Read Ryan's column from last week with his Best and Worst of 2005
Hello again, and happy new year to all of you! I am back for a brief moment to do one more column. Since I left, I have been insanely busy with relocating to a new state and adjusting to a new job. It's been an enormous undertaking and has been very time consuming. However, I have been fortunate to have been able to watch One Life to Live on a semi-regular basis. Based on what I was able to watch, here are the highs and lows of 2005. Looking back over the year, I find myself feeling ambivalent about the show. There were good and bad parts of almost every storyline. Generally speaking, the show has improved since 2004, and I am grateful for that. Since I generally prefer to end on a positive note, I will discuss the worst parts of the last year first.
The Killing Club:
When I first heard that One Life to Live was going incorporate the book The Killing Club in the show, I was intrigued. I love a good mystery novel, and after the horrible Music Box Killer storyline we had to endure, I had high hopes that this one would be different. I liked the idea of Marcie becoming an author and her being involved in finding the killer. However, the storyline never really fit in with the rest of the show. Most of the victims were people we didn't know, and the killer turned out to be a minor character that could disappear one day, and few viewers would notice. Hayes made a good psycho, but making him the killer was rather anticlimactic. Making Nick, another minor character, his accomplice didn't make sense and didn't add to the storyline at all. Towards the end, it seemed like the writers attempted to incorporate relevant characters. Natalie and Evangeline were kidnapped and had to fight for their lives to escape burning to death. It was a nice change of pace to see Natalie and Evangeline call a truce and form an alliance to escape. However, the story changed directions and became focused on the triangle involving Evangeline, John, and Natalie. The writers somehow made Natalie and Evangeline's survival into an episode of The Bachelor. It was offensive to hear Evangeline say that John was making a romantic choice when he rescued Natalie first. Evangeline is smart, and to see her use such faulty logic in analyzing her rescue made little sense. She is better than that, To make matters worse, Natalie was missing for what felt like months after John rescued her. I realize there were some questions about Melissa Archer's future with the show, but she was missing for so long that I almost didn't care if she ever got rescued. Finally, it was hard to watch the destruction of Marcie's character during this time. Everyday she said essentially the same thing: She felt responsible for every death that took place because of her book. She constantly whined and needed comforting. At the beginning, it was an understandable reaction. However, at some point, logic should have quickly prevailed, and she should have realized the murders weren't her fault. That is epitomizes one of the main problems with this storyline. There was very little logic in the characters' behavior, and the storyline has a whole made little sense. I would like to see One Life to Live avoid the serial killer storylines for a long time. Between this one and the Music Box Killer, the viewers have had to suffer enough.
Throughout the years, I have gone back and forth about Todd and Blair's relationship. It seemed like every storyline they had was made from the same formula. Todd would tell Blair a lie, Blair would believe it for a long time, find out the truth, leave Todd, and then take him back again. When they were both victims of Margaret's torture, it was a new chapter for the couple. They had to fight to get back to each other, and that was interesting. However, the story quickly headed back in the direction of Todd lying to Blair again. It didn't make sense that Todd would hide the what Margaret did to him in the cabin. Blair wouldn't have (and ultimately didn't) view it as Todd cheating on her. He should have known that. Then, he lied to Blair about what he was doing when he took Margaret out on the boat. Todd never learns from his mistakes, and Blair continues to believe whatever Todd tells her. It's events like this that make me not care if Todd and Blair stay together or go their separate ways forever. I am also tired of watching Blair fall for Spencer's manipulation. She refuses to believe that he is a creep that is out to get people. She defends him to everyone in Llanview and won't listen to anyone's warnings. She will look a fool again, as she has so many times regarding Todd. I believe that Blair has (or used to have) better instincts when it came to people. She needs to get those back now and use them! I don't want her being gullible to become a permanent part of Blair. She is smarter than this, and I want to see proof of that again. The good thing is, I am glad that she is not wrong about Todd's innocence this time. Of course, she is defending Spencer who is Margaret's killer, but at least she is right about Todd this time. Since we know that Todd didn't kill Margaret, I am having a hard time getting interested in this murder trial. Will Todd be convicted of the murders? He certainly could be. In real life, we've seen people be convicted of crimes with little or no evidence. Do I want to see yet another storyline take place in Statesville prison? Not particularly. If we have to watch this trial, I hope Spencer is revealed as the murderer before Todd is convicted. .
