March 4, 2004
I have been staring at this blank column for a couple of weeks now, trying to come up with something worth reading. Since I didn't (come up with something worth reading), I just let the whole idea of writing a column sail away into a sea of apathy.
I think part of the reason for my "meh" attitude toward the soaps is because they hardly compare to the ups, downs and dramas of my life at the moment. For me to be able to look at poor Jessica, all brainscrubbed and stupid and say, "Honey, you think YOU'VE got problems" pretty much takes the punch out of my interest.
It has, however, been long ago and far away since I lit a candle in the darkness that is the bleak abyss of ABC soaps, so I figured it was time to get crackin. I now have my stash of crack at my side and I'm prepared to write.
All hail the glorious new format. I've been adapting the column's look to each individual subject (and I may do so again... I bore very easily) for quite some time now, but this design made me smile and that's a nice thing. I was trying to imagine the kind of passion that might arise if Ryan Lavery were to ride away from Pine Valley again and come upon Faith Roscoe, stranded when her Viper lost its brakes (compliments of Jason Morgan) and slammed into a bridge support. Fortunately, the Viper comes equipped with Front Next Generation Multistage Air Bags, so really, she was more pissed off than anything. As she's stomping around, swearing and kicking at the Viper, a motorcycle roars to a stop behind her.
"Looks like you could use some help." Ryan takes off his helmet and tosses it to her. "Get on."
A half hour later, Faith isn't thinking about the Viper any more and Ryan has completely forgotten what Valley has Pines in it.
My husband was recently commenting with some degree of concern about how I watch "a LOT of TV." Pfft. Just because I have a schedule that runs from 7am (is it MY fault that SciFi has the Buffy reruns on so early) until 9pm (when the last Star Trek, The Next Generation goes off, unless, mind you, it's Friday, when it stays on until 11pm) doesn't mean I have a problem or anything. It just means I like to be entertained and lord, yes, I sure do.
Given that entertainment issue, I found myself with a fat hour long hole in my scheduled a little over three years ago. Eye on Soaps was doing great and had been cruising along for a solid several months, my partner who started the site with me (who was my AMC and PC expert while I was holding down GH and OLTL) had to back out of the site to work on a book she was commissioned to write about technical drawing. Yikes! Kate was instrumental in keeping AMC afloat and Victoria and Sherry kept PC flying (my cable company never carried it and it literally would not have survived if not for them and Angie Forby). With that noon to 1pm TV vacancy, it only seemed logical that I do the unthinkable and heretofore not attempted... I would start watching AMC.
It was easier to get into than I expected. I already could identify the characters and actors from EOS work, but the stories and history were a complete mystery to me. The first thing I saw was Dixie crawling around on the floor in a teddy with David after kissing Tad goodbye at the door. This began a dedicated Dixie hate that never wavered. (Although David has been an interesting character to me from the git go, forgiving his Dixie obsession) Having not been subject to the epic love story between Dixie and Tad or her stint as Adam's maid and concubine, etc, I didn't get to experience her charms and be won over by her at any point.
In the midst of figuring out who went with whom and what their associations past and present were (CURSES for missing Palmer and Opal's marriage!), my attention kept being drawn back to the couture train wreck that is Erica. At first, I merely found her to be tragically annoying, much like the cheerleader group in high school who flaunt their regality to all who will genuflect and subjugate themselves to their greatness, never earned but eternally demanded. As time went by, this annoyance turned into out and out fear: how in the name of all that has ever been considered holy have people critical to outcome (not the ones who are actively protecting her) not been able to recognize that Erica is crazier than a shithouse rat??
At least once a month, she has some scene where she's hallucinating, trying to kill someone that she thinks is someone else, collapsing into a sobbing puddle of dysfunction in some elegantly furnished corner or ranting out very aggressive abuse on someone who loves her.
