For the Week of June 7, 2004
I almost feel like I spoke too soon. Just two weeks ago, I reveled at how good OLTL was getting with Viki's heart transplant storyline. I loved the cameos by Clint and Joe, and I loved the drama that prevailed throughout the ordeal. But with Viki's crisis over, I am right back to the place I feel I started from before this story picked up steam. When it came time for me to ponder what shape and form this column would take this week, I had an extremely difficult time thinking of anything that warranted an entire column. Is there really anything overwhelmingly good about the show right now? Conversely, is there anything overwhelmingly bad about the show? My attitude is there is a little bit of both; there's quite a bit that I am getting excited about, but at the same time I'm feeling pretty indifferent about a great deal more. Therefore, as I've done in the past, I've created a top ten list of what is "hot" and what is "not" right now on OLTL. I will focus on the "not" this week and bring you the "hot" list next week (since it's better to end on the positive!). In descending order, I bring you the "What Is Not Hot on OLTL:"
10. Missing the details. Okay, I won't even pretend to know anything about medicine (after all, I am just an English teacher!), but I consider myself intelligent enough to realize that Viki's quick recovery after just receiving a heart transplant seems near-miraculous! At the beginning of the week, she was near death; on Thursday, she's trying to convince Kevin that she wants to leave the hospital to attend Jessica's graduation. On Friday, she's in a wheelchair listening to Jessica practice her graduation speech in a hospital lobby! Perhaps the only realistic part of her recovery is the fact that she is holding a pillow over her chest and wearing a face mask to protect her from germs. But are we supposed to believe that Viki is able to function the way she has after such a traumatic surgery? It looks like she was just in the hospital recovering from a minor surgery, not the major life-threatening kind she just experienced. Like I said, I'm not a doctor nor do I pretend to know what exactly she should be doing to facilitate a speedy recovery, but I just feel that she's a little too active and a bit more mobile than a normal person would be under the circumstances. Viewers notice the little details, and when those details are overlooked or ignored, believe me when I say that they notice.
9. Ewwwwww! Am I the only one weirded-out that Matthew has a crush on Starr? It isn't so much that MATTHEW has feelings for STARR, but I do have an ick-factor knowing that the young actor who plays Matthew is the real-life brother to the young actress who plays Starr. Maybe the writers felt that viewers who didn't know the relationship of the real-life portrayers needed to have the relationship of the characters explored. Hopefully that is the reason they have brought up Matthew's jealousy of Starr and Travis, and I'm glad that Starr has said under no uncertain terms that she and Matthew are just friends and will always remain such. But Matthew's persistence in trying to gain Starr's attention and affection is too creepy for me. Can you imagine how the real-life brother and sister feel knowing that this is being explored? I certainly hope the writers have the good sense and decency to put a period at the end of this relationship for good!
8. Killing off Ben. If only the writers had waited a few more weeks. Ben had to be killed off; we all knew it. Mark Derwin's role on Bonnie Hunt's sitcom seemed destined to keep him in Hollywood for a long time, so viewers clamored for a farewell to Ben so that his "Blondie" could move on with her life. But then when the writers concocted this marvelous send-off during which his heart would be the one to save his wife, we discover that his sitcom wasn't picked up for next season. BUMMER! Now viewers are left wondering if Derwin would have moved back to New York to resume his role on OLTL, a job he loved and a place where he had many friends. Is there a way to somehow lure Derwin back to the show in another role? Time will only tell.
7. Getting rid of Kathryn. Just as news breaks that the actress is being let go, I am finding myself getting to like the character. When was the last time we had a female character who had as much guts and confidence and ability to take risks like Kathryn? We needed a strong female law enforcement officer on the show who would battle it out with the guys. She and John McBain made a great duo; I wouldn't have liked them romantically involved, but I liked them as partners. Without giving her much a story or a chance to prove herself, I think this is just another character who will be sacrificed for some other ridiculous plot.
6. Relying on reality-tv stars to fill crucial roles. I'm all for the stunt casting; however, my stunt casting would be having Cord show up for another day or bringing back Judith Light for a couple days. But having Matthew Metzger (he was one of the 32 finalists for American Idol 3) fill the role of Duke Buchanan is not my idea of solid casting. From what I know about Metzger, he was dubbed a substitute teacher. How does someone go from substitute teaching to singing on American Idol to a role on One Life to Live? I can answer that: it's calling 15 minutes of fame. Now, we are potentially faced with an actor who is going to fill a critical role and might bring in a few new faces with his arrival (since people will be curious) but then what? What if he isn't really any good? ANOTHER recast? Why not make sure that the actor is the BEST actor for the role before filling it? Viewers can't take any more recasts and any more adjustments. We need better casting and better writing. If they wanted Metzger, bring him on for a couple of days as a singer who sings at the club with R.J. or Rex, but in a contract role as a Buchanan? Believe me, folks, I hope I'm wrong on this one, but I don't have a good feeling about it.
