Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dorian Lord: Gay For Pay

Lesbians, many of them, at least, are up in arms about the revelation that One Life To Live's Dorian Lord will be pulling a Jack Tripper and pretending to be gay in a bid to win the mayoral seat in the mythical town of Llanview, Pennsylvania. The writers of OLTL, in fact, will be going whole hog: Dorian will have a faux lesbian wedding. While I have only sporadically followed OLTL during the last 8-10 years, I was a devoted viewer for more than 20 years and, as both a lesbian and someone who has followed several of Dorian's escapades, I find this plot twist not the least bit offensive. In fact, I find it amusing. What's more, I think it's perfectly fitting with who Dorian is.


I've heard from several people that a devious and deceitful move such as feigning homosexuality is "out of character" for Dorian. I have to wonder if the folks making such observations have any idea who Dorian even is. Not only is this plot twist totally in character for Dorian, it's far from the lowest she's sunk. There are few depths to which Dorian won't lower herself, especially when she expects to gain power or/or money as a reward. If she has an opportunity to cause problems for Vikki Lord in the process? All the better.

My earliest memory of Dorian is of her withholding medication from her ailing husband (Victor Lord - an elderly, dying man she married for money) in an effort to hasten his death and cash in on a huge inheritance.

In later years, Dorian:
  • Falsely accused David Renaldi of pushing her down a flight of stairs,
  • Blackmailed Jenny (Llanview's long-suffering saint and an ex-nun, for heaven's sake),
  • Faked paralysis,
  • Concocted a plan to set up Sloan as a rapist,
  • Attempted to destroy Victor Lord's corpse to avoid prosecution for the murder she believed she'd committed,
  • Hired David Vickers to produce the famed "forged diary",
  • Seduced Vikki's son, Joey, merely to torture her arch enemy,
  • Blackmailed Drew,
  • Replaced her sister, Melinda's, anti-psychotic medication with a placebo, to keep her from revealing the truth about their father's death,
  • Committed insurance fraud (that whole necklace thing),
  • Concocted a frame-up to make Rex appear to be a heroin addict,
  • Paid Brody to claim to be Shane's father,
  • Secretly plied recovering alcoholic Charlie with alcohol and drugs, to thwart Vikki,
  • Hired someone to stalk her own daughter,
  • Hired a hitman to murder Ray, and
  • Pretended to be a Buddhist in order to get David Vickers, who she believed to be the Buchanan heir, to marry her
What, I ask, about this woman's history would make anyone think that feigning homosexuality in order to win the votes of homosexual voters would be "out of character"? The fact is, Dorian is a borderline sociopath. There is almost no limit to how far she'd go to get ahead. Gay for pay? Why the hell not? Not only will it help her win the mayoral election, but her opponent is none other than Vikki Lord - her long-time rival.

Dorian is and always has been a gloriously over-the-top character who can be counted on to do what no one on a soap opera has done before, or will do again. (Do any of us foresee another soap character pretending to be Buddhist, in order to get their hands on a fortune?) Not only would Dorian go gay-for-pay to get ahead, but there's nothing particularly surprising about her taking such a step.

"But, Same-Sex Marriage Is A Serious Issue, and ABC is Making Fun Of It!"

There's no question that the proposed right of same-sex couples to legally marry is a serious issue. I do not take this issue lightly. In debates about OLTL's gay-for-pay story line, I've been accused of not understanding the "gravity of the same-sex marriage debate" and not "getting the issue." Not only do I understand the gravity of the debate and get the issue, but I have been actively involved in lobbying for the rights of same-sex couples for several years. In fact, I was invited by the New Zealand Parliament to testify and make a case in favor of the Civil Union Act, as the Act was being debated on a national level. In many ways, I consider this bit of civic engagement my finest moment. (NZ's Civil Union Act passed into law in 2004.)

I get it. I really do. I also get that this story line poses no more threat to the same-sex marriage movement than Dorian's death row story line posed a threat to either side of the capital punishment debate.

Dorian is a character. Her actions don't represent the opinions of OLTL's writers, or of the ABC brass. As with any serial drama, there are good guys and bad guys on OLTL. Dorian falls somewhere in the grey area - she's mostly awful, but most of us love her, in a sick and twisted way. Spoilers about this story tell us this: Dorian will feign homosexuality and engage in a fake lesbian wedding in order to woo the LGBT vote. It's something Dorian would do, but it doesn't mean anyone is saying it's something people should do. In fact, I'm willing to bet money that Vikki will have a lot to say about how insulting Dorian's ruse is to same-sex couples who really, truly struggle with the fact that they cannot really marry (Llanview is in Pennsylvania, a state which does not recognize same-sex marriage.) I'm also willing to bet that Dorian's gay-for-pay scheme will backfire. She will not, in the long run, benefit from this ruse.

