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Soap Opera Digest, May 20, 2008

 

Photos from the Luncheon

Editors' Choice: May the Farce Be With You

It was around the time that they started stripping the minister ("I'm pretty sure the church put out a pamphlet frowning on this sort of thing," quipped Henry) that we realized it: The writers finally are back at ATWT, and whatever you think of what they did before the strike, boy does it show.  Because even though they came home to a bit of darkened disarray that may have been some of their doing as well (Flighty, flirty Katie, who took years to get over Simon, was suddenly done with Missing Mike and Rebound Jack and madly in love with Brad, whose proposal she quickly accepted), they soon set about tidying house ... and not just by sweeping any of the past couple of months' nonsense under the rug.

Instead, the show addressed the absurdity of their own preposterous plot twist (Katie's fourth wedding in as many years, to her latest "true love") in a nuptial farce full of snappy repartee, crackling with self-awareness and popping at the seams with slaps(ch)tick.  With her  most recent ex-husband (Jack) still technically available and not thrilled about becoming her brother-in-law instead, Katie was stunned by another ex-husband (Mike) showing up precisely as she accepted another man's proposal - a haunting callback to first love Simon's 2004 tease, with Mike ironically in the role of the potential interloper.  "Hello, Angel," he huskily intoned upon seeing her in her wedding dress, making her heart melt and her tears, well, just like Simon's first back-from-the-dead "Baby" had four years before.  (It was even affective with newcomer Jon Prescott, who slid nicely into the role on the chemistry-laden strength of that one endearment.)  Through a series of mishaps, including some tough love at arguably the wrong time from sister Margo (Ellen Dolan, excellently walking a fine line as the wrenching, but not overly maudlin voice of reason regarding Katie's hasty plunge into marriage No. 5), Katie ended up with a Man Of Honor (ex-husband Henry), while Jack (guilted into standing up for his brother) and Mike (hoping for a last-minute change of heart) were Best Men, indeed.  On top of it all, thanks to Brad's boisterous, boyish excitement over their upcoming ceremony and their local celebrity status, Katie was coerced into tying the knot live on WOAK, to Kim's ratings-craving delight (played by the divine Kathryn Hays, with the perfect balance of no-nonsense professionalism, gentle compassion and deadpan exasperation), with three of her ex-husbands as witnesses (!).  That's when the minister went catatonic from stage fright and Henry stepped in (wearing pilfered robes), while Margo (pretending not to care) and Tom tuned in from home, tossing out critiques like it was Oscar night.

It was all silly and unrealistic, true, but Trent Dawson (Henry), Terri Colombino (Katie) and Austin Peck (Brad) always make comedy look effortless, while Michael Park (Jack) and Prescott played generous straight men, rounding out a perfectly time ensemble performance.  Henry's sparkling homily - delivered directly to us, with a cheeky wink through the fourth wall - about how marriage is like a TV show, sprinkled with nods to Nielsen boxes ("hopefully many"), focus groups ("best to take their advice with a grain of salt") and "our core couple," showed that good dialogue and game actors can make you smile in spite of yourself.  Obviously, there were interruptions - all meant to give us plenty of giggles as we watched a couple we were just warming up to declare their happily-ever-after intentions.

The result may give us a confused shrug, but the execution?  They definitely cleaned up.

 

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