One Life to Love

November 15-19 1999

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I can't believe that just a few weeks ago I was whining about the show being off track, because at the moment, I feel privileged to be watching grade-A classic soap opera. Max keeling over was just the shot in the arm this show needed!

Well, the cat’s finally out of the bag, or at least one is. Renee now knows that Max is not her biological son. (The identity of her real son will have to wait for now). Though I've had lots of complaints about the way this story has played out (much too repetition, uneven story development, poor pacing), I always retained the hope that the reveal would pack an emotional wallop -- and I was right. Pat Elliot did absolute justice to Renee's myriad emotions: disbelief, loss, pain, and finally anger and disgust. She demanded the complete truth from Max, and yet for all his guilt, shame, and regret, Max still withheld a few pertinent details (such as Blair's involvement and the fact that he knows the identity of Asa and Renee's real son). Then, in shock and blinking back tears, Renee listened as Max explained his motives, revealed the truth about his illness, and apologized. Ever the class act, Renee gave Max a fair hearing (more than fair), but when he said he had continued the charade partly for Renee's benefit, she lost her composure, gave him a ringing slap across the face, and walked out of the room. Brava! Then Max dropped like a stone -- the aneurysm had finally burst. Moments later, Ben showed up, and he and Skye took Max to the hospital.

If Pat Elliot was a little bit of heaven in these scenes, James DePaiva also did a fine job, and certainly his was the harder role because there truly is no excuse for Max's behavior. But given that handicap, JDP still managed to elicit some sympathy for Max -- no mean feat.

Max's aneurysm bursting at just that moment is classic soap opera with a great ripple effect. It delays Asa finding out the truth, plunges poor Renee into a torrent of guilt, and places Ben in a crisis of conscience. Midge’s prediction:
Max will come out of the surgery with no memory of his confession to Renee.

Wednesday was truce day, the calm before the storm. Asa and Bo had a quiet heart-to-heart, Blair and Kelly buried the hatchet -- and then the other shoe dropped as word of Max's condition spread like wildfire.

This week, OLTL featured a series of stellar scenes that epitomize what I want from a soap: heartfelt emotion and a focus on a variety of relationships: family, friends, and romantic partners.

I really enjoyed watching Blair and Dorian reconnect. These two have always drawn strength from each other. And I was amused by Dorian's healthy curiosity over the identity of Asa's real son. Midge believes that the urge to gossip is a sure sign of good mental health.

And there was more Cramer Women bonding going on. I've been waiting ages for Kelly and Blair to hash out what almost went down with Max, and this week they finally did. And guess what? The two women managed to put aside their differences, open up, and display real affection for each other. As much as I've enjoyed Blair and Kelly's spitfire antics in the past, their mature conciliatory behavior was appropriate, touching, and, in its own way, just as entertaining as their spats.

Lindsay sought out Sam to discuss the Will situation, but Sam wouldn't budge -- not at first. I'm rather partial to this cranky, bitter, unreasonable Sam. I loved his snide comment to Lindsay: "Did you read a self-help book before you got here?”. Unfortunately, Sam eventually cooled down and listened to reason. Props to Lindsay for refusing to let Sam get the better of her. She just kept hammering away at his defenses till she got through. These two make a very believable pair of ex-spouses.

Nora's famous oratorical skills were put to good use making a stubborn Will see the similarities between his behavior and his father's, so it looks like father and son are on the road to rapprochement. I may scold the character of Will Rappaport, but Jason-Shane Scott just keeps getting better.

There was a tender scene between Asa and Renee at the Palace. As Renee was struggling to find the words to tell Asa about Max’s scam, they both got the news that Max had collapsed. Asa displayed a rare sensitivity to Renee in these scenes that I’ll have to remember the next time I wonder why she puts up with him.

Back at the hospital, Max was being prepped for surgery (Hi, Larry!), but the only available neurosurgeon was (surprise -- NOT) Ben. Remember, Ben got himself into a pickle once before when an enemy appeared on his operating table. Max is more a perceived enemy (by Asa), but will history repeat itself? When Asa found out who was operating on his "son," he burst into the OR, disrupting the proceedings. After Asa was hauled out, Max went into cardiac arrest, was shocked back to life, and the surgery was completed. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, Ben muttered, "It would serve Asa right if Max died on the operating table." (or words to that effect). He'll regret that statement. You know, Ben, if you can't say something nice...

There was a nifty fantasy sequence during the operation when the other members of Ben's surgical team turned into first Grace, then Skye, and finally Asa. Hats off to the production design team for those realistic high-tech medical props.

When you watch a soap day in and day out, you really appreciate the small touches of artistry that show a commitment to going that extra mile. Sometimes it's just the little things, like the way Renee's prayer began as a voice-over while Max was in cardiac arrest and then cut to her in the chapel. Nice.

Eventually, Renee and Blair found themselves face-to-face in the hospital chapel with the same thing on their minds: Max's survival. Although there's no love lost between these two women, they put aside their troubled history and supported each other.

Poor Renee is in an especially difficult spot, having to keep the truth from Asa and swallow her own anger and pain. Later, as she and Blair stood vigil at Max's bedside, she could keep quiet no longer, and when Blair told her that Max needed his family’s support, she practically spat out, "You and I both know that Max is not my son, so just drop the act, please."

There are so many reasons why you never say never when it comes to soaps. Just a few weeks ago, I felt certain that Sam was Asa and Renee's missing son. It was simply the most dramatic option. But now that Asa and Ben are hating each other just as fervently, it could easily be Ben (which, age-wise, has always been the most logical choice).

