Paul Cramer and Tico Santi. What do both of these men have in common besides the fact that each of them was a slimy creep and abhorred by not only the citizens of Llanview but also the viewers of "One Life to Live"?
Never to return to Llanview.
Murdered by someone we know.
Both killed within just a short span of each other.
Herein lies the problem. Now I have no problem with a show setting up a good murder mystery. Heck, I even switched networks last year and tuned into NBC's "Days of Our Lives" to check out the serial killing spree that was going on. I'll admit to being intrigued and fascinated by the way that show went about taking risky moves by eliminating, one by one, its popular and main characters in grisly fashion. Part of the fun was reading the message boards and reading what crazy theories the fans had concocted. In the end, the "murderer" was revealed to be Dr. Marlena Evans, played by the star of the show, Deidre Hall. So, ratings went up, and the show received critical and mass praise. But then what did the show do? It turned around and came up with some lame plotline that revealed everyone wasn't really murdered. Say what?! That's when I tuned out and never returned.
There is no doubt that murder mysteries are red-hot in the world of television. Look at the success of shows like "CSI" and its two spin-offs, all of them in the Nielson top 20 shows every week. "Law and Order" has a myriad of different spin-offs, each with its own success. Even the guilty-pleasure, new hit show of the fall season, "Desperate Housewives," saw its biggest audience yet the week it heavily promoted that one of the housewives would be murdered. Viewers love a good murder mystery!
Unfortunately, OLTL doesn't have the makings of a good mystery in either Paul's death or in Tico's murder. The show is batting an 0-2. First of all, I can't fathom why the show would try to tackle two murders at the same time. If I am a writer and want to hook my viewers into watching the show, I would take my time and plot out a mystery that encompasses the entire cast and casts doubt towards a number of people with plausible reasons for doing the killing. Adding a second despised victim to an already-in-progress mystery baffles me completely.
Second of all, neither of the victims are people we even frankly cared about. Paul Cramer? Thank goodness I don't have to watch him on-screen anymore! Weeks after he switched the babies (which, by the way, if you didn't see the final reveal on "All My Children" to Bianca that her baby is alive and was switched by Paul, you missed phenomenal television!), Paul became desperate and pathetic. It isn't even that he was a creep that bothered me, but it was that he was just so amoral. He never really made an attempt to have an honest job, and he was always looking for a way to earn money without actually earning it. Helping to steal vital organs from a hospital, blackmailing, stealing---did he ever think about doing anything that didn't involve committing a crime? I frankly couldn't stand the character, and I never liked the way David Tom portrayed him. Tom is a fine actor, but he just didn't make me want to love or hate Paul; rather, he just annoyed me. So, when Paul was killed, I think the majority of viewers breathed a sigh of relief....ahhh, no more creepy Cramer on my television screen anymore. Did Dorian do it? Did David do it? Was it Natalie? Could it have even been someone in Pine Valley? Does anyone honestly really care? No. And that is precisely the problem. If Paul were someone we missed seeing cause trouble, then we would maybe watch to see who took the law into their own hands. Remember the good ol' days of the "Who Shot Carlo Hesser" murder mystery? Or even the "Who Shot Michael Grande" murder? Those were great, great mysteries. The murder mysteries of 2004 are rushed and sloppy.
Then we have Tico Santi. Again, with the performance lacking in substance, it is really tough for viewers to feel any emotion for the character other than, "Get off my screen and let my favorites have some time, you camera-hog!" Tico was hated alright, but not because of what he did to other characters; he was hated because of the amount of story the writers gave to him. With our voices heard, the producers gave us our wish and cut the character from Llanview. Why can't that be good enough? Why must someone be implicated in his murder? Wouldn't it have been sufficient for Tico to die from the gunshot would he received? Now, we have to wonder who Jessica saw through the window pulling the plug on Tico. Some have speculated, including myself, that this is the story vehicle for Jessica's own multiple-personality storyline. Perhaps one of her own alters pulled the plug? But, frankly, does it matter? Who would blame Cristian for doing it? And Antonio had ample reasons to "off" his brother. And could you imagine the sloppy writing in allowing Natalie to be implicated in TWO murders? What a riot that would be.
I'm a sucker for a good, old-fashioned mystery. It just figures Michael Malone would run out on his last hurrah and leave us all with a feeling of "so what?" But then again, that is the only feeling I've had during this past tenure of his. Bring on Dena Higley!
Enjoy the week,