Crazy pills

by Michael
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OLTL Two Scoops: Crazy pills
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The week of July 19, 2010
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Bashing Ford, pushing Marty, most likely killing Melinda -- he's even the mysterious Bennett Thompson! Is there anything that isn't Elijah's fault?

Seriously? Seriously?

Okay, let me set the scene: When last I turned in my Two Scoops for you lovely, lovely people, there was at least one bright spot in Llanview, namely the unexpectedly delightful romance between Blair and Elijah. They made everything better. Give me five, ten, fifteen days straight of Ford, Hannah, Cabana Nate, Danielle, John, Kelly, Bull the overcaffeinated bounty hunter, whatever -- it's all gravy as long as I still get Blair and Elijah. So then I do my column, the next week is my esteemed counterpart's turn, then I take a week off for unexpected personal business, I finally come back and what am I dealing with now? Elijah Clarke: Baby-Eating Prince Of Darkness. Bashing Ford, pushing Marty, most likely killing Melinda -- he's even the mysterious Bennett Thompson! And now Jack abruptly dislikes him, a sure sign of Pure Evil. Is there anything that isn't Elijah's fault? The BP oil spill? Childhood obesity? Lindsay Lohan's parole violation?

What the hell, OLTL? What did I do to deserve a tired rehash of the Spencer storyline, only this time with a character the audience actually liked? Is this, like, personal? Did I do something, Ron Carlivati? Have we met? Did I perhaps take your seat on a crowded train this past month, heading up to Lincoln Square? Look, I know it's hot and crowded, we're all dying of the New York heat, but surely you'd have done the same in my position. There was no need to go look up my latest columns, read my gushing praise for the couple, and decide, "hurr, hurr, that Michael, I'll show him! We'll pin every crime in the universe on Elijah! What a swerve!"

Come on, it's totally ridiculous to pin a bunch of unrelated crimes to one poor schmuck no matter who they are. It's cartoon fodder, and as soon as OLTL went there, the Eli/Bennett storyline sent the show careening off into madness, hopped-up on goofballs, loaded for bear with crazy pills. Nothing is the same, everything is weird, and very little makes sense. Let's sift through the embers of sanity, together -- in Two Scoops.

So, obviously, first up we have the latest in this Evil Eli mess. It's crazy, but that's not to say Matt Walton doesn't do menace well -- he was great terrorizing Hannah and Ford this week, genially promising them no harm will come to them so long as they do exactly what he says. Thus, Hannah dons the traditional St. Anne's oversized sweater with Sleeves Of Inner Torment, and Ford keeps silent like the big wimp he is. Carlo Hesser would not be so merciful to his patsies, which makes me wonder just what the heck Eli's motive for all this nonsense can possibly be. To quote the Internet meme of the week, you done goofed, Eli -- these darn kids are going to come back to bite you. I'd like to believe there's a way to bring Eli back from the edge of all this over-the-top evil, but I can't see it happening, honestly.

Even though he apparently was the sniper on the grassy knoll in 1963, I can't help but be happy that Blair accepted El Diablo Clarke's marriage proposal, because I still enjoy the couple despite myself, and I enjoy seeing them play opposite Todd and Téa. That being said, Danielle and Todd's insta-bond still doesn't grab me, and the writing still fails to sell it. Everything seems to come so easy to the Manning-Delgado family unit as they handle cancer in the morning, court in the afternoon, and creepy new boyfriends in the evening -- where's the struggle and hardship that reveals true character bonds? Nor did I buy Todd's proposal to Téa. It's one thing for Todd to blithely declare that she, not Blair, is the love of his life, after all, but the truth is that after the last couple of years, I've decided that the love of Todd's life is himself. Unless it has to do with him, his feelings, his needs, or his ego, he is dispassionate and detached, and he didn't seem to put much thought or care into anything he said to Téa when he asked her to marry him. He's even more contemptuous of Blair, which makes me wonder why she still has anything to do with him. But whatever, OLTL wants us to believe Todd is committed and caring. I think Blair and Téa had the right idea, shoving their bickering fiancés in the Cramer pool. More crazy pills in the writers' room.

