One Life to Live Update Thursday 1/9/03
Pictures by Juanita
Just how exciting is it to actually tune in to ABC television at one o'clock in the afternoon -- two if you're on the East Coast, don't hate me because I'm a Texan -- and see visible, palpable, immediate improvement on "One Life to Live" in this new year? Too exciting for words is the answer! Eagle-eyed viewers have no doubt caught on by now that Frank Valentini's name started popping up in the "executive producer" slot of the closing credits on Monday's episode -- and not coincidentally, and certainly not for nothing, but Monday's episode was the most well-written and -acted and -directed installment of this show we've seen in many many moons. Also, you may have noticed that Cris Whitesell's name has been missing from the "written by" slot for a few weeks now, a fact for which we're all hopefully breathing a massive sigh o' relief. (This poor fop has been bouncing around the daytime scene for years without one single noteworthy achievement to his credit -- you'll recall that he pitched in on that woeful "Sunset Beach" and also helped preside over what was surely the most startling, disconcerting decline in quality in the history of the genre, the 1997 fall from grace of "General Hospital" following Claire Labine's "resignation" and Bob Guza's defection. So, Mr. Whitesell, we at TV Megasite say a fond "au revoir" to you, and may we never again have to deal with you.)
So all of my favorite Llanview-ites are again acting like they have triple-digit IQs -- the way it's supposed to be -- and don't for a second think that I'm going to believe that it's NOT because Whitesell and Gary Tomlin -- the gimmick mad head writer and executive producer respectively -- are out the door. I've seen Lorraine Broderick's work on other shows (most notably "All My Children") and I know what she's capable of, and I think it's going to be fun to watch this month as she gets this canvas set up for February's big snowstorm (and with that, the much-much-anticipated returns of Josh Griffith and Michael Malone).
In the meantime, let's discuss Mr. Valentini for a second before we get to the recap -- calm down, you impatient fiends, this all fits in the larger picture, I promise. These diatribes of mine are vital and brimming with purpose. I just want to address this to you, Frank, or anybody who knows Frank, or anybody at "One Life to Live" who is reading this and/or has a vested interest in the continuing future of the show: anybody who is running any television series, and who has the vast uncompromising intelligence to use a Tori Amos song to close an episode, is absolute friggin' ACES in my book, I guarantee it, and I'll love them forever. Did you guys see the end of Wednesday's episode? It was an instant classic, a montage of scenes -- featuring Blair getting into bed with Todd, Viki crying over Jessica's rejection, Jessica packing her things and saying goodbye to her teddy bear, and Cristian beating the hell out of Mitch as Natalie watched in horror -- that was set to a new Tori Amos song, "I Can't See New York" from her new album "Scarlet's Walk" (and it's a sensationally brilliant album that you should rush out and buy immediately if you haven't already -- take it from me, you won't be disappointed), and it was potent and riveting and explosive and haunting. I've never seen anything quite like it, and it sent a loud-and-clear message -- to me at very least, and Frank, I promise I was listening -- that a new regime is firmly in charge of this show, and that it's all going to be all right... that the bad days are over and won't be back.
(And please don't tell me you've forgotten that this show has always thrived under dynamic, take-charge producers -- Paul Rauch, Jill Farren Phelps, and particularly the invaluable Linda Gottlieb -- and wilted under listless, by-the-numbers producers -- Maxine Levinson, Susan Bedsow Horgan (yes, she did a bang-up her first year, but that was because her canvas was so unimpeachably set up by Gottlieb and so impeccably written by Michael Malone that she didn't even realize how in over her head she was until she actually had to make a few decisions of her own), and notably Gary Tomlin (who had some killer ideas but didn't have the over-the-top verve to carry them off fully and successfully).)
(And seriously... could you have DIED yesterday when you heard that Tori Amos song start up? I literally had to brace myself against my couch to keep from falling over, it was that powerful. You guys at "One Life to Live" -- you ALL have my complete attention now.)
OK... I have no doubt that Suzanne is counting paragraphs by now and wondering when I'm gonna get to it, so let's get to it. Full disclosure be damned, I'll tell you what set off the lecture you just sat through: Nora actually got to be a lawyer again today! And even better than that, she actually got to act on that courtroom set -- the site of her greatest triumphs -- for the first time in years! But before I tell you about the best parts of today's episode....
Lindsay evidently had to spend the night on the fire escape outside of Troy's loft, and Troy discovered her after Nora left for court. She was shivering, frozen to the bone, and yet her coloring and makeup were still perfect. No kidding. But no matter. "Why didn't you take the stairs up to Jen's?" Dr. Troy asked. "The witch never came home last night!" Lindsay responded, adding that the ladder wouldn't go all the way down to the street either and so she was stranded there. Troy tried to tell her that she might have hypothermia, but Lindsay just wanted Troy to hold her; that would warm her up sufficiently. He reluctantly obliged -- not that he had much choice, she wasted no time leaping into his arms. "If you could just be nice to me like this all the time, I would do absolutely anything for you," she said to him as her blood circulation returned to normal.
