Thursday, June 18, 2009 5:00 PM ET | By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Miracles can happen when you believe.
I knew there was a reason I was writing this edition of my column a few days later than usual. Well, not really, but the time was perfect nonetheless. It gives me a chance to discuss two of my biggest pet peeves with “One Life to Live” at the moment.
But before moving on to what grinds my gears about the show recently, I would like to take a moment to point out my new logo. Granted it’s nothing fancy, just something I threw together from one of those free websites that allows you to create simple logos for the technically challenged (such as myself). I decided to come up with my own after my ‘search’ for a new look for my column on the Soap Opera Network message boards fell flat. Not a single person offered up their own take on a new logo for my column (bummer). So I decided to go the DIY route. Let me know what you think of it. Again, it’s nothing fancy, and I may change it yet again by the next column, depending on my mood at the time.
Anyway, back to show itself. My first pet peeve with “OLTL” right now is the unnecessary canning of two-thirds of Llanview’s McBain family. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a member of the ‘I heart the McBains’ fan club, however, I did think it was a mistake to get rid of two decent characters when Llanview is overflowing with characters that need to be taken out by a serial killer. But Marcie and Michael were different. They actually had substance, and ties to the canvas. They were characters that fans recognized, and understood. Furthermore, neither ate up a tremendous amount of airtime, having been placed mostly on the back burner for the past year.
Even so, Chris Stack and Kathy Brier are two very talented actors that “One Life to Live” will soon regret sending off into the sunset. Mostly because their presence on the canvas will be missed. But also because of the endless stream of newbies and cardboard actors taking their place on the television screens of “One Life” fans. I guess this means even more screen time for characters like Stacy Morasco, John McBain, Starr Manning (Kristen, honey, I love ya — but you need to try just a little harder to really sell it to the viewer), and Cole Thornhart. Yea…just what we need. Where the hell are Viki, Clint, Nora, Bo, Dorian, and the rest of the vets when you need them? I guess ABC believes that they have trained us fans to prefer Stacy over Viki. Wrong. If Stacy were to go missing from Llanview tomorrow I would order a cake to celebrate. Maybe Gigi can just throw some holy water on her and get it over with.
At least fans can take some satisfaction in the fact that at least Marcie and Michael got there happy ending. I suppose that, much like the song immortalized by the Disney movie “The Prince of Epypt,” miracles really do happen ‘when you believe.’ I was so thrilled when I saw the pregnancy test setting on the table. Finally, they are getting the child they have longed for. What a fitting ending to their story. Hopefully, “OLTL” will wise up one day and bring Marcie and Michael back, along with their child. I wish both Chris Stack and Kathy Brier only the best.
My second pet peeve right now is the seemingly endless stream of musical guests. Okay, I admit, it was kinda fun when the show would have a big name musician perform once a year, but now they are booking musical acts every few months. Are they that desperate for more revenue and an increase in viewers? Maybe they could have Starr feeding Hope more Cheerios, or perhaps Carnation Instant Formula or Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup instead. Plugging real-life products on the show (and no, I’m not referring to Have-a-Seat Hemorrhoid Cream of the Toaster Tarts Todd fixed for Téa) would seem like a more logical way to boost show profits. It is also a great way to add some reality to a show, although it can easily be overdone. A little of this goes a long way.
But just take a look at the facts. Since New Year’s Eve alone, there have been five separate musicial artists/groups to appear on “OLTL,” including Lionel Richie’s upcoming performance. The others included “Puddle of Mudd,” “The Plain White T’s,” “Rachel Yamataga,” and “The Pussycat Dolls.” The list grows even more when you factor in those who performed last year, such as “Snoop Dogg.” Each of these guest appearances has done relatively little to boost the show’s already sagging ratings. Instead, it may actually to have the opposite affect if “OLTL” continues to overload its yearly music quota. Fans may simply start viewing it as a bad attempt at stunt casting and begin tuning out in droves. As ABC learned a few years ago the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” there is truth in the term claiming that ‘you can have too much of a good thing.’ When the expanded to show to about three or four nights a week, interest soon waned. And when that occurs, it can be difficult to lure those viewers back.
On a more personal level, the constant barrage of musical talents invading Llanview is beginning to take its toll on my nerves as well. As a reporter for SON, I find composing articles for musical guests to be the most tedious. Call me old-fashioned, but my favorite type of music is the old time rock ‘n roll of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. They don’t make music like anymore unfortunately. That’s not to say that I dislike all music of today’s generation, because I don’t. There is a select group of songs from this era that I can tolerate and, dare I say it, actually like. However, as a general rule, whenever I listen to music (which isn’t extremely often), I prefer the old stuff. That’s great, but it causes me problems when writing articles about a particular musician’s accomplishments, when I have never even heard of them before. Perhaps I’m just too old for my young age of 29, or maybe everyone else in soapland is a bigger music lover than me. Either way, it takes a great deal of patience and willpower as I work on those articles.
