RYAN: I'm bummed out, Denise. And not because of all of the all the ridiculous, negative, agenda-driven, insulting posts found on the message boards these days (BTW: I've decided to take a very long break from posting for a while; it's just not a fun place to be right now). And it isn't because of Nathaniel Marston's firing from OLTL. I'm not privy to the reasons behind the infamous incident or the reasons that precipitated this casting move, nor do I care, but I would have liked for him to be given a chance to work through this situation before such a drastic move. He really was becoming an acting force to be reckoned with on that show! Rather, I'm bummed out because of the Writers' Guild Strike, which not only may impact OLTL but impacts my entire prime-time lineup (don't even get me started with the medication I'm going to need to get me through my Jack Bauer/"24" withdrawal in January!). While I certainly do support what they are fighting for, I can't help but feel selfish for what I am personally going to be missing out on in the imminent future. Even though ABC has indicated that original daytime drama programming will not be affected in any way by this strike, I do know that once 2008 rolls around and Ron Carlivati's new scripts are nowhere to be found, the scripts that do make their way to the screens will be written by "ghost writers" whose names are withheld to protect them from negative ramifications from the Guild. There are also rumblings that ABC is giving their writers ultimatums, but I can't speak to that since I haven't heard specific details. But surely any new scripts won't be NEARLY as good as the ones that Carlivati is pumping out right now. Watching the show these days is like pigging out on all of that Halloween candy I would get as a young kid! Most days, I tune in and find it to be as sweet and delicious as a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. But every once in a while, I still find an episode to be as yucky as a black jellybean. Carlivati isn't perfect...yet, but he's building Llanview to be familiar again, and for that I heap major applause onto him.
DENISE: Ryan, it's raining monkeys and wood is now a drink. That's the only explanation I can fathom that begins to explain the amount of negativity circulating in cyberspace right now. What saddens me is that I've witnessed a great deal of poster baiting, actor bashing and all around general rudeness on the OLTL board these past two weeks, and this contradicts what SOC stands for and what this medium is supposed to embrace. OLTL viewers are a passionate bunch, and while we are to be commended for our loyalty, the reality is that this is a SHOW. We have real lives, families, jobs and conflicts, and most of us log onto SOC to share our thoughts, have some fun and engage in productive debates. That said, I've witnessed many viewers cross a line of decency on the board recently, and it's truly a shame. It's prudent to remind everyone that each and every one of us - from Dan to Raven to the mods to you and I - VOLUNTEERS our time out of our busy lives to elevate this soap venue from all others by what we contribute. Our mods have been forced to police threads because people can't behave in a civil and decent manner, and that is simply unacceptable. If you don't like what you see on your television screens, you have two options: WRITE and make your voices heard, or change the channel. We should indeed be enjoying what Carlivati is putting forth, weighing how this writers' strike may affect OLTL (especially if the directors and actors follow suit next year), and anticipating what lies ahead. While I hate the thought of OLTL potentially going dark at some point due to the strike, I'm a huge believer in seeing people be treated respectfully. If these talented individuals must walk to make that happen, more power to them. I do wish to extend my best thoughts and wishes to Nathaniel Marston and his family. I am confident that his future will be bold and bright, and I'm grateful for all he has given to viewers over the years. Now onto OLTL which, as far as I'm concerned, is blowing its two sister shows out of the water in terms of innovative writing and directing. How creative was Carlivati in terms of Asa's will and its impact on Llanview's residents?
RYAN: The reading of Asa's will is a perfect illustration of Carlivati's commitment to honoring the history of OLTL and showcasing a multitude of characters. Look at the room at Asa's ranch in Texas---Renee, Nora and Matthew, Clint, Sarah, Jess & Natalie, Nigel, all of these people are important members of the Buchanan clan (past and present), and they all are affected in different ways by Asa's wishes. Case in point: to see Nora and Matthew be given the mansion immediately cemented Nora's place in Llanview. She is now like Monica on "General Hospital." On GH, Monica married into the Quartermaine family, and she was given the mansion as a gift from her husband Alan. The rest of the Quartermaines live in what is essentially (from a financial perspective) "their house", but 20 years later, Monica still never misses a beat to let them forget that it's HER house! Now, Nora is in a similar position. She married into the Buchanan family, but she has been considered a member of the clan even after she and Bo divorced. To hear that Asa wanted her to own the mansion is his way of ensuring her place at the table at every Buchanan Thanksgiving celebration from now on. And it also reinforces Carlivati's wise choice to plow forward with a Nora/Clint/Dorian triangle. Woo hoo!
