Karma chameleon

by Mike
For the Week of August 2, 2010
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B&B Two Scoops: Karma chameleon
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Is Owen really running around town with his shirt open? If there's ever a time when soaps can get away with gratuitous skin, it's summer, but let's at least make the scenarios reasonable.

Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you tell your girlfriend, "I know you'll miss me blind?" Did you ask your mother, "Do you really want to hurt me?" Did you tell your nemesis, "I'll tumble 4 ya?" These and more situations faced the Forresters et al this week!

Well, it's pretty much about one storyline right now -- and one that's so multifaceted that it'll take both of these Two Scoops to get it sorted out. Are you ready? Good! But first, let's yap about the very few peripheral items there are to yap about!

So Owen comes to Bridget's place offering ice cream. Literally, that's sweet. But is this man really running around town with his shirt open? If there's ever a time soaps can get away with gratuitous skin, it's summer, but let's at least make the scenarios reasonable. Hey, at least he didn't say "Cowabunga" again when he felt Bridget's baby kick. Maybe it's something in Jackie M's coffee, because fellow staffer Aggie made sure to interrupt brother Oliver's heartache over Hope to mention that she'd "opened herself up" to Nick. (Surely B&B could have found a different way to phrase that!) Didn't the timing of that admission seem out of place and even selfish? Aggie's so proud to have finally bagged Nick that she can't see his boat should be named The Rebound. And isn't it interesting that Scott Clifton (Liam) is already listed in the opening credits? And before Amber, at that!

But who cares about such trivia when the big show in town is the latest scandal at Forrester Creations? Is it just me, or did the fallout from the Brooke/Oliver reveal seem like it didn't pack the emotional wallop it should have? Maybe it's because it's essentially a Sweeps story being told in the middle of the summer, but it felt like everyone was simply going through the motions. There was something missing from it...a certain intensity. Still, it opened up some interesting story possibilities, to say nothing of some intriguing character reactions.

At the flashpoint of all this is, of course, Steffy. I know she didn't anti-Brooke the Brooke tribute, but I have to say it's about time Steffy's treachery bounced back on her. Sure, I almost feel sorry for her being in this "Forrester Who Cried Wolf" position. But it's not like karma wasn't overdue to bite her in her designer-clad butt. Should Ridge believe her claims of innocence simply because she's his daughter? Ordinarily I'd say yes, but look at Steffy's track record. "I would never embarrass you or the company!" she told Ridge. Didn't her "HO Logan" prank do exactly that? "I would never lie to you, Dad!" Isn't that exactly what she was doing while plotting against Hope, Brooke, and Oliver -- and let's not forget trying to seduce Bill to get the company back. "I would never do something public!" No? Didn't she repeatedly threaten to go public with Brooke's indiscretion? True, Steffy's not the guilty party this time, but I don't blame Ridge one bit for assuming the worst of her right now.

I'm really torn, though, because while I very much like the connection between Ridge and Brooke through this arc (love them or hate them, folks, they're the cornerstone of this show), I can also understand why Stephanie and Taylor are scratching their heads over Ridge being so quick to forgive his "Logan." Mistaken identity accident or not, Brooke still cheated; at least Ridge acknowledges her sexually charged behavior while chaperoning a party was highly inappropriate. Of course, you'd expect Stephanie to whip up a lynch mob against Brooke, and I can't say Stephanie wasn't right about some things. Ridge is assuming Steffy is guilty. Ridge should be more mad at Brooke. But who expected Taylor to grow a pair and let Ridge have it for firing Steffy? Agree with her or not, Taylor's mostly been Stephanie's lapdog of late, so Taylor's outburst was a surprisingly strong moment. Wouldn't mind seeing more of it, Taylor!

Stephanie, on the other hand...well, she's clearly loving all this, and it really diminishes a lot of the genuine care and concern she has for Hope -- especially when Stephanie's absolutely using the situation to try to get rid of Brooke for the umpteenth time. Wouldn't it have been more interesting if Stephanie had instead taken Brooke to task for not learning from her mistake with Deacon, expressing her extreme disappointment? (Long-time viewers will remember that, post-Deacon, Stephanie actually encouraged Brooke to become a better person.) That would have been a lot more effective -- and emotionally resonant -- than simply calling Brooke a whore, telling her to get out of town, and trying to get Hope to disown Brooke. B&B's so plot-driven now that they constantly miss really meaty nuances. And how many history lessons does Stephanie need? She's still convinced Brooke used sex to get into Forrester Creations when it was Eric that pursued Brooke...but I digress.

"Shocked" barely described it for me when Brooke followed Taylor's lead and got right up in Stephanie's face, telling her to leave Hope alone! Now, Brooke's held her own against Stephanie for years at this point. But I've never seen Brooke this adamant, this angry -- did anyone else see a little SHEILA in Brooke's expression? I'm positively thrilled. Stephanie does have a right to be furious with Brooke over this, but Stephanie is also back to being her bully self and I was glad to see Brooke refuse to be cast in the role of punching bag again. Especially when Stephanie's motives for helping Hope aren't entirely pure.

