I'm back, gentle readers, and not a moment too soon. Since we were last together, real life has provided more plot twists than an episode of Lost, but I've still managed to faithfully watch the stories day in and day out. While there are a few larger topics that I'll be addressing in the next few days and weeks, it turns out a little time and distance provides the opportunity for a bit of clarity and perspective on issues that one might have been previously too close to appreciate. In that spirit, here are a few completely random observations about the five soaps I normally watch that I've noticed in the little over a month since I last posted. These observations generally are not a part of the usual list of talking points, but just a number of things that have popped in my head. Without further ado...
ALL MY CHILDREN
In dealing with Kendall (Alicia Minshew) and her latest emotional tilt-a-whirl, Erica (Susan Lucci) finally has turned into her mother, Mona (the late, great Francis Heflin). To newer viewers this might not mean anything, but long-timers who remember Erica and Mona's many tussles over Erica's love life and choices will recognize the mother/daughter dynamics instantly.
There is something really "off" about Jesse & Angie (Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan) these days. The issue isn't the performers, who are fantastic as always. However, one gets the distinct impression that their interaction with the rest of Pine Valley's citizens is less integration across the canvas, and more of them turning into something resembling caretakers of the whole town. Just ask "Little A."
On the plus side, I loved, loved, loved the call back to Les Baxter, Angie's hard-ass father, played by Antonio Vargas back in the 80's.
Why is the set design and color pallette of Pine Valley so relentlessly brown? I saw some green apples on a table in Ryan's house and I nearly jumped for joy!
AS THE WORLD TURNS
If there is one story being done absolutely right on ATWT it has to be Carly's descent into alcoholism. Intended or not, the building blocks for the character's meltdown have been slotted into place for months, including but not limited to, the pressures of running Metro and its near loss to foreclosure, the rebellion of her kids, and Jack & Janet's marriage to name a few. Throw in Craig's machinations and their newest venture selling designer vodka (love the name Midnight Sun!) and you have a recipe for disaster! Maura West's performances of late have been absolutely revelatory in their complexity, nuance and emotion.
Making Henry the odd man out in the surrogacy storyline was extremely smart. Given his background and family history, it makes perfect sense for him to have the heebie jeebies about Vienna's little Sven or Inga and her extremely hot oven (although we know exactly where this storyline is going in the short term). The awesome Trent Dawson finally has something else to play other than Katie's lovesick lapdog or semi-reluctant diner owner and he's doing a fantastic job. Props also must be given to the luminous Ewa Da Cruz as Vienna, who has come alive during the story.
West gets all of the praise these days, but Michael Park (Jack) and Julie Pinson (Janet) have been freakin' fantastic during the fallout of Parker & Liberty's marriage, with Mick Hazen and Meredith Hagner doing great work in the story too.
In this day and age of incredible shrinking sets, did Brad and Katie's house actually get bigger the last few days?
It occurred to me one day that while One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless are the soap equivalent of a five-star linen service restaurant and ATWT is like an overcrowded, but understaffed Applebee's, GH comes across like a cocktail party where all of the guests are milling around waiting for the servers to bring the food out to the buffet table, also known as "sweeps."
Mark Pinter (Agent Raynor) is just what GH was missing: a strong character actor who can go toe to toe with the show's heavyweights and whose character is a member of law enforcement hellbent on bringing down the criminal element in mob-infested Port Chuckles. While the relentless portrayal of Raynor as the villain is unfortunate, the show has needed its own version of Inspector Javert for a long time and Pinter's Raynor is just the ticket.
Damien Spinelli is one of my favorite characters; Bradford Anderson is one of my favorite actors on daytime right now. However, too much Spinelli really can be too much. Just tone it down again. I beg of thee.
GL has felt more "real" since Grant Aleksander's return, the fallout from Coop's death, the dynamite Otalia love story and the return to focused storytelling than any time since the switch to the current production model.
Making Doris (Orlagh Cassidy) a lesbian is one of the single smartest character moves made on GL in several years!
We can't call it "the new production model" anymore, can we? Tell me we can't.
ONE LIFE TO LIVE
I love Stacy. As usual, I'm going against the general consensus on this one but that's why it's called a general consensus, not a unanimous one. I love a completely amoral, slightly deranged, unrepentant bitch on daytime and Stacy has those things going for her in spades. She's clear about what she wants and doesn't pussyfoot around in her cuckoo for cocoa puffs efforts to get them. This will sound like sacrilege to many, but Stacy vaguely reminds me of another psycho nutjob from daytime's historic past: Janice Frame on Another World. (To Carlivati's detractors, she may come across more like a rerun of crazy ass Margaret). Mind you, I'm not wild about Crystal Hunt's acting, but Stacy is my kind of Planter's: nutty.
Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, and Trevor St. John need to call the police and report a robbery, because Carmen LoPorto (Jack Manning) steals every scene he is in! Jack's scenes with Todd in jail and later at the mansion were pure gold!
To the chagrin of David (Tuc Watkins) and Dorian fans everywhere, I like the sparks between Dorian and Ray Montez (A Martinez) almost as much as I liked the heat between Ray and Marty (Susan Haskell).
John Paul Lavossier should consider keeping the new haircut.
What are your random thoughts about your favorite shows? Am I cuckoo for liking Stacy? Does AMC's brown make you see red too? Is Starbuck an angel? Oops, wrong show. What say you, gentle readers?