Welcome back, everyone! And welcome back, me! I apologize for my brief absence, and I hope you all had a grand Turkey Day -- I know I did. And while I enjoyed OLTL's holiday episode, I must tell you I wasn't fooled for a moment by Matthew's fakeout "death," not even with that touching voice-over by Eddie Alderson. And why? Because like so many of us today, I grew up on The Princess Bride, in which Billy Crystal and Carol Kane were able to resurrect Cary Elwes after declaring him only "mostly dead."
I've watched soap operas for long enough to remember Nora's own "contract coma" where they tried to replace her with that awful Paige Miller, among other incidents, and I know "mostly dead" when I see it. I happily welcome Matthew back to the land of the largely living, as I find Eddie Alderson to be the finest younger actor on the show, but he's not the only one we had to welcome back last week. Yes, everything's coming up undead in Llanview in early December, and it's time we did an after-Thanksgiving postmortem.
Parents: 0, Kids: 1 1/2 Destiny's just "fat?" For serious, as the kids say? Was that really going to fly, ever? I couldn't blame Matthew for unloading on his mom regarding her ham-handed tactics over the summer, but Nora made a perfectly fair point to her baby boy: Don't, uh, "do it live," to quote a deranged Bill O'Reilly, if you can't handle the "feedback." I'll take "Labored Safe-Sex Euphemisms I Never Thought I'd Have To Apply To Little Matthew Buchanan" for 200, Alex. And it was nice to hear Matthew re-affirm his commitment to Des, although admittedly their overnight love affair came relatively out of nowhere. If this show has to wrap up, they might as well make it official.
Back at the Evans homestead, more parents were behaving badly. I don't know why Frankie Faison and Tonye Patano had to get saddled with a sudden pie fight over whether or not tertiary characters Shaun and Vivian were going to get married, but this whole half-thought-out business really can't hold my interest. We barely know Vivian, lovely though she is, and while Sean Ringgold is a winning personality as Shaun Evans, he's never been a major player. It just makes me weep more for the loss of the Gannons, from R.J. to Rachel -- or at least, for the lack of a firmer commitment over the last several years to actual, character-based storylines for Shaun and Destiny and their family. I enjoy the Evanses, and I especially believe in Tonye Patano's performances as Phylicia, but their stories are often so lightweight that I feel cheated.
No Nip/No Tuck Surprise! -- not -- as I predicted weeks ago, Gigi was also only Mostly Dead. And I'm actually glad, since despite myself, and Rex, and several truly horrible storylines, I still kind of liked La Morasco right to the end. Sadly, this relatively airless storyline continues to plod along, sinking like a lead balloon with every passing moment. Oh, Aubrey/Christine wants a future with Rex way down Rio de Janeiro way, and Cutter wants a future with "Stacy;" what will happen? Nothing, because Gigi is going back to Rex, Cutter may be foolish enough to go back to boring old Aubrey, and the show is going to end.
Meanwhile, three different supercouples have yet to reunite, and I've been watching this storyline all week. We've got six weeks left, people, now might be the time to call for the check here. I'm not going to say I wouldn't appreciate this sort of cracked-out Vertigo-esque twist in another story, at another time, another place, with less annoying characters, but now, at the end of OLTL, is not that time. Here's the Dave Chappelle Memorial "Wrap It Up" box -- wrap it up.
Supercouple Speed Dating Wow, six weeks to the end and Viki and Clint, Todd and Blair and (sigh) John and Natalie have all yet to reunite! Good thing OLTL didn't wait 'til the last minute to get these ducks in a row, am I right? Where are we at here? Let's do a roll call. Viki and Clint are continuing to have "close moments" following his admittedly wonderful bonding with Shane and the news about Matthew, but so far, very little coal on the fire. John still can't give it to Natalie straight and after eight years and one live baby, even Natalie is starting to get tired of this mess. And Todd and Blair -- okay, yes, he's had Tomas abducted and is framing him for a crime that I'm still thinking no one committed, not even Todd. And with Tomas out of the way, Todd and Blair are cozying up. How is it that Todd, the guy who just kidnapped his kidnapper, appears to be making the most progress?
You know, I understand OLTL was rewriting and working according to Prospect Park Media's "plans" for cliffhangers to carry the show online, and that they have since been left holding the bag, but still, folks, let's snap it up a bit. Or at least, we could have moved this stuff along sooner. I could get down with a Viki and Clint reunion if I had to (though I still prefer them with Charlie and Kim, respectively), but their relationship has moved about an inch in five months.
As for Todd and Blair, well, Todd is delusional and unwell, and he just abducted the guy who gave him over to Gitmo-by-the-Bayou for eight years, so really, I can't be too mad. I'm not sure this storyline is actually supposed to make me want Todd to just get away with what he's done to Tomas (sorry, Tomas!) and win Blair back for good, but that is what it is accomplishing here, for perhaps the first time ever. This strange effect is helped tremendously by Todd's tender mercies towards Blair and the really amazing chemistry and interplay between Roger Howarth and Kassie DePaiva, who seem the most at ease with each other that they've been in a very long time. It's magic happening, right down to the stuff with them playing in the park like they used to (flashbacks!), and it didn't need a stupid plot point like the rewritten "murder mystery" with Victor or Tomas going missing to work.
