I watched these in alphabetical order by show, then by last name:
Darnell Williams, John McCook, Maurice Benard, Anthony Geary, Robert S. Woods.
Darnell Williams as Jesse
Hubbard, All My Children
Airdate: March 30, 2011; Runtime: 12:01
Jesse tries to calm a very
pregnant Angie, who is experiencing contractions and pains. Angie is convinced that the baby is coming,
and they won’t have time to get to the hospital, so Jesse will have to deliver
it. Jesse calls for an ambulance, but it
doesn’t seem one will arrive in time.
Jesse pulls double duty keeping Angie calm and preparing as best he can
for a home delivery. Angie passes out
during birth, but Jesse successfully coaxes the baby from the birth canal. He is struck with horror when he realizes
that their littlie Ellie, as they’ve decided to name her, is not
breathing. He tries desperately to
revive Ellie, to no avail, as Brot arrives to help. Brot tends to Angie, but there’s nothing to
be done for Ellie. Jesse begins to
accept this awful truth when he hears a baby’s cry coming from a box that Brot
brought in, which had been left in his squad car, and Angie begins to regain
The reel overall is pretty good, but even before watching any of the
others, it’s hard to imagine this one can win.
Williams is strong in the first half of the episode, very natural,
appropriately emotional, suppressing his concerns and determined that all will
be okay. But the material in the first
half of the reel is fairly light. It’s
in the second half of the episode that things start to go very wrong, and we
get crying, shouting, and emotional outbursts.
Unfortunately, Williams doesn’t accomplish these with the same natural
ease that defines the earlier scenes. He
does a decent job, and produces everything he’s supposed to produce, but the
heavy emotion doesn’t feel authentic.
The crying and some of the outbursts seem forced. It also doesn’t help that the episode ends in
a way that seems ludicrous, with a newborn baby Brot just happens to have. Score: 6
John McCook as Eric Forrester,
The Bold and the Beautiful
Airdates: October 13 and 14, 2011; Runtime: 14:31
Eric has set up a romantic
surprise to celebrate the news that Stephanie’s latest test results show no
tumors, indicating that she’s getting better.
Stephanie goes along with the dinner Eric has prepared, even though she
is reluctant to celebrate or believe that she is really cancer-free. Eric gives Stephanie a gift, a piece from the
“Intimates” collection that he’s designed.
Stephanie has no interest in wearing this sexy ensemble, which segues
into a discussion of their relationship, and the role that sex and intimacy
play in their lives. Eric wonders if
Stephanie is somehow repulsed by him, as his very presence seems to make her
feel more sick than she is when isn’t around, and feels she uses her sickness
as an excuse not to be intimate with him.
Stephanie admits that, yes, she does sometimes use her charity work,
meddling, etc., as an excuse to keep him at arm’s length, physically. Stephanie says that Eric’s desire for sex has
ruined their relationship in the past, like when he married Donna and
Brooke. Eric admits that things haven’t
always been great for them, but he stands firm that he won’t apologize for
being a sexual person and shouldn’t have to feel badly about wanting to be
intimate with her. Stephanie says that
he deserves to have his desires and needs understood, but so does she. Eric says that just means that she gets what
she wants, and he doesn’t.
When this reel began, I thought it would be really boring, but it
turned out to be quite interesting and, much to my surprise, quite well-written. It snuck up on me a bit how invested I found
myself in the sophisticated exchange these two were having. McCook delivers his material well enough, and
is great at feeling his character’s motivations and desires. But there is not much to do otherwise, so
McCook doesn’t get to put on much of a show.
The scenes are also very short, so even some of the momentum that could
have materialized is zapped. Score: 5
Maurice Benard as Sonny
Corinthos, General Hospital
Airdate: July 21, 2011; Runtime: 13:05
Brenda interrupts a conversation
that Sonny is having with Carly because she needs to talk to him. Brenda is planning to leave Sonny after
learning about something he did to Jax to help Carly get custody of their
daughter Josslyn back from him. Sonny
doesn’t want Brenda to leave, and asks if she would stay with him if he agreed
to move away from Port Charles with her, to live in a nice house in California
and hand over his dangerous business to Jason and commute to Port Charles to
see his kids. Brenda says that would be
perfect, but Sonny says it would be a lie.
He says Brenda loves a version of him that she invented, that she’s never
accepted that the ruthless and dangerous man she is seeing now is the same man
he’s always been. He says that his power
is more important to him than anything, and he couldn’t give it up. Since Sonny can’t change, the two share a
sorrowful farewell. Carly returns, and
seeing Sonny drinking alone on the balcony, tries to comfort him, to cheer him
up. Carly can’t understand how Brenda
can have known Sonny for so long and not get him, but Sonny defends Brenda,
saying that she changed when she found her son.
He says he can’t guarantee the safety of Brenda’s son Alec, so she did what
she had to do. Later, he gets a call informing him that
Brenda and Alec have left with Jax, and mobilizes his plane to leave also.
