The elephant in the room

by Mike
For the Week of December 5, 2011
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B&B Two Scoops: The elephant in the room
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A few weeks ago, Eric and Stephanie were facing a legitimate, unique conflict, but now, that storyline seems to have been swept under the rug. Why are all of the good storylines quickly dropped or resolved?

Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you marry and divorce faster than a Kardashian? Did you refuse to get monogrammed towels for your daughter-in-law? Was your family affair more family than affair? These and more situations faced the Forresters et al this week!

Well, Scoopers, November sweeps went out with a whimper (no promised Emmy-worthy story for Stephanie), and we're now in the final month of 2011, meaning we'll be offering up our Best & Worst columns soon. While B&B wasn't as ridiculous this week as it had been in my last offering, I'm afraid I still have way more Worsts than Bests. When other shows lag consistently, new head writers are brought in. But the Bell world is so insular that I don't see that happening any time soon. And it really needs to.

How is it that so many awesome stories were brought up for November and then dropped? Eric and Stephanie had a legitimate, unique-for-a-soap conflict. But all it took to resolve it was some barking from Ridge. Jackie (and the show) passed up a chance to compete with Forrester by teaming with Spencer in favor of a done-to-death design-stealing story. Worst of all, Thorne, tired of being number-two son (again) looked poised to take over Forrester, only to forge a truce with Ridge at Thanksgiving over some candied yams! Why tease us with something fresh only to revert to the old grind? Frustrating. Grr.

Meanwhile, the glut of instant relationships, marriages, and divorces continues in gleeful earnest. Last column, Pam and Stephen took a header. This week, it was Donna and Justin who calmly and rather cheerfully announced their divorce. Now, there was some sense in their point that they had reunited too fast, and basically so a grown Marcus could have his parents together. She and Justin were better friends than lovers, Donna said. But honestly! How can we even invest in couplings anymore? With zero development, we get no time to care about them, and therefore don't particularly care when they break up.

So, Brooke had the presumptuous idea to have "homeless" Donna (who could have afforded the Ritz if she didn't want to stay with her sisters) hang up her high heels on Nick's boat. This while Nick is courting Pam to get her to steal Forrester designs. You see where this is going, don't you? Pam and Donna were both hurriedly written out of their relationships simply to foster a Donna/Nick/Pam triangle. That's all we need, having the former Catwalk hosts in each other's orbit again. I know some enjoyed their "comedy," but I always found it cheesy and forced, and, let's not forget, Pam did try to kill Donna, brain defect or no.

This is the main problem with B&B anymore. I know soaps are supposed to be larger than life, and you have to take all the diseases and affairs and melodrama with a very large grain of salt. But people on this show do the most dastardly things to each other, and they forgive each other a few episodes later and go on as if nothing happened. They don't learn anything. Doesn't the best drama come from conflicts and problems that are laced with history, generated by people trying not to make the same mistakes -- or making them anyway, because they can't help it? Not much of that on B&B. More examples to come.

The other biggie is that the men are all basically spineless while the women run roughshod over them. If the men pulled all the strings, you'd hear a cry of chauvinism. Yet Nick, the rough, tough sailor, has become a lump of Play-Doh. His mother moves in with him, then ropes him into seducing Pam for designs; now he lets Brooke badger him into letting Donna stay on his boat. And all without argument, just giving in after a few snarky remarks. The old Nick could beat this Nick up in a heartbeat!

As some have said, if Nick drops anchor with Donna, he will have done so with all three Logan sisters and a Logan daughter. But none of these people seem to mind sharing their relatives' sloppy seconds. Beyond that, Nick was stupid enough to tell Donna he got a batch of lemon bars from Pam. Why would Pam be anywhere near Nick to give him baked goods? Good way to give Pam away, sailor boy!

Not that it matters, because the blame is going to be placed squarely on a newcomer. Why else would Stephanie suddenly take Dayzee's friend Beverly under her brooch and give her a paid internship at Forrester? Don't get me wrong -- I realize it's an extension of Stephanie's involvement with the homeless to get into the plight of foster kids who "age out" of that system, even if it did come off a bit like an old "Afterschool Special." But to just give her a prestigious job? Sure, Beverly wants to go to college and better herself, which is admirable, but she has no specific goals or interests! I could see the Forresters rallying to help her if she had some sort of spark, but she was downright blasť about the whole thing. She'll take the fall for Pam's crime in five seconds flat, you watch.

