Well, that didn't end the way I expected! Welcome back from Thanksgiving, everyone; we've got the best belated Black Friday gift ever -- a crazy post-sweeps Sweeps Week on OLTL featuring a score of characters I actually care about. Bo and Nora are in dire straits, Echo might be on the verge of seducing Charlie, Marty's still on a rampage, Joey's back, and John Wesley Shipp's tan of parental rage is blazing hotter than ever as he takes former ATWT co-star Hillary B. Smith hostage. What could be better? Bar a couple bum storylines, things are firing up pretty well for a wild Christmas in Llanvew. Let's survey the damage, shall we?
Please, Eddie, Don't Hurt 'Em As I said above, John Wesley Shipp is killin' it as crazy, vaguely Cajun (I swear that's what his accent sounds like sometimes) Eddie Ford, scourge of Ohio and all points east. Llanview is further east, right? Pennsylvania? Right. Anyway, he's clearly about to be killed off in a murder mystery, as everyone on the show and their secret father is threatening to kill him. But if Eddie's gotta go, he's gonna go with a bang -- battering James, perving on Dani, and kidnapping Nora and holding her up in the Hannah O'Connor Suite at the Troy McIver Psycho Motel.
While I love Clint as the devious puppet-master patriarch, I do have to admit I somewhat question the logic of his scheme here. I imagine there's more to it, but still, I can't understand how having Eddie kidnap Nora and using her absence to attempt to break up Bo and Nora's marriage really figures into what he told Asa's grinnin' picture was a way to "do right by the family." I thought he was just doing it for his own spite. Maybe there's another shoe to drop here; I hope so, because right now it just looks petty. That being said, Clint coolly informing Inez that "I want you to sleep with my brother" and casually ordering her silly keister about was a howler -- I loved it, and I love anything that upsets drippy old Inez. I don't mind telling you I don't think Crazy Eddie is totally lying about her duplicitous ways.
So what happens now? Eddie's got Nora hostage, and who knows what he'll do to her. But in point of fact, none of this could have happened if Bo and Nora had communicated honestly. Though their reunion has been a long-awaited delight, they have never really discussed The S Word ("Sam Rappaport") and gotten down to the nitty-gritty of why and how they first lost their way. A lot of it has to do with Lindsay, who Bo has never properly credited with her share of the blame, in my mind. Bo's thoughtless remark to Nora -- "I'm not the one who cheats!" -- was heartbreaking, and smacked of his years of casual resentment, which fans endured in scenes between Woods and Smith since Bo and Nora's breakup.
That attitude was the dagger in Nora's heart for years, and played a role in her getting involved with Clint, not to mention lowlifes like Daniel Colson -- as she told Rachel on the day of her wedding to Clint, at least with Clint she didn't feel thoroughly, relentlessly judged. For this issue to return now means it must be fully discussed, assuming Nora comes out of this in one piece. Bo and Nora have got to exorcise the ghost of Sam Sr., and Bo has got to own up to his white knight complex as per women like Inez -- it's a complex he's even applied to other schemers like Lindsay, and Paige Miller. And Gabrielle, who truly loved him, but if I start to talk about poor Gabrielle, I might cry, so let's move on. Anyway...! This is good, solid storytelling for OLTL's tent-pole supercouple, and while Eddie and Clint's scheme may be a bit cartoonish, it still gets Bo, Nora, and Clint in the thick of major action informed by years of history -- where these important vets live and breathe.
The Ballad of Charlie & Drunkho Okay -- okay -- I know how that title looks. I know what it looks like I am saying. I was, in fact, merely trying to do a delightful portmanteau of "Drunk Echo" -- uh, judge for yourself. So, yeah -- Echo is now a sloppy drunk desperate to win Charlie back. And judging by that kiss on Friday, she might have a shot. I think Charlie's so desperate himself to find a new family after losing Jared that he's losing himself in a lifeline to his child, or rather, the man he thinks is his child. (And while I really like this story, I do think it's a little tired that they're doing the Charlie/Rex fakeout again.) But I believe in Viki and Charlie, and I'd hate to see them broken up in such a tawdry way. Push her away, Charlie!
