end this column with a dire warning on what Ronn Moss's' departure really signifies: the beginning of the end of B&B. But, as I was writing that, Soap Central delivered a one-two bit of breaking news. First, Katherine Kelly Lang has opted to sign on for another two years. Big heavy sigh of relief on that one. Half of the Core Four out would have really meant trouble!
The second and very interesting plot twist in this real-life drama is that the Soap Central article reports TV Guide interviewing Brad Bell regarding Ronn Moss's departure and the future of B&B. I'm happy to see TV Guide didn't pull any punches on the reasons behind Ronn's adios and the prevalence of Leffy/Lope on our screens. But there's a strange bit of intrigue in the otherwise bleak landscape: Brooke is to get "an important new man," supposedly with an eye toward taking Brooke in some new directions. And details surrounding Ridge's exit are heavily hinted at (he's not being killed off.) Read the Soap Central article, which includes a link to the interview with Brad. You wanna talk scoop!
This is causing me to end my column with a spark of hope I wouldn't have thought possible an hour ago. Could it mean the drama might finally focus on someone -- anyone -- over 25? And, who is this "new man?" Is it Jon Hensley's Dr. Meade, who, as another member of soap royalty, deserves to get more than five seconds on air at a time? Will we actually have reason to rejoice in this eleventh-hour reboot? And most importantly, will I still be able to sincerely say "keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold"? See you all next week!