5. Paul. Let's face it, this guy just isn't working. I actually liked the possibilities of his character when played by his previous actor, but David Tom just has made this guy one giant sleaze-ball! It's quite apparent, the powers that be think this character can carry just about every story. After all, he's the one responsible for the baby-switch story plaguing both OLTL and AMC. He's also the one who will assist in bringing this new crime lord family to Llanview. But who really cares about him? Apparently not even his own sister! Natalie and Paul just don't make the cut, either. The more I see Natalie with Paul, the more I cannot wait for John and Natalie to make a connection. Throw Paul back to the wastefield, I say!
4. The lack of an umbrella story. Just when it looked like the Viki heart transplant story would fulfill this, the stories all went off in their separate directions again. Too bad. This show tells the umbrella stories really well. The baby switch story was supposed to be one, but the story focuses on just a select handful of characters. Every other story seems isolated and focused on just a small group of people. In order for Llanview to become more integrated again, we need to have stories that keep everyone interacting together. OLTL needs to find such a story that is interesting, engaging, affecting to other people, and significant. Maybe OLTL is the show to carry on the tradition started by the now defunct Port Charles: the telenovella, the short story arcs that last just 12 weeks but include everyone. Michael Malone toyed with this idea a decade ago and completed one little arc involving a woman who was being beaten by her husband and was assisted by beloved Megan Gordon. I recall that the critics gave his first attempt a big thumbs-down. But as a novelist himself, Malone might find this format right up his alley, and it might be the shot in the arm that viewers need to stay interested in this sagging soap opera that languishes in the bottom of the ratings!
3. Couples to root for. Jessica and Antonio had me rooting for them for maybe 4-5 days when he moved into Llanfair. Since, then they've gone back to snoozeville for me (remember, folks, before you send the nasty emails: this is just how I see them!). Natalie and John have potential---if they ever find their way to one another. Rex and Lindsay---that's all about sex. The whole convoluted Kevin/Kelly/Todd/Blair mess is just that--a mess! I see hints of a Todd/Kelly connection, and to be honest with you, I'd be happy to see that, because it's at least a change from the constant go-arounds between Blair and Todd and Kevin and Kelly. David and Dorian are perhaps the most entertaining and engaging couple we have, and they haven't even officially declared their "I do's" for one another yet. Every relationship needs some pain and struggles to make it interesting to watch, but we also need to see some fun and exciting times as well. Let's see some more Bo and Nora!!
2. The baby switch storyline. I had such high hopes for this story when I first learned about it. However, after several months of its inception, I am of the feeling that the story isn't serving any real purpose. Its biggest impact is felt on AMC where Bianca is the real loser because of believing her baby is dead when in fact she is being raised by Babe whose baby is being raised by Kelly on OLTL. Poor Bianca! She never gets a break, and this story is surely going to drag out for another year or so before it's ultimately unraveled. AMC is dealing with this tragedy most effectively; OLTL is using Ace as Kelly's tool to keep her and hubby Kevin together. Since the baby is rarely shown anymore, I barely feel the presence of this story at all. Paul shows no remorse for what he has done, and maybe what we OLTL viewers need to see are more AMC crossovers. Let some OLTL viewers who never tuned into AMC see Bianca and Babe in Llanview coping with the mess created by Paul. Let OLTL see the "overall picture," not just a snippet of one. In order for the vision of this story to be fully realized (and I'm sure it was realized this way in the board room when writers and producers got excited about it), every aspect of it needs to be shown, including the AMC part.
1. The destruction of Kelly Cramer. Speaking of Kelly's role in the baby-switch, is there any other character more destroyed and butchered than Kelly Cramer? Now, let me clarify this. I think Heather Tom is a good actress. She is certainly better than Tracy Melchoir's interpretation of Kelly, and she can hold her own in any scene with any actor. It's not Tom's fault that the writers have written the character the way she is supposed to play it. My problem is that Kelly has morphed into this character I barely remember! When she first inhabited Llanview, Kelly was feisty, spunky, and even a little sneaky. She was certainly no "angel," but she had heart and she was a likeable character. When Kelly returned in Melchoir's form, she was a mousy, spineless politician's wife who would get on her knees and scrub a kitchen floor if that is what her husband asked her to do. That certainly isn't the same Kelly we saw when she left with Kevin. She was an independent and spirited young woman who had a sense of identity and a sense of self. Now, we are supposed to believe that marriage made her a Stepford Wife? I don't buy it. When Kelly took on the form of Heather Tom, she became desperate and underhanded. She's willing to pretend a baby is hers in order to save her marriage. She's willing to "sleep with the devil" (i.e. Todd) to keep her secret. And she's mixed up in lie after lie after lie. If I didn't know better, she and Todd are more alike right now that I care to imagine. This character has disintegrated into one I barely like and cannot root for. At least the first form of Kelly was someone I liked to see on screen everyday; now, she's just a nuisance.
So there you have it. I'm certain I could extend the list beyond ten, but these were the ten that stuck out most to me. I hate to criticize the show I've been watching for almost two decades, but without criticism, a show cannot improve. Next week: the ten things I find "hot" about OLTL (I'll have to start thinking of them now!).
Enjoy your week,
Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.