Soap Opera Weekly: 12/16/10

I really enjoyed watching ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Charlie and Echo square off today over her drinking. Charlie decided to stage a one-man intervention near Rex’s sickbed, entreating her to give up the booze for the sake of her son. Or for Charlie, even!

Echo was determined to make up for not raising Rex by being a mother to him now. However, the flaw in her plan was that she believed an occasional sip of firewater would be just fine. But Charlie pointed out that if that pull comes from a flask you have to hide, then she has a problem.

This was the first time that I saw Kim Zimmer really cut loose and remind me of her GUIDING LIGHT powerhouse, Reva. She was commanding and persuasive — even if her argument was full of holes. And Brian Kerwin gave as good as he got, standing toe to toe with Zimmer. “You’re stronger than you know,” he counseled. I guess he should know…

Echo cleverly used Charlie’s pledge to stand by her as an excuse to get next to him and try to horn in on Rex. She vowed to dry out “for Rex’s sake.” Well, anyone will tell you that you cannot get sober (or make any serious change in your lifestyle) for someone else; it has to be for you. So clearly she has another agenda…

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 11/24/10

ALL MY CHILDREN fans might want to take a moment before their Thanksgiving feasts to be just a little thankful for Alicia Minshew‘s portrayal of an anguished Kendall this week. Such heavy subject matter may not be the stuff of holiday cheer, but her work certainly brightened my week.

What Minshew did best was mix confusion and shock and denial into one shuddering, stammering woman’s body. Kendall looked at familiar faces as if she had never seen them before; she walked around like a stranger in town. She stared at her empty condo like it was a stranger’s home. All this alienation from the people and places she knew had the cumulative effect of casting Kendall adrift, leaving her anchorless without her beloved Zach.

When Bianca arrived, no words needed to pass between the sisters, because all the emotion was conveyed with their eyes. “No, no, no,” Kendall chanted, as if the words were a spell that could fend off the grim truth. “He’s not gone; we have plans,” she bleated.

Everyone has plans, don’t they, Kendall? But some folks don’t get to act on them. I plan to watch a lot more AMC…

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 11/12/10

After all these years, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Luke Spencer has not learned a very basic lesson: You should not drink and wed!

Getting Tracy trashed in Las Vegas a while back was what got Luke into his current nuptial mess, so I expected him to be smart enough to close the deal before breaking out the bubbly. Who celebrates a marriage before the vows are recited and the rings exchanged? That was just asking for trouble. But, then again, that’s Luke all over.

On the bright side, however, getting Luke, Tracy, Ethan and Maya blitzed did make for some entertaining scenes. (Just don’t try this at home, kids!) As soon as it became clear that no one remembered the night before, I figured Ethan and Maya would turn out to be the “happy” couple. Also, truth to tell, GH would never pass up the opportunity to showcase another epic (and potentially riotous) wedding for Luke. And hitching Ethan and Maya has its own appeal. The pair are charming together, and the bonds of matrimony will no doubt test their fun and easy-going relationship.

Only one question remains: How soon can Mr. and Mrs. Lovett share the big news with Kristina?

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 10/18/10

I understand that no self-respecting AS THE WORLD TURNS fan will ever watch its replacement, THE TALK, but just in case you felt any twinge of morbid curiosity, I watched it, so you don’t have to.

As the commercials hinted, THE TALK is a bald-faced, we’re-not-even-pretending-to-try-to-hide-it imitation of THE VIEW. If you’ve seen that, you’ve seen this. There’s a reason my colleague Mala dubbed this show THE RE-VIEW. Julie Chen, Holly Robinson Peete, Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini and Sharon Osbourne literally brought nothing new to the table as they strutted out, waving to the audience, and took their places at a…er, table.

The premiere THE TALK began like a reality show featuring the hosts and Julie narrating, as documentary-style footage replicated such BIG BROTHER tropes as seeing the set for the first time. Julie asserted that they all had instant chemistry, but that doesn’t translate on-air — hence, the need to inform the audience that they have chemistry.

Leah immediately put the audience on the spot by openly fretting that they would “hate” her. Throughout the show, she indulged in a lot of broad mugging. However, the most self-indulgent section consisted entirely of family members wishing the hosts good luck.

THE TALK is so mom-centric (constantly referring to each other as mothers, and Marissa Jaret Winokur as “mom on the street”) that it is in danger of shutting out women who have not given birth. As for any stray males who wander across the show: Just say no, dude… There’s nothing for you here. Heck, there’s barely anything of value for women. A segment addressing how to talk to your kids about sex was shockingly juvenile. The women giggled like 10-year-olds over the names of body parts, calling the clinical terms “disgusting” and favoring euphemisms like “cupcake.” (Seriously!) In all, the segment was an embarrassing disaster.

