Romances wither and blossom

For the Week of July 15, 2013
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One Life to Live was all about relationships this week -- longtime romances crumbled, young love blossomed, questionable relationships grew deeper, and old lovers rekindled their connection. Plus, we look back at some of OLTL's most memorable stories as the show celebrates its 45th anniversary.

We love to hear your thoughts on One Life to Live -- and now there are more ways than ever to share your picks for what's hot and what's not. As always, you can use the email link to drop our columnist a note, and you can also call our 24/7 caller feedback hotline at 267.341.7627 and record your thoughts on OLTL. And now if you have a Facebook account, you can scroll to the bottom of the column and leave your comments right here on this page!

Love is a double-edged sword -- and there's a thin line between love and hate -- and both were on display this week on One Life to Live. Viki's love for Clint couldn't overcome her anger at learning that Clint had lied to her about the Pellegrino Fund. Viki had, in fact, lost her money like all the other investors, but Clint had covered the loss by transferring some of his own money into her bank account. To make matters worse, Clint didn't admit the truth until a gloating Dorian threatened to expose him to the media.

Even though Clint thought he was doing the right thing, he went about it in precisely the worst way -- just like he did with Natalie. And although Natalie has forgiven him, it looks like Viki is at the end of her rope. The diamond engagement ring is off her finger, and it doesn't look like Viki will be putting it back on anytime soon.

Dorian, meanwhile, had little time to celebrate her victory over Queen Victoria. After brushing off David's invitation to join him for a night at Shelter, Dorian decided to surprise him there and share her good news about Viki. But Dorian was the one in for a shock when she caught David locking lips with Indian temptress Rama Patel -- or "Rama Ding Dong," as Dorian hilariously referred to her earlier. Dorian was understandably furious at David's betrayal and gave both David and Rama a verbal smackdown in front of the stunned clubgoers.

I have to say, I am loving this development. I haven't been feeling the connection between David and Dorian for a long time, and David has been regulated to little more than a buffoonish caricature. Rama brings out the sexy, leading man side of David that has been hidden for far too long. And it's obvious that David hasn't been lighting Dorian's fire for some time. Dorian is a red-hot furnace whose pilot light has nearly been extinguished. Here's hoping someone new is lurking on the horizon who is carrying a blowtorch.

Todd and Blair have been on and off again so many times over the years that it makes me dizzy just thinking about it. Despite all odds, it seems that Blair is primed once again to forgive Tawd for all his grievances and welcome him into her arms -- if not her bed.

Nothing seems to get Blair hotter than the thought of Todd single-handedly saving their children from whatever peril is facing them this week. And with Todd's plan to fake Victor's death and appease the mysterious tattoo gods moving into full swing, Blair was reminiscing about events that never even occurred -- like Todd and Blair bringing home baby Starr from the hospital, even though at the time Todd was believed dead after being shot in Ireland while on a mission for Marty Saybrooke.

Despite that historical inaccuracy, Blair and Todd settled down for an intimate dinner in Todd's hotel room, replete with romantic handholding. We'll have to tune in next week to learn if Blair ends up holding more than Todd's hand before the night is through.

Natalie and Destiny's plans for a romantic double date didn't go nearly as well, at least where Natalie was concerned. Natalie was busy stroking Cutter's leg with her foot underneath the table when Cutter got a frantic call from Rama, forcing Cutter to bail early. Natalie ended up being the third wheel at her own party, resigned to watching Destiny and Jeffrey make goo goo eyes at each other and stuffing her face with what looked like a fantastic dessert.

I have to say, I'm enjoying how the show is handling these two romances. Both are building slowly, allowing anticipation to rise as we wait for the next development. NuDestiny is growing on me as the weeks move on, and I have enjoyed Jeffrey from the start. Their budding romance feels organic, not forced.

Natalie's newfound infatuation with Cutter seems like more of a stretch, since I don't recall there being any connection between them previously. But I'm more than ready to see Natalie move on from John McBain. Even if Cutter doesn't prove to be the man of her dreams, he seems more than capable of being the man for right now.

