Does anyone remember the Mark Burnett-produced reality series called "The Contender" that premiered a couple years back? Yeah, neither do I. What I do remember is the excitement of a fresh reality show made by the creator of the granddaddy of them all, "Survivor." I remember thinking that using boxing as a premise for a show mixed with the emotion and struggles that each boxer faced in his real world would make for must-see TV. It didn't happen. The guys were likeable enough, the show was slickly produced, and there sure was enough family drama that tried to pull at viewers' heartstrings, but do you know why the show fizzled? FEW PEOPLE CARE ABOUT BOXING! I mention this because OLTL viewers are now faced with the same situation while watching Cristian fight to be a contender in the boxing ring. And do you know what? I still don't care.
Let's give credit though to the producers who clearly spent time (and money) putting together a well-directed and well-shot boxing sequence. Viewers could have been forced to watch a lame boxing match shot in a tight studio with few spectators. Cris's fight was shot in a much larger arena with a real boxing area and spectators who resembled people who clearly love to attend these sorts of sporting events! There was excitement and some drama mixed in there, but I beg the question---is this interesting?
Here's the thing…in my speech classes, I am always talking to my students about knowing your audience. Never create an entire speech around a subject that will not apply to or interest your audience. Your audience must be able to RELATE to and UNDERSTAND the subject matter. That is the cardinal rule of creating a speech. Applying that to OLTL, it seems that the writers have lost sight of their audience, that 18-39 (or whatever the cut-off age is!) female core group. We know that is the key audience because ratings are closely monitored in that demographic area. That demographic is the second most closely-watched ratings group behind total households. It is the demographic used by advertisers in determining to which show they will throw their precious ad dollars. With that said, what makes the writers think that women in this age bracket will be interested in watching a boxing story? I don't doubt that there are some die-hard boxing fans among women, and I don't intend to make my premise sound stereotypical. But, boxing in general isn't a widely watched sport. I'm a guy, and I'm not even interested in watching it. Football, baseball, maybe World Cup soccer---those are sports that have large audiences and that attract more viewers. I just question the logic of having made an artist become a boxer. I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the writers' meeting when this was first discussed. Who sat there and actually thought this would have been a great idea and would attract a following?
What has emerged from this storyline that I do like is the tender relationship blossoming between Evangeline and Cris. I really like the baby steps that the show is taking with these two characters to help us root for them. I must admit that I'm still not there yet; I'm still intrigued by the possibility of a Todd and Evangeline pairing. Those two have that "it" factor that I can't stop watching. They are two complete opposites with completely different life histories that would make for a wildly interesting ride. Evangeline would be another Téa in Todd's life, someone who would ground him and show him what functional love is like instead of the dysfunctional kind he and Blair share. But I digress. Cris and Evangeline, for now, have a special relationship. They are still in that courting phase, and Evangeline has gone from a good friendship with Cris to something perhaps a little more. Instead of forcing these two down our throats, the writers are doing something smart and letting the relationship play slowly. That's the key to creating a successful couple. Speaking of Evangeline, I thought I would just continue to roll my eyes at yet another blind storyline. So often the blindness is just temporary (as I'm sure this will be as well), but the character becomes helpless and dependent on others. Evangeline, on the other hand, has embraced her blindness; she has drawn strength from her lack of sight and refuses to allow it to be an impediment to her career or her relationships with others. She was always a strong woman with a fierce determination, and I am thrilled that the writers are maintaining that quality in her and using it to show that she is capable of just as much as if she had her sight. I applaud the way this story is being handled.
And so, with a punch to the gut and a win by unanimous decision, let's move on to the rest of the non-boxing world in Llanview…
1. How about those scenes in the courtroom between Michael and David? Woah. Nathaniel Marston proved himself to be a contender for sure in the way he forcefully (yet with enough restraint to avoid physical confrontation) told David that his life was changed forever by the death of his father. Interestingly, he didn't have to shed a single tear to get the viewers to feel sympathy, the pain, or the regret that Michael had in never getting to grow up with a father. With all of the violent yelling and screaming that Michael Easton's John McBain has projected towards him in the last few weeks, David's reaction to Michael was one of complete and utter remorse. I think for the first time, David truly felt the impact of what his actions did to this family. Marston, in particular, deserves major kudos for a brilliant performance. I've never really been a big fan of his "new" character, Michael, since the death of Al, but this was one of the first times I sat up and took notice and thought, "Hey, I really like this guy."
