This is May sweeps?

by Mike
For the Week of May 24, 2010
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B&B Two Scoops: This is May sweeps?
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Oliver and Hope are actually cute together. It's nice to see our sex-filled soaps depict someone who would rather wait for her first encounter.

Has your week been bold and beautiful? Were you relieved to find out you were going to be a father instead of a grandfather? Were the birds and bees flying around you, with one ready to sting? Did you become the most watched TV show in the world? These and more situations faced the Forresters et al this week!

Just a quick shout-out to B&B in general -- as recently reported on Soap Central, The Guinness World Book of Records declared the show the most popular daytime soap worldwide. With soaps on the chopping block these days, it's good to see declarations like this countering the doom and gloom. Congrats, B&B!

At the end of my last column, I said "this here is May Sweeps, and I expect there will be a fair amount of you-know-what hitting the fan before Memorial Day." Um...I'm still waiting for it. Sweeps is supposed to be a time of revelations and plot twists and high drama. What we got was five days of Steffy throwing herself at Oliver -- a frothy teenybopper storyline, the likes of which are usually saved for summer because the kids are home from school and watching. I have to say I was really underwhelmed with the show this week.

I won't go into the blow-by-blow of this storyline. Suffice it to say Oliver is with Hope Logan, Steffy hates the Logans, Steffy goes after Oliver with the bizarre logic that getting Hope out of the way will somehow prompt Brooke to leave. Huh? Oliver and Brooke are on to it and don't buy it, and even Stephanie is scratching her head. The only anti-Logan ammunition Steffy had was the video of Bridget and Owen having sex, but it seems to have been dropped. That bomb's pretty well defused, as we'll get to later...

For all of Steffy's machinations -- sabotaging the "Hope for the Future" campaign (which in a real company would have gotten her fired period, not just pulled off the line), snuggling up to Oliver, pressuring Hope to keep him with sex -- her whole rationale just doesn't hold water. Much has been made of Steffy being so hurt by Ridge's abandonment that she's now lashing out. Sure, Ridge's constant waffling between Brooke and Taylor over the years was bound to cause damage. But it's not like Ridge wasn't there for her at all. And of course the death of her "twin" sister Phoebe (quotes because they were identical when introduced, and fraternal later on -- lame!) was going to leave a scar. But what does Hope have to do with that, or Brooke? The reason this storyline doesn't work is because Steffy's anger is completely misdirected.

You know who should really be bearing the brunt of Steffy's vendetta? Rick. For so many reasons. Rick went after Steffy's father for much the same reason Steffy is going after Rick's mother now. Rick was indirectly responsible for Phoebe's death -- if only because she jumped in his car to confront him for being involved with Taylor and whaled on him until he lost control of the wheel. But, most importantly, by Rick's own admission this week, "I hurt [Steffy] and made her suffer." Bringing Rick into the fray was brilliant, because it's what this storyline really needs: Rick used Steffy, and it would explain Steffy's anti-Logan attitude far better than what we're being fed now. Steffy only turned into a vixen after her disastrous relationship with Rick, so it would make a world of sense for her to be going after Brooke and Hope and everything else Logan because they're related to Rick, and not because of Steffy's supposed Daddy issues. Otherwise, she's just coming off like a 5-year-old crying because her sister got a slightly bigger piece of cake. And it would give Rick the comeuppance he never really got.

I will admit that the Steffython this week had some interesting facets. Brooke begging Taylor to join her as a role model and end the feud was inspired. Which brings up another point -- the reason the much-overplayed Brooke/Taylor feud succeeded was because they were two women in love with Ridge -- who in turn struggled because he loved both of them. And they were all established characters when the feud started. Steffy/Oliver/Hope doesn't work because they're all relative newbies -- we haven't had time to invest in them, and it's a one-sided triangle because Oliver clearly wants to be with Hope. But I digress. Taylor ultimately didn't respond to Brooke's olive branch one way or another (a missed opportunity if I ever saw one), but they had a real reason to feud, whereas Steffy doesn't. Even Ridge doesn't want the feud to carry to the next generation. He was right to call Steffy out and tell her to stay away from Oliver. "This is not how we raised you" -- good to see him being a responsible parent for a change!

