Hello, my pretties. I am well, how are you? So we're going to do something a little different with this Two Scoops. In the two weeks since my last column, my editor and benefactor, the lovely and talented Dan Kroll, came to me and said he had a ripping good time doing his "How to fix All My Children" column over on the AMC end of things. Seems you guys had liked it a lot, too, so he suggested I take a shot at "fixing OLTL" myself.
But like the hapless astronauts in the '50s sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, Dan did not comprehend the raging beast he had unleashed within my fevered, attention-starved mind. Now, Id the Ego Monster frolics and rampages among you, his bestial appetite not to be sated until all hear his mad plans for the future of One Life to Live and tremble with both terror and shameful desire. Yes, it's all me, all the time, as this week, for one night only, I give you...How I would fix One Life to Live, Michael-style. Change your contact lenses and let the page count beware!
VIKI AND CHARLIE I know, I know -- Charlie has been a schmuck for quite a while. Maybe it's due to Brian Kerwin's busy theater schedule, but Charlie seems to just bounce from story to story in which he's either a) unstable, b) struggling not to drink, c) clueless, or d) wracked with guilt and angst. Or all of the above, in the case of our current story with Rex and Echo. It's just not fun to watch Charlie tear himself up and mope about constantly, and I can see why a lot of viewers seem fed up with the character. Put simply, the writing for Charlie is perfunctory and does not play to Kerwin's dynamic strengths as a performer; anyone who saw him onstage or in any of his many television and film credits can attest to that.
Some might say this is a sign to dump Charlie and put Viki back with Clint, but Clint's on his own journey as a character, and I just don't see it. I remember Viki and Charlie's glory days in their early love story in 2007-2008, and I think there's much more to do with the couple. I'm tired of seeing all Viki's men die, tired of watching her grieve, and I certainly don't want to see Charlie get the ultra-rare Steve Burke "Walk of Shame" Exit where he is dumped for an older model. I want to see something new for Viki and for her latest and hopefully last husband.
Thinking about how to get Viki and Charlie out of a rut brought me back to a phantom spoiler I recalled from a couple years ago, which appeared, then disappeared from the usual press releases. Shortly after Viki and Charlie's wedding, a legitimate spoiler from ABC claimed that the Bankses would spend quality time with little Bree and then consider expanding their own family. As with any number of official spoilers in the last several years, this story never materialized, as the scenes were likely cut, but it seemed like a startling and exciting idea to me at the time: What if Viki and Charlie actually decided to adopt a young child, just as Clint had once adopted Kevin and Joey?
This seemed a revolutionary idea to me at the time, but the more I think about it, it is in fact tried and true on daytime. Remember Emily Quartermaine on GH and Tad Martin on AMC? That worked back in the day. And with Viki and Charlie, these are both Characters Of A Certain Age, who have loved, raised and even lost children, and been blessed with grandchildren. Charlie has repeatedly struggled to come to terms with the loss of his sons, and is even today trying to re-live his lost fatherhood in his doomed reconnection with Rex and Shane -- his desperate desire to be a parent again is at the core of his character. And adoption, a complicated process in real life, is no doubt even more complex with older parents. Further, how would Viki's grown kids -- like Kevin and Joey, products of adoption, and Natalie, raised in poverty -- react to the new addition? Particularly if that addition was a child who, like the young Tad, already had a family, and -- this being a soap opera -- a dark, mysterious past, which only one of Viki's kids suspects? Look at AMC -- Tad's connection to the Gardners changed Pine Valley and the Martins forever.
The worst thing you can do with any TV family is bring on a cutesy late-addition "Cousin Oliver" type à la The Brady Bunch, so if Viki and Charlie adopted a kid, it would have to drive dramatic story. Sure, throw around any number of fertile lifts from The Bad Seed or Orphan, but thinking long-term, the kid wouldn't have to be a homicidal maniac; just troubled, deceptive, and hiding huge, action-packed secrets about his/her origins. Cast soap vets as his or her blood kin, set Viki and Charlie against them and go to town. If the Echo/Rex/Clint story has proven one thing, it's that veterans energize the canvas, and people will watch Viki, Dorian, Clint, Charlie, etc. in serious stories.
