OLTL packs one-two punch with stellar pair of episodes

For the Week of June 17, 2013
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OLTL packs a one-two punch
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OLTL hits its stride with a pair of episodes full of action, suspense, danger and surprises. If only two episodes are going to be broadcast each week, then let them all be like this. Get ready for action with our one-Two Scoops punch.

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This is the first week in which One Life to Live's new Tuesday/Thursday scheduling seemed to benefit the show rather than detract from it. The pair of shows complimented each other beautifully, with storylines that carried seamlessly from Tuesday's show into Thursdays and payoffs on Thursday to developments that began on Tuesday.

Since I believe these episodes were shot before the decision was made to go from four episodes a week down to two, it's probably just a happy coincidence. But it shows how effective the scheduling can be if the two episodes are connected and work as a pair.

Tuesday's episode began with Nora and Bo inviting Matthew over to dinner, and Matthew quickly realizing that he had been set up, since Destiny and Drew had also been invited over (although Destiny had left Drew at home with the babysitter because he was sick). Destiny was just as much in the dark about the setup as Matthew, and they shared a moment laughing about Matt's meddling parents. But as soon as Matt realized he had missed two calls from Michelle, the girl he met online, he abruptly left the dinner table and walked out of the apartment.

I can't believe Bo and Nora didn't rip into Matthew right then and there for cutting out on dinner, since it was unbelievably rude of him and because there were also guests present.

Speaking of guests, David and Dorian showing up unexpectedly at Bo and Nora's (at Matthew's invitation) was the highlight of the episode for me. This exchange alone between Dorian and Nora was priceless:
Dorian, upon walking into the house and eyeing the appetizers: "Chips and dip -- how rustic!"
Nora, struggling for what to say: "Dorian, can I take your, um, jacket?"
Dorian, in a delivery that was both polite and dismissive: "Oh, I wouldn't dream of it."

Dorian quickly went into French mode, presenting Nora with macaroons that she said were flown in directly from Paris -- as if Nora would be impressed by such things. Later, at the dinner table, Dorian shifted into doctor mode to warn against the carcinogenic dangers of eating Nora's blackened lasagna.

It was character-driven gold. Yet after a commercial break, David and Dorian were gone, and Bo and Nora were preparing for Nora's radio show in the living room. I was disappointed the dinner was over so quickly. It was a missed opportunity to feature more uncomfortable situations between Dorian and her unlikely in-laws.

I did like how Thursday's episode picked up from Tuesday's dinner disaster, however, with Dorian and David grabbing a light dinner at the coffee shop as Dorian complained yet again about Nora's cooking. I also enjoyed Dorian's conversation about Matthew and Destiny, which led into Dorian sharing her fear that David will leave her for a younger woman out of some desire to become a father. David humorously assured Dorian that if he ever left her for another woman, it wouldn't be to have a child.

The conversation about fatherhood had me wondering if the writers are going to revisit the storyline about David having had a child when he was a teenager. As you'll recall, shortly before OLTL ended its network run, David revealed to Matthew that he had gotten a girl pregnant when he was in high school. Nothing more has been said about it, but I suspect that's about to change.

Matthew's story also continued on Thursday's episode, with Matthew calling in to Nora's blog radio show to complain about his meddling parents. Bo and Nora, of course, realized it was their son on the line, but Nora kept her cool and gave Matthew the advice she would give any caller in his situation: tell his parents to butt out of his life and that he'll never grow up if they don't stop babying him.

Matt softened the criticism by assuring his mom (a.k.a. the Nightbird) that she's an excellent mother. It still doesn't make up for Matt storming out of dinner the way he did, but at least he handled the call in a respectable way. Bo and Nora now realize that they've been pushing him too hard and they need to let him make his own decisions. Matt's online crush story also moved closer to payoff, as Matt decided to drive to Toronto to surprise Michelle. Based on the previews for Tuesday's episode, we will soon find out if Michelle actually exists or, as many viewers suspect, Matt is being set up.

The other main story that played out over both episodes involved Todd trying to warn Blair that someone is after their family and Blair deciding to help Todd hunt down Victor. Todd saved Blair from getting shot outside Shelter -- a great Tuesday cliffhanger, by the way -- and then showed Blair the secret room he had set up with monitors to keep tabs on his loved ones. After showing Blair the notes he had received, bearing the same insignia that was tattooed onto Victor's arm, Blair finally realized that her children are in danger.

It was almost shocking that Blair didn't bat an eyelash when Todd bluntly told her that he intends to kill Victor to protect his family. She even offered to pump Téa for information into Victor's whereabouts. This is a new Blair-Todd dynamic that I could certainly get used to. I love that Blair is being written as a professionally strong mama bear, instead of the romantically clueless soccer mom she had unfortunately devolved into during the show's final years on ABC.

Natalie's story, meanwhile, finally began to kick into gear, as she received a subpoena to appear in court on charges of negligence for keeping John from Liam. Natalie quickly called Téa, who learned from John's attorney that John had received a restraining order and a letter supposedly from Natalie telling John to stay away. Natalie had no clue about the restraining order and letter. Later, as Natalie filled in Viki and Clint, Clint had uncomfortable grimace on his face.

It's quite clear that Clint sent the restraining order and letter to John without Natalie's knowledge. It was a brilliant move for the writers to put a spin on story developments that had occurred on General Hospital by having Natalie be in the dark about the restraining order and Dear John letter. It would have been out of character for Natalie to keep John from their son -- no matter how upset she was at him for kissing another woman. And the fallout for Clint when Natalie and Viki realize what he did will no doubt be epic.

Viki, meanwhile, continued to worry about the Banner money she has invested in the Pellegrino fund. Apparently she's not able to touch the money for three days because of securities trading rules. So it looks like Viki is going to lose everything when the Pellegrino fund is revealed to be a scam -- just as Dorian planned.

Jeffrey, meanwhile, talked Viki into letting him create a blog site patterned after that of a popular blogger for the Washington Post, Ezra Klein. I'm not exactly clear how Jeffrey thinks his blog will save the Banner, but I guess it can't hurt. I do love how the show is mentioning actual journalists, websites and other real-life situations. No more MyFace and Llannet Search standing in for Facebook and Google. It's a freedom that comes from no longer being on network television, and it's a welcome change.

Both shows this week also featured bonus sections at the end of the episodes. The first, dubbed "The Hidden Perils of Being a Soap Star," was a humorous gag where actors appeared to get injured by the clapperboard marking the start of filming. The second was a series of outtakes featuring Kassie DePaiva as Blair Cramer. Both were quite funny and a nice little extra for fans to enjoy.

The addition of bonus outtakes and previews for upcoming episodes is a clear indication that the producers are tweaking the show as it moves forward. I've also noticed substantially fewer curse words in recent episodes, probably in response to complaints by some viewers.

If this week's shows are any indication, OLTL is hitting its stride, and I'm anxiously awaiting what comes next.

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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