Author Topic: On and Off -- Episodes 123 & 124  (Read 1436 times)

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Offline Luciaphile

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On and Off -- Episodes 123 & 124
« on: March 19, 2006, 08:05:07 PM »
One little fashion note. I apologize for the paucity of these. Everyone's wearing the same clothes so other than the first appearance of Mrs. Roger Collins, there's nothing to comment on.

First episode is directed by John Sedwick and written by Malcolm Marmorstein, who also wrote the second. Lela Swift directs the second.

Laura first appears in the full regalia of the Ladies Who Lunch. This includes a smart hat, a wool suit, scarf, gloves, and handbag. The initial effect is very chic. I believe Diana Millay was pregnant at the time which may account for some of the figure issues. However, I'm inclined to blame the suit itself. In the first place the jacket is double breasted. If a double breasted jacket makes Nancy Barrett look wide imagine what it will do to anyone else. It's also got a scoop neck to it. The scarf is there, but the overall effect is to make Millay's bust look lower than it is. Again, not the most flattering look. Still, she carries herself well and I'm loving the gloves.

Day 22

Matthew's mental state: deteriorating rapidly. He tries to reassure himself that he is rational all the while talking to Josette's portrait which is glowing on and off. He runs out. It's interesting really. On the one hand, the man is speaking to an inanimate object and expecting a response. On the other, it's been established that Josette is indeed a ghost. Not that this should make anyone suppose that Matthew is anything less than totally crazy.

Next scene is the coffee shop. I'm kind of glad it's back; I've been missing it. There's only so much "scope for imagination" that you can get out of the bookcase room. I am only disappointed that there are no extras.  Maggie's wiping down tables when Joe comes in. They flirt. I should mention that the makeup department has done a nice job making the studly Mr. Crothers look tired and bruised. Vicki's name comes up. Maggie is unbelievably flip and clearly unconcerned. "She'll turn up somewhere." She's far more interested in learning about Joe's statement that he's done with Carolyn.

When Carolyn was picking out "Chopsticks" on the piano, at least it made sense in terms of her character. She's seventeen and self-absorbed. It wasn't admirable behavior, but it was understandable. I honestly don't think it was the writers' intent for Maggie to be so totally blase about it. The problem is Kathryn Lee Scott. Her reactions to everyone in these episodes are all kinds of off. I think Maggie is supposed to be displaying concern for Vicki, who after all is supposed to be her friend, but being as encouraging to Joe as possible. Instead she comes off as a woman in heat who is throwing everyone friends in peril and all to the wolves. It's very weird.

And then there was Laura. Until the credits roll, it's not at all clear who she is. Neither Joe nor Maggie recognizes her, although Joe seems to find something vaguely familiar about her. There is for a few minutes that distance from them that "locals" are rumored to feel for strangers: speculation, reserve, caution. Once or twice in my life I've gone into restaurants in smallish towns where the crowd is usually 100% local and I've felt that.

David is at the Old House with his daily sack of groceries. He calls out for Matthew. Matthew doesn't respond. I'm not sure if it's because Matthew is just too far gone or if he's freaked by David's voice which sounds a little like the voices of the ghosts who were calling out "Matthew" the other day. He's hiding in the bookcase room and accidentally knocks over a candlestick. David seems to register the sound. He's no dummy, this kid. He leaves, only to peer in through the drawing room window and see the bookcase open.

Maggie is a lousy waitress. Let's just get that out of the way now. She manages to drag herself away from the guy she's trying to land just long enough to hand Laura a menu and then she's back to flirting with Joe. Only when Joe leaves does she go back to doing her job. She starts pouring a cup of coffee for Laura without asking; acknowledges that she's got a bad habit of doing that, but doesn't offer to bring the woman anything else. Yikes, Maggie has been a waitress for five years.

Maggie is particularly annoying and again, I think it's the fault of KLS. Diana Millay is really quite marvelous despite her. She's dazed and very off (but in the right way). I realize that a large part of Maggie's character is based on denial and detachment, but there's detachment and there's detachment. Maggie's chattering away to someone who clearly isn't interested. Laura shuts her down every now and then which seems to register with Maggie.

Before we continue with the Laura plot, on a very important note, Maggie actually mentions Christmas.

She seems to think that's why Laura's back in town to spend the holidays with her family (yes, she got that much out of Laura, but no more). Laura begins to pump Maggie with considerably more subtlety. Laura is largely interested with the Collins family. Maggie is far more forthcoming than I would have expected. She is not a fan of Roger and is sharply critical of David.

Speaking of the littlest sociopath, he and Matthew finally connect. David's usual disarming sweetness fails him. Matthew grabs him, shakes him. David, not unnaturally, feels that leaving is a good idea. There is not a lot of room for negotiation with a crazy person, but David eventually manages to persuade Matthew to release him. When Matthew leaves to get water, David sneaks back into the Old House and opens up the bookcase room.

