It's been quite a year on One Life to Live, both on the show and behind the scenes. It's hard to believe that this is the last best/worst column there will be. I knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier! Fans of One Life to Live have been through it all this year, unlike any other, including lots of highs and lows. Since I like to end on a positive note, especially since this is the "last hurrah," I will discuss the worst of the year first.
Cancelled, saved, and cancelled again: At the top of my worst list is the show's cancellation. It doesn't get worse than that. When I started watching this show and even when I started writing about it, I never thought about it being cancelled. Soap operas were such a mainstay of television that I didn't even consider the possibility. Of course, that was naÔve, but it was nice to have that sense of security at the time. Now that cheaper means better at ABC, soap operas just aren't welcome anymore. The way that the show was cancelled, along with All My Children, was horrible. Not only were we informed that these shows would be ending, but we were informed that we wanted them to end. The spin was almost as bad as the cancellation itself, and it proved that ABC stopped caring about its viewers.
A few months after the cancellation announcement, we learned that a company called Prospect Park would be moving the show to the Internet. At the time, we were given little information about it for months, and then we found out that the project had been suspended. Now we are hearing rumblings that the plan isn't completely dead, but at this point, I'll believe it when I see it. We have been strung along for months, and that is almost as bad as the original cancellation. I believe the show can come back. Anything can happen. However, I am avoiding all rumors of the show's resurrection until something concrete is announced. I can't bear the thought of losing the show a third time!
All of the things I am about to mention pale in comparison to the show being cancelled, but there certainly were some less-than-stellar things about the show on-screen as well.
Rick and his pornography business: I'm not sure why anyone thought we needed to see Llanview's pornography industry, but it certainly took a lot of precious airtime from other stories this year. Austin Peck has done a great job of playing a sleazy, comedic character, but his character wasn't necessary. He blackmailed Nate and Deanna into starring in his movie just because he could, and Nate and Deanna agreed to do it for flimsy reasons. It's not a secret that I have never liked Nate; he is a pointless character, and I couldn't care less what happens to him. The same thing goes for Deanna, and I haven't found myself wondering what happened to her once since Rick gave her the file that allegedly contained information about her birth mother. This story only included minor characters, and it just didn't hold my interest.
Rick's time in Llanview wasn't up when Deanna left, sadly. Instead, he became Starr's music producer for some reason, and now, we are still being forced to watch him, as he tries to sue Starr. With the show ending soon, I hate the idea of the show focusing on unnecessary characters at all, and while Rick's scheme might have passed for a summer filler story, it's not working in the show's final weeks. Bringing Rick to Llanview was a mistake. Now that Todd knows Rick is suing Starr, maybe he will finally disappear!
Making Matthew a murderer and then almost killing him: Sometimes, too many bad things happen to the same character in a short amount of time. We've seen this before with Jessica, and now this year with Matthew. He not only killed Eddie Ford but also lapsed into a coma for several months. This is a character that had already been paralyzed and estranged from his parents for a time, so piling two major issues on him was too much. Making Matthew Eddie Ford's murderer was an interesting plot twist, but I kept hoping it wouldn't be true. Since it looks like he actually did kill Eddie, I have to accept that Matthew is a murderer and that his parents covered it up. It is very difficult to accept.
Putting Matthew in a coma not only sidelined him, but also Bo and Nora. Instead of watching Bo and Nora enjoy being married, we mainly watched them worry about Matthew's condition. Bo and Nora have never been a couple that needed a big, dramatic story to be entertaining, so it was hard to watch them be saddled with this, especially since we didn't know if Matthew would survive. I hope we get to see some happy moments between them before the show ends.
Destiny having Matthew's baby: When Destiny took the pregnancy test a few months ago, I hoped it wouldn't be positive. I wasn't ready to watch another teen pregnancy story; it feels like we just went through that with Starr (even if it was a couple of years ago). When Destiny found out that she was pregnant, Matthew was unconscious, so he couldn't be a part of the story. Instead, Nora was put in the position to be the one who "forced" Destiny to have the baby. Now Matthew feels resentment towards her, as does Destiny's mom. It's an awkward situation that can't be resolved, especially since the show is ending.
