“One Life” goes primetime
Saturday, December 15, 2007 9:30 PM| By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — How feasible is a “One Life to Live” spin-off centering around John McBain?
Hello again everyone. Hope everyone is having a great holiday season so far. I also hope that you are having better weather than I am at my house. Life has been like an underwater world here recently with rain, rain, and more rain. I keep hoping for some snow by Christmas, but it looks less and less likely with each passing day. So, if any of you are unsure what to get me for Christmas, I have an easy answer as to what I want. Just pray that it will snow on my old Kentucky home for Christmas. Maybe if we all do it, my wish will come true. But anyway, enough of my vain attempt to get a snow high. Now it’s time to look at “OLTL.”
Earlier this month, ABC Daytime President Brian Frons talked with TV Guide about the possibilities of spin-offs for “One Life to Live” and “The Young and the Restless.” In the interview, Frons stated that he has already discussed the issue with “OLTL” Executive Producer Frank Valentini; however plans are on hold until the writers’ strike has been resolved. He also says that “One could easily imagine an ‘OLTL’ spin-off focusing on Michael Easton’s character, John McBain, solving a mystery for 13 weeks—a serial killer or whatever.”
I can sum up my reaction to that in one word, WHAT?!?! Well, maybe two words, HELL NO! Even though that response needs no further explanation, I’m going to give one anyway. For starters, there are two major flaws with Frons’ last comment. However, before I question Frons’ sanity, let me comment on the prospect of “OLTL” getting a spin-off.
Personally, I think it is about damn time that “OLTL” is getting a spin-off. I for one am sick of “General Hospital” always getting everything handed to them on a silver platter. In my opinion, it is an honor for “OLTL” to be chosen for a possible spin-off. Now when I say that I am not referring to any specific characters or storylines, instead I am referring to the idea of a spin-off in general. It’s long past time that an ABC soap other than “GH” receives some attention. I may be in the minority, but I have to give Frons at least a
small amount of credit for choosing “OLTL” as the next spin-off worthy ABC soap.
However, that is where I draw the line at praising Brian Frons. As mentioned earlier, there are two major flaws in his argument. The first is Frons’ unhealthy obsession with Michael Easton and John McBain. If, as Frons claims, the character of John McBain would make an “OLTL” spin-off successful, then why hasn’t he done the same for
the daytime version? While one could easily argue that at least part of the reason for “OLTL’s” ratings decline in recent years is due to the slow death of soap operas, one could also argue that blame for the faltering ratings can also be blamed on the invasion of new and unnecessary characters such as John McBain. It is a proven fact that Michael Easton cannot carry a show. To support my claim, just look at “Port Charles.” As the soap began to focus more and more on his vampire character, the lower the ratings began to drop. There are eerily similarities between “PC” and “OLTL.” In the last couple of years, Michael Easton has been thrown into nearly every single storyline, most of which had no real connection to his character whatsoever. He has routinely been at or near the top of the list for airtime throughout his stint at “OLTL.” And what effect has
his on-air presence had on the ratings you may ask? Well, a look at the ratings shows that “OLTL” ranks near the bottom of the eight soaps on the air. So then, if Michael Easton and John McBain are so damn popular, why are “OLTL’s” ratings the toilet? If he has the appeal that Frons claims he has, then why isn’t “One Life to Live” as popular as “The Young and the Restless” or “The Bold and the Beautiful?”
I understand that the actor does have a small, but very vocal group of fans and supporters; however, he also has twice as many opponents and critics. And why should they care about a spin-off that focuses mainly on a character they despise? Much the same way that a pissed off person won’t vote for a candidate that ticked them off, many soap fans won’t watch a soap that gives them the finger. And for the few years, “OLTL” has done just that for many loyal fans who have been left scratching their heads and wondering how is it that a character that has only been on “OLTL” since 2003 has become the center of the nearly forty-year-old daytime drama? I’ll have to admit, I’ve asked myself that exact question more times than I care to count or remember. Thinking back, I wonder how, oh how that “OLTL” managed to survive all those years (thirty-five years in all) without John McBain and his brooding demeanor. It’s scary to think that we could have missed seeing his dead daddy, who oddly enough had more airtime some months than many of the show’s
veteran cast members, and the deceased Spencer Truman, who came up back to haunt Mr. McBain on numerous occasions. And need I even mention Katlin and Marty? I think not.
While I realize that the round about way in explaining my earlier comments, I think I have made my point. Before I continue, I want to apologize to any Michael Easton/John McBain fans that I may have offended by my preceding comments; for that was not my intent. Now, let’s examine the second flaw in Frons’ argument about a potential “OLTL” spin-off. Show of hands on this one. Who wants to see John McBain, or any member of the Llanview Police Department for that matter, botch another crime scene? The LPD couldn’t even find Waldo if he were wearing glow-in-the dark underwear and standing two feet in front of them. I mean, seriously, when was the last time that they actually solved a crime without any outside amateur assistance? If Lindsay hadn’t confessed, they would have never figured out who murdered Spencer Truman. We still don’t know who killed Mitch Laurence. The LPD’s
track record speaks for itself. I wouldn’t even ask them to help me find my grandmother’s false teeth.
