Many of OLTL's hottest fall stories are with us, and while they might be providing some conflict and drama for the characters in Llanview, the same can't be said entirely for viewers. With some stories switching gears (Paige now isn't responsible for Thomas McBain's death and Hugh might not really be the Truman son after all), I'm going to take a look at the status of OLTL as we get ready to move into one of the most important advertising months on TV.
Spencer: The Next Buchanan Heir?
Like most viewers, I have grown very tired of looking at Spencer Truman on my television screen nearly every single day. His despicable behavior in setting Todd up for a murder he didn't commit, in making Kevin sterile, in forcing the Cramer and Buchanan families to choose between saving the lives of Duke or Kelly after the tornado struck Llanview, in forcing Margaret to remain in hiding while awaiting to give birth to her baby, and in manipulating half of Llanview makes Spencer just about as irredeemable of a character as I can think of. His antics, especially his desperate attempts to win back the love of Blair, are weak and pathetic. So, giving the character a (temporary) shot in the arm by making him stand trial for the murder of Thomas McBain and by revealing that he is the (possible) son of Asa Buchanan is just what the doctor ordered.
Although I hope that it is eventually determined that Spencer is not related to the Buchanans in any way, shape, or form---I do like that this sudden paternity reveal gives Phil Carey's Asa a great storyline to come back to play after his long recuperation from lung cancer. To see Asa return as the patriarch of the Buchanan clan and rally with his boys to prove that the #1 schemer in Llanview is not a DNA match to any of them is a welcome relief from some of the stories we've had to endure all summer. It also allows Paul Satterfield's Spencer the opportunity to share screen time with other characters in Llanview besides Todd, Blair, Paige, and David---all of whom we've been forced to watch him taunt endlessly! It will be exciting to watch Clint and Bo go chest-to-chest with their supposed "brother" and make sure that he does not become part of their family, blood relative or not!
One last part of this story that I enjoy is the way Nora is slowly incorporating herself back into the legal arena. I can accept that it may be too easy to suspend our disbelief and believe that Nora can jump right back into the District Attorney's chair and prosecute Spencer in one of the most important cases to hit Llanview in recent memory. Okay, I'll buy that. I also like that the writers are allowing Nora to realize that the case is too important for her to tackle all by herself. What I will find especially pleasing is if Evangeline and Nora TEAM UP to bring down Spencer! I'm hoping that the writers aren't that brain-dead that they would just wipe their hands clean of Nora altogether; instead, have her work with Evangeline and share in the responsibility of prosecuting Spencer. THOSE courtroom scenes will make for Emmy-award-winning television. After all, we already know Hillary B. Smith does some of her best acting in the courtroom, and Renee Goldberry is proving to be a powerhouse as well.
No, I'm not referring necessarily to the potential reconciliation between Blair and Todd. I'm talking about all of the hoopla surrounding the entire family. Most specifically, I really am enjoying the school drama involving Starr. First, it's great to have a new set (the school/classrooms) where new drama is unfolding between Starr and bad-girl Brittany. Starr is becoming a young woman with problems of her own, and it's high time that she starts developing her own stories and driving plot. Kirsten Alderson is a great young actress, and she can definitely hold her own in any scenes thrown her way.
With that said, I really have to bite my lower lip sometimes when I am watching these school scenes, because I teach in a public school. I could stomach it, I suppose, when Marcie came into Starr's class as a guest speaker (which I loved, by the way!) and Brittany started making grossly inappropriate comments to Starr in the middle of Marcie's lecture. If that had been MY classroom where I had a guest speaker, that girl wouldn't have gotten her second sentence out of her mouth before I had her dismissed from the room…much less have chance to say something so rude a second time! But I can get past that…it's a soap opera! What annoyed me even more, though, was during the dance when Brittany's little home-made movie found its way to screens all over the gym. Again, I know it's a soap opera---but it really bothered me to think the writers would belittle someone like me to think that a teacher/chaperone/coach/whoever wouldn't be in charge of the video system (or at least have it closely monitored) to avoid having a tape like Brittany's (or worse!) shown throughout the gym. It just wouldn't happen like that---nor would the video have gone on as long as it did. Okay, I feel better having said that. But, venting aside, I did enjoy the ramifications of both of these scenes. Seeing Cole jump to Starr's defense and watching Todd think that he is a "good dude" was worth it! I especially like the budding romance between Starr and Cole---and knowing whose son Cole really is makes the story even more exciting! But I won't spoil that for fans who haven't been made aware of the spoiler. But it's a doozy!