(Memo to Troy: that's a red flag statement if I ever heard one, babe.)
As she calmed down, Troy told Lindsay that he appreciated the lengths she went to to hide from Nora and keep their trysts secret. Lindsay told him she wants no part of anything that'll jeopardize their "relationship" and that's why she did it. She then launched into this whole thing about how being on the fire escape and staring in through the bars reminded her of being in prison, and how glad she is to be free again. Somehow this led to a discussion of Allison Perkins and exactly whose idea it was to attempt their jailbreak. I was almost snoring by this time so I missed most of it, but Lindsay swore up and down that it was all Allison's idea and that Lindsay herself was forced to go along with the whole thing. And Troy obviously didn't buy it for a minute because the minute Lindsay left, he got on the phone and made an appointment to get in to see Allison.
Sam turned up at the penthouse to see Blair, but first he ran into Starr, who was all smiles. (And when that girl is smiling that wicked little grin of hers, you know that trouble ain't far behind.) She told Sam -- a little too enthusiastically -- that Blair was upstairs and that the door was open and he could just go right in. Which he did.
And he saw Blair and Todd in bed together. They had been awake for only a minute or two and it was an awkward moment for them (especially Todd, who awoke to find Blair's arms around him); the awkwardness was compounded when Sam arrived. Blair sprung immediately into action with a standard "this isn't what it looks like" announcement, and she showed him the deflated air mattress and explained that it wouldn't hold air the night before and she didn't have any place else to sleep. Sam, gullible fool that he is, bought it completely, much to Todd's chagrin, and as Todd was getting ready to ridicule them both severely, he got a phone call that things were popping in the Mitch Laurence case. Blair tried to stop him from getting involved, and he told her to rub a lamp and took off, suit in hand.
After he was gone, Blair insisted again to Sam that her only feelings for Todd are as the father of her children, nothing more. Sam insisted again that it was OK, that he believed her when she said nothing happened. Then he told her that he has found them a place to be alone, and that the next time he comes to the penthouse, she'd be leaving with him. Blair was excited.
But Starr wasn't. After Sam left, Starr went to Blair and told her that she took a needle to Blair's Aero bed and that's why she had to get in bed with Todd last night. Did your daddy put you up to it? Blair asked the sociopath-ette. Nope, she responded. "Came up with it all by myself," she said proudly, explaining that she did it because she wants Todd and Blair to get back together, and that she flat out doesn't believe that Blair doesn't love Todd anymore.
That poor kid is staring down a LIFETIME of therapy, agreed?
Meanwhile, Jessica turned up at Max's house looking for Al. Roxanne was there and when she heard the doorbell, she thought it was Asa. She still didn't have an answer for his ultimatum so she asked Al to answer the door while she hid. And while she was hiding, she heard Jess and Al talking about the fact that Mitch Laurence is her father. Jessica told Al she was leaving town because she couldn't deal with all the people in her life right now, and that she was going to London to see Clint and tell him the whole story about Mitch and Viki. As Al began to try to talk her out of it, Asa did show up, looking for Roxanne. He was suspicious to see Al and Jessica together again, and even more so when they tried to send him away again without an explanation. Asa asked her what was wrong, and assured her that he could fix it, whatever it was. Jess said nothing was wrong and admitted that she was going to visit Clint in London for a while. Asa was thrilled to hear that and told her that Clint would be as well, and something about her Buchanan spirit or her Buchanan genes or something. Then he told Al to tell Roxanne that he came by, and Jessica gave Asa a big hug and told him she loved him before he left.
Then Roxanne came out of hiding, and told Jessica how bad she felt about learning that Mitch was her father. She then told Jess and Al about visiting her own mother, and how the encounter made her realize how awful a mother she was to her children and how she was determined to do better. First up: making a batch of hot chocolate, "because that's what moms do, right?" Jess and Al were too stupefied to say anything, so they agreed to drink some, and Roxy went to make it. (And who wants to bet that they drink it out of leopard-spot-print mugs? Anybody?)
Al offered to go to London with Jess and she thanked him, but said it was something she needed to do alone. She also said she wasn't going to be staying in London forever, and assured him that she'd "see him around."
So... back to the courthouse. I was so damn excited to see the courthouse set again that I was completely willing to suspend my disbelief at the fact that Cris has already been granted a hearing after only having been arrested yesterday. That would never happen, kids! And you know what? I don't give a damn, either, because we got to see the courtroom again, and we got to see Nora in it, and we got to hear her yell "Objection!" two times, and it was heaven-on-a-rope, you guys! My best friend and I always used to joke that the way to pull this show out of a slump is to give Nora a good meaty trial to sink her teeth into, and by God, I'm not gonna rest until I prove that theory correct.
