Dallas, we have a problem!

by Dawn
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Dallas, we have a problem!
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The week of September 1, 2008
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Just a year ago, we saw the brilliant stories that Ron Carlivati could bring to the show. We had stories that involved most of the cast and veteran characters were front and center.

For the past year, I've done my best to support Ron Carlivati and his team of writers. After enduring the previous regime's writing, I've been willing to give the new regime the benefit of the doubt. I am still willing to do that in most instances, but sometimes the things I see concern me. I don't worry about things like incorrect ages or small discrepancies with history. These things happen on all soap operas for a variety of reasons. However, things like too many fantasy-land stories and too many characters on the canvas do bother me.

Ever since the writers' strike ended, I've felt bombarded with returning characters. Tina, Marty, and Carlo returned around the same time and were placed into isolated stories that didn't anything for the rest of the show. I like all 3 characters, but I think their big returns have mostly fizzled, and that is not the fault of any of the actors. Now Dallas has returned, and of all of the returns we've seen this year, hers has to be the most frivolous. Again, this has nothing to do with the actress, but the character's presence is unnecessary. While all of these other characters return, core characters that have been on the show for years are suffering in the background. Lindsay is in jail for the indefinite future, Nora hasn't had a real story in years, R.J. left Llanview with little fanfare, and we get to see a quick glimpse of Roxy every few weeks. It seems like this show is headed down a strange path, and it's not a good thing. Just a year ago, we saw the brilliant stories that Ron Carlivati could bring to the show. We had stories that involved most of the cast and veteran characters were front and center. While there are still good things about the show, the cast is too way too big, and some of the "fluff" stories have overstayed their welcome.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against the actress that plays Dallas. She is a good actress and plays the character well. I just question why this character has to return right now. It would be one thing if Clint ever mentioned her or if we knew she had been one of his great loves. However, we don't know that much about her or her former relationship with Clint. Dallas made it clear to Nora that she returned to Llanview to win Clint back, but why now? The main problem I have with this is that Clint and Nora don't have much of a relationship on screen, so we don't know much about it. Adding a complication to a relationship that has barely gotten any commitment from the writers is a bad idea. Clint and Nora have random scenes, but the scenes aren't about them. They end up being about Clint's quest to win back Buchanan Enterprises or seeking revenge on Dorian. I honestly don't know if Clint and Nora are in love close to it. It's not the fault of Jerry verDorn or Hillary B. Smith. They do wonders with the random scenes they get. The problem is the writers haven't committed to this couple. They were put together and then abandoned. Now, instead of nurturing that relationship and giving viewers the opportunity to decide if Clint and Nora are a good couple, the powers that be decided to bring back a peripheral character to play the third wheel.

Dallas' return concerns for me for another reason too. She seems to be encroaching on Nora's place in her own house. It was a great moment when Bo told Nora that Asa always liked her. We haven't seen many amiable moments between these two characters, and since Bo returned with the attitude of forgiveness, this was the perfect time for a longer conversation between Bo and Nora. However, the focus swiflty turned to Dallas and her alleged relationship with Asa. Why am I supposed to care about how Asa felt about Dallas?! We've seen her maybe twice in the span of 5 years. She does not have the same history or import as Nora, and yet Nora's part in that scene was diminished because of her. It seems like Dallas is bring positioned to be yet another replacement for Nora or another rival for Nora. We already went through this with Paige, and I didn't like it then. Nobody can ever replace Nora, and no one can ever be the next Lindsay in Nora's life. Nora and Lindsay are two wonderful characters, and bringing in other characters to replace them is unacceptable. It's even worse because I don't even know Dallas enough to care about why she is in Llanview or why she left London. Maybe I am wrong about Dallas being another watered-Nora or a replacement for Lindsay (and I hope I am), but so far, Dallas seems like a threat in more ways than one!

As much as I was hoping that I would never need to type the name "Mendorra" again, I must comment on what happened last week. A few weeks ago, I was ecstatic to see Tina, Sarah, Cristian, and Antonio board the plane to leave Mendorra. The story in Mendorra was silly and often resembled a bad high school play. While Andrea Evans and Thom Christopher are brilliant in their own right, the story was absurd. Revealing that Carlo was Talia's father could have been an interesting development, but it was only done so that Talia could become the queen of Mendorra. Yeah, okay. The scenes in Mendorra were difficult to watch, and they often seemed irrelevant. I realize that the return to Mendorra was linked with the anniversary shows. The show acknowledged Tina's history by sending her daughter over the falls. That was fine. I wasn't watching when Tina went over the falls herself, but I understood the reference. However, the silliness that ensued didn't fit with the rest of the show. Tina and Cain had the silliest dialogue when we first saw them together, and then when Carlo showed up and forced Tina and Cain from the throne, the story went from bordering on the ridiculous to being ridiculous. That is why I cringed when I saw we were going to Mendorra yet again. It would have been better if Talia had returned to Llanview and told us how she escaped instead of forcing us to watch life in Mendorra yet again. I couldn't even force myself to be interested in how Talia escaped her forced marriage. I am sure it was went to be entertaining, but since I grew tired of Mendorra weeks ago, it was impossible for me to get back into it. Does anyone really think Carlo will be beheaded? I certainly don't. All I know is, I cannot be subjected to Mendorra again. I don't care who becomes the new king and queen, and I don't care if we ever see Jonas again. It's time to move on to a new story and to keep Tina and everyone else in Llanview!