If Dorian's faux lesbian wedding is an example of ABC making fun of the same-sex marriage debate, then her faking paralysis must have been ABC making fun of disability. Her posing as a Buddhist must have been ABC making fun of eastern religion. Her frame-up of Rex must have been ABC making fun of heroin addiction. Nonsense. Dorian has never, ever been presented as the heart and soul and voice of Llanview. If any character has enjoyed this distinction, it's been Vikki - a character who would never make light of disability or religion or drug addiction or sexual identity. (Now, Nikki? That's a horse of a different color. All bets are off, when it comes to Nikki Smith.)

"It Stinks of STUNT"

Yes? And??? Of course it stinks of stunt. Because it is a stunt. OLTL is a soap opera. Soap operas are rife with stunts. This is a bad Dorian's gay-for-pay lesbian wedding is almost certainly as much a stunt as Frank and Natalia's wedding-that-wasn't or Olivia and Natalia's "my two mommies" kiss on Guiding Light. The entire pre-production promotional campaign for Crystal Chappell's Venice is one, big, beautifully managed stunt. How can the very same people who love the Venice stuntfest possibly point judgmental fingers at OLTL? If you think that tantalizing disappointed Otalia fans with the promise of a Crystal Chappell/Jessica Leccia kiss "within the first 30 seconds" of Venice isn't a stunt that preys on lesbian hunger for intimacy between two actresses who have become lesbian icons, we really should meet. I've got some prime real estate, spanning from Downtown Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, that you might just like to purchase.

Know this: there are no real "leaked spoilers." Nothing makes it into the soap magazines and internet columns by accident. We know about Dorian's gay-for-pay story line because someone at ABC made a decision to release the information. The "leak"? It's always the first part of any good stunt. And this has the potential to be an excellent stunt - one with humor, drama, controversy and, ultimately, comeuppance.

"I Can't Believe Robin Strasser Would Agree To This!"

Believe it. Robin Strasser is a consummate professional, and professional actors act. A few months back, I wrote about an actor who stormed off the set of Y&R and refused to perform scenes in which his character kissed another male. His behavior was totally unprofessional. If Robin Strasser did the same thing regarding this story line, her behavior would be just as unacceptable. If Strasser doesn't care for the story line (I have no reason to believe that this is true), it won't be the first story line she hasn't been crazy about, and I'm certain it won't be the last. However, Strasser is a class act. Of course she'll act these scenes: acting is what she does. She's not a petulant child. She's an actor with a reputation for always giving it her all.

Anyone who expects Robin Strasser to take some kind of stand and refuse to take part in this story line should then be prepared to hear about Strasser losing her job because, just last month, OLTL fired an actor who refused to take part in a story line which called for her character to be gay-friendly.

The Bottom Line

One Life To Live has long been known to go to extremes. Time travel. Hidden, underground cities. Forgotten childbirth. Fictional blood types. Visits to hell. Gay-for-pay? Sounds like one of the more grounded story lines to take place in Llanview, to be honest. That it's the ruthless, power-hungry, plotting Dorian at the center of it is what makes it deliciously campy.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes a story is just a story. If we want gay and lesbian issues to be part of the soap opera landscape, we might want to celebrate the fact that OLTL is planning to feature an election story line where the power of the gay and lesbian vote is actually acknowledged. When was the last time you heard about that on a daytime drama?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cast Off : Why Otalia is a Failure

To so many of us, the town of Springfield, USA seemed to be inhabited by flesh-and-blood friends, and not fictional characters. Since we live in a society that always wants to know "why?" and "how?" - so much so that there's practically a CSI for every city, discovery Channel has explored the "murder mystery" of King Tut, and we even know what that poor Iceman ate for dinner before he died - it's fitting we follow through with Otalia the way we would with the demise of any friend. In other words, now that Guiding Light has breathed its last breath, the time has come for a postmortem.

The Shape of Things
Otalia was meant to be an old-fashioned love story - the sort of story soap operas excelled at in their heyday. There's a formula to such stories, and it goes like this:
  1. Boy meets Girl
  2. Boy and Girl dislike each other intensely
  3. Circumstances force Boy and Girl to be together for prolonged periods of time
  4. Antagonistic banter ensues
  5. Antagonism gives way to civility as Boy and Girl each secretly realize that they are attracted to the other
  6. A crisis arises forcing one or the other to blurt out a climactic "I love you!"
  7. Boy and Girl kiss
  8. Boy and Girl make love for the first time in some significant setting
  9. Boy and Girl become celebrated couple in the community
If we're talking about not just a couple, but that rarest of pairings - the Super Couple - the formula has some added elements:
  • Outside forces/circumstances work to prevent Boy and Girl from pursuing a relationship
  • Outside forces/circumstances actually force Boy and Girl to be physically/geographically apart for a period of time
  • Boy and Girl overcome numerous barriers and hurdles, and beat the odds in order to be together
  • Boy and Girl enjoy widely celebrated reunion
  • Repeat as necessary
That's it. That's the classic formula for a successful coupling. If one were to change the pronouns to "Girl 1" and "Girl 2", we would have the story of Otalia:
  1. Olivia and Natalia meet when Natalia gets a job as a chambermaid at The Beacon.
  2. Because of Olivia's aggressive efforts to snag Gus (Natalia's fiancee') and overall bitchiness, the two women dislike one another, intensely.
  3. Olivia's illness -both before and after her heart transplant - force the two women to begrudgingly spend inordinate amounts of time together, and even move in together.
  4. They argue and spar on a regular basis.
  5. As a true friendship develops, Olivia and Natalia each secretly come to love one another.
  6. On the day of her scheduled marriage to Frank, Natalia forces the issue with Olivia, inducing her to blurt out the now-famous, "I'm in love with you!"
  9. In the future, Olivia and Natalia are a couple, like any other couple hanging out in the park with the rest of Springfield
Knit One, Purl Two
I'm not much of a knitter, but I know what it means to inadvertently drop a stitch. I know that dropping just one stitch can cause the piece one is knitting to unravel. Just one stitch, and the whole thing comes apart. It's that precise, knitting. Every stitch builds on the next, each one carrying its load in terms of maintaining the integrity of the finished product.

