For all of those naysayers in the world who say that soap operas are the poor step children in the entertainment medium, and that the performers in them are just churning out the same ole’ same ole’, day in and day out, one can look no further than this week on daytime. There were so many riveting moments performed by some of the best that soaps have to offer, that when everyone in the mainstream says there is nothing left in soaps anymore, and they are an eroding commodity, they should have witnessed what many fans saw. Our Power Performances of the Week, include five actors who each gave us chills and made us reach for our hankies. Let’s begin in Port Charles with General Hospital’s Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thompson. As Robin and Patrick, the betrayal and disintegration of their marriage began, when Patrick fessed up to Robin he cheated on her with nut job Lisa, while she was away in Africa. After having been backed into a corner due to Lisa’s machinations, he had no choice but to admit to Robin his infidelity. McCullough, whose performance was so powerful when she realized that Patrick shattered their marriage, showed us once again how given the material, she can hit it out of the park every time. And, the writing of these scenes was also spot on. Robin was all at once strong and that hurt little girl we have watched grow up before our very eyes for decades. We never want to see our Robin hurt. When it does, it’s a major moment. On Friday’s episode, McCullough did it again when she struggles to come to terms with Patrick’s betrayal, realizing she wants to work things out. Jason Thompson, what can I say? One of soap operas best leading men. And, perhaps can out cry any male actor on daytime with real tears, and real emotion. As Patrick, Thompson played his embarrassment, betrayal, and disgust of the situation with Lisa, and what he had done to his beloved wife, and their child, Emma to perfection. It looks from where I am standing and from what we know is to come – a special return from Michael Sutton, as Stone Cates in the month of September – that old heartfelt wounds between Patrick and Robin, and the impact of the memory of Stone, will play out.
Crossing over to Llanview, Robin Strasser (Dorian) reminded us all of how to chew the scenery, and still make everyone around you, and the audience at home, believe every single second of it. When Dorian’s big wedding day to David Vickers (aka Buchanan) arrived, and the duo had finally gotten past their mistrust of each other and got over themselves, and truly admitted their feelings for one another, it looked like this match made in heaven was going to endure. Ah, but not when Tuc Watkins (David) is involved, because he had to be written out to go star on Desperate Housewives for awhile. So Ron Carlivati and the One Life to Live writing team came up with a perfect plan that gave Strasser her moment to shine. Dorian receives a letter that David is standing her up at the altar for the second time! Reeling from the news, humiliated, and embarrassed, Dorian retreats to her room and bit by bit comes unglued, destroying everything in her path, and ending up on the floor clutching a pillow, and reminding us that there is a fragile little girl inside Dorian. But wait! When Viki (Erika Slezak) comes to help Dorian, literally and figuratively pick up the pieces, Dorian lays into her nemesis and blames her for the whole thing… classic Viki/Dorian! Later, as Langston and Starr brought Dorian back to La Boulaie, the intensity and the emotions of the abandonment and betrayal were brilliant played by Strasser yet again!
As we head over to Oakdale, it was truly a gift from Jean Passanante and As the World Turns writing team to give Colleen Zenk (Barbara) an episode that truly showed her remarkable talents. It was truly, I believe, a love letter to Colleen and Barbara for 32 years of bringing a one of a kind character to the small screen. As the series ends it’s remarkable run of 54 years on September 17th, Friday’s episode was the beginning of the can’t miss episodes that will tie together, and give closure to a myriad of the key characters. But it started with veteran Zenk. As Barbara and Henry struggled to come to grips with whether they should marry one another with the Stenbeck curse hovering over them, Zenk played it to the hilt. In a part “cougar” storyline, Barbara wondered if she was too old, not pretty enough, or was it her past evil skullduggery that was making Henry not commit? But it wasn’t. It was the curse of the Stenbecks that had this man, who was formerly scared by his own shadow, wanting to run to the hills. But after an emotional and convincing speech by Barbara about their unorthodox and bizarre life and love, the wedding was a go and it was to happen right away! In the second half of the episode, that is when Zenk really shined. Realizing her family would probably never show up for a wedding of hers and Henry, she was shocked when they all did! And, in bittersweet and emotional moments with the core characters of her family and extended family, back-history was subtlety played, and rivalries were subdued, as everyone was there to support Barbara in her big moment. When it came to the vows – hankies! Colleen, tears flowing (and reminding us all of Barbara’s and Colleen’s real-life cancer scare and the true meaning of getting a new lease on life), delivered a monologue to Henry (Trent Dawson) that without a doubt was one of the finer moments. Bittersweet, joyful and life-affirming, Zenk did it all throughout the episode devoted to her.
Finally, Days of our Lives James Scott (EJ Dimera) did not disappoint, and showed us the gamut of emotions behind his dark, brooding, and yet romantic character when the truth came out at EJ and Sami’s (Alison Sweeney) wedding day! Many have known for months that before Labor Day, all of EJ’s lies would spin out of control once Rafe (Galen Gering) had the evidence to bring him down for his hideous plot to make Sami believe her daughter, Sydney had died! Let’s not forget EJ was behind the baby girl’s kidnapping in the first place, and concocted all of this to exact revenge on Sami and everyone that wronged and betrayed him in the first place. After Rafe broke up another one of Sami’s weddings (the gal at this point should never get in a wedding dress again!) with the evidence of EJ’s deception, the sexy Dimera’s house of cards came tumbling down. It was then we witnessed another superb performance by Scott. Knowing he has been caught, EJ reveals he did it all, but he truly and deeply loves his Samantha no matter what he had done. EJ begs her to marry him, forgive him, and to stay with him, as he is now a changed man. And, he does this with tears in his eyes! Only James Scott can pull this off and gives so much dimension to this character that in the hands of anyone else, it could come off as just an evil sonofabitch with one black heart, and no redeeming qualities. Later, after Sami lets him have a piece of her mind and kicks him to the curb and takes his kids out the front door, it’s daddy Stefano who lays into him for being so stupid to open his big mouth in front of Nicole, which caused his downfall. Looking completely disjointed and unnerved by the disappointment of his father, and the shock of losing everything he fought so hard to get back, EJ ends Friday’s episode with one final thought: “I’m going to kill Nicole”!
On-Air On-Soaps says “Bravo” to all the above talented men and women who make watching daytime still a fun and emotional rollercoaster!