Erika Slezak's cachet with the audience is massive, and when the writers still let Viki get in trouble or go on a mission, viewers follow her. Imagine it: Erika Slezak vs., let's say Sarah Brown or Stephen Nichols for a kid who can actually act, with Brian Kerwin finally getting to shine as Charlie with a cause beyond moping around and pondering the vodka bottle! And in the end, you'd have a whole new, unconventional family dynamic for the Lord clan, with a child much younger than Viki's other progeny.
In addition to this idea, there's the obvious tools right in front of us now. The Banner still exists, and Viki has recently admitted its struggling like all print media in the 21st century. Why not use this to drive new stories? During the Echo story, Viki has proven she still has a reporter's instinct -- let her use it to solve any number of mysteries on the show. Bring people back to the dueling papers of Llanview -- remember when Kevin was determined to modernize the Banner? And with the secret of Rex's true parentage about to pop, set Brian Kerwin against Jerry verDorn. When we watch Clint facing off with the weak Charlie of today, it seems Clint could eat him alive, but as an actor, Kerwin's an equal match for verDorn, and his Charlie can be, too, if the writers let him. Viki opted for Charlie as a different kind of man from Clint -- show us why they're different, why Charlie is perhaps more earthy, but still as intelligent and tough as Clint in his own arena. Let Charlie get his pound of flesh from Clint for what Viki's ex has done to his life.
TODD "LET'S WAIT AWHILE" MANNING The first thing I worried about when I agreed to take on this special assignment was repeating the same criticisms I have made about Todd's fallen character ad nauseum over the last two years, so I'm going to try to keep them to a minimum here, and focus on what needs to be done. Obviously, with the "re-rape" of Marty, Todd has proven he is not and never will be a "Let's Wait Awhile" Janet Jackson soft ballad kind of guy again. Watching his conduct with Marty, Jessica, Téa, Starr, Blair, and others in the period since the "rapemance" has convinced me Todd is once again the same sociopath he was in 1993. By rights he should have been killed off in a huge murder mystery by now. Even the show seems at a loss as to how to handle Todd since 2008 -- he has become a kind of male ingénue, running interference for Blair and Téa, a clueless prize to be won or schemed against, and now they've begun referencing his glory days in the '90s, back when he seemed to have a soul and a spine. We're even getting a Roger Howarth rerun episode in a couple weeks. What must Trevor St. John think has become of the character he reinvented in 2003?
So how do you solve a problem like Todd, formerly one of my favorite characters and still a huge audience draw? Well, for starters, you go back to unfinished business. The show keeps turning back to Todd and Marty scenes -- nasty, inconclusive spats like they've been having ever since the "rapemance" story ended -- because they are clearly trying to figure this out. They tried having Todd and Marty "make peace" in the lame "KAD Killer" story, but nobody bought that because Todd never paid for his behavior. Since then Todd's devolved into total paranoia, convinced Marty is Out To Get Him.
The truth is that Todd's mania is still centered around Marty because he has never resolved his recent actions against her within himself. He wants to vilify her again and again to absolve himself of the stain, but he is only going backwards down the road to recovery he traveled in the '90s with the first rape. And with Téa -- and even Blair and Starr at times -- he has surrounded himself with enablers and enough money and power to not worry about having to change again. It's a far cry from the Todd who had to wear an ankle bracelet and play hospital janitor. That was a Todd slowly but surely humbled.
You begin fixing Todd by rebuilding Marty from her current madness -- the baby story with Natalie and John, while awesome fun, should not be the end of Susan Haskell on the show. Instead, she must recover, retain some of her newfound edge, and go back to being the tough-as-nails Marty she was lo those many years ago. Todd wronged her, but Marty's rich, too, and she can make Todd pay the only way he understands -- with power, humiliation, and with his past. Who would Marty turn to in a campaign against Todd? Who but his other most hated nemesis: Kevin Buchanan. As played by Dan Gauthier, Kevin is a beloved fan favorite, and his dynamic with Trevor St. John's Todd was second to none.