Nora's Disintegration and Her Collapse
While I thought the storyline involving Daniel and his secrets was one of the highlights of the year, the subsequent destruction of Nora is definitely one of the low points of the year. Nora felt humiliated after Daniel was exposed as Paul and Jen's murderer, which she had every right to feel. However, she then decided that Bo was responsible for all of it and that he had a malicious agenda to "get her back" for her affair with Sam. Several months later, we learned that this behavior could be attributed to her undetected aneurysm. However, it was just painful to watch her take her anger out on Bo and then cut him out of her life. To make matters worse, Rachel returned to encourage her mother's irrational anger towards Bo. Could Bo have handled the arrest differently? Maybe. Maybe not. Could Nora have listened to all of Bo's warnings about Daniel? Absolutely. For some reason, she didn't trust Bo's instincts regarding Daniel, and she refused to talk to Bo right before Daniel's arrest. The fact that Nora married Daniel in the first place was appalling. I don't believe she loved him. She had to convince herself to accept his proposal, and she only accepted it because Bo wasn't available. She didn't like the idea of Bo moving on, so she moved on too. She didn't know anything about Daniel, and that cost her dignity in the long run. Nora is such a smart character (most of the time) that it is torture to watch her make such bad decisions.
After the dust settled from Daniel's arrest, Nora all but disappeared. We saw her occasionally in her role as the district attorney, but she didn't really have anything to do. When she did return, we only got to see her for 2 episodes before she collapsed and fell into an indefinite coma. I realize this was done to facilitate the possible exit of Hillary B. Smith. However, it is an insult to have Paige shoved down our throats everyday while Nora, a well established and connected character, has disappeared. There were times in the past year when it seemed like the writers were asking to viewers to accept Paige as a replacement for Nora. They need to learn that they can recast Paige as many times as they want (recast #3 is on the way), but she will never replace Nora. Paige isn't even an interesting character, and we know very little about her. It is difficult to grasp the concept that so much effort has been made to find the "right" Paige, while Nora's future with the show was in jeopardy. Nora deserves a better storyline, and Hillary B. Smith deserves whatever salary she requests. In the new year, I want to see Nora wake up from her coma as the Nora we used to know and love, while Paige goes to the back burner. That's how it should be, and the people in charge at ABC need to make that happen.
She's been held hostage twice in one year, and she's had to choose between Cristian and John before. Please give her something else to do. Enough said!
Now, let's look at the good stuff!
Kelly and Kevin
I am thrilled to be able to include this in the highlights section of this column. A year ago, I didn't believe it was possible for Kevin and Kelly to reunite. Actually, I didn't want them to reunite. They had hurt each other so much, that they became miserable people. However, Kelly summoned the courage she needed to give Ace back to his birth parents, even when Kevin was against it. She even made sure that Babe, Ace's real mother, didn't go to jail for kidnapping by saying she gave permission to take Ace. She risked everything to do the right thing, and she started redeeming herself. At the same time, Kevin finally started taking some responsibility for his role in the destruction of his marriage to Kelly. Kevn and Kelly started to work through all of their issues, and they did it slowly. They didn't just jump into bed one day and decide that all was forgiven. This is what made their reunion believable. When Spencer started trying to win Kelly's affections, I was worried that she would fall for it and leave Kevin in the past. However, she realized that her connection to Kevin was too strong, and they've become the best couple on the show. Heather Tom and Dan Gauthier have chemistry that can't be ignored, and they have made these 2 characters enjoyable, and I never want to miss their scenes. Their recent engagement made their story even better, and I can't wait to watch their wedding. This show has a horrible reputation for having non-weddings, but this one had better happen!