Imagine knitting a scarf for your best friend. Somewhere in the middle, you drop a stitch. Observers point it out to you: "Hey, you dropped a stitch!" You ignore them and keep knitting. More observers point out the dropped stitch: "No, seriously - you dropped a stitch. It's coming apart. Fix that thing before it's too late." You get to the end of your knitting project and hold it up to get a good look at it. Running right through the middle is a wide, ugly run. A scarf is a simple knitting project. You still have time to go back and fix your mistake. You can pick up that dropped stitch and still save the scarf. You decide not to. You put the scarf in a box and wrap it and hand it to your best friend on her birthday. She opens the box, holds up the scarf, appreciates your hard work, and the fact that the scarf will keep her warm. In private, she scrunches up her nose at the ugly run, and can't help feeling that you've been sloppy and lazy in your knitting. One little snag, and this scarf will fall apart. Your friend knows this, and you know this. At the end of the day, your knitting project is a failure - a failure as a knitting project and a failure as a gift.

Writers of a story arc such as Otalia follow a predetermined formula, just the way knitters follow patterns. The writers of Otalia dropped a stitch and, instead of going back to pick it up - the way any good knitter would do, the way any good writer would do - they just kept writing, even as the Otalia story line unravelled and formed a wide and ugly run in the overall fabric of Guiding Light.

7 and 8
At this point in time, and for the purposes of this postmortem, talking about CBS or Ellen Wheeler or Jill Lorie Hurst is pointless. The bottom line is this: the story of Olivia and Natalia started out as a beautiful love story. It had all the elements of a classic soap opera romance. It even had the potential to venture into Super Couple territory. All the pieces were in place, but a stitch or two were dropped and never picked up.

Stories about people falling love are only truly engaging and satisfying when protagonists explore what it means to be in love. For two adults in the 21st century, a significant part of being in love is physical intimacy. Hell, this was true in the last century. It's been true since the beginning of time, even if it wasn't openly discussed or expressed. Today, though, literature and film and television most certainly do discuss and portray varying levels of physical intimacy between characters. It's part and parcel of relationship storytelling. A romantic relationship story doesn't ring true if there is no physical manifestation of the love two characters share.
In the Otalia story line, the 7th and 8th steps of the storytelling formula were ignored, completely. Even as we viewers waved our arms and pointed out the dropped stitches, the writers kept going. They kept building a story even as the story behind them unravelled. What started out as a touching, realistic love story with momentum and forward-moving trajectory became static and phony. Otalia failed us in the worst possible way: it started out with great promise, and it ended up in bland mediocrity.

Olivia and Natalia were pretty to look at. The chemistry between Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia was palpable. The build-up to their love story was a thing of beauty. The performances - especially by Chappell - were often breathtaking. In the end, though, the de-sexualization of these characters turned Otalia into just another failed attempt at cashing in on the last vestiges of lesbian chic. A stunt. It was as much a stunt as Madonna kissing Britney Spears - except without the kiss. It was pretty to look at, and it tugged at our heart strings and made us hope that this time someone would get it right but, in the end, it was just a stunt. Where Otalia could have been groundbreaking - the depiction of same-sex love that set the bar for all future same-sex story lines - it has done just the opposite. This was not, at the end of the day, a story about two women who fall in love and enjoy a healthy, adult relationship, complete with physical intimacy. Natalia might have said that she didn't intend to give up any of "the things that people in love share," but she did. Instead of setting a high bar, Otalia takes us two steps back, to the idea that fagdom is okay as long as no one has to actually see it or think about it. Melrose Place's Matt Fielding lives!

By neutering Olivia and Natalia, the writers of this story dropped a stitch. They had ample opportunity to go back and pick up that stitch. Olivia and Natalia should have kissed at the spa. They should have kissed when Olivia returned from San Francisco. There should have been at least an implication of sexual activity during all those hours spent alone at The Beacon. There were dozens of opportunities to pick up that dropped stitch and save the integrity of this story, but this effort was never made.

We were promised a luxurious Pashmina. What we got was a pile of pretty yarn.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friends


I hate to even type this date. After 72 years on radio and television, Springfield's beacon has shut down, and Guiding Light is no more. Having watched and followed this show for over 30 years, seeing it end is like losing an old and dear friend. No, it's like losing a whole bunch of old and dear friends. Tears were shed, even as some parts of the final episode were a disappointment, and others a complete puzzle.