The story felt incomplete without Matthew; we didn't see it play out for weeks at a time, and it caused a lot of anguish for everyone involved. It seemed like an unnecessary plot twist that the writers didn't know what to do with after they started it. I think all of the characters involved deserved better! The only good thing to come out of it was Destiny reunited with her parents. Otherwise, this story has been a mess!
A new version of Jack bullying Shane: The bullying story certainly brought some powerful, memorable moments, thanks to Austin Williams doing a superb job of playing a bullying victim, but the story wasn't executed properly. Last year, we saw a very young Jack watch Santa falling down the chimney. A short time later, Jack was a mean teenager that was bullying Shane just because he could. Jack becoming a bully was hardly out of the realm of possibility; he watched Todd (or Victor, as it turned out), bully people for years. The problem was we weren't given a chance to adapt to the brand-new version of Jack before making him one of the main characters in such a big story.
Even as the year is ending, there hasn't been a good resolution in this story. Both Jack and Shane have been lost since Gigi died, and their families haven't done much to address their respective issues. Jack has recently set a building on fire, and Shane is trying to get proof that Jack was responsible for Gigi's death by using the new girl in school. I hope they both get attention before the show ends. Their story feels incomplete. Jack's arrest might be a good start, but arrests don't always mean anything in Llanview!
Tess/Ford/Jessica: I know that Ford and Jessica becoming a couple has been the topic of heated debates on the Internet, and it's not a secret that I am not a fan. Having Ford pine after Tess even after Jessica re-emerged was weird and creepy. I still don't know why Ford and Tess decided they loved each other in the first place. Their brief "relationship" was hostile at best, so their sudden epiphany that they were in love was bizarre. Add to that the rushed redemption of Ford, and the story was just plain weird. I don't know why Brody had to be ruined so that Jessica and Ford could become a couple. I don't see the appeal and probably never will!
Marty's exit: It was a strange year for Marty. She snapped, became obsessed with John, almost killed Kelly and Natalie, and then left on a plane to be reunited with "Patrick." It could have been anyone on the plane; we never saw his face! I don't know why Marty's character was changed so drastically and then rushed out of Llanview, but it wasn't right that Marty didn't have to face consequences for what she did to Kelly or Natalie. Also, I wasn't a fan of Marty and Patrick as a couple, but I am sure their fans felt cheated when they realized the reunion would take place off-screen and without Thorsten Kaye as Patrick. At the end, Marty's exit seemed to be more about prolonging the secret of Liam's paternity than about her as a character, and it just didn't work.
Now that the worst is over, we can move on the best of the year and end on a good note. After the year we've had as fans of the show, we need that now more than ever!
Jessica and Natalie's non-weddings: Jessica tried to get married once, and Natalie tried to get married twice but none of these attempts worked out, thanks to revelations about Ryder and Liam's paternity. Jessica and Natalie's double non-wedding, and Natalie's wedding to Brody might not have been successful, but they were captivating, as secrets were revealed, and lives were changed forever. It would be nice if more weddings were successful on this show, but these two non-weddings were must-see television.
Tina and Cord return to Llanview: I loved every minute of Tina and Cord's return to Llanview. They have so much history, and they never fail to hold my interest. Having Tina go on a mission to do the right things for the right reasons and change her life was great. She could have easily taken Todd's money and left town, but instead, she decided money wasn't everything and worked on getting Cord back. That is a lot of progress for the often-misguided Tina! I also loved how she interrupted another wedding, holding her baby (David Vickers), which was a throwback to when she interrupted a wedding many years ago.
Cord and Tina's wedding (which was actually supposed to be Natalie and Brody's wedding) was last-minute but heartfelt and very sweet. With the show ending, it was appropriate to have them reunite and leave Llanview together. I wish we could have seen them after their wedding, but I still consider their return to Llanview to be one of the best events of the year!