I don't think Tomas is a bad guy, but after what he did to Todd, I really don't mind him getting locked up for a while, at all. Just like when I didn't really want Todd to bury Max Holden alive, but let's face it, Max had it coming back in the day. I still question the point of prolonging this particular angle of the story when we all know Victor II is probably not dead, or why we had to go through Todd being "exonerated" in the first place when he clearly didn't shoot Victor either time.
And John and Natalie -- oh, God, why? Why? It has been eight years. You have a child. Get your mess together, McBain. Or you know, wait, don't; if you can't speak up, find your cojones and make this happen by now, there's no point. I'll take Zombie Jared Banks at this point, people; I do not care. And apparently Natalie's a little fed up, herself; I actually admired her resolve when she said she couldn't be bothered to deal with John's passive aggression and nonsense anymore. A pity that should probably last her exactly...two weeks.
I'm sorry, people, but I've been over this couple for years and years. I've given them chance upon chance to bring the magic back, and John never, ever follows through. In my book he's not good enough for Natalie, he's an albatross around the character's neck, and I just can't. Can't! Nope. And I find it hard to believe John is going to sell me on this in the next couple weeks. But whatever. Let's see him give it a shot. What else am I going to do, right?
On a decent side note to John and Natalie, I did enjoy Brody's send-off at St. Anne's. No, I'm not glad he went out like this, at all, but they at least let us remember this is a decent, honorable man who has been screwed over way too many times. I still think he is Jessica's best love interest in many years and that they should have reunited and lived happily ever after; hell, I still think Ryder is his! I'll miss you, Brody. You and your pectoral muscles. Feel free to break out before January 13, 2012 and sweep Jess off her feet.
All That Other Mess Yes, all that other stuff, like, for example, Jack, Neela, and Shane. Nope! Who cares? We're supposed to be mad at Shane coming down so hard on poor doe-eyed Jack, just because he killed his crazy aunt instead of his mom. While admittedly, the thought that he rid Llanview of Stacy Morasco once and for all does kind of make me want to walk up to Jack, shake his hand, and give him the key to the city, that doesn't change anything about Shane's months of heartache or grief, or excuse Jack's cruel campaign of terror against the Buchanan heir. I'm not writing Jack's character off, but they haven't done much with him to redeem the kid. I do rather like Neela on her own, but I don't care about her forming a relationship with Jack at a time like this. I'm more interested in seeing him get help, and in Shane's life turning out okay before the sun sets on OLTL.
And then there was Rick's "lawsuit" against Starr. Austin Peck is indeed a talented comedic actor -- the revelation of what had caused Rick's injuries was hilarious -- but all I could do throughout this whole subplot was check the clock on my phone. Starr and Nate? Her singing career? What? Why? We have six weeks, people. Get the lead out! I saw the GL finale where Ed Bauer showed up at Holly Thorpe's apartment in the studio broom closet to take her on a trip around the world in the second to last episode -- we ain't going out like that!
And, as it happens, this would appear to be our last six weeks in Llanview, either online or off. As I'm sure you're all aware by now, the Prospect Park deal to continue the show on "The Online Network" has collapsed due to a lack of funding and what appears to be a healthy amount of mismanagement, unrealistic expectations, and an utter lack of business sense and logistical know-how when it comes to producing a daytime drama. I am saddened but not utterly surprised, given the slow drought of news from the start-up company. But my real sadness is reserved for our fine cast and crew, particularly veterans like Erika Slezak, Jerry ver Dorn, Kassie DePaiva, and Melissa Archer, who had pledged their ongoing commitment and loyalty to the show for a future in the digital age.
If one soap could make it online -- the next frontier for scripted entertainment -- I truly believed, then and now, that One Life to Live is that soap. I think with a little more nuts and bolts know-how about the necessary budgeting, ensemble, and logistics required, a very different but no less excellent OLTL could well have come to our streaming consoles. I believe that one way or another, the OLTL property (as well as All My Children) will be back some day, in some format or another. But today's not that day, and so here we are, waiting for at least a kind of "end."
I don't know how the end of Llanview will look, or how much effect the "cliffhanger endings" Prospect Park requested will affect OLTL's exit from ABC Daytime, but while I do want some degree of closure for our characters and core families, in a way I welcome the unknown. I've always believed that so much of soaps' strongest power lies in the question of what's coming tomorrow, in the idea of a continuing story, of families and communities going forward, living their lives even when you're not watching, sometimes for a day, a week, a month, a few years -- or not at all. The comfort, sometimes, is simply in knowing that they're all still out there, going onward. That's what I hope to leave Llanview with on January 13th, saying goodnight, but not goodbye.
Anyway, we've still got six more weeks, and as irascible as I can be about some of these storylines, I could not love this show more. So, let's keep it moving, and I'll see you again in two weeks.