So, we've spent all of 2010 leading up to this defining moment for Hope -- and her portrayer, Kimberly Matula. Have they passed the dramatic test? You know, I'm not sure. Hope's confrontation scenes with Brooke and Oliver easily lend themselves to melodrama, and it would be easy to perform them just as over the top. So I would say, in terms of that, the performance was quietly understated. Still, it might have been too quiet. The scenes just weren't as forceful as I'd have liked them to be. The same goes for Oliver. I'd understood that Zack Conroy was the golden boy of latter-day GL -- yet I really didn't see much of that aplomb coming through in Oliver. Maybe these were just choices made by the actors, or perhaps it was the vision of the director. It just felt like, after all the buildup, the payoff wasn't as satisfying as it could have been with these characters most directly involved in the scandal.

One thing's for sure -- Oliver seems to be a true L.A. baby, because he repeatedly thinks that flaunting his celebrity friends is the way to get girls. First it was Daddy Yankee at Hope's graduation party (okay, so Ridge arranged most of that), now it's former "American Idol" contestant Jason Castro. Seven months into the year and B&B's dabbled in stunt casting three times already -- and with quote/unquote "celebrities" rather than A-listers. Sure, up-and-coming performers deserve exposure, too. But enough is enough. B&B should be relying on the strength of their stories and unfortunately bloated cast instead of trying to ensnare viewers with gimmicks this often. That said, Jason Castro was affable enough, his song was nice, and at least we weren't hit over the head with it the way we've been with Daddy Yankee's "Posé".

Still, did Oliver really think that getting a musician to go to bat for him was going to win Hope back? I admit it was interesting to hear Oliver's take on how he ended up sexing Brooke at the party. It, pardon the pun, fleshed things out a bit more. But I did raise an eyebrow when Oliver so quickly asked for Hope's forgiveness. Forgiving people is not the easiest thing to do -- not when they've hurt you deeply, and not when that hurt is so fresh. Hope was right to argue that Oliver should have known she'd want her first time to be loving and romantic, not up against a wall with masks on in a public place. So when Hope seemed to respond to Oliver's overtures -- even going so far as to tell him she wants candles when they finally do have their first time -- all I could say was "Whaaaaaaat?" Which made Hope getting grossed out while kissing Oliver, imagining him kissing her mother, that much more realistic. It really saved this whole part of the storyline; the instant forgiveness and moving on would have been a disservice.

I'd also wondered what the wisdom was in Hope going to Stephanie for advice -- much less at the Forrester compound, otherwise known as "the scene of the crime." Thankfully, while Hope accepted Stephanie's invitation to move into the guesthouse, Hope did have the presence of mind to realize Stephanie was only pro-Oliver because it was one more thing Stephanie could use against Brooke. And how inspired was it for Hope to seek out consolation from Bridget? Given the way this storyline was set up -- Brooke sleeping with men belonging to both her daughters -- not putting Hope and Bridget in a scene together to talk about it would have been a gross misstep. Although all the rapid aging of the characters really came to a head here (Bridget would have been 19 during the Brooke/Deacon affair; if Hope is 17 now, that makes Bridget 36 -- and Brooke about 60. Does your head hurt yet?), it was so interesting to see Ashley Jones play Bridget as an older and wiser woman who's literally been there, yet with the fire of resentment still quietly burning via subtext.

I'd like to point out one important difference between Brooke's dalliances with Deacon and Oliver. If I recall correctly, Brooke had taken Deacon to task for his poor treatment of Bridget, the passions rising from the argument apparently the reason they ended up in bed. Then, although they both tried to fight it, the affair continued. The mask-boink with Oliver isn't, at least at this point, an affair, and I don't think it's going to be. Fascinating as it is that Hope believed Brooke seduced Oliver on purpose given the history with Deacon, it's even more fascinating that Bridget, who would have the biggest right to hold a grudge, really does believe Brooke's claim of mistaken identity -- and even told Brooke she had no right to judge her based on her own "oops" pregnancy by Owen. Hey, Nick, are you listening? No right to judge! If Bridget can recognize karma, so can you, ya landlubber.

Who knew that Brooke used to hang out at the Hollywood sign? Now, I'm sure that landmark ramps up the "ooh-aah" factor for most of you. This isn't to burst anyone's bubble -- I like Hollywood magic as much as anyone -- but I lived in L.A. for 16 years, and I can tell you this: the public isn't allowed to just go up to the sign like that. Unless something's changed, there's a big fence behind the sign that keeps you out. Otherwise -- can you imagine? -- the sign would probably be full of graffiti by now. Obviously B&B was given permission to do the scene there. I just want it understood that you can't just drive up the hill and sit down there -- even if you're a Forrester! And by the by, if Ridge followed Brooke from Forrester Creations directly to the Hollywood sign, when did Brooke have time to change? Just asking.

