RYAN: This summer will mark my five-year anniversary for writing this column for Soapcentral. I've thoroughly enjoyed the highs and even the lows of watching OLTL, and the interaction that I've had with so many readers has often been invigorating. Since Denise joined the Soapcentral family, I've had many separate email conversations with her about the state of affairs in Llanview, and I finally thought to myself that we should take our private discussions and make them public! Denise and I both have separate views and different takes on various storylines and characters, and we thought it might be fun to have a "discussion" of sorts every once in a while to share with you what we each are thinking and how it relates to current events on the show. We hope you enjoy this new format that we hope to continue from time-to-time.
DENISE: I'm honored to be part the SOC family and just as grateful to have the amazing opportunity to work with Ryan in getting this column to you on a regular basis. What I enjoy most is that our working relationship is rooted in an incredible friendship based on mutual respect and trust. As Ryan mentioned, while we agree on many Llanview-related issues, we often hold contrasting viewpoints on characters and storylines. We both bring three decades of viewing to the table and have a vested interest in the longevity of OLTL and a high level of respect for its actors - particularly its veterans. It is our greatest hope that Ron Carlivati will acknowledge the powerhouse talent on his canvas by penning story that is rich and substantive, and that which utilizes the wealth of history at his fingertips.
RC: Well, Denise, I know you and I have lamented over the state of OLTL for so long that I feel a rush of exhilaration at the prospect of new Head Writer Ron Carlivati making some changes for the better. As you talked about last week, Carlivati brings with him eleven years' worth of experience, and that ability to appreciate the history and the genius of OLTL is what will make this show must-watch TV again. I think the fact that we're already seeing characters like Paige, Tate, and Tate's father (by the way, what is his name? I can't think of it off the top of my head) being shown the exit door is a good sign. I would also add Adriana, Vincent and Layla to that list of "expendable characters." Are there any others you can think of?
DB: Ryan, I would definitely add Miles and Marty to that list. The time has come to either lure Susan Haskell back or call it a day with Marty's character. Further, I still see Miles as nothing more than a cheap imitation of Mitch and he serves about as much purpose on the canvas as Spencer's ghost. I would actually be willing to give Vincent's character a shot at redemption, but only if the network lures Tim Stickney back to the canvas and ties Vince to R.J. If I were Carlivati, I'd also take a seriously hard look at the teen scene and determine which of these younger actors has star potential and which characters constitute nothing more than a waste of air time. Tate's father's name is Kirk, by the way. I definitely think you're overdue for a vacation.
RC: Kirk! That's it. Well, I'll think of you when I'm soaking in the rays in Orlando this week. But I do agree with you about Miles. That whole bribery into marrying him was just BIZARRE! At least I give kudos to Cole for recognizing that the situation is nefarious and more than a little shady. Miles IS the "poor man's Spencer Truman", a cheap imitation. I just don't see his purpose on the show, and trimming the cast by starting with him would be a wise idea. But I still don't see any reason for keeping Vincent on the show, especially without any ties to anyone. Marty, on the other hand, I still think serves some purpose. But as I've mentioned a thousand times over, Christina Chambers isn't cast well in that role. Although I really enjoy the chemistry that she shares with her onscreen son (Cole), I just will never accept her as Marty. Paging Susan Haskell!
DB: Ouch! You do that, and I'll be expecting my FL keychain when I see you. So we're split on Vincent but agree that Chambers is definitely miscast as Marty. Now onto Adriana... I cannot believe how Rex's character has suffered in this pairing. It was absolutely painful to watch Rex grovel and desperately seek redemption from Adriana after the fiasco involving Tate. Carlivati needs to take Rex's character in another direction or he's going to become expendable as well. I've always enjoyed the relationship between Rex and Roxy and wish we'd see more of that explored. Doing so would also give Ilene Kristen something meaty to sink her teeth into besides providing comic relief - which is something she excels at, nonetheless. It appears the show is moving towards an Antonio/Talia pairing, but why not shift Rex into Talia's realm and see what happens? You know that I am NOT a fan of the influx of newbies on our canvas, but I think BethAnn Bonner has serious star potential. She is fiery and anything but cookie cutter, and I'd like to see what she and JPL might bring to one another's characters.
RC: I'm completely on the same wavelength as you about Bonner. Thank goodness for her, because I think she helped legitimize the "I Wanna Be a Soapstar" reality contest. She DOES have huge front burner status written all over her, and I think with more and more revealed to us about her back story, we will come to adore her. What I really like though is that the show has slowly nurtured the character and eased her onto the canvas without shoving her down our throats like they did with Spencer. Speaking of Spencer, do you really think Marty is the culprit or do you think it will turn out to be Asa? Would the show really kill him off AND make him a killer in one swoop? Would this be Carlivati's first big blunder?
