Thursday, October 16, 2008

To the Limit

It's mega-clipset time again, kids! Today GLMP presents a whopping 45 clips from August and September of 1998 that detail the swirling mystery surrounding the strange goings-on as the mothers of Springfield become the targets of nursery rhyme-themed acts of terrorism.

We're all aware that this storyline culminates in the regrettable and unforgivable choice to cast Holly as a mass kidnapper at the beginning of 1999 (as detailed in the Parent Trap blog entry), but what's interesting to realize is that the beginning of this storyline wasn't half bad. Obviously and unfortunately, it bears a lot of the hallmarks of the Esensten/Harmon-Brown hamfisted school of soap-writing, with characters like Beth presented as a mustache-twirling villainess most of the time for trying to assert her rights as a mother and Phillip and Harley congratulating themselves on what wonderful people they are while perpetrating one despicable act after another.

It's important to look past that in order to enjoy this clipset which boasts a lot of other really fine qualities, chief among which is a brilliantly effective performance from Maureen Garrett. Garrett's portrayal of vulnerable, fragile Holly, freshly abandoned by both Roger and Fletcher (who also absconded with her infant daughter), as she deals not only with her own anguish, but also with the increasingly boneheaded choices of daughter Blake (who, in this clipset, comes off as a screechy, needy user and tramp, but that's Esensten and Harmon-Brown for you) is truly a wonder to behold. Bear in mind that, at this time, Garrett had no idea how horribly wrong this story would go for her. She had this to say to Soap Opera Digest after the fact in 2000:

"This 'Nursery Rhyme Killer' story started, and we were all wondering who it was," Garrett laughs. "It never occurred to me that it might be me. Then, a couple of weeks before the reveal, I started hearing rumors that it was me! So I went down and said, 'Are the rumors true?' 'Yes, they are.' The actress was stunned. "It felt very unfair because as an actor, you want a chance to develop something like that, something so extreme. It's difficult with warning, but with no warning, it's worse."

So these scenes that you see playing out in To the Limit are not Garrett "playing crazy." This is still the real deal Holly: flawed, neurotic, beleaguered, not the psychopath she was forced to portray mere months later.

Another interesting feature of this set is the last days of the lovely Karen Williams in the role of Vicky Spaulding. Vicky disappears in the middle of this set and would not reappear for another month and a half played by Victoria G. Platt, the person most associated with the role and who would play Vicky until the the character's next abrupt (and permanent) disappearance from the show in 2001. For my part, I think Williams was pretty good in the role, certainly no worse than Platt and with a lot more appealing screen presence.

Other notable aspects to these clips include the presence of Mick Santos as Ben and Blake's blackmailer. People forget that Mick was the only Santos on the show for quite some time. Also, Signy Coleman's casting as Annie was, I believe, still a secret at this point. If memory serves, I think the viewing audience still assumed that "Teri" was a new character.

Additionally, the odd return of Ken Norris, played by Roger Newman, as a red herring in the stalker mystery seemed very arbitrary to me at the time these episodes initially aired, but knowing what I now do about the history of the show, I'm fascinated by the character. To make a long story short, Ken (who was a main character on the show from 1970 to 1975) married Ed Bauer's mistress, Janet, but couldn't overcome his jealousy of Ed (or Roger, whom he also thought Janet was sleeping with). As his mental state deteriorated, he plotted Ed's murder. He was finally taken away to an asylum after shooting Ed in the chest. The Ken character was swept off the canvas in the mid-70's during Jerome and Bridget Dobson's housecleaning era to "modernize" GUIDING LIGHT, a time that also saw the departures of Leslie Bauer, Joe Werner, Peggy Fletcher, and Tim Ryan (Jordan Clarke's original GL role). A more detailed history of Ken can be found in his SoapCentral profile.

Finally, if these 45 clips aren't quite enough of the story for you, you can see how Blake's passion for Ben led to the situation where Ross shot her and put her in that wheelchair in Loaded Gun, which occurs before To the Limit.
To see what happens afterward when Phillip and Harley finally get married, Alexandra meets Vicky, Annie takes control of Josh, and Holly's growing hysteria indirectly causes Jenna's death take a look at Forsaking All Others. And, of course, for the climax of Holly's kidnapping of all the children, Parent Trap is your destination.

And at long last, enjoy To the Limit---

clip 1 , clip 2 , clip 3 , clip 4 , clip 5 , clip 6 , clip 7 , clip 8 , clip 9

clip 10 , clip 11 , clip 12 , clip 13 , clip 14 , clip 15 , clip 16 , clip 17 , clip 18

clip 19 , clip 20 , clip 21 , clip 22 , clip 23 , clip 24 , clip 25 , clip 26 , clip 27

clip 28 , clip 29 , clip 30 , clip 31 , clip 32 , clip 33 , clip 34 , clip 35 , clip 36

clip 37 , clip 38 , clip 39 , clip 40 , clip 41 , clip 42 , clip 43 , clip 44 , clip 45


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