Assassination tango

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Assassination tango
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The week of March 14, 2011
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Once again, Todd and Téa's marriage has dissolved into an orgy of bondage, violence, and freaky sex.

A lot of Manning madness last week -- let's start with Monday's episode. Once again, Todd and Téa's marriage has dissolved into an orgy of bondage, violence, and freaky sex. This may be a record for them since they last tied the knot -- wait, didn't they renew their vows in November, or am I wrong? Anyway, either way, it's only been a couple months and already we're back to assaulting teenagers, tying people up, and rough yet consensual sex, possibly to be later mitigated by the presence of a convenient brain tumor. This may work for their fans -- for me, not so much a true blue fan, it is nonetheless quintessential Todd and Téa. It's what they've been about since the '90s, and it's exactly right for the kind of Bizarro Todd the character has become, a creature who has retreated into his sick pathology. There is a patina of "change" -- Téa tying up and disciplining him, ooh la la! -- but their platitudes about him being better ring far more hollow than they did during their much more earnest courtship in the old days, when Roger Howarth's Todd at least seemed to bother to try.

Trevor St. John and Florencia Lozano have always had crackling chemistry, and on a certain dramatic and soapy level, this couple is interesting to watch because of how nuts they get and how much pain they can dish out, but on a deeper level I just find myself uninterested in watching the show spit and polish a twisted relationship which doesn't ever develop or change -- Todd, who remains monotone and bored with life except when he's hurting people, is going to continue to be this kind of Todd because Téa tolerates, encourages, and enjoys it. It would be one thing if the show acknowledged that these two had become the successors to, say, Carlo Hesser and Alex Olanov's dark union and set them loose on the town, but instead they are presented as a golden couple that everyone admires. That's the part I dislike, and in my opinion that's why these "Todd and Téa, the heroic couple in danger" storylines never seem to click for the audience.

Thankfully for them, Todd and Téa have been attached to something far more interesting lately -- the mystery of Tomas Delgado, and what he's really doing in Llanview. What can I say, the show is actually doing this right. Blair and Tomas click, but Blair is appropriately gun-shy, and Tomas is obviously much more than just a starving artist. I don't believe he's the sniper attacking Todd and John, but I do want to shake Mr. Grassy Knoll's hand for capping Todd on Friday. The question of who Todd and Tomas, respectively, are speaking to on their phones is helping to keep me going during a rough patch with OLTL.

F[reak] the Pain Away

It seems like John has been wearing that same grungy warm-up jacket and tank top for six months, and he must smell like a brewery by now, but as we saw this week, the stench of long-fermented liquor has not kept Kelly -- always desperate for a story or pairing that works -- from his side. Neither rain nor sleet, etc., etc. Unfortunately, their brief spurt of chemistry has now returned to basic anti-chemistry in the cold light of sober day as these two sad, pathetic people continue to insist there is nothing sad or pathetic about their self-pitying sexcapades -- "No, really, Dorian, John wants me and he's never going to get back with Natalie!" Does Kelly even watch the show? I've been praying for John and Natalie to be over for good for ages, and it's never going to happen.

I was so glad Natalie finally called Kelly out on her treatment of Joey as well as little Zane; now all she needs to do is throw in a good word for Kevin, Kelly's much-abused true love. I don't know what they're doing with these characters, but it isn't doing them any favors, except that Brody and Natalie still have the hotness even as Natalie totally humiliates herself whining and crying about whether or not John could fall for Kelly for real. Not since the days of the triangle with Queen Evangeline has she been so demeaned. Girl, he ain't worth it! Just steer clear of downwind!

On another note -- Marty is still cryptic and slightly crazy. I am convinced she changed Liam's paternity results, but a truly sane and recovering Marty would not keep that from everyone. Or would she?

Guarding Tess

Easily the worst story on OLTL this week -- I can't sympathize with anyone directly involved. No matter how much they try to make me believe in Ford's supposed "love" for Ryder, it's not working. Viki begged him, weeping, to get Jessica help, and he refused more than once because he thought the psychotic alternate personality was a better bet with which to pay his rent. And I was over Tess years ago -- the rationale they provide as to why she can't be committed to St. Anne's is absolute poppycock, and it's obvious they think we're all idiots stupid enough to believe it. Why do I have to watch her and this guy day in and day out? And could OLTL make it more clear how little they ever cared about poor Langston, who's halfway out the door? Her "romance" with Ford was just a device to try to redeem him in the audience's eyes. Brittany Underwood deserved so much better from this show, given the enormous potential she had when Langston became a Cramer in 2007.

