Photo: Errol Lewis/SON
Sunday, February 28, 2010 12:01 AM ET | By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Time travel and memory loss storylines lead soaps down a slippery slope due to a little thing called SORAS.
During the February sweeps, “One Life to Live” featured Mitch Laurence giving his daughter Jessica Brennan electroshock therapy, effectively wiping out her memories of the past thirteen years of her life. Now thinking it is 1997 and that she is a senior in high school, Jessica is flabbergasted to discover just how much everything has changed since she was roaming the halls of Llanview High.
Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Not, not really….especially when you consider the fact that Llavniew has been infested with a plague in recent years and shows no signs of recovery. The name of the disease is Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, and hardly anyone in town seems to have built up an immunity to it.
Granted I understand that “One Life to Live” is by no means alone in infecting their characters with SORAS. In fact, the soap opera genre has been using the plot device for decades with varying results. And it is likely to continue to exist for as long as daytime dramas remain on the air.
However, “OLTL” is going one step further and highlighting their own inconsistences due to SORASing by incorporating them into “back in time” storyline. What do I mean by that? Well, here is an example. A few episodes back, Marty probed Jessica’s memory by asking her what (and who) she remembered. Disturbed by her answers, Marty then asked her what year she thought it was as the cameras panned out into the hallway where Viki, Clint, and Brody were discussing Jessica’s condition. Marty leaves the room and informs them that Jess doesn’t remember anything past her senior year of high school.
If they had stopped right there with it, the timeline would have been a little more workable. Without mentioning a specific year, the writers could have tinkered with the storyline details a little and fudged a few numbers in order to make this thing perhaps somewhat salvageable.
Then came the big mistake…..someone said that Jess had lost all her memories of the past thirteen years, making it 1997 in her foggy mind. Houston we have a problem. Now the SORASing comes back to bite the writers in the butt. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, Jessica tells Marty that she didn’t know she had a son. That’s strike one. Although the viewers know that 19-year-old Cole Thornhart was not on canvas back in 1997, and was a creation of the writer’s imagination in 2006. However, on the canvas, he “supposedly” existed back them. So, if we use the soap’s current timeline (as well as logic) here, that would make Cole about six years old in 1997. So wouldn’t Jessica remember her best friend’s six-year-old son? To add further insult to injury, Jessica wasn’t actually born until 1986 so, realistically, she would have only been about nine herself at the time….even though the writers had aged the character to the point that she went from diapers to adulthood in only nine years. See where I’m going with this?
SORASing is a necessary evil on soap operas. On the old hand it toys with history and continuity. But on the other hand it is important because it allows writers to speed up the aging process to create to more dramatic storylines. After all….it is not very beneficial to allow a soap character to age naturally from birth all the way through the cycle of life. But the kiss of death is dropping in specific dates and going back in time (whether it be time travel, memory loss, or rewriting the past). Not only does it insult the viewers, but it also creates plot holes large enough for a car to fall into.
All of this seems lost on the powers that be at “One Life to Live,” however, because this isn’t the only SORASing storyline mess they have gotten themselves into at the moment. Of course I’m referring to Todd and Téa’s suddenly teenage daughter Danielle. Passing off a fifteen-year-old as the love child of a couple were last together only seven years ago (at the time) is ridiculous, especially when it had been repeatedly referenced on the show just weeks and months before the character was first introduced last year, that it had only been SEVEN years since Todd and Téa made love while stranded on the deserted island with Ross Rayburn.
And while the subtle inside jokes the writers have occasionally snuck to the dialogue lately are at the very least a nod to the viewers that they understand their frustration, they only serve to make the show look more stupid than it has already become lately. While I did get a snicker watching Jack tell Danielle that he was expecting her to be his younger sister (and about eight-years-old), the scene left me shaking my head. There is very little on this show that actually makes sense right now. And this storyline is definitely not one of them.
Getting back to Jessica for a moment, it should be interesting to see just exactly how much artistic license the writers will take with storyline, and just how true they attempt to stay to exactly what (and who) was going on with the show back in 1997. Depending on exactly what when in that year they go back to, Jessica should remember only the following characters: Viki, Clint, Bo, Nora, Renee, Nigel, Dorian, Blair, Carlotta, Marty, Todd (which should interesting if they remember that he looks different than the last time she saw him), Kelly, David, Cristian, Tea, Rachel, Addie, and Mitch (please remind me if I am forgetting anyone here). For a refresher on the storylines from that year, click here.
I keep hoping that “One Life to Live” will start to pull itself up from its bootstraps and give me something positive to write about again. But so far it has only continued to disappoint. Perhaps the Ides of March will usher in some changes for Llanview. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
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.
Congrats to “Judy Moss” for correctly guessing the identity of last time’s mystery character. The answer was Dallas Jones, who was portrayed by Loyita Chapel, the wife of Robert S. Woods (Bo Buchanan). And their son Tanner Woods appeared at the end of the 1968 storyline (2008) in a few scenes as a young Bo. Perhaps I’m making these things too easy, ha ha.
In case you missed the clues, here they are: 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.
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 conman father appeared on the canvas briefly nearly a generation ago, along with his daughter, who would eventually become romantically linked to a suave man that would a decade later pretend to be the son of someone else. When we first met them, the daughter’s old flame was visiting her native country with his new girlfriend. Eventually the woman’s crooked father, who was a drug lord, was murdered, and the girlfriend of his daughter’s former beau was presumed dead following a terrible fall.
So who is this mystery woman from the past? I’ll have the answer in the March 15th edition of “My View of Llanview.” Extra credit will be given if you tell me the identities of the man’s daughter, her ex-boyfriend, and his new squeeze. 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 15th. Kelly is angered by Todd’s latest actions. An infant is in danger once again. Has someone lost the woman he loves forever? Two people want a certain young lady to remain in Llanview. A woman fights for the man she once loved. And two forbidden lovers can’t seem to get enough of each other.
Well that’s concludes yet another edition of the column. I hope everyone is staying safe and warm. Thank goodness spring is just around the corner, although I am more than ready for summer at this point. Thanks for reading. 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.