As I'm sure you noticed, I am not Michael. I'd like to proclaim that I'm his much funnier, evil twin; but I've read the guy's column before and the truth is he's downright clever and I'm not all that evil. What I am is a huge soaps fan. Here at Soap Central, I co-write the Days of Our Lives Two Scoops column. Last October, I suddenly found myself with some extra time on my hands (thanks economy!) so I decided to see what my beloved Days alum, Farah Fath, and her John-Paul LaGorgeous boyfriend were up to. And there, in the midst of the Tarty sex and Hope's birth stuff, I sorta fell in love with, as Dan (Soap Central's editor) calls it, the "Jan Brady" of ABC soaps. So, when Dan needed someone to pinch hit for a weekly column, I pitched him the idea that perhaps OLTL fans might be interested to hear why a newbie viewer (you know, those things that every soap desperately needs right now to stay alive) thinks that Llanview is a charming place to spend an hour each day.
A few ground rules before we start. Aside from a visual recognition of a few actors, I have no prior knowledge of OLTL. All of my reaction is the "first impression" flavor. It is grounded in neither historical facts nor generations of exposure to the characters. So please take this column as an insight from an outsider who took the plunge and is now a fan of a new soap. If you read this and start thinking to yourself "Well if she had any idea n what happened before, she wouldn't sound like such a fool right now"- stop. You're right. Pour yourself a congratulatory beverage and then keep reading. You'll either learn something new or at least have a warm, happy feeling by the end of this column. I call that a win-win.
JESSICA and BRODY
Jessica and Brody couldn't be more appealing. Their relationship basically started at the same time I started watching the show. So, it's like the three of us are a couple. Ain't that sweet? I thought so. Anyway, thanks to Brody, Jessica realized that she's not nearly as weak as everyone fears she is; and to be fair, knows she was. I wanted to hug her when Jessica pulled Bree from Stacy's dance class. If it were me, I'd turn back after I realized that the dace lessons would take place on top of a floor better known for spilt beer and purple hooters than ballet lessons, but that's just me. But, if Jessica would have done that, we would have missed seeing Jessica give Stacy a piece of her mind. At least there's someone in town who wasn't kissing up to St. Stacy of Morasco.
As for Brody, I can't wait until he and Rex can play nice. Really, those two are too pretty to bicker. (Mark Lawson is insanely delicious. He reminds me of a mix between Ryan Phillippe and Joshua Jackson; which is just fine with a 90's pop-culture loving gal like me!) I appreciated Rex and Brody's scene in the steam room for obvious reasons. But, I've really liked Brody's storyline arc; and a lot of his character's redemption hinged on Rex's forgiveness. I feel like this spat over Brody "sleeping" with Gigi is setting Brody's whole character progression back a few notches. But, hopefully that's in the past and we can move onto days where Rex/Gigi have Brody/Jessica over for wine and fondue parties. Yeah!
STACY, REX, GIGI, and SCHUYLER
Stacy is bat crap crazy. There's no way around it. And, if Carlivati follows Soap Opera Storytelling 101 (which I'm not so sure he does), Stacy totally has a baby Balsom on the way. Since she sank to all-time low levels of beyotchness, the only way to keep her scheming self in Llanview is if she is Rex's baby mama. This move would also gain her a seat next to Claudia Zacchara and Nicole Walker at the "He'll only be with me if I produce his spawn" table. Oh joy.
Rex puzzles me. He seems to be a nice enough guy. Bo likes him. He's an attentive dad. I also hear rumors that he used to be a private investigator. (LOL! *Snort*) So why then does everything about his behavior make me think he's a total schmuck? I don't understand why Rex keeps saying things like, "Stacy didn't have to save Shane!" Really? If word got out that Stacy was a match and then decided not to donate, would Rex be walking around, shrugging his shoulders saying, "No biggie. I completely understand. It was her choice and all." Wait....actually he's so silly right now that he just might. And now that Gigi has come clean with the truth about why she "slept" with Brody, he's going to feel like a super dunce for hitting the mat with STDacy.
And that brings me to my one point of expertise in this whole column- Farah Fath. I've seen her grown up on soaps. She started on Days when she was 14. I liked her then, and I like her even more in Llanview. If you're sitting back and waiting for her to emerge as this great dramatic scene-stealer, you're going to be waiting a long time. That's just not how she rolls. Instead, she opts to be the ultimate "supporting actress" and unselfishly devotes herself to her scene partners. That's why Rex/Gigi works for me. It's why Roxy/Gigi makes me giggle. It's why Schylur/Gigi is pleasantly entertaining. And it's why, despite her obvious inability to get all of her brain cells firing at the same time, I still pull for Gigi.
