It's a brand new start

For the Week of May 6, 2013
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OLTL Two Scoops: It's a brand new start
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One Life to Live came roaring back this week with new online episodes that were filled with all the drama, surprises, tears and laughter we have come to expect -- along with a few WTF moments. Check out this week's Two Scoops column for the highs and lows of OLTL's return.

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Hi folks, and thanks for checking out my column. I'm honored to be writing the first Two Scoops column for One Life to Live following the show's online debut April 29. Like most of you, I was on pins and needles, waiting for Monday morning so I could boot up the computer and see the new show for the first time. It really is a historic occasion -- OLTL (along with All My Children) is blazing a trail online that could set the stage for other shows to follow, much like the original soap operas did when they moved from radio to television in the early days of TV.

Sure, the transition may be rocky at first. I've heard and read comments from many viewers who had trouble either finding the shows online, or watching the shows because of slow connection speeds or other Internet problems. Hopefully these cases are the minority, and most viewers have been able to access the shows with no problem. Other than a glitchy stream one morning, I've had no problems viewing the shows through the free site.

As a viewer who was used to recording the show on my DVR and then fast-forwarding through the commercials, I haven't been as annoyed with the commercials as I thought I would. There seem to be fewer commercials with the online show than there were when the show was on ABC. Also, have you noticed that sometimes you can answer a quick survey and skip the rest of the commercials entirely? I've had that come up a couple of times so far, but not always. So I'm not sure how that works exactly, but it's a nice option to choose if you get it.

The show itself has also changed somewhat. The storytelling is moving at a much faster pace than before. During the premiere episode, what seemed like several hours in real time occurred in the span of the 30-minute show (minus commercials). Natalie went from getting dressed for the evening to partying at the club opening to returning home, all in the same episode. This type of storytelling is typical for primetime soaps and Spanish-language telenovelas, but it can take some getting used to. Frankly, I'm glad that the producers have opted for this approach. It feels more contemporary and makes the show seem right at home with the other serialized dramas available on Hulu and iTunes.

Of course, there are drawbacks to this faster storytelling format. Gone are the days when every single character would have the opportunity to react to the latest shocking development ... like, for instance, the return of a believed-dead family member. Many viewers were disappointed at how Victor's return was handled and by the lack of immediate reactions from most of his family. That's understandable. Frankly, I was shocked at how quickly the reveal occurred.

We went from seeing a hooded man escape his captors and learning that it was Victor in the first episode, to having Victor burst into the hospital lobby and slam Todd up against the wall just minutes into the second episode. You could have lifted my jaw up off the floor! Téa's reaction to seeing her supposedly dead husband standing in front of her felt very real to me -- she kept repeating, "Oh, my God," and touching him as if she thought she was dreaming. The hug between Victor and Jack was touching. And later, Dani going into hysterics when she saw Victor also felt true to her character, especially considering how lost she has been since Victor's supposed death.

But we didn't get the typical reactions that so many of us have been accustomed to expecting. Viki was told that Victor was alive, but they cut away before we could see her processing the news. Blair was utterly silent, even though she was married the man -- twice -- and is still raising his young son, Sam. Later, we did get a tender reunion scene between Viki and Victor. But many of the details surrounding Victor's faked death and kidnapping are still unclear. More of this story will play out in the coming weeks, so hopefully many of our questions will be answered. I guess we all should be patient and give the producers and writers the benefit of the doubt.

Speaking of the producers, what an amazing job they have done! OLTL looks as good as it ever has. In fact, it's better, since the show is now filming in HD for the first time. The sets look fantastic. Even though you can tell that the sets for Llanfair and La Boulaie are slightly smaller than they used to be, they still resemble the stately mansions we have come to expect. The set for Shelter is great, and it feels more like an actual nightclub than any of the clubs we have seen in Llanview before. The few outdoor scenes we got this week also looked very professional. Personally, I hope we never again see a fake outdoor set. They always scream "low budget soap opera" to me.

Okay, now on to some thoughts about what's going on story-wise:

Obviously the main stories this first week surrounded Dani overdosing, Victor returning, and Dorian getting caught up in a political scandal. To be honest, Danielle was never one of my favorite characters on the show. I thought the character had a lot of potential to be Starr's rival when she was first introduced, but the writers went in a different direction, and Danielle was relegated to having lifeless teen romances with Matthew Buchanan and Nate Salinger. What a difference a real storyline makes!

Kelley Missal has been a revelation as this new and decidedly not improved Dani. The first scene we got of Dani and Téa was heartbreaking: Téa was more concerned with keeping up a nursery for a baby she lost more than a year ago than caring for her daughter, who was clearly crying out for attention. Cut to Dani stumbling around Shelter, sipping random drinks, slurring her words, and eventually passing out. Later in the hospital, Todd demanded to know why she was doing drugs, and Dani said, simply, that it was because she was invisible. The scenes felt believable, far removed from the ABC Afterschool Specials I grew up watching, yet still driving home the point that Dani is on a destructive path.

I also applaud the political scandal storyline. It was the perfect way to get Senator Dorian Lord back to Llanview and to reignite the feud between Dorian and Viki. It's also brought the Banner back into circulation as a force for driving storylines, something that should have happened a long time ago. In fact, the Banner seems to be the paper of record in town these days; Viki even dismissed Todd's tabloid newspaper as "bathroom reading."

