Steamboat Episode 5 – The Ghost of GL?

I was prepared for this.  I knew it was coming, given the cast of this show.  Sooner or later the writers would pair characters on screen who were previously paired on their original soaps.  Such pairings would leave the viewer asking the question:  ‘Is this pairing better now than before?’.  It’s a risk.   The possibility exists that fans will decide that Steamboat’s writers should have left well enough alone and not begged the comparison.  Judge for yourself before I give you my answer to the above question:

I’m a rabid Steamboat fan, and so every seeming inside joke is just a delight for me.  I was not a fan of  The Guiding Light’s “Rick Bauer’ and ‘Beth Spaulding’ (now Steamboat’s Michael and Tabitha).  I disliked the pairing immensely, so  I’m shocked to find myself rooting for Tabitha and Michael on Steamboat.  I know.  I know…Tabitha and Michael aren’t a couple .  In fact, Tabitha is deeply repulsed by the idea of even kissing Michael while in character and filming their show – so why would I want to see them happy and in love as a behind-the-scenes couple?  It’s even odder if you consider the fact that.  Tabitha and Michael are engaging though  exaggerated versions of their GL counterparts.  At the time ‘Beth Spaulding’ began dating ‘Rick Bauer’ (or sleeping with him for kicks and helping him cheat on his loving family), she’d become a cold and cruel shell – a far cry from the Beth Spaulding  fans  first loved.  Her mission was to make herself happy at everyone else’s expense, including Rick, Mel – his wife, and their daughter Leah.

Tabitha’s knee to Michael’s groin was the physical manifestation of Beth’s ‘knee’ to Rick’s  life (aiding him in ruining his marriage, ending the only real happiness he’d had in a very long time).  Beth caused Rick as much pain as Tabitha caused Michael – the only difference was the location of the pain. GL’s Rick, like Steamboat’s Michael, had a history of being cast aside and treated as  second best for so long that the thought of even the slimmest chance to get close to the object of his unspoken affections (Beth) was enough for him to run the risk of being used and discarded.  He’d talked himself into believing there was a shot of  real happiness with Beth even after her horrid personality change.

Michael is an even sadder sad sack character than Rick, tossed aside for the  sake of the pretty boys, secretly lusting for the ‘hot but crazy girl’, and hoping to have his shot at proving he’s worthy of being considered a real leading man.  Despite Tabitha’s warning in the last episode that she’d kill him if he even thought of kissing her in their upcoming love scenes, emboldened by Scott – he went for broke… and was broken.

Given the above comparison, am I suggesting that writer/actor Michael O’ Leary has  become the independent soap equivalent of the former writers of GL?  Are the two seemingly different shows already converging?  HELL NO!  What made Rick and Beth such a horrific pairing is that their relationship flew in the face of GL history and was built on purely selfish instincts – making them a danger to anyone who loved them, and to one another.  Beth was well aware of the unimaginable pain her husband/former father-in-law would inflict on Rick and didn’t care that she was putting him at risk;  Rick, who’d loved her and cared for her since they were  teens.  Rick, who’d always been a heroic good guy became the worst sort of man – a cheating husband who was willing to leave his daughter fatherless for a woman who didn’t love him.

Tabitha and Michael are such new and fresh characters that a pairing between them wouldn’t bring the same sort of baggage as GL’s Beth and Rick.  O’Leary is a competent writer who  knows how to take his characters to the brink and pull them back in just enough time.  It makes you both glad he pulled them back, and makes you wish they were back on that edge, again.  You feel as if you’ve missed something when they don’t go over that cliff, because you want to go with them.  The possibilities  for a Tabitha/Michael pairing are endless.  There’s something about rooting for an underdog like Michael.

The story is repeated countless times in films such as “Taming of the Shrew’, “Kiss Me Kate’, and even ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ (each film increasingly less sexist by the way).   Tabitha should never be ‘tamed’, just less abusive to Michael.  Everyone else is fair game. The running joke on the show is that he’s not the pretty boy of daytime and everyone feels comfortable reminding him of that.  He is, however, that character female audiences love.  Poor Michael is not the pretty boy, he’s the good man worth a thousand of the pretty boys.  He’s the man female audiences idealize even while being excited by the bad boys.   In the end, we still want the good guy to win.

Speaking of being out on that edge

Who the frack  gets shot at the end, PEOPLE?  I loved Michael and Dirk’s nonchalant response to the gunfire, but I need to know!   My money is on Rhonda.  Is  Tabitha the shooter?  Will she still be holding the smoking gun while wearing a gleeful… snarl?  Will Scott feel liberated by Rhonda’s shooting or angry that he didn’t get to pull the trigger himself?  HEY!   Maybe the victim getting the ‘Tabitha Treatment’  is the  poor hapless  Lactene girl, Candy.  There we have it.   One onscreen ‘too old to be my granddaughter’ character goes down.  Will the Steamboat cast get to keep Candy’s set and dump the Cedars Hospital green screen special?