David removes the gag. Vicki is totally focused on getting the hell out of there. BTW, Alexandra Moltke is quite marvelous in these episodes. David doesn't feel the same urgency. There's an uneasiness that I feel with this scene every time I see it. You just know that he's not going to release her and you're waiting for her to realize it too. He's standing in what has to be a foul-smelling, dark hole of a room. Vicki's been bound and gagged and looks like she's been there for months. She is battered and bruised. But David doesn't make a move. David is "off" in the sense that he is not quite normal in his thinking and it's not the naivete of a small child. It's the right kind of off. Vicki, whose mental processes are far sharper than they've ever been, realizes she's got to do something so she shrewdly tells him that Matthew doesn't trust him. David finally begins to work on the knots. Unfortunately, Vicki happens to mention that she'll be going to the police, which freaks David out and he runs away.

Meanwhile Laura sits in the empty coffee shop picking at her food. Millay brings a melancholic quality to her scenes. Maggie jabbers away about the manslaughter trial and Burke's post-prison adventures. Laura seems alarmed to learn he's staying at the hotel, but sits and smokes. Maggie in turn tries to get information out of Laura. She manages to learn Laura's last destination which was Phoenix, Arizona. Maggie likes the idea of travel, I think. Can't say that I blame her, but if she's hoping for any tourism tidbits (e.g. Taliesin West, the Heard Museum, how Phoenix rates compared to Tucson) she's out of luck. Laura does share the legend of the Phoenix. Maggie seems to think this is a nifty idea. I am going to be charitable and say that neither Marmorstein nor Scott was thinking that burning to death was the good idea. The appeal, not that you can tell, seems to be the idea of a new beginning. Maggie goes a bit too far with the prying, and Laura puts her right back in her place.

I cannot emphasize enough that 1966 Laura is a very different, much more complex character. Millay gives this performance a greater degree of nuance than I had recalled. Again, KLS is way, way off. I'm not even sure what she was trying for, but it's not working whatever it is. She seems to be in another scene entirely. I guess the problem is (to my non-theatre trained eyes) that she isn't reacting to her co-stars.

David and Matthew come face to face in the woods. BTW, it's storming to beat the band (no rain). David's lies aren't working at all. Matthew grabs him and is about to drag him back to the Old House. David gets away.

Meanwhile Vicki is working on the knots as best she can.

Laura's back is to the side entrance when Sam comes in. She spots him and is instantly uneasy. Sam has been on a bender. KLS is slightly better here. The lightness works because she manages to convey the pain and brittleness behind it. Maggie suggests leaving for Phoenix, AZ (change of pace/new climate). I have not yet been to Phoenix, although I will travel there in a few months for a library conference, and I've heard the scenery is beautiful and that the dry heat is something. Since the problem with Sam is not TB, I'm not sure how changing locales will help him. Neither is Sam. Maggie points out Laura Sam can't see her face, but begins to grow nervous. He sneaks out.

Vicki finally frees herself. Unfortunately it's at that moment that Matthew returns. He suspects David, but she's got the kid's back.

And then to prove that there is a first time for everything, our next shot is of David running into Collinwood yelling for his father.
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Offline michael c

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Re: On and Off -- Episodes 123 & 124
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2006, 04:32:49 PM »
i was mesmerized by diana millay the minute she walked into that diner.loved the hat and gloves.i just thought her delivery was very interesting.as you said luciaphil,melencolic as well as sort of tired and weary.it's almost as if she knows the battle she is about to undertake will take everything she's got.

i sort of liked maggie's scenes with laura.she knew she was in a nowhere town and laura's tales of far-off places must have seemed exotic.they do seem to be struggling with who this character is here however.is she the nosy town gossip or the good girl from the wrong side of the tracks?i think her most effective scenes early on are with david ford.

and you have to cut maggie some slack for her aggressive pursuit of joe haskell(even though it is wildly inappropriate here when vicki's in such danger).snagging the town's hunkiest fisherman from the clutches of it's most spoiled brat must have been an irresistable proposition.

i'm almost through with the full run of the show and i really want to back and re-watch the laura storyline.
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Offline Luciaphile

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Re: On and Off -- Episodes 123 & 124
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2006, 02:57:29 PM »
i sort of liked maggie's scenes with laura.she knew she was in a nowhere town and laura's tales of far-off places must have seemed exotic.they do seem to be struggling with who this character is here however.is she the nosy town gossip or the good girl from the wrong side of the tracks?i think her most effective scenes early on are with david ford.

I was watching the next two episodes and it was a total contrast. She's spot on. Right level of concern, right level of emotional distance. I think she's just a very uneven actress.
"Some people ask their god for answers to their spiritual questions. For everything else, there is Google." --rpcxdr-ga