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« This Part of New York Is In The Deja Vu Time Zone | Main | Acting (And Actor) Out »

November 06, 2011

Can We Get To It Already (or Victodd's Moonlighting)

There are paternity storylines that go on for months or years or even decades on soaps and they work just fine, so why is it that "Who Is Liam's Father?" feels like the longest, most drawn-out paternity story in history? Well, I came up with a few possibilities. We know who Liam's father is, for one thing. We've known for a long time. And even before that, we "knew" the big secret that it was Brody. It's just been going on too long. When it was revealed that Matthew was really Bo's son, for instance, we didn't know that. It was years after the fact, but we hadn't been waiting for that reveal and getting tired of it. It was a surprise. This was lovely.

The other issue is that this story is about how this piece of information is the only thing that's keeping this allegedly "meant to be" couple apart. It doesn't make anyone look good. John, who would have had every right to fall out of love with Natalie for her lies, fell right back in love with her but couldn't do anything about it only because he thought she had a child with another man. Dick. This isn't his issue anymore, and I do admit that being reluctant to make a play for a woman who's about to marry someone else is actually fairly admirable -- when you don't take into account that "inaction" is actually John's default mode in anything relationship-related. And Natalie is marrying a man she quite consciously does not love and obviously isn't in any sort of denial -- she told her mother that John's "apparent lack of interest" was enough reason to marry a man she doesn't actually want to marry. Also not sympathetic.


And Brody is doing exactly what was done to him -- lying to keep a man away from his own son to get what he wants, and now being self-righteous with John about it to compensate. Not sympathetic.

So there's no real triangle here and there's no one to really root for, and we're still dealing with the fact that "Will these two crazy kids ever get together?" is hinged entirely on paternity, which is incredibly irritating and antiquated. I know it's a soap staple, but usually it's more like, "If these two crazy kids knew they shared a child, they'll have to be back in each other's orbits a lot more and maybe finally realize they still have feelings for each other!" Now that's something I can work with on 21st Century soaps. But this "all the couples will rearrange themselves lickety-split when the truth is revealed" current running under all these is tedious. And a reminder that the biggest storyline of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 was all for naught anyway.

Yay joylessness! How fun and soapy. Or something.

This storyline also brought us Ford sharing a scene with Princess David Vickers.


Princess David Vickers came off as the significantly more complicated and nuanced character.

And how very big of Ford to admit that, although Jess isn't Tess, she's okay after all. Like that's some huge concession on his part. He should be kissing her effing feet for not pressing charges and for allowing him into her home with access to their son. Oh, Ford. Please take a leap into the Llantano River.


Louie's back! He's alive!


He's apparently been hiding out in Pine Valley and Corinth (he smartly avoided Port Charles). But Louie, isn't everyone in Corinth pretty much dead?

And Todd in his scrambling-to-cover-for-himself mode is very much reminiscent of his 2001-2003 self, the one that initiated, got busted for, and dealt with the aftermath of the infamous Dead Baby Lie. It's almost a relief to finally see Todd in this familiar mode instead of the sad, too-careful man we've seen since his return. I'm loving the varying layers.


Yesterday I made it out to see now-potential-dead-father-to-be Victodd's alter ego Trevor St. John's new film In the Family.


As movie-going experiences go, I have to say I picked the wrong time to go. There's this thing about matinees in the city -- they're so often populated by under-bathed elderly folks looking for something to do indoors, and they tend to speak loudly to the characters on the screen. It was a packed house and yet I had to move seats twice because I was too close to the door, and latecomers kept using my shoulders as some sort of a comfort and a vault by which to catapult themselves to available seats in the dark. I migrated to the front row, and it was one of those indie houses where the screen is the size of a postage stamp, so while it wasn't as bad as the front row of one of those mega-multiplex auditoriums, I still had to sink down pretty far to see the screen.

The film was terrific. There were some frustrations: the style of cinematography was very, very tight shots. This made it hard to get my bearings because not only was I in the worst seat in the house for being able to take in the whole picture, but he rarely gave us an establishing shot so that we could really even understand the surroundings. There were actually entire scenes between two people in which the camera never left one person, so I couldn't always understand where the other character was supposed to be. I understood the intended impact of this and would have appreciated it had it been used more sparingly.

It's hard to synopsize the story because the inciting incident happens fairly late in the (quite lengthy) film, so I'll try to stay broad: two men share a child, one of these men dies, and a custody problem emerges. It sounds like it could be fraught with melodrama, but it was quite the opposite; this was a quiet, understated film. A wordless scene concerning the simple opening and preparing of a Coca Cola and a Miller Lite was actually one of the more remarkable few moments I've seen on screen in a long, long time.

Taking place in Tennessee, it was fun to see Trevor St. John with a nice Southern accent (and I couldn't help but wonder if he ever borrowed some inflections from our favorite Tennessee-adjacent-Kentuckian, Kassie dePaiva), and there was no Todd or Victor anywhere in sight. His performance was sturdy and strong and subtle in all the best ways, and he more than deserves the accolades he's gotten for this. Gina Tognoni also had a small but memorable role as a nurse having to deal with balancing the "family only" hospital rules with the reality of a de-facto same sex marriage that's not by the books but is very much family nonetheless.