Kevin, Marty, and Todd all went to school together, but Kevin and Marty never really tried out a romance -- what if they did (much to the chagrin of others, as we will discuss shortly)? And in the process, pooled their resources to go after Todd through his empire -- taking the Sun to save the Banner, something Kevin attempted once before during his stint as Editor-In-Chief? What if they split Todd's family and friends down the middle, picking some of them off to choose sides and empty his fat wallet?
Would Jessica and Starr really side with Todd after what he did to their daughters? What would that mean for Todd and Starr? Would Téa and Todd's incendiary relationship weather the storm as Todd's rage mounted, or would it only get more intense as Téa fought tooth and nail to punish anyone in the Manning clan who betrayed her husband? And in the end, what if Todd was brought low, and, stripped of his trappings, had to finally face his new demons and rise from the ashes? What would an all-new Todd be like after a second rape, and the potential loss of his riches? I find the idea exciting.
There are other possibilities on the horizon: Blair's story with the painting of her in happier times during her "golden" wedding to Todd strikes an emotional note for longtime fans, and could trigger recognition in Todd of the man he's become versus the man he lost along the way, not in terms of romance, but in terms of his soul. Ted King is sure to prove a worthy adversary for Todd, and if "Tomas" and Blair went up against Todd and Téa, the sparks would be sure to fly. But if any serious, character-oriented story with Todd is to be attempted in the future, OLTL must first address how they broke Todd's carefully calibrated character, and begin to fix him -- in the most heated, dramatic way possible.
CLINT THE DARK EMPEROR, BO AND NORA, and THE BUCHANAN CLAN So yeah -- Dark Clint is pretty much the coolest thing on the show right now, next to the epic Marty/Natalie Psycho vs. Schemer Bitchfest. It's a tightrope walk to make sure Clint retains his humanity, but he's headed for a fall and, in my opinion, the key is not to let that fall de-fang Clint's powerful character. However Clint comes out of his current storyline, he must be able to rise again and take control of Buchanan affairs, just as Asa did so many times. And whatever antagonistic relationship Clint, Bo, and Nora have for the foreseeable future must continue to be capitalized on.
But in moving Clint forward, we have to look at his relationships with everyone. There's his Lord sons -- Kevin, the tough-minded businessman, and Joey, the dreamy artist. How will they react to him? Will Kevin respect Clint's drive but seek to take control from his reckless Pa? And hey, what about Cord? How would he react to Clint throwing Rex aside, as Asa did to Cord and Maria? A few simple scenes with Cord could illuminate much of Clint's changed persona. And what about Viki and Charlie? In Viki's gaze, Clint surely sees the life he had and the man he was but can no longer afford to be and doesn't seem to want to be; what does Viki see, and when their inevitable showdown over Echo and Rex comes, how can the show milk that fire for as long as possible?
I posited earlier about pushing a Clint vs. Charlie and Viki battle, and I think that would be printed money. I also think they could get more mileage out of the fairly trite Cutter/Aubrey story if it turned out that the con-kids had a connection to Echo or to her scheming brother Giles, who allegedly wanted a piece of the Buchanan pie as well. What if Giles was recast with a soap vet, and used Cutter or Aubrey (or both) to come gunning for Clint, Echo, Viki, and Charlie?
