Now this is the kind of poster that makes a person want to watch TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY…

Even if you had no idea what TORCHWOOD was about, this poster looks pretty exciting, even though nothing is really happening. That’s Capt. Jack Harness, played by John Barrowman, looking mighty unhappy that he’s no longer the only immortal in town. And, judging by the palm trees in the background, that town is Los Angeles, not Cardiff, Wales. (However, I’m sure that no one else is a fixed point in time! So he has that going for him. Which is nice…)

Bonus: Alexa Havins, formerly Babe on ALL MY CHILDREN, made the poster. Not her image, of course, but her name. Which is interesting, because her character, Esther, is sometimes left out of synopses of the series. For instance, this one, from the Starz TORCHWOOD Web site describes the series:

One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep aging — they get hurt and sick — but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight. With all the extra people, resources are finite. It’s said that in four month’s time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can’t be a natural event – someone’s got to be behind it. It’s a race against time as C.I.A. agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy. The answers lie within an old, secret British institute. As Rex keeps asking “What is Torchwood?” he’s drawn into a world of adventure, and a threat to change what it means to be human, forever.

TORCHWOOD, premiering July 8, stars John Barrowman (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) as Captain Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Mekhi Phifer (ER) as Rex Matheson and Bill Pullman (Independence Day) as Oswald Danes.

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

Soap Opera Weekly: 6/11/10

This week’s wedding of Jake and Amanda on ALL MY CHILDREN was my favorite soap nuptials in a long time — thanks largely to Ricky Paull Goldin, who played Jake more like a regular guy than an idealized romantic hero so many male characters are forced to be.

I have never been to a real-life wedding in which the bride and groom wrote their own vows. Nope, it’s never happened. Yet, on soaps, every couple writes their own vows — no matter who they are, or how impromptu the ceremony. Hell, even THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS’ drunken Billy and Victoria made up their own vows on that beach a couple of weeks ago! It’s one of those soap conventions that reminds us viewers that we’re watching a fantasy. Well, Jake joked that he didn’t know he was supposed to plan something! When Jake fashioned his own vows, the words sounded realistic; it wasn’t some flowery speech clearly penned by a writer who stayed up all night crafting it. He simply professed his love and admiration and devotion for his bride. Jake was not afraid to play the goofball and look a little silly. He feels real. Goldin plays Jake as a guy who would hang out and watch a game with you — and know the teams.

Jake and Amanda’s ceremony itself also had a grounded quality that made it seem like an event that could actually take place in the real world; it was not some impossibly grandiose affair fit for fairy-tale royalty. Even with the do-it-yourself vows, this was a ceremony real people might actually be invited to.

Okay, so Jake busted out the purple prose at very end, and the happy couple made a splashy, scripted exit. But, hey, it is a soap opera, after all.

Originally published on

Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 8/31/09

The good news about the Daytime Emmys was that the show moved at an entertaining clip. The bad news was the lack of actual clips. In fact, soaps seemed to be pushed to the margins a bit. Sure, the first award went to ALL MY CHILDREN’s Vincent Irizarry as outstanding supporting actor, but after that the broadcast felt like game shows, talk fests and SESAME STREET dominated. Tons of attention was devoted to other programming, as if to prove to casual viewers that daytime has more to offer than “just” soaps. Hence the recurring bits with SESAME STREET’s Elmo and Gordon, and the obsessive cut-aways to JEOPARDY!’s Alex Trebek. The ultimate insult came at the very end, though, when BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL was announced as Outstanding Drama and then the credits rolled. Viewers barely got a glance at the stage as the B&B folks gathered. That was sort of disgraceful, especially in light of all the time wasted by hostess Vanessa Williams. Did she really need two song-and-dance numbers? No, she did not. This is not the Oscars, which needs production numbers to sell the show to overseas markets that demand such spectacle. This is the Daytime Emmys! We don’t need no stinkin’ songs; we got…er, Elmo!

But back to the good stuff. I cover GENERAL HOSPITAL, so I was particularly pleased by Julie Marie Berman’s supporting actress win, and the victory of Robert Guza Jr. and the writing team! Irizarry had the best speech. He hit all the bases — by turns touching without being maudlin, and funny yet respectful. The other great “speech” came from DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ Darin Brooks, whose expletive-laden stream-of-consciousness was mostly bleeped out. And the look of horror on his face when he realized that he’d blown all his time was priceless! The tribute to GUIDING LIGHT was terrific, but over way too soon. Just like the show itself. Probably everyone will agree that Tamara Braun taking the statue for supporting actress was the biggest surprise. That’s no diss on her, it’s just that she wasn’t in Salem very long. But obviously she made an impression.

I am no fashion maven, but even I noticed the amorphous white blob that seemed to be eating the dresses worn by GH’s Kirsten Storms and GL’s Kim Zimmer. My colleague Mala noticed it, too, and we shared theories via IM. (I feared an alien symbiote was lurking backstage and attaching itself to the couture.) Mala also explained that the cravat sported by B&B’s Ronn Moss was unrelated to the poofy white infestation. Sadly, I missed YOUNG AND RESTLESS’ Stacy Haiduk and her “escort/accessory,” Mr. Kitty during the red carpet preshow.