Patrick Wang, who starred, wrote, and directed the film was in the lobby afterwards and my heart went out to him -- he got his share of people just walking by or people congratulating him, but he also got cornered with a truckload of unsolicited criticism, mostly for the length of the film (admittedly I had no idea it would be as long as it was and had to do a mad dash uptown for a play with no time for dinner in between... I hope my theatre-going companion wasn't too distracted by my growling tummy). Perhaps it's just that I'm a writer and know what it feels like to have people march up to me after a show and tell me everything that's wrong with my play, but it made me so nervous for him. I realize I sit here in this space and semi-professionally offer up unsolicited criticism of OLTL on a regular basis, but it's not like I stand in front of the writers and directors and actors reading my thoughts on this blog out loud to them! And I know, I know, he was standing right there opening himself up to it, but it just seemed... rude. What can I say.

Whoa. Serious digression. Unforgivable almost. Point is, Trevor St. John was damn good in it and I hope this leads to wonderful things for him! I think it's only on one screen in NYC now through Thursday, but I'm sure it'll get a DVD or On-Demand release soon enough and I really do highly recommend it.

Off to go cheer on those bad-ass marathoners.

Enjoy your extra hour, Serial Drama readers!


You know, Louise, I have been wondering why, despite being an actually traditional long-term paternity storyline, the Liam saga just doesn't satisfy, and I think you've hit on it.

I agree with BN, Louise you nailed it (per usual) regarding Liam's paternity. I wish at the very least Natalie and Brody could show the chemistry they had BEFORE they were coupled. I wish McBain would grow a pair and Natalie felt truly torn between the two men. That way the "love triangle" would be a yaknow, actual love triangle. There is no tension in the story.

I hate Terd. Terd just come off as bigger buffoons and I wish they were not involved (or on my screen.)

Can't wait to see the movie starring TSJ! I don't live in NYC so I'll wait for DVD.

I think the worst thing about the John-Natalie-Brody snoozefest--I refuse to refer to it as a "triangle," since it's such a nonstarter--is that the way it's being written means Brody is being sacrificed for ab-so-freaking-lutely nothing. If we were getting some satisfying drama out of all this, I might be having an easier time dealing with Brody being (re)written as he is, but surely they could have written an equally boring, equally nonsuspenseful, equally non-interest-provoking storyline involving these three and left Brody as a decent, standup guy. (Actually, there might have been some stakes left if Brody was still in the dark about the paternity as well: if he didn't know the truth but the audience did, at least there would still be one rootable character left in this nonstory as we inch toward the Big Reveal.)

Louise, I heard your jaw drop all the way over here on that "She's ok; she's ok..." line!!!
He's the arbiter or what's "ok"!!!!

I will admit to liking Jolie 1.0 but 2.0 leaves me cold. It would have been nice if Brody never stumbled upon that tape and had no clue that Liam was not his biological son and he and Natalie fell in love while John stood on the outside regretting banging Kelly all over town until he could calm down about Natalie's paternity lie. Let's get real, John does not have any romantic prospects since Kelly took off with Joey, Blair is torn between Tomas and Todd, Tea is mourning Victor's death, Jessica has way too many mental issues for John and Aubrey is making googly eyes at Rexx.

Good guy Brody is losing out in the baby department to a rapist and a soulless idiot.

The show can surround Ford with as many adorable dogs and cute babies as they want. I WILL NEVER FORGET.

I agree people saying that to the film creator was very rude. WTH?

Exactly - the basic problem of Liam's paternity story is lack of suspense. The audience has known since the beginning (or almost) and none of the characters have made intelligent or sympathetic choices. Even Natalie knew at one point but has blocked it out. It's even come down to a dog and baby Liam discussing it themselves. Just shows the story bounced totally off the rails way back when.

The most annoying part to me is the stupid plot device of the actual test results floating around - and how the dog has singled it out (can PDV read?) and the stupid humans can't figure out why the dog's so attached. So I guess Gigi (or Stacy or whomever FF was supposedly playing at the time) hearing about Liam's paternity on the tape has no meaning anymore?

Of course the whole thing would have been solved a year ago if the Buchs had bothered to retest all the paternities in question - Rex, Ryder (because of Clint/Vimal's tampering) and Liam just to double-check.

I also TA about John's inaction, but he doesn't just limit to his love life. I don't think I've ever seen such an all-around passive character on a soap, and it amazes me that he's supposed to be a hero.

Lousie - Thanks for the movie rec! I was in the Village yesterday with a friend looking for a movie to see and I wish I'd known about this then. I love when soap stars make good! (Also, I thought Margin Call and last week's OLTL were underwhelming.)

I agree about this paternity story dragging on. You're right about the lack of suspense.

But about the Matthew storyline, didn't we the viewers know for YEARS (not soap-years, real years), because Lindsay found out when Matthew was a baby and hid it from Bo and Nora? I was pretty young when that went down and I was a big Bo and Nora shipper so I was very upset at Lindsay, but maybe I'm remembering wrong?

I don't like John and Natalie together at all, but it's a hell of a lot better than watching them "secretly" pine for each other. I will be SO happy when all this is over!!!

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