Thinking Fans Comment Update July 18: EricMontreal22 recalls OLTL 1980 … Dale salutes Phil Carey … norn calls Llanview home away from home … and more. See Comments below.
By Marlena De Lacroix
Happy 40th birthday, One Life to Live! I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks, trying to come up with an overall through-line for the four decades this show has been broadcast daily on ABC. But it’s hard to find one, because, within that span of years, the drama has gone through so many different eras and been presented in so many different styles, by so many writers and producers with individualistic approaches. So why have I continued watching through it all? Forty years is a long time, indeed most of my adult lifetime!
And then it struck me: I’ve watched OLTL so long simply because it has always been entertaining, and in so many ways!
I loved the social relevance and the breakthrough ethnic and racial diversity of the early Agnes Nixon years. When Carla Gray, who was black and passing for white, confessed all her problems and her pain to her earth mother Sadie, I was totally absorbed both by the content and the terrific, heartfelt acting of Ellen Holly and Lillian Hayman.
When the show took a different path and three Texas cowboys named Buchanan galloped into Llanview, Pennsylvania, giving the show a slightly B western movie feel, I liked that, too. When Paul Rauch, in a touch of pure originality and fantasy and 80s camp, sent Viki to heaven to see her dead friends and relatives, I was on board, relishing every minute. When Ursula (the great Jill Larson) comically blew up the cake, I laughed out loud. And just last week, during a magnificently acted scene in which Viki and Charlie (Erika Slezak and Brian Kerwin) declared their mutual love, but agonized because his problems with honesty kept them from being together, I actually broke down and cried. I reveled in the sheer heartbreak of it!
“Oh, Marlena,” chided my friend pjs, the writer-producer and occasional contributor to this site who is a true soap connoisseur. “How can you say One Life to Live is entertaining? What about the time that awful cartoon villain Ivan Kipling implanted the chip in Larry’s brain? What about Eterna? What about Mendorra? What about the way Jill ruined Nora and took away her brain? What about Dena Higley?”
I asked pjs how long he has been watching OLTL.
He said sheepishly, “Oh, from the day it premiered in 1968. Just about every day.”
I rest my case. Sure, OLTL has had bad storylines and some bad times (see pjs’ objections above). But overall, I always watched. Or came back to watch. Thank goodness, as of now the last bad era is all over and today’s OLTL seems back on the right road to being a great, intelligently written, classic soap, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. I find today’s show is very, very watchable on a daily basis in a soap world where not much else is.
Happy anniversary, One Life to Live! And thanks for always, always being entertaining!