The CW was totally committed to using the awards broadcast to launch its fall lineup. I’m calling that a good thing. Since the entire network is aimed at young women, this means CW execs saw the awards as a good platform to reach young women. And maybe there will be some cross-pollination from MELROSE PLACE and 90210 and GOSSIP GIRL and VAMPIRE DIARIES to Y&R and DAYS and GH.

When I flipped over to MAD MEN at 10 p.m., I was delighted to see a daytime connection: Peyton List (ex-Lucy, AS THE WORLD TURNS) was back as Roger Sterling’s scandalously young wife. Welcome back, Peyton. Though I have a feeling that scene with John Slattery’s Roger in blackface is going to generate a firestorm! I have to admit the episode was rather boring overall, so why not add a minstrel show to the pot-smoking and pill-popping?

Originally published on

Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 7/7/09

So, the way I saw it, ALL MY CHILDREN’s Randi was clearly defending herself from a would-be rapist when she brained DA North. Even if she had killed him, it would have been a case of self-defense, and she would have been cleared of any homicide charges. The fact that she fled without trying to clean up the crime scene would have worked in her favor, demonstrating a panicked reaction. (Okay, it would have been messy to have to explain to Frankie why she was in North’s room — but hey, it’s better than lethal injection!)

Of course, Randi’s hasty exit provided an opening for Madison to swoop in. And who know if anyone else wandered in after the scorned woman appeared to get her licks in? In any event, by the time Randi returned, North was dead. Let’s hope the autopsy is thorough enough to reveal there were (at least) two blows, and the coroner bothers to tell the investigating officer that a subsequent impact was fatal (unlike the similar situation on GENERAL HOSPITAL, where amateur sleuth Robin figured out what Brianna’s autopsy report only hinted at).

Just because Randi has a shady past does not mean she isn’t a good girl now or that the chief of police (husband Frankie’s daddy, remember) wouldn’t believe her. But then again, I guess she’s a (former) hooker with a heart of gold, not a mind like a steel trap.

Originally published on

Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 6/23/09

I’m shocked, shocked to find that shoddy writing is going on in here! I really hate it when a soap falls back on the Casablanca excuse for breaking up couples: “I waited for you that day and you never showed.” And they never saw each other again, until now. That is just lazy writing … and it don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

The latest soap to take the easy way out is ALL MY CHILDREN, which explained that Randi stood up DA North years ago. What’s more, he was actually left waiting at a train station when she never showed — just like Ilsa stranded Rick. (No word on whether it was also raining on North). She felt that she was just another hooker and he deserved better. But North seemed to disagree; evidently Randi was a happy hooker, since he recalled how she used to “dance out of bed in the morning.”

No one was dancing after last night’s episode of Showtime’s NURSE JACKIE. Not even a shout-out to the New York Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup win could keep me interested in this mostly dull series. Perhaps I am just sick of medical shows. The writers seem to be really scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with unusual patients for the docs — one poor fellow was being treated because a cat mauled his scrotum. But that sort of titillation is no substitute for compelling story.

Originally published on

Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe's 5/29/09

With this entry, the title of my blog changes, and the purview expands to include comments on daytime drama…

Everybody knows that soap cops only arrest innocent people for heinous crimes. It’s a truism that the more aggressively they pursue a suspect, the more innocent they are, and thus more likely to stand trial for a crime they didn’t commit.

In the course of investigating the beloved Stuart’s murder, ALL MY CHILDREN’s Jesse set his sights on Kendall, so she probably didn’t do it. Make that, she certainly didn’t do it, since Zach was so quick to take the blame. Zach illustrates another fact: Anyone who steps forward to confess is protecting someone else.

And it’s not just AMC. GUIDING LIGHT also killed off a prominent character, villainous Edmund. After years of causing trouble, the fallen prince turned up face-down in the river. Mallet has been pursuing Reva for the crime so doggedly that it’s obvious she’s not guilty. And he never questions the convenience of motive, means and opportunity being helpfully served up on a silver platter. Heck, even her husband Jeffrey has begun to fear she’s guilty. But worst of all, Mallet suggested that he is trying to make Reva miserable just in case she’s innocent; he thinks the “real” killer will see she’s miserable and save her. That is unforgivable! Mallet is a good guy, but he’s not supposed to be Jack Bauer!

GL’s Bill has been having more false-accusation problems. First he was suspected of Lizzie’s kidnapping, and now a Ponzi scheme. He got locked up — and then Lizzie was tossed in the slammer, too. Luckily, Springfield holds couples in the same cell. (Turns out that was Lizzie’s “first time” — in jail, that is. “I do not make a habit of getting arrested,” she later sniffed in mock indignation as she shuddered to think of “jail slime” still on her body.) Another way-too-convenient feature of the Springfield police station? It has a back door that people can use to sneak in unseen. Marina used it to smuggle baby Colin in to see Reva. Maybe Remy’s return will shape up the local constabulary. Oh, wait, his pockets are full of stolen diamonds…