Changes are a' brewin' folks! Although I still think there is a long way to go before OLTL is "must-see" television, the new writing regime has made great strides in trying to make each episode exciting and full of surprises. The writing is tighter in regards to certain stories, and the attention to history is significantly better. In particular, I've noticed that Viki and Duke have shared airtime together talking about his current lovelife, his mother, and his relationship with Kevin. FINALLY! I was beginning to think that this grandmother/grandson relationship would never be acknowledged. Then, as Viki and Dorian were driving to the construction site in hopes of finding clues that would lead them to Todd and Blair, they were arguing (as usual) about a number of things, but Viki made a reference to the time Dorian hit a pregnant Jessica and left her on the roadside. These small touches of historical reference really do make all the difference, and it also reminds us viewers of the vast history this show has! Congratulations for that, OLTL. With that said, there are two specific stories that I've changed my thoughts on: Cristian's return to Llanview and Todd's kidnapping.
First, perhaps we should consider it a blessing in disguise that Cristian is once again leaving the Llanview canvas. His return has been nothing short of confusing. At first, I thought it was lackluster since everything just sort of fell into place too neatly. Everyone just reacted as though he went off to the grocery store and just got back. Then, it seemed as though Cristian wasn't really Cristian, but the clues then led viewers to think Cristian was just programmed to kill Tico and Antonio. Now, Cris isn't really Cris after all? Huh?
It's not as though the scenes have been tedious to watch. The drama that unfolded as "Cris" kept Antonio at gunpoint was pretty tense. Even though it was obvious Antonio would emerge from the confrontation unharmed, it was interesting to see the emotion that plagued "Cris." I liked how he fought to keep control of himself despite the voices inside of him urging him to kill Antonio. Those were pretty powerful scenes. I also thought the interrogation scenes following that with John, Evangeline, Jessica, Natalie, and Antonio were filled with just the right amount of tension. "Cris's" revelation that he killed Tico was long overdue, and it led to the revelation that he was an imposter. Clearly, John was suspecting this for quite a while, so he wasn't as surprised as Natalie and Antonio seemed to be. I suppose we'll have to wait for the details of this revelation, but to be honest---I just don't care. By creating such a convoluted plot, the writers have left me apathetic. At this point, send the imposter to jail or out of Llanview and let everyone else move on.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is how the story will play out. My hunch is that before "Cris" leaves Llanview or goes to jail or disappears, John will receive the DNA results that prove "Cris" isn't an imposter after all and will keep the results a secret from Natalie and everyone else. The February previews released by ABC a while back indicate that when Cristian leaves Llanview, John will be the person dealing with ramifications of the departure instead of Natalie, who was the grieving widow the last time around. If this turns out to be true, I suppose John will have reasons for withholding this information, and it will ultimately lead to the long-awaited (by some) love triangle between John/Evangeline/Natalie. It will be intriguing to see how the triangle plays out once the extra piece of that "Quad" (i.e. Cristian) is removed. I said from the beginning that having Cristian be a part of this love "Quad" made no sense, because there is no way Natalie would choose John over her husband. But believing that Cristian is still dead might be all that Natalie needs to hear in order to move on with pursuing her feelings for John and actually giving Evangeline a fight for her man. Even though I hope Evangeline ultimately wins this fight, I hope that the rocky road to that victory is filled with some great ups and downs! I'm willing to take the ride.
Cris's return to Llanview was supposed to be the much-needed jumpstart to help the show return to its former glory. But now that it's wrapping up, all it did was create confusion and a feeling of "who cares?" While I'm glad Cris returned to rid the world of Tico Santi (a character long-overdue for dismissal), I just fail to see what useful purpose he presented to the existing characters, other than to allow Natalie to possibly reconcile her feelings.
Then we have the kidnapping of Todd and Blair. Just a couple of weeks ago, I reported how much I despise this rip-off of Stephen King's masterful novel, "Misery." You won't believe this though, folks, but the show has won me over on this tale. Before you get ready to send me emails asking me to defend what might seem like pure insanity, let me give you my rationale for the change of heart.
When this story first started, it was ridiculous. Margaret, a character with such minor connections to the show that it's difficult to remember where we've seen her before, wanted Todd to supply his "seed" so she can bear her child. The kidnapping lasted well over a month before anyone became suspicious that Todd might be a victim of a crime. That month was a long, tedious one. I had no interest in the story or the outcome. And other readers have also pointed out the similarities to another story Dena Higley penned on "Days of Our Lives," but not having seen that show or that story, I have been unaffected by that criticism. All I know is that once other OLTL characters started to become aware and involved in Todd's disappearance, and once the stakes of the kidnapping were raised with Blair's abduction, I suddenly became completely engrossed in the story.
Margaret is such a wacko character that I couldn't help but laugh out loud when she donned her blonde wig and lip-synched to Blair's song. I couldn't help but keep my fingers crossed when Todd got through to Starr and Dorian on Blair's cell phone, and I was also optimistic when I realized Margaret's car and Viki's might collide together and end this crazy roller coaster of a story. This story has brought Viki and Dorian together in some great classic scenes of arguing and bickering. It has re-established the bond between Todd and Blair. In fact, it makes us actually root for the two of them to triumph over this lunatic, and it also creates suspense and danger that the show desperately has been lacking for a long time.
Even though I still roll my eyes whenever Margaret demands Todd to sleep with her so she can become pregnant with his child (this is such an idiotic plot point that I just have to choose to overlook it), I have found the story to no longer be stale and from one-perspective. When the suspense was only about Todd trying to escape from Margaret while everyone else in Llanview just assumed he left town, I didn't care. Now that the danger involves a myriad of people (including Starr who was almost kidnapped herself), I am anxious to see the resolution of the story. Supposedly Kevin and Kelly become active participants in this finale, and there is also rumor that the show is going on location to film the climax of this story with a car chase and explosions. If the ending of the story is gang-busters, then I'm willing to forgive the show for such a lackluster start.
This just goes to show that a story we might initially love or hate can go north or south in just a matter of days.
I hope everyone had a great Super Bowl Sunday. As I finish my column, I anxiously await for the kick-off and for the hopeful victory of the Philadelphia Eagles! Living just over an hour from Philadelphia, this is a long overdue Superbowl treat for us!
Enjoy the week,