This is strong work from Benard, and the reel serves him pretty
well. The reel drew me in right away,
and I got the sense immediately from Benard that something immensely important
was on the line, even as he’d barely spoken two words to Brenda. (Wow, I just realized Brenda is an anagram of
Benard, which is kind of crazy.) Benard’s
performance is quite restrained – he doesn’t yell, threaten or throw things –
but the emotion is certainly there throughout.
Even though his words are soft, there is a great roughness in the way he
plays the scenes with Brenda, a quality that is not there when he’s talking
about her to Carly later. Benard strikes
the balance of being a man who is sad that he’s losing this woman he loves, but
also fully aware that he’s choosing a life that ultimately makes him happier. Score: 7.5
Anthony Geary as Luke Spencer,
Airdate: June 13, 2011; Runtime: 17:56
Lucky finds Luke with a pretty
young woman and asks to speak to his father alone. Lucky apologizes for how he handled finding
out that Luke was the driver who hit and killed his son Jake, and for how
aggressive his efforts to force Luke to get treatment for being an alcoholic were. Lucky tells Luke that he should come home,
for the sake of his kids and his wife Tracy.
Luke counters that he was a lousy father and husband, and those people
who love him want him to be a version of himself that doesn’t exist. Luke tells Lucky that Lucky doesn’t even know
who he is, and he has no intention of going back to try to fit into Lucky’s
mold. Luke says that he never wanted to
be a father or a husband, that he grew up learning to be practical and really
all he ever wanted was the freedom to drink and lie and cheat, and have sex
with the prettiest woman he could afford.
Luke says that he’s sorry that he killed Jake, but that the silver lining
was that he felt liberated, having become so irredeemable that he no longer
felt the pressure to try to live up to anyone else’s expectations. Lucky leaves, and when the woman returns,
Luke tells her that he’d put his son in an impossible position by killing Jake,
for Lucky to have to love, to forgive, the person who’d taken his son
away. Luke says he freed Lucky from that
by making sure Lucky would hate him as much as he would always love Lucky.
This reel is a knockout. For the
first minute or two, I worried that Geary might be overshadowed by his scene
partner Jonathan Jackson, who is also excellent here. But once Luke begins to really engage with
Lucky, Geary digs into the self-loathing and self-deprecation and just lays
Luke bare. The performance is smooth and
natural, but intensely powerful. The
dialogue is excellent, and the scenes are luxuriously long, really giving Geary
time to build the emotional momentum that carries this performance to the high
level it reaches. The slight twist at
the end also works really well in that the character actually is redeemed to a
degree. If a viewer is turned off by how
despicable Luke makes himself for Lucky, some of that is surely undone by the
fact that his actions are, in large part, for Lucky’s benefit. Geary performs each scene with deft purpose, and
everything feels just right. It’s
interesting to note the similar themes between this reel and Benard’s. Apparently Port Charles is filled with
power-hungry men who know they are deeply flawed but prefer to keep loved ones
away than try to change for their sake. Score:
Robert S. Woods as Bo Buchanan, One
Life to Live
Airdate: June 14, 2011; Runtime: 6:26
Bo talks to Viki as he struggles
to decide the best course of action regarding his comatose son and his ailing
brother. Matthew’s doctors are not
optimistic about him ever waking up from his coma, and his heart is a match for
Clint, who is in desperate need of a transplant. Both Viki and Bo are still shocked by the
terrible things Clint has done, but neither of them wants to lose him. Bo doesn’t want to give up on Matthew, but
can’t help feeling that if Matthew never recovers, he’s basically killed his
brother. Nora arrives and says that
Matthew is looking better. She says she
confronted Clint about the situation, and he said he’d sooner die than have
Matthew’s heart. Nora says they’ll take
him at his word, and Bo needn’t worry about it anymore.
Woods does a good job of being sad and conflicted, but there’s
otherwise not very much happening in this reel.
It’s very short, and within that framework, the scenes themselves are
very short. It makes the reel choppy and
abrupt, and there is no build to anything emotionally interesting or exciting. During the scene where Nora enters, I get the
definite impression that I’ve missed what must have been the most exciting part
of the episode, when Nora confronted Clint.
Just her talking about it is about the most interesting thing on the
reel. That said, I can’t fault the work
that Woods does here. I was sympathetic,
but there is nowhere near enough material here to be competitive. Score: 5
Geary is head and shoulders above the competition, and this is coming
from someone who is not his biggest fan.
Not only is his acting the best of the bunch, but he also has the
longest reel, with the longest scenes, the best dialogue, and the strongest
scene partner. Add that to his history,
and I can’t imagine anyone else has a chance of winning.
In the race for second, I think Williams would have the edge. Benard’s performance and reel are stronger,
but the similarities to Geary’s hurt him just by comparison. Geary does everything Benard does and much
more. Williams’s reel and story are
totally different, and in terms of big acting (shouting and crying), he has the
most of it. I also think that Williams
would win a popularity contest between the two, and he’s got that “last chance”
thing going because his show’s been cancelled.
After that, I think Woods edges McCook, who I like better based on
performance alone, despite McCook’s reel being twice as long, on respect and
sympathy for his show being cancelled and his character’s plight. Eric wanting to get laid isn’t exactly
something that tugs at the heart strings.
Likelihood of Winning: