This week, we take a lesson from Dorian Lord's scandalous "Below the Beltway" column and talk a little trash. What just didn't do it for you on One Life to Live in 2013? Read my thoughts and then hit me up with your gripes in the comments.
I have to admit I feel bad about calling this a "worst of" column. It seems especially wrong, since it's likely to be my last commentary on One Life to Live unless the show, like many a Llanview resident, is miraculously pulled from the brink of death a second time. Right now, it seems a little like talking crap about someone in their eulogy. That's not going to stop me. I just want a little credit for being conflicted about it, please.
Oh, Michelle, you were such a weirdsmobile. Amber Skye Noyes was fabulous, and I hope she'll pop up elsewhere on my TV or computer screen soon. However, I just couldn't get down with Michelle. The moment I'd think I was almost starting to like her was the moment she'd do something like show up as a maid in a Llanview hotel when she was supposedly visiting her supposed Canadian family. And she was always prepared with a lame excuse that fell just shy of actually convincing anyone but the hopelessly smitten Matthew.
And at some point, like Dani and Jeffrey, I just could not even deal with her anymore. Of course, in retrospect, Jeffery didn't have a lot of room to judge, but, hey, even a guy who is secretly drugging your uncle can have a point about your girlfriend being crazy sometimes.
All the lies Michelle told could have been interesting. The show needed to go one of two routes: either make it clear she was lying just for the fun of it or to be manipulative -- the younger crowd didn't yet have it's full-on bad girl, and Michelle could have been it -- or give her some backstory that would eventually lead to her just being misunderstood and needing love and acceptance, setting her up for a redemption story. I suppose either one of these could have been in the works, but, as it was, I felt it was almost too late to really make her interesting or relatable.
Matthew, Matthew, Matthew. You are telling me you had all the time in the world to put up with Michelle's nonsense, but you couldn't take an hour out of your day to hang out with your kid and give his mom a break or, you know, since you were working and paying for a pretty nice apartment, maybe pay some child support?
Robert Gorrie did a solid job, and a lot of people seemed to enjoy Matthew, but I just couldn't latch on to him. I get that flawed characters are what makes the soap world turn. However, as Bo and Nora's son, I wanted to see Matthew with a few more redeeming qualities.
My main beef with Matthew was his disregard for his son and for Destiny's struggles as a single mother. Destiny was his best friend once upon a time, and the fact that he could be so unconcerned about her and uninterested in spending any time with his son turned me cold to the character.
I'd have been more interested had he made attempts to be a father but continuously screwed up, perhaps taking after his Uncle Clint who loved Natalie and tried in his own way but didn't always connect well with her. I do think the show might have been heading that way with Matthew getting a bit of a wake-up call when Drew was rushed to the hospital and choosing to stay with Destiny and Drew during the crisis. I would have enjoyed seeing a story where Matthew became a better dad play out.
I wasn't among the viewers who were sour on Shelter from the start. That said, when you hold a memorial service for someone who died of a drug overdose at a nightclub, I think it's time to evaluate your storytelling choices. Or maybe Brianna needed to evaluate the life choices that led to her being the sort of person people gathered at a nightclub to mourn. Something went wrong somewhere is all I'm saying.
Natalie Spends Approximately a Millennium Mourning Breakup With John
I love Natalie and Melissa Archer so much, and I feel they didn't put her to good use at the start of the season. We'd skipped an entire year and, no matter how badly it ended between them, in made zero sense for Natalie's storyline to revolve around her still being hung up on John. They focused way too much time and story on someone who wasn't even returning to the show. There were weeks of scenes building up to a voicemail from John that viewers didn't even get to hear.
In comparison, Natalie finding out that Clint had caused her and John's breakup and subsequently forgiving him seemed ridiculously rushed. The scenes we saw were wonderfully acted and emotional, but the payoff could have been so much bigger if the tension between Natalie and Clint had played out for longer.
When Natalie forgave Clint, I was sitting at the computer with a puzzled look on my face saying, "Wha...? You just got mad at him in literally the episode right before this." It seemed like so much buildup for one tiny little scene of Clint asking forgiveness and Natalie granting it. Call me wacky but I think putting the bulk of the story on people who could actually interact together onscreen would have been stellar.
