Monday, June 1, 2009 11:44 PM ET | By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — One step forward, two steps back.
In the weeks since my last column, where I accused “One Life to Live” of no longer even attempting to produce a good daytime drama, the soap has begun to show signs of life. However, it remains a long way away from a full and complete recovery.
“OLTL” has become like a horrible car accident in the past few months. No matter how bad it gets, you just can’t seem to avoid sneaking a peak. You know you shouldn’t look, but the little voice in the back of your head says otherwise. Much the same way that someone telling you not to do something, makes you want to do the forbidden thing even more. Curiosity is a dangerous thing. Then again, so using the words common sense and Llanview in the same sentence.
In a town where an alternate personality can always find a pair of glasses in a pinch, a suspended high school science teacher can keep a bag of his ex-girlfriend’s blood in his refrigerator, and a stripper can have her old boss punch her in the face on purpose to gain the sympathy of the man she loves from afar, common sense is the least of the many worries weighing heavily on the minds of the viewers.
However, despite the sheer idiocy of it all, signs of life are beginning to ever so slowly creep their way back into Llanview. But, much like the time it takes for a seedling to develop into a mature plant, “OLTL” isn’t going to a 180 overnight. So before you break out the bubbly and sign the get well cards, take a deep breath, kick off your shoes, and have a nap. There’ll be plenty of time for celebration when the soap finally gets off life support.
In the meantime, keep watching “OLTL” with one eye open and the other on the computer or reading the newspaper like I do. Although that is a step up from a month ago when I mainly used the show for background noise as I worked around the house. The reason for my slowly increasing interests is a small, but noticable improvement with the overall quality of the show.
For example, I am honestly enjoying these location shots. It gives the show a hint of realism that artificial turf, plastic turf, and fake sunlight does not. I also like the balance between the outdoor shots and the indoor scenes with the various sets. My hope is that “OLTL” will start incorporating more location footage into future episodes. Just as long as they don’t overdo it, and go the “Guiding Light” route, where it encompasses the entire show. Too much of a good thing is never good.
Another sign of life in Llanview lately has been more of the vets, especially Viki. Granted, she has been little more than a prop during this baby Hope storyline, but still she is getting more airtime. Without getting into the heated debate over whether or not increased airtime is worth making the character into a prop for other characters and storylines, is another topic for another column. For now, I think we should all be happy that we are getting to see more of Erika Slezak and Viki Davidson on our television screens. I know I will.
And lastly, a few select characters continue to be bright spots even in the sorriest of storylines such as Markko and Langston. It made me proud that “One Life” alsways to make it a point to showcase just how much more responsible they are in comparison to Starr and Cole. I continue to be impressed by how the show is handling their relationship, especially when Dorian called Langston to warn her not to use the condoms she had given her (thanks to Lola’s meddling), before she and Markko had done the deed. When I first read the previews for that particular storyline, I was concerned that the soap was penning another teen pregnancy storyline. Forunatley, I was pleasently surprised when “OLTL” did the responsible thing. It is now wonder that Markko and Langston continue to be the teen couple of choice for many “One Life” fans. Now if only the rest of Llanview had the scene and responsibility displayed by these two characters, we would have the top rated soap on daytime television, instead of hovering near the bottom of the pack, slightly above the recently canceled “Guiding Light.”
So, yes, “One Life to Live” is beginning to show some signs of life, even though it remains in critical condition. There remains much that is wrong with Llanview in 2009, however I believe that (hopefully), the show is slowly starting to rise from the ashes and is no longer scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Then again, perhaps it is just my bias and loyalty to a show I have watched since childhood that is blurring the line between fandom and journalistic integrity. Either way, I stand by my statment that “OLTL” is slowly (very, very slowly) getting better.
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: In 1980, Dr. Ivan Kipling harbored a secret so disgusting that he was willing to kill to keep it buried. Was it a) he was a Nazi war criminal, b) he frequented prostitutes, c) he had never gone to medical school, or d) he performed experimental surgery on homeless men. Question #2: Back in 1969 who or what interrupted Viki Lord and Joe Riley’s first trip down the aisle? Was it a) a fight that broke out, b) the emergence of Niki Smith, c) Victor Lord suffering a heart attack, or d) a confrontation with Dorian Lord, who claimed to be Joe’s first wife. Question #3: Two years later, in 1971, with Joe Riley presumed dead, Viki first met the man that would become her next husband, Steve Burke. But where did the two future lovebirds meet? a) her father hired him to be her bodyguard, b) she accidentally ran him down with her car, c) he became her new editor at The Banner, or d) she had interviewed him for a story about political corruption. And Question #4: Convicted rapist Todd Manning suddenly found himself pardoned for his crimes in 1994. But why? Was it because a) Blair Cramer seduced the governor into pardoning him, b) Larry Wolek discovered a brain tumor that made Todd not criminally responsible for his crimes, c) Todd rescued Marty Saybrooke, CJ Roberts, and Jessica Buchanan from a car accident, or d) Todd agreed to testify against mob boss Carlo Hesser.
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: 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? a) avalanche, b) tornado, c) earthquake, or d) flood. I’ll have the answers in the June 15th 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.
Well that’s a wrap on another edition of the column. Until we meet again in two weeks, stay safe and healthy, and live your ’one life’ to the fullest.
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: May 30 Edition