And does Llanview really, truly, honestly need another serial killer? Didn’t “OLTL” learn their lesson from the Music Box Killer, the Killing Club Murderer, the OPP debacle, and the Daniel Colson bi-sexual murderer storylines? None of those storylines garnered any huge gains for “OLTL,” although the reveal of Daniel Colson’s double life did very briefly push “OLTL” above “GH” in the ratings for a week. However, each of these storylines were drug out for such a long period of time that once they were solved, no one could remember or care who had been killed in the first place. I say all of this because another serial killer storyline would do nothing but damage “OLTL’s” recent surge of momentum and creativity. And I think I can safely speak for all “OLTL” fans when I say that. In my opinion, the only way a serial killer storyline would have any success on “OLTL” right now is if it served as a way to rid the soap of some of the dead weight in Llanview. If it rid us of useless characters such as Cole, Vincent, Layla, Jared, and Nash then I would be all for it. Otherwise, it would do more harm than good.
Now that I have painted such a gloomy picture of an “OLTL” spin-off starring John McBain (which I think would be doomed from the start), let me open the windows and bring a little light back into the room. While making John McBain the focus of a spin-off is a bad idea, it may also be somewhat of a blessing for “OLTL” fans. It could result in the brooding McBain spending most of his time in the prime-time spin-off instead of on the daytime version of “OLTL.” However, that is the only silver lining I see in that particular storm cloud.
If Frons had any clue as to what “OLTL” fans think would make for a successful spin-off, he would realize that ninety-nine percent of them would mention characters other than John McBain. In reality, there are countless viable options for a spin-off. Some possibilities include: Viki, Charlie, the Texas diner crew and Asa’s ranch; The Sun; The Banner, Llanview High School, Llanview University, the LPD (with the focus on Bo); Buchanan Enterprises; the Buchanans; the Cramer girls; Llanview Hospital; and Capricorn, just to name a few. Of those, I think that the most successful would be the one’s that focused around the matriarch of Llanivew, Viki Davidson. If Frons truly wanted an “OLTL” to succeed he would choose from one of
the ideas listed above.
Before moving on, there is one last tidbit of the Brian Frons TV Guide article that seems like a no-brainer. Frons mentions in the article that for the upcoming second season of the “GH” spin-off “Night Shift” he in writing team specifically for the prime-time version. His reasoning? It will eliminate the added stress and pressure on the “GH” writing team, while helping to align the storylines between the two programs. To that, all I can say is DUH! How much sense does it make to have the same characters in the same town leading entirely
different lives on “GH” than they do on “Night Shift?” Just imagine how confusing something like that would be for “OLTL.” For example, what if Asa Buchanan was alive and interacting with his family and friends in the spin-off, but still dead as a doornail on “OLTL?” Imagine trying to explain those plot holes.
Switching gears, let’s briefly take a look at the recently updated “OLTL” opening. It was a sight for sore eyes to finally see an updated opening, which hadn’t been overhauled since January. It’s nice to finally have Talia, Markko, Miles, Sarah, Jared and Gigi in the opening credits; however the pictures were taken before Charlie and nu-Michael joined the cast, which explains their absence from it. I was a bit surprised to see just how fast Marty was removed from the opening, and to see Lindsay’s picture still there. But at least we don’t have to look at Spencer’s ugly mug shot any longer. In addition, I am impressed by the new mid and end show bumpers. I can’t help but wonder if “OLTL” is about to get a new
opening. Why else would they unveil new bumpers, if they were planning on keeping the same old and tired opening? Although, I have not heard or read anything concrete about a new “OLTL” opening, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if one debuted in January. After all, 2008 marks the soap’s 40th anniversary, so maybe, just maybe they will get a new opening in observance of that. And it’s not unlike “OLTL” to update their current opening sequence shortly before unveiling a brand new one. Only time will tell I suppose, and this is just probably wishful thinking on my part, but maybe for once the rumors are true on this one, and “OLTL” will get a new opening new month. Stranger things have happened.
And now, for a little sneak peak at what you expect to happen in Llanview a few weeks down the road. It’s fun in the snow for this new couple. A man receives a Christmas gift from a dead woman. A distraught husband recognizes his wife’s engagement ring on the hand of another. One woman asserts her newfound independence. Two friends share a New Year’s Eve kiss. And, this young man give his “niece” a very special Christmas present.
Before I forget, don’t forget to be on the lookout for a new “OLTL” fanfic coming soon to SONBC. Jay Vanderburg will serve as Head Writer, with yours truly serving as Executive Producer. Look for the new fanfic to premiere in early January, just after the holidays. This date is a few weeks later than the previously announced date of December 20th, and was changed because of the busy holiday season. So, be sure and mark you calendars.
Also, my sincere apologizes for the continued delays in the November and 2007 year-to-date episode counts, but I promise you that they will be posted no later than early next week. Homework, finals, decorating, shopping, and other things have kept me quite busy these last few weeks, but with the Christmas break now upon me, I will have the time needed to get them completed and posted. Again, I apologize for the delay. It’s hard sometimes to keep up with them when you also have a life outside of “OLTL” and SON.
Well, that’s all for now, but before I wrap-up this column, I have a special holiday greeting for all loyal readers and fellow “OLTL” fans…
May the meaning of the season be deeper, its friendships stronger and its hopes brighter; and your heart be lifted in joy at the true meaning of this wondrous season. May you be filled with the wonder, be touched by the peace, and believe in the miracle. Have a safe and wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays one and all. Love, Hope, & Joy to you today and always.
And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..
Pictured: My View of Llanview courtesy Matt Smith/Soap Opera Network