Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Is That A Bar of Soap in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?" Junk Cinema Salutes Ronn Moss

If you are a soap opera fan--and with the world situation being what it is currently, who isn't?--you no doubt reacted with sorrow and disbelief to the news that Ronn Moss will be leaving the CBS daytime drama "The Bold and Beautiful" this September after spending 25 years (!) trouping as fashion designer/ladies man/baby maker and all around rich person Ridge Forrester.

Whether this beloved character will be killed off or recast with another soap hunk remains to be seen. Moss has been with "B&B" since its debut in 1987 when it was created as the sister show for "The Young and the Restless". Set in glitzy L.A., "B&B" centers around the lives and loves of the Forrester's, creators of the high-end fashion house "Forrester Creations" and referred to (at least on the show) as "the first family of fashion." Ridge is the favorite son of the clan, as well as its head designer.

For fans of Junk Cinema, Moss's parting with "B&B" is yet another sign that soap operas haven't got much time left as a TV genre. Already "As the World Turns", "One Life to Live", "All My Children", "Passions", "The Doctors", "Loving", "The Edge of Night", "The Guiding Light" and "The Search for Tomorrow" have all gone to the soap dispenser in the sky. Their disappearance means that one of the finest repositories of ham-bone acting, cringe worthy dialogue and cheap special effects on network TV will soon be gone, too.

The boom years for soaps came in the early 1980's, when the shows stopped being about coffee drinking housewives, nervous breakdowns and life threatening illnesses and sexed things up with espionage, evil multinational corporations, mobsters, paternity mix-ups and (in the summer, at least) Romeo and Juliet teen romances. Throw in some alien abductions, kids that age 20 years in two months and folks coming back from the dead on a regular basis and you had a daily Velveeta banquet that was hard to resist.

Of course, it helped that soaps were cast with actors long on looks and short on talent. That is especially true on "B&B", where EVERYBODY is a hard bodied looker clad in the latest fashions, always ready to strip of their shirts or parade around in a bikini or take a shower at a moment's notice.

In Ronn Moss, "B&B" found the perfect soap hunk. Tall with a gravelly voice and killer cheek bones, Moss reacted to every crisis imaginable with the unflinching demeanor of a chump hit in the back of the head with a 2x4. Except for blinking his eyes or raising his voice, Ronn's most impassioned performances were rarely better than wooden.

In fact, Moss had already begun developing his own cheesy cachet before he began working on "B&B". In his pre-Ridge days, Moss was part of the Muzak group Player, which cursed us forever more with their musical whine "Baby, Come Back". Best of all was his appearance as "Rowdy Abilene" in "Hard Ticket to Hawaii" (1987), a movie that's tag line boasted, "This ain't no hula!" So true. After all, this was a flick where a toxic waste ingesting python easily out acted the human cast, which included two Playboy centerfolds (as DEA agents, no less) in their thespian debut. Ronn, naturally, was the cuddlemate of one of these agents and he got to deliver this signature line of dialogue after spying a fellow doing a hand stand on a skateboard: "Man, he must be smoking some heavy doobies."

Should "B&B" decide to write the Ridge character out completely, it may well deprive the show of its most enduring storyline, the Ridge-Taylor-Brooke love triangle.

For the entire length of the show, Ridge has either been married to Taylor (a brunette medical doctor or psychiatrist, depending on the writers' whims) and fooling around with Brooke (a blond fashion designer and former Valley Girl) or married to Brooke (who his mom Stephanie doesn't like) and fooling around with Taylor (who his mom Stephanie does like). Ridge has children with each of these gals (3 with Taylor and 2 with Brooke). He has taken an occasional break from sleeping with Taylor or Brooke and gotten involved with other females, like nutcase Morgan DeWitt. In Ridge's defense, however, Morgan did drug him so he would impregnate her. A shoving match between Taylor and Morgan ended with Morgan miscarrying, so the nutcase retaliated by kidnapping toddler Steffie and making it look as if the tot had drowned.

Perhaps the biggest challenge Ronn/Ridge ever faced was when wife Taylor came back from the dead on the very day he planned to remarry Brooke (who had delivered Ridge's baby only moments earlier). Originally everybody thought Taylor had been shot to death, but, no, Middle Eastern Prince Omar had whisked her away, leaving a life-like body in the casket. Somehow Taylor escaped and made it home just in time to stop the wedding. This development, of course, caused no end of  upheavals that are still being ironed out today.

When one considers all the ups and downs Ronn/Ridge has been put through these past 25 years, it's understandable that the guy would have to pull the plug eventually. But as any soap fans know, death is never permanent. As Moss noted on his Facebook page, "Hang in there with me...we have a wonderful new journey ahead of us." More muzak? Another soap? A sequel to "Hard Ticket to Hawaii"? Anything is possible in the soap universe.

 "Have faith, be strong," Ronn counseled his fans on Facebook, although he could just as well be talking to Brooke or Taylor, "knowing I'm eternally yours."

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