Todd Manning returns: While the story of the two Todds was contrived and ridiculous in true soap opera fashion, I think Roger Howarth's return to the show re-energized, at least for a time. I know that finding out that Trevor St. John's character wasn't Todd was hard for many to accept, but I think it resolved a lot of issues people have had with Todd over the last eight years. For example, we no longer think that Todd had a romantic relationship with Marty, the woman he raped many years ago.
Howarth's return also brought us some terrific cliffhangers. When his character walked into to the movie premiere for all of his family to see and shocked everyone, I couldn't wait to see what happened the next day. While cliffhangers are a staple of soap operas, it is rare that we get to see one that is that big. Todd's return has lost some momentum since the truth was revealed and since Victor was killed (which shouldn't have happened). However, there for a while, the show couldn't be missed, thanks to Todd's return.
Return to Fraternity Row: I didn't watch One Life to Live during the era of Fraternity Row, but I still appreciate the nod to the show's history. Bringing Fraternity Row back served another important purpose. It gave soap opera fans a voice, as Roxy set out to save her favorite soap opera when she found out it was cancelled. Of course, it's bittersweet to watch now because One Life to Live hasn't been saved, but I still like it. It proves that soap opera fans have been heard by people in power, and they know how much we care about the show. I suspect that Roxy will be successful in her effort to save the show, and while that part won't be art imitating life, it certainly gives hope that anything is possible.
The special Fraternity Row episode we saw last week was terrific and showed the cast's considerable talents, as they tackled new roles for a day. It was fun to watch from start to finish. The episode was silly and mocked soap operas in a way that only a real soap opera could. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Fraternity Row. I know we can't, but it certainly left me wanting more!
Clint's Redemption: Clint has made a lot of progress in a year. Early in the year, he was manipulating people's lives and seeking revenge on those he felt wronged him, and now, he has had a complete change of heart...literally! I know that giving Clint a heart transplant as he changed for the better was heavy-handed, but it worked. After all, he didn't get the heart transplant easily. Rex basically sold him Gigi's heart in exchange for everything Clint had. That certainly wasn't Rex's finest moment, and he proved that he was Clint's son with that action. Clint got a taste of his own medicine, and after he got the heart, he started to appreciate his life and the people in it more.
It took Clint a long time to accept Rex and Shane as his son and grandson, and it also took a long time for him to make amends with Bo and Nora. It didn't happen overnight, and it wasn't easy. That is how a redemption of a character should be done to make it believable.
Thanksgiving episode: While holiday episodes aren't usually action-packed, the Thanksgiving episode this year was wonderful. Matthew narrated the episode while he was in a coma, giving his observations and opinions about the people in Llanview. It was well written and acted, and it made me sad because I knew it would be the last Thanksgiving episode we would get to see. Of course, we were led to believe that Matthew died at the very end, and he actually woke up the following week, but the episode was still great, without the suspense of the cliffhanger. The episode was everything a holiday episode should be.
Rex and Gigi's reunion: The story leading up to Rex and Gigi's Christmas reunion was ridiculous and far-fetched, but when Rex realized that he was looking at Gigi and not Stacy, it all seemed worth it. Gigi remembering her life was also a great, emotional moment, and the montage of her memories was outstanding. I have been a fan of Rex and Gigi from the start, and it was devastating when Gigi died, so I am glad she is alive and back with Rex where she belongs. I also can't wait to see her reunite with Shane!
With three weeks to go, I think there will be a lot of good things to come before the show ends. There are many popular characters returning, such as Lindsay and Gabrielle, and I can't wait to see what their stories will be. After everything that has happened this year, we need a memorable and poignant finale. I want the show to end on a good note. Let's hope that happens!
Michael will be here next week with his picks for the Best and Worst of 2011. Be sure to tune in to see what makes his list.
Until next time,