April 15, 2007

Brave New World

I wonder if I should have titled this just "New World" because there's not much of a sign of bravery around except for those of us who are willing to stick it out and see what's on the other side.  If you consider survivors of a nuclear holocaust who are all huddled together in a bomb shelter sharing rations and waiting for the "all clear," wondering what awaits them on the other side of the door to be "brave," then I guess that is just what we are.  Sometimes, we go after bravery and other times, it's thrust upon us because there really is nothing else to do.  In this case, our immense love for the shows and our status as official victims of habit keep us compelled to watch and see what happens next.  All three shows have been hit with their own mushroom cloud and when we come out of the shelter, we could encounter a soap world that is fresh and new and purged and ready to support new and exciting growth. Just as easily, that door could creak open to reveal a poisoned wasteland where only the cockroaches and the rats have managed to survive intact and all other living creatures have been mutated to a deformed and bastardized version of what they once were.




All My Children was hit with the C bomb (not the A bomb) when the Carey women came to town.  Under the poison pen of Megan McTavish, Babe and Krystal became the Kryptonite that would bring down ABC's supershow.  Although through the years, we have watched Adam move in and out of the various depraved and irrational rooms of his mind, we always knew that we could depend on him to be eternally, irrevocably and even predictably Adam.  Much like Erica, who always is Erica underneath, even during the "awwww" Erica moments that move us to the realization that a human heart might actually beat in that perfectly shaped, narcissistic chest, Adam is Adam with rare moments of demonstrated humanity.


What Adam is not is a balless wonder who allows himself to be duped over and over in the name of love.  Or at least he wasn't until Hiroshima Carey came into town and leveled our intrepid hero in one good blast.  I have to wonder what Liza would think if she got a good briefing on the past year or so.  I don't know what kind of warped life McTavish lived that makes her twist a good ol' cuckolding into a story where the cuckoldER is the victim and the cuckoldEE is a complete bastard for being more than a little bit pissed off that his beloved wife slept with his lifelong enemy and passed off that enemy's child as his own.  In what world would everyone Adam knows look at him with repulsion over his fury at what Krystal has done?  WHY would he want her to continue to live in his house?  WHY would he want to say, "Oh forget about it, I love you too much to care?"  WHY should he have to suffer the further indignity of having Tad move into his house and punish him by locking him in his own attic?  Hell, I'd want to burn Tad's house down too!  Obviously, he's not using it!  If anything, it's an appropriate representation of Tad burning down Adam's life by sleeping with his wife.


I am still agog at the fact that Krystal slept with Tad in the first place.  Tad was angry with a man, so he buried him alive in a coffin and tortured him there for days and days while he was covered in his own filth and indignity.  Who knew there would be an earthquake, resulting in Greg's death?  Certainly not Tad, but you just have to take those things into consideration when you bury someone alive to torture them.  I can't say that I would be comfortable with my spouse going over to "comfort" their ex-lover, regardless of the reasons for their little upset.  If they were determined to do that (and I honestly don't think Adam would have been thrilled about it either), I would imagine their comfort to take the form of a pat on the back, maybe a hug, a sympathetic ear, passing the Kleenex or even a casserole for dinner.  Is Krystal really so limited in expression that the only way she can comfort a man is to spread her legs for him? 


I have no love for Dixie at all, laws no, but I do think she took a lot of undue flack for being the one who carried the secret of Tad's indiscretion.  She could have done more with the information than she did, but overall, she kept her own counsel with it.  The fact of the matter is that the responsibility lies with Krystal and Tad, who created the situation that Dixie witnessed.  Once they took that step, whoever saw what was left to their own devices as to what they did with that knowledge.  It was quite a load for Dixie to carry, especially once the news of the pregnancy was revealed.  Yet she was asked to hold that confidence and further that lie.  Was it her secret to tell?  Sure it was.  She was an eye-witness.  She was directly told by David that DNA tests revealed Tad to be the father of Krystal's baby.  She knew and had no ethical responsibility to tell or not tell.