Believe it or not, there was a good scene between Viki and Ben as she pleaded with him to put aside his anger and hate and stop pushing her away. Finally, this fantasy couple has a believable problem to confront, and that makes all the difference in both the writing and performing (especially for ES). Those hot-and-heavy Blendie scenes will never be Midge's cup of tea, but I have to admit that Thursday's gropefest was an especially energetic coupling for this rather staid duo.

Back at the hospital, Viki went off on Asa in her own inimitable ladylike fashion. More juicy material for ES. Viki needs to be challenged on some level, and my biggest complaint about Blendie is that she doesn't seem challenged by that relationship.

Wow! OLTL didn't wait long before capitalizing on the offbeat chemistry that exists between Sophia and John. If you'd told me three months ago that John Sykes would one half of an intriguing potential romance, I would've scoffed. Well, Midge ain't scoffing now.

Now that everyone is back in the same zip code, I'm enjoying the teen quad again. Since I have no strong feelings about who Jess should be with, I can just sit back, enjoy the drama, and wait for Roseanne to get her well-deserved comeuppance.

Jess and Cris came face-to-face this week at the diner. Cris got jealous (Will and Jess were smooching) and made a jerk of himself, with Will running a close second. Jessica was not amused. What's really nagging at Cris and Jess? Is it lost love or thwarted passion?

Watching Cris go ballistic at the sight of Will and Jess sent Roseanne into a frenzy of manipulation -- demanding favors from both Will and R.J. I really don't understand why Roseanne keeps pumping Will for more money. How exactly is that going to help her keep Cris? As I recall, he's scarcely willing to touch the cash she already weaseled out of Will. And her other scheme is even stupider. She wants R.J. to convince Cris to marry her or she'll spill the beans about his NYC confab with Judge Peterson -- huh? Roseanne has so little faith in Cristian's feelings for her that she's desperately grasping for any kind of leverage.

R.J. and Roseanne make an amusing set of co-conspirators. If Roseanne were 10 years older (heck, I'd wink at five), they'd be sooo much more interesting and make sooo much more sense as a couple than R.J. and Tea in her current law-abiding incarnation.

What's going on with Tea and R.J. now? Is this the strangest relationship on record? A week or so ago, she was ready to nail his hide to the wall, now she's darting him hot-and-heavy come-hither glances and inviting him up to the penthouse? Did I miss something? Of course, R.J.'s not about to question his good luck.

Kevin showed up at Crossroads seeking solace in the bottle. I'm glad Crossroads is back in business. Llanview needs a good dive since TPTB made that horrible decision to sanitize Rhodi's.

And who should our grief-stricken lover encounter but Skye Chandler. I like what I see between Kevin and Skye. She brings out Kevin's abrasive edge, a quality Tim Gibbs plays very well. He also makes a darn believable drunk. We'll just see how long it takes this notorious skirt-chaser to get over "true love" Grace. After Kevin got plastered, Skye took his keys away (using the ruse of a kiss) and drove him home -- only to run into Viki.

If looks could kill! Viki finally decided to check up on Kevin only to find him drunk, practically passed out on his sofa, with Skye attempting to remove his jacket! HA! It was all innocent, of course, but when Skye realized the reaction she was getting from her rival, I could see the wheels turning. Look out, Kevin!

And another thing:

  • Midge is in deep denial over Robin Strasser's rumored departure. Say it ain't so!

  • Will better reign in his jealousy -- and fast. He's is so convinced of his love for Jess, but I remember him being pretty gone over Roseanne not too long ago.

  • Everyone keeps talking about how "bad" Asa looks -- I think he looks fine, though Phil Carey isn't shy about letting the press know he feels overworked.

  • Max's shameless excuse for deceiving Asa and Renee (I did it for my kids) might ring a bit truer if we'd seen any of his three children in the past year or so.

  • Carlotta is usually very open-minded and nonjudgmental, but she can't seem to resist needling Roseanne about Jessica.

  • Cris's tiresome Neanderthal routine is not likely to entice Jessica away from Will.

  • Poor little Wally seemed quite terrified by John's howling.

  • That must've been a real boast to Roseanne's ego to watch her current and past loves go toe-to-toe over rival Jessica.

  • Max is damn lucky his aneurysm burst when it did. Asa's would’ve removed it manually once he discovered Max’s deception.

  • When moody Cris went for a walk on the docks, I was hoping he'd step in Wally's "leftovers."

  • Every time Carlotta is on screen, I realize how much I miss the appealing warmth and honesty of this character.

  • In the space of about 10 minutes, Asa referred to Ben Davidson as a "quack" and Viki's "mob gigolo" -- so much for his promise to lay off the Rapa-Davidsons!

  • Nice bedside manner, Dr. Davidson. I realize you hate Asa, but Renee and Blair deserved better than your curt and cursory post-surgery comments.

  • Anybody else get choked up when Asa included Blair in his family hug with Renee? *sniff*

  • Does Viki care about her children at all? Clearly, Jessica was disturbed by Cristian's visit, but all Viki wanted to know was had she seen Ben. And Kelly (and even Skye) seemed more concerned about Kevin.

  • Bo must really get tired of people telling him how to do his job.

  • Is Kelly a saint or what? This week alone she counseled Jess, made up with Blair, and tried to help Kevin (twice).

  • Blair has had so little to do for so long that I'd almost forgotten what KDP is capable of as a performer. Blair's raw, open-hearted anguish over Max was very moving.

Till next week!



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