Saturday, July 26, 2008 1:25 AM | By Scotty Gore


(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — A review of “One Life to Live’s” 40th anniversary tribute.

Aloha everyone. It seems I just keep getting later and later with these columns, doesn’t it? I just get so wrapped up with everything going on around me, that I forget things, like this column. And I find it so difficult just to set down and write very much when there is so much to do outside this time of year. Also, I wanted to wait until after the two special 40th anniversary episodes of “OLTL” aired earlier this week before I wrote my column. But my apologizes for this being so late. There are just never enough hours in the day to do anything. Anyway, here are my thoughts on “One Life to Live’s” 40th anniversary celebration…

The Top Five reasons why I liked the two “OLTL” 40th anniversary episodes:

5. In theory at least, I appreciate the fact that “OLTL” decided to retell three past storylines to celebrate their 40th anniversary. I like the idea because it involves past characters and cast members. It is also a nice nod to the show’s history. That being said, I do have some issues with the storylines they chose, but I’ll get into that a little later. In an era when most other soaps celebrate major anniversaries and milestones with a montage of old clips and sound bites, you have to give “OLTL” credit for celebrating their past.

4. Say what you well about Agnes Nixon playing favorites with “OLTL” over “AMC,” but having her play God during VIki’s latest visit to heaven was brilliant. She was the perfect choice to place the omniscience Creator. And it was only fitting that Erika Slezak, “OLTL’s” longest running cast member, interact with her. And the nod to Erika’s tenure as Viki’s with Nixon’s comment that she had watching her 38 years was touching. And icing on the cake came at the end of the second of the two anniversary episodes when both Agnes and Erika looked into the camera, said that without the fans there would be no Llanview, and then wish “OLTL” a happy 40th anniversary. With Nixon’s two or three appearances on “All My Children” over the years, it was about time that she finally appeared on the only other remaining soap currently on the air that she created. It may have taken 40 years, but Agnes finally made a cameo ABC’s so-called redheaded stepsister.

3. Erin Torpey. To me she will always be Jessica. I wish there was a way the show could bring her back. I grew up watching her grow up on “OLTL.” Erin is so cute and has a certain child like innocence about her. Ron Carlivati is a genius for his quick thinking of getting her to play Viki’s guardian angel when Jessica Tuck had to pull out because of a scheduling conflict. And what makes it even more amazing is that all of this happened only a few days before they began filming the episodes. The sudden change literally occurred overnight. Now I have to admit that when heard, however, that Erin was going be playing her former character’s stillborn baby, I was rather skeptic as to how “OLTL” was going to pull it off. I mean think about it, how is a 27-year-old woman supposed to play the spirit of a baby who would only be about ten or eleven years old had she still been alive. But then I saw Viki asking the very same questions, and was satisfied by Megan Victoria’s line that “time moves differently for some of us here.” That makes sense. It’s heaven, and God is in heaven, and with him all things are possible. Plus it is important to keep in mind that the primary job of a soap opera is to entertain. It is not real life, but is instead an escape from reality. And it is important to remember that when you turn on the television. It’s not some reality show, or even Jerry Springer…. it’s a fictional scripted drama, similar to professional wrestling. But you didn’t hear that from me, ha ha.

2. Phil Carey and Stephen Markle. Asa has always been one of my favorite characters and I always considered Mel to be one of Dorian’s two true loves–with Herb Callison being the other. Although I find it a little strange that Asa ended up in heaven rather than in a hotter climate, it is always a treat seeing Phil Carey on my TV screen. While I’m not usually a fan of soaps using dead characters returning as ghosts to haunt the living (such as Paul Cramer, Margaret Cochran, Spencer Truman, and arrogantly smug Nash Brennan), I would gladly make an exception as far as Asa and Mel are concerned. Better yet, why not just reveal that Asa faked his death once more and that Bo and Viki’s visions of him were mere hallucinations brought on by grief from missing the old coot. And I could be mistaken, but as I recall when Mel’s plane went down several years ago they never found his body. So they could easily bring them both back. But until they do, I will set happily by and enjoy each and every time with are treated with their presence. And two thumbs up to the touching Dorian/Mel and Asa/Viki scenes we were treated to. Who could ask for anything more?