I guess the reason that I see Krystal's adultery as so insidious is that I am quite sure that she has met Adam.  She knows him. As nearly as I can tell, he has been more open and less guarded with her than with any of his other wives or relationships.  He tired hard not to love her, but finally caved in and gave her his heart completely.  She admitted to him that she had married him to take his money; an act that would likely be the most unforgivable sin a woman could commit against Adam, including adultery.  He forgave her that and promised her that they would live from that moment forward.  Did she really not understand what a gift that was?  He was affectionate with her and very consistent and demonstrative regarding his love for her.  He denied her nothing.  He never tried to change her, even welcoming her truck driver friends into the mansion when she tried to piss him off by having that first party.  He provided for her lavishly and asked her for nothing in return except her love and her loyalty.  How many women would absolutely swoon for that situation?  A handsome, charming older man declares his love, offers to meet your every want, need and whim financially, move you into his mansion, take care of your daughter, loves you to distraction and all he wants in return is that love and loyalty.  I imagine the very vast majority of us could manage to keep our legs together and just enjoy that life, saying "thank you" every day and finding the joy in the blessings you've been given.  I'm thinking most women could manage to not screw an old friend because he's "sad." 


Adam is not the villain here.  Jamie, JR, Babe, Krystal, Tad and now Colby all revile Adam as unreasonable, reactionary, dangerous and repulsive.  When they encounter his anger, it is treated as unjust and with the response of, "Yeah, but..."  Krystal showed no sympathy or consideration for Adam after the truth was revealed.  She insisted on being "in his face" and omnipresent, determined to convince Adam that he loves her and wants to be with her at a time when he was desperately hurt and confused and needing space to grieve.  In one fell swoop, he lost a beloved unborn daughter and a treasured wife.  No one allowed him to process the grief from those losses.  He was expected to immediately forgive and move on happily to the delivery room.  Again, have these people not MET Adam?  If Krystal had any ounce of dignity and respect for Adam, she would have admitted how deeply she'd wronged him, apologized, told him how much she loved him and LEFT.  Sure, he might have come to her eventually because yes, he does love her, but she never allowed him the time to come to terms with all that happened in his own time.  She kept pushing and pushing him, demanding to stay in his house and even creating the circumstances that moved TAD into the house.  What these people did to him after the truth came out was in many ways just as cruel as the truth that was revealed.


This all just stinks to high heaven.


Of course, the model for the perfect Carey reaction to marital grief would Babe, who was willing to forgive JR after he tried to kill her.  You know, for me, that's pretty much a deal breaker.  If you drop a house on me, or try to, I'm about done.  Since she was able to forgive JR and move along in marital bliss as though nothing happened, I guess in their minds, Adam should be able to do the same.  Babe understands that when a man comes along who wants to sleep with you, whether or not your husband would be hurt or betrayed by you doing so, it's your obligation to spread those pretty legs and start gasping with joy.  She did it with Jamie.  She did it with Josh.  Like that post-nuclear holocaust situation, it's a whole new world after the Carey women come to town.  New rules, new standards and just when you think you've got them figured out, it changes according to their own whims.


Why these two women are being held up as victims and sympathetic creatures is completely beyond me.  Bomb #1.




Silent, but deadly.  Not so much a mushroom cloud hit One Life to Live as some kind of permeating, mind-altering nerve gas that changes characters into pod people who behave in ways the true "them" would never imagine.  Some use their newfound "Not Me" powers for good instead of evil, so I can't completely complain (read:  I got my way when I really should not have), but others have just clearly lost their minds.


What comes to mind immediately is Viki.  I don't know if she has let go of the reins and allowed alters to come forward and control her or WHAT, but she certainly would never have made such an ass of herself over the whole Clint-Dorian thing.  Sure, she would have shared a private moment with Clint and let him know that she wanted an exclusive relationship.  Sure, she would have been inwardly miffed that Dorian was representing any degree of competition with her for Clint's affections.  She might even have confided to Nora or one of her daughters about her feelings.  She would never have made a scene in the restaurant or flaunted her dinner date with Dr Douglas Kline or acted in such a sophomoric fashion.  Viki's class and dignity is her hallmark and she would not break that for the likes of any man, even Clint.


I was personally gratified to the extreme that Clint chose Dorian over Viki.  Viki and Clint have navigated so many rocky waters on the river of life that their boat is leaky and downright dangerous.  I love how amused he is by Dorian and that she makes his eyes light up and the cowboy come out in him again.  [This is all completely exclusive of the fact that I desperately want Dorian back with David]  When Clint was with Viki, there was an expectation that he would move above his Western raisings into HER world and act New England rich instead of Texas rich.  Rich might be rich, but those two are leagues apart and I always felt that although the love was genuine, Clint sacrifice an integral bit of himself to be with Viki.  I'd love to see Clint and Dorian go the distance and have Phil Carey leave the show (if he must) because Asa found out they got married and keeled over from a heart attack.  Dorian as a Buchanan? I just love it. 


