DENISE: I hope everyone had a very safe and wonderful holiday, and I want to thank Dawn for kindly stepping in for Ryan this week. As November winds down and as another Sweeps period comes to a close, all I can say is WOW. I had many things for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving, and Ron Carlivati is one of them. Rewind to one year ago, and we were struggling to pull something positive from Jessica and Antonio's wedding, grappling with the loss of Dan Gauthier and Heather Tom, and wondering if we'd ever see Nora again. While November Sweeps was devoid of cataclysmic events and stunning reveals, I couldn't be more pleased with the direction OLTL has taken and with what Carlivati is mapping out for these characters. In fact, I am thrilled that he rebuffed such tired, cheap stunts, and stuck to character-driven story instead. Paris, TX has provided a refreshing reprieve from the gloom and doom which plagued Llanview for far too long, and I believe Carlivati is well on his way towards connecting these characters logistically and establishing an "endgame" in the baby Tommy storyline. I concur with the viewing majority and share your desire to see this story conclude - mostly because it represents our final, remaining link to Higley's reign as Head Writer. Still, I continue to assert that Carlivati has taken Higley's material and attempted to make the past three years count for something. OLTL is far from perfect, but daytime as a whole is struggling right now. I simply refuse to gauge the show's current merit by an archaic ratings system that is less than all-inclusive. We've seen the reemergence of old, familiar faces and a meshing of characters (both established and new), along with the revving up of conflict between them. Carlivati has chosen to break stride and shake up the canvas, and throw characters together in surprising and unexpected ways. While last week showcased many fine character interactions, what emerged as a standout highlight was the strong, collective presence of OLTL's veteran actors. These talented individuals are slowly being repositioned in the forefront and in a capacity that is anything but supporting, and I genuinely believe Carlivati respects these vets and is committed to writing for them. Just as refreshing was watching some of Llanview's residents come together to celebrate a holiday and recognize its significance. WHEN was the last time OLTL actually acknowledged a holiday with any sense of sensitivity or intent? While I could care less how Rex and Adriana spent their day, at least Carlivati wove his viewing audience into the onscreen celebration. What were your thoughts as you watched events unfold last week, Dawn?
DAWN: While I was watching the show last week, it struck me that I was hardly using the Fast Forward button. I didn't mind that there wasn't a big event for November Sweeps. I don't want to see a wedding or a natural disaster if there won't be any meaning for the future. Instead, we got a month of good storytelling and entertainment. I think the best scenes of last week were of the Buchanans at Asa's ranch. While trying to digest what Asa dictated in his will, his family ended up in some interesting situations that will lead to great stories down the road. For example, I knew trouble was going to ensue when Dorian announced that she was heading to Texas, but I had no idea her visit would culminate with Clint pointing a rifle at David! Those scenes were intense but also had some humor too. I loved that Matthew didn't want to leave the room because he knew something "good" was going to happen. Matthew is learning more about the Buchanans everyday, and this epitomized that perfectly! While it seems like Dorian and Clint's relationship is over, there are still unresolved feelings between Clint and Nora. After their kiss in the stable, they couldn't even talk to each other. There is definitely more to that story, as there is between Dorian and David. Now that Alex knows that David isn't rich, David might be a free man once again, and I can see Dorian going back to him just to make Clint jealous! The events that transpired at the Buchanan ranch are what good "soapy" stories are made of, and I can't wait to see what happens when they all return to Llanview!