Julie wrapped with an imitation of THE VIEW’s entreaty to take time to enjoy the view by telling her viewers, “It’s always the right time to have The Talk.” (Say, isn’t “The Talk” a euphemism for telling your kids about sex? Talk about irony!) Sharon ended by promising, “Tomorrow, we’ll be different.” One can only hope.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 9/20/10

I’m not the biggest fan of self-improvement reality shows, but there’s something about UNDERCOVER BOSS that really connects with audiences (and okay, yes, me).

I suppose UNDERCOVER BOSS doesn’t even qualify for the “self-improvement” category like, say, THE BIGGEST LOSER. But it’s not about competition, and clearly the CEOs are not playing games when they don disguises and infiltrate their own companies for a taste of what it’s like to work the front lines.

The second season kicked off this week with Stephen Joyce, president and CEO of Choice Hotels International, sampling the inner workings of his hospitality chain. For his first job, Steve worked in the maintenance department, performing chores like cleaning the pool and arranging deck chairs. At the end of the day he got stuck in an elevator and had to…you guessed it, call maintenance. He went on to try cold-calling in the sales department, as well running the front desk at the tiny Comfort Suites division, where desk personnel are the only employees on-site.

UB may only be in its second season, but the episodes have settled into a comfortable routine: The boss meets several real workers and realizes that these dedicated, hardworking folks could use a little break (such as this week’s Ricardo, who was working two jobs, seven days a week, to send his children to college); boss also encounters at least a token stinker who needs retraining. At the end of the hour, the boss announces raises and scholarships and training programs, etc. It’s a feel-good formula.

This week, Steve declared that he had learned what has become the cardinal lesson of UNDERCOVER BOSS: It’s easier to ignore the human element when you’re sitting in your office, instead of getting down and dirty in the trenches.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 9/17/10

The new fall season is getting under way in stages, and I have to say that the new shows I have started watching are not exactly blowing my socks off.

This week’s premiere of SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA probably disappointed me the most, because I actually had fairly high expectations for it, based on the series’ track record of being entertaining. However, this cycle’s charisma-challenged cast left me cold.

The CW has trotted out two new series, and while not awful, HELLCATS and NIKITA have not wowed me. I was hoping HELLCATS would be more like MAKE IT OR BREAK IT than…what it is. Although the second episode was an improvement over the premiere because it focused more on characterization and deepen the relationship between the girls and their mothers, I think it would help greatly to reimagine Gail O’Grady‘s Wanda as much less-cliched character. And, if HELLCATS is planning to appeal to the GLEE demo, it should add more performance segments.

NIKITA arrives with a lot of baggage because it is carrying the legacy of two movies and an earlier TV series. That’s a lot to live up to, and so far this version of the female-assassin story is keeping it low-key. Surprisingly for an action series the pacing of the episodes has lagged. By far the best thing about NIKITA is star Maggie Q, whose smooth and controlled line readings give Nikita an unflappable calmness and confidence. I’m not sold on Shane West, but Lyndsy Fonseca (ex-Colleen, YOUNG AND RESTLESS) is growing on me as young operative-in-training Alex.

I just hope NIKITA and HELLCATS keep practicing…until they get it right.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 9/16/10

AS THE WORLD TURNS’s Jack and Carly got married yesterday for, like, the 17th time and, thanks to cancellation, fans can be pretty sure that it will stick this time. But what caught my attention about their 42nd stroll down the aisle was that the vows Jack and Carly wrote for themselves focused quite a bit on the negative.

“I mostly have made the mistakes — terrible ones, some of them,” Carly admitted, adding that she is no longer “stupid enough” to promise that she won’t make more.

Jack related how, “You brought me back from a very, very dark place, the darkest place I think I’ve ever been.” And, instead of promising her a clean happily-ever-after, he mused how, “None of us know where we’re gonna be in a year.” I took that to be a meta remark about how the show is going off the air and lots of cast and crew will potentially be out of work 12 months from now.

But then again, this couple has probably said every lovey-dovey line there is over the course of their 50-odd weddings. What’s left to rhapsodize about? Sure, there were upbeat lines, (like when she called him, “my true north, my soul mate, my best friend”), but it was the dark spin overall that I found fascinating.

With cancellation looming at the end of the week and, let’s face it, the legitimately angsty storylines over the course of the last year (Jack shot his own brother to death!), what else should we expect? I’m holding out hope that CarJack can find their path to happily ever after — with or without a compass.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com