February 24, 2006
That being the case, I realized when I sat down here that I could not let AMC go unmentioned since it has just been so good lately. I have to hold up the last two weeks of AMC as being what good, classic soap is really about and what truly defines the genre.
Thwarted Romance - Zach and Kendall - "How can I love you if I can't trust you?" is the question that has plagued soap couples since the beginning of daytime drama. It's one we sometimes ask ourselves in real life, but as always, in soap life, what happens in real life is increased to the 99th power. We were promised the romance of the century, but "with great power comes great responsibility" and ka-bam! We knew that whatever detonated to blow the relationship apart would be just as tremendous as the relationship itself. We still haven't heard the last shoe fall, which is when we hear (this is speculation, not spoiler) that not only was Greenlee's egg not used, neither was Ryan's sacred sperm! I can picture Zach Slater getting Marty to take down the power in Pine Valley. What I can't imagine is Zach flying to Madden Halls of Medical Science and Fertility, bursting into the bathroom as he grabs a sterile cup on his way in, frenetically cranking out a specimen in record time, rushing it into Greg Madden, who happens to be there to perform the emergency rush procedure on Kendall, hiding behind a sonogram machine and saying, "Psssst!!! PSSSSST!! Use this or I'll tell Erica you adopted her embryo!!!"
The good news is that this also brings up another soap staple, the "Who's the Daddy" story.
I do believe they will ultimately get together for as long as soap couples ever get together, but I also think Kendall is likely to do something stupid like marry Ryan first. What I would be happy to see is for Kendall to give Zach several chances to reunite, for Zach to be lost in his grief and confusion, the little wedding to be planned and for Zach to pull a Benjamin Braddock and go flying to church at the last second, beating on the windows and proclaiming his love for Kendall. I can wait for fulfillment. Really.
Tortured Secrets - Should Erica tell Josh she's his birth mother? Should she not? Will the secret tear her apart? Will Joe Martin be able to keep his trap shut? Will Jack get all bossy and insist on what she should and shouldn't do?
A Crazy Person - A soap just is not complete without a lunatic on the loose, blowing things up, kidnapping people, wearing disguises and bugging out their eyes when they talk (it's the first sign, Ryan, look out!). Janet fulfills that need in spades. What's great about Janet is that she also provides yet another delicious tidbit of soap standard munchies which is the delectable "Nod to the Past." It is always refreshing when the writers pretend as though there really are long term, dedicated, veteran viewers who remember what happened on the show more than a year or two ago.
Good Love Gone Bad - Even though we know that JR and Babe are still melty for one another, they are the truest example of that very thin line between love and hate.
"I Love You; No I Do NOT!" - Proving that the old adage about apples and trees is dead on, their parents reflect another soap standard of the couple who loves to hate each other and hates to love each other.
Day of the UnDead - Of course, you can't have good soap without someone coming back from the dead (twice in this case) and doing the obligatory lurk about for a couple of weeks while we wonder when they will jump out and yell, "Surprise!" Since we won't have Dixie's memorial for her to crash, we'll have to make do with something equally as staggering.
Then there is the antithesis of Day of the Undead which is:
True Grief - There is no better time for an actor to produce a good Emmy reel than when their true love dies and Terri Ivens has been turning out quality work in her portrayal of the grieving Simone. She has faithful rendered the stages of grief and made me cry with her every single time (until she was in the room with Julia, which just made my blood run cold). I deeply hope that the writers will provide her with a story after this and not simply shove her to the back to let her cry forever.
Wild Card - There always has to be one character in the bunch who has you guessing and Jonathan is just that. Is he faking? We've had a clue here and there that he might be, but overall, his wide-eyed, child-like new personality has held up and I tend to forget that there used to be a Jonathan who could make full sentences and manipulate situations like a champ. I am eager for Levin Ramblin to get over mono so we can see what happens next. I'm not sold on the couple because Jonathan seems just way too old for Lily (I try to think of Lily courting Maggie's ex and it just doesn't work for me and feels sort of child molesty if I think about it too much, so I don't). I just enjoy the mechanics of the story. I swear, to be someone who doesn't like to be touched, Lily is going through boyfriends like water!
How can you NOT love a show that loves us enough to mix all of the best components of daytime drama into one delicious mix to be served up as a buffet of soap delights? Thanks, AMC, for caring enough to bring it all together in an artfully woven tapestry of good story, good writing, good acting and good viewing!
Since I am commenting on the other two shows, I wanted to briefly remark upon the sweeps activity for OLTL.
For a while now, OLTL has been my favorite of the three shows, content to remain in the background, gently rolling over stories that are relationship based and very character driven, not so much relying on special effects, dramatic and cataclysmic events or big hype.
That is why it really hits you between the eyes when it brings out something like, "And Margaret is really alive so Todd is innocent and of course he will ultimately be freed because Trevor St John is on contract and ... oh, look! Spencer Truman just bludgeoned Margaret and her baby to death with a baseball bat. Folks, this might take longer than we thought.
You've got to be careful with OLTL... they're sneaky little buggers. You'll be lulled into a complacent rhythm of storytelling flow and then BAM! They clobber you with a baseball bat.
