Why One Life To Live’s Back to the Future Story Was a Bomb

Gigi and Rex

Thinking Fans Comment Update Aug. 28: Aaron enjoyed “1968″ for its fun, escapism and heart … while Christian in Boston found the acting embarrassing … our own Soap Shrink discovered a compelling psychological adventure beneath the silliness … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

What did I do to deserve two Farah Faths on my TV screen? That’s what I thought last week when I tuned in One Life To Live to see a scene set in 1968, in which Rex (who was Bo) was in bed with Emma Bradley (Farah Fath), and in walked Gigi (Farah Fath), who had just journeyed back to that year a la Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.

You have be an OLTL fan to understand all of the above. And even if you are, as I am, a regular viewer, the show’s six-week fantasy time travel story, in which the actors normally playing Bo, Rex, Gigi and other regular characters showed up as antecedent  Buchanan family members circa 1968, seemed both charmless and nutsy.   Why a soap in this minuscule-rated soap year would take such a huge risk to do a crazy time travel storyline like this during the crucial summer viewing months is beyond me.

Yes, the kickoff of this story (Bo and Rex get hit by lightning and are hurtled back to 1968, the year OLTL premiered) worked well as part of the two-part episode 40th anniversary celebration back in mid-July.  But why oh why was it extended?  It was some of the strangest soap I’ve seem since the early 80s  when some soaps did teen/sci-fi storylines to mimic Luke and Laura’s on the run and Ice Princess adventures.  Remember a real misfire on Texas circa 1982, an Indian-themed adventure story called “Hitopah”?  My friend Chris, who actually loves shlocky soap sci-fi stories, said this OLTL story remindedFarah Fath him of some of the more way out Jim Reilly-brand stories on Passions.   Also, remember just how bizarro some of the time travel stories were on Dark Shadows?

Well, the best that can be said about this OLTL story is that it was ambitious, and a daring  try at being creative and imaginative.  But it was a failure.  Here’s why:

Writing that lacked normal rhythm and clarity. The fanciful set-up for this story, the same as in Back to the Future, made the scripts clunky. Characters had to constantly explain who they and everyone else were.  “She’s Olympia, not Lindsay,” the real Bo had to explain, for example  And the explanations got so elaborate, many scenes felt like the infamous Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” routine.  Bob Woods (Bo/Asa) and Rex (Bo)John-Paul Lavoisier made great comic use of all the confusion, but after a while it just got to be a drag.

Actors who can’t handle more than one part. How can I say this politely?  If you have actors who can barely handle the one part they are playing on the show, why give them dual roles?  Actors who are either solely former models, and/or are  not trained actors, have limited reach!   Fath (Gigi/Emma), John Brotherton (Jared/Clint) and especially Melissa Archer (Natalie/Maria) were just awful, and their 60s wigs and fake sideburns made it all a lot worse, almost tacky. The older actors handled the challenge better.   I very much liked Loyita Chapel (Mrs. Bob Woods/Clint’s old girlfriend Dallas) as a young Renee.  And Peter Bartlett (usually Nigel, the English butler) gave his Chuck Wilson a creative and Melissa Archeroff-Broadway-worthy acting twist by doing a broad, broad interpretation of Chuck, with a Wild West  accent.  (Bartlett is really American.)

Questionable special casting. Yikes!  I loved comedienne Lea Delaria in her 1999 OLTL stint helping Dorian conjure up the spirit of her dead husband Mel. But this time her acting as Delphina and Professor Del Fina was disappointingly weak, and the twin characters were given way too much air time.

Budget. In order to do a storyline like this you need a big, big 1980s soap budget.  The budget here was low to non-existent, and additional costumes and special sets would have done a lot to make the story more believable.  I loved it in the recent  anniversary episodes when Viki appeared in a Heaven that was just a bare stage but for filmy curtains.  But the minimalist  approach didn’t work well this time with the what should have been as vast as a Cinemascope 1968 storyline.  Remember the real horses and John BrothertonWestern town OLTL used when it first went back in time to Buchanan City in 1988?