Then there's Starr and James, who are almost exciting compared to the rest of this sorry crew, if only because Starr continues to get butcher and tougher when paired opposite James, the sweetest, wimpiest guy on the face of the earth. A slight breeze could knock him over, but I guess he's still decent as compared to his creepy brothers and Cole's perpetual exhaustion and brutish mumbling. They're not exactly Holden and Lily but if James hangs around long enough, maybe Starr will fully re-grow her intelligence and strength in order to compensate. I could live with that kind of bad girl/good boy thing -- it's kinky!

I Don't Know Jack

I'm sorry -- Andrew Trischitta is not cutting it as Jack Manning at all. Young Austin Williams is carrying this bullying story on his back with an intense performance as Shane, but the writing is awfully clunky and Trischitta's performance is extremely wooden and stilted -- is it too late to get Carmen LoPorto back? I think this story has a lot of potential, but so far I'm supremely dissatisfied with the rote, generic storytelling involved. Jack is a stranger to us now, the scripts do nothing to articulate his character changes, and Trischitta's portrayal is completely opaque. This story has barely begun and already it's got a lot of ground to make up. I'll talk about it more once it really gets going. By the way, I still don't believe Matthew would abandon his cousin in this story.

An Affair to Projectile Vomit Over

Okay, well, Charlie Banks has been destroyed. He's having a full-blown affair with Echo, and he appears to be mostly okay with that. When Dorian -- the woman who busted Sloan and Viki's affair to Clint in the '90s -- is the voice of fidelity and reason for Viki's marriage, all is pretty much lost. I am heartbroken and angry about this turn of events, and was totally unsurprised to hear about the firing of Brian Kerwin. This talented veteran of stage and screen deserved so, so much better from OLTL over the last year or two, but he and Erika Slezak and the couple they formed have been shortchanged for an eon and a day as per their age range. I absolutely loved Viki and Charlie in 2007 and onward; I could have watched them happy together 'til the day this show went off the air. Losing them like this just crushes me, and I can't imagine why Ron Carlivati has decided to mutilate one of his signature couples.

If the reasoning behind the destruction of Viki and Charlie is that the show hopes to reunite Viki and Clint -- judging by the frequency of the exes' scenes together these days, a near-certainty down the line -- I have commented before on how pointless I would find that move. Clint is far more interesting now as the grey king of the Buchanan clan than as Viki's nice husband; when he returned to angst over her back in 2005 and 2006, the character was a complete bore with no forward momentum, and fans detested his vindictive romance with Dorian, which seemed to thrive on publicly humiliating Viki. Now Clint drives story and is a force to be reckoned with on his own -- for the first time since Viki dumped him for Sloan, I might add -- and Jerry verDorn has shared intense chemistry with any number of ladies (he even makes Aubrey work!), not the least of whom would be the gone-but-not-forgotten Kim Andrews, who Clint still speaks of in hushed tones. Why Kim hasn't been recast yet is beyond me.

I believe in evolution, not de-volution, and I think the way forward for the show should have been to keep Viki and Clint connected and draw on their complicated romantic history while moving them forward with other spouses. I could have gotten behind a Kim/Clint/Viki/Charlie quadrangle, but the treatment of Charlie in this storyline is a slanted sabotage, which only poisons the well for me when it comes to revisiting one of OLTL's old supercouples. Viki and Clint were great in their day, but they've been gone a long time, and both characters have grown and changed substantially since 1993. Why go backwards, and why throw Charlie under a fleet of tour buses to do it?

The Search for Tuc

It figures -- no sooner does Dorian have a new romantic prospect, we're back to hunting for David Vickers. I actually love David and Dorian, but at this point, I have no faith that the show will do anything but the same old bait and switch with the couple where Tuc Watkins pops in, then pops back out. In the meantime, Josh Kelly's scorching chemistry with La Strasser made me wish he really had been cast as Joey Buchanan instead of landing in the vague, thankless role of Cutter, who literally just seems to be floating around doing nothing.

I did love the cheesy "exotic" font the title cards used for "Morocco" when Bo and Rex were overseas -- that was hilarious. And I liked Bo's genuine anger and fear for his son. The Bo/David relationship has never been properly explored for a long enough stretch, and I hope that if Tuc Watkins is actually returning for a substantial period, the show finally delves further into what it means for David to be a full-blooded Buchanan. I'm also looking forward to seeing Tonja Walker as Alex again -- it figures she would be involved in this nonsense.

...And the Rest

Two quick items: one, Joey remains the dumbest man alive for crushing Clint's incriminating jump drive under his heel just because...well, because he's that dumb, apparently. Why does OLTL hate Joey Buchanan so much? Also, Matthew totally killed Eddie Ford, and if they write him out over this after making him into such a jerk in order to prop up Nate, I really will quit watching. You've been warned, Ron Carlivati.

So that's your week that was -- some great, some awful, some real ugly. Join me in two weeks, and in the interval I will pray for Tess to once again disappear. It's been real, ducks, see you later.


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