The Greatest Hour Of My Life
Oh, am I overstating the case? Well, if this isn't your first visit, you know I'm a tad prone to hyperbole when I get excited. But really, I'm still floating around the room and dancing little jigs about today's episode (and you're lucky you're not here because my jigs do not look pretty).
Today was the special OLTL episode that doubled as a full Fraternity Row episode, and there's really nothing to snark on because the show did such a lovely job snarking on itself. And there's nothing to really pick apart and critique because it was a stand-alone episode that doesn't impact the actual plot of One Life to Live. But it would be criminal to let the episode fly by without giving it at least a little of its due. I'm tempted to start going crazy making screencaps, but there simply isn't enough time since I'd be doing practically every frame today's show. I will try to be economical.
There was nothing that really didn't work for me today, so let's start with some of the standouts in terms of actors:
- David A. Gregory. Yes, you read that right. The actor behind the character I've spent the most virtual space whining about over the past year was a major standout. All three of the Ford boys' portrayers were hilarious and clearly having a great time (like everyone else) as the "Mazda" brothers (tee-hee), but Gregory really impressed -- dude knows how to parody what he was brought on this show to do. Comedy is his friend, and I was psyched to see it.
- Erika Slezak. Shocker, I know. As German maid Gilda and her tougher alter ego Matilda, Slezak masterfully overplayed both roles (with an impeccably overdone accent for both). Not that there was ever any question, but she proved today that she remains Queen in any genre.
- Melissa Archer and Michael Easton. I name them together because they were very much a package deal as possible siblings and lovers Brandon and Briana today, and they played off each other perfectly. Archer as Briana, the Chairman of the Deltas, did a classic soap-acting lampoon full of exaggerated pauses and pointlessly sultry deliveries (my favorite: "These kids just need a little ....guidance," with heaving bosom and the word "guidance" being delivered ridiculously late and breathless in a way that made it sound like porn) while Easton played Brandon as the total antithesis of his type as the uber-preppy "Leader Emeritus" of the Alpha House. He was never without his tennis racket and they were in the background of half the scenes with Brandon giving tennis pointers and Briana absolutely captivated.
(How hot was Melissa Archer in that dress? See, wardrobe?! Hot!)
- Roger Howarth: I know. Shocker again. Howarth went in a slightly different direction from everyone else. He, too, parodied cheesy soap acting, but he parodied it as an actor who was doing it particularly horribly. And it was fantastic. Not only could he not effectively deliver one single line naturally, he also kept having trouble hitting his mark and understanding where to look or how to fill those scene-ending "holds," and he was caught "looking" just about every time a scene started. Priceless, and obviously it was helped along by that darling outfit and the hair. Oh, the hair! They went full mullet, y'all. Dash Dunning is all business in the front, all party in the back.
I almost feel guilty not just listing every actor in the episode because they were all so wonderful and clearly over the moon to be doing what they were doing, but I have to exhibit a little restraint here. So now let's get into some of the greatest moments:
- The DNA test jokes. There were, of course, no fewer than three necessary DNA tests during the course of the episode, and M. Povich, the lab guy (played by Nick Choksi/Vimal), naturally almost mixed up all the samples about thirty times. And the tests came back in minutes! And of course they came back with little red ribbons on them, which he handed out like awards.
- The constant shirtlessness motif. OLTL poked good fun at itself for its over-reliance on shirtless men, not only by requiring each person showing up for a DNA test to remove their shirts for absolutely no reason (which everyone thought was "gratuitous"), but also by making fun of their guiltiest shirtless pleasure, the Fords. Each Mazda brother stopped in a hallway and arbitrarily removed his shirt and struck a pose before entering a room. Really, the only one missing from the shirtlessness-overkill gag was Cutter. It led to some happy moments.
- Pretty much every single thing about their send-up of the Two Todds story. From relentlessly mocking the vague "undisclosed location" set, to taking an appropriate jab at that "it" that Todd's captors kept blathering on about for months when we knew full well no one had yet decided what "it" was, to the inspired casting of Shaun in the "prisoner twin" role (complete with the trademark Todd Manning scar!) and Destiny in the "Irene" role, to the acknowledged absurdity of the motivation for the retconned backstory in the first place (Destiny: "I never wanted this but I was single mother forced to raise a child all alone! What choice did I have but to join a rogue branch of the C.I.A.?"), to the bit about how unlikely it is that these two could be twins (everyone ignoring that Dash was white and the "other" Dash was black, and instead opting to focus on the height and eye color differences which, let's face it, we all picked apart mercilessly!), to the focus on the utter implausibility ("she's an evil genius, anything is possible!").
- The fun with OLTL's wildly inaccurate portrayal of D.I.D. (Jessica's character Roxie: "It's an unfortunate non-hereditary ailment I... inherited from my mother."), including the silly "shifts" of alters brought on in seconds by a headache and indicated by an exaggerated vocal change or a new prop (Jessica's character trying to change alters by grabbing M. Povich's conveniently-located spectacles and "Moon" and "Jane" preventing it by simply stopping her from putting the glasses on was effing priceless).
- Even the way they came back from commercials was a delight, with Jerry verDorn adorably delivering progressive variations on the "And now... even more Fraternity Row!" voiceover.
- The deliberately badly-staged soapy slap between Dani's character "Jane" and Jessica's character was hysterical.
And of course, it wasn't to last. Roxy woke up from her wonderful dream, the lights were low and the colors were muted, and David was there to bring her back into reality.
David: Hey listen, I know how much that show meant to you but... it's over. Let's get outta here.
And the two of them took one last look at the set and then walked down that long, long corridor, saying goodbye to Roxy's beloved soap for what she believes to be the final time.
And just at the very last moment, they grabbed each other's hand to walk out hand-in-hand because David and Roxy knew how much each other's hearts were breaking. Or, indulge me here, quite possibly because Tuc Watkins and Ilene Kristen knew how much each other's hearts were breaking.
Or maybe it's because Tuc Watkins and Ilene Kristen knew that my heart was breaking?!
What a gift. It wasn't just a big, fat thank-you card to the viewers, it was a big thank-you card to the cast and the writers and the crew and the directors and the art department and everyone else. They broke down the literal fourth wall for a moment and, in doing so, broke down the figurative one just a little bit, too, letting us know they know we're here and it matters -- love every storyline or hate every storyline or somewhere in between, they know we're here. I can't think of a better word for it than "sweet."
And because I'm getting maudlin, I'm bringing the mood back up with this final image of Peter Bartlett as Fraternity Row's Nigella!
Thank you, Afternoon Television Program!
So I know I didn't even begin to touch on everything. What did I miss? What were your favorite moments?