Speaking of the ongoing Bennett Thompson affair, that whole storyline is so weird and lame and random that it's doing the impossible, making Gigi and Rex fun again. Once more, I liked them this week, even though I'm willing to pay for Farah Fath to get rid of that horrible hair color. Sure, Rex is distracted by shiny things like James's case -- what else is new? As long as these characters play supporting roles, they shine. The mistake last year was putting them on four or five days a week. As for Eli's victims, Hannah's still driving a wedge between Starr and Cole from her new home in the cluck-cluck shack, also known as St. Anne's, our home away from home. They can't get through a single conversation without arguing about their recent romantic obstacles, and it's clear Starr and Cole are headed for the soap couple boneyard. Starr and James have already been rather clunkily established as True Love, which makes me wonder if perhaps Cole's ultimate destination is back in his stalker's vaguely redeemed arms as Hannah sacrifices everything "for Cole." Whatever -- the last traces of my investment in this youth set is solely with James and Starr at this point. Their story is being very crudely and obviously told, but the actors' spark transcends some seriously weak scripts. It's just a pity that James has to be tied into a huge loser family that is being forced down our throats.

As to the Ford saga -- did you know Ford's treatment of women stems from his abandonment issues with Inez, his long-lost mother, who's Nate's mom, too? It's like the Young Adult bargain-basement Brand X version of Todd Manning, circa 1993! I'm not saying Jessica Leccia is not a talented actress, and in fact, David Gregory surprised me on Friday, as well, summoning up real tears and emotion in his scenes opposite her. The bottom line, however, is that I am left with precious little reason to care about anyone in this family tree, even James. I don't care about whether Inez and Ford will reconcile when Jessica and Natalie only get a couple minutes a week to vomit up David's poison muffins. I don't care who Nate's father is when Tika Sumpter has to quit the show because they're not giving her enough to do. [For more on Tika Sumpter's decision to go to recurring status, click here.]

And I certainly don't care about Ford and Langston possibly giving it another go, this time for real, when OLTL callously cuts Markko loose without a single goodbye to anyone other than his ex. The press statements claim that Jason Tam will be returning to the show soon, but if you buy that I've got a couple large bridges to sell you. Goodbye, Markko; you were hot, sweet, and much more interesting than all the Fords put together, even if I were to mix and match their different personalities and bodies in their family chop shop. The fact that OLTL seems to think Langston and Ford are much more exciting and audience-friendly is beyond me. Again -- crazy pills.

Speaking of poor Tika Sumpter, an actress doesn't choose to go on recurring status unless they're being wasted in their current role, and Layla certainly has been this year. Oh, the Evangeline euthanasia storyline seems to be heating up, and it has some dramatic potential, but it's only been given a fraction of the airtime devoted to all the various Fords. And why would OLTL possibly want to highlight several veteran characters dealing with family issues, and an absent character whose storyline needs to be resolved? By the way, is it me, or does Aunt Viv -- I mean, Mrs. Williamson's hair -- just get wilder the more Layla and Cris trifle with her? I keep thinking it's going to lash out and attack Cristian. In all seriousness, this is a compelling tale given serious short shrift, and I can't blame Ms. Sumpter for weighing her professional options when OLTL consistently seems to be opting for the path of less interest and innovation in its summer storytelling.

Viki, Charlie, Dorian and David, obviously, are not exempt from these problems. It was just more over-the-top hijinks this week for that quartet, and even Erika Slezak couldn't salvage her material, having to play Viki as sort of a bizarre riff on Larry Flynt, forcing David to pose for a skimpy swimsuit pictorial like the editor-in-chief of a female Hustler. It was painful to watch, and played with labored, forced comedy by the great actors involved. I'm intrigued by the idea of a sort of Shakespearean-style romantic farce where Viki and Charlie try to bring Dorian and David back together, but this particular story and scenes are written for the lowest-common denominator, as if someone behind the scenes is afraid we'll tune out if any of these veteran characters start acting too adult or intelligent. I really hope this interminable business takes a more interesting turn soon, but I fear ABC's reaction to the story's reception will only be to backburner these characters further.

All in all, it was a rough week in Llanview. Eli is the root of all evil, apparently, and already we see everyone from John to Bo and Nora suspecting him of wrongdoing, apropos of nothing other than the plot demands it. I guess it's only a matter of time before he's drowning waitresses in the Buenos Dias fry oven like Hayes Barber from the "Killing Club" storyline, or putting Viki in a Chuck Norris headlock like Spencer. And once again, Blair is the clueless goat in a bad story, learning a contradictory lesson: Don't ever move on from Todd, even if he doesn't want you anymore and tried to steal both your child and your grandchild. What else can we pin on poor Eli? Victor Lord's murder? The death of Patrick Thornhart? Gigi's dyejob? He's diabolical, I tell you!

I should be back in two weeks, people, but if I'm not, you know what happened to me -- Eli beat me to death with my Tivo. Lock up your cats and hide your tooth whitener, he's on a rampage! Still, a crazy-pills week for OLTL is always a fun week for Two Scoops. I love you guys, I'm glad to be back, and I'll see you in two.


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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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