First things first for last week in Llanview: "You're alive!" Okay, who's alive? Eli? Téa? I'm voting for both. What kind of long-lost dad sends his estranged daughter anonymous texts that say, "I'm coming for you?" And how many floral tarps can Jessica wear? That's where we're at in this post-Labor Day scoops -- a town full to boiling with secrets, lies, way too much drama, and yet more riddles and mysteries. But where is the truth behind many of these big whodunits -- or "da troof," as a friend of mine likes to say -- or if we know the answers, when will they come out?
Okay, so that's supposed to be Téa in that big gold chamber pot Todd received. Right-o, I ain't buying it. I suppose one could consider that to be "karmic payback" for Todd handing Blair a Goya beans can full of dirt in 2002 and telling her it was little Jack, but I think after all the crap he's pulled since then (rapemance, anyone?), he'd need a whole dump truck full of supposedly dead relatives to really suffer properly. Once again Todd's reaction seems muted at best to recent traumatic events, as though his dog was at the vet, or his XBox 360 got the dreaded "Red Ring Of Death" and conked out. You ask me, Todd has never been one to suffer in silence. This is usually the time Todd starts burying people alive or trying to set Blair's dates on fire. I don't get his lethargy here, and it's not helping to sell the storyline in which we are still supposed to believe Téa is really, most sincerely dead.
Then there's Greg. LOVE HIM. I know the Internet's given Terrell Tilford a lot of grief since the infamous "Chairgate" incident this time last year, but I'm sorry, I think he is an endless delight. Greg's "dramatical" approach to life is on par with the classic histrionics of Lana Turner in Imitation of Life. I was so hoping that when he went blustering into both Marty's office and Llanview High with that briefs-soiling expression on his face, that there would be a chair, stool, or some other furnished perch for him to hurl with which to express his anguish and terror; sadly, we were denied an encore of his greatest hit. Clearly, something is eating at Llanview's soapiest doctor for whom phantom organ music seems to follow his every step, and I'm assuming that has to do with him knowing about the crazy Ross/Eli/Téa situation. I'd like to believe this won't mean the end of Tilford's run on the show as yet another underused character of color, but I have a feeling poor over-the-top Greg is gonna be Eli food really soon.
Speaking of Eli -- no way is Eli dead, but the method through which the show presented his escape is pretty goofy. "Oh, a similar body was burned beyond recognition." And just where did Eli happen to find this random similar bystander during the raging inferno in Ross's flammable tiki hut after his bride's surprise attack? That is idiot plotting through and through, but I'm for anything that keeps poor abused Matt Walton on this show. I was glad to see a few characters spare a few moments on Blair and her trauma, but even Blair seemed to give all her grief over to Todd and Téa. I love Florencia Lozano but, gag me -- why can't anyone spend all day at Blair's house helping her deal with her latest psycho love interest? And why do I have a terrible sinking feeling that the show will drag Todd and Blair back together before Téa returns from the Great Beyond? Just say no, Blair! I'd sooner see her get with another serial killer.
As for the Text Messages of EVOL -- is Billy Warlock really that menacing with that haircut they gave him? I ask you, America. I mean, Warlock's a fine actor, and height or no height, he was a formidable A.J. Quartermaine, but everything about his miscast Ross simply does not work as the "credible threat" the show seems desperate to build Ross up as in order to drum up drama for Todd and Danielle. And Dani and Nate -- please, God, no more. But there will be more on Nate in a bit. Unfortunately.
Yes, everywhere the Brothers Ford go, they cause pain and sorrow for all of Llanview, as well as test my own personal boredom threshold. This week, Brody learned the truth about Teen Jess's Prom Night dalliance with Ford the First, and set about ambushing the skeeze at Llanview U. By the end of Lovett's glorious beatdown, David A. Gregory's makeup job made him look like nothing less than "Glass Joe," the first-level scrub opponent from the classic Nintendo game Mike Tyson's Punch-Out -- children of the '80s like me will recall that Ford had the same swollen eye and fat lip that ""Glass Joe" gained after a round fighting an even mildly competent Nintendo owner. Google it, you'll see, they're identical!
For all his talk of therapy with Marty and withdrawing from classes, I still can't bring myself to give a hoot about Ford or his washboard abs on which you could surely play sweet Cajun music. Also, I notice that Langston has gained some sort of jacked-up Pat Benatar hairstyle to coincide with her entry into college life, but she still seems like a kid playing at adult storylines, and Ford is no entree in that world for her character. It's. just. not. working. I would beg the OLTL powers that be to reconsider their hard sell on Ford, because there's nothing that can be worth all this snoozeworthy material.
I still think Brody and Natalie are both cruising for a writers' room bruising -- Jessica has fessed up, but they're staying silent, which will surely leave them in the doghouse. As Jessica spends her days sobbing her heart out in circus tent maternity couture, we are shown Natalie and Brody conniving over "the greater good" and John marveling at sonogram photos. I like both these characters, and greatly admire the actors. Why can't they catch a break? This has the opportunity to be a great storyline, but I feel like too much of it is centered around providing "get out of jail free" cards for John and Jessica, while Natalie and definitely Brody are left to twist in the wind; I can just see John and Jess eventually moving on to Kelly and Ford, while the other two sulk on the backburner. And that doesn't sound like fun to me.
