This one was tough, gang. I mean really tough. I would challenge Brian Frons, ABC Daytime President, to create a top ten list of what is hot and what is not for each of his three daytime shows every three months. If the "hot" list is tougher to create than the "not" list, there are some areas he needs to crack down on. Unfortunately, OLTL is one of those shows. (If you missed the What's Not list, please click here to read last week's column)
Now, with the negativity out of the way, I am happy to report that there definitely are bright spots in Llanview, and if these shining lights of hope are nurtured, then we are going to see the tide turn in Llanview. There is a great line in Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR spoken by Brutus which reads: "There is a tide in the affairs of men/Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune" (Act 4, if anyone was curious). This is the time for OLTL to see its tide turn so that ratings improve and critical praise is once again heaped upon it.
10. Starr is happy. Isn't it refreshing to see young Starr stop brooding over the state of her parents' marriage? Isn't it a nice change of pace to see her stop manipulating everyone around her so that she gets her own way? Ever since she met Travis, she has been focused on HERSELF for a change (not to imply that in the selfish, ego-centric manner, but rather that she isn't worried about the lives of the others around her for a change). After being totally blunt and honest with Matthew about her feelings of friendship for him and that Travis is now "her first priority" she even pointed out to Matthew that jealousy is what ripped her own parents apart so he should try not to allow the emotion take over him. She is growing up very quickly, and it will be alarming to see the rate at which her physical attraction to boys changes over the course of the next few years. I hate to say it, but Starr is exactly the kind of person to use her own physical features to lure and perhaps manipulate a guy into doing what she expects...but that's a story for a much later time!
9. Trevor St. John as Todd. I never, ever would have thought that anyone could replace Roger Howarth. When St. John was announced as the newly restored Todd, I resisted at first. I didn't want to accept him in the role, nor did I want to entertain the changes that his version of Todd would bring. Over a year later, I am hooked on THIS version of Todd (interestingly, they aren't that different!). I love the nuances that St. John brings to Todd; his impatience coming through in his body movements, his dry humor, his outbursts of anger all make Todd the same troubled and tortured man we've known for a decade. Not only has Todd essentially remained the same character, but St. John is a blockbuster actor! He carries his scenes right along Erika Slezak, Kassie DePaiva, Robin Strasser, and everyone else with whom he interacts. The tender relationship between Todd and Viki is one of my favorite relationships on the show right now. The way he refused to let go of her hand while she was in the hospital for fear that if he did she would die was indicative of the love and devotion Todd is capable of showing every single day if he chose to. But he openly confesses his love to Viki, and that is why their relationship is so deep. He may have been overlooked for an Emmy nomination this year, but he will have one in the upcoming years. OLTL would be wise to hold on to this powerful actor when his contract renewal arrives.
8. The emergence of the Santi Family. OLTL has been in desperate need for a good villain, and Mitch Lawrence didn't make the cut. The potential deadly threat of the Santi family has the makings for a new crime wave to hit Llanview and to keep the Llanview Police Department very busy. Also, because they are introduced through Dorian and Carlotta (and also Paul's dealings with them), we have a reason for this new family to emerge. The writers just didn't suddenly say, "Hey, we need a new villain. Let's bring on this crime lord and his family..." That just wouldn't work. But to tie him to an existing cast member or two and give him a daughter (Adriana), now he has an Achilles' Heel. Like Renee was to Carlo Hesser, Adriana can serve as a weakness to this new crime boss. By the way, nobody thought he was REALLY dead when Dorian announced it, did they?
7. Bo and Nora seem to be on the way to a long-awaited reunion. I've always enjoyed this couple, and I was disappointed to see what a previous regime of writers did to them. So, in the capable hands of the writer who brought the couple first together, I have great faith that the second coming of Bo and Nora will knock our socks off!