Schuyler is a triple threat- brains, looks, and facial hair that I actually approve of. The dude is super smart. I'm actually convinced that TPTB made Schuyler use drugs just to level the intellectual playing field with the rest of the soap world. He figured out that Roxy was hiding something after spending a few minutes with her- a feat that the rest of Llanview couldn't accomplish. But was it just me, or did I detect a slight disappointment on his gorgeous face as he realized that his and Gigi's Inspector Gadget days are over? I don't think it's that he has feelings for Gigi. I think it's that watching Gigi rush to put her family back together is just a reminder of the family and friends that Schuyler doesn't have. It's a shame too, because the guy oozes awesomness. So, I'll go ahead and take one for the team here and volunteer to be Schuyler's date at Rex and Gigi's afore mentioned wine and fondue party. It's a tough gig, but I'm a team player. No need to thank me.
JOHN and MARTY
John McBain annoys the bejesus out of me. For the love of all things holy, I don't understand why ladies are fighting over the guy. He's got two emotions- annoyed and really annoyed. If he was a gal, he'd be the goth wench sitting against the wall rolling her eyes at the happy kids. Not even the fact that he's paired with Marty can save him now. And, I love me some Marty. She's been frustrating at times, but Susan Haskell has won me over with her rockstar-ness. It's not hard to play the "damsel in distress", but Haskell goes a step further and plays Marty with an endearing streak of self awareness. Marty realizes that she always needs someone to save her; and she resents the hell out of that fact. It's the latter part that makes me like her character. I don't care if John gets his badge back or if he keeps working "outside" the law. But, if he goes on the run with Marty and Cole, I will scream. Loud. You'll probably here me clear across the internet.
TODD, TEA, and BLAIR
I know that I'm not supposed to like the guy. He's an egotistical criminal and kinda a man-whore. But call me Téa, I can't get enough of Todd. He's the perfect gray character. He has the audacity to believe that he can fix every situation, and for some reason that absolutely entertains me. Add in the fact that Trevor St. John is brilliant at conveying a stoic charm, and I'm hooked. But, that doesn't mean that I didn't love watching Téa get the better of him. And, I was cheering when Star had him over a barrel to sign the consent form. Watching him squirm is fun.
Far be it for me to condemn Téa when I've just drawn a personnel parallel to her. Obviously, I like her. I realize that she's a self destructive head-case. But personally, I'll take a strong lady character any day over the weepy princess ones. She may be on the bus to hell, but at least she's driving it. And I love that she wants to hurt Todd just as much as help him. The lady tape recorded Todd in his own house! HA! I guess what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
And then there's Blair. She started out a bit rough for me. At times- okay most of the time- she seems a bit self-righteous. And it's not in that entertaining Dorian way. It's in the Mean Girls way. But most of the bad feeling I have goes away when she is in scenes with Star. Since that was pretty much all of her scenes this week, Blair is on my good list right now.
STAR and COLE
My first impression of this couple was a little unsettling. The age difference between the two actors is painfully apparent. It's not just that Brandon Buddy is the same age as Crystal Hunt and a year younger than Farah Fath and Scott Clifton. It's not just that I started with a slight crush on Mr. Buddy. It's that Kristen Alderson is (or was until a few weeks ago) underage AND looks very much the part. I have no problem with the age difference, but I do have a problem when I know that the younger actress is actually an underage actress. But eventually, after enough martinis, I talked myself into partying along with the storyline. After all, there are parts to this pair that are really magic. I believe that these two perfectly capture that intoxicating first love, when you feel like this relationship is the most important one you'll ever have, just because it is the most important one you've had to that point.
And they're going to need every ounce of that magic to keep me on board through this "marriage". I'm no expert on OLTL, but isn't it a bad sign Todd, Blair, Marty and I all share the same opinion? First, Star and Cole both have a lot of life lessons to learn before they can commit to a marriage. Second, I've watched enough Dr. Phil to know that just because you have kids together doesn't mean you should get married. Finally, proposals that stem from a need to keep your gal pal faithful while you're in prison hardly ever work out. Trust me, I know. I guess if Sole really is going to be a soap super couple, they'll have at least three or four weddings coming their way. But that doesn't mean that I'm okay with their first wedding requiring a parental permission slip.
NATALIE and JARED
Let me get this straight. They're pressing charges against Kyle Lewis because he tried to blackmail them for the whole Chloe/Hope secret. Right? Boy, he's got some nerve! I mean, how dare he blackmail them when they are trying to keep a baby from her biological parents!?! Just who does he think he is wanting something in return for keeping quiet about Natalie and Jared swiping DNA and using the hospital's resources for their own private matter? Really, the nerve!! Okay, okay. I know that Kyle is kind of a worm. And, I know that Natalie and Jared are really good guys in the end. But, they seem to drink their own kool-aid a bit too much for me, if you know what I mean. I'm glad to see that they forgive as fast as they condemn. I loved the look on Jared's face when Gigi told them the truth about Stacy. And, I loved it even more when Natalie and Jared forced Gigi to tell Rex the truth. It seems that these two are learning that very important lesson: secrets don't make friends.
