We've put together a special year-end list of the top ten most-read Two Scoops columns over the past 12 months. To check out the list and see what came out on top, please click here.
Happy 2010, soap fans! Regular Two-Scoopster Dawn took a bit of much-deserved holiday time off and asked this guy to come out of Two Scoops retirement in order to fill in for her. I've still been keeping my eye on Llanview since my last column, and while I had high hopes for Ron Carlivati when he took the reigns from one of the show's worst head writers, Dena Higley, I begin the new year lamenting for this show that has kept me entertained for the better part of 26 years.
There is no denying that this show is in trouble; most recent ratings put OLTL dead last among all shows (including the recently canceled "As the World Turns"). A 1.7 household rating is as low as I have seen it, and the most important demographic rating, the 18-34 one, shows OLTL last as well. If I may be so bold as to use a football analogy, we viewers are on the cusp of that 4th quarter play with 30 seconds left on the clock. Will Carlivati throw that winning touchdown and save the show from rumored cancellation, or will he fumble it and give ABC no choice but to cut its losses? These are serious times, soap fans, and our voices must be heard! Let the powers that be know what you like and what you don't, but most importantly let them know there are still viewers out there. The show IS fixable, but ABC has to first realize that there are still viewers who care about Llanview.
In the meantime, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Ron Carlivati does have a few aces up his sleeve, and I hope he capitalizes on the following plotlines which have huge potential in the coming year:
1. Todd and Tea: No couple on this show comes remotely close for me when it comes to intensity and chemistry. Florencia Lozano's return to OLTL in 2009 was one of the highlights for me, and her interaction with Trevor St. John is like none other. These characters share a complicated, rich, and dynamic history together, and the introduction of Danielle as Tea and Todd's love child is just the jolt that this already-popular couple needed to propel them into another chapter of their love story. What is so great is the way that Tea understands Todd and loves his despite his many flaws and shortcomings. Todd realizes this, and even when he was faced with Tea's deception about who Danielle's proud papa is, he still managed to forgive her---in Todd's own unique way. Blair and Todd are done; they just didn't have "it" anymore, and their repetitious, flawed, and dysfunctional relationship was long overdue for that last nail in the coffin---and that nails' name is "Tea."
2. Roxy and Kyle's Friendship: Can I just say that these are probably two of my most favorite people to watch on-screen together these days? It's hard for me to fathom that just a short handful of months ago, Kyle was actually blackmailing Roxy over the blood she had Kyle test for Shane when he was sick. Now, they are the best of friends----and as Roxy put it so perfectly recently, he is the "gay son she never had." I'm not sure what it is that I specifically love about these two as friends: maybe it is the fact that two unlikely "outcasts" have found a common bond between them, or perhaps it is that Kyle has become a surrogate son for Roxy, one who appreciates and loves Roxy for her own style and uniqueness. Whatever the reason is, these two are funny, sincere, and refreshingly different, and I love their special relationship. I hope to see more of it!
3. Bo and Nora: Well, I can't say that I like the WAY that these two finally managed to find their ways back to one another, but I'm just glad it has happened after the longest decade EVER! It was a mistake to break these two up all of those years ago, and viewers have been teased with a possible reconcilliation for years now. But it wasn't until Nora and Clint forged ahead with the dopiest wedding of the year that Bo felt compelled to confess his feelings for his ex-wife. I still question whether it was good for the integrity of both Nora and Bo to have them engage in stolen glances and occasional kisses behind Clint's back or to even have Nora agree to marry Clint at all. Carlivati wanted to create a tense triangle between Nora and the Buchanan brothers, that much I get. But, he did it at the expense of Nora's (and Bo's) credibility. But, arguing those finer points will get us nowhere, so let us just celebrate the most-desired reunion in the history of supercouples! If we can only get past the Clint and Bo rivalry, we will be able to enjoy watching the magic of Bo and Nora. Let's hope the magic
4. Charlie's Decent into Alcoholism: Brian Kerwin is such a gifted actor, and he and Erika Slezak have been mostly M.I.A. since their wedding, so despite being totally bummed about Jared's untimely demise at the hands of that cartoonish Mitch Lawrence (soooo over him, let me tell you!), his son's death may finally give Charlie a meaty storyline to play out. His recent admission of binge drinking to Viki was one of the most honest and heart-felt scenes I have watched in a long time, and the rough journey that these two characters could take together to rid Charlie of his demons might be just the ticket to give the show some social conscience again. You have two enormously talented actors who are chomping at the bit to have this kind of material, and I would love to see their marriage solidified in such a symbolic way as Viki helps Charlie through what will be a terrible ordeal. I only hope Charlie isn't cured in a week!