Most importantly, though, Clint needs a consort, and I still think that consort must be Kimberly Andrews, either in the form of Amanda Setton or a talented recast. That story is not done, as Clint continues to bring "Kim-ber-lee" up again and again, and Llanview's latest power couple simply were story together. When the smoke clears on this Aubrey storyline, I don't think poor Joey should end up with either her or Kelly -- instead, the character should be re-focused on real goals, and perhaps recast. What if he goes on a bender across Europe, and ends up in a club dancing with a beautiful girl who's longing for a "cowboy" just like him, but a little older -- a girl he only knows as "Kim?" While Kim would inevitably end up back in Clint's arms, a tense triangle with Clint and a mortified Kim and Joey, who learn the unfortunate ramifications of their out-of-town dalliance too late, could be a lot of fun. And hey, what if Kim got knocked up by her cowboy -- or Joey?
Speaking of Joey: The trick to his character is balancing his romantic passion and atypical, earnest personality with intelligence, integrity and strength. He's been searching for a cause since he grew up, looking in Billy Douglas, in his photography, in journalism, in the church. What does Joey really want? He's the most honest Buchanan, but why does he run to immature decisions and impulsive romances with faithless women who embody Kelly, when Kelly's deepest relationship is clearly with his brother, a betrayal he can never have fully tolerated judging by his current mercurial behavior towards his ex-wife? He wants to be a kid again, wants to recapture what he had with Kelly, but he's not a kid anymore. Can Joey get involved in social causes, like his mentor, Andrew, while still being a strong leading man who won't get duped again? Jonathan Jackson's Lucky Spencer has an iota of strength on GH opposite the mob -- couldn't Joey be reinvented with that same kind of soulful heroism (and less mob worship)?
KELLY, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, KELLY Yeah, I don't know either. Gina Tognoni is an Emmy-winning star, but story after story since her return has been either ridiculous or poorly plotted. The Joey and Aubrey caper is mildly diverting, but it doesn't tell the full story of her character, and the truth is nothing does or will until Kelly's character deals with the elephants in her emotional and psychological headroom -- Kevin Buchanan and her son, Zane.
I'm of the firm belief that Dan Gauthier's Kevin is Kelly's "you-hurt-me-I-hate-you-let's-have-sex" soul mate, and there's a reason Tognoni's occasional scenes with Gauthier were and are her best since her return. The Zane issue is dynamite between them and amongst the Cramer family, particularly if the boy returns and the question of his parentage is reopened. Kelly has revealed that Zane does not know Kevin is his grandfather instead of his father, and the inherent drama there is far weightier and layered than the insta-shock of the cruelly misused Evans family paternity secret this past fall. But what if Kevin really is Zane's dad, and none of them know it? I never believed Spencer Truman really rendered Kev sterile, and if that issue was laid aside, all Kevin and Kelly would have between them are the years of awkward shame and guilt.
While Gina T. does have chemistry with John-Paul Lavoisier, I think that bond and her connection with Joey could only be transitory pairings for Kelly; maybe Cutter could work as well. In the end, her heart has to be with Kevin, but it could be a long saga, particularly if, as suggested above, he got involved with Marty, thinking Kelly was closed off to him. Kelly could seethe and drown her sorrows with Joey or Rex, as the Zane paternity mystery heated up. Kelly is not "too big to fail" but she's also not a doomed character -- there's a gold mine in her recent past, which the show has stubbornly refused to tap into. Now is the time if Tognoni is to succeed on OLTL.
DORIAN: WILL WEAR FUNNY COSTUME FOR AIRTIME She might as well be wearing a sign saying that; all Dorian gets these days are wacky antics in other people's stories. And that's got to change. It's a disservice to Robin Strasser, the original soap bitch, and to a loyal longtime audience. I love Dorian and David together, but this on-off game with Tuc Watkins has got to wrap up. The show had riches in Dorian with Ray Montez, but A Martinez was casually dismissed for no discernable reason.
So what next? Maybe I'm a hypocrite, because I'm honestly not sure. Dorian's been with so many different and interesting men, it's hard to think of an all-new type. She's had men of power, and she's gone for men of humble origins. She went cougar before it was cool, but she also married Victor Lord. It's possible you could tie her new romance into the aforementioned adoption story with Viki and Charlie -- what if her new beau was related to the kooky-ooky family Viki's new child came from?