As I was rewatching the scene where Todd asks Blair to look him in the eyes and tell him she believes he is innocent, I realized that the way I really wanted this story to "end" was for Todd to be ultimately acquitted, Spencer to "go away" and for Blair to really want to get back together with Todd and be forgiven for ever doubting him. What I would then like is for once in their relationship to have TODD to be the one to reject Blair for not believing in him and for thinking he could kill his own baby. (To her credit, giving his own baby to David Vickers to sell likely gave her an idea that he's not averse to stepping over fine lines, but hey, he didn't know it was his baby at the time!) Maybe it's Blair's turn to feel wretched and faithless for a while, for her to be rejected and I fully expect that Star would side with Todd, which would be even more of a kick in the designer pants. Maybe Blair should be by herself in the Loser's Club for a while.
Todd can then hook up with Evangeline, who DID believe in him.
Adrianna and Rex and Natalie and John and Cris back and forth and back and forth until I just so completely do not care any more.
I really loved watching Niki Smith operate this week, which was refresing. It reminded me of back in the olden days when I was actually eager for Niki to put in an appearance. Somewhere around the time that Tori burned down Llanfair and we learned that there was a Jean Randolph, Niki got too exaggerated and clownish for me. In the beginning, like Tess, she was a real party girl with tremendous disrespect and sure, she was brassy and ballsy and mouthy, but it was not really to a point of being as muggish as she came off in recent times.
Yesterday, in the scenes with Sam, I saw the old Niki back again and it was great. It made me miss Vinnie.
If I ever were to have another son (physically impossible), I'd name him Vincent.
Valentine's Day was sweet for me because I got to see Roxie at her Roxie best. I really do miss her. I guess they wrote her into a box and didn't know what else to do with her. (If they'd call me, I could give them some really good ideas).
I do have to say that General Hospital was more "General Hospital" this week and last than it has been in years. It's not just the return of veteran faces that gives me this impression. It's the overall feel of the show.
Since we were dealing with a virus, emphasis returned to the hospital itself, which in and of itself brought back memories of the old GH. There was definitely a time, for many, many years, when the hospital was the hub of the show and at least one scene in three occurred there.
The virus was a flashback to the "Lassa Fever" story of 1979 (about 45 minutes after Luke met Laura). In fact, Tony's death mirrored in a way because Dr Hardy worked tirelessly to treat the victims of the virus (GH had been placed under quarantine at that time as well) until he collapsed and nearly died from the disease. The only real change to the GH landscape from that epidemic was that Jeff Webber learned that Dr Hardy was really his father instead of Lars Webber, as he'd been told his whole life (Jeff's mother had an affair with Steve). We did not, of course, at that time know that Jeff would go on to have a child off screen who would end up being on the show for twice as long as he was himself. Also, little did we know that Lassa Fever is a very real virus that originated in West Africa. GH, for the most part, has been conscientious about keeping the disease side of their writing real.
Unlike the Lassa Fever story, the biochemical virus that spread over Port Charles in the past two weeks left a profound impact on the characters in the show. I am going to try and count the different changes that have occurred.
1) No more Tony Jones
2) No more Courtney
3) One baby added
4) We learned that Nikolas is the father of Courtney's baby.
5) We learned that if there is serum to be had, Sonny's gettin' it.
6) Maxie and Nikolas connected and there is rumor that it may actually lead to sumpin.
7) Sonny and Emily finally stopped beating around the bush (tee hee) and "did it."
8) As a result of Courtney's death, Mike and Sonny are estranged for the time being.
9) It was revealed that Alexis gave a baby up for adoption.
10) It was revealed that age has been very kind to Alexis.
11) It was revealed, sort of, that Sam is adopted.
12) We learned that Dr Patrick Drake does have a heart.
13) We learned that Dr Asian Woman has a name: "Dr Kelly Lee" played by Gwendoline Yeo.
14) Robert Scorpio returned (and Tristan Rogers has signed a 1 year contract with GH).
15) Lulu and Luke reconciled.
16) Tracy vowed to be a "better person."
17) Georgie and Dillon married.
18) Felicia once again chose the wrong time to go to Texas.
19) Danny came to Port Charles just in time to get sick and die.
20) Holly returned and proved to be as much of an asshat as I remember her being before. (Gods, I hated that character!)
21) We learned that people are allowed to come and go around and handle a critically ill baby in the neonatal intensive care unit absolutely as much as they'd like as long as they wear the almighty, germ-barrier of the yellow paper gown.
22) We learned that under it all, in her heart of hearts and soul of souls, Carly is still totally hot for Jason.
23) We learned that Jason won't let himself be in love with Carly because she is the one person who could really break his heart.
24) We learned that "uninfected people are ordered to stay in the cafeteria" actually means "mill about as desired."
25) Rick and Sonny kissed and made up.
26) We learned that Lorenzo really does care for Skye.
27) We learned that Holly kept her maiden name after she and Robert married and split up.
28) We learned that Ned, Brook and Edward evidently no longer exist.
29) We learned that someone besides me remembers "The Floating Rib."
30) We saw the beginnings of "Patrick wuvs Robin."
That's a LOT for just a couple of weeks!
I can wrap it up in two words ala "In Living Color..."