Alas, I wish I could praise all aspects of the show right now, but we all know that the show wouldn't be in last place if there weren't areas of improvement. Unfortunately, those improvements exceed the length I have for this column, so I'll just provide you with those I deem to be most immediate:
1. Give Cris and Layla a good story. There was a time when I though Layla was one of the most useless, wasted characters on the entire canvas. Thankfully, that has all changed for me. Since Layla's involvement in the Kyle/Fish storyline, I really have been drawn to Layla. I feel as though she is more relevant, and her relationship with Chris is one that I actually find myself rooting for (and I'm not a Chris Vega fan at all). Chris and Layla were certainly key players in Fish's coming-out story, but since Fish has started to find his way, Chris and Layla have embarked on a physical relationship---but that is the extent of their storyline. Don't squander a good thing here! Give this couple their own conflicts, but not one that threatens their relationship (hello, Evangeline!); instead, give them a conflict that they can try to conquer TOGETHER. I would love to see them in some sort of storyline that puts them on the run together (it's so cliche, I know, but I would love to see them out of their familiar territory). The one request I make is that Evangeline is not brought out of that coma. Going down the "I'm dating my sister's boyfriend" route is lazy, and Evangeline isn't needed on the show...yet. Believe me, if I thought Renee Goldsberry would bring back the OLTL viewing audience en masse, I would be at the front of the pack waving the banner, but I don't think any one actor has the ability to raise a show's ratings anymore. Heck, if A-list movie star James Franco couldn't make a blip on "General Hospital"s" ratings number, Goldberry certainly doesn't stand a chance.
2. Ditch the following characters (in no particular order, except for Stacy): Stacy, Kim, Eli, Ford, Marko, Mitch. I'm also going to go a bit radical and include Rex, Gigi, Skyler, and Shane. I think the first handful of characters on my list are pretty much self-explanatory, and I'm pleased beyond words to know that ABC cut its losses with the character of Stacy Morasco. Poor Crystal Hunt never had a chance of redeeming this dud of a character. Stacy is the younger version of that trainwreck creation called Paige. Just like Paige, no actress ever stood a chance of making Stacy work. Mitch is a mixed bag. I loved Mitch in the 80's, and I can still remember the classic "murder" when Dorian hit him on the head with a vase. His return back in 2003-ish was alright, but he just became a little too cartoonish for my liking (my favorite villain has always been Carlo Hesser, pre-Carlivati and Higley eras). Mitch is not fun anymore; he is weird, totally non-threatening, and skeevy. Get rid of him, because his threats are tiresome. As for Rex and the gang, I am not interested. Plain and simple. I loved the character of Gigi when she was introduced in the Paris, Texas storyline, but when she became involved with Rex, I quickly lost interest. I think Carlivati gave it the ol' college try with these two, but it just isn't working. And Skyler is another wasted character---what purpose does he serve this show? I challenge anyone to give me a list of 3 significant ways he contributes to the state of Llanview. I can't think of one. Ditch him! Scott Clifton is too gifted of an actor to be trapped in this role.
3. Tone down the KISH storyline! I get it---Llanview is "gay-friendly." But geesh! Talk about hitting me over the head with a frying pan to get the point! Whew! From Kyle's stereotypical disapproving parents to Nick's bashing to Dorian's "fake wedding" to Amelia to the legal same-sex marriages in Llanview during Dorian's mayoral campaign to Delphina suddenly confessing her love to Amelia, my mind has been swirling with all things "KISH." I'm all for telling this story, and I think Scott Evans and Brett Claywell have been outstanding in their respective roles, but I just feel as though the story has been a little too "preachy." Here's the best way I can explain it: the Billy Douglas/AIDS quilt storyline was an A+. It set the standard with superior storytelling, a complex plot, and touching moments sprinkled in throughout the story arch. Fast-forward to 2009, and I give this KISH story a B-. It has potential, but if the gold-star is the Billy Douglas saga, it's got a long way to go.