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Kim Zimmer, Michael O’Leary, Scott Bryce, Michael Park…

Justin Deas, Orlagh Cassidy, Kurt McKinney, Beth Chamberlain and more.  Where are you going to find them all?  On the online series “Steamboat”.  I know, I know, yet another online series… you’ve got to check this one out.  It’s good (at least I think so).  It’s a mix of a modern day ‘Soap‘ and ‘Soap Dish‘, and will hopefully make it to air:

The Strength of GL

What’s amazes me most about the shift in writing for GL is how good the writers are at making want things I didn’t even know I wanted.  I’ve CELEBRATED the end of the Coop-Beth affair.  I would have celebrated it no matter how it ended (Coop’s moving away, Coop’s dying, Beth moving away, Beth’s dying).  I wasn’t picky about what it would take to end it.

So the big day arrives, Henry Cooper Bradshaw says his good-byes, he lets Beth off the hook for using him to feel ‘young’ or ‘free’, or some such bullshite!, and as I’m watching it dawns on me that I don’t WANT Coop to die!  A good part of it was the writing, the rest of it was John Driscoll.  Had the writers told a compelling storyline for this character, other than being the latest stooge in Beth’s plan to ‘feel something’, it would have been much clearer to the audience why this character matters.   Driscoll gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time – any character, any show.  He was utterly amazing.

What else rocked?

1.  Lizzie telling her mother how weak and starry-eyed she’s become, and that her choices have been miserable for everyone around her.  RIGHT ON, Lizzie..  Beth has been a self-centered walking disaster.  (More on the Lizzie-Beth angle at a later date).

2.  Olivia turning to Bill, knowing it wasn’t Bill she was running to, but her feelings from Natalia that she was running from.  Thank goodness the kiss never got beyond that.  It was good to finally have Liv say what she needed and wanted to say, her feelings aren’t just about friendship, there’s more.

3.  Natalia offering to visit Phillip with Olivia, and make sure she kept her strength up for whatever happened next.  Thank goodness Phillip has come back the man he was.  Unlike Alan, I think the writers will have Phillip embrace Otalia’s relationship and be happy that Emma is loved.  Liv has done a better job putting Emma first than Beth has with ANY of her children.

4.  Buzz Cooper.  Justin Deas?  He’s just a phenom.  His portrayal of Buzz’s refusal to accept the fact that Coop was dying  just broke my heart!  Justin Deas has proven that nothing replaces sheer talent in daytime.  You can’t buy the younger and cheaper pretty-but-pointless actors and expect to get the same powerful punch from a master performance like the one he delivered as Coop was passing on.  It just doesn’t happen.

I wasn’t looking forward to the Coopers going after Alan. Afterall, Coop crashed of his own accord, racing on icy roads to stop Beth from marrying Alan.  Now?  GAME ON!  I’ll be front and center!

HOT DAMN!!!! Stuff to love about GL!

What is it?…The tiki hut hospital decor that’s getting far too much airtime? Ah, no. Two words – Justin Deas (or his alter ego ”Buzz Cooper” if you prefer.) Buzz to Beth about her affair with his son, Coop:

That boy has a mind like Aristotle and writes like Homer…are you going to take that away from him, too?

JD’s Buzz Cooper is about the finest character GL has to offer. His performance yesterday makes you wonder why the writers are so reluctant to do more with this character.

As for the Buzz scenes we have been treated to the last few days, the dialogue was great, the delivery was perfect, and Buzz’s involvement has given this storyline the depth it’s been lacking. Why is it that Buzz has to be the one to remind Beth of the risk to Coop? Beth has become the most selfish person in Springfield and the writers have finally given fans a voice through Buzz. Perfection.

I had to check the channel to make sure I was still watching GL when Buzz warned Coop that men like Alan don’t go to prison but that people like them did. . He added that if Coop was going to pleasure Alan’s woman – let him know an hour before, so that he can kill Alan before Alan kills him.

Remy and Mel

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been rooting for Remy and Christina just to see more of Remy, but there are other reasons to celebrate this couple….we’ve seen more of Mel, too.

Their sibling chemistry rates with that of Alan and Alex and Dinah and Bill. Remy and Mel just happen to be the most wholesome of the sib pairings.

Ah, Christina, all bets are off now that Ava has come back. Count me in as part of team Rava!

The Lewis Clan

Reva, Josh, and Shayne… how could we not have the Lewis family back together? I only wish the writers knew how to introduce a male character without making him so angry (Jon, Rafe, Grady….) Once Shayne is beyond the ”angry young male syndrome” I can’t wait to see more of the Lewis clan.