2. Consider me thrilled that Robert S. Woods is finally getting a story of his own. Yeah, that's right…HIS OWN. He's been on screen nearly every single day, but he has always been supporting everyone else's story. Think about it…story hasn't revolved around Bo, but it's revolved around everyone else Finally, with Spencer's framing the Police Commish, Bo has the chance to play his own storyline, and it's about time. I loved the scenes when Bo said that Paige has got to trust him to be smarter than Spencer...that tells us that Bo is going to put on his "game face" and get down to some serious butt-whooping! I've had to suspend reality a few times with this story though---I mean, surely Bo could ask this morgue attendant when Bo was supposedly seen signing for these bodies and cross-check that date/time with where he really was. Seriously, Bo is ALWAYS in that police station---when would he have had time off to go to Kentucky, or wherever it was, and sign for these bodies. And for Hugh to question Bo's integrity is a bit slanted as well, but it does allow for some storyline opportunities, and finally allows Nora to talk law again.
3. Speaking of Nora, isn't it time for her to get out of bed? She looks well enough-her hair is combed nicely, she has make-up on, she's dressed well, she can talk well enough to make sense-so why hasn't she been discharged yet? Nobody has explained her current condition to us yet to help us understand. And why hasn't Bo been there to visit her? Or Evangeline? I'm thrilled that Nora is back, and I'm happy that she's showing improvement enough to start being weaved into current storylines, but I definitely wish we were seeing her more than one day a week!
1. Here's my take on the stalker storyline…if the show is going to want us to care about the life of the person being stalked, then it needs to find a person that the viewers actually care about. I thought about this a few times this week---considering that Adriana is supposed to be Dorian's daughter, why is she like a wet noodle? She has zero backbone and absolutely none of the Cramer fighting spirit. How in the world is this character meant to be taken seriously? Here is the perfect opportunity for the writers to recast this role and infuse some "Dorian" into her. Show some manipulative qualities or some of the feistiness that makes a Cramer woman a Cramer. Adriana has none of that, and as a result, she is victim to the fast-forward button. Always. It makes no difference to me that Rex's head is held under water---I know that he isn't going to be killed. Fast-forward. I just laugh when I hear her say, "Don't call the police." Uh---okay. Who is the stalker? I really have no clue, and I can't believe any current character we see on screen has so little time as to stalk this whiny little girl. I have a sneaking suspicion that the winner of "Who Wants to Be a Soapstar" will be revealed as the stalker and might be someone like River. But that is just my own theory.
A FAVORITE NORA MOMENT
So news has been released that SoapTalk, hosted by Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway, has been cancelled. So what better opportunity to give Nora a new storyline than by having Troy return to Llanview in the form of Treadway? Although Nora has always had a tumultuous relationship with Colin and Troy, nobody can deny the chemistry that always existed between the two. Until Troy started to go a bit wacky, he and Nora had an interesting relationship, and their relationship was the only one besides Bo that I actually could stand behind and support. Treadway and Hillary B. Smith clearly had a friendship behind the cameras that came through in front of the cameras on-screen. Once Nora got over the shock of Troy looking just like murderous Colin, it was great to see how Troy was the impetus in yet another feud between Nora and Lindsay. Here's a chance for the writers to utilize the under-played Smith and Catherine Hickland and also bring back a dynamic actor who brought humor and depth to his role.
Well, faithful readers, this is my last column for roughly a month. As long-time readers of my column know, every summer I take approximately 40 students overseas on a student ambassador trip that allows us to visit historical sites, to do some crazy and adventurous activities, and to spend several days with host families. This year, we are off to the Mediterranean (Italy, southern France, and Spain). A new columnist has finally been found to write with me every-other week, and she will begin next week. I think you will really enjoy her humor and history of the show, and I hope you embrace her with open arms as you have with me over the years. You'll also have a special guest columnist fill in during my absence---SOC Dawn! As you know, for many years, Dawn wrote the column with me, but she recently retired from it last year. She'll be back, though, for her own thoughts on OLTL! I will return at the end of July well-rested and ready to embark on the new plot twists that the show hopefully will have in store for me.
Enjoy your week,