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The Good, The Bad, The Fugly: June 18 Edition

The Good, The Bad, and The Fugly: June 18 Edition

“The Powers That Be” think if they assault viewers with bad stories we’ll eventually submit. Unfortunately for them, we have minds of our own.

It’s sad commentary on the current state of One Life to Live that I was surprisingly entertained by the May sweeps stories.  We’re supposed to be entertained, but based on the spoilers I expected the show to be mind numbingly boring.  Maybe that is the latest promotion strategy at ABC Daytime?  Create low expectations and therefore the audience (that remains) will not complain?  However, if not for sheer force of habit and my commitment to this column, I am not sure I would have tuned in at all.  There was certainly nothing that I would have considered “must see” or that would have kept me waiting impatiently for the next episode. The show’s current focus on the teens, the seemingly endless influx of new characters in whom I have little to no interest, the latest chapter of John McBain’s heroism with a side of his love life and round five or six of Jessica’s alters is not compelling to me.

The disturbing news that Canadian TV has canceled One Life to Live and moved General Hospital to a different, lesser viewed Canadian network is the latest in a long list of “wake up” calls for ABC Daytime, yet as far as I can tell, the powers that be remain asleep at the wheel. Although I recognize that teen stories have always held their place in soap operas and should continue to be featured in a well balanced soap to satisfy a diverse audience, Starr and her friends have dominated the show for roughly three years.  I also understand the importance of introducing new characters to create story, but Gigi, Rex, Stacy and Schuyler are not creating story for any of the characters I care about.

The continued focus on the teens and new characters at the expense of stories for the veteran characters, both young and mature, is so insistent and forceful it feels almost like some kind of punishment.  The message I’m hearing is “You WILL like these characters and their stories, or we will simply continue this assault until you submit”  The message viewers continue to transmit back to Brian Frons, Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati in the form of ever declining viewership is “We’re here (for now) and we’ve told you what we want and this isn’t it.”

THE GOOD

It’s good that John McBain finally and definitively chose Marty.  One of the worst aspects of John McBain’s character since he appeared in Llanview is his continuous waffling over his undefined feelings for some woman WHOEVER that woman is.  John’s chosen Marty and she’s chosen him and I see that John is finally happy, which is a strong departure from what we’ve seen before from the character. This new pairing allows John to change and become something other than the morose, depressing, guilt ridden, demon infested, wet blanket he’s been.  Get that non-commitment garbage off the table and tell something new for the guy who it is clearly determined must be at the center of almost every story.  So John and Marty are good because the character of John McBain is now allowed to grow and develop, where several life altering experiences failed to achieve that end before.  I welcome a transformed John McBain, because the depressed guy had really become a drag.

Jess and Brody are the only budding romance I’m seeing on screen.  I know a lot of people are enjoying them.  I’ll leave it at that.  I haven’t forgotten Layla and Cris which is a miracle since they’re so rarely shown, so I maintain that Jessica and Brody are the only budding romance I’m seeing on the screen, and budding romances are good for soaps.

Although, I’m tired of Jessica’s pain and the continued crying and wailing, and I’m relishing happier times for Jessica and Brody, the scenes with Viki and Jessica at the Brennan’s home when Jessica was finally forced to face the truth that her daughter died were mesmerizing.  Kudos to Erika Slezak and Bree Williamson. 

Charlie’s proposal to Viki is long overdue.  I could have happily lived without Viki’s confirmation that Jared and Natalie were robbed of their happy wedding with their friends and family in attendance, but I hope Charlie and Viki get all the bells and whistles anyway.

I keep complaining about the flood of new characters on the show, but I’m delighted with the news that the role of Elijah Clarke has been cast.
http://soapnet.go.com/soapnet/article/path-articleNum_25058/category_shows/subcategory_onelifetolive

One Life to Live has been virtually devoid of bad boys (since Jared Banks was reformed — a reformation I still cling to some small hope is only temporary).  I am looking forward to watching Elijah mix it up with Tea, Todd and Blair and creating more story for those characters. 

THE BAD

Ron Carlivati said “Poor Blair!  Wait until you see what we do to her.”  He was right.  It was awful.  How dare John McBain try to make the breakup about Blair’s feelings for Todd?  Blair wasn’t breaking up with John, he was ending things with her and it was entirely about Marty, and that’s fine, but it’s disingenuous for him to deflect and place the blame elsewhere.  John and Marty went behind Blair’s back and resumed their affair, at the very least on an emotional level, and yet the audience is directed to believe that these two characters are inherently noble and good.  Their behavior tells us otherwise no matter what words are written to come out of their mouths.

