Yes, there's an extra 'u' because it's the British spelling used in the title of one of my favorite Eurythmics song. I'm not gonna lie -- I think I might have used this title for a column before. But let's hope not. So, okay, yes, right, it's been a wild week in Llanview -- almost as wild as the GIGANTIC SNOWMAGEDDON THAT ATE NEW YORK. I mean, what the frick-frack, Mother Nature? What did we do? I had to do my Wednesday recap this week in a whiteout! I thought I was in Doctor Zhivago! And it's so gross on the streets, and now we have more coming, they say. So really, by comparison, the chutes and ladders and ups and downs of this week's wild and crazy days on OLTL were a welcome respite.
As we hurtle into February sweeps, stuff is going down at a breakneck pace, and major stories are reaching climax while new ones were born. We've got adorable babies who finally have names, we've got Internet bullying, we've got interracial love, we've got brother versus brother, and yes, finally, we've got Ted King. And also some Roger Howarth. Wha? Let's discuss, in Two Scoops.
Todd Fraud? Let's get it out of the way: OMG IT'S TED KING OMG SO GORGEOUS ALCAZAR TAKE ME AWAY YOUR MAGIC IS REAL AND I BELIEVE IN YOOOOUUUU. Ted King, you have been the man of my dreams since my mobster husband shot me in the brains while I was giving birth on the floor. Seriously, what a coup -- I always thought OLTL was too much of a "black sheep" soap opera to grab such a talented, popular daytime leading man who's had several reasonably successful dalliances with primetime and cable. Furthermore, I love that they have taken the plunge and are forging ahead with a new story for Blair, Todd, and Téa that has actually, seriously caught my attention.
It's a premature assessment perhaps, but so far the appeal to the mysterious Tomas for me is that this is a character that, judging by what I've seen so far as well as King's recent press appearances, was actually somewhat thought-out beforehand by the writers. He has a unique occupation in the arts and a quirky, mercurial personality, as opposed to being yet another dark, sulky schemer like John or Todd or Sonny or Zach Slater. He's clearly a man of culture and intelligence, and he appears to have the capacity for sensitivity and empathy, yet unlike the way the show treats Joey Buchanan, Tomas'' open attitude does not appear to have him relegated to the role of designated goat boy and loser for Todd or John. Ted King still maintains an air of strength and competence despite odd, un-macho affectations like the artsy eyeglasses or the scarf. But I think that's the mark of a real leading man -- being unafraid to strip away all the usual tricks of the trade and phony artifice and instead inhabit a character who is not necessarily what people expect. I love the chemistry between King and Kassie DePaiva, and I'm eager to see where his character is going.
So at first glance, I liked Tomas a lot and I enjoyed the dreamy, moody scenes in his Paris flat with Blair. What's more, I'm intrigued by the story developing around Blair's painting, and the photo of Todd and Blair's 1995 "golden wedding." It was an eerily "beyond the script" metatextual moment this week when Blair stared wistfully at the picture of herself with Roger Howarth's Todd, called him her husband, and said "this was the real deal." Meanwhile, back in Llanview, Téa was slamming Howarth's Todd and tearfully testifying to her and "the new Todd's" eternal passion. "I know you love me unconditionally because you accept my pirate shirt!"
Where is this going? I haven't a clue, but I know most of us have already begun looking askance at the news that ABC will be re-running the crucial "golden wedding" episode from 1995 in a couple weeks, a great episode from a great era, and one I haven't seen since it aired live when I was about Shane Morasco's age. I'm very excited to get to relive a piece of my formative OLTL history.
Is this all leading up to the return of the Howarth, or what? I don't know, but the presence of the wedding photo in a Paris flea market circa 2003 -- the year Todd changed his face -- raises major questions, and Todd does not appear to be telling the whole truth. There's a whole block of time between when he left Llanview in Victor Lord's sarcophagus and when he returned with a new face that we can't account for; we know Todd was apparently beaten to a pulp by Mitch's goons until his face was destroyed, we know he supposedly made a bargain with crime boss Walker Laurence to take his appearance in order to deceive Mitch, but that's all we know.
I can't imagine how OLTL would begin to execute a "real Todd/fake Todd" story at this point, given all the stuff Trevor St. John's Todd remembers and can account for, not to mention his children, but I love that the show is delving into this shadowy piece of history, and I hope it serves to re-define the Todd character, who is in desperate need of serious work. The sadness Blair feels when she remembers the man she had everything with is similar to what I feel when I see today's Todd, a husk of his former self. I'm very interested in Blair and Tomas, so it's not a romantic issue, more a question of why is Todd the creep he is now, and where did it all go wrong? Is it the same man, and if so, how can he go back to being someone who tried to be a better man? If it's not Todd, then who is he, and where's the real one?