DENISE: What I love most is that we're seeing characters which share historical significance interact in fresh and exciting ways. Honestly, the concept of Clint and Nora emerging as a pairing would've never crossed my mind until Carlivati reestablished Nora's Buchanan ties and nurtured the chemistry between Hillary B. Smith and Jerry verDorn. The same holds true for David and Alex. Who would've EVER thought of uniting these two in any capacity whatsoever? I really enjoy that Carlivati is taking characters that share history and shaking things up by creating a high level of conflict that will undoubtedly produce a ripple effect for months to come. Robin Strasser and Tuc Watkins continue to "pop" and their onscreen magic only strengthens with the passage of time. I have felt robbed ever since David and Dorian were ripped apart, and I'm delighted to see Carlivati make use of Tuc's return visits and emphasize his chemistry with Strasser whenever possible. Also interesting is the way Blair and Todd are now being penned. When was the last time these two shared a motel room and actually managed to keep their clothes on?! Carlivati is writing their relationship (for all of its faults and shortcomings) with a fresh perspective, and I don't feel compelled to fast-forward through their scenes because they are no longer morphing into migraine-inducing shouting matches. Life at the Bon-Jour Café continues to pique my interest, and I really see great potential with Viki and Charlie. I also continue to find myself captivated with Moe, Noelle and Gigi, and the fact that I'm more interested in these characters than numerous established ones reinforces that Carlivati knows how to pen new characters AND create ones with staying power. Everything he has done is textbook soap writing, but what I admire most is that he has demonstrated boldness and isn't afraid to risk-take. We find Bo and R.J. calling a Thanksgiving truce and positioning themselves at respective ends of a battle for Lindsay's affections. I never thought we'd see Tim Stickney again after Higley refused to write for R.J., and what a wonderful treat. The same holds true for Peter Bartlett. How fun was it to watch Nigel taunt Alex and call the shots when her blackmail plot fizzled? The stakes are being raised between Talia and Antonio, and their budding attraction has been thoughtfully and slowly nurtured. Nora suddenly finds herself smack in the middle of Dorian and Clint's unraveling relationship, and Viki has finally opened up her heart and soul to the prospect of falling in love again. This Head Writer is mixing characters together, resurrecting history, and building his own legacy by chipping away at a corporate agenda and writing with foresight and respect. It just goes to illustrate that it takes a fan to understand a fan's mind, and the fact that Carlivati has invested three decades into the show as a viewer is reflected by the product he's putting forth. Call me crazy, but I find this much more entertaining than two people getting married in the midst of a tornado and all of its sordid fallout!
DAWN: You said it, Denise! Who needs a wedding in the middle of a tornado when we can watch the veteran actors take back their show! I absolutely love how things have transpired at the Bon-Jour Café. Viki seems to be happy again, and when she smiled on her date with Charlie, I realized how long it's been since Viki actually had a reason to be genuinely happy! I know some viewers are disheartened by the fact that Viki shared Thanksgiving with people who are not her family. However, I think she has made a new family in Paris, Texas, and they genuinely seem to appreciate her. The same can't always be said for her own flesh and blood! Ron Carlivati is giving Viki her life back, and for a long time, I feared she would always be written only as the mother who supports her children. Since Carlivati took over, however, Viki is living again! I agree that the characters in Paris are much more interesting than some of the ones in Llanview that have been on the show for years. I agree that this is an example of good writing, and I think it also proves that Viki IS One Life to Live. She is the heart of this show, and that applies whether she's in Llanview or in Paris, Texas! I am also glad you mention another character that has been languishing on the backburner for a long time: R.J. It was wonderful to see him in the Thanksgiving episode, and it wasn't just a random appearance. The stage was definitely being set for a battle over Lindsay! I loved how Bo and R.J. called a truce and genuinely wanted to put the past behind them. R.J. and Antonio also called a truce, which makes me think that R.J. is turning a corner! I think there are endless story ideas for R.J., and I am relieved that Ron Carlivati decided to utilize this character! You know, Denise, sometimes I feel like the rapid changes on this show are too good to be true. It almost seems like a dream! There is still a long way to go to improve the show, but I am starting to recognize Llanview (via Texas!) again. Come to think of it, if Adriana disappears, I just might have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming! While the month of November didn't contain any shocking revelations (with the exception of Asa not leaving his family any money), it did set up stories that could take us far into the new year. Under Higley's pen, the show lacked any direction, and one random event happened after another. This year, however, we have an idea of what stories we will see, and I like the new direction very much. If the month of November didn't "sweep" everyone off their feet (as I've seen critics on the message boards lament), it did give us a preview of 2008, and I think we are on the way to a happy new year on One Life to Live!
Have a wonderful week!
Denise and Dawn