CHRISTIAN, LAYLA, and FISH
Rex needs to take a good look at Christian because if Rex continues down schmuck road, Rex is going to end up just like Chris. He'll be the hot guy that TPTB know they need to keep because the fans like him, but unfortunately they've erased all of his brain cells and have no one left to pair him with. And by "no one" I mean, please oh please oh please don't make me swallow this Chris/Layla crap. I think that I'm supposed to be into their "sexual tension", but I'm not buying it. It's a collection of paint-by-numbers soap romance clichés that has all the appeal of sandpaper lined panties.
Now, I do like Fish. He intrigues me. I am rooting for him, partly because there's more to his character than meets the eye. But mainly I root for him because I can't shake the feeling that Layla thinks she's doing him a favor by going out with him and I don't like that. Fish is a catch (get it? hehe) and I'd like to see him with someone who appreciates him for the employed, hard-working, nice guy that he is.
BO, NORA, and CLINT
I like these three individually. And it's nice to see that love triangles aren't just for stem cell-scheming 20-somethings. But, it's a little infuriating to watch Nora flash Bo puppy dog eyes in hopes that he'll object to her engagement. This isn't her first time at this rodeo. If she doesn't want to marry the guy, then she can just say no! Nora needs to realize that she doesn't need Bo to be waiting for her in order cool things down with Clint. There's no rule that says one must be married to/involved with a Buchannan to stay in Llanview, is there? Ah-no.
But since she does have a surplus of Buchannan men around, she has a surplus of Buchannan money. And, Clint used his magic money to find a doctor who says that he can help Matthew walk again. That doctor is Shaun and Destiny's (dead-beat) brother, Greg. I'm learning towards siding with Rachel and Shaun. I don't think the good doctor is all that good. Any guy who would ignore his little sister's e-mails can't be all he's cracked up to be. But I do like Rachel and I like watching her stick up for her family. She's got her eye on the doctor and that makes me feel better.
I don't like the "kids". Matthew is fine. Destiny and Shane can get on my nerves; but that's mostly a talent factor, not a storyline factor. But I have little use for The Mayor of Munchkin Land and his Bratz Doll girlfriend. I haven't even bothered to learn their names yet. And after the way that TMoML threw a quarter on the ground at Destiny's feet, I don't plan to learn. Boo on them!
I hope Markko's parents aren't long for Llanview. I respect their beliefs, but their storyline just seems horribly positioned right next to Star and Cole's "let's get married before he goes to the slammer" idea. Markko's parents need to realize that their happy, well-adjusted, valedictorian son who works two jobs could do a lot worse than sleeping with the delightful and level-headed Langston. And since the last big decision these two made was to name their son after a trash TV talk show host, I say they lost all decision making privileges when it comes to Geraldo "Markko" Rivera.
I have no idea who Rex's father is, but he's obviously a bad dude and he's possibly wondering around Llanview grabbing Roxy's wrist. Roxy verges on annoying with me, but her comedy usually saves her. However, I worry that if she's in a storyline where she can't be funny I'll have to introduce her to my friend, Mr. Fast Forward Button. So, I hope the big reveal of Rex's dad is exciting enough to make up for taking the funny away from Roxy.
How come John has short hair and Todd has long hair in the opening credits? Are they really two sides of the same messed up dude? Kind of like Fight Club?
I found Abe, the manager of the country club, surprisingly entertaining and quite funny. Plus, he allowed Bo the opportunity to say, "Abe, do you know where Mr. Balsom's pants are?" which cracked me right up.
Since Todd and Blair have to live together, can the whole brood move in with Viki and Charlie? Viki is Todd's sister and Blair (not to mention Star) could use a constant reminder of what a marriage is supposed to look like. Plus, at this point I'll take anything that will get Viki and Charlie on my screen more often.
I'm ticked that there wasn't a montage sequence this week. I'm a total sucker for those things and OLTL does them wonderfully!
Robin Strasser is always good for some comedic relief. But, I was really shocked at how much Brittany Underwood held up her end of the comedy load this week. Dorian pulled out all the stops to impress Mrs. Rivera by wearing her best pearls and setting up tea in the kitchen. But I almost spit out my water when Langston strolled in wearing something straight out of the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection" and offered Mrs. Rivera a cookie from a silver tray. Of course it was all in the name of love- Larko love- and it worked. But rather than coming off as cliché and predictable, that scene was actually pretty amusing.
Did it disturb anyone else that Rex and Stacy got busy on the same mats where CHILDREN were taking dance lessons just a few minutes earlier? I hope Stacy picks up some Clorox Clean-up when she swings by the drug store to get her pregnancy test. (Just a hunch). Plus, I'm sure Rex will want to clean up those mats since the health inspector frowns on that kind of behavior in a place where people consume food and beverages.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Jessica (to Stacy): "I was mentally ill. What's your excuse?" Indeed, my beautiful-blonde friend! Indeed!
And now our time has come to a close. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you think I'm totally nuts, fear not. Your normal Two Scoopers will be back next week and all will be right with the world again. In the meantime, thanks for letting me throw in my two cents. I'll be sure to post pics from my first date with Schuyler and let you know how the fondue turned out!