King Shot Yeah, I know, weird header. But hey, it seemed an appropriate and deadly sounding choice to take the name of film legend Alejandro "El Topo" Jodorowsky's most recent unfinished cinematic masterpiece (about gangsters under the sea!) when talking this week about your man and mine, Big Daddy Clint Buke. He's getting it from all sides this week, and now that little bubblehead Aubrey seems poised to bust him at the babies' christening (BTW, loved the names -- even Ryder). She can't take him down! No one can! Well, except maybe Bo and Nora, who really deserve justice for what Clint did to them.
Seriously, though, when it comes to protecting the family, Clint is taking it to new extremes -- facing Bo and Nora with virtually zero remorse, then disowning Joey over Aubrey. In her recent confrontation with Clint, Nora telegraphed some of where this is going when she invoked Viki's name, the one person whose judgment Clint could buckle for. And Jerry ver Dorn's actually done an excellent job of portraying Clint's strain, and buried guilt, which comes out whenever Bo and Nora mention how Eddie manhandled his ex.
With both Aubrey and the Patels on his rear, and Rex and Dorian closing in on the truth, as well, it's only a matter of time before Clint is brought down, but I can't help but hope he keeps laughing in people's faces. Watching him mock Ford and ruin that family's lives was a delight, and honestly, I don't care that James is out of school or that Nate was exonerated or that the kids are happy -- I also hate hate hate the now-very-distinct possibility that Baby Ryder is Ford's son. There's a lot of dumb stuff and people floating around Llanview these days, and we need Clint around to regulate and take care of business. He's still "King Shot" to me.
Bruce Michael Hall, All Is Forgiven And now, your Bimbo Goat Interlude of the week. Yes, Joey is still doing dumb things like renouncing his inheritance for Aubrey, showing the same keen intellect that led him to have sex with Jen Rappaport in the pews at St. James Church. He can't help it, their love is so pure! Meanwhile, the show continues to telegraph its utter lack of respect for or interest in Joey's character as Kelly begins moving in on sneaky Cutter, who they seem much more committed to.
Honestly, this story is vaguely diverting but it's barely a story at all to me; rather, it's a series of herky-jerky chemistry tests as OLTL struggles to see if Terri Conn can work (short-term, perhaps) and find out if Gina Tognoni will spark with someone, anyone other than Dan Gauthier's Kevin, the guy they won't re-hire. How did she do with Josh Kelly? So-so, in my opinion. And Kelly's not a bad actor, but there's no "there" there with Cutter so far, and the simple story -- con artists falling for their marks -- is unbelievably predictable and not endearing me to the scheming Wentworths.
What exactly would be the future of a Cutter and Kelly pairing, let alone one with Joey, or another story with Aubrey? When is this all going to stop being vaguely interesting and go somewhere real with Kelly Cramer's character? It all just seems like parlor tricks and distractions to avoid dealing with Kevin or her son Zane, or casting a smart Joey Buchanan fans can care about and connect to. But I guess that would cut into Rex's airtime.
Internet Tough Guys Oh, Shane. Did you learn nothing from the YouTube debacles of "Leave Britney Alone" or Jessi Slaughter? Never start a land war in Asia, and never leave yourself wide open on a social networking site. Just as Shane's voice breaks into a croaky bass and he heads into high school, he's become a target for Internet trolls, and so begins a "socially relevant" story, which frankly could go either way.
Most times soaps attempt to deal with the Net or current technology we get all sorts of goofy-looking monitor displays and lots of "beeps" and "boops" that have nothing to do with real computers; what's more, the message here could easily be played very heavy-handed and sanctimonious as Echo, Rex, and Gigi strain to tell us what we all already know very well: "Bullying is wrong!" So I'm hoping someone in the writers' room has taken a long look at what cyberbullying really consists of, who the kids are on either side of the equation, how they behave and why, and treats it honestly instead of resorting to hoary old soap "social issue" clichés.