I like Nash.  I even luff Nash.  I liked Tess and I even kind of liked Jessica.  Nash and Tess together were marvy.  Jessica and Nash together are just icky.  I have never liked Antonio as a character, but in the past few months, the show has worked very hard to build him up into a very likable character.  We watched him engage Nash in the most unlikely friendship in soap history and we watched as Nash used that friendship to further his own wants and agenda.  We watched Jessica, thinking and knowing that she doth protest too much.  The story was handled very poorly.  We were supposed to see Jessica struggling with her emotions, trying hard to do the right thing in the midst of the extreme emotional turmoil of having two really hot guys want her.  Instead, she came across as a woman so vapidly victimized by her own emotions that she couldn't help but step in a steaming pile of shit every single time she turned around.  She couldn't keep her hands or her mouth off of Nash and the ick factor just grew from there.


Not that Nash is any slack in the instigation of the ick.  Regardless of how well Antonio treated him, regardless of how many times Jessica made perfectly clear how she wanted her life to be, he pushed forward with the "Your lips say 'no, no, no' but your eyes say 'yes, yes, yes'" madness.  Nash, honey, this is the 21st century and "NO means NO!"   To him, no means "do whatever you want as long as you're getting what you want or making everyone else a wreck if you aren't."  I had absolutely no problem with him begging Jessica not to marry Antonio.  Once she made her choice and got married, he should have backed off and made sure situations where not created where they were alone and he was pressuring her into being with him.  Period.  I love me some Nash, but this was extremely disappointing.  Bringing Jamie in on the bad side of this situation was a new low point for the writers.  Having us watch this little girl say, "Doesn't Jessica want to be my mommy any more?" was more than we should have had to bear.  I can't imagine that Antonio and Jessica can come back from this unless Antonio remains as oblivious as he has thus far.


A prime opportunity that is being missed here is having Viki talk with Jessica about her relationship with Sloan Carpenter.  The old, "I actually tried my hardest to resist, but cheated on your father, so I understand" speech might fit in nicely right here. 


Speaking of prime, missed opportunities, I can't watch a single Marty scene without thinking how much better it would be if Susan Haskell were playing the part.  Christina Chambers isn't a bad actress by any means, but she's just not Chloe Sevigny enough to be Marty.  In my mind, it wasn't just a generic Marty who was raped by Todd and hotly pursued by Patrick Thornhart when she was married to Dylan Moody (in fact, she is very, very qualified to give Jessica lots and lots of advice about just the situation in which she finds herself - the stories are almost identical.  Just give Antonio a wheel chair and take the baby out of the equation), it was Susan Haskell.  I didn't like Marty and didn't really care of Susan Haskell, but the cold, hard truth is that she wrestled the role of Marty to the ground and, to use soap terminology, "made it her own."  She worked a Vanessa Marcil on that part and now I don't think anyone else could successfully play it.  In the case of Paige Miller, for instance, we hardly even notice when she periodically looks entirely like someone else.  Recast Adriana and no one really cares.  Give me a new Cristian Vega (YORRRRRLINNNNN!!! *sob*) and I can work with it.  Give us a totally new Jessica and we roll with the punches.  A hundred Kevins, a thousand Joeys... we're good.  The recasting of Marty just does not work... period.


Why do I keep thinking that Spencer Truman used that sci-fi machine with the two upside bowls and the curly wire running between them to implant his brain into the previously lumpy, bumpy Miles Laurence and it was Miles Laurence's brain in the psychotic, delirious, crazed out Spencer Truman body that was stabbed to death?  He WAS missing for that little bit of time after he escaped...


I'm just sayin'.


I want to shove the entire state of Oklahoma, as well as the musical, up Marcie's butt.  If you live in Oklahoma, you might want to relocate for a while.  She's driving me crazy.


Please put us all out of our misery and SORAS the hell out of Tommy/TJ so that by the time Todd finds him, the kid has graduated from college (majoring in journalism) and looks up Todd his damned self.


Does Matthew not realize that most kids whose houses burn to ashes do not have rich grandpas who live in mansions and re-buy everything they ever owned for them?  Quitcher mopin' and go play some Wii.  Count your blessings, boy.




As far as I am concerned, GH *is* the BOMB.  I have enjoyed it for weeks on end now and that rarely happens with any of the three shows.  Usually, I enjoyed isolated moments or situations that stand out like diamonds in days and days of coal.