(Holy freakin shit, Rick Hearst is guesting on "Charmed" right this minute with a really cool fake British accent and facial hair - like, yum! How am I supposed to bitch about Cuh-razy Erica with THAT going on?? This is my 9-10am on TNT block, by the way)
*shaking it off, pressing on*
I lived with and loved and alcoholic for 20 years. I was born to a family of drama freaks who fly into a panic at the least little issue and whip one another into higher states of hysterical frenzy like some insane, psychotic mamushka dance. In all of that mess, I have never in my life seen such an enabling, co-dependent bunch of misfits than those to protect Erica, thereby, keeping her sick by denying that there's a problem, at least one that they can't cure. I love my family to distraction and I can tell you that the minute one of my kids or husband came at me with a pair of scissors, ready to kill because they thought I was someone else, they're going in for some serious mental therapy (and it's likely going to involve a bite stick). Let them fly into a screaming, shaking, weeping panic because there's a thunderstorm and we're talking Dr Phil here. If Erica were in my family, it would not be a lack of love and it would definitely not be a lack of understanding that (as a premier soap character) Erica has been through a lot. It's about not being willing to to die because of the things that happened to her. The things she has experienced in her life are tragic, don't get me wrong, but I ain't gonna meet the business end of a pair of scissors over it. Around then is when Mama gets locked up in some elite mental spa until she's right in the haid again. Jack should be thoroughly arrested for the 4,785 crimes he's covered up for her.
I talked at length with my friend, Kate, about this, who appreciates Erica as "the perfect narcissist." While I can understand appreciating anything that is perfection, for me, this falls into the same category as "the perfect axe murderer" and "the perfect puppy stabber." I can fully relate to an appreciation of continuity of character in a genre when it's difficult to recognize familiar characters after even one change over of critical power folk (Head of ABC Daytime, Executive Producer or Head Writer). That much is of value, but the fact remains that Erica is not a character that I love to hate... she's just a character that I hate, not to mention a complete threat to society. She might be able to function in her regal world without bringing harm to others most of the time, but those aren't exactly our societal standards for being allowed out here with the rest of us. Someone who functions as a time bomb, ready to go mental because she breaks a fingernail or a package of frozen corn makes her remember the coldness of her father's eyes. You go from zero to psycho killer in .57 seconds. Nope. Mama got a bran' new straitjacket.
Not far off of the Erica Beaten Crazy Loon path is one of my previously favorite characters, Greenlee. I didn't get to see any of her sordid past, coming in right about the time that Leo was working to win her heart. I loved the whole story of Leo marrying Loopy Laura (my lack of history with the show made it easy for me to hate Laura since I didn't bear witness to her meager beginnings, merely to her illness and subsequent nuttiness) and Greenlee doing everything possible to get him to notice her. Although Greenlee has always been outrageous since I've been viewing her, I'd never seen her be particularly cruel until this latest run with Kendall. I think that's where she and Erica both cross over into the land of The Unredeemed. When deliberate and malicious cruelty comes into play, they've lost my allegiance. I was pretty much still on board the Greenlee express until she ripped Kendall's clothes off of her in court. Then I was done and I've never been so grateful to see someone get locked in a hole in the ground for a good long time. The psychic connection with Ryan was tedious even for me, a person who lives metaphysics and paranormal every day. I hurt with Greenlee when Roger died. My heart broke for her when she lost Leo. I cheered for her as she started her new cosmetics company and had the wisdom to overcome her pride and as Kendall to help her. I cringed as she tried to recapture something of a life with Carlos and Juan Pablo. Now I've dumped her because she's just being mean.
Please curb any urge you might have to write and explain the characters' motives and justifications to me. Mean doesn't get explained away for me, so save your pixels.
Although I have little use for Maria, her mother, Mateo or Rosa, I have to say that Anita is catching my attention pretty well in a positive way. I'd love to see her give Maria a bit more attitude, but tentatively, I like her. I'm eager to hear the back story of what is really going on with her marriage to Bobby. Since I pretty well despise Edmunch and Maria, I was quite surprised to find a member of the Santos family that I actually enjoy so far. I'd love to give Aidan a "nonFusion" woman. Maria/Maureen wuvved him and threw him over for another man. Kendall loved him and threw him over for another man twice. Mia loved him and was so paint-drying dull that he couldn't see her when she stood against a wall. It's a pity, too, because she was pretty interesting when she was first with Jake before he went nuclear idiot.
As far as I'm concerned, the whole Fusion thing needs to disappear as an idea that was valiant, but had too many loose cannons to make it, both on and off screen. The writers stopped knowing what to do with the ladies of Fusion and the Michael Cambias pirating along with the Sexiest Man in America mess was pretty much the swan song, I think. Now, the business, along with nearly every other major corporation in Pine Valley, has been passed around like a "Who's Got the Button" button. By the time it landed in Bianca's ever-diminishing lap, Fusion, Enchantment and Chandler Enterprises had been handled by more people than Simone's ass!