If there's one drawback, it's that we're not seeing enough of Cutter living life outside of Shelter. He is supposedly carrying on multiple affairs -- with bartender Nikki and possibly the recently departed Briana, to name two -- but we only hear about it. Josh Kelly is leading man material, and the show would only benefit by showcasing his talents -- clothed and unclothed -- a little more often.

The Manning siblings, meanwhile, find themselves in the midst of two very different and potentially dangerous relationships with older suitors.

Jack is carrying on a full-on affair with his slightly older English teacher, Kate. He's quickly developed into an A+ student, even leaving the house bright and early to get over to Kate's for some one-on-one lessons. But the good times might not be rolling for much longer. Todd hired Shaun Evans to keep tabs on Jack, and Shaun reported back that Jack was with his teacher in her apartment and at the coffee shop. Blair seemed to buy Jack's explanation that he was simply getting some extra tutoring. But when Blair finds out that Jack has been studying more than English, Kate is going to get a lesson in what happens when you mess with a Manning kid.

Dani, meanwhile, is developing a connection of her own with the much older Arturo Bandini, the man who had been romancing Briana and financing her lifestyle. Dani accepted Arturo's request to help sort through Briana's personal effects and found herself admiring Briana's taste in clothes. Arturo urged Dani to take whatever she wanted, saying, "You're a beautiful girl. You deserve nice things." Dani declined to take Briana's clothes and also rejected Arturo's attempt to pay her for coming over. But after Arturo had left, Dani held up one of Briana's silk scarves while gazing into the mirror and repeating what Artuto had told her.

Will Dani be seduced by Arturo's charms? And is Arturo as innocent as he appears to be? The last person Arturo was involved with ended up dead. But Briana's troubles seem to have had more to do with the married man she was fooling around with on the night she died -- who, we learned this week, has that mysterious tattoo on his arm. Either way, Dani needs to proceed with caution.

Matthew's relationship with Michelle, meanwhile, took an interesting turn when he learned that Michelle had been lying about her job and whereabouts -- and he forgave her anyway.

When Dani opened the door to Briana's hotel room and came face to face with Michelle, who was supposed to be in Toronto visiting her family, I was shocked! Michelle was working as a hotel maid and claimed she lied to Matthew because she was embarrassed about her job. Dani agreed not to say anything, but she had second thoughts while hanging with Matthew later that night at Shelter. Dani was on the verge of telling Matthew when Michelle showed up and came clean to Matthew herself.

It all seemed a bit too convenient to me. Michelle appeared just as Dani was about to expose her lies -- enabling her to save face with Matthew. I wouldn't be surprised if Michelle was somehow tipped off that Dani was about to tell Matthew the truth. I have a hunch that Michelle is pulling a huge con on Matthew, but to what end? And is she working alone or as part of the other nefarious activities that have been occurring in Llanview? Only time will tell.

Happy Anniversary, OLTL!

July 15 marks the debut of One Life to Live (and All My Children) on OWN -- the Oprah Winfrey Network. It also marks the debut of OLTL on ABC back in 1968. That was a few years before my time, but I have been a (mostly) faithful viewer of One Life to Live since 1985. In honor of OLTL's 45th anniversary, I thought I'd put together a Top 10 list of my most memorable moments from the show. Here goes:

10. Starr and Jessica's babies are switched (2008)
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I was too young to remember the original baby switching story, when Karen Wolek and Marco Dane switched her sister Jenny's dead baby for Katrina Karr's live one. I suffered through the pale imitation in the late 1980s when Gabrielle Medina performed a similar baby switch involving secondary characters. This 2008 redux, in which one of Jessica's alters switched her dead baby for Starr Manning's newborn, excelled because it was a part of a larger umbrella story that affected nearly everyone on canvas and had lasting repercussions.

9. Billy Douglas comes out of the closet (1992)
Homosexuality was still a mostly taboo topic when OLTL dared to have teenage Billy Douglas come out as gay in this groundbreaking story. Like most well-done stories, Billy's coming out was part of a larger tale of discrimination and acceptance that eventually impacted all of Llanview's inhabitants.