1. When I first heard that “OLTL” was planning two special episodes to honor their 40th anniversary, one of the first questions that popped in my mind was concerning the opening for the special shows. I thought to myself how neat it would be if they used the original fireplace opening (which ran from 1968-1975) to open the 40th anniversary episodes with. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to suspect that they would probably just continue to use the same old crappy opening which has not been updated since January. But imagine my surprise on Monday when, after Bo and Rex realized that had been transported back in time to 1968, the original theme music began to play and then we saw the burning flames from a fireplace with the words “One Life to Live” floating across the screen. It was the original opening, and I could not believe it. My joy was short-lived, however, as the old opening returned the following day. But still, I thought it was a nice touch.

The Top Five reasons why I did not like the two “OLTL” 40th anniversary episodes:

5. Ben Davidson. Although I thought it was nice that they were able to get Mark Derwin back along with all the other recent returns, I never have and never will like the character. I never did buy into the tripe that Ben was supposedly the great love of Viki’s life. Give me a break. Were the writers on crack when they came up with that one back in the final decade of the 20th century? Did these people ever watch the show before this character was created? Great love of Viki’s life, my fannie. What about Joe Riley, Steve Burke, Clint Buchanan, and even Sloan Carpenter? Ben Davidson does not even begin to compare with these greater, more developed characters. Ben has never been one of my favorite characters and I’m glad they killed him off. Good riddance. And the writer who first coined Viki’s nickname Blondie should be shot. I don’t mean to offend Ben and Viki fans here, but he does not even belong on the same stage with several of Viki’s other husbands, in my opinion. And to compound matters, I’ve always thought of Joe Riley as Viki’s one true love anyway. Too bad Lee Patterson is no longer with us, or they could have brought him back once more. I’d take that any day over Ben Davidson.

4. Tina, Sarah, and the waterfall. First, I have to admit that I have always loved Tina Roberts and Andrea Evans, revisiting the storyline where Tina was tied to a boat and sent sailing to her doom over the Iguazú Falls was not the best of ideas. Although I was only about eight years old when the original storyline involving Tina first aired, it was in the midst of one of the campest periods in “OLTL” history. It was during the same time period as the Old West storyline, the underground city of Eterna, Viki’s original trip to heaven, and the exploding wedding cake. While this time period did produce many memorable characters such as Tina, Cord, Max, and Gabrielle, it was also very different from the original concept of “OLTL,” which included socially relevant storylines featuring class and race relations, drug use, and mental illness. And even the supreme acting talents of Andrea Evans and Thom Christopher are not enough to save this storyline the second time around. David Fumero couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, and would probably even be unable to emit emotion if his pants were on fire. This was one of the big let downs for me during the 40th anniversary episodes.

3. Dorian Lord. I’ll be the first to admit that Dorian has done some evil, slimy, vile, lowdown things in her life, but I have a difficult time believing that she would just leave Viki to die. Sure the pair have been feuding for over thirty years, but I’ve always felt that deep down, despite their hatred for one another, that neither would ever wish the other one dead. That doesn’t mean they would not want one another to suffer, however. But as for wishing death on each other seems a little far-fetched. In my opinion, deep down each of them actually respects the other, which shines through in the event of a crisis. Granted it is suppressed deep down, below levels and levels of hatred, jealousy, and envy. But it’s there. That’s why making David have to beg and plead with Dorian to save Viki’s life is low, even for Dorian. It makes her look even more despicable than she really is, which is saying a lot. Oh sure, she is having a guilty conscience about it afterward, but it doesn’t change the fact that she almost didn’t save Viki’s life. And to make things even worse, it appears, at least for the time being anyway, that Dorian is going to get away scott free with drugging Charlie. It seems like Dorian escapes punishment more and more as the years go by. Talk about justice being blind.

