My View of Llanview: February 15 Edition

Photo: Errol Lewis/SON

Monday, February 15, 2010 12:01 AM ET | By Scotty Gore

(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — “One Life to Live” would be smart to just ‘sweep’ the month of February under the rug and pretend it never happened.

We have be only halfway through the month, however, it is already evident that sweeps period is a bust for the poor folks in Llanview. With the show slipping into last place in the ratings, if the next few weeks are anything last the last two, expect them to remain in the soap cellar.

What can I say about “One Life to Live” lately, other than “wow….what a disappointment.” Why does this show continue to spotlight hated and already overexposed characters and plotlines? If it hasn’t budged the ratings in several months, why would it start now? And are dazzling special effects a substitute for good writing and acting? Of course not; but while you and I know that, apparently those in charge at “OLTL” do not.

Has ABC and “One Life” learned nothing from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” The game show brought decent ratings to the network, until it decided to air the show three or four nights a week, and the ratings fell flat. Talk about too much a good thing. This is similar to “OLTL,” only it didn’t have a good thing going to begin with (at least for the past several months anyway). But this much is true. When the same characters and actors find themselves at the top of the airtime rankings month in and month out, while the ratings slowly decline, it is an indication that change is needed. And no amount of car crashes, explosions, natural disasters, or people falling through the ice is going to result in any noticeable and lasting ratings bump if it all involves characters the viewers don’t like or want to watch. To make matters even worse, if that’s even possible at this point, “OLTL” has been consistently ranking below even “As the World Turns” which, as you may recall, was served with a cancellation notice back in December (and will air its final episode in September).

Furthermore, is nothing sacred on this show anymore? Even the purely evil Mitch Laurence reached a new low recently when he plotted to impregnate his own daughter. Even though Mitch has done some rather outlandish and despicable things over the years, this was sick, twisted and perverted even for him. And what about his giving her electroshock therapy? Another unnecessary plot twist. The show claims that it will give viewers a chance to see what Jessica was like as a teenager. But ummm…didn’t we already see that? Like back in the ’90s? It wasn’t that entertaining then…so why would anyone want to watch it a second time around?

And while I’m on the subject of Jessica, can’t the writers think of anything for the character to do aside from being in constant peril? Just look at what all has happened to the poor girl in the last few years. She found out that she was sexually abused by a man in a bar when she was a kid and developed DID just like her mother. Then, not long after she falls in love with Nash, she and Antonio have a messy divorce. Then she needs a liver transplant after contracting Hepatitis C. Later her husband falls through a skylight and dies. As a result, Tess, one of her altars, locks her sister and brother-in-law in a soundproof room for several months. Next she loses a baby, and another of her altars (Bess) kidnaps her cousin’s baby for her to raise. Then she spends time in a mental hospital. Not to mention the fact that her cult leader father was raised from the dead (but not before secretly stalking her), had her husband dug up and his skeleton placed where she could see it, subjected to electroshock therapy, and was almost raped by her own dad. So, as you can see, it has been quite some time since Jessica was not mixed up in a storyline that didn’t result in physical and/or emotional drama for her. It’s time to let her heal for the next several years and move on to someone, anyone else. Which is exactly what I’m going to do.

What is the deal with making someone related and/or connected to other characters if the writers are not going to explore those relationships further and build upon them? Like making Rex Mitch’s son, even though the two have barely had any scenes together. Same with making Talia the daughter of Carlo Hesser, revisiting history by making Pamela Stuart Jared’s aunt, claiming that David Vickers is Bo’s son, or revealing that Wes Granger’s family was one of the many victims of some of Lee Halpern’s old cons. Sure they are plot points, but they should provide some juicy payoff for viewers. Instead, it leaves the viewer thinking “now what?” To which the show seems to reply ” I got nothing.” I mean, several of those revelations had some promise at the beginning however, much like everything else on the show these days, they quickly fell flat.

Furthermore, “One Life to Live” has proven that old habits are hard to break. It seems that lately, anytime a despised character is about to exit the canvas, they suddenly become very likeable and rootable just before they take their leave. Take Stacy Morasco for example. For months on end, we grew to hate her with a passion as she blackmailed her sister, pulled the wool over the eyes of a man who didn’t know her from Eve, drugged and manipulated nearly half the men in Llanview, constantly threatened and harassed the mother of the man she claimed to love, and promised to let her own nephew die from a rather painful disease if she didn’t get exactly what she wanted. Fans begged and pleaded for her to be written off the show, until final “OLTL” relented and gave in to their demands. But then, guess what happens? In her final days in Llanview (before meeting her demise in a watery grave), we began to feel sorry for her when she was thrown out into a blizzard while being 8 months pregnant, and as she began to form a motherly bond with her unborn child, and share several heartwarming moments with her estranged sister. Too little, too late however. The damage has already been done, and the character loooong since destroyed to do anything about it now.

Speaking of the blizzard, I have to give “One Life to Live” credit for timing the storyline with the arrival of a rather major snow storm to Pennsylvania and much of the Northeastern United States. Yes, I realize that it was nothing more than a mere coincidence, but still it was a nice touch. Although the prop department could have done a better job with making the noticeably faux snow a little more like the real thing. But at least the fake flakes did distract one from some of the funky stuff taking place up on Llantano Mountain. Such as Dorian’s constant shrieking, or Charlie’s lady gloves and purse gun. I love Robin Strasser and Dorian as much as the next person, but she should have really toned it tone in those scenes where she was just simply over the top. And I can’t be the only one who was shocked at how easily Dorian was able to manipulate Charlie into doing her bidding. The writers messed up big time when they had Viki resign as mayor. But then again, if they hadn’t we might have gotten to see Viki play a major role in this storyline instead of Dorian, and we couldn’t have have that. For some reason, they won’t give Viki anything to do other than fret over what is happening in the lives of her children and the danger they so often find themselves in.