8. Clint travels back in time (1988)
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In an ambitious yet far-fetched story, a blind Clint Buchanan hits his head after being thrown off his horse and wakes up 100 years in the past in an Arizona town founded by his forefathers. He eventually learns he has to ensure Viki's great-grandparents are reunited before he can make his way back to the present day. At the time, I felt that this story dragged on for far too long, and I was relieved when it was over. But rewatching the story today, given the benefit of hindsight, I am stunned at what an epic undertaking it was.

7. Todd returns and learns he has a brother (2011)
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Years of hoping turned into reality in 2011 when Roger Howarth returned to the show that had made him famous. But with Trevor St. John fully ensconced in the role of Todd Manning, how would the show bring back Roger? The Tale of Two Todds was a brilliant retcon that allowed Roger Howarth to reclaim his signature role and gave Trevor St. John an entirely new role to develop.

6. Viki turns into Niki Smith (1985)
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I was transfixed when Viki, reeling from Tina Clayton's claim that she was Viki's bastard half-sister, reached into her trunk and pulled out a red wig. This was my first experience with Niki Smith and Erika Slezak's masterful performance as a woman battling dual personalities. Long before Niki became a caricature, she was a confused woman who was in love with a man she saw murdered before her eyes and was told she was married to a man she didn't recognize. Viki's year-long battle to reclaim herself and her life was riveting.

5. Tina goes over the waterfall and reappears at Cord's wedding (1987)
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When a kidnapped Tina Lord Roberts plunged over the Iguazu Falls in Argentina, I figured we would never see her again. Several months later, Tina stunned everyone by showing up alive at her estranged husband Cord's wedding -- and with a newborn baby she claimed was theirs (it was actually Max Holden's baby, although Tina and Cord would later learn their baby had survived as well). Sure, it stretched believability. But it was soapy fun and made for fantastic entertainment.

4. Viki goes to heaven (1987)
OLTL's late-80s foray into science fiction territory can be traced to the time when Viki Buchanan nearly died on the operating table and made a fantastical journey to heaven. There, she reunited with more than a dozen deceased friends and family members -- and a few enemies as well -- as she faced down her demons and battled her way back to earth.

3. Megan dies in Jake's arms (1992)
One of the most tragic stories in OLTL's rich history is Megan Gordon's untimely death in the arms of her newlywed husband, Jake Harrison. Megan was Viki's oldest daughter, although Viki didn't learn of her existence until Megan was 25 years old. They only had a few years together before Megan contracted lupus. As Megan lay dying in her hospital bed, friends and family regaled her with stories of Llanview's past while preacher Andrew Carpenter (who was harboring his own crush on Megan) broke Jake out of a foreign prison. Jake arrived just in time to share a tender reunion with his bride and decorate a barren tree with paper hearts in honor of Valentine's Day, which Megan would not live to experience.

2. Marty Saybrooke is raped (1993)
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After one too many campy stories in the late 1980s, OLTL had a resurgence in the early 1990s with character-driven plots that crystalized in one of the most memorable stories ever -- resident troublemaker Marty Saybrooke's violent gang rape by three college students. The story gave birth to one of OLTL's most famous characters, rapist Todd Manning, and propelled OLTL into the 21st century.

1. Viki splits into multiple alters (1995) Central heroine Victoria Lord (fill in the blank)'s epic battle with multiple personalities has been the one constant in One Life to Live's 45-year history, even as Viki's last name changed more often than some people buy socks. But up until 1995, Viki (and everyone else) believed that Niki Smith was the only other character living inside her head. When Dorian Lord lashed out at an emotionally drained Viki in the winter of 1995, revealing that Viki had been sexually abused as a young girl by her father, the person who confronted Dorian was someone viewers had never seen before. Violent teenager Tommy called Dorian a "stupid ugly bitch" and threw her down the stairs. Then yet another alter, who we later learned was the gatekeeper called Jean Randolph, emerged to clean up Tommy's mess. As the months went on, we eventually learned that Victor Lord's abuse had caused Viki to splinter into not one, but six, other personalities. The story went on for months, and Erika Slezak delivered nothing short of a tour de force performance -- or performances, as the case may be.

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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