You could always bring back Ray Montez, or have her try things again with Joey. But really, part of the reason OLTL has cruelly taken Dorian for granted of late is because, more than any other veteran, she needs no man to drive major story. You can set her against Clint or Todd, or Viki and Charlie, or against Kevin and Kelly in a Zane story, and Dorian will own that whole playing field. The key is, as with Clint, finding the right consort to make the story uniquely personal and character-driven for Dorian, as opposed to it simply involving things she does to other people. She's been alone too long.
THE JESSICA FRAGMENTS Okay, white flag. This is something I'm really at a loss with, because as I've said before, Jessica has no character anymore and hasn't for years. She's just a suffering heroine who goes crazy or who things happen to, and come on, it's gotten old. Really old. It's a waste of Bree Williamson's talent, and I still think the entire DID/molestation story was a massive desecration of Jessica's character, which she has yet to recover from. She was once poised to be "the new Viki," but even with DID, Viki was always able to drive strong, adult storylines as her woman, as a wife, mother, businesswoman, sister, mayor, reporter, matriarch.
Show me Jessica carrying Eterna or the Old West or a Megan/Sarah Gordon "who's my daughter" story, or a rivalry with Tina. She can't do that today. I have not seen her work on a story for the Sun where she supposedly holds down a job in, uh, ever. I don't know why the heck she would work there after what Todd got into with Tess and Chloe. I like her with Brody, a lot, but I don't know who Jessica is as an individual, and honestly, I think it is a drag on the canvas. I think the more shocking, and daring move would be to write the character out for several years or at least six to nine months. Send her away for treatment, and move the show and her loved ones on without her. This does not doom Jessica to obscurity. Instead, it will allow her character to regenerate, and grow into someone who can work as a contemporary heroine. Further, the distance from the character will allow us to appreciate her more, and see how people like Viki, Clint, her siblings, Brody, and Bree adjust to her absence. Jessica was once the maiden heart of the Buchanans, the innocent they all had to protect and fight for; what happens if Jessica is sent away, and there's nothing to fight for because they've already lost? And what if Jessica comes back from St. Anne's, stronger but different, less approachable or trusting?
Taking time off to work on this character will allow her to be properly differentiated from other female leads like Natalie or Kelly. It would also give us a fair playing field for new female leads, like a proper recast of Tina's daughter Sarah, who was always shunted to the side for Jessica and Natalie. Sometimes, change is good, especially for Jessica. It's less daring to write crazy than it is to write sane, and interesting.
NATALIE AND...sigh...JOHN I love Natalie. I am not a John/Natalie fan and haven't been in many years. People know this, it needn't be repeated again. I think John is an albatross around the neck of that feisty pregnant lady with the shotgun at the Buchanan lodge, and I think she's more attuned to men who are like her -- men like, yes, poor dead Jared. But assuming he's not coming back -- though I could go for that -- we have to deal in the here and now. And here, today, John and Natalie are together, that cute baby is most likely theirs when all is said and done, and despite my distaste, "Jolie" is a fairly popular lead couple. So how do I work with that?
First and foremost, we know that when the truth comes out about Brody and the baby, John will most likely turn on Natalie and break up with her, at least for a while. And I think her job might well be in jeopardy again over the Marty shenanigans, which I think is appropriate. While Natalie is good at her job in the cop shop, in the end, she walks too much of a moral and ethical tightrope as a person to function as an officer of the law. The Buchanan lodge caper proves that once again.
Natalie wants to do good, and she often does wrong for the right reasons. This is the essence of her Buchanan soul, and it must be accounted for, either at Buchanan Enterprises again or perhaps as a private investigator; I'd prefer a little of both, as I think Natalie could be an interesting counterpoint and perhaps adversary to Clint, Kim, or Kevin in the B.E. boardroom, while still retaining a fondness for skulduggery, action, and a lot of detective work. And John is always going to be part of her life -- the baby who is almost certainly their son cements that.
