This week I wanted to give viewers an opportunity to share their opinions on the new One Life to Live. It's been four weeks since the show came roaring back to life, something most of us thought would never happen after ABC's cancellation. While most viewers are happy that the show is back, some of what they're seeing on screen is leaving much to be desired. Whatever the opinion, viewers certainly haven't been shy in sounding off on the good, bad, and downright ugly. I've received lots of emails from you, not to mention all the comments appearing on Facebook and Twitter.
For me, much of what I'm feeling can be summed up in a comment I saw recently on Twitter from a soap fan who goes by the handle @SethroOnTheTV. On May 15, he tweeted:
"The complaints that the PP soaps don't have stories is accurate. I enjoy them, but a series of events is not a story."
This comment really hit the nail on the head for me. While it seems that action in Llanview has been going by at breakneck speed, when you stop and think about what's actually transpiring, there's not much to show for it. Yes, we've had lots of lovely interactions between characters and a few interesting developments, but most of the characters are at the same place today they were when the show began re-airing on April 29. And now that we're getting just two new episodes a week, this lack of story movement is especially troubling.
The May 28 episode, in fact, was so slow that the only real story development was a non-action: Natalie's decision not to return John's phone call. But the subsequent episode gave me hope that things are starting to kick into gear. We got an argument between Clint and Bo over Matthew's failure to step up as a father, which hopefully will result in some much-needed confrontations with Matthew. Jeffrey saw the Pellegrino fund file in Viki's home and knows there's something about it he just can't recall, laying the groundwork for Viki to realize that she's just bankrupted the Banner with a single investment.
The drug story is starting to get fleshed out, with Natalie spying some shady dealings taking place in the club. Meanwhile, a possible prostitution story is developing as we learn that the young woman who was making out with the older man in the previous episode is actually a college friend of Dani's who took the man back to a room at the swanky Palace Hotel. And the tattoo mystery, for lack of a better phrase, took another turn as Todd discovered that someone cut the electrical wires at Shelter.
So I'm optimistic that we're heading for payoff for many of the stories that have been set up during the past four weeks. But how do other viewers feel? It's time for you to sound off.
Lots of viewers have submitted comments regarding the younger characters, which is one of the aspects of the revamped show that is markedly different from the network version.
Lauren can't get enough of the younger set. She writes:
"While I love that my beloved vets are back where they belong with big story, I have to say the younger set has blown me away. I cannot remember the last time OLTL had such viable young characters. Jeffrey fits right in and tying him to the Banner and Viki was inspired -- there is simply no better way to introduce someone new than to watch them hold their own with Ms. Slezak. Kelley Missal is getting material that is finally worthy of her talents and Dani has become the edgy Manning child that I have waited years for. Rob Gorrie may be my favorite recast in OLTL history -- from day 1, he just effortlessly slipped into the role, which is no small feat considering we watched Eddie grow up with Hillary and Bob. I was blown away by his ability to, without many words, show us how conflicted Matthew is over the situation with Destiny and the baby, when he could have just as easily come off as a 1-dimensional jerk. While we haven't seen much of the new Destiny, I like what I have seen and I saw major chemistry in their little dance scene. I appreciate that the show has gone down a more realistic path with Matthew not being thrilled about young fatherhood. I look forward to seeing a lot more with these four as there is a lot to mine."
Yet many viewers are troubled by Matthew's attitude toward Destiny and their baby. Kay writes:
"It's hard to understand Matthew's attitude toward his baby son at this point, when he'd previously 'come around' to the extent of actually naming the child (for his long-deceased older half-brother). If there are some new viewers, they'll be thinking he has a problem with baby Drew's being biracial! When in fact Nora's first husband was black, Matthew has a biracial half-sister, and he was raised to take these relationships for granted."
Jennifer shares a similar concern:
"Although I love that OLTL is back, I am really upset with what is going on with Matthew. I don't want to see his character or his relationship with Destiny (which I loved) trashed. This is Bo and Nora's son we are talking about. Matthew was raised better than this. Please fix this fast. I can't take much more."