Interestingly enough, my son, who lives in Canada, called me today and says, "This guy who is on Sandra's show used to be on GH.  Was he as shitty of an actor then as he is now?"  Doh!  Of course, there are a plethora of actors who could fall into that category, but in this instance, he was referring to Days of Our Lives and the victim of his barb was none other than a favorite actor of mine, Stephen Nichols, ex-Stefan.  Evidently, ol' Steve/Patch is locked up in a mental institution having flashbacks and going a little nuts and the real Steve is chewing up the scenery in the process.  I've never ventured off of ABC for my soaps, so I'm not a Days of Our Lives viewer and cannot confirm or deny Joe's claims, but I did inform him that as the staid and cultured Stefan Cassadine, Mr Nichols was not given many opportunities to "act out" and was actually quite good in his previous role of Greekly princely coolness. 


Having Stuart Damon lurking about as Alan's ghost isn't really working for me.  I realize that I tempt barbs, slings and arrows by speaking such blaspheme, but when he died, I mourned him and having him here knowing fully well that his ghostly visit is temporary is just dragging out the disappointment over him going all the more.  The character of Alan, quite honestly, has never quite work for me.  The conflicts from the drastically different sides of his personality were always too extreme for my tastes and I always had trouble figuring out what motivated him to do the things he did.  Like most other little girls of the late 50's and early 60's, I fell completely in love with him as Prince Charming in Cinderella, but Alan I could never get to click into place.  The most recent rewrites (Monica had an affair with Rick Webber during the 47 minutes he was on the show for Luke and Laura's notWedding?  Wha'?) have made the relationship between Monica and Alan all the more convoluted and in some ways, I was glad to see it put out of its misery when he died.  I was also pleased that just as a rose smells the sweetest before it wilts, Leslie Charleson and Stuart Damon turned in the best performances that they have in absolute years in Alan's final month on the air (excepting the ghost). 


Another part of the Alan's Ghost story that falls flat for me is that I don't like situations and stories that make Tracy appear stupid.  I don't mind those few moments here and there when she's vulnerable.  I don't mind when she is funny.  I don't like it when she seems stupid.  To me, it's obvious that the writers are filling in a gap by writing Stuart Damon is as a ghost.  It was an afterthought, meant to appease the fans and actors who were outraged at his firing.  It's poorly, sloppily written and as a result, is a cumbersome fit into the stories currently being played out around it.    I realize that they are trying to give this a "cute" angle, but doing so when a lot of GH fans are hot under the collar for how the firing was handled is a bit insulting.


Speaking of the firing, I am not sure why we are continually surprised when GH treats its veteran actors in a manner that we feel is inappropriate and disrespectful.  All one has to do is look at Anna Lee and Rachel Ames.  It's no longer a shocker when casting decisions are based on cut-throat business factors rather than nostalgia and good will.  In the past, there have been "sacred cows" that were never touched.  Now that there are no more pioneers on ABC, not a single Agnes Nixon or Gloria Monty in sight, there are no more sacred cows and anyone is fair game for the butcher shop.  For Agnes Nixon and Gloria Monty specifically, these shows were their own babies.  They birthed them and nurtured them through growing pains and really cared about the genre and the integrity of the shows themselves.  Now, the people in charge of ABC soaps are less like proud mommies and more like embittered high school teachers who don't care about the students they've inherited or the school where they teach or what happens when they put these kids out into the world or what the parents think of how they manage the kids with whom they are entrusted all day long.  All they want to do is put in a day's work, collect their paychecks and go home so they can start power drinking bad whiskey, writing their own good press and slapping each other on the backs for what great jobs they're doing.


It's all about business now and to their minds, if they aren't using an actor and don't want to write for them, why should they keep them around?  It doesn't matter if the actor has been on the show for 3 years or 30, it all comes down to business and buddies before history and hearts.  Whether we like it or not or they like it or not or the actors like it or not, we're in a Brave New World of soaps that has little to do with the old one.  My personal opinion and projection is that ANY actor on the soaps, contract in hand or not, should be swimming as though there is a shark in the water.  I think as long as their presence on the soaps serves the show and serves the story, they'll stay.  As soon as they begin to notice they are only working 2-3 days a month or a year, they might want to pull their heads out of the sand and start looking at other options.  I think pretty much all bets are off at this point.




In the midst of all of that, if you get past the way we want things to be and look at the way things are, there are some fun things to talk about.  Such as...


