Soap Opera Weekly: 1/05/10

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, one of the most entertaining (and unexpected) nighttime soaps, returned to ABC Family last night, and befitting where the series left off at hiatus, the series was in championship form.

Following the triumph and tragedy of the national team finals, Kaylie (Josie Loren) learned that it is very crowded but oh, so lonely at the top, while Payson (Ayla Kell) struggled to control her emotions after learning that her back injury will prevent her from ever competing again. Haunted by the fear that she wouldn’t have won if Payson hadn’t been injured, Kaylie found a target painted on her back — both from the media who want to interview the reigning national champion as well as her local rival Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), who took their competition over Carter (Zachary Burr Abel) to extremes both on and off the mats. Their rivalry illustrates what makes MAKE IT OR BREAK IT more soap than sports show. The girls are just as focused on affairs of the heart as they are on honing their gymnastic skills, but the emotional turmoil has to be kept simmering beneath the surface because they are forbidden from having romantic relationships while training. Lauren delighted in twisting the knife in Kaylie’s back by getting her cheating boyfriend Carter reinstated from suspension — and right back in Kaylie’s face.

Lauren also stuck her nose into Payson’s newly-shattered life by uncovering the secret that Nicky illegally supplied Payson with cortisone for nationals — which could land Nicky in jail. Payson was trying to deal with her injury by avoiding the gym and shutting down emotionally. Her father praised her ability to compartmentalize her emotions during competition, but pointed out that in real life she should express her feelings. Which she finally uncorked with a cathartic wrecking of her trophy case. You don’t see releases like that on ESPN. Payson also confronted her anger at Kaylie, admitting, “I am filled with rage and bitterness and jealousy,” because her friend took the crown. But Payson also encouraged Kaylie never to be ashamed of winning — hinting that perhaps Payson has a future as a coach.

Meanwhile, Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) could use a romantic coach. No sooner had Damon set up “the world’s most romantic date” than her old flame, Razor, strolled through the door. How (in)convenient that Damon is leaving for Los Angeles now, with Razor back in town. Will Emily be able to resist temptation? Tune in next week…

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.10: At the Edge of the Worlds

The midseason finale of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT was sadly lacking in true make-it-or-break-it moments, but it was still entertaining when treated as just another episode of an entertaining series. Tryouts for the Worlds team were the fulcrum of this week’s episode, with the girls from the Rock competing with a lot of emotional baggage around their necks, but without Sasha in their corner.

Payson (Ayla Kell) made the brave decision to return to the Rock, where the other girls were pointing and laughing at her because of scandal over kissing her coach. She took a proactive approach and tried to preempt the jokes from Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) and Kaylie (Josie Loren). Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) predictably defended her (glass houses and all that). Meanwhile, Kim (Peri Gilpin) told the parents’ council that as Payson’s mother she was okay with Sasha (Neil Jackson) continuing as coach as the innocent kiss with Payson. However, the borderline sociopath Ellen Beals (Michelle Clunie) called Sasha “a potential pedophile.” Chloe (Susan Ward) defended him, but Alex (Jason Manuel Olazabal) was against. Ellen and Steve (Anthony Starke) delivered the bad (but expected) news: Sasha was suspended, and Beals was taking over. Before leaving, Sasha told the girls, “All you have to do is follow the rules and stay focused.” Oh, is that all? That is certainly easier said than done for this group. I mean, have you met Emily Kmetko? Loved that Sasha refused to treat his retreat as a walk of shame, preferring to stride out (in slow motion) with his head up.
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.9: If Only…

There’s no better way to describe this week’s MAKE IT OR BREAK IT than to call it a tear-jerker – because there was a lot of crying going on.

The storyline I am most invested in is the Payson (Ayla Kell)/Sasha (Neil Jackson) relationship, and last week ended with her impulsively kissing him and running off in shame. He’s 35 years old and she is 16, so naturally things were awkward between them. She couldn’t help noticing how he was hesitant to even touch her during practice. “I’ve ruined everything,” she growled in frustration. Sasha finally decided to confront the elephant in the room by talking about the normally complex relationship between coach and athlete. He explained that his father was actually disappointed that Sasha won the gold because he was competing for England, not Romania. So he split with his father – who was also his coach: the legendary Boris Belov. But Sasha praised his replacement coach, because he “made me an Olympian.” (He even admitted that had his coach been female, he probably would have kissed her!) The most important aspects of the coach/athlete relationship are trust and communication. “I trust you,” she declared. “You didn’t ruin anything,” he smiled.
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.8: Rock Bottom

Some characters may have bottomed out this week on MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, but it wasn’t for lack of aspiration on Payson’s part and, like all good bad girls, Lauren proved she is never without a plan.

Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) was beyond furious at dad Steve (Anthony Starke). So was Emily (Chelsea Hobbs), who brought him a big chunk of change and vowed to pay back every penny of the rest. Meanwhile, Chloe (Susan Ward) told Lauren she will not keep her and Carter having sex a secret, so either Lauren comes clean, or Chloe will. Cornered, Lauren turned to Carter (Zachary Burr Abel), who resolved to tell her father together. But Lauren always has something up her sleeve: She told Summer (Candice Cameron Bure) that she needs to marry Steve and be her stepmother. Thanks to her determination to pay back Steve, Emily was literally searching the couch cushions for change to pay for the bus. Which was kind of the last straw for her. She railed about carrying the family on her back, and demanded that her mother get another job. Chloe managed to get a word in edgewise to announce that she already secured one. (But we don’t know what it is… hmmm.)
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.7: What Are You Made Of?