At any rate, all of this saga's main players were present, not least of all Mitch, who was wearing this huge neck brace and playing his victimhood to the hilt, replete with limp, slightly slurred speech, and labored breathing. It was a worthy performance. Outside the courtroom, Jen told Mitch that she was nervous about the hearing, and Mitch assured her that if they stuck to the plan, everything would turn out perfectly.
He walked into the courtroom to see Cris and Natalie standing together, talking to Bo and Hank. Hank was telling them all that he and Nora had gotten together and come up with a plea bargain that would involve only community service for Cris. Mitch walked up to them and "kindly" asked Natalie not to flaunt her extramarital relationships in public -- that they are still husband and wife in the eyes of God and the eyes of the law. Cris glared at Mitch as he took his seat, and Natalie told him to calm down -- that nothing could keep her from supporting him in court today, and that nothing can keep them apart. At this point, Nora walked in -- and it was the ferocious bulldog Nora of old, the one I fell in love with ten years ago -- and immediately ripped into the two lovebirds for flagrantly disregarding her simple instruction to not be seen together in public. They each tried to offer lame excuses and she shot them down with perfect precision like so many clay pigeons. "What part of 'stay away from each other' don't you understand?" she yelled at Cris, asking them both if they wanted to jeopardize Nat's chances for a clean annulment. They assured her that they didn't, and Nora told them both to go sit down and be quiet. She then discussed the plea bargain plan with Hank, and hoped it would be a snap. And Carlotta walked in and immediately took after Natalie, telling her it was her fault that Cris was in trouble and it never would have happened before he fell into her trap. Natalie was aghast, and Jen "took up" for Natalie, telling Carlotta that it was actually her fault that Cris was arrested, since it was her eyewitness testimony that cinched it.
Then she got a look at who the judge would be -- her old friend Judge Fitzwater, of course! Don't you guys love the hell out of her?! -- and sensed there was going to be trouble. And she was right, because right after Fitzwater called court into session, Mitch stood up and made perfectly sure that she could see who he was and what Cris had done to him. Hank announced that he and defense counsel -- that's Nora -- had reached a fair plea bargain and were prepared to submit it to the court, and Fitzwater said that she'd like to hear the evidence first. Nora tried to object and Fitzwater told her to kindly take her seat, reiterating that she'd like to hear the evidence first. Cris asked what that meant -- I told you he was a lughead! -- and Nora told him it wasn't good news.
And indeed it wasn't, not after Mitch took the stand and explained how Cris had attacked him without provocation and threatened to kill him, and how he had tried to get Bo to enforce the restraining order and how Bo had refused. "Is that true?" Fitzwater asked. Bo admitted that it was, but that Mitch wasn't the saint he was trying to make himself out to be and that there are extenuating circumstances at play here -- that Mitch is the dangerous man in this case, not Cristian Vega.
At this point, Todd burst into the courtroom and yelled something about how Cris should have killed Mitch after all or something like that. Fitzwater told him to be seated and be quiet, and then they continued with the hearing, with Rex and Jen taking the stand and admitting that Cris started punching Mitch without being provoked, verbally or otherwise. Nora then tried to admit into evidence documentation of Mitch's less-than-rosy history with the law, and Fitzwater told her it wasn't necessary, that she had her mind made up. She called for a short recess before revealing Cristian's fate, during which she excused herself to the ladies room.
Which is where Jen was. When the bitch realized that Fitzwater was in the room, she pulled out her cell phone and started pretending like she was talking to somebody, and Fitzwater was concerned as Jen started saying into the phone that she couldn't come forward and "admit" that she had "heard" Cristian say that he was going to kill Mitch the second he was free. Fitzwater finished washing her hands and then left, and Jen congratulated herself on this latest victory and left as well. What neither of them knew was that that annoying Shawna was in one of the stalls, listening to everything. Shawna had cornered Todd earlier asking about an internship at the Sun -- he ignored her -- and now she smelled an opportunity.
Back in the courtroom, Fitzwater asked Cris if he was sure that he wanted to plead guilty, and he assured her that he was. She then asked if he understood that she was in way to bound to honor the plea bargain that his lawyer had crafted, and he said yes. She then told him that, to make sure he has ample time to cool off, she's sentencing him to thirty days in jail. Natalie and Carlotta and Nora were horrified at the ruling, as were Hank and Bo, but Mitch and Jen were pleased as punch.
Outside, Todd whispered to Mitch that he was ready to show the man what real pain was "when he was feeling better" and then wondered aloud what exactly had happened in the courtroom. He realized somebody must have gotten to the judge, and that's when Shawna sneaked up behind him. She informed him that somebody did indeed get to Fitzwater, and she knows who that somebody is.
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