Deep Soap: New Faces

First Impressions

This week two new soap characters made their debut: The Young &  The Restless’s Tuck and General Hospital’s Steven Lars Webber.  Tuck, played by William “the Dad from Boy Meets WorldRuss had his first major scenes with Jill (Jess Walton), making me hope that she will finally get a decent love interest.  His “billionaire pretending to be a member of the proletariat” schtick has been done many times before, from Ned Quartermaine pretending to be pharmaceutical sales rep Eddie Maine on GH, to Conrad Hilton pretending to be an ordinary wedding guest the first time he met Don Draper on Mad Men.   Victor Newman even pretended to be a butler during his initial pursuit of  Nikki on Y&R.  Since many fans originally speculated that his character was a replacement for Victor’s, it was a nice meta touch.  The flirtatious scenes were well written.  Jill has a history of hooking up with working class men, so I bought her slipping him her hotel room number.  Tucker seems appropriately shrewd, cleverly revealing exactly who he was through his dialogue.  Russ is an experienced actor who had no trouble establishing his character is a driven yet playful man who enjoys throwing people off balance.  Yet, to me, he lacked sex appeal.  I was not sure why Jill deemed him worthy of a booty call. Granted, he is outside of my target demographic, but there are plenty of 60ish men on soaps who are appealing and charismatic.  I hope that side of his personality will come out when we see him in business mode.

Scott Reeves has turned out to be an incredibly appealing recast of Steven Lars Weber, who in his last incarnation was a jerk with weird hair.  Since GH already has the world’s youngest attending brain surgeon in Patrick Drake, it is only fitting that it now has the world’s youngest Chief of Staff.  Reeves barely looks older than he did when he joined the cast of Y&R back in 1991.  I am thrilled that GH has decided to add another doctor to its cast, especially one who is a member of the show’s original core family.  Any character who has nothing to do with the mob is a welcome addition.  Coupled with the arrival of Patrick’s orthopedic surgeon ex Lisa, it’s a good sign that GH is going to devote some time to its titular hospital again.  Steven’s first scenes also featured him obscuring his identity, appearing to be an ordinary person offering advice about a patient.  I believe that makes this a soap trend.  Maybe I’ll show up in a white coat the next time I go to the doctor, just to throw everybody off.   Reeves quickly established himself as a believable doctor, displaying the necessary authority to be a very young Chief of Staff.  He had instant sibling chemistry with Becky Herbst’s Elizabeth, who could really use some brotherly advice.  He also seems to be a good judge of character, instantly pegging Rebecca as someone who could not be trusted. (Tangent: Rebecca, like Claudia before her, has become so much more interesting now that she is being written as an irredeemable bitch in preparation for exit storyline.)   Though little information has been released about his future storyline, his job and his uh, lack of tallness, could make him a potential love interest for Robin if her marriage hits a rough patch.

Hit You Over The Head

Kudos to One Life to Live for its sensitive handling of the aftermath of Nick’s gay bashing.  I was concerned it was going to be a cliched storyline.  The thugs who beat the hell out of Nick were one dimensional, though I imagine the people who commit hate crimes in real life are not particularly nuanced thinkers.  Instead, it proved to be a thoughtful exploration of the psychological impact of the crime on Nick.   His speech about how how he behaved recklessly because he felt like Dorian being appointed Llanview’s  faux lesbian, gay marriage legalizing mayor changed everything brought tears to my eyes.   It made me realize that gay men often have to take the same safety precautions as, well, all women.  OLTL as usual managed to interweave so numerous characters and storylines into the incident.  Nick’s attack managed to interrupt Kyle and Fish’s romantic almost-sex scene. (These two are getting the 80s supercouple coitus interruptus treatment.) It brought Schuyler and Gigi closer when they ended up intervening when the bashers turned up at Rodi’s.  Marty used her own experiences as a rape survivor to counsel Nick.  His attack did not just impact him, it affected the larger Llanview community.

Jerry Birn Remembered

Jerry Birn, a longtime writer for Y&R and The Bold & The Beautiful passed away last weekend at the age of 86.   Birn was the embodiment of old school The Young & The Restless, owhen writers stayed with the show for decades, Bill Bell had complete creative control, and soaps were still glamorous.  He met series creator Bill Bell when they were both working in advertising in Chicago during the Mad Men era.  In the 1980s he joined his longtime friend on Y&R’s writing staff, writing breakdowns and assisting with longterm story.  Soon, Y&R became not just a job, but an important part of his personal life.  He met and married Patty Weaver, who plays Gina.  His daughter Laura Bryan Birn played Lynn, Paul’s lovestruck assistant, for several years.

I had the pleasure of working with Birn when I was the story coordinator for The Young & The Restless.  Birn was one of the most cheerful people I have ever met. No matter what crisis was brewing, he always had a smile on his face.  He treated everyone who worked on the show with respect, no matter what their job title was.  I remember him persuading me to try his signature cocktail, the Navy Grog, at a party — a big mistake on my part.  He could easily drink me under the table.  He will be missed by everyone who was ever a part of the Y&R family.

A Viewing Note

Friday’s entire episode of The View will focus on All My Children’s move to Los Angeles.  If you miss it when it airs, you can watch it in its entirety right here on fancast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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