Sometimes it feels a little exhausting just watching MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, because the girls have such a demanding schedule of national team practices, assorted auditions, special meets, showcases, invitationals, international travel and even World team try-outs (not to be confused with the Olympics or whatever it is the national team does). Then pile on all the personal intrigue of boyfriends, friends with secrets, rivals, frenemies and a job at the Pizza Shack, and I’m out of breath!

This week, bids for the world team took the focus off a full national team practice at the Rock, meaning pint-sized bitch-queen Kelly Parker (Nicole Anderson), who is worth twice her weight in snark, was back in town. It’s almost funny the way she can get inside Kaylie’s (Josie Loren) head so effortlessly. But more than a psyche-out artist, she is a straight-shooter, so while I was glad that Kelly instantly diagnosed Kaylie’s eating disorder, I was stunned that she volunteered to keep Kaylie’s secret. At least she expressed sincerity when cautioning Kaylie to “be careful.”
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.6: Party Gone Out of Bounds

Way back in 1973, the theme from The Poseidon Adventure, “The Morning After,” won an Oscar as best original song, and the latest episode of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT should probably have used that tune for its closing theme, since much of the key action took place around dawn.

The episode began with Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) catching Chloe (Susan Ward) sneaking out of the house “like a common slut” after spending the night with Steve (Anthony Starke). Lauren then promptly lied to her father about being a virgin herself. When Chloe got home, she attempted to convince her kids, Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) and her brother Brian, that she actually came home last night, but the kids knew better; they gave mom “the talk” about using protection, much to her humiliation.
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.5: I Won’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me

It’s been a while since I have been able to check in with the elite athletes of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, and this week’s episode reminded me of what I like so much about this series: It focuses on charming, complex characters in stories that manage to be simple yet compelling.

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, but comforting to see I haven’t missed much. MIORBI’s “Previously, on…” montage caught me up just fine. The recap segment on serialized drama is very important, and I don’t think enough shows pay enough attention to them. It fits in with the old-fashioned, straight-forward storytelling; don’t look here for fancy camera tricks directorial gloss.
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.2: All or nothing

Merci-fully, MAKE IT OR BREAK IT did not drag out the French invitational storyline. Just a week after being named to the national team for the special event, the ladies were sent to Calais this week, which proved to be the site of triumph and heartbreak for the girls from The Rock.

Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) was upset about going to France as an alternate, so her father, Steve (Anthony Starke) challenged her to do better. Instead, she did her worst: She waged psychological warfare on her teammates on two fronts. Lauren tormented Kaylie (Josie Loren) by talking about how happy she is with Carter (Zachary Burr Abel), emphasizing that they are having sex. Kaylie wanted to focus on the meet, but we could tell she was rattled. Then Lauren went to work on Emily (Chelsea Hobbs), needling her about Damon (Johnny Pacar) being in nearby Paris with Green Day – and tons of groupies. “As far as he knows, you blew him off,” Lauren hissed. Lauren’s twin objectives were to get Emily to screw up and get kicked off the team, then to destabilize Kaylie so Lauren could win the overall gold.
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.1: Flipping for France

As the second season of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT began, Kaylie, Emily and Lauren were being marketed as the “rebel” faces of the Rock, Payson was back to practicing with her old fire, and Kim was once again managing (well, co-managing) the Rock with Summer. The girls of the “rebel Rock” were training the French invitationals, but the real hurdle to going to France was Eleanor Beals, from the NGO — who suspended them from the national team for competing against the Chinese in last season’s finale.

The soapy content was sky-high, as Kaylie (Josie Loren) and Carter (Zachary Burr Abel) were not talking; because he has been creeping around with Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), unknown to the national champion. “Kaylie doesn’t always get everything,” Lauren sniffed. “I picked you because you were there for me.” Carter told Lauren. And even though he appreciated that she took him in, fed him and did his laundry, he noted, “You’re more competitive off the mats than on them.” When Kaylie confronted him at the Pizza Shack, he broke it off with her. Lauren worried about losing her best friend, but Carter noted, “She’s not your best friend if you’re lying to her! We both know that secrets hurt more than truth.” So Carter gave her a choice: her friendship with Kaylie, or her relationship with him.
Continue reading

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 1.20: In Kaylie We Trust

Payson, Kaylie, Emily and Lauren

Everyone likes to see characters grow and change – but not for the worse. And that was exactly what I feared on the freshman season finale of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT this week, when Kaylie decided to blow off the China meet in order to protect her endorsements and make the dictator of the national committee happy.

I know she was having issues with Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), but had never seen Kaylie (Josie Loren) be so mercenary before – and the other girls did not deserve to be shafted. And her decision did not seem to be a matter of putting food on the family’s table, either. Miss Beals from the national committee was all about saving face – ostensibly for the USA, but it was really about her and flexing her muscles. In her way, she was as much a corporate toady as MJ (who at least has the excuse of being an agent). Still, no matter how many endorsements she may have been endangering, Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) was surrendering her scholarship to compete. Then the truth came out: Kaylie was insecure about being able to prove that she deserved to win the national title, so she was looking for any excuse to avoid competing.
Continue reading