I'm baaaaaaack! As most of my readers know, every summer I take approximately 40 high school students overseas as part of a student ambassador program. This year, I traveled to Paris and London, and fortunately we left London for Paris in late June and then returned home the day before the London attacks. It's a sobering feeling to know those Underground subway stations which were part of the attacks were the same ones we actually traveled through during our travels. But everyone is safe (although 527 students still remain in London with the same program through which I travel), and it's always nice to return home after three weeks to sleep in my own bed, take a shower in my own bathroom, and catch up on all the great television I have missed! I also used this past trip as the long-overdue opportunity to read two novels: Finola Hughes's (ex-Anna Devane, GH/AMC) "Soapsuds" (which is a GREAT, GREAT read for anyone who watches the soaps. You will see fictional parallels between some obvious daytime stars, and it's just a fun, fun read. I HIGHLY recommend it! You'll fly right through it.) and also Marcie Walsh's/Michael Malone's "The Killing Club." Now that I'm finished with it, I'm ready to analyze how effective this crossover strategy has been.
I re-read the last column I wrote before my trip and reviewed the grade I had given the Killing Club Murders storyline. At the time, it seemed as though a "C" might have been a little harsh since the kidnapping of Natalie and Evangeline had just started, and I thought the story might pick up a little more. After reading the novel and seeing how it connects to the show (and the storyline), I realize a "C" was far too generous! Let's amend that to a "D" for "Deadly boring" or "Dreadful" or "Dimwitted" or "Dull" or...well, you get my point!
Let me start by saying that I am an avid reader. Obviously with being an English teacher, reading is a very integral part of my life. I obviously read classics, and continue to read classics I've never read before just to keep current in my area of expertise. But especially in the summers, I enjoy reading more "fluff" reads. I'm very much into crime thrillers like those written by James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, and Stephen White. But I also enjoy young adult novels so that I have recommendations to give my students when they ask for other things to read. So, when the idea came about that OLTL would incorporate a murder mystery novel into its current storyline, I was very excited because reading these types of novels is right up my alley. I bought the novel the first week it was released and started reading the first few chapters, but unfortunately catching up on reading and correcting 120, 6-page high school research papers in a timely fashion became the priority. By then, I decided to just save the novel for my pleasure reading on the plane and bus rides this summer in Europe. The excitement had been built, and I was also anticipating have a "sneak peak" at what might actually happen in the Killing Club Murders storyline on OLTL by reading the novel to its conclusion. So imagine my great disappointment when I was half-way finished with the novel and felt completely unmotivated to finish it! Being one never to abandon any book, I trudged through it, and felt great relief when I finished it. I can't remember the last time I had to actually FORCE myself to finish a book I had selected to read for pleasure!
For those who haven't read the novel (please don't bother going out to get it. Save your precious time!), essentially the main character, Jamie Ferrara, begins investigating the deaths of people she knew from childhood who were part of The Killing Club, a club they had all created. Based on the way the OLTL story has played out, the viewers have pretty much deduced what this club was all about: the members would all come up with clever ways to kill people they didn't like and write these methods down in something called the Death Book. Eventually, one by one they are murdered in eerily similar ways to those they had once described in the Death Book. Some red herring suspects are thrown in the mix, and some obvious plot devices are figured out far too soon, and eventually the murder (s) are/is revealed.
Here's the basic dilemma that I as a reader faced---I didn't care one bit about any of these characters. With the exception of Jamie, I didn't care about any of them. Every single one of these characters was a flat, static character with little/no depth. To me, I even became confused at which character was who (even though there were only a handful of them) because they were so poorly developed and defined. At the end when the real killer is announced, I thought two things: first, "who cares?"; second, "who was this person again?" It reminded me of typical soap opera murder mysteries when the culprit is revealed to be one of those minor day players instead of a significant cast member. This story and plot seemed rushed together for the sake of the synergy of an ABC soap opera and a Hyperion book. This would have been a grand opportunity for this Killing Club mystery plotline on OLTL to soar while somehow forcing viewers to read the novel as well. I also believe that if such a synergy is going to be initiated, then the people who go out and read the novel should be rewarded in some way with inside information or with leads that will help them solve the murder on OLTL. I don't feel this is the case. Sure I saw similarities with the way the two previous victims were killed on the show with the way the first two characters died in the novel, but do I have any more knowledge about who the killer might be on OLTL? Nope. Well, I take that back. It's not going to be a major character, I'm convinced of that. It's going to be Mark or someone else associated to the Love Shack perhaps, but it won't be Michael. I doubt it would even be Ron, for if that happened, it wouldn't make any sense based on the way the novel wraps itself up.
As far as the way it is playing out on the show, I am also disappointed. Where is the suspense and the excitement? Okay, seeing Evangeline and Natalie in peril with John in the middle creates SOME rousing excitement, but other than that, it's just an enormous snoozefest. If I'm supposed to be drawn into a storyline, give me some emotional connection to it. Make me feel like I have to come back the next day to see more of it. Tess's adventures leave me always wanting more. I also like the men, specifically Kevin and Spencer, vying for Kelly's attention (although, note to writers: lighten up on "The Spencer Hour" already! You have a great actor in Paul Satterfield, but don't doom his character to failure by airing him every single day so early in his debut!). Even Nora's rebound after her debacle with Daniel is keeping my interest. But this joke of a storyline based on an even weaker novel storyline? All I can say is that the weak mystery exemplifies the weak material we viewers were forced to suffer through before Malone was shown the door.
With the identity of the killer set to be revealed in just a couple of weeks (hopefully just in time for my next column!), I'm convinced that the reveal will result in the same resounding "Who cares?" that we have been saying to ourselves for the last few months in regards to this story. I also hope that OLTL is finished with murder mysteries (and specifically really lame ones with unsatisfying endings) for a very long time to come! Oh, and while I'm on my ranting spree: please, oh please, don't allow my long-awaited and eagerly anticipated return of Carlo Hesser to end like this! His return just couldn't solely be for the purpose of clearing Asa so he could return to Llanview! What a waste of a great villain!! Dena Higley has reportedly mentioned that she is finding more and more about Carlo's history and may extend his run on the show; I hope those on the writing staff with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Carlo's previous antics convince Higley to bring Carlo's menacing ways and steely cold persona back to Llanview.
Enjoy your week,