While I would like to see a new love interest introduced for Natalie in her line of work, it's obvious that any future story will have to also include her tortured relationship with John, who may yet be her one true north no matter who either of them are with (I disagree, but as long as Michael Easton is around and ABC has a say, I doubt it would be up to me). So I'd say come up with someone new, interesting, and unconventional -- maybe a smart but sexy scientist who she meets on a B.E. project -- to soothe her wounded heart as John pushes her away. In turn, John could hit the bottle, go to the dark side, and finally face his long-simmering family demons, perhaps bedding any number of willing and lonely Llanview ladies, only to rebuild himself as a better, more mature man, while Natalie has moved on -- and could he have gotten another lady inadvertently pregnant in the meantime?
For me, if John and Natalie are to succeed, or John is to remain on the canvas with anyone, he must suffer and finally grow up and learn to express himself. Part of that will come from Natalie and his son, but it must also come from his own character exploration, as opposed to Natalie groveling at his feet over her mistakes as she's always done in the past. He must accept Natalie for who she is, and not who he always wants the women in his life to be -- disposable and obedient, doing the work for him that his crippled emotions don't want to do. I think Michael Easton's capable of putting in the work if the writing is there, but I'm not willing to give up on Natalie's other romantic possibilities, or on a long, hard road for John and Natalie. I think that's meeting their fanbase halfway.
HEY, REMEMBER DIVERSITY? Sorry for the blunt heading, but it's the truth. I've said it again and again -- the minority canvas of OLTL, once its very mission statement, is in sad, sorry shape. There was no reason to dump Daphnee Duplaix's Rachel Gannon, so guess what? I'd bring her back. Get her involved with Detective Price, and complicate their relationship with her troubled background and his well-to-do family, as well as with -- wait for it -- the return of Timothy Stickney as R.J. Gannon, who's tried to clean up his act for granddaughter Jamie Vega (who could mix it up with Jack Manning and Shane), but is drawn back into "the life," becoming the shadow king of Llanview's criminal underground.
Stickney is a Shakespearean actor whose underused presence had the potential to electrify the canvas with rivals like Todd, John, even Rex, who always seems on the verge of running R.J.'s former club into the ground. Give him a major storyline on par with the crime stories on GH for Sonny or Jason, let him lay waste to his old foes, and let us see what a powerful African-American lead can do to the canvas. And as for a love interest: Isn't Y&R's Victoria Rowell still looking for work?
In addition to these characters, I'd like to see OLTL honor its legendary families as opposed to trading on quick mentions of Judith Light or Ellen Holly whenever it's anniversary time. Who's to say the show can't do with a few more Polish-American Woleks for the youth scene, rather than the Fords, or that Karen and Larry Wolek couldn't do a short-term storyline like Echo? What about Ed and Carla Hall's kin -- couldn't we say that Tonye Patano's Phylicia Evans is a cousin to Ed or Carla, and beef up her and Shaun's roles, as well as Destiny and Darren's opposite Matthew and Danielle, especially if Matthew is again torn between Destiny and Dani?
What if Phylicia, pursuing a lifelong career dream, which she finally has time for, went to work alongside Viki or Dorian? What if a sexy young Hall relative caught Brody's eye as he raised Jessica's kids alone? And as for Ed and Carla's son Josh, formerly played by Laurence Fishburne, I can think of any number of hungry actors from Evans patriarch Frankie Faison's alma mater The Wire who could more than fill that role, stepping into Carla's firebrand footsteps and perhaps making trouble for Rachel and Theo Price. It's a sad commentary on the entertainment industry at large that any number of the men or women of color that I'm thinking of are likely available, as Faison was.