They should have had one kiss. Sorry, but it must be said. Yay for the girls being together, and happily, but there should have been a kiss.

I loved the scene of Natalia and Olivia sitting at the table, Olivia talking about how the happy ending isn't supposed to be hers, and how she can't believe she actually got everything she wanted. Olivia seems like a friend to me. I've been rooting for her pretty much since she first came on the scene - even when she's been soooo wrong about things. I couldn't be more glad to see Olivia get a happy ending if she were a real person.

I know some people were angry at the naming of Natalia's baby. I'm not. First off, Francesca is a really good name. Second, Frank is, after all, the baby's father. Naming the baby after Frank is no less fitting than if they'd named her after Natalia. And, keep in mind that Natalia suggested naming the baby Ivy Olivia - now that would have been walking a little too far on the side of fantasy. Francesca has a father and two mothers. Of the three parents, it was Olivia who got to name the baby, which is significant. She chose a good name (ok, I admit to being partial to Francesca because it's the name I chose for my niece, and my sister actually went with it...but I digress.) She chose a name that honors and acknowledges the fact that the baby's father is part of the baby's life. One can also look at it this way: too many people have this crazy idea that lesbians are trying to be men or replace men, or that we hate men. Some lesbians do hate men. Most don't. If we couldn't have an Otalia that was edgy enough to kiss on screen (heaven forbid!!!!) at least we have an Otalia that has bucked several conventional ideas about women in same sex relationships: we don't hate men, we aren't trying to be men, we don't hate heterosexuals, we don't always couple up in butch/femme pairs, we quite often lead very traditional, family-oriented lives.

But, really, people, they should have kissed.


He's a douchebag with a uniform. I will never be ok with the fact that Guiding Light portrayed a homophobic bastard as a hero. No matter how much I love this show, and how much joy it's given me - this will never be ok, in my book. I'm actually more ok with the whole "let's just have Jeffrey do some pretty damned nice things for Olivia and pretend he never raped anyone" ploy, because that's basically damage control after the fact. With Rafe, the writers didn't even do any damage control. They set up Rafe's homophobia, beautifully, as a conflict, but they never resolved it. A simple apology and admitting he was wrong would have gone a long way. The writers couldn't bother. Who cares if he spit all over a whole segment of society? What's the big deal about him condemning his mother and telling her she was going to hell? For this I don't blame CBS. Blame for this incredibly irresponsible (and sloppy) bit of story-telling lies squarely with the executive producer and the writer. This situation could have been remedied in under 75 words:
"I'm so sorry, Ma. I'm sorry about the terrible things I said. I'm sorry I wasn't here for you when you needed me. I don't really understand what it is that you and Olivia are doing, but I'm going to try my best to just support you the way that you've always supported me. I just want you to be happy."
Um, that took me one minute to come up with. The writers had over a year to figure out how Rafe's reaction to Otalia was going to play out, and they fucked it up, royally.

Phillip and Beth/ Rick and Mindy

I was hoping against hope that Mindy would show up and wind up with Rick. It would have been too awful to leave poor, dopey Rick with no one. Long live The Four Musketeers!

I loved Phillip's revelation that he is now the oldest Spaulding living in the Spaulding mansion. I remember you when you were practically still a boy, Phillip Spaulding! I also loved Beth's little nod to Phillip's literary past - giving him the journal and suggesting he start writing took me back to Phillip and Beth reading poetry to one another, a million years ago, when they were first falling in love.

Alexandra and Fletcher

Sweet that Alex got to do something and be with someone, and moving to see her say goodbye, because that was really Marj Dusay saying goodbye to Guiding Light. I've enjoyed the closeness between Alex and Phillip during the last two weeks. I'd begun to think the writers had no idea how much Alex has always adored her nephew. In so many ways, Phillip has been more like her son.

Reva and Josh/ Edmund and Jeffery/ Jonathan and Sarah

Don't hate me, but I found this to be pretty awful. I am so over Josh and Reva and, HELLO - Jefferey is still alive. It think they forgot to tell Bradley Cole to come in for the last day of filming. Or maybe the writers got home after the last day of shooting, with that nagging feeling that they'd forgotten something. To turn off the iron? To leave water for the dog? Oh, shit! We forgot to finish Jeffery's story line!

Why did they even start the whole Edmund "murder" mystery, if there was never any intention to solve it? Are we to believe that, a whole year later, Jeffery still hasn't had any luck in killing Edmund? Isn't he some sort of secret government operative? And, yet, he can't shoot the broad side of a barn. We never found out who it was that Dinah murdered. There's actually no rhyme or reason for any of this. Edmund is supposed to pose this huge danger to baby Henry, Sarah, and just about everyone in Springfield (although it's kind of difficult to figure out why he'd bother), yet a year passes by and no one has been killed or kidnapped or anything? Who cares?

Still and all, it made me weepy when Josh and Reva drove off in the pick-up truck. It reminded me of H.B., and I loved H.B.

