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Soap reACTION: Power Shifts, Blame Games, #SonnyIsTheWorst and Disappointing Recasts

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This week’s Soap reACTION takes a look at the hot stories taking center stage for November Sweeps, as well as an issue with disappointing recasts on two major shows. While some shows are raising the stakes and having months of storylines converging in a big way, others are being held down by poor creative decisions, poor casting and an inability to shake things up.

November Sweeps is the time when most soaps kick their storylines into high gear. General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful are delivering top-notch drama, ensuring that every day is must watch. Days of our Lives probably thinks they’re doing the same, but what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate well onscreen, and thus the show is suffering for it.

This week’s Soap reACTION is split into three parts — the hits, the misses and a special section on disappointing recasts. There may be some stories that aren’t highlighted, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share your opinion to them either way. Feel free to leave your comments. Reader feedback is important at TVSource Magazine, especially as we experiment with new features.

The Soap reACTION Hitlist: A strong week of performances and weaving storylines together has Y&R, B&B and GH in the hitlist. This is how drama should be done.

Y&R: Sharon’s Secret Rocks Genoa City

The secret’s out! Everyone now knows Sharon changed the results of Summer’s DNA’s test and covered up her involvement in Phyllis’ accident. This secret has been a driving force of story for the last year, and thought Sharon was rehabilitated in a sense since Phyllis’ coma, the explosive secret of this reveal weighed over the canvas like a bomb just waiting to explode. There was anger, sadness, disbelief and shock, as well as a few doses of Newman indignation to go around, but it was just what Y&R needed to kick the show into high gear.

Jack and Phyllis breaking the news to Summer was heartbreaking. Summer worried if she’d still have a place in Jack’s life, even as he painfully asked her not to call him ‘dad’ anymore. Peter Bergman is the best at what he does, and those scenes with Gina Tognoni and Hunter King underscored the wealth of talent Y&R has on its roster.

Gina Tognoni embodies who Phyllis is supposed to be. It’s as if no one else played the role before her, and that’s a good thing. Viewers aren’t supposed to look at recasts and wonder how their predecessor would have played scenes. The fact that I don’t think about Michelle Stafford when watching Gina Tognoni shows how successful her integration into the role has been.

There was vengeance dripping in Phyllis words as she recounted to Summer how Sharon, the woman who’s been a maternal figure in her daughter’s life, played God and shook Summer’s reality. Once Summer processed everything Sharon had done, she too took on a “I’m sick of this bitch” tone when speaking about Sharon later to Noah.

I would be okay with Summer playing her own Revenge game with Sharon and her daughter Mariah. Someone has to pay for hurting Supergirl.

B&B: A Kiss is More Than Just a Kiss

This is an example of how doing less can get you so much more. Putting together Ridge and Caroline in a professional setting, exploring how sensual and imitate the creative process can be and ramping up the drama by giving into that temptation set the stage for an exciting power shift on The Bold and the Beautiful. Rick and Caroline’s marriage collapsed because of a kiss. Sounds simple, anticlimactic yes? But it’s so much more. Layered into that simple, yet complex situation is years of complicated family dynamics – the rivalry between Rick and Ridge, feelings of Eric showing favoritism to one son over the other, years of watching Brooke bounce back and forth between men and sabotaging her own happiness.

bold-beautiful-ridge-caroline-kiss-102014It’s not just that Caroline kissed another man, it’s that the other man was Ridge. It’s the ultimate betrayal and Rick’s eyes. He repaid Caroline’s kiss by hopping into bed with Maya, Caroline’s rival and his former love. Maya made it clear she wanted Rick back, and would do anything to get it. But in the end, all she had to do was sit back and wait for Caroline to self-destruct, giving her the opportunity to say to Rick, “See, I was right about her all along. She made a fool out of you. I would never do that.”

In a genre where affairs can be convoluted and messy, it’s nice to see B&B use something so trivial as a kiss and squeeze as much drama from it as possible.

 

B&B: Sexy, Smart and Powerful Women Set the Stage for Power Shifts

Rick’s ascension to CEO of Forrester Creations didn’t come under the best of circumstances, but Maya convinced him he should take it anyway. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Maya when she first debuted, but I’ve come around in a big way. Brad Bell and co. have an uncanny ability to read the tea leaves and regroup when they realize a character isn’t working. The revamps of Maya and Caroline lead to the show taking a different approach when introducing Ivy a few months ago.