DB: I definitely think Marty is a red herring and that Asa may be revealed as Spencer's killer (though I have fingers and toes crossed that we can finally rid ourselves of Paige by revealing her to be the culprit!). I fully understand that writers can't build story around an actor's ability to come to terms with the network. That, I understand. Yet Asa is Llanview's patriarch and perhaps Phil Carey would've been amenable down the road to periodic appearances, in light of the fact that OLTL has a new HW and that the show is hopefully on an uphill climb with a restoration of character integrity also on the horizon. So to convert this beloved character into a killer AND pen his demise would truly be cold. What does that accomplish in the long run? A temporary return of a few fan favorites and a handful of tear-jerking moments? Asa's death does have the potential to drive serious story...if Carlivati plays his cards right and seriously commits to reestablishing the family dynamic. What's your take?
RC: Well, if Asa is indeed the killer, I think Carlivati will have his first serious writing issue to contend with. Fans will NOT be happy! But it's funny that you mention the idea of family dynamic because I was intrigued by a scene this week in Asa's mansion, where his family was gathered. Matthew and Renee being pampered by the not-seen-enough Nigel and eventually Clint and Nora. I remember you spoke in one of your columns about the intriguing potential between Clint and Nora, and ever since then, I've been keenly aware of their scenes together. Well, I'm open to the idea, I must say! At first, a warm and cozy little family scene turned into a "hmmmmm" moment for me. Clint and Nora? Think about it! If Lindsay and Clint's brother Bo started to reignite their relationship (as it is widely reported will happen), imagine the possibilities of Nora and Clint flirting with romance! I'd chuckle first at the obvious recognition that Clint was once married to Lindsay while Bo was once married to Nora - a partner flip-flop - Buchanan Musical Mates! But then the notion that Viki, a good friend of Nora's, would feel betrayed by her pal would also make an interesting story, not to mention the wrath Nora would incur from Dorian! My point is that I found their brief interaction this week to be...interesting, to say the least!
DB: I watched those scenes and they just resonated with so much potential! Honestly, I'm incredulous that the various teams of OLTL writers haven't ventured down this path sooner, for the exact observations you put forth. The ramifications that would arise from connecting these two are infinite - and as you said, their involvement would create a ripple effect for every major player on the canvas, which is how good story should be executed. I also think the timing for these characters to connect is ripe, because with Asa's impending death, family will come together and old bonds will be renewed. Equally important is that I feel great onscreen chemistry between Smith and verDorn, and how refreshing is THAT after nearly three years' worth of forced pairings on behalf of Higley? I also have a hunch the writers will utilize a rekindled romance between Lindsay and Bo to shift Nora back into his world. This is why unexpectedly connecting Nora with Clint at the very moment that Lindsay and Bo reconnected would blow this triangle wide open. This is also the kind of umbrella story that OLTL needs, and one that would certainly reposition the family dynamic front and center on the canvas. I'm also hoping that what we saw unfold last week marks the beginning of the renewed Lindsay/Nora rivalry that we've been promised all year. I've been chomping at the bit just waiting for this storyline to kick in! What would you like to see happen for these characters presuming that history is revisited?
RC: Well just watching the scenes this week with Lindsay and Nora in Bo's office while each uttered the other's name with strained force was so much fun! To know the history that exists between these two arch-rivals just makes scenes like this even better to watch. I love the way Lindsay is written right now - the "changed woman" who has suffered the loss of a child and who has claimed to view life differently. She is the woman who will now risk her studio and even her own life to help catch this arsonist. Stay at a hotel? Pshaw! Lindsay wants to be in the thick of the action when this "trap" to set up the arsonist is put into place. Watching Nora essentially roll her eyes on one hand and then reluctantly admit it is a good idea on the other hand was near-riotous! And although I've seen many posters debate whether or not Bo has lost his sanity in seeming to forgive Lindsay, I think the writers have played this out quite nicely. It isn't like Bo had an epiphany and woke up one morning to scream, "Hallelujah! I think I have finally realized I never stopped loving Lindsay Rappaport! How could I have been so wrong about her?" Instead, he's starting to view her as a much different person than the scheming and manipulative viper who switched his sperm test to make it appear that he was sterile. It's been a slow process for Bo to forgive Lindsay and to trust her, and when the two finally embark on a new relationship, I think it will make sense. Bring on the Bitchfest!
