One Woman's Opinion
Rona Barrett's Daytimers, July 1980
by Joanne Theall
Article Provided By Wanda
Ryan's Hope is currently suffering from a bad case of Silliness. Viewers are presented with RH's version of Jaws (Siobhan and the killer shark on Long Island beach); Godfather (Siobhan rescuing Tiso from a hospital 'hit' like Pacino saving Brando's skin); King Kong (Delia and Prince Albert) and Lolita (Kimberly and Seneca). These shenanigans could be tolerated from a beloved cast, and inspired writers, if this nonsense generated a sense of fun. But, alas the folks at RH are grimly serious in this movie carbon-copying. Helen Gallagher and Bernard Barrow are unsinkable characters out of Dickens, who have luckily escaped this new movie mania. Gallagher adds grit and humor to the saintly Maeve, while Barrow's Johnny is a prickly, marvelously human Archie Bunker type. Together they project a joyous image of mid-life marriage.
After her stunning performance in Prime-time's The Dain Curse, the only question is - how does RH keep Nancy Addison 'down on the farm'? Addison isn't your conventional pretty face, but she acts (like Kate Hepburn). Her sensitive handling of the death of son Edmund, brilliant scenes of drug withdrawal, and her spunky fight to free herself from the cloying, dominant Seneca Beaulac (handsome John Gabriel) are a few of Jillian's stunners. Addison's last scene of interest was the elevator love-in with Frank (played by the best Frank yet - Daniel Hugh-Kelly), which rivaled the camera-circling love scene between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. TV sets steamed up, viewers were glued to their sets with visions of lawyers, Jillian and Frank as daytime's answer to The Thin Man or Hart to Hart. Then everyone noticed that the dynmaic duo was relegated to shuffling papers in a dreary office. What a waste!
Speaking of waste. Faith (Karen Morris-Gowdy), after stirring scenes with departed husband Tonm, is presently reduced to wandering around gulping down gallons of booze. Fascinating trouble-maker brother Roger (Ron Hale), Adam (exciting Stan Birnbaum), and Jack (Gregory Peck type Michael Levin) are all earnestly looking for something to do.
The splendidly devious Rae (Louise Shaffer), whose daughter Kimberly (Kelli Maroney) has to be the most obnoxious character written since rapist Ron Becker on The Young and The Restless, is currently being stifled by this teen wonder. Unfortunately for the Kim-Seneca romance, horrid Kim looks about 13, while passionate Seneca looks a dashing 45. Would Walter Cronkite have a thing with Tatum O'Neal? Never!
Ilene Kristen is sorely missed in the role of Delia Reid Ryan. Her Delia fashion, Delia logic and Delia nerve were all masterpieces. The New Delia (beautiful Randall Edwards) is fragile, endearing and hopelessly miscast. Delia's Crystal Palace, before The Godfather and King Kong wrecked it, would have been the perfect setting for Kristen's Delia plots and schemes.
Recent highlights have included Siobhan's (Sarah Felder) courtship with Joe (tentatively played by Richard Muenz) and their glorious wedding; Mary's job/marriage conflict; Rae's behind-the-scenes type manipulations of senator Frank; Fenelli's love of two sisters, and the religious conflict in the Pat/Nancy romance.
RH has taken viewers outdoors realistically, which needs to wake up viewers. Mary and Fenelli's honeymoon in Ireland, Faith and Tom's woods and waterfall scenes, boat and beach scenes were all exceptional. Also exceptional is the positive force of the Ryan family unit. This family togetherness is real. No one is soppy, sugarly, or good-to-the-core. The Ryan's scrap, yell, and makeup with their Irish pride intact. Family love was demonstrated by last year's Mother's Day celebration. Frank, Pat, Siobhan and Mary (senselessly killed off) were all standing at Ryan's Bar singing a sappy song to mother Maeve. It was dumb and corny--but it worked.
RH viewers are admittedly spoiled. Accustomed to the sterling quality of writing formerly turned out by Labine and Mayer and crew, lesser work tends to generate annoyance. After we have enjoyed the real stuff of the trials of the Frank/Jill/Seneca triangle; Tom and Faith's unusual relationship; Mary and Fenelli's tumultuous courtship, and Pat's bout with drugs and Delia - how can we be expected to take this movie-copy silliness seriously?
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