Prime suspects

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Prime suspects
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The week of May 9, 2011
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Tomas works as a full-fledged character, as a man of mystery, and as a potential new lover for Blair.

Hello, my darlings -- we're back! Okay, so you'll excuse me for sounding chipper, but it's been a couple weeks, we've started to absorb the shock, I think, and what can we do right now after all the tumult and chaos but go on with the show, right? The morbid cancellation column is out of the way, and this time, I promise, it's all the week that was in Llanview and nothing but. We'll let January take care of January, we'll tackle the future as it hits us, but in the meantime we've still got many months of OLTL left to cover. May Sweeps is upon us, and Llanview looks ready to kick off its last summer on the air (though not in our hearts) with a bang.

Sho(o)t (By) The Piano Player(?) ...See, because the movie is Shoot The Piano Player, but on the show the question is "did the piano player shoot Todd?" and so -- yeah, never mind. Anyway, first things first: Who shot Todd? My bet is not Tomas, and I think our current Todd may very well know that. So why lie? Whether Tomas is CIA, FBI, or World Security Bureau (shout-out to Robert Scorpio and Anna Devane), he's a soap opera spook, and he's in Llanview because of Todd and that mysterious coded file featuring Roger Howarth and his Pearl Jam haircut. What it means, precisely, is still up for debate, but I'm really getting into this story.

A big part of why this tale works thus far, in addition to the work from leading ladies Kassie DePaiva and Florencia Lozano, is the sheer presence evoked by Ted King as Tomas, a compelling character who for once doesn't appear to have been built simply to burn on John or Todd's altar à la Eli or Ross -- though who knows what will happen to this new contract player with the show now cancelled. In any event, Tomas works as a full-fledged character, as a man of mystery, and as a potential new lover for Blair. They were unbelievably hot together at Capricorn without taking a stitch of clothing off, and I thought it was quite worth all the wait. The key to this story is that it looks like Blair may once again fear the worst about another man she's fallen for, only for it to turn out that Tomas isn't really the shooter after all. Can they build on that as the mystery deepens?

The elephant in the room here, of course, is Roger Howarth, who returns -- as someone, but who? -- next week. We've all seen the press photo by now, I'm sure; he's wearing a trucker cap, a mangy bit of roguish beard, and a befuddled if typically intense expression. And a certain trademark scar. Does the presence of the "old" Todd's scar on Howarth's face mean that he's the genuine article, and Trevor St. John's Todd is an imposter? And in any event, what will Howarth's presence do to the romantic prospects for both Blair and Téa? I'm really into this strange, baffling mystery so far, and I actually can't wait to find out.

Whichever Todd this is, he has woken from his coma and finally had a chance to take stock of the whole bullying situation with Jack and Shane. For the first time in ages, St. John's Todd displayed a decent human reaction not steeped in sociopathy, although I did roll my eyes when he haughtily insisted he had never suggested Marty had asked to be raped. No, he didn't say that out loud -- but he did rape her twice and go to court to try to prove the second time was "consensual," so what's the difference really, Captain "Air Quotes?" Further, he invoked for Jack his own suicide attempt shortly after Marty denied his romantic intentions, which still leaves a bad taste in my mouth -- I'd have sooner heard him talk about the first time he pondered suicide, back in the nineties, during his original prison sentence -- back when he was becoming a man who really wanted to change. I don't know how Friday's slightly gentler (if scheming) Todd squares with the "two Todds," but it's an ongoing riddle I can't wait to solve. Trevor St. John's performance is taking on some very interesting angles and nuances; you have to watch him every minute.

On a side note, the bullying story continues to plod along, apparently in third gear as other stories take precedence; Rex and Gigi ran interference for the John/Natalie baby story this week (more on that in a second), while for some reason, Shane still has a Myface page. Are you kidding me? Delete it, Morascos! Andrew Trischitta (Jack) has slightly improved in the presence of adults, but he's still no match for Austin Williams' performance as Shane, or for most of the potted plants on set, for that matter. Williams is doing too much good work even in these filler scenes to be sidelined; I hope this plotline heats up again soon.

My Dinner With Crazy As always on soaps, I must question the wisdom of people wining and dining obvious lunatics/supervillains to try to "get to the truth." It never quite works out. Remember Blair's "sting operation" against Spencer? Yeah, and this business with John and Marty's candelit dinner is equally goofy. Susan Haskell is doing a great job rocking otherwise lame material, because wow, Marty has rarely looked crazier, even in the old days when she was out for blood if you left the toilet seat up. It's beyond me how John kept his poker face, or how poor Dr. Buhari and her fabulous "what do you mean, it's not 1985?" 'fro kept their composure when faced with an obviously totally bonkers patient.

So yes, Marty is a few Good 'n Plentys short of a full purple box, if you take my meaning. All that nutty bobbing and weaving and the wanderin' eeeyeeeeesssss. Charlie Sheen looks more settled. I do love Melissa Archer's reactions opposite Haskell because Natalie pretty much stands in for the audience with a constant demeanor of incredulous bafflement and near-hysterical laughter. Now that Natalie has the fateful session tape yet again, hopefully this thing will begin moving along. That being said, I hate that the show is throwing Marty under the bus like this -- the character and the actress deserve so much better, and Natalie still deserves way better than John. I'm not so deluded as to think this show will not end with John and Natalie together. I just wish John was something worth winning. It doesn't matter how many hair colors Gina Tognoni tries on per month, either -- John and Kelly aren't going to save each other's storylines.

Hot Mess, Part XVII "You're enjoying this!" Bobby Ford sobbed, whimpering at Joey as he gave up baby Ryder to the Buchanan newlyweds. Joey insisted he wasn't, but hey, I'll admit it -- I totally was. Every moment. This show has worked overtime to attempt a redemption arc for the Coward Robert Ford, they overdosed on pimp juice hoping to create a spark between Ford and Tess (how many times in two months must I hear someone on the show tell me how much Ford is falling for Jessica's psychotic alternate personality?), but it's simply never going to work -- this guy is pond scum with great pecs. I savor his agony; I drink his petulant tears. His pain is my bliss!

Sadly, Ford's not the only problem here -- the entire Tess storyline remains completely ridiculous. God only knows how she legally married Ford in the first place, let alone divorced him and married Cutter in the same night. Honestly, though, when I look at this stuff, all I see is a lot of wasted potential for better things. I've talked before about how interesting it would've been to see the integrated Jessica take her own brand of vengeance on Natalie and Brody, sans DID, alters, or Ford. And Josh Kelly once again shone in scenes with Robin Strasser as Dorian taunted Cutter about Aubrey's feelings for Joey. Why can't we have more of those two, perhaps as a counterpoint to David and Dorian's own May-December beginnings, sort of the evil twin to Joey in Dorian's life? Cutter and Dorian could get up to any number of things, Dorian could struggle with her marriage -- she's employed many a handsome young grifter over the years, dating back to the Nancy Pinkerton days in the '70s. It would still be a heckuva lot more interesting than all this.

It's not that I don't think Terri Conn and Josh Kelly are doing the best they can with what they have; it's simply that this material is increasingly rote, or, when compelling, wasted servicing the wrong characters. Why not have Joey learn the truth, and get some of his spine and strength back to take the Wentworths down? If you ratchet up the stakes with Aubrey's schemes instead of just having her constantly pay off or blackmail every adversary, the audience will watch that much more often, waiting to see her taken down. Instead, Aubrey is invulnerable, and Cutter is chained to Tess, where all good (or in Ford's case, awful) characters go to die. Le sigh.