2. The return of the “OLTL” opening from hell. Well maybe not…I’ve always hated the satin sheets opening of 1992-1995 more than the present opening, but it comes in at a close second. The theme itself is okay; it’s the grainy pictures and flashing “OLTL” logos that seem poorly done and out of sync with the music. I think a teenager could do a better job on Microsoft Paint. That’s right…it’s that bad. After being treated to the original “OLTL” opening on Monday, I was wishing, hoping, and praying that Tuesday would bring a completely new opening for the soap’s 40th anniversary. But those hopes were quickly shattered when the same old crappy opening began to play. Newsflash to whoever at ABC is in charge of updating the “OLTL” opening…Nash is dead, Lalya and Vincent haven’t been seen in two months, and Miles hasn’t been around since April (unless you count the Memorial Day repeat of one of the “Prom Night: The Musical” episodes). I’d give my left arm (I’m left-handed) for a new “OLTL” opening. Imagine if you will a new opening that would encompass images from past openings such as the roaring fire and sunrise accompanied by a revamping of Peabo Bryson’s famous lyrics with all new actor shots from the various homes and businesses around Llanview. Just about anything though would be preferable to what we have now. Maybe one day soon “OLTL” will finally get a new opening sequence.

1. Perhaps my biggest complaint about “OLTL’s” recent anniversary tribute is that Ron Carlivati treated it as the 20th anniversary instead of the 40th anniversary. Two of the three storylines he chose to revisit (Viki’s trip to heaven and Tina going over the falls) occurred in the late 1980s. The third (Buchanans going back in time) also occurred in the late 1980s, and created a storyline one hundred years in the past. However, the sequel transported Bo and Rex back into 1968, when the show first premiered. However, it is focusing on events that happened more than a decade before the Buchanan family was even introduced to “OLTL” viewers. What I’m getting at is this…why were no storylines from 1968-1987 revisited? Those were some of the greatest years in “OLTL” history. It was during those years that we had the ‘death’ of Victor Lord and the first emergence of Niki Smith, Karen Wolek breaking down on the witness stand and proclaiming herself a hooker, Carla Grey passing herself off as a white woman and kissing a black doctor, Cathy Craig being treated for drug abuse at Odyssey House with real-life drug addicted teenagers, and the romance of Larry Wolek and Meredith Lord, among others. But instead there was not a single mention or even a flashback concerning any of them. It’s almost as if those first twenty years didn’t even exist. I realize that a lot of those early episodes no longer exist thanks to ABC’s policy at the time of erasing the tapes so they could be reused, but that doesn’t mean that homage could not be paid to those storylines. Characters from the first 20 years could have been brought back during the celebration. But instead everything they decided to include focused on the last twenty years. But even with that, a lot was left out. What about Wanda Wolek, the Gannon family, CJ Roberts, Mitch Laurence, Alex Olanov, Bo’s dead wife Sarah, and other former characters from the past dozen years? They too were strangely MIA. I realize that Ron Carlivati fell in love with the “OLTL” of the 1980s, which are also around the same time that my earliest memories of the soap began, but it is only one four decades in which “OLTL” has been on the air. And it’s not fair to celebrate one, and not the other three. “OLTL” was already an established soap with twenty years of history by the late 1980s, and that those years should be remembered as well, and not swept under the rug. Even so, I am at least grateful that the show even recognized any of their history. They could have easily gone the “General Hospital” route (i.e., their recent 45th anniversary), and simply stuck together a sixty-second montage of memorable characters and storylines. At least “OLTL” appears to honor its past, even though their memory is rather selective. And for that, I have to at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. I hope you enjoyed this edition of the column. Enjoy the remainder of the summer. Take care and see you next time on July 30th.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..

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