After I wrote my last column on the improvements made to OLTL, I was surprised by the number of people on SoapCentral.com's OLTL message boards who thought the show was still lacking in a number of different areas. Having only just started visiting the Message Boards after the incorporation of them and the Two Scoops column, I was awakened to an entirely new world of opinions. I must say on the record that I am completely impressed by the level of intelligence shown at that board. People disagree and share conflicting points of view, but they do so in a mature and respectful way that encourages discussion and a variety of points of view. Quite frankly, this is what will make me continue to visit and post on the boards beyond my Two Scoops column discussions. I thoroughly enjoy the comments and discussions that take place there. Kudos to all of you! And if you haven't checked out the boards yet, I encourage you to do so! With that out of the way, I decided to take a look at OLTL as a whole--the good, the ugly, and the in-between. With another group of high school students behind me, I'll do one last report card especially for the show!
The Killing Club Murders: C
Okay, here's the deal with the KCM---I really loved the idea of a cross-promotion between the release of a real novel called "The Killing Club" and the fact that Marcie Walsh (a.k.a. Michael Malone) wrote the story. I bought the book, and I actually have it packed as my first read on my annual overseas student trip to London and Paris (where I am right now as you are reading this!). But, the story is completely lackluster. A couple of non-contract characters were killed, and Natalie has appeared to be a target as well. Maybe once I read the book, I will have more insight into this, but after reading the first few chapters a few weeks ago, I couldn't see any correlation between it and the show.
The problem is that there are no high-stakes involved in this story. The suspense isn't high, the tension is non-existent, and nobody seems at all concerned about this killer anymore. Maybe that is because Llanview has become immune to serial killers. First, we had the Music Box Killer, then we had the Paul Cramer murder, then we have this KC murderer. It's called over-dose. Give the fans a great, compelling murder mystery with surprises, and we're all for it! Give us a lame excuse to promote a book, and we're half asleep!
Even with internet rumors running rampant that Ron, Marcie's brother, has potential to be revealed as the murderer means nothing to me. What do we even know about Ron? Zilch. He's another recurring character who hasn't ever had a decent story of his own. Had he been pulled into other stories and become a likeable part of Llanview, a potential reveal like this would be shocking and interesting. However, on the heels of naming the D.A. as a cheating gay killer, revealing a seemingly nice guy like Ron as the next murderer probably isn't a smart move.
There is so much I love about this story. First, I have never been a huge fan of Bree Williamson since she took over the role of Jessica. Let me clarify that: I have no issue with the actress herself, but I just didn't like her incarnation of the character. However, with the introduction of the spicy and sultry Tess, I have been transfixed to the screen for this story. The contrast between the two characters is startling. It's also fun to watch Tess manipulate people, as Niki Smith always did, into thinking that she is really Jessica.
But this story is about so much more than Jessica's trauma that she apparently suffered as a youth that set this second personality into motion---it's about Todd's involvement as well. Todd has emerged as someone completely devoted to his family. He and Jessica have always had a special connection; she's been able to get through to him like nobody else rarely could. But to see him confront the issue head-on and directly is showing that Todd really has learned something from his "encounter" with Marty during a drunken episode. I love watching Todd take care of his family and do what he thinks is best for them...he's actually thinking about someone other than himself!
This story has also brought in Erika Slezak's Viki. Sitting on the backburner for a long time, even though she's been on screen in some wonderful scenes (especially her recent ones with Kassie DePaiva), Viki is finally becoming part of a major story in a major way. Finally succumbing to the medical condition she has been faced with for some time, Viki's heart condition is a way to put this story into overdrive and also buy a way for Viki to presumably leave the canvas for a bit to get better while Erika Slezak enjoys her annual vacation. When she returns, I'm sure we will all be assured some major explosions once Viki finds out her daughter is battling the same condition she thought she'd never have to confront again. I am eager to see how Tess's new boyfriends works into the equation, and how we can keep this spitfire around for a little while longer.
Daniel's Arrest: C+
The immediate fallout from Daniel's arrest was spot-on. Everyone seemed to have something to say about the D.A.'s arrest and his involvement in a number of indiscretions. However, after a full week of Daniel-mania, it suddenly just ended. Mark disappeared, Daniel wasn't seen anymore, and even Lindsay's grief was ignored. Only Nora and Bo continued to deal with the ramifications of this spectacular reveal. Why the sudden wrap-up?
This is definitely one step back for the show. There is a plethora of story to play out from this mess. Lindsay, in particular, has been faced with great, juicy material, and poor Catherine Hickland is without a contract! Her scenes this week with Hillary B. Smith during which the two hugged and both prayed Daniel would be prosecuted for his crimes was a great OLTL moment. Lindsay turned to Nora and said, "My whole life has changed...I can't even hate you the way I used to!" A great, tender moment shared by two characters with such a rich and complex history. It was such a small scene, but it said so much. Also, all of a sudden, Nora gets a confession out of the guy! She's spent two weeks prying him for the truth and doing everything in her power to get some answers from the creep, and then she walks in one day and says, "I'm not wearing wires, I just need to know the truth." Bingo! Daniel admits he's guilty of it all. What?!? Some stories seem to drag on forever without end in sight (Killing Club Murders), and this story which has potential to last a while ends in the blink of an eye.