I think we all know who Shane's bully may be, judging by his "WhoDaMann" screen name. I don't know why OLTL had to recast Carmen LoPorto's Jack Manning for such a story, though, as on the Internet, bullies can be all ages, shapes, and sizes. Austin Williams seems to be doing a decent job so far, so I'm really hoping this thing doesn't go totally off the rails into over-the-top histrionic drama. (Looking at you, Kim Zimmer. Also, John-Paul Lavoisier.)
I do have to call OLTL out on one point of accuracy already, I'm afraid. You see, this week, Shane used the classic E.T. Thermometer Trick to get out of school, imitating Henry Thomas's character in the Steven Spielberg classic by putting his thermometer against a lamp to simulate a fever. I would like my readers to know that at Shane's age, I used this trick early and often so I could stay home to watch the ABC soaps, and I never, ever had the degree of uncanny accuracy that Shane has -- most times, my temperature ended up reading as like 115 and my parents would glare at me and ask, "Why aren't you dead?" Kids at home need to realize that the E.T. Thermometer Trick is a fine art, which must be studied, practiced, and carefully modulated so to avoid detection and interdiction by parental units. It's not a game. It's a way of life.
Rendezvous With Rama Okay, yes, I gave the show a lot of hell for its treatment of Indian-American characters when Vimal Patel was first introduced. So what do they do? They give me the delightful Rama, Vimal's wife, as played by Shenaz Treasuryvala (some sources report her last name as "Treasurywala," so I apologize if I am perpetuating a typo). Simply put, Rama is awesome, stunning, and a lot of fun to watch, and in introducing her, OLTL is giving visibility to a people and a culture daytime television virtually ignores. That's to be commended. I hope the show continues to expand her role, especially if she can actually make Aubrey and Cutter interesting. Give me more. That is all for now on this subject, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth by ranting on and on -- if I did, they might pair Rama with John or something equally horrible.
Random Adolescent Necking Because it was random, right? I liked Matthew and Destiny's kiss, but where did that come from? And why are Theo Price and Shaun suddenly friends? It seemed like scenes were cut; Destiny was on her way to the diner, then told Theo she wasn't staying, and ran right back to Matthew to suck face. This is something I've complained about before with these characters; because they aren't Danielle or Nate, their story is a virtual afterthought to ABC and/or OLTL. Emotions and motivations are expressed in extreme, perfunctory shorthand and we are expected to tolerate it, but we didn't see Matthew and Destiny together again after that kiss, and we have no real insight into how they handled it or why they felt compelled to make out. There's something to be said for realistic spontaneity, but there's such a thing as too little setup. Again, give me more, please. Stop treating these characters we actually care about -- unlike Nate or Bobby Ford -- like second-class citizens.
It's Not Right But It's Okay Speaking of second-class citizens, Cristian and Layla finally got a conclusion to their storyline this week. Like their younger counterparts, Cris and Layla have always been backburnered and shoved aside by the show for bigger, better things, but I have to give OLTL some real credit for how this particular story was handled. The "Crayla" break-up was not an offscreen kiss-off as I'd expected; instead, they put in the time to give Tika Sumpter and David Fumero a few sensitive, decent scenes in which Layla articulated how and why she could not marry Cristian, and instead wanted to continue her lucrative career while she was still young.
Sumpter was allowed to play these scenes not as a faithless fiancée or a traitor but as a struggling heroine, and after my years of bitching about how Layla went from fashion exec to John's receptionist, it was extremely gratifying to me to see OLTL letting a woman of color voice pride in her career and her professional future, and not giving it up for a man or the whims of the plot. Yes, Layla was written out because Sumpter chose to move on, but I felt I understood her choice and could not fault her for ending things.
I'm not exactly dying to see Cris's next lame romance, because Layla was probably his best in my book. Maybe he should have gone with her to Paris. But at least they gave these characters some dignity and maturity in their farewell to each other.
...So that's the week that was. Not much moved with the baby storyline, and no, I am not going to recount the endless Starr/James "come here/go away" game, which didn't move an inch this week. Maybe in two weeks something will have developed there, as well as with Charlie's continued cluelessness regarding Echo and Rex. Despite my gripes with certain stories, I do think there was a lot of fun to be had on OLTL this week, and I can't wait to see where our big stories are going as we head into sweeps. Will Clint finally get his? Will he take Aubrey down with him (please, yes)? Will Joey catch a clue and tell everybody he's had it with their crap? Will Jessica ever again have a storyline not involving babies or mental illness, or both at once? Will Téa wear another ridiculous blouse? Maybe we'll find out next time I join you for Two Scoops. Later, kittens.