I also don't buy that Sally would be coaching Jackie long-distance on how to steal designs. Sally had stopped doing that once she forged a friendship with Queen Stephanie. Do you really think Sally would call La Forrester one day and then stab her in the back the next? Maybe long ago, but not anymore. No, if Jackie should be getting such advice from anyone, it's Rick. Did any of you laugh when the Forresters insisted on not emailing or texting designs in-house while Rick, who e-mailed designs to Nick just two years ago, was astounded at such a security measure? See what I mean? Nobody learns anything on this show.

And how is it that now Forrester guards the models and keeps designs on secure servers? Where was that two weeks ago when Eric left his designs on his desk for Pam to photograph? Not to mention just letting stranger Beverly walk in during a top-secret fitting and hiring her without any kind of background check. Thomas, of course, can vouch for Beverly now that he's suddenly done all this mentoring with foster kids -- probably only to endear himself to Hope, because I ain't buyin' any other reason.

And I'm getting whiplash from shaking my head because it seems no one in the Forrester family has any problem with Thomas pursuing Hope. Brooke conceding that Thomas might be good for Hope "maybe, someday"? Rick joking that Thomas is biased regarding Hope being pretty? Are you kidding me? Rick and Brooke suffered the most at Thomas' hands! Aside from giving Thomas a pass on his misdeeds, none of the Forresters seem concerned that Thomas and Hope are family -- all right, extended. But when even Dayzee, who should be the first one to tell Hope to run, not walk, to the nearest exit, makes cute conversation about how hot Thomas is, something is definitely rotten in the state of L.A.

Sorry, "HOT" fans -- I just can't co-sign this coupling. It's too icky. And Bell knows it's icky; that's why he's going there. Most nauseating of all, Forrester seems to have "replaced" Liam with Thomas in their Hope for the Future campaign. Really? We've gone from promoting virginity and abstinence to sending the message that it's okay to hook up with your stepbrother? Would the public approve of this? Oh, how I wish Stephanie had seen Thomas kissing Hope at Dayzee's. La Forrester would have bitchslapped some sense into these kids faster than you can say "pseudo-incestuous relationship!"

The smartest thing Hope has said in months was, "I'm moping over a guy who turned from me and married your sister in a New York minute." It's true -- Liam lost serious credibility doing that and topped it off by staying with Steffy after discovering her deception. It makes him the most spineless man on B&B. But I'd still rather Hope were with him. I don't know exactly what Brooke was suggesting when she told Hope not to give up on him (waiting it out a while might be okay; chasing him wouldn't be), but it doesn't seem Brooke wants Hope with Thomas any more than I do.

Perhaps the sole character who actually hasn't forgotten what came before is Katie. When she walked in on Steffy and Bill hugging, no wonder she blew up. After all, just four months ago, Bill was ready to ditch Katie for the proverbial Forrester daughter. Who could blame Katie for not believing that the almost-adulterers had turned their feelings off?

But the thing is, Katie and Bill have had no rooting value as a couple for quite a while. After Bill's dalliance with Steffy, Katie said she'd take him back only if he begged. He didn't beg. He just tucked his tail between his legs and then Katie pretended none of it happened. And what led to "Still" in the first place was Katie and Bill's unresolved issue about the fact that he plotted to kill Amber and showed no remorse about it. Sure, Katie's noise about Steffy can't be helping, but at least she's speaking out; Bill's order to "just get over it" clearly means he isn't listening, and who'd want Katie with someone like that?

Bill's been downing too much whiskey (or wheat grass), because at once he seems to want Steffy with Liam so he won't be tempted, yet he put her on the Spencer board, shocking both Steffy and Katie. Yeah, me too! I'm no business major, but I would think having a seat on the Spencer board while working for Forrester -- and owning a sizable chunk of Forrester stock, no less -- would constitute a serious conflict of interest. Somehow I don't think Ridge is going to be too pleased!

Steffy's supposedly heartfelt plea to Katie to drop the animosity came across as exactly that -- supposed. Katie wasn't havin' it, and neither was I. "I'm no longer a Forrester and you're no longer a Logan," Steffy said, doe-eyed, "We're Spencers now." Oh, really? An hour before, she referred to Brooke and her sisters as "you Logans," where, by her argument to Katie, Brooke is a Forrester! Thing is, I think Steffy really believes what she says, but she's still a hypocrite.

An interesting turn, though, Katie's compromise of being more accepting of Steffy if Bill took back Steffy's board seat. Now, on the one hand, Bill is right -- that was a business decision. However, if Katie has a seat on the same board, isn't she entitled to have a say in that decision? Instead, Bill strongarmed Katie and demanded she get with Team Spencer. Even dunderhead Liam later advised his dad, "I wouldn't force it." Finally, glimmers of the Liam we first met!