The journey back to 1968 also outstayed its welcome. I actually like the story at the beginning, but I was also very happy to see Gigi and Rex return the present time last week. This story has gotten mixed reviews. Some people love it, and some people absolutely hate it. I am somewhere in the middle. While I enjoyed seeing characters play older characters, I don't think I could stand watching another week of 1968. The actors seemed to have fun with this story, as they all got to do something different on the show. Catherine Hickland did a great job portraying the mentally ill Olympia, and John Brotherton was very entertaining as a young Clint. I also like seeing Robert S. Woods' son portray a young Bo. That must have been a special thing for the actors involved, and it ended the story nicely! I typically like when the show tries something different and actors get to expand their horizons. The story also ended up having implications for the future of the show. Going back in time obviously had an effect on Bo, as he told Lindsay he couldn't forgive her but understood why she lied. He seemed to have a weight lifted from his shoulders after he talked to Asa. As for Rex, he knows that Shane is his son, so going back in time was good for him too. However, I don't want to see either character feel the need to return to 1968. It is time for the characters AND the show to focus on the present.

The story with Todd and Marty is also getting old. We still don't know Todd's motives for keeping Marty in his house. They've had some interesting conversations, and we know that Marty will discover that Todd has been feeding her lies for months, but the story isn't going anywhere. Tess knows the truth about Marty now, but she is so focused on her own plans that it doesn't seem like anything will happen with that in the near future. By this time, Marty should have enlisted Janet's help to learn more about her past. I suppose Todd has done a good job of earning Marty's trust, but I still think Marty should be interested in learning more information about her life. Todd hasn't told her that much, but she doesn't seem interested in digging deeper. I still think this one of the strangest stories to be on this show in a while (even when compared to Mendorra!). We still don't know Todd's motives, and we still don't know where the story is headed. Todd seems tortured and comforted by Marty's presence at the same time, which is a strange combination. This story hasn't lost my interest, but something needs to happen to keep the story moving. Marty can't stay confined to that bed forever. She is going to discover she has a son and that she and Todd have a complicated past. Since everyone knows it's coming, the writers need to lead us in direction instead of letting the same thing happen day after day.

Meanwhile, I am glad someone finally realized that Tess is on the loose. If I had to endure another week of people not realizing that Tess was in control, I don't know what I would have done! This is another story that has the potential to go on for longer than it should, but I'll give it a chance. I have had mixed feelings about this story since Tess emerged after Nash's death. I grew tired of Tess when she was in control last time, but Bree Williamson plays Tess so well that I didn't mind Tess coming back. I found it interesting that Tess wanted to protect Jessica from her grief, but resurrecting the secret room to torture Natalie and Jared is extreme. How much of this can Tess get away with since Todd already knows Tess is out? If anything strange were to happen at Llanfair, he would be able to figure out who was behind it. At the same time, Tess knows she can do a lot of damage by telling Marty the truth and by letting everyone know that Marty is alive. Now that Todd and Tess have agreed to keep each other's secrets, I am sure they will switch back and forth from allies to enemies. If Todd and Tess were to ever join forces to seek revenge, they would be a strong force that the residents of Llanview would never see coming. I am sure it won't take long for Todd to figure out what Tess is constructing in the basement of Llanfair. Unlike the rest of Jessica's family, he actually seems to have instincts. I know some people were disturbed by the scenes when Todd was trying to "force" Jessica out of Tess, but I think he was just trying to unnerve Tess. Todd and Tess have met their match in each other, and whenever Tess tries to force Todd's hand, he'll do the same thing in return. He might be just the person to be one step ahead of Tess and foil her plans of revenge. I can see this story going on for a while, since I am sure Viki will be involved in the culmination of it, and she hasn't returned. My biggest hope for this story is that Tess isn't still seeking revenge on Jared and Natalie into 2009. A trend is forming where stories last longer than they should, and I hope that the same fate doesn't happen to this one.

Finally, I am tired of the constant custody battles over Sam. It amazes me that we almost never see Sam, but he is the subject of so many custody disputes. Sam is already going to need years of therapy when he is older, and the question of who should raise Sam is worn out. What is the point of all of this?! It must be easy to write these scenes every few weeks, but we don't really need to see Todd and Blair fight over Sam all the time. Between the repetitious custody hearings and the story involving Cole and Starr, sometimes I wish the Mannings had moved to Hawaii when they had the chance!

Until next time,

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