BUSTED: THE “REAL GREENLEE’S” RETURN
Last year when I learned All My Children was recasting the role of Greenlee, originated by Emmy Nominee Rebecca Budig, I was skeptical. During Budig’s tenure, the character had been involved in one of the show’s greatest love stories (Greenlee and Leo) and best rivalries/friendships (Greenlee and Kendall). The character was also revealed as the daughter of beloved hero Jackson.
When Sabine Singh debuted, I was nervous. I didn’t think she looked enough like Budig or had the chops to channel the complicated character. However, once Singh was thrown into the deep end with the front burner story of Spike’s kidnapping and hearing loss, I was proven wrong. Singh emerged as a force to be reckoned with in her own right, and in the ultimate test of a recast’s success, she kept memories of Budig firmly at bay by making the character her own.
Singh was by turns tough, tender, vulnerable, sarcastic, bitchy and loveable. Her version of Greenlee brought new depth to the character. Her heartbreaking performance after Spike’s accident was Emmy worthy in its own right. She also had chemistry with Alicia Minshew’s Kendall, enough so that when recreated flashbacks of the girls after Greenlee’s miscarriage were shown, it didn’t feel the least bit odd, but rather like we were watching old friends.
The character of Greenlee has always been feisty, but Singh injected a never before seen sense of humor that was showcased beautifully by Greenlee’s burgeoning relationship with Aidan. Aidan never really sparked with a woman he was paired with, though not from the show’s lack of trying. Maureen/Maria, Kendall, Mia, Anita, Erin and Di were all romantically linked with the Aussie to no avail. He finally appeared to have met his match in the form of Singh’s Greenlee. Aiden Turner and Singh oozed sexual tension and chemistry in their scenes together.
Singh had begun to grow not only in the role, but in the perception of hard to please fans, most recently with her five week storyline stint in a bunker with fan favorite Zach (Thorsten Kaye). Unfortunately for Singh - and for fans - some suit at ABC decided to pull the plug on her trajectory. Enter the hideously inappropriate “The Real Greenlee Returns” campaign marketed ad nauseam by the network. Even if one was initially excited by the prospect of Budig reclaiming her role, the non-stop hype was enough to turn them off.
Granted Budig has a sizeable fan following, but she has an equal number of detractors. The fact that her return garnered more hype than the return of ground breaking actors Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams after a 20 year absence (as the first African American super couple on daytime, Angie and Jesse)left something to be desired.
In perhaps the most questionable move of all, ABC left the “Real Greenlee Returns” logo onscreen at all times, at some points literally on top of Singh’s chest. Not only was it in poor taste, but it was distracting to watch scenes with Greenlee in them when we were being told throughout that we weren’t watching the “real Greenlee.” Was Singh just a Greenlee imposter, a seat filler until Budig’s luck ran out in primetime?
As for Budig, after two weeks on the air, she has yet to have a real scene with her former onscreen love interest, Cameron Mathison (Ryan), and her chemistry with Turner thus far is lukewarm at best. It’s also hard to now buy Greenlee’s new found closeness to Zach when Budig wasn’t the actress Kaye was bonding with for all those weeks trapped together.
Can ABC please start a new campaign to bring back the “non-original Greenlee” or whatever they want to label Singh? She is much admired for the graceful way she handled a much publicized exit, and is missed by old and nuGreenlee fans alike.
BLISSFUL: LIZZIE GETS HER BABY BACK
The growth of the character of Lizzie Spaulding on Guiding Light over the past year has been something to behold. She transformed from a spoiled brat who played an inadvertent role in her own daughter’s “death,” to a grieving mother trying to put the pieces of her life back together.
Marcy Rylan, who plays Lizzie, has come into her own as an actress as well. She has turned Lizzie into a multi-faceted character that viewers can root for in spite of her shortcomings. Rylan has portrayed Lizzie as alternately broken, strong, charming, manipulative, funny, sad, and loving. Rylan breathes life into Lizzie everyday and makes her seem as if she’s someone we would like to know.
Even the most cynical hearts thawed a bit when Jonathan (Tom Pelphrey) revealed to Lizzie that not only was he alive, but her daughter Sarah was too. In the scene where Lizzie was crying on her bed and looked up to see her presumed dead daughter she hadn’t seen in over a year, peeking around the corner, Rylan was a revelation. Her face registered pure joy, shock and relief all at once. It was a great payoff for fans after everything Lizzie has been through.
Lizzie’s recent pairing with Bill (Daniel Cosgrove) has been inspired as well. Anyone can see they’re crazy about each other, even though they profess dislike and indifference to each other regularly. However, Lizzie’s recent pregnancy scare brought them closer together and for the first time, we had a chance to see Bill caring for Lizzie as much as she cares for him. They have the potential to go far together, and maybe even become a young super couple in their own right.
Lizzie has always been a sucker for a hero, and Bill had the opportunity to fill that role for her when he informed her of Jonathan’s scheme to take her daughter away again. Of course, this was right after Jonathan had played hero, saving Lizzie’s life by pushing her out of the way of an incoming car. If Lizzie is able to work through her anger at Jonathan, a compelling triangle could emerge. Rylan and Pelphrey have a tempestuous chemistry which contrasts nicely with the feistiness and underlying tenderness Rylan shares with Cosgrove.
Rylan is a perfect example of a recast who was given a chance to mature into the role, and she hasn’t disappointed. If anything, it strengthens affection for the character to watch both the character and her portrayer grow into a capable woman in front of our eyes.
Lesleyann Coker is the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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