The side of the fence whose grass I'd really love to see watered (if not reseeded and fertilized) is Liza's. Again, I missed her younger days when the rivalry with Brooke was hot, but I've liked what I've seen so far. I enjoy strong, independent women who don't take crap off people (*moment of silence for the much destroyed Alexis Davis*) and she definitely wears those shoes well. As Kate has said, I do get tired of the whole "For Colby's sake" bullshit, but I do like the character. My most heavily emblazoned Liza moment is when Wildwind was burning and she and Ryan just gravitated to one another and started making out like monkeys who found the yohimbe tree. I read the AMC spoilers regularly, but that one somehow got past me and I was totally gobsmacked. I admired how she had NOT a speck of make-up on when she was in the hospital after her brain tumor. I love that she gets a lot of the good lines. I just wish they would use her more rather than setting her up on the recurring shelf with Palmer, Myrtle and Opal.
The one thing that really makes me sad about AMC is how much I really, really used to like Opal. We had so much in common! She's got those psychic leanings AND she's from the south. She dresses really funky and so do I. She speaks her mind and so do I. She has a goofy, colloquial turn of the phrase and so do I. We both enjoy using words to the edge of the envelope and a little past. So given all those commonalities, I thought Opal and I were a wonderful fit (we also both have a bit of a Daddy complex, I think). I was praying that the Hank Pelham romance would work out, not just because Tom Wopat is about the totally hottest thing going, but because I thought their courtship, whirlwind or not, was just absolutely lovely. My heart broke for her when he left to go on his musical tour. I was all on board with the Opal Pep Club until, like with the first two ladies, I really started hearing the extreme meanness that seeps through, more often now than before. I was devastated. I felt betrayed that someone I related to on so many levels turned out to be so mean spirited.
I missed Sarah Michelle Gellar's turn as Kendall, so I didn't get to see the meanness that was in here. Witnesses tell me she was quite a pistol. Because I missed the meanness, I like her. I've enjoyed her since she first came back as Alicia Minshew. Which brings me to my next favorite person in Pine Valley, Palmer. He gets points from the beginning because my mother's maiden name is Mitchell. Palmer is just such a wild card. It impresses me that no one in town, least of all those closest to him, seem ever to be able to predict how he's going to react to a person or a situation. I love how he is delighted by the obscure underdogs like Krystal and Kendall. Palmer is 100% his own man and seems beholden to none. In short, Palmer is just. my. type. I can fully see him with Vanessa, even though I missed their relationship as well. By the time I showed up, she was already sleeping with her chauffer that she ended up killing. If I had Palmer at home, he'd have a lot more to do than count his money.
It's not just the looks and the body. I swear. OK, I loved Josh Duhamel and I miss him in a really visceral kind of way. Yes, I watch Las Vegas, but I miss Leo. I miss his goofy little dance he did when he realized Vanessa wasn't dead. I miss his crooked smile and his wacky way of looking at the world. I miss Trey, who had that poor little hurt boy thing going on in spades. With those two gone, I've had to poor all of my beefcake luvvins into Ryan. That smile, that devilish twinkle... it brings out the bad boy likin' bad girl in me. I liked his daddy, Chris, even back when he was Nicholas Pierce on "Dallas." Wanted to have many, many little Scalia babies. The revelation of their father-son connect was played out beautifully and I hate that more attention wasn't given to the relationship, as well as time. All of this segues into my appreciate for Ryan. Fortunately, Gillian was killed off almost as soon as I started watching (I hated her with a bright indigo passion and only found her tolerable when Jesse was around to give her a hard time), so I didn't have to hate him by association. I was so grateful to see him roll up by Alexander Cambias' limo and I love how that story unfolded. The actor who played the senior Cambias was a real gem and I hate that he had to die off. It would have been choice to keep him and lose the son sooner. With any luck, Cameron Mathison will be around for a good, long while this time since we are getting very low on eye candy lately. I have a quota, don'tcha know.
I'll be back soon with a One Life to Live column! Have a great weekend, everyone!
OK, who can stand it?