Is Sarah on reverse SORAS pills? We skip ahead a year and baby Colin has aged, Natalia and Olivia have a baby who looks to be a few months old, even stupid Remy and Chistina's baby is the right age. But Sarah is still the same size? Stupid. If I cared about the whole Sarah/Jonathan/Lizzie thing I'd be annoyed. I don't, so I just find it stupid and funny.

Reva and Olivia

This was pure win. I love it that Reva got a crack in about Olivia finally finding someone who could handle her. I am really going to miss these two characters so much! We haven't seen old Reva in ages. This was a glimpse of her, but softer. It made me happy.

Blake and Frank

Awww. That was sweet. I thought Frank Dicopoulous was really good in the bridge scene. He hasn't had much of a chance, in the last year, to play just normal, nice Frank: a pretty damned good guy, who deserves a break. I felt we got that Frank back in the final episode. I loved it that he so comfortably mentioned Francesca having two mommies in the flash-forward scene. Unlike Rafe, whose conflict is never resolved, Frank's journey from "What exactly are you???" to "She's in love with you, Olivia" to "In the grand scheme of things, our situation isn't that bad" to "I thought you ladies could use some help moving" has been realistic and satisfying. He was never going to fall instantly in love with the idea of Natalia jilting him, especially not when she jilted him for Olivia, of all people. Because he is (one last time, people) a good man, though, he's come around. Family has always been the most important thing to Frank. In many ways, the flash-forward scene is all about Frank and Olivia: two people who never, ever got the happy endings, finally getting their turn.

Remy and Christina

Wow. So furious precious time was wasted on these two again. Those minutes could easily have been used to give us some quality Emma/Olivia/Natalia/Francesca time. Or a really good Phillip/Beth scene. Or anything besides Remy and Christina. A photo is in order.
Odds and Sods

  • I'm really sad that Maeve Kinkead wasn't around for the very end. Vanessa and Billy had no screen time together after the wedding. I love Vanessa, and I don't feel as if we've had a proper goodbye.
  • The whole Dinah/Mallett and Shayne/Marina thing is awful and is best ignored.
  • I really wanted Dinah to at least phone her mother, as Vanessa asked her to. It would have been nice to have that bit of closure.
  • Daisy and Ashlee: I dig Ashlee's pseudo hippie look at Berkeley.
  • Daisy and James: cute.
  • Ashley and Doris: Cute, but a little bit of a letdown. I wanted more Doris.
  • Buzz and Lillian: so adorable together in the flash forward scene.
Goodbye, Springfield. Thanks for the years.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Damned Shame - Episode Breakdown


I am not a happy camper, right now. Today's episode was the next-to-last episode of Guiding Light, ever, and it was a huge mess and a bloody waste of precious time. It is inconceivable to me that the writers of this show could feel that loyal viewers of this show are deserving of the pile of crap that aired today, or that the actors, who have sacrificed so much during the last 18 months, deserved no better send-off.

Josh Lewis

Josh wants to kidnap Reva and marry her? That's stupid and boring. It's ridiculous. It's pointless. And it amounted to nothing. It seems to me that there was a good 8 or 9 minutes to fill, and some hack decided, "Hey, I know - let's just give Robert Newman some filler bullshit about wanting to marry Reva. No one will believe it's going to happen, and no one will care, but who gives a damn? We can't have dead air." I think this calls for a picture of Olivia, to dull the pain.

The Token Black Characters

I honestly think the writers have felt, for several months, now, that the show just had to have a black story line, no matter how pointless or bad it was. There is NOTHING interesting or entertaining about Remy and Christina. There never WAS anything interesting or entertaining about them. They don't have a fan base. And, I have to call it as I see it: neither one of these two young people could act his or her way out of a paper bag. To say that I'm infuriated by the fact that precious time was wasted in giving them yet another stupid, pointless, boring story line would be putting it mildly. Remy and Christina's surname shouldn't be "Boudreau", it's should be "Token."

If the writers really felt compelled to run a story line with a black character (which is fair enough) why didn't they get Yvonna Wright back on contract a year ago, and develop a meaty story for Mel Boudreau, instead of a quickie bit of fluff between Mel and Cyrus? Wright can actually act, Mel is part of Springfield's main family and, let's face it, Yvonna Wright is not exactly difficult to look at. So much has been said about how the main families of Springfield have been abandoned, and it's true. This is a prime example of a wasted opportunity. Instead of going the token black route and featuring lots of Remy and Christina junk, the writers should have long ago focused on Mel and Leah, placing them front and center, representing the future of the Bauer clan....the future of Springfield, the future of Guiding Light.

But, back to Remy and Christina - are they supposed to be survivors of a great accident? Did I miss the episode when they both incurred massive, traumatic brain injuries? Because only two brain-damaged adults would fail to realize that not having a marriage license is a pretty significant blunder. No wonder it's so easy to get away with crime in Springfield: the police force is manned by total idiots. Remy makes Frank Cooper look like a Rhodes Scholar. Not only does he not know that marriage is, indeed, a legal status, but he clearly has no idea what a pregnancy test is.