THE FUGLY

I was surfing my usual web hangouts and came across this post:

I think a lot of this with Stacy, and with Rex and Shane becoming so vile, was also to help direct audience sympathy towards Gigi, who in the eyes of some viewers tanked what was supposed to be a story that made her OLTL’s big junior heroine (Shane’s paternity reveal/Brody shooting Rex). Now Gigi is the victim, and yet, Shane and Rex can say they were hoodwinked, so when this story is over, they will go back to being a happy family and the audience will be invited to forget anything negative which was said about her.

This is, to me, symptomatic of so much that is wrong with One Life to Live today.  I once believed Ron Carlivati to be a very deliberate writer and some people (who shall remain nameless) scoffed at my faith in him.  I thought everything he did had purpose although I couldn’t see it and I believed every plot device was rooted in the development of a story, yet to be revealed, and that fundamental belief kept me watching and waiting for the reveal, but it never came.  I sympathize with Rex and Shane because I too feel so hoodwinked!  I keep waiting for the point, but I’ve become convinced that very much of what happens on One Live to Live is less about telling a story than it is about moving pieces (characters) around on some, as yet, unidentified game board.  Plot devices should be designed to drive a story, yet all too frequently, I feel the plot points are really designed to position the characters, manipulate the audience’s reaction to those characters and there is no larger story of any merit.

Why did they write this whole scam of Stacy’s?  They wanted Rex to sleep with another “hot” (I suppose?) young woman on the canvas in spite of the fact that recent history leaves no doubt that Gigi is his one true love (at least since Jen died in a fun way or since Rex ditched Adrianna for lying to him about Shane just like Gigi did)?  I know that Stacy will inevitably be exposed and Rex and Gigi will reunite.  So was there really any other purpose than to create momentary (and incredibly silly) angst for Rex and Gigi that left both characters looking stupid?  Were there any viewers that took that seriously or did we all just wait for this to pass and hope something slightly interesting followed?

Why did they rush Jessica and Brody’s love story?  Why didn’t we get the slow build?  Why was their “connection” explained through Brody’s expository (sounds like something you stick up your posterior to cure the runs) dialogue in one episode in which he simultaneously professed his undying love for Jessica?  I could have liked this couple.  I wanted to like them and I would have enjoyed a story where their devotion to one another was questionable because they’re both marginally INSANE!  There is depth and substance and intrigue in that story.  What if this whole attraction is no more than a symptom of their mental illnesses?  That story might have given Bree Williamson material that would have stretched her portrayal of Jessica, and not forced her to rely on some alternate personality to make this legacy character interesting.  It could have explored Brody’s back story.  Brody’s mom was kind of a nut!  I think Brody has mommy issues.  Is Jessica like her or the polar opposite?  Their love story is so trite, silly and was expedited and forced to fit some arbitrary timeline for no other reason that I can discern than because one of their leading ladies was unattached for a set number of months and that can’t be allowed!  Oh!  And we can’t see their story develop because  . . . we have to watch Stacy and learn that she obsessed over Rex because she has low self esteem!  Who Cares?!!!!

Why did John and Blair marry?  What was the point?  The audience never bought the marriage for real.  It only created angst for John and Marty for like a day, because as soon as Marty got her memories back and wanted John, John was done with Blair.  What purpose is served by Blair being broken, humiliated, and pushed aside?  In the old days, I would say this would be a turning point for Blair, and I would expect some payback that would create a story for Blair, but she just walked way (after acknowledging that John is a good man) like a whipped puppy and then was slapped in the face with the vision of Todd, Tea and HER children set up like the perfect happy family.  If there were some justice on the horizon for Blair, I wouldn’t mind this, but I have neither hope nor faith she’ll receive justice.  Blair was thrown under the bus to reinforce the message “John and Marty are destined for one another.”  Viewers already heard that message loud and clear and Blair didn’t need to be a casualty for no other purpose than to drive that message home AGAIN! 

The fugliest of all?  The freefall decline in viewership and the Nielsen ratings.  Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  I wonder if ABC Daytime executives recognize there is a problem and if so, their solution seems to be throwing more of the same stuff at the mess that got them in this spot to begin with.