DB: I'm with you all the way! Another classic rivalry that is just ripe for the picking is that between Viki and Dorian. Nothing Higley put forth even came close to doing the legendary sparring between these two justice. I'm also hoping that Carlivati reestablishes the Lord family back on the canvas, because Viki's character has been stripped of her heritage and the Lords are on the verge of extinction. I think back to OLTL in its heyday, when Viki was running the Banner and immersed in every facet of Llanview and as the show's foundational character, she should be. She, Dorian and Todd are the three most prominent links to the Lord dynasty, and Carlivati could seriously run with that. This brings me to an interesting vantage point in terms of Todd's character. I can't help but wonder what's next for him, because the "all roads lead to Spencer" nightmare surely must end. Personally, I want to see a return of the REAL Todd Manning, not the watered-down pod that emanated from Higley's pen. So I think it'll be interesting to see what Carlivati has mapped out for him.
RC: I hope that with Carlivati's experience and respect of the show's history that he will remember the edge that Todd has always had as he teetered on that line between moral and immoral. I, for one, am ready for him to move away from Blair though. I've had enough of that! Unless he brings a fresh perspective to their relationship, I'm finished! But I'm super-excited at the rumors I've heard that Sarah Roberts, Todd's niece, will be revealed as the person mending Todd's wounds. I don't know if this is true or not, but what an excellent way to reintroduce the character. Todd and young Sarah always had a special connection (as he does with Jessica), so seeing Todd's extended family become more prominent in his life would fit the vision Carlivati seems to want to put forward. Speaking of Carlivati, I was pleased to see how excited the cast was to introduce him and gush all over him on the Emmy Red Carpet on Friday night. Robin Strasser, in particular, seemed uber-excited to present him to the world. Erika Slezak also mentioned him during her Red Carpet interview - it just seems to me that everyone's morale has suddenly increased tenfold!
DB: I completely agree about Todd and Blair. Blair's character has been in this perpetual state of suffering and endured one act of victimization after another - and that's simply not fun to watch. This is the woman who preyed upon Asa and later reduced Skye to a pulp over Max. So it's been incredibly painful to watch the deterioration of her character, along with the exhausting game of cat-and-mouse between her and Todd. I'm completely indifferent to the return of Sarah Roberts, only because I see this as one more attempt to clog the canvas with yet another extraneous character. At least Sarah has historical significance and could, with the proper cultivation, be nicely woven into the framework of OLTL's canvas. Personally, I'd much rather see Tina or Cord reestablished first, then have Sarah reintroduced when Carlivati has this mess of a canvas straightened out. I did see him on the Emmy Red Carpet and I'm also impressed with the show of support he's receiving from the actors. I just finished reading various media interviews, whereby he's reinforcing his commitment to OLTL's core families. I've heard this song and dance before, so I remain cautiously optimistic whenever a HW commits to story in print! I want the vets to be prominently featured within this renewed family-centric vision, and Carlivati has one tall order to fill as far as that's concerned.
RC: Well, you WILL get to see the return of John Loprieno as Cord in August, albeit for a very sad occasion. But I'm just happy that Sarah won't be returning as "Flash," one of the most annoying characters I've had to endure in a long time (Spencer and Paige excluded, of course!). And while I bring up Paige, let me end on this note: poor, poor Paige, a character plagued by inconsistency, lack of vision, and too many recasts! I think the best chance this character ever had was when Cady Huffman played her. She may not have been the best "match" for Bo, but Huffman made the character more feisty and entertaining to watch than either of the other two actresses who portrayed her. I, for one, am just happy that the writers are flipping the "Paige" in this story and moving the character along (poor pun, I know!). This was so much, fun, Denise! I hope we do this again soon after a lot of (hopefully) great changes have started to occur.
DB: I have to laugh, because Paige's character certainly was doomed from day one. The fact that Mary Beth Evans was offered the role and later declined should've been an omen that this character was cursed. I also maintain that Paige was created for the sole purpose of replacing Nora's character, which just so happened to coincide with Smith nearing the end of her contract term and subsequent "contract-induced coma." I completely agree with you about Huffman's interpretation of the character. What's interesting is that Huffman portrayed Paige as strong, fiery, yet vulnerable - in other words, she was more LIKE Nora than not - and it's noteworthy how that incarnation of the character evaporated when Huffman vacated the role. So I do have high hopes for Carlivati. The actors have been very vocal in their support of him, and that's seriously impressive. I believe he's going to take a long, hard look at the canvas and definitely acknowledge the plethora of talent under his roof. It's our responsibility as fans to hold network execs accountable and continue fighting for these actors and our show by remaining proactive. That said, this was an absolute blast, and I can't wait to sit down again in the near future and discuss Carlivati's progress!
So there you have it, everyone! We do hope you enjoyed this special column and will definitely bring it to you from time-to-time. Please feel free to email Denise with your questions and comments as I am on vacation this week. We have also created a special SOC "Two Scoops Roundtable" thread on the OLTL forum, where we encourage you to weigh in with your feedback and share ideas in terms of what you wish to see with Ron Carlivati at the helm.
Enjoy your week!