Of course, Brooke's lectures about sex this week were bound to raise some eyebrows. Brooke's many on-line detractors railed at her hypocrisy, and Taylor and Stephanie also took issue with Brooke's claim that Steffy is using her sexuality to get what she wants -- not to mention her insistence that Hope wait to lose her virginity. How dare she, when Brooke used her own sexuality! Point taken. But can anyone really argue that Brooke isn't in the right here? I think what would have helped is if B&B had taken it one step further and had Brooke admit that she was wrong to use her sexuality the way she did over the years, and that because she made such mistakes, she doesn't want to see Steffy and Hope make them, too. That would have added some real depth to the scene -- and maybe smoothed the ruffled feathers of the anti-Brooke brigade. Brooke will probably never be able to live down her misdeeds -- having Deacon's child especially -- but it would be nice to see her say she's seen the error of her ways and learned from them in a permanent way. At least B&B hinted at it, but that's a symptom of a much larger issue: the show doesn't dig nearly as deeply as it can -- and should.

Oliver and Hope are actually cute together. Many are already calling Hope a ho (how can a virgin who's putting off sex be a ho?), but it's nice to see our sex-filled soaps depict someone who would rather wait for her first encounter. Her "sexless" date with Oliver -- the zoo, the movies, the museum -- sounded like a weird idea at first, but it actually became amusing when they were confronted with sexuality at all these seemingly innocent venues. The only thing that bothers me is that Oliver says he's 100% into Hope -- yet he didn't pull away nearly fast enough when Steffy had her lingerie-clad tongue down his throat. Makes one wonder, does it not?

So, now everyone -- Taylor, Brooke, Ridge, Stephanie, Hope, Oliver, and Whip (who's not married two months and already relegated to the sidelines; sigh) -- seems to notice that Steffy is out of control. How long before someone does something about it? Because surely this storyline can't go on much longer. For a show that now races through plot (as compared to the good old days when they took their time to build suspense and hook the audience in), they're sure dragging this one out. And, to my knowledge, only Ridge and Brooke know that Steffy likewise used her sexuality to get Forrester back -- when will the others find out? Also, Rick declared that Steffy can be trouble -- how would he know? She didn't start causing it until after she split up with him.

The one thing Steffy is right about -- and Lord, let it happen -- is that Forrester needs a fashion show. Like, yah! One with real models, not company executives. I was confused -- if Steffy's the spokesmodel for the Brooke's Bedroom line, why were the other models there? Likewise, if actual models are being used, why is Steffy the spokesmodel? (I'm glad at least Ridge was skeeved out seeing her in her skivvies -- the only normal reaction from the Forresters so far!) At Jackie M, we've seen three Cabana Boy shoots now -- and not a single fashion show. I know how tight the budgets are for the soaps these days, and they're doing their best to work with what they've got. But a soap in the fashion industry without fashion shows is like a soap at the Hershey company without chocolate! So I hope this fashion show Steffy proposed actually hits the runway. Note to B&B -- maybe if you dumped off some of your peripheral characters, you could afford twice-a-year fashion shows again? I'm just sayin'.

Then there's the matter of Stephen. It was kind of odd: we don't see him all week, not 'til mid-episode on Friday -- and suddenly he's the Friday cliffhanger? And a questionable one at that. Of course Stephen is still grief-stricken over losing Beth (more than her children seem to be!), but does that constitute his wandering around in a daze? And didn't it look more to you like Patrick Duffy (or his stunt double, anyway), threw himself into the car rather than being "hit" by it? The whole thing was just really out of nowhere. However, I hear tell that Pam's about to find herself in Stephen's orbit -- and hey, if it gives her something else to do besides cackle about getting rid of the Logans, I'm down. And since Stephen is a Logan...well, it's intriguing. As is word that Sheila's old cohort, Mike Guthrie (the awesome Ken Hanes, who we haven't seen since Sheila's 1998 departure), will return to stir up trouble with Stephen. I'm very curious to see what happens with that.

As it turns out, the only plot development worthy enough to brand itself "May Sweeps" was Bridget blurting out to Owen that he's the father of her baby and not Nick! I suppose it was inevitable, anyway -- Bridget might as well have had "Owen's the father" tattooed on her forehead these days, and Jackie was right to point out the tension is poison to the baby. Not that it stopped Jackie from insisting Bridget continue the deception! But seriously -- "Cowabunga?" I know Owen's a surfer, but I'm sure fans around the world agreed with Bridget when she said "Did you really just say that?" Also, Owen's waaaaaaay too happy about being the father. It's suspect. As are Bridget's constant flashbacks to, um, riding Owen's wave. I've been saying that Bridget and Owen have some unfinished business from their flirtation last year, as evidenced by the fact that they're way too cool about having a baby together when they're married to other people. Should be interesting when Owen and Jackie have that chat about the secrets they've been keeping from each other.