Also, does anyone have any idea what's going on with Kelly Cramer at this point? They're giving her encounter after half-naked encounter with Rex, on location, no less, and yet I can't seem to feel anything for her or Melinda because the show never bothered to properly reintroduce the youngest first-generation Cramer sister to the show in order to make us feel for Melinda's death -- nor has Kelly had nearly enough scenes articulating her relationship with her mother, or bonding with Dorian or Addie. Kelly looks vaguely incestuous opposite Rex, and it comes off a little desperate given the age difference and the fact that poor Gigi is finally seeming to become appealing as a character again.
Also, who the heck takes the time out to grill their boss about a kiss days after his wife dies? The Todd/Kelly dynamic does not work romantically, and their "friendship" after years of antipathy is coming out of nowhere to me. What is the point of these weird scenes other than to ram home the message to the audience that Kelly can, should, must be considered with the three leading men ABC Daytime seems to most value: John, Todd, and Rex? It's nice to know ABC's priorities, but I'd rather see Kelly with characters she has real chemistry and potential with. In that vein, I'm glad to hear Joey is finally being cast, and I hope Dan Gauthier's amazing Kevin -- who Gina's done her best work with this year -- comes along for the ride. There may be a silver lining in the Kelly mess after all.
As to Cole and James -- well, James is the Ford brother I can still stand. He eased up on his hard-sell routine with Starr in a major way this week, which I much appreciated, and let's face it, Cole is really no prize. Listening to him recite ad nauseum Starr and Cole's greatest storyline hits, which were never that spectacular, didn't impress me anymore than it did James, and watching the shorter Cole swagger around James's apartment like he could take the gentle giant was pretty funny. It's obvious Cole is on the way out, but while I'm not his biggest fan and I think Starr and James are a better match, even I have to say I think the writing's a little too slanted -- Cole just comes off surly and mean most of the time, and his fights with Starr seem shallow and forced. These two kids need to really dissect where they've gone wrong, whether it's over her loyalty to Todd or his issues with Todd or his loyalty to Hannah, or whatever. Or maybe, like so many young people, they've just grown apart. I do love that Starr is so into studying the sciences at L.U., and insects -- it goes back to Starr's fascination with creepy animals as a kid. She was an atypical child, she's had some boring teenage years, and now she deserves a unique, atypical adulthood with a non-traditional "soap job."
Then there's The Rest: I love Cristian and Layla, okay, I always will. They just work, and Tika Sumpter should not have been forced out. Watching the show go through the motions of showing Cris and Layla try to work out their relationship with potential long-distance commitments is compelling, yet painful, because I really fear OLTL will not continue to use Layla on a recurring basis (much like Chrishell Stause is recurring as Amanda Martin at AMC), but instead write her out for good and move Cris to yet another interchangeable backburner romance. And maybe "Crayla" are a backburner romance, too, but that's not for lack of talent or chemistry or potential, and it's easily the most appealing romance Cris has had in many years, in my opinion. I'd rather see these two written out together than watch Cris move "onto the next one" -- I mean, they've had him go through women like Kleenex.
Finally, we're back to Llanview High, and the continued de-volution of Matthew Buchanan into Reggie the Snob from Archie Comics. I understand that watching backburner players Darren and Destiny tell me how mean Matthew was being was supposed to make me root for Nate and his triceps, but honestly, I was more insulted by the fact that playing Greek Chorus for the white folks are Darren and Destiny's only roles on the show. You can't tell an audience how to feel about characters, you have to show us who they are organically, and we still know next to nothing about Nate other than he's attractive, likes Dani, and has a broken home. I've had years with Matthew, and I'm not throwing him over for Chesty LaRue, thanks.
It feels like Matthew is getting a real raw deal -- I know his three-layers-on-the-basketball-court physique may not compete with Nate's tank-tops, but while I am still very intrigued by the Clint/Matthew connection and the question of just how Clint will insinuate himself into Matthew's life -- and possibly go against Bo and Nora in the process -- I hate the idea that the show could go the easy route and turn Matthew into a two-dimensional "Asa Jr." There was more to Asa than that, there's more to the new Clint than that, and Matthew was never the type to be so smug and nasty. If it's a question of Nate being the good guy from humble beginnings and Matthew the rich meanie, I vote meanie every time. P.S. -- Clint, Inez is no substitute for Kim Andrews. I demand Kim, not over-invested Inez and her Bo fetish. It's a little too Georgie Phillips for me.
It was a truncated week in Llanview, so everyone ran around talking about secrets, lies, and things they didn't have the answer to with little resolution. Given the missing day, I have a feeling we've got some big shockers coming to us early next week; hopefully, they'll resolve the questions of Eli and Téa's statuses without much more stalling. Their story may be bizarre, but the show's a lot more fun with both of them around. I'll be back in two weeks, but let me take a moment to mark the impending passing of As The World Turns, which will take its final bow this week, which falls on Dawn's turn at the wheel. I've remarked on ATWT's cancellation at length before, but suffice to say, our 2:00 p.m. timeslot competitor is a legendary soap with a proud history that deserves its place in television history. It will be missed, whether it was in good times or bad. Goodnight, dear. See you in two.