Liam got a chance to smarten up about a couple other things, too. First, Katie told him that Bill was responsible for stopping the gondola. Whoo-hoo! Should have set the stage for some major drama. So Liam's "so what" attitude was a jaw-dropper. "They were protecting me," he insisted. What the hell? From what? But when Katie reminded Liam that not long ago his wife wanted his father, he finally got a bit of a clue. It had to travel through a layer of "I don't want to know" first, but he then admitted that Bill and Steffy's "mistake" bothered him. I liked that Katie added, "She seems to fall in love so easily," and got Liam's wheels turning about Steffy's "previous" interest in Bill. Um, Liam, those wheels could use some WD-40, because that squeaking tells me they haven't been used for a long time.

Did I say "previous" interest? Bill and Steffy shared some playful banter of old, and I have to say, now that I'm not rooting for "Batie" anymore, "Still" still seems to have it. I'm actually glad they're revisiting this, if only because it might blow this Steffy/Liam sham marriage out of the water. But really, Bill -- spilling whiskey near your crotch? Oldest soap device in the book. And really, Steffy -- you couldn't have just handed him the napkin? You had to wipe his shirt like a good daughter-in-law should? Well, there was nothing wrong with Bill's wheels, 'cuz they were turnin' in the form of flashbacks, and that's probably not the only thing that was turnin'. But I'll leave you guys to fill in that blank!
Lots of good comments this week. Fire your own off to me and they might end up in a future column. Like these!

    • "Mike, I've enjoyed your column since you began here on Soap Central but I've never yelled 'Yes!' so many times as this recent one. I don't recognize the soap anymore...what can we do to stop this train wreck and get things back on track?" -- Nisha

    • "Did anyone notice when Liam and Steffy got married, Liam asked the minister if it was legal. Could there be a twist coming? Maybe [their] marriage is not legal?" -- Deb

    • "Once again you said everything I was thinking. So sad this soap has gone downhill due to lazy writing..." -- Lori

    • "Hope and Thomas!! Gross! How desperate is he?" -- Anna

    • "[B&B] has become very dull. Honestly there is more that can be done with the characters especially Marcus, Rick, Bridget, Owen, Justin, etc. I miss the days when Sheila and Stephanie were at each others' throats...[B&B] needs to be spiced up!" -- Eric

    • "You have got to look at how Hope stood by Liam when Amber was saying that was his baby and Thomas has no business seeing Hope and they are half brothers and sisters." -- Deborah

    • "L.A. is one of the biggest cities in this country, but the women on B&B have just the shallow Forrester man pool to choose from. Come on...I have stopped watching several times because of this..." -- Leanne

    • "What would rock my world [is] if Taylor would get back some of those negative vibes that she always gives out to Brooke. Many may not have known or forgotten but the scene when Taylor slept with James Warwick is still a secret..." -- Katie

Actually, Katie, after Taylor came back from the dead (again) in 2005, she finally did tell Ridge that she slept with James. I forget what prompted it, but it led to the dissolution of their marriage. Great idea, though, for "Hope, Rick, and Amber [to] team up together and start their own fashion house and show the Forresters that there is more to family than being a name!" Now, let's wrap up with a fresh batch of Points to Ponder:

Speaking of batches, lemon bars were referenced no less than seven times this week -- enough already!... "We love you, Justin," Brooke told her ex-brother-in-law-to-be. Really? After he was responsible for leaking your mask boink video?... What exactly does Jackie think is going to happen after her fashion show? Does she really think that adding a bow will make Eric believe it's not his design?

All the love for Rick, while everyone forgets the destruction he caused in 2009. He joked that spilling coffee on Thomas can't get you fired -- hey, neither can burning down his house or blowing up his car... The Eric/Stephanie connection was nice this week, even if their major issue didn't have much of a resolution... "She changed my life," Stephanie said of Dayzee. But that didn't last long, did it?... "This is a great place to work," Hope bragged to Beverly. Yeah, if you can handle all the infighting, affairs, scandals, and constant firing and re-hiring!

Jackie and Nick seem to be flying solo at Jackie M -- where's Whip?... Katie getting heart pain while arguing with Bill made sense, but it was rather The Boy Who Cried Wolf after the instant healing last time... "Family supports each other," Bill insisted. Then why backstab the Logans, who are also your family?... "Well, we can't force her," Bill told Liam, after he spent more than one episode doing exactly that!... Thomas sets up a romantic date for his stepsister in Ridge's office? The less said, the better...

2011 has not been the best year for B&B. But a new year's coming, so keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!

Mike (Adam-Michael James)
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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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