So now, Nick is literally the last one to know. There aren't a lot of places this story can go anymore -- I was kind of hoping they'd build things up 'til November (assuming Bridget carries to term -- and delivers according to the real calendar). Now it's only a question of who Nick will find out from. As I implied before, what was the point of having Oliver shoot that sex video? If Steffy really wanted to get at Brooke, now would be the time to show Bridget's indiscretion to Nick -- as it is, it won't have nearly as much impact now that Jackie already knows. As does Aggie. Quelle surprise, she was ready and able to go to New York with Nick in...well...a New York minute. Will she take a bite of the Big Apple? (Sorry.) A little contrived, too, that Bridget decided she didn't want to go on the business trip -- um, she's Jackie M's designer (especially since Clarke has apparently been stashed in the storage closet); she's obligated to go. Now, if more had been made of her not being able to go because she was afraid the trip would endanger the baby, that would have made more sense. Will Aggie take advantage of the situation? And, if she does, how?

I've previously mentioned that, if these Marone-Knight marriages disintegrate, I'd like to see Jackie get with Eric. But since I'm in writing mode not only with this column, but due to one of my own projects, I'm in the mood to blue-sky some B&B storylines of my own. Most of you already know that Amber is on her way back to L.A. Since Steffy's determined to get rid of the Logans, and Bill is determined to put the screws to the Forresters through Donna, why not instead have Bill put his considerable resources into say, Logan Designs? Brooke, Donna, Katie, Rick, and Bill (and even Bridget!) could run it with Amber as their designer (remember, she designed for Forrester back in the day) and give Forrester a serious run for their money! If we have to have a Forrester/Logan feud for the new generation, let's give it some bite instead of some penny-ante teen triangle -- something that would have Steffy ruing the day she started things up. It would also give Thorne a reason to be more prominent at Forrester (unless he was so fed up with being the low man that he defected to Logan like he did to Spectra, which was one of the best storylines he ever had).

And really, the Spectras have been around almost as long as the Forresters and Logans -- Clarke and CJ really need to take their rightful place in a big way. (Sally would want that.) Dump all these newbies and let's get back to the show's roots! I could pretty well live with losing Nick -- except we have to keep Jackie around for Eric [grin], and I wish there was some way to bring back Massimo for Stephanie. He's the only man Stephanie was involved with that could match her strong personality; if she reunites with Eric, she'll be calling him a wuss again in the better part of a week. Been there, done that.

Finally, I hear Scott Clifton (formerly Dillon on GH; more recently Schuyler on OLTL) has been cast and will start appearing in the summer. I've always found him a very affecting actor, so I don't necessarily mind this addition. But I think now, more than ever, B&B has too many characters, and some pruning really is urgent. What will they have Scott Clifton doing? I've heard rumblings that he may be an aged "Little D" (Eric Forrester III -- Becky's child with Deacon that Amber raised for a while). For my part, I hope not. It's already going to be tricky enough putting Amber back on the canvas when characters who weren't even born during her initial run are now 20-somethings -- can you really see Adrienne Frantz as the mother of a 25-year-old? I've also been hearing that Deacon might return, especially since Hope's aged presence has caused his name to be mentioned a lot. Alas, Y&R really messed up the characters of both Deacon and Amber (he was riff-raff, but never a criminal, and I never bought her running around with the teen set when she clearly had 10 years on them, plus, she had reformed from her conniving ways before leaving B&B). It would take some careful maneuvering to get these characters on the right track.

It does seem to be a lackluster time for B&B, but I know they have the stuff to create some sock-'em storylines that burst with history and resonance -- they're not the world's most watched show for nothing. Brad Bell, if you're reading this, check out some of your old episodes on YouTube and you'll see what I'm talking about. Until then, we've got guest star Daddy Yankee coming (who?) and an apparently devastating storyline for the teenyboppers in his wake. I'll let you know what I think of it in my next column (anything's better than putting Pam and Donna on The Price Is Right!). In the meantime, you may have some storyline ideas of your own -- what do you think would be fresh and exciting? Have your say on the Soap Central message boards, or send me your thoughts about what you'd like to see on B&B. Until then, you know I'm gonna say it: keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!

Mike (Adam-Michael James)
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