DENISE: The fact that Asa willed Nora his mansion was truly the icing on the cake! Hopefully, this will silence fans that have been whining and wondering why Nora hasn't had a place of her own to call home up until this point. Especially poignant was that Asa left Nora the mansion with intent that she and Matt would continue to fill it with joy and create a loving environment for Renee. How wonderful that Carlivati isn't shoving Renee and Nigel under the rug now that our beloved Buchanan patriarch has retired! I was so thrilled at the "nods" to history that were woven into Asa's will, including a standout reference to Buchanan City and passing on the legendary law badge to Bo. Most viewers are upset by Bo's absence from the will reading and can't understand why he didn't head down to Texas with the rest of the clan. It's for the simple reason that Carlivati is trying to build story and work angles, which is the same reason why Marcie wandered into the Bon-Jour Café and just missed Viki by a split-second. Carlivati is trying to create stories by deliberately connecting characters and not connecting others, and I wish viewers would have faith that he will tie everything together without making snap judgments. I am overjoyed that these veteran actors are FINALLY being treated with respect and not being used to prop everyone else, and that younger characters are being penned with substance and back story as a result of blending generations of actors and their onscreen personas. Isn't it wonderful to see Viki smile, mentor Gigi and Noelle, and dress for "date night"? All she was doing one year ago was bantering with Todd, running interference in her kids' lives, and blaming herself for Jessica's mental illness. Women over 40 can actually find love and happiness and lead rich lives, and those under 30 needn't be superficial and contrived. This is the best OLTL has been in YEARS, and while it's far from perfect, I have a hunch that Carlivati is just getting started.
RYAN: Didn't you LOVE that nod to ol' Buck Buchanan who ruled Buchanan City a hundred years ago? That made me nostalgic for those really big, splashy "camp" storylines like the Old West or Eterna or Viki in Heaven. I just so appreciated the fact that this was mentioned at all--even if a viewer didn't watch the show back in the late 1980's, it didn't stop them from appreciating the sentiment of leaving something so important to Bo. But for those of us who spent months watching Clint interact with his ancestors as he traveled back in time, it was such a neat wink! Also of note: I like that Kevin and Joey's names were mentioned in the video will (even though they weren't present in Texas, we were told they were watching this at the same time). Just well-written and a reminder that even though these important characters aren't SEEN anymore, they are PRESENT. Bravo! But on the more comedic side, how hysterical was that wedding between Alex and David, perhaps the two greediest, money-hungry people to ever come through Llanview?! As they, smiling at one another, stood at the make-shift altar, I loved that they each had inner-monologue going in their heads. David's was telling him that he would be getting a whopping 50% of Alex's fortune (which we all know doesn't exist), and Alex's was telling her that she's going to inherit a fortune once David is revealed to be a Buchanan heir (and for all we know, David is the person who will end up with $1.00---wouldn't Alex's face be worth watching if that were the case?). And inserting these light-hearted, comedic scenes amid the more serious ones of the week (Marty and Cole's mysterious disappearance by that creepy Death figure or Marcie's perpetual saga in hiding from the Big Arm of the law) was just another example of why Carlivati deserves every penny (and then some) as part of the Writers Guild. But, please hurry back, Ron, because Llanview needs you!
DENISE: Another aspect of the new-and-improved OLTL consists of some bold and fresh ideas executed on behalf of OLTL's directing team, which we saw as the camera shifted from David to Alex and back again. How fun! As we've discussed time and again, it appears that Carlivati has begun to put the "Life" back into OLTL. This has been so evident by staunch effort shown across the board, whose benchmark is creative writing and that which is trickling down to production, direction and acting. Perhaps I'm an eternal optimist, but I as I watch OLTL, I simply believe that everyone is enjoying his or her job again and riding a huge wave of enthusiasm. That is reflective in the quality of the product I am seeing on my television screen, and we are enduring fewer of those "yucky black jellybean" days that you describe. I believe many viewers are simply having a difficult time with getting readjusted to how a soap SHOULD operate, as opposed to how it has been functioning for much too long. I genuinely believe that many viewers have become so accustomed to seeing the same five people featured day in and day out that they cannot understand why this is no longer the rule. Quite frankly, that should never be the rule. That is why this show hit rock bottom, lost its integrity, and pitted one fan base against another for nearly three years, creating an environment of hostility and divisiveness. We are now seeing a more balanced show, where Carlivati is reeling in his cast of characters and creating offshoots of story from a historical perspective, and THAT is the essence of good storytelling. Once again, if viewers don't like the product, they have two options: they can write the network, or they may change the channel. I also hope viewers recognize that what Carlivati is doing right now is very difficult and requires a great deal of forethought and skill. He is plucking key characters and transporting them far from Llanview, in an effort to wrap up Higley's stories, create new storylines amid fresh but familiar scenery, and work towards connecting everything together like pieces of a pie. So it's very disheartening that he is fighting an uphill battle with viewers in addition to a writers' strike, because this man has yet to generate his richest material, nor is he receiving the accolades and patience he deserves.
Have a wonderful week!
Ryan and Denise