Was it just me, or did OLTL actually produce a relatively watchable week of television? I certainly won't hold my breath that this exciting week of action will last, because I might find myself turning bright shades of crimson by the point of the first commercial break on Monday! Nevertheless, I was pleased with not only the performances but also the action and the way that some mysteries were developed, even if they were a bit obvious. John may have seemingly lost his pulse, but the show actually had a sign of one!
So most of the week mostly centered around the "death" of John McBain and how that news spread throughout Llanview. When I first learned that Higley was going to continue with the story she penned for John when the show anticipated Michael Easton's exit from the show, I was shocked. Why on earth would a show forge ahead with a storyline involving a character's death when the actor resigned the contract that the execs didn't expect him to sign? Furthermore, why tell the story in such a way that the emotional, raw, and sincere grief by John's loved ones is supposed to evoke similar feelings from the viewers (who know that John isn't really dead)? I remember when General Hospital's Jonathan Jackson (Lucky) was leaving the show, and the show made it appear that Lucky was killed in a fire. Boy, oh boy, that week was a killer for viewers in the try-to-hold-back-the-tears-for-the-grieving-parents department! Viewers knew the actor was leaving the show, and they assumed that his character's demise was for real. Then, out of nowhere, the show fools us all by revealing that Lucky was really alive! It was a great emotional payoff for the viewers, though, because we were able to grieve with Luke and Laura for a few days before learning the truth ourselves. Now, I know we're talking OLTL here, but I use this as an example of how to properly tell a story like this that can achieve a storyline plot point while also generating raw feelings from the audience, too.
But that isn't to say that the show didn't achieve a storyline point; it sure did! What the show lacked in generating emotion from us (other than feeling the pain that Natalie or Evangeline or Michael were feeling despite our knowledge of John's condition), it definitely gained by introducing Hugh as a victim of the car crash as well. How clever of the show to wrap the body from head to toe and lead the viewers to think that Hugh is laying in that bed! Who knows? Maybe it IS Hugh, and we're all being duped (but I doubt it). The clever irony of everyone believing John perished in the crash when he probably is the man behind the bandages is quite good! The dramatic irony in that the audience knows (or suspects) that John is really "Hugh" while the characters don't know the truth will make these upcoming weeks exciting to watch. And for once, I look forward to the moment Spencer shows up on the screen to have a heart to heart talk with his "son" in the hospital only for us to know that it's his arch-enemy John McBain to whom he's really talking! Ooooh. Gotta love that moment!!
I also loved that this week showcased one of our favorite characters again---Nora. I don't think I can remember a week in the past year when Nora was given so much screen time! Are the writers really waking up and realizing what a gem they have among them? First of all, I'm glad that Nora's speech has returned. Although I'm disappointed that Higley didn't use Nora's recuperation and recovery as a plot device, I am happy that she slowly went from not being able to speak at all to regaining her full oral capacity. Other than the use of her walker, Nora is really back in fighting form, and I couldn't be happier! But what really surprised me this week was that I enjoyed the scenes between Nora and Paige! Everyone who reads my columns knows how much I deplore the character of Paige and have found her to be a completely frivolous, unnecessary character; however, watching Nora comfort and offer advice to Paige during her crisis when she believed her son was horribly burned in the car pile-up was surprisingly enjoyable for me! Maybe I was just so thrilled to see Nora have so much screen time, but I did find that Nora's crusade to prove Paige's innocence from her involvement with Thomas McBain's murder was believable. Nora was acting like the Nora we all know and love. She was putting the pieces together in her mind (and we could see her doing it!). She was able to show her tender and compassionate side to Paige while also trying to do her job at the same time. If Hugh is indeed dead, I will be excited beyond words to see Nora assume her role again as District Attorney of Llanview. Lord knows there is a lot of crime that goes on in that city, so why not plant her firmly in the middle of it all and let this wonderful and talented actress shine once again?
And speaking of great performances, how about Melissa Archer and Renee Goldsberry as Natalie and Evangeline? I first thought that Archer did such an amazing job showing us Natalie's grief yet AGAIN at losing the man of her dreams (as we all know, she did this well when husband Cristian was presumed dead). Seeing her try to get Uncle Bo out of her apartment and avoid the life-altering news that her boyfriend was dead was heartbreaking. Watching Natalie just fall to the floor and curl up while sobbing for John gave Natalie that soft and vulnerable side we haven't seen in a long time. Even more impressive, though, was John's ex-girlfriend's reaction to the news. There are still many loyal Evangeline and John fans, and to see that Evangeline still holds a special place in her heart for that man should give that fan base something to cheer about! As she also tried to dismiss the horrible truth from her mind, she slowly began to accept the truth, and the pain began to set in. She wouldn't get to ask him what his favorite poem was, and she couldn't get to sit down with him ever again. As she pulled out a box of some of his belongings, including what looked to be a shirt of his, you could see that pain and emotion swallow her as she smelled him on the shirt and realized all of the love from their past together. It was a quiet, understated moment with enormous power behind it!
Well, it isn't often lately that I get to praise the show for doing something RIGHT, but I am this week, and I think I'll just leave it at that. The pulse that the show has isn't strong, but at least I can say that there IS a pulse, and I'm happy for that! Nobody wants to see this show or its wonderful actors struggle, so whenever I see an opportunity to praise OLTL, I'll definitely take it.
I'll be back again in two weeks with more thoughts on life in Llanview!
Enjoy your week,