How funny was it, though, when Ridge told Brooke he was standing in front of the biggest ho in town? Of course he was referring to the first two letters in the sign, and at first I thought it was a bit of a cruel joke given the circumstances that brought them there. But you know what? That's classic Ridge. He used to have more of that subversive sense of humor back in the day, and I appreciated seeing it again. Another nice Ridge moment was the one with Bill. With barely a word spoken between the enemies, Bill -- who ordinarily would have jumped at the chance to trash the Forresters in his publications -- agreed to help minimize the scandal instead.

That's what made Bill so compelling this week. He's back at his business best -- but with a heart. You would have thought that he would have clapped his hands with glee over the suddenly sinister Justin's manipulation of Steffy's video. You would have thought he would have found a way to turn the scandal even more to his advantage -- and agreed with Justin's rationale that Steffy had to pay for crossing Bill. Instead, Bill was coolly incensed that Justin went behind his back and hurt Brooke, who he now considers part of his family. The Bill of a year ago would not have given a crap. This week he was as strong and as dismissive as he's ever been -- but now with a moral compass that has only come about since his involvement with Katie. One still wonders if Katie will ever find out that Bill played tonsil hockey with Steffy -- and it's the reason Katie's probably working at IHOP now instead of being CEO at Forrester. But Bill, baby, you've come a long way -- and we really need you to have more screen time. Make a note, B&B.

Wasn't it totally in character for Bill to treat intern Liam like a peon? But why, when confronted by Bill, did Liam not admit he had nothing to do with Steffy's video or its "embellishment?" Instead, Liam let Bill think he was "gutsy." Sure, Bill cuts an imposing figure, but it seemed Liam's integrity would have outweighed his fear. And now Liam is inadvertently, unwittingly, playing both sides against the middle, as Steffy has recruited him to find out who tampered with her laptop. Maybe she's just hiring from a reputable computer repair company and therefore doesn't need to do a background check that would tell her he's also interning at Spencer. Wait 'til she finds out Liam is indirectly responsible for her downfall. That'll probably happen after she and Liam become a couple -- don't you get the feeling sparks are going to fly before long? Is Steffy actually capable of going after a guy who isn't already spoken for? We'll soon see.

We'll also soon see exactly what will result from Taylor handing her 25% ownership of Forrester to Steffy! Hey -- Taylor wasn't really using it anyway, and she didn't quite fit in at Forrester. But, while it's nice to see that Taylor believes in her daughter's innocence (despite Steffy's recent behavior), why would she hand over a quarter of the company at this particular moment? To make Steffy feel better? Couldn't Taylor have just gotten Steffy an ice cream cone? Twenty-five percent of a company that she just got fired from. Hmm...Donna just got 12˝% in her settlement with Eric. Teamed with Steffy's share, that makes three-eights of the company. Do you get the feeling Bill's going to get his hands on this three-eights before long? Justin already thinks Steffy would be good at Spencer -- what's to stop Steffy from getting so cheesed off with Ridge that she jumps ship? I wouldn't doubt it. Well, hopefully Taylor now has more time for Whip -- we never see them; did they ever go on their honeymoon? Even a trip to Disneyland would suffice!

It was quite a Friday cliffhanger, between Taylor's re-gifting of the stock and Stephanie's accidental tumble at the hands of Brooke. I'd dearly love to see Stephanie shout, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" into one of those medical alert bracelets, but I don't think it's going to happen. It was kind of a lame fall, anyway -- Brooke barely touched Stephanie, and Stephanie went over awfully easy. Okay, so everyone was taking care not to hurt Susan Flannery; kudos, but it was about as effective on-screen as Patrick Duffy throwing himself in front of that car a couple of months ago. Like Brooke isn't in enough trouble -- you know Stephanie's going to cry foul. Hey -- wouldn't it be something if Stephanie woke up, and we discovered that Hope's graduation party hasn't even happened yet and the whole mask-boink was nothing but Stephanie's dream? Oh, it would be very Dallas, I know...but why not? B&B already has that show's Bobby Ewing in the form of Stephen!

Well, if I continue on, I'll need a third Scoop, and the name of this column only allows me two, so that's all for now. The fan is pretty well spraying it everywhere, so you know you're going to have to tune in and see where it lands next. Make your predictions on the Soap Central message boards, or tell me what you think -- and hey, has anyone picked up a copy of B&B's Music of Passion and Romance album? First time in 23 years they've got a soundtrack out. The title is its musical focus (I'd also love to see some of the suspense tracks released eventually), and newer fans will discover that many of the cues are more recent, but long-time fans will love some of the older selections from the '80s/'90s (I feel a little foolish admitting that the one they call "Paulina's Big Smile" has gone through my head at appropriate moments for the last 17 years!).

Now that R.J. has been mentioned, will we find out exactly where he's been all this time? (Probably at The Rapid Aging Boarding School.) Will Clarence from The Cla'ence Report be invited back for more voice-overs? (Great touch, B&B!) And will the halls of Forrester Creations -- through which Brooke chased Hope -- be exposed as the halls of CBS Studios? (Oops.) Well, no matter -- keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!

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