Todd and Blair Get Secret Off-Screen Married
Some people on Twitter were a bit miffed at me for leaving Todd and Blair off my best of list. Let me try to justify myself. I agree that Todd and Blair have magnificent chemistry, and they had some amazing scenes in this online run. I'm not even a huge fan of the pairing, and I still got all misty-eyed during their goodbye scenes.
BUT -- there has to be a but because this is the worst of column, after all -- I felt how the show handled Todd and Blair was a mistake. They've always had a love/hate thing going, but going from Blair wanting Todd the hell out of her life to a secret marriage in the space of a few episodes was far too rushed and felt forced. Roger and Kassie luckily have the chemistry to sell it, so the scenes were wonderful. However, half the fun of a love like Todd and Blair's is the journey -- seeing them work to understand each other again, to forgive each other, and watching one or both of them fight it every step of the way until they just can't help but give in. When it's rushed, the payoff is not nearly what it could be, and it also just doesn't seem believable.
My second issue with the marriage was that it tied Blair down. Todd was leaving and, as far as we knew, Roger Howarth wasn't coming back anytime soon. Blair mooning over Todd indefinitely sounded ever so boring to me. The show would have done the pairing and Blair more justice by leaving things open-ended. They could have still had a romantic and sexy reunion without going to let's-get-secretly-married-ville. And that would have given the option of Blair getting a little something something from someone else while Roger was off playing Franco on General Hospital.
Victor's Return Fails to Impress His Family and Friends
Let's move on to Todd's brother who just so happens to also be Todd's almost-murderer, Victor. Why could no one work up a proper amount of joy/shock/anger/any emotion at seeing Victor return from the dead?
As I said last week, Victor appearing on-screen at the end of the first episode had me excited and wanting more. There should have been tearful reunions and angry confrontations. Instead, people were like, "Hey, Victor, long time no see." At one point, I literally shook my laptop and shouted, "Do y'all remember that he was dead?" at the screen. The only person who properly freaked out about seeing Victor was Dani and, as Dan pointed out in our special Worst of Soaps Soap Central Live podcast chat, she was majorly tripping at the time, so she doesn't really count.
The Dreaded Announcement About an Announcement That Never Came
One Life to Live left me once and absolutely broke my heart, but then it came back all Prospect Park-ified, claiming things had changed. And, hey, did I want to go to this cool new club Shelter? I took One Life to Live back because, who are we kidding, I was still in love. And oh, we had good times! Just read last week's column if you don't believe me.
But then I heard a rumor. Prospect Park had something to tell me. Maybe we were going on a location shoot! A cross-country chase in pursuit of tattooed bad guys? Maybe Prospect Park wanted to make our relationship a long-term thing? Were they about to propose another season spent together?
But Prospect Park never even called. A friend of a friend told me they wanted to take a break. Some of the actors told me via Twitter that it was really and truly over. But I couldn't believe it. Surely Prospect Park would tell me themselves if we were breaking up? Right? I'll be over here waiting by the phone.
No More OLTL
There's no way to put a comedic spin on the actors, writers, producers, and other staff and crew that lost their jobs due to the end of One Life to Live's and All My Children's foray into Internet entertainment. There's also no replacing the spot these shows held in the hearts of viewers both old and new. For that reason, the indefinite One Life to Live hiatus which looks an awful lot like a full-on cancellation gets my pick for the very worst of 2013.
However, despite the nature of a "worst of" list, I can't stand to be a total bummer and leave this column on such a bad note. So, I'll share with you that I'm going to celebrate the fact that we got new episodes in 2013, possibly by popping over to Hulu and rewatching my very favorite "you're still going to the party, bitch" scene a few times. I suggest you do the same with your favorite scenes.
And, though I'm always going to miss Llanview, I plan to support new and continuing web soaps as well as the remaining televised soaps. But, for the love of Pete, no one tell Prospect Park that I'm one of the One Life to Live viewers who picked up General Hospital when the One Life to Live characters began airing there. No one over there has filed a lawsuit in a while, and I'm starting to get nervous.
To read Liz's column for the Best of One Life to Live 2013, click here.