Next, what is up with all the Todd and Téa overkill the past couple weeks? Their scenes seemed rather out of place in most of the past week’s episodes, compared with the other drama playing out on our screens. Especially, when they have basically the same conversation any time they share screen time. They love each other but can’t be together because of her Danielle, then they kiss and make up and have sex, then the next day they break up again. Enough already! And it isn’t helping the cause when Todd whines to Starr and Viki about his tumulus love life. Note to Todd…your sister has better things to worry about than you not getting laid.

Just how stupid is Rex and could he be anymore of a jerk than he already is? I’ll be the first to admit that John-Paul Lavoisier can handle comedy better than drama, but even he should know that his choices in facial expressions leave little to be desired. But at least they beat John and Natalie’s little pukefest. On a side note, isn’t it odd how that, for a ghost, Jared’s hair and jacket sure were getting covered with snow. Just one of those things I noticed while trying not to fall asleep while watching the show last week. Well that, and the fact that Rex (and several others) kept yelling and screaming even after observing a big avalanche. But maybe they should have just continued screaming, and let the snow wipe out all the uninspiring, unnecessary characters that have been showcased lately. Damn it….guess that’s the price I pay for getting my hopes up like that.

And finally, a couple of positive things about the show right now is that February is the shortest month of the year, and this most recent sweeps fiasco is nearly over. In my opinion, March can’t come soon enough (not because I think the show will be better by then, but because I don’t see how it could possibly get much worse than it is right now).

What bugs you about “One Life to Live” these days? Be sure and drop me a line…I would love to hear from you, and I just might use your comments in an upcoming column.

Before switching gears, I just want to emphasis that I still love “One Life to Live” and have no plans to abandon it. That being said, even the most loyal fan has to draw the line somewhere and voice their concerns and frustrations. That’s the reason for my long rant in this column. I needed to let off a little steam, and now was the perfect time to do so. So it just goes to show you that even the most ardent “OLTL” cheerleader doesn’t always have a lot of peep, spirit, and excitment about how their “team” is performing on the court (so to speak).

Off-topic, the show recently removed John Brotherton (Jared) from opening. Hopefully other updates to the tacky sequence will be forthcoming. Also, at the “One Life” ABC Medianet page, four new headshots were added to the cast photos late last week. Those include one image each for Robin Strasser (Dorian) and Terrell Tilford (Greg), and two shots for Florencia Lozano (Téa). They have also added photos of scenes airing the week of February 15th, which feature the following characters: Bo, Nora, Shane, Bree, Marty, John, and Natalie. And, in case you haven’t already noticed, the generic ABC promotional bumper at the beginning of the first commercial break during “OLTL” (the one with “One Life to Live” at the bottom, the ABC logo in the bottom right corner, and the name and logo of the episode’s main sponsor) has been altered. Gone is the blue line that used to “swoosh” its way across the screen. I’m not sure if similar bumpers used during “All My Children” and “General Hospital” have been changed as well.

Congrats to “Nancy” for correctly guessing the identity of last time’s mystery character. The answer was Maggie Carpenter and her boyfriend was none other than the handsome conman Max Holden.

In case you missed the clues, here they are: This cousin of a holy man first arrived in Llanview in 1995. A bit of a rebel in her early days, she found religion after reaching adulthood, and decided to become a nun. However, she quickly fell in love, and was torn between her heart and God. It was soon revealed that part of the reason behind her decision to become a nun came from her father, who was a strict, conservative Protestant bishop. But it eventually came to light he was having an affair with a woman other than his wife. Feeling betrayed by her father and her religion, she soon left the church and struck up a relationship with the man she loved. However, he soon betrayed her when he helped sabotage a carnival arts school she was opening to open, and she left town broken-hearted in 1997.

Now it’s time to play another round of “Llanview, Who Am I?,” a new feature where you have to use the clues to figure out the identity of a mystery character from “OLTL’s” past. See if you can figure it out. Good luck!!!

This woman began dating one of the Buchanan boys “across the big pond” more than a decade ago. She returned to Llanview with him shortly thereafter when he was about to become a grandfather and his “Pa” is about to marry a woman for the second time. Six years later she returns to town again when the Buchanan heir came back to help his ex-wife deal with a major issue that arose with their child. They broke up when she blamed his problems on his former spouse, and promptly headed back to London. Two years later, she came back to Llanview again, only to find her old boyfriend dating someone unexpected.

So who is this mystery woman from the past? I’ll have the answer in the February 28th edition of “My View of Llanview.” Extra credit will be given if you tell me the identities of the other characters discussed in the above paragraph, as well as the name of the “OLTL” actor (along with her name also) the woman portraying the character is married to. Until then make your best guesses and give me your feedback on the column. Also don’t forget to tell me what bugs you about the show these days. I love hearing from fellow “OLTL” fans. And don’t forget to check out my Twitter page for all the latest OLTL news and information at SON.

Now, before I wrap up this column, I’m going to look into my crystal ball and give you a quick sneak peek at a few things coming up a few weeks down the road. These are for the week of March 8th. Two old flames fight their feelings for one another.  Kim wonders if she is doing the right thing.  Dorian tries to persuade Viki change her mind.  Mitch get a cryptic visit from someone.  Todd has an offer for someone unexpected.  And someone views an old girlfriend as a major threat to her happiness.   

Well that’s concludes yet another edition of the column. I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and that, wherever you are, you are staying warm and safe and are not snowed in.  Take care!

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

“One Life to Live” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Anytime on ABC.com and SOAPnet.com. Check local listings.

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