Whom Does Clint Really Love?
This story has so much potential, and it's being squandered! Jerry Ver Dorn has been amazing since his very first day as Clint Buchanan. He has assumed the role with the gusto and grace that his predecessor Clint Ritchie also had. His chemistry with both Robin Strasser and Erika Slezak is unparalleled. So why are the writers wasting such a fantastic opportunity to pit its two divas, Slezak and Strasser, against one another in an all-out Diva Royale for Clint's affection?
The stage has already been set with Dorian's jealousy over the planned dinner that Dorian's daughter Adriana manipulated for Viki and Clint. And watching the two share a casual dinner while laughing and enjoying one another's company made me even more nostalgic for a Viki and Clint reunion. Yet, very little movement is being made in giving Viki a love interest, let alone one in former husband, Clint.
I suppose until Tuc Watkins and David leave the show for good in November, it will be impossible for Dorian to completely focus on another man, especially when her former fiancé is running around her house in boxer shorts and an apron! I think the storyline would be even more palatable if viewers knew what Dorian's true intentions were: is she really interested in Clint, or is she just interested in him to pay retribution to Viki (again!)? Finding out the answers to these questions will up the ante in this storyline considerably. But with the talent of Ver Dorn, Strasser, and Slezk---the writers are missing out on one heckuva opportunity!
Tessica and Her Two Loves Grade: D Talk about a THUD! I could hear the storyline drop that hard right after Jess/Tess were integrated. For a story that essentially led OLTL through the last year and a half, it suddenly became one that is lame, boring, and poorly written. Half of the problem was one that the writers had to face eventually---how do they deal with Tess, a character that probably was meant to exist for a few months but became so popular she was granted a stay of reprieve for well over a year? Once Tess was shelved, boring ol' Jessica was the pivotal personality who showed signs of Tess but still lacked the spark and the spunk that Tess brought to the screen. Jess and Antonio are about as stale as week-old bread. I'd rather watch running tap water than the two of them together.
Nash was a character I came to thoroughly enjoy. I especially liked that he stuck by Tess throughout her ordeal with the split personality. His love for her, despite the odds, made him a character for whom a lot of viewers wanted to support. When that love was lost to him forever, he still remained an adoring and responsible father to Bree and also continued to believe that his love would be enough to bring more and more of Tess out in Jess. But all it's done is prolong this storyline, and it's pure agony. I hope that once Jess and Antonio are married and their boring life together starts to settle in, Jessica will manifest more of Tess's traits and realize her love for Nash. Let the two of them be happy and give Antonio a new leading lady that will give him something better to do.
Mistaken Identity Grade: C+ Here's the biggest problem I have with this story: the Internet. Until producers become more keenly aware of the problem they face in today's era with Internet spoilers, stories such as this will never, ever work! What I don't get is this---did the writers WANT us to know that the bandaged patient was really John and not Hugh? I ask only because one week after the accident, television promos for OLTL talked about "mistaken identity" and made it clear that the man in the hospital was really John. Yet, on the show itself, no overt clues were made to the audience. It didn't make sense.
Look, everyone knew that Michael Easton was involved with contract negotiations. And everyone knew that the original plan was to kill the character if Easton didn't resign. But he did resign to great fanfare, and the plan was to continue with the storyline. Thus, because of the media, both print and on-line, we knew that John wasn't going to die. So it made sense for us to believe that "Hugh" was really John.
The writers had some choices: first, create a smokescreen and use the media to their advantage. Lead readers to believe that Easton didn't resign or that John wouldn't make it and would be returning as a new character---I don't know, they could have made SOMETHING up. Then, lead viewers to believe that Hugh was indeed the one in the hospital and a few weeks later, surprise everyone with the shocking reveal that it was really John. Could have worked.
The other more obvious way the writers could have made this work would be to develop dramatic irony. In this case, the writers would let the viewers (only) in on the reveal from the get-go---let us see that it's John in bandages while everyone else thinks it is Hugh. The dramatic element then for us is watching everyone else communicate with him thinking it's really Hugh. That's starting to happen right now, but it should have happened from the instant this accident happened. Instead, the show was playing games with us, and it was more confusing than fun.
So as November Sweeps gets ready to blow into Llanview, let's hope that the writers kick these stories up a notch. And while they are at it, it would be nice to see some happiness in Llanview for a change, too, by the way!
I'll be back again in two weeks with more thoughts on life in Llanview!
Enjoy your week,