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 Two Scoops: February 19, 2007 columns
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Catherine Hickland
Fables, fires, and fan favorites
For the Week of February 19, 2007
One Life to Live is unlike any other show in the medium, because its roots stem from relationship and social class issues.
This week's Two Scoops was written by a guest columnist, Denise. Think of it as a special Sweeps stunt to pique your interest. We would like to get your thoughts on this week's column, so please take some time out to contact us by clicking here.
As a thirty-year viewer of OLTL, I recall a time when February Sweeps translated into heart-pounding, blood-boiling, bite-your-nails-to-the-quick suspense, romance, passion and drama. Sweeps used to be a time fueled by viewer excitement and anxiety; a period so long-awaited and highly anticipated that diehard fans had their faith renewed and lifetime viewers were born in an instant. I do not believe, first and foremost, that fans should randomly dictate story. I hold the strong opinion that good storytelling should emanate from seasoned professionals who are visionaries versus paid executives. However, when fans cease to be entertained - when story is ruled by corporate and individual agendas - viewers must intercede and claim what is rightfully theirs.

When fan favorites are minimized for the sole purpose of driving new characters, and when fan bases are endlessly pitted against one another for the sake of driving ratings, the show's foundation is rocked and its longevity consequently threatened. OLTL is unlike any other show in the medium, because its roots stem from relationship and social class issues. No amount of special effects, shock-and-awe tactics and worn-out plot devices can equate with a well-planned, impeccably executed story and have the same impact on this canvas as on any other soap. While these components may thrive in great numbers elsewhere, they are contrary to OLTL's genetic makeup and Agnes Nixon's vision. That is not to say these elements must be excluded from the canvas, but they should be utilized as an enhancement instead of a substitute for solid writing and creative storytelling.

So while I am interested in unearthing Spencer's killer, if for no other reason than to thank the character who is responsible for ending a two-year reign of terror, I am reeling at the thought of Spencer taunting and haunting citizens of Llanview - and their viewers - from beyond. While it appears that we haven't been promised much of a murder "whodunit", OLTL is notorious for rewrites, and this storyline may prove no exception. Yet gathering a handful of Llanview's citizens to view a taped reading of his will, namely those whose lives he made most miserable, packed zero emotion and punch. Miles' introduction simply proved lackluster and my interest in the character is indifferent at best. I am also completely befuddled as to why the network keeps creating new characters for the canvas when it refuses to utilize the actors it retains on contract who, for the most part, are huge fan favorites and those who consistently drive ratings.

Worse still, these new creations are generally not connected to existing characters in any real, substantive manner. While Miles is tied to Mitch Laurence, why create a new character when Roscoe Born is available to return to OLTL's canvas? What would have made great soap fodder is if Mitch Laurence appeared on tape with Spencer - subsequently followed by Mitch sauntering into the room and greeting a stunned crowd with that evil, wry smile which Roscoe executes so well. This could also pave the way for Andrea Evans' Tina to return to the canvas, as it most certainly would not be the first time that Mitch and Tina plotted and schemed together. Further, to assume that Mitch and Spencer had prior dealings is well within the realm of possibility, considering the evils which both men perpetrated and what a small place Llanview tends to be.

The shining moment which emerged from Spencer's will reading was the sheer look of horror on Paige's face upon realizing that Lindsay swiftly repositioned herself smack in the middle of Bo's orbit. Incidentally, my money is on Lindsay in this battle of wits. Some criticism has been levied as to how Bo could ever forgive Lindsay for the atrocities she committed years ago, as many viewers question why Bo would allow Lindsay back into his world after her sordid past behavior. I would suggest that the writers pulled a crucial piece of history out of the vault last week, one that has not been previously acknowledged, and it is as follows: both Lindsay and Bo share the experience of losing a child. It is horrific common ground, yet a bond that joins them nonetheless. Viewers were never presented with an opportunity to experience the repercussions of Jen's death and how this tragedy impacted Lindsay's character, because there was no fallout from the Daniel debacle and Catherine Hickland was subsequently back-burnered after being bumped off contract. I, for one, am thrilled that the writers are reconnecting two characters who share an intense history in a unique and credible manner. The storyline possibilities for shifting Lindsay back into Bo's world are simply endless, and even if their involvement never buds into romance, or if it is merely fleeting, every major character on the canvas will be impacted by their renewed connection.

A prudent use of history preceded the largest faux pas of the year thus far, which consisted of R.J.'s glaring omission from Jamie Vega's birthday party. This was maddening and inexcusable on behalf of the writers, and a direct insult to Timothy Stickney, the character and OLTL viewers. This should come as no real surprise since Tim Stickney was bumped off contract last year and down to recurring status. Seasoned viewers are well aware that this is a blatant, patterned attempt on behalf of the network to push a veteran actor out the door, and omitting a character from scenarios that embrace and embody the character's history and intrinsic qualities is something we have seen repeat itself on the current canvas. I am still fuming over how R.J.'s relationship with Lindsay abruptly ended before it was fully developed, as viewers are to assume much of their relationship was cultivated off-screen, and I implore everyone who is a fan of both Tim Stickney and his character to reach out to the network on his behalf. Fan outcry is what brought Catherine Hickland and Hillary B. Smith back to the forefront after they were shoved onto the back-burner, and we cannot allow R.J.'s character to become yet another casualty in the network's revolving door of veteran actors.