Here's the story in a nutshell: Dorian received classified information from an anonymous mid-level CIA employee, revealing that the agency is conducting covert intelligence-gathering operations, otherwise known as black ops, even though the president had outlawed such missions. Dorian passed along the information to the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but they did nothing. Meanwhile, the Banner got the same information and ran a story blaming Dorian for the cover-up. Dorian, of course, believes Viki is out to crucify her for some personal vendetta, while Viki claims she is merely out to find the truth. I love the writing for both women in this storyline. Dorian tried to do the right thing but is being thrown under the bus, while Viki is playing the strong newspaper publisher who is trying to stay ahead of the rapid-fire news cycle while not ruining an innocent person's career in the process.

I have a sinking suspicion that the black ops story will also play into the mystery surrounding Victor's faked death and kidnapping. Victor somehow escaped from his captors and showed up at Blair's club, Shelter, on the same night that Todd returned to town after being gone for the better part of a year. Victor has some sort of insignia tattooed on his forearm -- the same symbol that was on what appeared to be an invitation Todd had received. Victor told Viki that Allison Perkins wasn't the only person who was holding him captive, but we still don't know how his death was faked, why he's been held captive for all this time, and who's behind it.

Victor is clearly suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, judging by his reaction to the door slamming in the hospital. We also don't know if Todd really shot Victor, or if that was some suggested memory that their mother planted in Todd's head. Remember her? Irene Manning was a covert intelligence agent who was running operations from a secret location for years. I wouldn't be at all surprised if those operations continued after her death and had something to do with Victor's disappearance. And now we learn that someone is watching what's going on in Téa's house via secret cameras. I'm very intrigued to see where this is all headed.

Here are some other odds and ends from this week of shows:

I love that the first scene showed the outside of Llanfair, with Viki picking up the Banner as the former theme music played in the background. The last episode on ABC began in much the same way, as I recall. It really made me feel like this was just another day in Llanview. And the special note to fans at the end of the first episode, in place of the usual credits, was very classy.

I'm so glad to learn that Clint and Viki haven't gotten married yet, even though Clint popped the question more than a year ago. It wouldn't have felt right for the wedding to have occurred off-camera, and it's nice to have something to look forward to!

Turning Cutter Wentworth into a nightclub manager was a smart move, since it keeps him in the shady gray area where the character belongs. His chemistry with both Natalie and Rama was apparent, so it'll be interesting to see where this goes. Speaking of Rama, what do you think of her agreeing to an open marriage with Vimal? It's unconventional, to say the least, and it could end up being a huge disaster, but it should be fun to watch.

I laughed out loud when Blair invited a young guy in the club to sit with her in the VIP section, only to be told that he wasn't into cougars. It dovetailed nicely with David's failed attempt to talk his way into the club, even though he wasn't on the guest list, and with Blair remarking to Téa how she felt like she was babysitting all of the young club-goers. I think a lot of people fear growing older and no longer being relevant. Certainly Blair and David do, and it was a nice way for this to be acknowledged.

Téa had me in tears as she was telling Victor the story of their baby's death. And I just knew that poor stuffed giraffe was a goner when Victor needed to release some steam! Speaking of releasing steam, the sex scene between Téa and Victor was muy caliente! Florencia Lozano and Trevor St. John have always had smoking hot chemistry, and I'm glad the producers didn't waste any time getting these two back together again.

Robert Gorrie and Laura Harrier are doing an admirable job taking over for Eddie Alderson and Shenell Edmonds as Matthew and Destiny. Robert feels very natural as Matthew Buchanan, and his interactions with Bo and Nora are believable. I'm having a slightly harder time adjusting to Destiny, but it's mostly due to how different in appearance Laura Harrier is from Shenell Edmonds. I'm glad that Destiny is still being written as a sweet girl with occasional attitude. Corbin Bleu also is a great addition to the cast as newspaper reporter Jeffrey King. Jeffrey's friendships with Matthew and Dani felt natural, and I enjoyed his interactions with Viki.

I'm also glad that the show is still finding time to showcase those humorous moments that have always made OLTL stand out from the rest of the soaps. David grabbed young Sam's sandwich after Dorian chided him for bringing food into the living room, then proceeded to eat the sandwich right in front of Sam! When David dropped jelly on one of Dorian's chairs, he quietly told Sam that he was going to blame Sam for the stain. Classic David!

Word of the week: "Shit" -- or merde, as Dorian put it. Boy, this sure ain't your momma's show (although, my mother can cuss with the best of them, so perhaps that's not the best saying). We knew that the language and situations were going to be a bit saucier than what could be shown on network television, so it certainly wasn't a surprise to hear the "s word" start popping up in regular conversations. Frankly, I'm so used to hearing curse words on cable TV dramas that I didn't even catch the first couple of utterances. My favorite use of the word came from Todd, when he berated Téa for lashing into Matthew over Dani's drug overdose: "He's not the shitty parent here; you are." Somehow, that felt more real than anything else Todd could have said.

Line of the week: "I'll be exonerated, and I will bring you down ... and your little newspaper too." -- Dorian to Viki, channeling her best Wicked Witch of the West impression

Well, that's it for this week! Thanks for taking the time to read the column. I'd love to hear your thoughts, too, so please send me an e-mail, leave your thoughts below in the comments section, or call our 24/7 feedback hotline at 267.341.7627.

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.
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