Charlie is being unreasonable about Echo, but he can't see the situation clearly. I still don't quite understand why Dorian is busying herself as Viki's wingwoman here, but I appreciate OLTL's two cornerstone "broads" taking action against an interloper. I also appreciated Viki and Nora's scenes this week. In the last few years their long friendship has been reignited, whereas at points in the last decade, it seemed virtually forgotten. But hey, where's Dorian's story? Where's Dorian's love interest? At this point, sadly, David does not count. Not without a contract.
A Woman in Trouble Come on, those airport scenes with Natalie were hilarious. Psychological messages flashing on the flight monitors? Fried gold. I could not stop laughing. It's the most entertainment I've gotten out of this story in a while, except for Marty's continuing stream of crazy. She pretty much skipped over her own complicity in the Hannah affair, focusing in on Starr and James. To which I can only say: WAT. (sic) Then there was her Insanely Wrapped Present of Insanity. I'm still not sure which Buchanan twin's test results were right or wrong, and when Marty entered the equation, but it's nice that she's at least conflicted about her escalating madness -- to ruin John's life or not to ruin John's life? I vote ruin, myself.
I have to side with Marty against Todd, though. She could be making voodoo dolls of Natalie and stabbing them with pins and I'd still side against Todd for her. He had no right to take away visitation rights to Hope, and he did it because he felt like it. This character has become totally soulless, and has no emotional throughline anymore. I'll return to that in a little bit.
Isn't it interesting, though, that suddenly John is Mr. Attentive about this baby? Now he's all up in it. Makes me wonder how long this secret is going to drag itself out, or if Natalie will someday, eventually do the right thing. God knows why Gigi is backing her up, though I like their friendship -- Gigi remembers what happened with Brody, right? Right? And her keeping Stacy's scheme secret ruined her entire family for a year. Oh, well.
So Is He Still a Priest? You know we're all asking the same question! What does Joey even do? He was always the Buchanan with the soul of a poet, the dreamer, the wanderer, and I actually liked that whole "lustful church curate" thing he had going with Andrew Carpenter a couple years ago. But he's not working at Buchanan Enterprises, is he? He seems to still be taking pictures, so there's that, I guess.
Anyway: I like Tom Degnan as Joey; he's sensitive and sweet. I've lost count of how many Joeys this is. Let's see, there was Chris McKenna Joey -- or as I call him, "Frodo" -- from the Billy Douglas days. Then came Nathan Fillion of Castle. Then the truly pitiful Don Jeffcoat who Kelly cuckolded with Kevin. And then there was Bruce Michael Hall, who fell for his cousin Sarah and boffed Jen in the church pews. Wow. What a melange. The question is, can Degnan make his Joey one that goes the distance, like Nathan Fillion? So often Joey is relegated to a weakened "third lead" role on the show, sort of the juvenile tagalong for the big boys who he loses his love interests to. I think if Joey is to work long-term, the combination of a vibrant actor and strong writing has to be just right. Degnan played a wounded sort of sad sack on ATWT as Adam Munson, and Joey has at times been a wounded sad sack himself -- time will tell if Degnan can really stand up and make Joey more than everybody's little brother.
But right now all that's beside the point, because hey, Tom Degnan is hot, and this week there he was, giving Terri Conn's Aubrey the "Joey special" (Viki came up with that name, not me!) at the Palace. They appear to have known each other exactly a month, so I'm thinking this is another of Joey's less than stellar decisions. Joey -- the Suzanne Somers of OLTL's Three's Company. Meanwhile, Kelly is making a damn fool of herself, prancing around as Aubrey's new BFF and poofing up her hair, desperate to make herself look just as she did in 1995. And honestly, Gina Tognoni looks pretty gorgeous, especially when her hair's not up in these matronly buns.