I grant one exception in my firm stance against clogging the canvas with new characters, especially since most introduced in 2006 were extraneous, poorly developed and still roam aimlessly, and say that BethAnn Bonner's Talia is a breath of fresh air. There is something unique and intriguing about this character, and though we've yet to learn her back story, we do know that one exists. The writers have hinted that she endured severe emotional trauma while on the job pursuant to 9/11, and I would sincerely like to see this explored as part of her character development. This would be a respectful way to honor the memory of all who lost their lives, and specifically pay homage to the men and women in uniform, all of whom witnessed horrors on that fateful day that most of us did not. Though she is new to the canvas, BethAnn is creating layers in Talia and compels me to want to learn more about the character. She is neither cookie-cutter nor easily forgettable, and I believe BethAnn has the serious potential to enjoy a long future with OLTL and develop a front-burner character with staying power. I sincerely hope the writers tie Talia to the Lords, Cramers, or Buchanans, thereby cultivating some rich character history that will enable her to evolve beyond being used as a pawn in someone's romantic game of chess.

One ride I do not wish to continue is the ongoing Antonio/Jessica/Nash merry-go-round. These three characters are suffering immensely, as there has been no significant movement in this storyline whatsoever. Nash is becoming less of a multi-dimensional character and more of an appendage of Jess and Antonio as time progresses, and the concept that these two men would bond as friends after all that transpired is ludicrous. While Antonio would certainly be sensitive to the fact that Nash should factor into Bree's world, and would understandably encourage that connection, I refuse to accept that these two men would evolve into drinking buddies. I also cannot imagine that Antonio would be comfortable allowing Nash and Jessica to spend time together outside of his watchful eye, and without knowing that he does, indeed, have reason to distrust Jessica, anyone in his position would've placed an abrupt end to their impromptu visits long ago.

The ongoing Antonio/Nash/Jessica saga is perhaps rivaled only in its redundancy and by the monotony that surrounds Todd and Blair. Their on-again/off-again relationship is dizzying, and once again, Blair withdraws into denial over her feelings for Todd, resigns from The Sun and pledges to move on with her life. If we hadn't witnessed this same chain of events one hundred times before, I might actually invest the time in evaluating whether this longtime couple, with its tumultuous past and self-destructive nature, can survive the odds and rebuild. I think Kassie DePaiva and Trevor St. John play off one another incredibly well, and though I find the ongoing Blair/Todd seesaw exhausting, I do continue to enjoy their work together.

However, the chemistry between Renee Elise Goldsberry and Trevor St. John is positively riveting and simply off the charts. The writers cannot continue to throw Todd and Evangeline together and ignore building on this chemistry. I believe Todd trusts Evangeline unconditionally, and he does not trust easily - if at all. Evangeline has provided Todd with a safe haven and is a source of solace from the madness of his world, and extended her hand when no one else would. Perhaps the only other individual who Todd respects as much as Evangeline is Viki, and I am fascinated that he fought his suspicious nature and allowed Evangeline to prove her loyalty and earn his friendship. Especially compelling is the fact that Todd genuinely views Evangeline as his equal, and few have earned that honor. At this point, the writers either need to pursue a romantic involvement between these two, or change courses and remove Evangeline from Todd's realm. I sincerely hope that common sense and fan interest prevail, and that the writers capitalize upon the incredible chemistry between these two actors and their characters.

Though viewers are divided on the arson storyline, I must confess that I have a selfish reason for remaining invested. Anything that results in Bo and Nora sharing scenes together garners a "thumbs up" in my book. The history and co-parenting relationship that bind these two has been ignored by the writers for so long that it's simply mind-numbing. There was never any fallout from the intense, explosive confrontation that they waged prior to Nora collapsing and entering into her coma last year, and though that is one horrific time period I do not wish to relive, viewers received no payoff. It is incredibly sad that the amazing love story which these two shared has been minimized by various teams of writers over the years and treated as though it never existed. So if nothing else significant emerges from this storyline, I am hoping these characters reconnect in a meaningful way that requires them to further interact and at the very least, acknowledge one another's existence. I am willing to entertain any plot device that repositions Hillary B. Smith on the front-burner with deepest hopes that neither she - nor her character - is relegated to the back-burner ever again.

The board was also abuzz this week over OLTL's Valentine's Day "fantasy" episode, and it seems this is the type of show that viewers either love or hate, with no shades of gray existing in between. I enjoy these episodes for two reasons. First, they give the actors an opportunity to break character and showcase talents and skills that we, the viewers, do not often see. I firmly believe that OLTL has the most talented cast on daytime television, and many of the actors have extensive theatrical training. So I am fond of these types of shows because I truly enjoy watching the actors utilize and tap into these different skills. Second, I believe these episodes must be incredibly fun and challenging for the actors, by enabling them to assume different roles and deviate from the monotony of their work week. This cast can sell even the most lackluster dialogue, and their combined talents make any story, no matter how contrived, tolerable. We continue watching each day to see these amazing professionals work magic, and whenever I watch them break character in one of these special episodes, I am reminded that they live and breathe to entertain us - and we are incredibly fortunate to have them do so.

Finally, it is simply wonderful to see Phil Carey back in the saddle once again. Though his temporary loss was felt immediately, watching him briefly interact with Peter Bartlett, Catherine Hickland and Erika Slezak reinforced Asa's significance to the canvas and brought back such fond memories. We witnessed veteran actors whose characters share substantial history reconnect this past week, and it is my greatest hope that when Sweeps concludes, these interactions will continue to thrive.

Denise


Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.



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