The only good thing about any of this was the ten seconds of Olivia, and the look she gave Remy. That look spoke volumes. It said, "You're a fucking retard, Remy. All this time wasted on you and your bug-eyed wife could be spent on ME and MY cute wife who is suddenly starting to seem pretty smart, compared to you." Yes, I'm angry. And, yeah, I'm posting another Olivia picture. Got a problem with that?

Reva and Jonathan

I don't really care about this, but I'm glad to see Kim Zimmer and Thom Pelphrey together, because they have a great rapport. And Reva/Jonathan act like a real mother and son might act. But, really, who cares? I don't.


Yeah, whatever. Who gives a shit? Suddenly people from U.C. are calling it Berkeley College, and not U.C. Berkeley. I know a high-functioning moron who has his degree from U.C. Berkeley, so it's feasible that Daisy would get in. But, again, who gives a shit? In fact, I care so little that I'm posting another picture of Crystal Chappell.

Ed and Holly

Where to begin? There writers had the sublime Maureen Garrett on set for one day, and they totally wasted her talents. Holly only ever ever wanted Ed because he was safe. How incredibly boring. I love Peter Simon, but this development is lame and foolish. Why even bother to bring Holly back? For this? Seriously? I still think bringing Holly back as a lesbian would have kicked ass. I'm not even saying I'd want or expect to see her with a partner. I just think that would have been an awesome way to make use of Garrett's one day of shooting. This nonsense of Ed and Holly winding up together? I'm happy for my friend, Patrick Erwin, who likes them together but, for me, it's total bullshit. Yeah - no. I'm not posting a picture of Ed and Holly. RIP, Michael Zaslow.

Edmund and Jefferey

Seriously, does anyone give a shit about this stupid crap? Jefferey raped Olivia a million years ago, and now they're friends. That calls for a picture of Olivia, so that this space isn't a total waste.

Phillip and James

I love them together. The Frisbee scene was perfect. Not too much. Quiet. Sweet. That is all.


Thank God for Marj Dusay, who kicked all kinds of ass, today. I never thought I'd be happy to see Fletcher Reade. I've never much cared for him. But Alex has loved him for years, and he's always had that soft spot for her. It was a fitting nod to the past, to Alex's history, to have Fletcher rush back to Springfield, and to have him be the only person Alex could break down in front of. Marj Dusay saved this episode from being a complete waste of time. "Bye-bye, brother" brought tears to my eyes.

Odds and Sods

I got nothing. I'm seriously too pissed off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

He Is Just Away - Episode Breakdown


I cannot say, and I will not say

That he is dead. He is just away.

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,

He has wandered into an unknown land.

- James Whitcomb Riley (Excerpt)

Phillip and Rick

As I watched the first two scenes of this episode I got all choked up, not just because Alan is dead and Phillip is suffering, but because I realized that I've been watching these two men together since they were practically still boys. We grew up together and, after Friday, I'll never see Freddie and Phillip, again. Guiding Light has treated us to some really wonderful friendships over the years, and this is one of the most enduring. Who else would Phillip call on finding his dead father, but his oldest and best friend? I love these guys together. I love it that the drama of the final episodes provided these characters with a chance to be on screen in a meaningful way. Grant Aleksander's performance was, once again, perfect. He looks as if his heart is broken, and it breaks my heart to see him.

Reva and Jonathan

I've hardly cared about these two until today, and the only reason I care today is because Reva is handling her son's homecoming the way Natalia should have handled Rafe's return from prison. Reva and Jonathan together scream REALISM. Reva's not having any of the weird behavior Jonathan has picked up while he's been on the run. She lays down the law: now that you've re-entered the real world, real world rules apply, so get over yourself. Why, why, why couldn't Natalia have handled Rafe in this way months ago? No wonder he's a douchebag.

I also like that Alan's death lights a fire under Reva and pushes her into facing the fact that loss is, sadly, a part of life, but that life goes on. Nice nod to the fact that Alan and Reva were married once. They were even happy for a little while.

I'm going to ask this, again: why do the wardrobe people hate Kim Zimmer? We've seen her at the Emmy Awards and the Paley event, where she looked great. It's almost as if the wardrobe people looked for the least flattering dress they could possibly find for Kim. Kim isn't 20. And she's not a size 3. Neither are most of us. She's a real woman - something we hardly get to see anymore. "Real" does not have to mean "dowdy." Reva Shayne is not dowdy.

Alexandra Spaulding

If yesterday's episode belonged to Grant Aleksander, today was Marj Dusay's turn to shine. It's about damned time. Alex's controlled, understated reaction to losing her beloved brother was spot-on. Dusay didn't miss a beat. It's unfortunate the actors playing the servants haven't been series regulars, because Dusay was great in that scene, while the actors playing the servants looked like two day players who were really excited to actually have lines.

I loved the way Alex took control and laid out the plans for Alan's funeral. Alex is, after all, the head of the family. For many years, while Alan was away, Alex really was head of the family. She has experience in this area. She does not drop the ball. Alex keeps her shit together, keeps tough, and breaks down when she can do it alone. We saw this years ago when she had her heart crushed by Roger. We saw it again today. The final scene with Alex and Alan's corpse felt like eavesdropping or looking through a peephole at a private moment. Beautiful work from Dusay. What a shame she's been on the shelf for so long.