In addition to more African-Americans and perhaps Asian or Indian-American leads- - could Adriana come back full-time; do we know Kim Andrews's ethnicity, or could we meet her family? -- I have to say that I think OLTL also must continue to push ahead with its pioneering work regarding gay and lesbian storylines. The Kyle and Oliver storyline with Sierra Rose was concluded, but the performers were treated shabbily, as was their fanbase, and I find it offensive that they were deemed "inappropriate" while the show moved on to glorify casual rapist Bobby Ford. There's no reason these characters can't return to be seen from time to time in certain storylines, as we know Fish is still a member of Llanview's finest, and gay parenting is even more "in" today thanks to Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right. I think a younger set of gay and lesbian characters could also be introduced into the college age range -- perhaps including Cord and Tina's son C.J. Roberts, who the Internet rumor mill has long claimed would return as a gay character, and who, as a gay Navy SEAL, would be even more relevant and topical given the recent repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
In my mind, the PR mistake OLTL makes is in highlighting only the young, or rather only the young and white. There is a reason Y&R still rules the roost with an iron fist, and that is largely because of two long-running factors: its concentrated focus on legacy characters and families young and old with strong, abiding history and tension between them, as well as what was once (and no longer) a strong minority canvas with the likes of Shemar Moore, Kristoff St. John, and Victoria Rowell. They captured a diverse audience and kept it, and in their heyday, which they are still coasting on, they focused their PR machine on people the audience cared about.
If you run ads about a story featuring Viki or Dorian in a story about them and things that matter to them, or Marty vs. Todd, or if you take a little time away from running the same old print ads or SOAPnet promos for Starr, Langston, and the Fords to instead show us, for example, a black power couple like R.J. and "Drucilla" or Rachel in the arms of Max Tapper, or a fiery gay or lesbian couple, someone will sit up and take notice that they are not getting this same thing on GH or AMC or DAYS. If OLTL is going to trade on its "different," urban, "edgy" roots to attempt to survive, then it must own them. And that starts with taking the risk and rebuilding its diverse canvas. It has always been the right thing to do.
THOSE DAMN KIDS I've spoken about them here and there, but I think Jack and Shane could go forward as young teens, along with perhaps Jamie Vega. As for the kids we have, well, what's to say, really? There's no one I want to keep at this point other than Starr, Matthew, Dani, maybe Destiny and Darren, and look at the shape they're all in. Starr and James are working my last nerve, and Ford and Langston, and Dani and Nate are unwatchable. If Starr is going to work, she has to be reinvented like her dad -- give her back her spine, and real smarts and fire. Then give her a guy worthy of the Starr we all remember from before Cole, because I doubt either Cole or James are up to the job. Give us the girl fascinated with science and the Reptile Round-Up, all grown-up and freaky like something out of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, including book heroine Lisbeth Salander's punk haircut.
As for the others, I'd re-pair Matthew and Danielle and play out the inherent drama in having Todd and Téa's daughter opposite Bo and Nora's son. But maybe Matthew's already moved on to Des, who can't take Darren's attitude anymore, or can she? Properly differentiate Starr and Dani by showing Dani to be the more traditional, yet still tough heroine opposite Starr's bad seed -- but which one sides with Todd, and how does this relate or differ from their mothers? And for the college and twentysomething scene, there are the aforementioned Wolek or Hall families, and whatever happened to River Carpenter, "the male Cramer?"
ANYONE I FORGOT -- MIGHT WANNA TAKE A HINT Cristian? Sweet but as I've said, he's got so little going on, yet I am loath to see him disappear. I think he works best as a supporting character, unless he might be able to take off with a new female. Gigi I enjoy, but the show is clearly checking out on her and Rex, though they were once appealing. If his future is with Kelly, so be it, but if Rex is to have a future it must be in his antagonistic, tangled relationship with Clint and the Buchanans, as well as with David, who could well try to seize control of the family from Clint, Kevin, and maybe, pretty please, Natalie? Who have I forgotten? Oh, Nate and Inez? Too bad.
Thus ends my epic "How I'd fix OLTL" column. You were warned, and I hope you enjoyed. If anyone survived reading this tome, please feel free to email me and tell me what you liked or how much of a hack I am -- all feedback is great feedback! I love you all, and I'll see you in two weeks with an economy-size column about the week in review, I promise. Later!