Bo and Rex
Bo and Rex also make a wonderful "couple" on the show. I don't know if their relationship was planned, or whether it was an unexpected result of the storyline with Daniel, but it is definitely one of the best things about the show. They do comedy well together. Who can forget their scenes in the gay bar when Rex pretended like Bo was his boyfriend? Even more importantly, it was great to see Rex have a purpose. We discovered he makes a wonderful investigator, and he has better instincts than the entire Llanview Police Department combined. He is also like Drew in some respects, so Bo sees something in Rex that other people don't. He has given Rex a chance to prove himself, and Rex finally has a father figure in his life. My challenge to the writers this year is not to mess Bo and Rex's bond up. I don't want to see Bo turn out to be Rex's long lost biological father with a twisted revision of history. Leave them as they are, and let their bond grow. The actors are good, the chemistry is there, so all the writers have to do is build on what they have.
Daniel's Secrets Revealed
First, let me say I am not and never was a fan of Daniel. However, the storyline he was placed in last year was definitely one of the best times of the year. One Life to Live was the #2 soap for a week in terms of ratings because of it. There were so many characters involved, and it really was "can't miss" television. Jen's death was the saddest part of it all. Jen had finally gotten her life together and had made amends with her mother, only to be suffocated by Daniel. Lindsay's grief was heartbreaking and showcased Catherine Hickland's tremendous acting talent. Her death affected Lindsay, Riley, Nora, Bo, Rex, Marcie, and countless others. It also made Daniel's public arrest more interesting. Paul Cramer didn't have any friends, and few people were sad when he was killed. If he had only been arrested for Paul's death, it wouldn't have been such an emotional event for Rex, Nora, and Lindsay. It especially affected Nora, as she found out that her husband was cheating on her with another man, but he also killed someone she considered a second daughter. Nora gave me chills as she lashed out at Daniel while wielding a letter opener. I also liked the bond that Riley and Nora formed as the people who had been deceived by someone they loved. I doubt Riley will ever return to Llanview, but it was great to see Nora care so much about Riley and convince him to enter rehab. This story included so many character, most of them important ones, and it consistently held my interest. I do think it was wrapped up too quickly. Daniel and Mark both disappeared rather quickly after the big arrest, and we never found out what happened to Daniel legally. However, the story had twists and turns, high emotion, and it focused on main characters. This is what all storylines should be like. If more of them were like this, the ratings for soaps might be better. I hope One Life to Live will be the #2 soap again, or even #1. The talent and potential are there; they just need to be used properly.
Finally, I am shocked I am putting this in the "best" section of this column. When I first heard Jessica was going to have DID, I shook my head in disbelief. I felt like we had seen it all before, and that it wasn't plausible for Jessica to have the same illness as her mother. However, Jessica's alter Tess has been a lot of fun to watch. She has spunk and is completely different from Jessica. We know she is protecting Jessica from something, but we are still waiting to find out. Best of all, Tess introduced us to Nash. They make such a cute couple, and it has been interesting to see Nash's reaction to finding out that Tess isn't a real person. He is loyal to a fault, refusing to give up his crusade to "save" Tess from her family. Clint's return has added a lot to the story as well. It is great to see him come home toe deal with his family...and Nash. I was skeptical when I heard that Clint was going to be recast, but Jerry ver Dorn plays Clint perfectly, and Clint's presence adds so much to the storyline. I have enjoyed watching Clint and Viki worry about Jessica and argue about how to handle her illness. I am looking forward to watching them try to find out what caused Jessica to create an alter. I have a feeling the reason won't be revealed for a long time, but the storyline is still holding my attention of spite of it. Jessica is also going to have a paternity test done to see who the father (and mother) of her baby is, but I am sure there will be twists and turns in that as well. It will be interesting to see how this "square" of Jessica, Antonio, Tess, and Nash all works out. I just hope the storyline doesn't lose its momentum. Bree Williamson has done an outstanding job playing both Jessica and Tess; it must be challenging to play 2 characters at the same time, but she has excelled at it. With any luck, she will be given material that will allow her to show her talents throughout the new year.
Have a pleasant week!