Damn you for making me like you a little bit. What a lousy way to find out your grandfather has died. When James hugged Phillip, I let out a sigh of relief.


Rafe is a jerk. He spends a private moment of bonding with Frank, thanks him profusely for all he's done for him, but can't muster up much more than an "I have to go" for his own mother? What about all your mother has done for you, Rafe? All she's given you? Like...basically...everything. And don't get me started on his asking Olivia to take care of Natalia for him. My rant to Rafe: You never even apologized, you little shit! The last time we saw you talking to Olivia, you were gloating and telling her that she was going to end up alone. You don't get to do that shit, never even apologize, and then ask Olivia to take care of your mom, as if nothing has happened. And, no - giving Emma a quarter does not make up for your bad behavior. Being nice to a kid who has just lost her grandfather is the absolute least that's expected from adults in the real world. You don't get a medal for that.

Another thing - I'm sick of hearing that Rafe is a hero. The script writers clearly need a thesaurus. They used this word for Mallet, too. Rafe is not a hero. He's a homophobic bastard who is so afraid of facing the fact that his mother loves another woman, that he's opted to join the army. It's called running away from home. Hiding behind a uniform and a war doesn't make it any less cowardly.

Olivia and Natalia

Sweet. That's pretty much it. They should have made out as Rafe's bus pulled out. I like the idea of him being deployed to Iraq with the image of his mother being groped by Olivia cemented into his brain.

Buh bye, Rafe!

Odds and Sods

Olivia's nail polish is nasty. Sorry, but Herman Munster is not the look Olivia should strive for.

This just occurred to me - why the hell wasn't Ed Bauer at Vanessa's wedding? He's one of her oldest, dearest friends. Dumb oversight.

Did anyone else laugh when Alex told Rick that no one blamed him for Alan's death? Translation: You've killed another patient, Rick!

The fact that Peyton has been invisible for years came back to haunt GL today: the child playing Peyton is just some cute, generic kid who clearly has no rapport with Beth Chamberlain. What could have been a touching scene if the child had at least felt comfortable making eye contact with Chamberlain, ended up being nothing more than a tedious waste of time. We don't know Peyton, so we don't really care about Peyton.

I think it was Nelson Branco who recently wrote that it's wise for writers who don't know how to write for Grant Aleksander to allow his action to take place out of earshot. I liked it that we saw, but didn't hear, as Phillip broke the news of Alan's death to Lizzie. I don't know if the person writing that day's script felt unable to write dialogue for that scene, or why they chose to film it in this way, but it worked.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of Fathers and Sons - Episode Breakdown


The Lewis Family

Josh and Reva have come full circle and, as I was sure would be the case, there is no reuniting these two. I know many fans will find this heartbreaking, but I like it. In some ways, Josh and Reva's relationship can be just as unhealthy as the relationship Holly and Roger shared. They're better suited as friends. If they ended up together now, it would only be because Reva is lost without Jefferey. Josh's announcement that he will be leaving Springfield because there's no one left to take care of is bittersweet, but logical, and it's good soap opera. He and Reva have played out all they can play out, and the fact that they no longer make sense as a couple reminds me of AMC's Palmer and Daisy, and the last time they parted. I believe Daisy told Palmer, "It's been a lovely, wild ride, but the ride is over." The Reva/Josh tilt-a-whirl has stopped.

Josh's speech about Billy and Vanessa made me mushy. He's right, of course; Vanessa has always brought out the best in Billy. And there's always been such strong affection between Josh and Vanessa - even when Vanessa divorced Billy, she and Josh still lived in the family home together. Their bond has long been like that of a brother and sister.

The Reardons

I'm so glad that Matt was not excluded from GL's final week, but that his inclusion in the wedding festivities was not all HAPPYHAPPYJOYJOY. Matt loves Vanessa. He always will. If Guiding Light were going to continue, I'm sure Matt would continue on as a tortured soul who has no one to blame but himself for losing the one woman he will always adore. The casting of Frank Dicopoulous' daughter (please, someone supply me with her name) as Maureen Reardon is perfect. She's a lovely girl who, with that dark hair and piercing eyes, could easily be the child of Matt and Vanessa.

I loved seeing Brigett and Nola come to Matt's side, and offer him the comfort of family support. Guiding Light, at it's best, has focused on family - on extended family, unconventional family, family hardship, family love - and the Reardons are one of the greatest families Springfield has ever seen. I'm sad we're not getting more of them as the show folds.

The Couples

Billy and Vanessa

So cute together. Maeve Kinkead looks as if she's so happy to be home. Having spoken to her just a day after shooting was over, I know that she was incredibly moved by the experience of ending Guiding Light, and by how much the show had touched people over the years. I may be imagining it, but I think it really shows. When I look at the veterans of the show as they recite some of their final lines, it seems to me that they're giving it their all for the fans.

