Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column & A Blogger's (Temporary?) Goodbye
Our thoughts on General Hospital and One Life to Live were featured in the September 30th issue of Soap Opera Digest.
by Louise Schwarz
As of this moment, we still have no idea when (and if?) ONE LIFE TO LIVE will be returning to our computer screens. While I dab the corners of my eyes with tissues about that uneasy status, it seems like the perfect time to pick out a few superlatives for The Season That Was!
Let’s go back to the very beginning, when the return of Victor Lord, Jr. was The Most Anti-Climactic Back From The Dead Story In History. While the reveal of Victor tied to a bed by Alison Perkins was a fantastic last moment for the original run of OLTL, his return to town barely even raised an eyebrow. A couple of characters half-gasped, while some others just mildly annoyed by his undead status. Dani was the only one who had a big reaction, but even she accepted it and moved on quickly. While it’s perfectly understandable that to the citizens of Llanview, a once-dead man just sauntering into the room isn’t actually that rare, it really undermines the dramatic stakes when everyone essentially shrugs it off. And nobody ever even pressed the issue! “I’m alive because REASONS and I can’t tell you,” was pretty much the end of that. Really?
The revival’s Best New Character (And Actor) was definitely Jeffrey King, played with charisma and depth by the excellent Corbin Bleu. Admittedly I was on the fence when they announced his casting because I’d been so nervous the show would be far too youth-centered for my aging tastes, but this was no empty-headed pretty boy. Jeffrey had many terrific scenes absolutely holding his own with none other than Queen Victoria and, of course, was eventually revealed to have some nefarious purposes of his own.
The Pairing I’d Most Like To Scrub From My Memory was, of course, Jack and his teacher. I’m sure his teacher had a name, but as she had no discerning personality it seemed a waste of brain space to learn it. Here was an adult woman so taken by Jack Manning on sight that without a word, she scooped him up and had sex with him only to learn she’s his professor. But did that stop her from continuing that extremely inappropriate and incredibly squicky “relationship?” It did not. I never had any idea what I was supposed to be watching because the whole storyline felt like an idea someone jotted down without bothering to fill in any of the details. The gross, gross details.
My pick for Best Recast is definitely Rob Gorrie as Matthew Buchanan, while Matthew’s parents Bo and Nora scored for Best Stable Couple Keeping Everything Else Grounded. Jerry verDorn locked up the I’ll Scream If He’s Not Nominated For An Emmy category, and Dorian continues to win for Best Wigs and Millinery.
Did we think I could finish this column without mentioning Todd and Blair’s Most Scorching Love Scene? And how about a Hottest Lady In Lingerie for Natalie!
Here’s hoping this is not a final list and that there will be many more lists to come in future seasons!
My Take, Too
by Mallory Harlen
Oh, baby: the baby storylines on GENERAL HOSPITAL are suddenly firing on all cylinders (I’m sorry. It took everything in me to resist that lame joke, but I am just not strong enough. I feel badly about it, though, so I won’t refer to sitting through the beginnings of these stories as a “labor” of love or anything like that. I have some standards). While much of Maxie’s surrogacy left me cold and Britt’s pregnancy was mostly boring, scenes featuring the amazing comic relief of Dr. Obrecht notwithstanding, they’ve fallen into place pretty dramatically and have become absolute must-watches.
I still don’t entirely buy that Maxie would offer to be Dante and Lulu’s surrogate and I certainly don’t buy that even one person at General Hospital would think it was a wonderful idea, considering Maxie’s heart problems (although medical realism is something that this show, ironically set in a hospital, is awful with: Maxie miscarrying and getting pregnant again in about twelve seconds is laughable, as is her traipsing around the hospital immediately after a C-section). And I hate, all-caps HATE, that the fallout from this secret is going to irrevocably ruin Maxie and Lulu’s friendship, which is one of my favorites in all of soapdom, but I admit to being excited to see the performances we get out of this fallout. Because the performances of the key players as the truth about the baby is revealed has been nothing short of astonishing. Kirsten Storms (Maxie) has been wonderful and Bradford Anderson has been amazing. Why have the previous writing staffs so consistently ignored the fact that Anderson is so good at serious scenes, choosing instead to have him play the babbling buffoon we all know and purse our lips at in irritation? He has nailed all of the anger, shock and disbelief Spinelli feels at learning that he’s a secret father. Stellar—and this is BEFORE Dominic Zamprogna and Emme Rylan get to let loose when Dante and Lulu hear the truth. Cannot wait!
The truth about Britt’s baby is also starting to (maybe?) be revealed: her confession to Patrick that he is not the father of her baby was fantastic. I’ve long been an ardent (too ardent?) admirer of Jason Thompson’s, so my awe over his performance is nothing new, but I was majorly impressed with Kelly Thiebaud, who has proven to be good at a lot more than just vindictive scheming (although she’s excellent at that and I’d like to see a post-partum Britt return to it); the vulnerable, disappointing daughter of two supervillains thing really adds another dimension to her character. Why she faked this pregnancy and what baby she’s actually pregnant with (could it be Dante and Lulu’s? That would be horrible and also massively entertaining) is beyond me. I have no idea where this story is headed and I’m thrilled about that—too often, twists are telegraphed from a mile away, but this time, I have no idea how things will go, except that it will tie into the return of Robin Scorpio, which has me so excited that I am almost squealing with glee. Although, let’s be honest: I have wanted Robin back so badly that I don’t even need or expect a well-written return. I’d be happy with her just popping up in Kelly’s like nothing ever happened. But to have it be well plotted and entertaining? That’s just icing on the cake.
And now a quick note from Louise: Y'all may have noticed (or may have never once thought of) my lengthy absence lately. Here's the deal. Since One Life to Live went off the air again, I haven't had much to cover since I haven't gotten a chance to catch General Hospital or The Bold & the Beautiful since early May. Life's been crazy and busy and exciting and wonderful and scary, and it's been hard to force myself to sit down and get caught up. Some of you know that in addition to this and my day job, I'm a playwright, and that really needs to be first priority all of the time and I'd gotten so caught up in writing about the soaps that I really was neglecting my primary work. So for now, I'm technically on soap-blogging hiatus. I might drop by every now and then to blog about a primetime show or a classic episode or a visit back to one of my soaps, and let's all cross our fingers that some miracle brings me back regularly to cover another OLTL resurrection! I just wanted to fill everyone in on where the heck I went, and thank you for all of your witty insights and comments over the years. This is not a goodbye, but just a "I'll see less of you for a while." Picture me rocking back and forth wishing I could find out what the deal is with Allison Perkins while I have an extra glass of red wine and weep over my baseball situation and get cuddles from my dog. I will visit, I promise! Everyone have a wonderful, wonderful fall. Remember to play it cool when people walk in to a room after having been dead for years and when your long-lost children who you forgot conceiving and/or birthing show up to wreak havoc in your life. I'm in your corner!