Training the viewers

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OLTL Two Scoops: Training the viewers
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The week of September 18, 2006
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The message boards were abuzz last week with news that ABC President Brian Frons gave an interview indicating that viewers needed to be trained to accept changes to the ABC soaps.

The message boards were abuzz last week with news that ABC President Brian Frons gave an interview to indicating that viewers needed to be "trained" to accept the changes that ABC shows are providing in its lineup. To be fair, I moseyed on over to Soapnet to check out the online interviews myself. Admittedly, I didn't check out all of the soap clips, so I didn't hear those exact words come out of his mouth. But I did hear things which alarmed me, more pointedly, "When we sit in story meetings..." This concerns me because a man with all of the responsibilities that he lists at the start of the interview (an exhaustive list that even I won't attempt to recreate here for you), why is he worried about whether or not Sam and Jason get back together on General Hospital or that Carly and Lulu, also on GH, have more scenes together as Spencers? The man sure knows a lot about his shows, and well he should as the ABC Daytime President, but I firmly believe (as I have for some time) that this man is micro-managing these shows. There are Head Writers and Executive Producers for a reason. If Frons wanted to write the shows himself, then he should relinquish some of his duties and change his job title. As much as we all, including myself, love to bash Dena Higley for her sloppy and lazy writing on OLTL, I have no doubt that she is often a puppet for the storyline whims of Mr. Frons himself. This interview more than proved that fact to me. So, even if he didn't utter the words "the audience needs to be trained" himself, he more than implied it in many of his comments. And what I keep thinking back to myself, over and over again, is---trained for what? Mediocrity? Because that is all that I see on my screen these days. Need proof? Let me explain...

First, I must begin with mentioning the chain of events which resulted after Paige confronted Hugh in order to reveal that both she and Spencer were his biological parents. You know, here is the perfect example of short-sightedness and mediocre writing. I know exactly what storyline payoff Higley (and Frons himself, perhaps) are going for; they want to play out the fact that the District Attorney has a conflict of interest in prosecuting his father and might even risk his career by trying to help him beat the charges. I supposed there is also the irony in Hugh prosecuting his father for murdering John's father. And I can accept that storyline twist---it's not half bad. But then what? That only plays out for so long, and then you're stuck with this family that most viewers don't really give a hoot about! Having Rex as the long-lost son would have played out so many more long-term storyline beats. Paige and Bo are practically married (which isn't a bad thing, as I'll discuss later), so having Rex as Paige's son would make him as close to a stepson to Bo as he could be. Their quasi-father/son relationship has been an important one to both of them, so this could have been a great opportunity to explore that in more depth. Also, what a great chance to highlight Illene Kristen and use Roxy again. What ramifications would befall Roxy when she loses another child to the truth that he wasn't really hers biologically? And what would Dorian do (as if being in jail isn't enough?!) when she realizes her daughter is dating Spencer's son? Oooooh. The possibilities go on and on, but unfortunately, Higley and Co. made Hugh the young Truman child to play out a single storyline beat. How short sighted.

And let me also say that I will never be "trained" to accept Paige as a substitution for Nora in Bo's life. But I urge you, writers, PLLLLEEEEAAASSSE start scripting that wedding for Bo and Paige! We viewers know what happens to the wives of Bo Buchanan---Delilah (kidnapped and now long gone), Dede (dead), Sarah (dead, twice), Cassie (no longer in Llanview)---so go ahead, give Paige "the kiss of death" and marry her off to Bo! I'll throw a party in their honor.

And while I'm on the subject of the big revelation of Hugh as Truman Jr., did anyone else find those scenes eerily strange? I just felt that such a big reveal ("You're my long lost son!") should be one reserved for leading cast members, and here I was watching two supporting players play out this story. It was surreal. However, the ONLY saving grace was Josh Casaubon's performance. I've never been a real big fan of Hugh, and I've never been able to fully see him integrated on the canvas, but Casaubon did do a fantastic job during his scenes. I was impressed amid a scene and a reveal that had me shaking my head, so that says something.

Speaking of being "trained," the writers need to seriously put a leash on young Starr Manning. That girl has got one big ol' mouth on her. It's one thing to be angry with your parents and berate them for all of the perceived "unfairness" that you perceive is being done to you, but to script a young teen calling her mother a "slut" and telling her that all she does is slip into other men's beds is completely outrageous, even for the sassy Starr. And then the writers have Blair stand there and take the verbal assault! Sorry, Higley and Co., but all of the mothers I know through teaching would not allow the "sl" in "slut" to come out of their child's mouth before serious implications were in place. A scene like this just wouldn't happen. If anyone needs to be "trained," it's Starr.

One aspect of the show I can't figure out, though, and maybe I don't see where the show is "training" us here, deals with the Jess/Antonio/Nash triangle. I can't, for the life of me, figure out which couple the show is trying to push. On the one hand, I see the specific slant towards Jessica and Antonio, but with Tess-like memories and emotions rushing back to her every day, Jess is having a harder time resisting feelings for Nash, her daughter's father. What I like about this story is that we're watching the two characters fall in love all over again from the beginning. Jess is getting to slowly know Nash the same way Tess did, except that there are some pretty strong feelings already in place.

And one last couple that I'm being "trained" to accept is Evangeline and Cristian, and I'm just not into it. I loved Evangeline with John, but I know that ship has long since sailed. I enjoyed the blossoming friendship between Evangline and Cris, but I'm just not into them as a couple. Cristian has always been a bland character to me, so his whole foray into boxing has been a big dud. If Vincent, Layla, and anyone else associated with that storyline were gone tomorrow, just think---there would be money left to keep Dan Gauthier as Kevin and keep the Buchanan clan somewhat intact. The only part of this romance that keeps me watching is the "flirtmance" (to steal a coined term from this past season's "Big Brother") between Todd and Evangeline. As I've mentioned previously, I love these two characters as friends who flirt, but I'm not prepared yet to see them in a full-fledged romance. But watching Todd and Cris spar is great TV!

A Favorite Nora Moment: Well, it's getting closer and closer to the end of that one year extension Hillary B. Smith signed, and the vibes don't look great, folks. Keep sending those letters and making those phone all helps. I know I mentioned this one before, but in cleaning out some drawers this weekend, I came across a blank VHS tape, and when I put it in the player, I found the episode when Nora exposes Lindsay as the culprit in making fiancée Bo believe that he couldn't have children. Boy, as I let that play, I just shook my head in disbelief wondering why Catherine Hickland and Smith arne't used more in scenes together. These two actresses knocked this episode out of the ballpark! Seeing the way that Bo was hurt that Nora would do this on his wedding day, despite her best intentions, was gut-wrenching, and to watch Nora try to expose Lindsay as the vindictive witch she was just made for great television! I'm afraid to say we'll never see the likes of those two at it like that again.

I'll be back again in two weeks with more thoughts on life in Llanview!

Enjoy your week,

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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