where the writers are
annual checkup…


It was exactly a year ago that I resumed watching One Life to Live. I liked what I saw in that first show, and have continued watching. While I've written a lot about OLTL (here, here, here and here ) over the past year, with the Jessica/Starr/Marcie baby drama coming to a close, now seemed like a good time to take a look back.

And one of the reasons why OLTL continues to be a great soap opera is that the baby storyline is not really coming to a close, but moving into its next phase. How will Jessica cope with the realization of what her alters did and find comfort with Brody? Will Marcie keep baby Hope, or realize that Starr had a change of heart about the adoption, but felt she couldn't break her promise to Marcie? How will Starr and Cole adapt to teenaged parenthood? And then there're Hope's grandparents...

In fact, the two episodes, Friday (5 June) and Monday (7 June), were as heartbreakingly beautiful a two hours of soap opera as I've seen in a long, long time. They were two hours to be savored, not rushed through with remote control in hand. While we all knew what was going to happen, emotional payoff in those two shows were as much as any soap fan has a right to expect. And the fact that just as her father holds her for the first time, the perfectly adorable baby playing Hope/Chloe decided to play dropsy with her toy only added to the poignancy of the moment.  

This is not to say the past twelve months on OLTL have been perfect. The return was Andrea Evans as Tina was squandered. The whole Mendora mess was an embarrassment for all involved. Not all viewers liked the 1968 time travel; I did (here). The Todd-holds-Marty-captive storyline generated fierce debate on both sides (here). And after Tuc Watkins' limited availability truncated David and Dorian's relationship, cutting A Martinez loose after creating a dynamic relationship between Roy and Dorian is inexplicable. What's come to be called "The Morasco fiasco" and new roommates Cristian and Layla are not my cup of tea. But on the whole, much of what I said last year still holds, in particular:

  ...every single episode in these past three weeks, even those action-filled episodes bringing back veterans, Susan Haskell and Andrea Evans, has been anchored by at least one "conversation between characters exploring relationships and revealing history." And more often than not, those conversations run the full length of the episode: same characters, often, the same physical space; emotionally, of course, things move along a few degrees.

Those anchoring scenes are what keep me watching those show on days when the Morasco sister sideshow gets on my last nerve. And this quote from a Media Domain poster is as accurate today as it was then:

OLTL is a perfect example of how good writing and an understanding of the soap technique (and it is a separate technique from most TV writing) can lift a genre out of the doldrums and make it soar. All ages of characters, all good actors with story, story building out of story, interwoven and yet with new twists, characters staying in character and pulling story thru that, beautiful sets, appropriate costuming, the now-and-then outdoor shot.....well, it is all coming together to create new excitement and interest in soap fans.

Carry on!

© 2009 Lynn Liccardo

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