While The Young and the Restless and One Life to Live are the two must see soaps on daytime right now, our schizophrenic As the World Turns is firing on most of the right cylinders and can't be counted out of the fight. The last time I posted about ATWT, I had a great many concerns about the direction of the show and it's storylines given the supersonic speed by which they are told. In the last week however, the show has made me sit up and take notice with some interesting developments.
On the plot front, the mystery of Josie Matthews Driver continues to deepen in a way that is truly starting to be creepy-fascinating. Kristin Connolly is walking the tricky tightrope of this role as written just right: the addition of a little flirty-flirty with Dusty after his kiss and a dash of contempt for Paul and Emily in the immediate aftermath of the faux-bribery was a good touch. She's no Jennifer Ferrin (who is great right now on Life on Mars), but Connolly isn't supposed to be the former actress or the character of Jennifer either. At least not yet. The possibility that Josie is related to characters from Another World continues to intrigue.
The Carly/Lily/Holden dynamic is still way too weird given the emotional toll Carly's affair with Holden took on everybody just a few weeks ago, but since the show has moved them past it, I have too. I do like the realistic beats being played in Sage's lie that Janet struck her, the subtext of which resonates through Parker & Liberty's odd relationship, Janet's insecurities and Carly's feelings for Jack.
Meanwhile, the Spencer/Brad/Katie story seemed very played out and overcooked until it took a delicious turn when it was revealed that a) Spencer is alive and b) Dani Andropolous is apparently behind it all!
Dani was a liar and troublemaker as a teen and this turn of events makes perfect sense for her as an adult. Also good is how a lot of the events line up: Dani arrived in town the exact same time as Spencer; it was Dani who "discovered" Spencer's supposedly dead body missing from the morgue and Dani has been working the murder case. Not a week ago I was scratching my head, but as of now I'm very interested where this tale goes. Is Dani just trying to prop up her own career? Does she have a vendetta against Brad..or Katie? After all, Dani is a Stewart woman and it was only a matter of time before those crazy Stewart genes kicked in. Deirdre Skiles is starting to grow on me with the revelation. I give head writer Jean Passanante hell all the time, but this twist was very inspired. (Continued)
Unfortunately, there is one glaring issue in this story that makes me see red: Margo. It is inconceivable that Margo would not immediately believe Brad's story after Spencer's body and all the evidence came up missing. James Stenbeck was recently killed by Dusty Donovan after a three-way struggle with Paul Stenbeck — all three of them having come back from the dead multiple times! Underscoring this point is how Dusty's body was declared dead on the scene of his "murder," although Margo kept throwing up how the "medical examiner doesn't make mistakes" when confronted by Brad & Katie about Spencer being alive. Margo not being immediately suspicious of the circumstances of Spencer's death makes her look stupid, a word not used since her hot cauldron double, double, boiled and bubbled over for Doc Reese.
Can I just say that Van Hansis is acting his ass off as Luke, with able support from Jake Silbermann? Hansis plays one ole mean drunk, kinda like that one bitter alcoholic uncle who gets sloshed at Thanksgiving and starts rambling about how the turkey is dry and his brother's wife would have been better off marrying him. The only weak link here has been Laurence Lau. His implacable manner was perfect for the enigmatic Brian Wheatley when he first came on to the canvas, but that same dry style did not gel well in his scenes with Luke (that blank stare when he kissed Luke just came across as creepy instead of confused) or his scenes with Lucinda.
This brings us to Elizabeth Hubbard. Good googly moogly, have the soap gods smiled on us this past couple of weeks in the acting department or what? Jeanne Cooper was stunning during "Kay's" funeral on Y&R. Susan Haskell stood out in a cast that delivered blistering performances as the Todd/Marty saga came to a head on OLTL. Gina Tognoni has been extraordinary as the conflicted, guilt ridden Dinah on Guiding Light, not to mention there were heartbreaking, highly charged emotional scenes between Bradford Anderson and Kirsten Storms on General Hospital today. Add to that rarefied field Ms. Hubbard whose Lucinda Walsh decided that she was tired of being alone and determined to marry Brian immediately after her second mastectomy. I have few words to adequately describe the tour de force that the usually animated and highly theatrical Hubbard delivered while lying on her back.
From the moment Lucinda said, "I saw Death at the foot of my bed," I was mesmerized. Hubbard combined fear and defiance into a potent mix of cunning acting choices with her eyes and the modulation of her voice that, along with Cooper's on Y&R, should be required viewing for all new soap actors. I do not throw out these superlatives in a fit of hyperbolic frenzy, but in recognition of a master at the top of her class.
As for the bulk of the story lines themselves, as usual I reserve full judgement until they play out a bit more. Right now, Oakdale is quite the intriguing place to visit.