However, when Kelly's heart is crushed, as we know it will be, the question is what's next for her as she and Joey slowly reconnect? At what point will she begin to explore the reasons behind her sudden shift back to Joey? Will they ever talk about the Kevin issue? And am I the only one who noticed that Aubrey is another veteran of Kelly's French boarding school -- just like Grace Davidson, Kevin's late fiancée, whose death spurred Kelly and Kevin's affair while Kelly was married to Joey? And who is Aubrey talking to on the phone? The jury is out on this story, but I'm just happy to have at least one of Viki's boys home. Now the writers need to start treating him right, as opposed to a weak chump. Also: I don't care about John. Bring back Kevin. KEV-IN. Two syllables.
And Now, the Stephenie Meyer Demographic You knew it was coming -- time for more teenaged angst with Starr, Langston, Dani, and the Fordspawn. Man, as sweet and vulnerable as I think James can be, he's starting to make Starr look like the tough stoic of this pairing. That boy will cry quicker than he'll doff his shirt. While it's an interesting role reversal, Starr still has to armor up a lot more, and the story remains lacking. While Starr's commitment to Cole is realistic, I really couldn't care less about what happens to him or them. I'd rather see her character move forward, stronger, and in order for her to do that with James, the writing has to go beyond "Starr apoplectic and hysterical about the latest crisis" -- which is her default personality. By contrast, Nate and Dani still completely bore me to tears. He's way too creepy for my tastes. She can do better.
Do I care about Ford and Langston's "no-sex" deal? No. Do I care about them? No, because the show has not made me care. I'd rather watch Markko do another interpretive dance. I'm glad we settled that. Moving on to...
Finally, there's the Todd issue again. I actually didn't mind his scenes with James, in which they compared notes about their bad, bad dads. Granted, there was a continuity error when Todd claimed he was ready to kill Peter Manning before his death -- nothing could be further from the truth in those poignant scenes -- but I thought Trevor St. John sold a fair amount of conflict in his interactions with Nicholas Robuck. The trouble of it is this: Todd is approaching James and Eddie as an "evolved" victim of domestic abuse who has supposedly put it in the past with his new family. As we know from his recent history, nothing could be further from the truth.
While a Todd/James bond could be interesting for an earlier iteration of the character, this Todd has recently raped Marty again and is now delighting in taking her last lifeline to her son; he also attempted to fake the death of his grandchild to steal her from Starr, who he inadvertently pushed down a flight of stairs. He's scum and I don't believe in his pathos for anything or anyone. So in this way, Todd and James's scenes are sadly wasted. Before you can use Todd to sell James to the audience and create an unconventional, potentially compelling friendship, you must first correct the gross imbalances in Todd's character.
There are some nitpicks, but all in all I found it to be an exciting week in Llanview. I'm truly not sure where this is all going next, but I think the show is slowly getting back on the right track, and it all starts with serious storylines for veteran players with real history. Keep it coming, and we'll have even more to be thankful for in the year-end wrap-up.
If you'll indulge me for another moment, I wanted to take time out to address one note of feedback I got from my last column, in which I was correctly taken to task for not referring to Vimal the technician's character as "Indian-American" as opposed to simply "Indian." This is absolutely correct, and it was my insensitive mistake, for which I sincerely apologize. My commentary regarding the character was somewhat flippant given that Indian-American and Asian-American characters on daytime are sadly few and far between, and that the only Indian-American in sight was a duplicitous lab technician.
However, I like to believe that my true feelings about this unfair imbalance in daytime diversity shone through in my prose. If I offended anyone by being "snarky" about this unfair lack of representation, I'm truly sorry. I think it's in all soaps', particularly OLTL's, best interest to feature characters of all races and creeds, from all walks of life, and I'd love to see more central characters of Indian, Arab, and Asian descent in the future. If I draw particular attention to these meager minority roles, it's only because I am all too keenly aware of how little they have to do. It's 2010 -- we should have more Indian-Americans on this show than a single sneaky dayplayer.
So that's that for that, and I'm looking forward to what's coming up next week, assuming Nora gets out of that roach motel, Marty keeps doing crazy stuff like smacking the flower bouquets, and James eventually stops crying. Let me know what you think, as always. See you 'round the holidays, kids.