BUSTED: COUPLES THAT DON'T WORK
Right now, several shows are guilty of forcing together couples that for whatever reason don't work. The biggest offenders:
General Hospital: This show has multiple couples it's trying to shove down our throats, ignoring the chemistry - or lack thereof - of the actors.
Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) and the late Emily (Natalia Livingston) had tons of chemistry. Maybe it was becausethe actors were dating at the time, or because Emily had grown up with a crush on Nikolas, so their history was firmly established. Whatever the reason, the pairing worked. When GH killed Emily and brought Livingston back a year later as Rebecca - a completely different character - the show was eager to reunite her with Christopher. However, in this incarnation, Livingston and Christopher have lost their spark and the connection that made the couple so popular in the first place.
GH has chosen not to capitalize on the heat generated instead between Livingston and Greg Vaughan (Lucky). Besides the undeniable chemistry between the actors, what makes this story compelling is that Lucky is Nikolas' brother, and that Rebecca looks exactly like Nikolas' late wife. The storyline began in this direction, with Nikolas objecting to Lucky and Rebecca's burgeoning relationship. Now the show has backpedaled, determined to once again pair Livingston with Christopher.
Just because actors clicked once in certain roles, doesn't mean they will do so again. GH need look no further than its own past when it brought on the legendary Steven Nichols (ex-Steve, Days) and Mary Beth Evans (ex-Kayla, Days) to play Stefan and Katherine. Needless to say, lighting didn't strike twice and both actors were eventually let go, only to return to Days years later in the roles that made them famous.
GH is insistent upon a Nikolas and Rebecca love match, as well as Lucky reuniting with his ex-wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst). Not surprisingly, GH has chosen to ignore the sparks flying between Elizabeth and Patrick (Jason Thompson). A dalliance involving good girl Elizabeth with her best friend's (who is in rehab for postpartum depression) husband is the ultimate definition of soap opera. I would like to see more from these two. The writers need to actually watch their own show to see who is clicking with whom, so they can write for what is currently onscreen and not their outdated notion of revisiting the past.
One Life to Live: OLTL is another show guilty of forcing the past to the apply to the present. A perfect example is the relationship between John (Michael Easton) and Marty (Susan Haskell). When John and Marty first got together, Marty was played by a different actress (Christina Chambers). Chambers and Easton worked well together, and even though Chambers wasn't a perfect fit in the recast role of Marty, she did possess that oh-so-elusive thing called chemistry with Easton.
Now that Haskell has reclaimed the role, the show is trying desperately to convince us that John and Marty have deep, unrequited feelings for each other. Problem is, there's nothing but dead air passing between the two actors. Easton looks like he's on autopilot in tender scenes with Haskell, while in contrast the least little exchange between Easton and Kassie DePaiva (Blair) is fraught with tension - romantic and otherwise. Easton also has a connection with Florencia Lozano (Tea) that the show has chosen not to exploit, since they're determined to have a Tea/Todd (Trevor St. John) redux. However, the same problem exists - when Tea and Todd were together, Todd was played by a different actor. You can't make a square peg fit into a round hole. While shows might wish actors were interchangeable, they clearly are not.
The Young and the Restless: This show is probably the worst offender of the square peg in the round hole theory, with the characters of Billy and Mac. When Billy and Mac were in love six years ago, not only were they kids, but they were both played by different actors. The show is trying like heck to convince us these two are the loves of each other's lives, and we can't buy what they're selling with the current casting.
Clementine Ford (Mac) looks about as comfortable with Billy Miller (Billy) as she would with a complete stranger. Every time Billy kisses Mac she looks like she has a bad taste in her mouth, not like she has just been illicitly kissed by the now married one who got away.
Y&R can dig itself out of its grave and salvage these characters, as soon as it stops trying to spoon feed viewers the past. Billy and Mac were in love as kids, they broke up under tragic circumstances, end of story. Set Billy free to pursue relationships with women he really connects with. Miller and Elizabeth Hendrickson who plays Billy's wife, Chloe, have a sweet chemistry together, but it's Miller and Sharon Case (Sharon) who really generate heat. (see April's Blissful Column)
Now that Sharon is pregnant and doesn't know who the father is, it's the perfect time to bring these two closer together. Make the baby Billy's, and have Billy torn between his two baby mamas. That's a story with real possibilities, unlike the pointless and painful relationship the show wants us to believe in between Billy and Mac.
BLISSFUL: AMC GETS A CLUE
On this same topic of foisting upon viewers couples who don't belong together, All My Children recently self-corrected a misguided move.
AMC received much acclaim from fans and the press alike, for luring away Ricky Paull Goldin (Jake, AMC; ex-Gus, GL) and then Beth Ehlers (Taylor, AMC; ex-Harley, GL) from Guiding Light. Their characters were married on GL and were very popular with the audience.
At the time Ehlers came to AMC, Goldin's character, Jake, was already involved in a budding courtship with Chrishell Stause's character, Amanda. When Taylor arrived in Pine Valley, the powers-that-be made Jake arbitrarily develop feelings for Taylor and dump Amanda. This boneheaded move caused Jake to lose credibility and more important, likeability. The highly anticipated reteaming of Goldin and Ehlers was DOA.
Kudos for AMC for not torturing us through months on end of a relationship which made no sense from the beginning. The writers cut their losses quickly when they realized Goldin and Ehlers weren't going to make magic twice. They reversed course and ultimately sent Jake crawling back to Amanda where he belongs.
All shows should borrow a page from AMC's book on how to keep fans happy when a couple isn't working. AMC took their cue from the actors' chemistry, and wrote what was in front of them, as opposed to what they thought should be there instead.
Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com. She is also the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
|< Prev||Next >|