HAHAHAHA!!  Thursday-Friday's shoot out had to be the absolute worst one in the history of soaps.  It was so terribly, horribly bad that it was good.  To refresh your memory, THIS is a shootout:



What we saw on Thursday and Friday was comical to the point that I expected to see the main players talking in a different language while their mouths work on a completely different track, just like in the old Kung Fu movies.  Jason is asking LOGAN if "We're clear?"  What?


While it might sound like I am bashing on GH, I'm really not.  For me, it was fun in its ludicrousness.  You can't hit jackpot every single time.  It had its good moments as well.


The best part of the shoot out for me was the aftermath, when Jason did not hesitate to entrust Spinelli to go to the hospital to take care of Sonny, covering up anything incriminating he might say while compromised by being shot right in his head.  Seeing Spinelli gradually be pulled into the fold has been quite gratifying, especially considering that I was not initially a fan.  It was Starr who called it.  She loved him from his first scene when I was saying, "I can't STAND this kid in the hat" and she was saying, "Are you kidding?  He's the best thing on GH!"  Now I'm a committed Spinhead and I look forward to each and every Bradford Anderson scene.  He, Cooper and Logan have breathed a new life into the younger set and I enjoy the "kids" for the first time in years memorable.  Now that Dillon is away from Georgie (I don't dislike Georgie, their story had just developed the flavor of a chewed out piece of gum), he's infinitely more interesting and Coop even makes Maxie tolerable.  When the kids are fun to watch, you know GH is on a roll (crappy shoot out aside).


Sage was just saying that Rick Hearst picked Skye for Ric to have a one night stand with and knowing that Ted King (Lorenzo) is leaving GH, I have to wonder if ol' Ric might get himself a story yet.  As soon as he can get out from under the albatross around his neck (that being the Alexis Has Cancer story), maybe we can actually get a chance to flesh out this character a bit. 


Speaking of Alexis and her cancer, why can't she just tongue-kiss cousin Nikolas of the magical mouth and be healed like Ms Emily?  This has got to be the toughest case General Hospital has ever encountered.  That place has made lame men walk, blind women see, infertile women suddenly sprout babies and dead people come back to life.  Usually it happens in a matter of episodes.  It seems as though Alexis has had cancer for years and years and years.  It's the story that will not end.  Yes it goes on and on my friend.  Some people started writing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue writing it forever just because...




I think the writers are not quite sure how to end Alexis' cancer story and it serves to continue demonizing Ric, so they are just playing it out to see where it goes.  I officially nominate this as the longest illness in GH history.  If she could just shake this whole cancer thing, she could get on with pursuing Mr Craig and continuing her campaign to have the absolutely worst taste in men ever.  She could have still been married to Jax.  She could have been married to Ned, celebrating their 6-7th wedding anniversary... but  noooooo.  She has to work her way through the top ten of America's Most Wanted.


A year ago, we were fussing about every story being about Sonny.  Now, we do have other stories and while they may not involve all of the characters we want to see, it's at least more balanced than it was before.  We are presumably off of the threat of yet another round of Sonny and Carly and with any luck, the Mr Craig & Nikolas story should be clearing up soon.  We can move on beyond the death throes of Sam and Jason and see some new ideas maybe come to the forefront.  Even within the confines of "what is" versus "what we wish was so," I do feel that we have some fun and infinitely watchable GH offerings coming up.  Although I don't agree with many of the choices being made with the show, I do feel that, unlike with OLTL and AMC, GH is trying to tell an interesting story. 


If you think about it, we do have all of the soapy components that historically make for great daytime drama:


1)  I love two men and I'm pregnant by one and married to the other.  (Elizabeth)


2)  I have a/many deep dark secret(s) from my past and they are on the verge of being revealed.  (Sam)


3)  I am marrying one man, but can't get over another one.  (Carly)


4)  I'm shot in the head, but only have a concussion.  (Sonny)


5)  "Poor, poor pitiful me.  Poor, poor pitiful me!  Oh these boys won't let me be.  Lord have mercy on me.  Wo-ho-ho is me!"  (LuLu)


6)  Comic relief (Spinelli, Big Alice, Epiphany)


7)  I'm the long lost son of someone already on the show.  (Logan)


8)  I'm the trashy, trampy, scheming little thang.  (Maxie)


9)  We are the supercouple.  (Tracy and Luke)


10)  We are the baddest, the coolest and the most unmistakable bosses of everything (Sonny & Jason).


With a combo like that, how can we go wrong?