Matthew The Killer Pimp And now to nicer things: Matthew and Destiny got it on! Just one look (and what a look!) from Llanview's premier Junior Jewish Mac Daddy, and Destiny Evans punched her ticket for the summer lovin' express! I certainly wasn't expecting that on Thursday, but honestly I welcomed the two teenagers making love. Sure, it may have seemed abrupt, but sometimes that's how these things happen, especially with young people in vulnerable situations. The attraction between Matthew and Destiny has lingered for years, and they were both finally old enough and in the right place mentally and emotionally to do something about it. It wasn't cheap, it wasn't exploitative, Todd didn't come in and beat anybody up, and Nate was nowhere to be found. And really, Danielle doesn't know what she's missing -- despite Nate's advanced age, he cannot replicate the sheer mackage Matthew transmitted through that single look at Destiny! It's too real for you, Dani, you can't take it!

Sex aside, I don't know what's going to happen to Matthew -- hopefully he'll stay out of jail and on the show despite the Llanview gossip hens. I adore the kid, I love Eddie Alderson in the role and I'm hoping this tale doesn't have a tragic ending -- for him, or for Clint, who appears to be dying of Alan Spaulding Cancellitis. I hated when GL just killed Alan off for cheap thrills at the end of their run, and I'll hate it if OLTL kills off Clint, who's a much more complex and multi-dimensional character now than Spaulding was by the end of that show. They're speeding down Redemption Road with Clint, but I hope he a) doesn't die and b) doesn't get too tame.

Brokedown Contessa "How could you do this to me?!" Really, Echo? Really? Oh ho ho, I loved it, what can I say -- I loved Viki striding into the hospital elevator, heading over to the Minute Man Motel, and busting Echo to Charlie, even if it was a pyrrhic victory. Every moment was a delight -- Erika Slezak perfectly conveyed Viki's awkward, stilted anguish at having to be in the same room with her husband who's just left her for another woman, and Brian Kerwin gave his best performance on the show in ages, perhaps his best performance on the show period, as did Kim Zimmer. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: It is a waste and a travesty that this fine actor is being cut loose by OLTL right as he's allowed to show his stuff again after an aeon of poor and/or lackadaisical writing. There was much more to be done with Viki and Charlie, and even if she was re-paired with Clint or a triangle developed, Charlie's storyline could have continued with some dignity -- more than he's been allowed in a long time, but all of which he summoned up for his fiery confrontation with the Countess DiSavoy.

I laughed out loud watching Echo paw at the motel windows and howl at the moon as Charlie walked out of her life; I half-expected her to smash through the glass like a shambling beast, roaring into the night. It was sheer camp, and great soap. And of course, Kim Zimmer got a truly crazed look on her face as Echo vowed revenge on Viki and Dorian; all that was missing was a facial tic. This is still a cast-off Edge of Night character, after all, so I'm actually really excited to see what crazy nonsense Echo can cook up. Hopefully she'll take a tip from Marty, and not play it safe.

Yes, This Storyline Is Still Going ...And then there was this. Deanna is searching for her birth mother. Beyond my applauding OLTL openly showing a interracial teen romance, even in past tense, I could not really care less. This was already boring me to tears, and then they had to bring Nate into it and that just took it to a whole new level of suck. Any week a Ford appears on this show (you don't count, Ryder, you're a sweetheart, and I still think you're Brody's baby) it automatically goes south. Granted, neither James nor Cole interest me, and at least now Starr has some sense of strength back, but when she asked Dani if she was a bitch to Deanna, I had to roll my eyes -- Starr hasn't been anywhere near a conniving soap bitch in years, well before adolescence. Maybe that's where this incredibly boring story needs to go -- bring Starr's bitchiness back full throttle, and let her and Deanna go at it. Better yet, let them team up against someone else. I don't know, I'm just trying to think of ways to make the teen scene not suck.

So aside from that unfortunate interlude and the Ford Fracas, it was a pretty decent week in Llanview. I'm pretty fired up about Tomas and the two Todds, as well as Tomas and Blair, and I can't wait to see where this is going to go next. I'll see you in two weeks, when we can pick up with Roger Howarth. God, it's going to be surreal having him back. I'll have to go brush up on my memories with the help of YouTube; his Todd was so different. But he even looks good in a trucker cap! Oh, now I'm babbling. I love you all, see you in two. Oh, and call your mother, it's Mother's Day!


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