Hasn't 2006 been a whirlwind of events? I can't say that "One Life to Live" has been the best that it has ever been, but it has sure been a show that people have talked about, or rather, often COMPLAINED about! In fact, ABC shows across the board have been the topic of many heated arguments (OLTL's Todd & Blair or Todd & Evangeline or Evangeline & Cris) or paise-worthy moments (GH's welcome to Genie Francis, Tristan Rogers, Finola Hughes, and Rick Springfield) or downright disappointments (the firings of AMC's Julia Barr, OLTL's Dan Gauthier and Matthew Metzger, and GH's Stuart Damon). And despite the negativity that seemed pervasive throughout the year, who can argue that the biggest surprise came at the close of the year when one of OLTL's long-time veteran performers, Hillary B. Smith, was informed that the show wanted to keep her on the show for another four years with the promise of a great story involving Asa and long-time rival, Lindsay! So many fans, both part of the C.H.E.R.I. Inititiave and not, have spent the last year writing emails and letters to the powers-that-be regarding the lack of the spotlight being on our favorite veteran performers, specifically Hillary B. Smith, and it's nice to see that everyone's hard work has not been in vain. And with OLTL shifting story ideas around at a rapid pace, it does appear that 2007 is the "Year of the Fan." With that in mind, let me tell you what I'm looking forward to in the new year, and what I've already started to dread!
Highlights for 2007:
1. I never considered myself a true-blue Todd fan. Don't get me wrong, I always thought his character was vital and critical to the Llanview canvas. He IS the "bad boy" of Llanview. But when Roger Howarth left the role and Trevor St. John assumed it, Todd became ho-hum to me. I still thought he was a character who needed to drive story, but I wasn't invested in him at all. That all changed in 2006, however, when Todd faced his own mortality in being executed for a crime viewers knew he didn't commit. St. John infused the character with heart that I haven't seen in Todd in many years. As he stood in the execution room staring at Viki, Evangeline, and Blair, Todd showed humanity in every sense. He was angry, remorseful, tender, and shaken. And when he was revived and brought "back to life," he continued to show signs of that person who wants to take of all the people he loves. I have become a huge Todd fan now. I love his relationship with Evangeline, and even though I know the writers are obligated to toy with the notion of an Evangeline and Todd romance, I stay firm in my desire to keep them as close friends. Knowing that Todd has that shoulder to lean on or that person to confide in brings out sides of him that WILL make him improve as a person and not continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. When Blair suffered heart problems this past week, Evangeline was his rock. She was the one to whom Todd turned to be consoled. His relationship with his sister Viki is another one I enjoy watching. Viki is never afraid to tell Todd exactly "how it is" or to remind him that he behaves badly. Todd has come to embrace his sister wholeheartedly, and when he opens his heart to people like Evangeline and Viki, it gives viewers hope that he will do the same with Blair.
2. Spencer's final days are quickly approaching, and I couldn't be happier! There is almost nothing redeemable left in him. When Paige consulted him about Blair's condition, he gave his ex-wife some valuable information, but ultimately withheld vital pieces of advice that could save Blair's life. His rationale? "If I can't have Blair, nobody will, especially Todd." That cold heart isn't long for the land of the living! Furthermore, he admitted to Marty that he was never insane, throwing her diagnosis of him in her face. As he sits in his hospital bed mending from the wounds he sustained in the rooftop fall with Todd, he is simply plotting events that will ultimately lead to his demise. Setting up a good murder mystery might be just what the show needs to keep interest alive, but the writers will have to go a job of making viewers forget that we want to celebrate the character no longer taking up so much screen time.
3. Asa's warnings given to Clint about Dorian were great foreshadowing moments to what awaits for us! Naturally with the New Year in place, everyone seems to be at Serenity Springs trying to lose those unwanted pounds! Isn't that how it is all across America? To see Dorian stroll through the doors is funny in and of itself, but watching her flirt with Clint and know that Viki has declared that she will do everything in her power to stop a Clint/Dorian pairing means that there will be fireworks in Llanview! Robin Strasser and Erika Slezak show their finest work when they are at one another's throats, and seeing them both position themselves around Clint means that there will be much more of these two excellent actresses in the future.
4. Although I am not a fan of the relationship between Adriana and Rex, I do enjoy watching them both struggle with the knowledge that Tommy is really Todd and Margaret's baby. Adriana, in particular, confided in her cousin Cris this past week and battled with keeping a secret that has the potential to change so many lives. That conversation was coupled with the pair watching Blair and Todd hold baby Tommy in the hospital. That dramatic irony of our knowing the baby is really Todd's while Todd coos at the child made this story one of the most suspenseful on the show. As each day passes with Marcie and Michael raising the boy as their own and Rex withholds the truth from Todd, we all know that the wrath Rex will face will be even greater. Todd does not handle deception well at all (even though he is the master of it himself!).
5. Finally, the notion of Lindsay and Nora fighting over Bo? Priceless!
Worries for 2007:
1. I have serious reservations about Marty Saybrooke. Christina Chambers is a fine actress, but she is not right for the character of Marty, someone who was vital in OLTL's history. Her chemistry with Michael Easton is simply average, better than his is with Melissa Archer. However, she doesn't convey the impression of being a doctor who is able to analyze people and evaluate how lucid they are. Furthermore, she should be interacting far more with Todd, and Chambers and St. John are strangers to each other. They do not illustrate the complex relationship these characters are supposed to share.
2. This whole Nash and Jessica dance has to stop. I'm really tired of the two of them talking about integration and the fact that Tess doesn't exist anymore. Seeing them strip down their clothes this week due to a blizzard---there always seems to be a blizzard in Llanview at the most illogical times---was completely unappealing to me. I was bored stiff by Nash's insistence that they shed their wet clothes and cuddle up "skin to skin" to maintain warmth while Jess argued with him about his credentials to make such an assertion. I didn't buy the urgency in the scene, and I didn't think the two of them were showing any signs of chemistry. When Tess left, the writers basically backburnered Nash.
3. I'm concerned about the character of Evangeline. Having her accept the Assistant D.A. position alongside Nora was a step in the right direction. Seeing her more in a professional setting with Nora will reinstate some of the qualities I have found missing in the character in 2006. Another thing that I'm sure will upset some readers is that I think the relationship with Cris needs to end. I would rather watch paint dry than see the two of them together. I liked the notion that Evangeline fell for the guy she helped get out of jail, but now that they are in the "real world" and are trying to start a life together, I just don't enjoy them as a couple. Since she and John broke off their relationship, she hasn't exhibited the same passion and the same fire in her spirit with anyone, and I really would like to see that return.
4. OLTL clearly spent a lot of money to keep Michael Easton on the screen. What needs to happen now is that the character must evolve in a new direction. His obsession over his father's killer has consumed too much of his life, and it has had a direct impact on his relationship with Natalie. In order for the character to grow and to develop in his professional and personal endeavors, he must move beyond this, and I hope that when Spencer is removed from the canvas that this transformation will start to take place.
I'm convinced that this is the "year of the fan." As such, I hope you'll take any opportunity you as a viewer get to meet the wonderful actors from the show. One chance you will soon get is coming up in March. If you live in the Florida/Tampa area (or enjoy a leisurely plane ride) and wish to see Forbes March, Catherine Hickland, Hillary B. Smith, or David Fumero, you will definitely want to take advantage of a Sunday brunch they are holding on March 11th to help the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of that area. Information is actually on the SOC message boards, or you can email me if you want pricing/contact information. It's a great chance to meet your favorites and to have a conversation with them and take photographs!
Have a very happy 2007!