The shift of Maya from a doe-eyed girl to a hardened, gold-digging social climber works. Even referring to her as a “gold-digger” is a little unfair. Yes, she wants the good things in life, thinks she deserves more and isn’t ashamed to declare it, but she also loves Rick very much. Rick can afford her everything she thinks she deserves and then some, but she’ll have to be careful not to overplay her hand. Rick may be angry at Caroline right now, but he still loves her.

Caroline is another who’s benefited from a much needed revamp. Evolving Caroline into a narcissistic, attention craved socialite with a slight case of elitism worked in setting up the Rick/Caroline romance, the Maya/Caroline rivalry and the Ridge/Caroline emotional affair. Caroline isn’t the same girl she once was, and she’s not going to let Myrna Maya take advantage of her mistake and sink her claws into Rick any deeper.

Ivy isn’t a socialite, she isn’t someone whose had to pull herself up from the gutter either. She’s lived a rather comfortable life with an eccentric father who comes from a very powerful family. Ivy’s strong, assertive, independent and vocal. Those qualities have helped integrate her into the Los Angeles landscape on B&B. She doesn’t have a problem vocalizing her issues with the Logan women on principal, speaking up when people are acting out of turn and standing up for what she wants. Ivy telling Hope that she isn’t being honest with herself when she says she’s over Liam was a small, but standout moment. Ivy isn’t afraid of offending anyone, but really, she wasn’t speaking out of turn. Acknowledging that yes, Quinn interfered in her relationship, but Hope ultimately chose Wyatt, and she has to live with that, showed Ivy won’t back down from anyone, especially when she’s right. Ivy set out to get Liam, and she has him. She’s not a danger junkie like Steffy, she’s not a virtuous ingénue like Hope, she’s her own woman. That’s what draws Liam to her, and what keeps me intrigued with this character.

gh-michael-sonny-gun-110314GH: Michael Finally Realizes #SonnyIsTheWorst (Carly too)

Thank you soap gods! Michael has finally learned what many of his fans have known for years – his parents are terrible people who only used him as a prop in their war with AJ and in their own dysfunctional relationship. Michael going off on his mother was years in the making, calling her out on her selfishness and continued lack of ability to put him first. What kind of mother lies to her child the way she has? The most twisted thing of all is Carly actually believes she was protecting Michael by keeping the truth from him. Her desire to save Sonny and Michael’s relationship was more important than bringing AJ’s true murderer to justice, and allowing Michael to heal. After all, no one must ever be upset with Sonny for the things that he does.

After tearing into his mother, Michael made a beeline for his father. Before finding Sonny, he had an encounter with Dante, who was once again the only person in Michael’s life willing to be honest with him. When Dante tells Michael that Sonny is a suspect in AJ’s murder, he tells him, “I thought it’d be better that you hear it from your brother than someone else.” Points for Dante for being a good brother.

Two days later (real time), Michael finally got to have the confrontation we’ve all been looking forward to. Sonny explains that Ava shot Olivia and killed Connie. If he had known Ava was the one who killed AJ, he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger, as if that somehow excuses his own actions. In a rare showing of the sense that the good Lord gave him, Michael basically tells Sonny that it doesn’t matter. “I do believe you. But it doesn’t change anything. In fact… it makes everything worse,” Michael tells him.

For the first time, Sonny’s excuses and playing the father card had no effect on Michael. “All those years, you and mom kept me from him. You poisoned me against him…That wasn’t for my sake! I was a pawn! You hated AJ, and you used me, his own son, against him! You didn’t care what you did to me. You cost me my whole life with my real father. And now I’m gonna make you pay.”

Welcome to the new world, Michael Quartermaine. Chad Duell’s performance earned him the title of Spotlight Performer for the week of November 3, 2014.

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

  • Fran Benson

    I couldn’t agree more. What Sharon did was wrong but at least she had an excuse-she was suffering from mental illness. Most of them have done far worse and they have no excuses for the wrong things they have done-except selfishness.

  • Doug M Thorsen

    The scenes with Phyllis tearing into Sharon, etc. would have been more effective had Phyllis HERSELF not basically done the same thing years ago when she tampered with Daniel’s paternity test results! Can we say “hypocrite”? Phyllis has also done FAR WORSE than Sharon has too. Same goes for Nick, he kept quiet for 18 years about there being a possibility of him not being Summer’s father, he only came clean when Summer was getting close to Kyle and Nick feared that Kyle would end up being her brother.