Even though OLTL is still officially penned by Michael Malone, a transition is slowly starting to form between his work and the impending material of our new Head Writer. Small improvements have been made, and viewers must be responding favorably as ratings are slowly but steadily rising for this ratings-starved drama. With the Santi Hour quickly eliminated, the focus on other characters has made the show much more balanced. In fact, by relying on characters who seem to have undeniable chemistry (John and Evangeline!), OLTL is finding its foothold after drowning in summer and early fall storylines that absolutely nobody really cared about. Although, with any changes there are always those that are hailed as wonderful and also ones that make people scratch their heads and say, "Huh?!" That brings me to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of storyline plot point from OLTL.
1. Isn't it fantastic that someone who returns from the dead finally makes a bee-line right to the person who means the most to him instead of hiding or lingering around for what seems like months? It would take a very long time to recount how many characters have risen from the ashes only to stay in hiding or stay away from their loved ones because of any one of a million lame reasons. We've heard every excuse that is possible, and it just seems too logical that if someone were being held captive for a year, he or she would want to go directly to his or family and rejoice in the reunion. Of course, I'm talking about Cristian and his quick revelation to his wife, Natalie, that he is alive and well. He's only been back on the show for a week, and the most important person who should know about his being alive is let in on the secret. It's refreshing! I really expected his return to Llanview to drag on for weeks before anyone who is important in his life found out the truth. How wrong am I? Even though the road to a blissful happily-ever-after will not happen as immediately as I would expect, it is still so pleasant to finally see the reactions of those he loves in a speedy manner.
2. I love attention to the little details. For example, Kelly, who is distraught over Ace's kidnapping, isn't wearing make-up. Perfect! If a woman's child is stolen, she certainly isn't going to be interested in making sure her lipstick and eye liner is on the right way (or at all!). It's such a small thing to point out, but I really like those little special touches of realism. It makes me appreciate the situation a little more.
3. I really like the slow way Bo and Nora are moving towards a reconciliation. Revisiting Nora's involvement with Sam and the reasons why she had the affair with him in hopes of conceiving a child to replace Bo's son Drew, who had just been killed in the line of duty, was a great touch of remembering history. That mistake destroyed the character of Nora for many years, and the character is finally recovering from that huge blunder in writing. So it makes perfect sense to remember that pretty significant page from their history and deal with it. Years and years after the fact when these two adults can talk about that and the reasons behind her doing it will ultimately allow them to put the past behind them and remember their real feelings for one another. I'm excited at the possibilities vintage Bo and Nora will present for the show (and I'm sure little Matthew will be ecstatic!).
4. I am looking at Cris's return as being the impetus to cement the relationship of John and Evangeline rather than come between them. On the one hand, it is far too easy to bring Cris back and throw him with his wife so they may pick up where they left off. But I don't think Cris's sudden arrival in Llanview is going to shift couples around to any degree of being alarmed. John McBain's character has been presented well enough that we know he is a pretty decent and upright guy. He wouldn't dare try to further any romantic relationship with Natalie once he learns her husband is alive. John felt incredible guilt and remorse over Cris's death over a year ago, and he knows the grief Natalie felt after she learned Cris was presumed dead. His growing relationship with the beautiful Evangeline will not be threatened. I'm sure of that. This shocking return is only going to make John realize how much he does depend upon and genuinely love Evangeline. This couple is just far too popular to separate, and the producers know this.
The Bad: 1. I'm still very bitter over the destruction of Antonio Vega's character (and his relationship with Jessica). Initially, this whole stupid Santi story was supposed to introduce Antonio in an entirely new light and give him the "edge" that he had when he was first introduced to the show. Unfortunately, the entire Santi story was scrapped (for good reason), and all traces of that infectious family is being erased, but Antonio is left with the knowledge that he isn't a Vega. His entire history was altered and can never be made right. Further, even though I was never a huge fan of them as a couple, Antonio and Jessica had a tender relationship that at least was bearable to watch on screen. Dumbing down Jessica and having her marry that scum-bag Tico made her character completely unbelievable! She would never marry someone like Tico, especially after knowing him for such a short time. Granted, Jessica is slowly gaining a few brain cells, but the damage has been quick and severe in regards to these two. It's disappointing.
The Ugly: 1. Perhaps the most infuriating revelation OLTL has made in recent memory comes with the news that Paul Cramer almost raped Natalie. When I started to hear Natalie's story and see the flashback scenes, I began cringing since I could see the writing on the wall. I am just disgusted by this plot point, and it is a flagrant abuse of this horrible crime for the sake of advancing story. Let me start by saying that some of the best performances on soaps have come from the aftermath of a vicious physical attack endured by a woman. All My Children's recent rape story involving Bianca is one of the best. General Hospital did a brilliant job telling the story of rape victim, Elizabeth Webber years ago. OLTL's Todd Manning is a complex character to this day because of his involvement in the attack on Marty Saybrooke ten years ago at Llanview University. Those were great stories told with careful consideration for the feelings of the victim. The ramifications of those acts changed the lives of the characters involved forever.
With that said, I can't help but feel that this revelation that Natalie was almost raped just reeks of convenience. First of all, as much of a creep that Paul Cramer became, I never once felt that he was capable of even coming close to raping a woman. I completely understand that he crashed a helicopter, stole a baby, made a mother think her child was dead, became involved in a scheme to sell organs for cash, and participated in other smarmy activities. Yet, never once did he demonstrate the capability to physically harm a woman. Even though he ultimately seemed to leave before committing the crime, I firmly believe that by making Paul an "almost- rapist", we viewers are supposed to feel no remorse for his death and make us believe that the murderer, whoever it turns out to be, should be given a medal rather than a jail sentence because of what a terrible jerk Paul was. It was created to just make Paul nastier than we already knew him to be.
Furthermore, by having Natalie play a victim who has been violated, she now becomes sympathetic. For a long time, Natalie slowly morphed into a new person from the one we got to know when she first came to the show. As an attack victim, she now becomes someone John wants to help (he's a sucker for helping anyone in need), and the attack now puts a potential barrier between Cris and Natalie. I can see it now---she can't become physical with Cris because of the guilt and disgust that she feels over Paul's attack on her. It just angers me! There were a myriad of roadblocks the writers could have put in place to keep Cris and Natalie from rushing into one another's arms to live happily, but it didn't have to be in the form of this.
To end on a positive note, I'm thrilled to see that the producers have listened to the fans. I'm excited that when the fans cried, "No more Santis!" the producers listened. It tells us that our voices do matter and that our opinions carry weight.
Enjoy the week,