Buzz and Lillian

Buzz started out in Springfield as a man-on-the-make, a true con man, a hustler. With his pierced ear and street swagger, and a phony name that sounded as if it had been lifted from Valley of the Dolls (Anyone else remember Rex Mancini?) he promised to be Springfield's next smooth operator. He's emerged as the town curmudgeon, but with a heart of gold, and some inexplicable charm that women find irresistible. (The man was this close to marrying Olivia Spencer, for heaven's sake!) He and Lillian are a perfect pair. He needs the steady, reliable love of a good woman who won't bail on him. She needs to take the occasional walk on the wild side.

James and Daisy

Cute. That is all. If there were a future for Guiding Light, they would almost certainly be the next Phillip and Beth.

Phillip and Beth

This episode belonged to Grant Aleksander, but more about that later.

How long have fans waited for this? Phillip and Beth have danced this dance for something like 25 years, and all I can say is: Whew! Thank God they found their way back to one another. Soap opera proposals rarely move me - they happen so frequently - but Phillip's impassioned proposal moved me to tears. He and Beth Chamberlain have amazing chemistry, and their real life affection for one another shines through. I know this will be considered blasphemy in some circles, but Beth Chamberlain is the REAL Beth. Judi who? The belong together. Case closed.

Blake and Frank

I know a lot of people hate Frank, but I don't. I want him to find happiness. And I love Blake. These two have been friends for years, and they used to be friends-with-benefits. They don't exude smoldering passion, but thats ok. Frank will never have another Eleni. Blake will never have another Ross. But they can have one another and make it work. We already know they're sexually compatible, and that's half the battle, when it comes to Blake. And, really, Blake looked smoking hot in that dress. Why didn't Frank notice that? Oh, yeah - he's the one who didn't notice the loving looks between his fiancee' and her best friend.

Olivia and Natalia

They didn't have anything major, in terms of plot development. Their story line seems to be complete. There will be no kiss. I think it's best to assume that all manner of intimacy is happening behind closed doors at the farmhouse. In public, though, they are equal parts adorable and smoking hot as they walk hand-in-hand on the beach. Olivia's red dress seals the deal, as far as the smoking hot part goes. I'm repeating myself, I know: but it's sooooo nice to see these two as a couple, among other couples, just being part of the community.


I fear words will fail me, but I'll try. By the time this episode was over, I found myself steeping in a puddle of tears.

Just as Alan finds redemption and passes along some wise words to his son, we can see the father/son dynamic mirroring itself in Phillip and James. Will James ever let go of his anger, and understand that it was love - not resentment - that kept his father from allowing him to lay down his life?

Just as Phillip feels he can finally let go of the past and enjoy a relationship with his father, it's all taken away from him. I'd guessed Alan would die, and I read the spoiler. I thought I was prepared. How foolish of me! If you'd told me a year ago that Alan Spaulding's death would break my heart, I would have suggested a dose of reality. I would have been so wrong. Phillip's words to a father he doesn't realize is dead, and his subsequent reaction, ripped my heart right out of my chest. If the cemetery scene the Otalia story line cemented my long-standing respect for Crystal Chappell's acting prowess, this last episode in the Alan/Phillip saga has cemented my long-standing reverence for the talent of Grant Aleksander. Today, Guiding Light was the Phillip Spaulding show, and what an amazing show.

Yes, words failed me. Sorry I couldn't do any better.

Odds and Sods

Poor Alexandra - she's lost her best friend. But, really, Birkenstocks to a wedding? I've got a little bit of a hippie past. I own Birkenstocks. I love them. They are NOT proper footwear for a wedding.

Speaking of footwear, is there not a single member of the Lewis clan who knows the basic rule about brown shoes? For the love of God - someone help these guys.

I saw some nasty comments about Natalia's dress. Have you folks looked at maternity clothing, lately? That's one of the nicest maternity get-ups I've seen. Anyhow, WTF are you looking at the fakely pregnant woman, when the hot-ass, kettle-bell-svelte hottie in the red dress with the mad cleavage is joined at her hip? Look at Olivia, will forget all about the powder blue maternity dress.

Danny Cosgrove is freaking adorable. I'm just saying.

Ok, this is serious: Emma. In the last few years she's been kidnapped by her crazy father, had her father disappear, witnessed the marriage and divorce of her mother and Bill Lewis, become attached to Frank and then Buzz, only to have her mother dump them both, almost died because CK1 is NOT a beverage, found out she has an adult sister, been told her mother is dying, attended her mother's freakish, impromptu wedding to Jefferey, witnessed her mother going into cardiac arrest moments after the wedding, lost her favorite uncle Gus, been shuttled around as her mother dealt with an irrational desire to die, become an aunt, only to have her nephew die and her sister lose her mind, been evicted from the Spaulding mansion, moved into the farmhouse, had her father reappear, moved back to the Beacon, witnessed a jilting, been teased at camp for not having a pink shirt, had Natalia disappear, been scared shitless by her mother's meltdown, been told her father is dying, and lost her grandfather. And Olivia was worried about telling her she was gay, why?????