Busted: Recycled Plots on B&B
Is Brad Bell losing his touch? Right now on The Bold and the Beautiful, we have an almost identical story playing out to one that was done in 1998. Back then, Amber was hired as a babysitter for Rick Forrester and ended up seducing him. After she became pregnant, the young Forrester heir was forced to marry her. They eventually fell in love, but are now divorced.
In the present, Amber is flirting with the underage Thomas Forrester, Rick’s former nephew and current step-brother. As if that wasn’t enough of a retread, Rick is involved in his own taboo romance with 17-year-old Forrester model turned designer, Caitlin Ross. Rick has been down this road before, previously romancing the teenage Kimberly Fairchild and his own child’s nanny, Erica Lovejoy/Mary Warwick.
The similarities between the current storylines and the storylines of the past are enough to make any long term viewer cringe. While I appreciate the fact that Brad Bell is drawing on their histories, characters engaged in repeat performances of their previous bad behavior doesn’t make for compelling story. It would have been more interesting if Rick or Amber had learned from their past mistakes, and made different choices. Imagine a scene where Amber revels in her experience and tells Thomas that she can’t be involved with him because it didn’t turn out so well for her the last time she was with a younger man. Or a scene where Rick shows his maturity and says that even though he is attracted to Caitlin, if anything were to happen between them before she turns 18, her father could have him arrested for statutory rape, and so he is going to back off.
The parallels between the stories of yesterday and today don’t just stop at Amber and Rick flirting with disaster by romancing teenagers. There are little things such as Kimberly turning from a student into a Forrester model and even modeling the Showstopper gown at a Forrester fashion show, a la Caitlin.
There’s also the matter of the fathers. When Kimberly was dating Rick, her father Adam Alexander was vehemently against the relationship, and forbid her to see Rick. And just a short while ago, Eric Forrester was upset when Deacon Sharpe romanced his beloved daughter Bridget. Eric went so far as to try and kill Deacon by deliberately hitting him with his car. In 2004, we have Hector running down Rick with his car, albeit accidentally.
To the actors’ credit, they don’t appear bored. In fact, Justin Torkildsen (Rick) seems down-right energized to finally have a storyline. Ditto Adrienne Frantz (Amber), who hasn’t had a real story since that dreadful twin fiasco. Drew Tyler Bell (Thomas) and Kayla Ewell (Caitlin) acquit themselves nicely in the roles of the not-so-innocent ingénues. In their favor, this foursome does seem to have genuine chemistry. However, there is still a huge Ick-factor involved in watching Rick declare his love for Caitlin, or watching Amber and Thomas suck face.
It’s time for Brad Bell to write some original stories and to not retell the old ones.
Blissful: Trevor St. John Shines as Todd on OLTL
When Roger Howarth vacated the role of Todd Manning on OLTL last year, everyone assumed the character was dead. It worked for both the storyline and the fans, who felt that Howarth could never be replaced. After all, Todd was a complex character -- a rapist turned sensitive but wounded leading man. The theory was that no one could match Howarth’s sarcastic, often ad-libbed delivery, and masterful portrayal as he skillfully peeled Todd’s many layers.
Enter Trevor St. John. Fast forward a year later, and for anyone who is new to OLTL, the question becomes, “Roger who?”
OLTL correctly introduced St. John as twins Walker and Flynn, and gradually let the audience in on the secret that Walker was really Todd. This helped acclimate viewers to the actor’s style, and when he was revealed to be Todd with plastic surgery, it made sense. He had all of Todd’s snarky mannerisms, but with a new face.
St. John possesses the uncanny ability to make us loathe and love Todd at the same time, just like Howarth. He has also seamlessly integrated himself with his co-stars. St. John shares electrifying chemistry with Kassie DePaiva’s Blair. DePaiva appears more at ease with St. John than with Howarth, and this change is reflected in the characters’ newfound happiness and contentment in their relationship.
Kristen Alderson (Starr) who would have chemistry with a door knob, also appears energized by the St. John switch. Starr’s relationship with her father has become more playful and less serious as she becomes a teenager.
Fellow newcomer Dan Gauthier (Kevin) is the perfect uptight foil for St. John’s lighthearted humor. St. John’s easy banter and quiet confidence are perfectly showcased when Todd gets in Kevin’s face.
Even veteran Erika Slezak (Viki) looks like she is enjoying Viki and Todd’s relationship more with St. John in the role. He makes it easy for Viki to become exasperated with his antics, but at the same time, we understand why she believes in him and continues to stand by his side, even against her own son Kevin.
St. John’s charm and deadpan delivery have never been on more display than in the current storyline where Todd and Blair are trying to make themselves acceptable to Llanview society for the sake of their children. The scene where Todd and Blair cozied up to the country-club president was priceless.
St. John can have Todd turn on a dime from being charming and funny, to ruthless and arrogant, to confident and stubborn, to downright tender with his family. This range of emotions has not been seen in Todd since Roger Howarth’s early days on the show, and St. John has done Howarth one better. His Todd has underlying warmth to his outer prickles, rather like a porcupine that you can’t get to close to. He has nailed the very essence of this complicated character, which is not an easy thing for any actor to do, let alone a recast of a beloved actor and character.
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