Rita's main issue is with the recast of Destiny:
"As a fan since day one on network TV, I'm really glad to see this show reincarnated. The acting, as always, is top notch. I have only once criticism: Making Destiny a sleeker sexier version of the original was a big mistake. She has none of the charisma of the original. While the original Destiny was heavy, she was certainly funny, believable and so real. This one just falls flat."
And Jo is simply unimpressed by the focus on the younger set and the more adult situations being portrayed on screen:
"OLTL is clearly aiming to snag the younger 18-30 generation with all of the drugs, drinking, open marriage, etc., etc. I watched the first several weeks. Shallow and uninteresting."
Several viewers are troubled by the use of profanity on the show. Carolyn's email echoes many I've received:
"I am very disappointed at all the profanity that we did not hear on TV. It's a shame that the producers seem to think it's necessary. I know several that were so looking forward to its return. Just in the episode I just watched, I heard 's**t' several times and someone calling another character 'a**h**e' .... Sure hope those who are in charge can somehow receive this feedback!"
Yet other viewers are not as troubled by the coarser language, saying it's simply the sign of the times. Shawn writes:
"I'd like to touch on this language issue....what issue? This isn't broadcast TV folks, and let's remember One Life has also been progressive! An example of that are characters like Rama & Vimal and their unconventional marriage terms. I'm fine with the language, just fine."
Many viewers are troubled by Prospect Park's decision to cut back on the number of new episodes airing each week from four to two. Annette speaks for many when she writes:
"I am not happy with the reduction in shows. Personally, I was watching both shows every night. Fit in my schedule perfectly - get home from work, watch both shows before anything came on TV. Think the reduction is going to make the story lines run much slower."
Raina fears that the cutback in new episodes is a bad sign of things to come:
"I am very worried about OLTL. For starters I could not be more disappointed about the cutback to 2 episodes a week and fear this project is doomed to fail."
Others are trying to look at the positive, recognizing that we are lucky to have any show at all. Patrick writes:
"Having followed OLTL very closely for the last 25 years, and having lived through numerous cancellations of various soaps I've loved, I am very happy to have OLTL back and I know it is not often that a cancelled soap returns (especially with such passion and new energy behind it). I was not pleased to hear about OLTL and AMC being reduced, and I voiced my dissatisfaction to Prospect Park. However, after I had a few days to think it over, I apologized to Prospect Park and instead gave them praise for bringing these shows back and doing such a good job with them. Yes I know two days a week sucks, and they didn't do themselves any favors by pissing off FX Canada, but I'm anxious to see what the future holds."
Prospect Park did themselves no favors by committing to run the show four days a week, only to reverse course after such a short period of time. But they are trying to do something that's never been done before, and there are bound to be growing pains. By airing the show every day (including Friday's recap episode), Prospect Park attempted to maintain the schedule that TV viewers were accustomed to. Yet online is an entirely different animal. Netflix is debuting entire seasons of shows like House of Cards and Arrested Development at a single time, leaving it up to viewers to decide how and when to watch.
Would that work for OLTL and All My Children? Kat seems to think so. She outlined her own idea for how to schedule the shows in a Facebook post. Here's an excerpt:
"Personally, I would prefer for PP to run episodes on a full schedule for a month and then have a two week hiatus (I am calling this a mini-season). This will give the writers time to create more substantial stories, they can even have some stories that play out in the four weeks and some that go longer, it also gives these mysterious viewers who have fallen behind (I have not seen any complaints about this) time to catch up. During the two-week hiatus, they can play interviews and clips. I hate that the episodes are being cut down, but I am going to continue to support my shows because I really missed them!"
It's an interesting idea and one I could see Prospect Park consider for the future. In the meantime, I hope everyone tries to enjoy the show and appreciate the sheer miracle that brought it back at all.
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.