Moving on, do you ever find yourself scratching your head as you watch a particular scene or character? I tend to do that quite a bit while watching “OLTL” actually. Like, for instance, why couldn’t the show have gotten a decent skull cap for Shane when he lost all his hair from chemo? It was painful, but yet hilarious, watching it move and occasionally curl up on the edges during many of his scenes. Furthermore, why does Cole Thornhart always seem to be wearing black socks (and dark colored shirts and pants for that matter)? Whether it is suit, dress shirt, t-shirt, or tank top, his shirts nearly always seems to be a dark color. And anytime his feet venture into a scene (such as when he was going through detox in Starr’s bedroom), he has on black socks. Sorry, but I notice that sort of thing…I’m a sock man. ha ha Also, why does one of Erika Slezak’s eyes always seem to be twitching? Why is Michael Easton almost always chewing gum whenever he appears on camera? Why does Jessica give all her dead babies the middle name ‘Victoria.’ Sure, it’s a tribute to her mother, but why do it twice? We already had baby Megan Victoria, and now Chloe Victoria. And least Bree’s middle name isn’t Victoria as well, ha ha. And why does Trevor St. John sometimes use different accents while delivering his lines, and then smirk at the camera? Too many questions for my little brain to figure out.
As I have mentioned numerous times in this column, I have watched “One Life to Live” since childhood. I have seen a ton of storylines, actors, and characters come and go during that time, including each of the previous two gay-themed storylines. I find it amazing that this type of thing is considered major news considering the society that we live in. I hope to see the day that is a non-event, and just a normal part of life. Perhaps the day will come soon when a gay couple of a daytime soap is perfectly normal, and doesn’t make front page headlines around the country. While I myself am not gay, I see the move as part of the broader controversial, diversified concept that Agnes Nixon had in mind when she created “One Life to Live” more than 40 years ago. Isn’t the goal of many television programs and sitcoms to mirror reality. Viewers want to see people they can relate to. Therefore, it seems hard to fathom that Llanview is seemingly devoid of gays, minorities, and lower class working people (at least there are still a few token African-Americans still in town). Unlike the fictional Pennsylvania suburb, not everyone in life is a rich, white, snooty person.
I suppose one could argue that television’s primary objective is instead to entertain. Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that diversity should be non-existent. Especially not with “OLTL,” a soap that was once described by Christopher Schemering in his book, The Soap Opera Encyclopedia, as “the most peculiarly American of soap operas: the first serial to present a vast array of ethnic types, broad comic situations, a constant emphasis on social issues, and strong male characters.”
For that reason, I am anxious to see how the soap will handle their third attempt at a gay romance and story line. Maybe the third time will be a charm and “OLTL” will do a good job with it. However, I have seen many a promising plot on this show go flat, so the seeds of doubt continue to grow in the back of my mind; and I’m sure in many of yours as well.
For those of you unable to figure out the answers to the trivia questions from my last column, here they are (correct answers in bold): Question #1: Dorian Cramer had her sister Melinda institutionalized in 1974 for what reason? a) Melinda had tried to kill herself, b) Melinda tried to kill Dorian and her boyfriend Mark, c) Dorian was jealous of Mark’s interest in Melinda, or d) Melinda had become a heroin addict. Question #2: One year earlier, in 1973, Meredith Lord died of a cerebral hemorrhage. But what caused the injury that led to her death? Was it a) She was thrown from a horse, b) Niki Smith hit her over the head with a statue, c) She fell down a flight of stairs while arguing with her father, or d) She fell while escaping from criminals who had taken her hostage. Question #3: In 1984, the O’Neil sisters invaded Llanview. But which of the following was not one of the sisters? a) Alice, b) Joy, c) Connie, or d) Didi. And Question #4: What natural disaster hit Llanview just as Micheal McBain and Marcie Walsh were tying the knot in 2006? a) avalanche, b) tornado, c) earthquake, or d) flood.
Hope you enjoyed those questions, and that they didn’t prove too difficult for you. Now time for this week’s trivia challenge: Question #1: In 2008, a drunken Rex Balsom performed a striptease just before what musical guest was set to perform at Ultra Violet? a) Snoop Dogg, b) Timbaland, c) The Plain White T’s, or d) Willie Nelson. Question #2: In 1991, for what purpose did Carlo Hesser drug Viki to bring out Niki Smith? a) to kill Asa Buchanan, b) to kill Viki’s daughter Megan, c) to convince Renee to marry him, or d) to burn down The Banner. Question #3: When did Tina discover the entrance to Victor Lord’s secret room back in 1985? a) in the library at Llanfair, b) in the carriage house, c) in the basement of The Banner, or d) in his mausoleum. And Question #4: Back in 1977, how were Larry Wolek and Karen Wolek related before they got married? a) they were cousins, b) Karen was Larry’s stepmother, c) Karen had been Larry’s sister-in-law, or d) Nor relation. The last names were mere coincidence. I’ll have the answers in the June 30th edition of the column. But if you are stumped and can’t wait, you may want to consult a copy of The One Life to Live 40th Anniversary Trivia Book by Gerry Waggett. Just a suggestion…. but one you might find useful (except when trying to figure out first question, which I came up with myself. However the answer to it can be found elsewhere in this column).
That concludes yet another installment of “My View of Llanview.” Hope you enjoyed reading my “OLTL” thoughts and ramblings, and that you will join me again in two weeks for more of the same. Keep the feedback coming; I love hearing from fellow fans. Enjoy your summer!
And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…
“One Life to Live” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings.
Discussion: My View of Llanview: June 15 Edition