6. The friendship between Dorian and Viki. This was originally part of my #1 "hot" list item, but it was so important and stood out on its own that I wanted to make it a separate item. For probably 30-some odd years, these two have battled one another. Occasionally, they would be amicable and put their differences aside for the sake of their friends or families. Sometimes life-or-death situations would necessitate a need for a truce. However, the genuine feelings that have emerged between these two, especially during Viki's latest health scare, has been energizing. Isn't it great to have these two characters with so much rich history put aside their fighting and their anger to just realize they have shared more than two people possibly could imagine in their lifetimes? Sure, they can still fight (and should still fight); those arguments are what makes them both feisty and strong women. However, a close bond and friendship now can add endless story possibilities for these two. I would love for them to team up together against the Santi Family or maybe some other threat to the Cramers or Buchanans. Stop fighting over the same man---not only is that storyline old, but it's beneath both characters. Keep the friendship alive and move these two to the next level of their relationship!
5. The never-boring Marcie Walsh. From hanging off a roof to crawling on the floor spying Antonio taking it all off at The Hook-Up, Marcie always finds herself in some highly unpredictable and unusual situations. Her loveable personality shines through the screen, and she makes even a boring story come alive. I'm happy that she's found love twice---with Al and with Michael, because her insecurity had been a big problem with her in the past. Also, it's been rumored that other members of her family may surface in Llanview, so the fact that Marcie is seeing her family intact means that the writers and producers are invested in this character. I know I'm glad for that!
4. The one-man comedy act called David Vickers. This guy cracks me up every time I see him. I don't understand why he isn't given a more prominent place in stories. He's definitely a supporting character, but he has proven that he is capable of pulling off some major stories, and I think the character works best when he mixes up a little of the conniving manipulations with the dry one-liners. He and Dorian make a phenomenal couple since they feed off of one another and also understand one another's quirks and ticks. Once he finds his niche in Llanview, we'll all be laughing through the hour!
3. John and Natalie. Let me clarify this and mention that this is a POTENTIAL "hot" list item. I like when there is honesty between the two of them, and I like when they work together. Once they get past their individual hang-ups and realize they have feelings for one another, I think this might be a couple worth rooting for! For now, I'm settling with their getting along. All I know is as long as Natalie is not with Paul, I'm a happy person! McBain needs some love---since he's been on the show, we haven't seen him in a significant relationship yet! Natalie just may be the one to fulfill that urgent need.
2. Roxy and Nigel are finally getting' it on! How funny was it when Nigel tried explaining to Asa that he and Roxy were "involved?" Asa could barely believe it! I've said many times now that I'm thrilled Nigel has taken on a more significant part of the show. He has always been part of OLTL's rich history, but in the past his presence on screen usually occurred every two months or so. Now, he's on several times a week. He and Roxy make an unusual and untraditional couple, yet they genuinely adore one another and create the only other humor on the show besides David Vickers' comedy. I think the two of these characters have great potential and could easily juxtapose themselves into the other existing storylines. Now that they are officially a couple, let's see what would happen if Roxy were to try to become pregnant with a mini-Nigel! Sure, they are both a little older than traditional younger parents, but how much fun would it be to see Nigel change diapers!!
1. Dorian, Dorian, Dorian! I absolutely love the way Dorian is being utilized on the show right now. Weeks ago, I correctly predicted based on my own sense of story-progression and not on rumors that Dorian would eventually fill the Chief of Staff position at the hospital. The writing was so obviously on the wall! Dr. Long was a sleeze-ball who wouldn't be sticking around forever (especially once he was caught for his illegal activities), and Dorian was doing a knock-up job in her Administrator role at the hospital. She was seen performing a real job almost every day she was on the air, and she was performing it well. It was easy to see the writers were setting her up for running the hospital. And it's a brilliant choice! She's a doctor, she knows medicine, she has an authoritative air about her, and she's a great actress! Why not give her a bigger role and position on the show? She is interacting with the Santi story, her own story with Adriana/Carlotta/David, and the Viki story. She's even throwing in her thoughts about the Blair and Kelly situation when needed. She is becoming a centerpiece of the show again, and THAT is what makes great OLTL viewing. Keep our veterans front and center in stories that put the focus on them AND the other newbies.
So, there you have it. You know what? There is a lot of potential over there in Llanview, and with some polishing and refining, the show just might ride that tide to fortune. I would love to hear what you think is "hot" on OLTL these days. Be forewarned though that I am taking a large group of students to Australia and New Zealand for three weeks. I return in early July. I will make attempts to access my email from overseas, but if you don't hear back from me immediately, it isn't because I have ignored responding to your message, but that I may not have accessed the internet.
Enjoy your start of summer,