Spencer's Introduction to Llanview: B+ A dynamic actor in Paul Satterfield has emerged in Llanview, but the writers have to be sure not to put his hands into every cookie jar in town! A couple people on the Message Boards have pointed out that this is the second go-around of Tico Santi. On the one hand, I can see the reason for the comparison: Tico arrived in Llanview, and he was suddenly involved in every storyline and everyone's business. However, the difference is obvious---the chemistry that Satterfield has with all of the other actors is unparalleled to the pathetic acting of...I don't even remember the poor guy's name!
What I really like about Spencer is that he has been logically linked to a lot of people on the canvas without having it be forced down our throat. Todd and Blair are linked to him because he saved Jack's life. David has obvious sibling ties to him. He's taking a liking to Kelly in an unusual sort of way, and the biggest shocker is that he and Paige had been married! As a result, Bo has taken an idle curiosity to the man. But none of us know anything about Spencer (other than that David believes he is not to be trusted). There is great mystery here, and I'm compelled to watch. Satterfield seems to be the perfect actor for this role, and he is bringing a suave, sophisticated take to this mysterious role.
Furthermore, I love what this storyline is doing with Paige. I've always been a huge Kimberlin Brown fan, but I've been sorely disappointed with her misuse as Paige. She's essentially been window-dressing for Bo. Now, she's involved with David's brother and seems to have this background with the man, and I'm hooked. I want to know what's hiding in her closet. Unfortunately, the role seems to be continuing without the fabulous Brown in the role, as she is choosing not to make her cross-country commute to finish the role. I'm hoping another high-profile actress will fill Paige's shoes. It seems the producers are committed to this character as well, since the soap magazines report that OLTL offered Brown a contract, but she opted not to take it. As a result, the role will be recast. This says a great deal for the future of Paige!!
There are so many other stories I could comment on (Carlo's return, Margaret's return, Ginger's duplicity), but these stories are too young to give an honest assessment of quite yet. What I will do, though, is give a few thoughts of what the show should continue doing and what still needs improvement.
Areas of Excellence: 1. The little scenes between characters. I absolutely loved recent scenes between Nora and Evangeline & Viki and Blair as they were just sitting on the sofa or at the kitchen table talking about life. Nora and Evangeline, the best of friends, talked about Nora's stupidity of marrying a gay killer and of Evangeline's recent break-up with John. As two friends do, they consoled each other, supported each other, listened to one another cry, and offered advice. It gave viewers a chance to really see what each character was thinking without those awkward inner monologues or the like. Similarly, Viki and Blair talked about their own lives; Blair talked about her happiness with Todd, and Viki shared her insecurities at being kept in the dark about Jessica's problems. They were just great touches that really enhance character development.
2. Continue the balance of stories and of characters. I don't have to have every character in a major story, but I enjoy seeing the characters on screen, even if it is just to carry a short conversation with someone else on the canvas. I'm not overwhelmed by any one character or any one story (hello General Hospital and Sonny Corinthos!), and I have recently felt like I could tune in on any given day and find a few things I really am excited about.
Areas to Improve:
1. Keep the couples happy for a while. Whether you like them or not, leave Todd and Blair alone for a while (or at least just allow them some temporary happiness before putting sicko Margaret back into their lives). Please allow John to pick one woman or the other, and give Viki a new beau. There are actually so few full-fledged couples on the show right now that it doesn't feel like there is much love on the show right now. Kevin and Kelly are working their way together, Marcie and Michael are non-existent, Lindsay and R.J. are never seen together, and Jessica and Antonio don't count because of Tess's emergence.
2. End this nonsense of a triangle between John/Natalie/Evangeline. I'm all for a triangle, and I'm even all for this one, but it doesn't go anywhere! Sure, Natalie has shown her desperation by finally deciding to go for the man, and Evangeline has decided she needs to hear the "l-word" from John. However, John just wants to keep things status-quo. At least he told Nat he doesn't love her---that's some progress in the triangle, but please (!!!!) make a choice one way or the other. Recent Soap Digest indicates David Fumero is ready to be making a return to OLTL as Cristian. Wonder what that will do to this triangle---especially when it is revealed John knew that Cris is really the one behind bars!
3. Do something with Duke and Adriana. SNOOZEVILLE!!!
As I mentioned earlier, I am enjoying the sights of London and Paris for the next 19 days, so I will not have regular access to email/internet during that time. Any messages you happen to send I will not have a chance to read until early July. I hope that when I return, OLTL hasn't taken a nosedive and that I'll be looking forward to watching the tapes from my trip----otherwise, I'll be doing a lot of fast-forwarding!
Enjoy your week,