Of course, there were some things that worked.  John-Paul Lavoisier has certainly come a long way as a dramatic actor.  Some of the closing reconciliation and love scenes between his Rex and Fath’s Gigi were very sweet, though not sweeping to overwhelming with emotion, as soap love scenes used to be in the old days.  But Bob Woods had a fantastic scene with Phil Carey, as, after many many attempts over the years, Bo finally settled up with and said farewell to the ghost of his domineering, needling father Asa.  It was heart-tugging to see Rex in Bo’s old Green Robert S. WoodsBeret uniform, similar to the one worn proudly by the real Woods, back when he was actually in the war.

But regardless of the scant good moments, this 1968 story was such an unexpected bomb, especially after all the Ron Carlivati hype (and his Outstanding Writing  Emmy!) I really have nothing against FarahPhil Carey Fath.  She’s cute and charismatic, and she and equally cute and charismatic J.P. play the next big soap  couple.  But this Rex and Gigi pairing in this elaborate 1968 tale doesn’t tug at my heart, not like soap couples of old who had must-see soap romances, created with the highest of professional theatrical standards, a decent budget and authentically wise and heavily experienced soap writing and acting.

Comments

  1. Soapster says:

    The time travel storylines put DS on the map! And I have to say I thought making Rex and Gigi the heart of this storylines was brilliant. Taking Fath’s performance to task while applauding the dismal job done by Mrs. Woods and the wildly overboard one by Bartlett — who I found truly cringe-worthy despite his Nigel being one of my favorite Llanview residents? Yeah, couldn’t disagree with you more on that one, darlin’!

  2. Lois says:

    I happen to be one of those fortunate enough to be watching TV on the day that One Life to Live debuted — back in 1968. The reason WHY OLTL’s tribute to “1968″ bombed — in my estimation — was that OLTL made NO attempt to track down any of the performers who were, like me, actuallyTHERE back in 1968 when OLTL was the “new kid on the block!” I don’t know how many of the original performers would still be around — but Michael Storm could possibly have been persuaded to put in an appearance as Dr. Larry Woleck — even IF Michael was a recast for his brother — who appeared in the role first. I am sure that I have seen Doris Belack in some commercials recently. In fact, I may be one of the few people left in the world who remembers that Erika Slezak was a recast as well!

    But — back in the REAL 1968 — when the young men really WERE being drafted to serve in VietNam, the HOT romance which WE were all discussing during our morning coffee break — was the romance between Larry and Meredith.

    Sincerely, Lois

  3. Christian in Boston says:

    I have read your work since 1987 when I found an article on OLTL’s heaven storyline that you wrote!

    I always respect what you say about OLTL because I remember from your SOW days that you were a big OLTL fan and always had fantastic viewpoints (especially loved your reviews on OLTL during the Gottlieb/Malone era).

    Regarding this AWFUL storyline, I agree with everything you said 100%.

    Between this and “Mendorra Revisited” I tuned out after tuning back in for Andrea Evan’s return.

    In all honesty, neither OLTL nor any other soaphas nearly the amazingly talented cast with breakout characters like they did throughout the 70s, 80s and some of the 90s to make bad writing work.

    From the acting (which I thought was absolutely horrendous and embarrassing, especially by Melissa Archer whose longevity on this show boggles my mind) to the cheap, cheap, cheap production values for a storyline like this, I was bored out of my mind. OLTL and most of the other soaps no longer know how to write compelling drama with SUSPENSE. Everything seems tongue in cheek and cute. I find Carlivati’s style of drama way to “light”.

    Mendorra — The sets (other than the waterfalls remote) were top notch and there were some laughs. But again, just goofy, light comedy with the main actors being David Fumero(another actor whose longevity boggles my mind) and the godawful Justice Bolding. JUST AWFUL.

    And mind you, Carlivati wrote this storyline as a parallel to the 1987 Argentina storyline essentially telling the audience that Sarah is a modern day Tina. YEAH RIGHT! Andrea Evans was a phenomenon in the 80s.

    This post is a little more negative than I wanted it to be. I am just not impressed with OLTL’s writing at all. I am not impressed with lack of NEW vision — everything is about rewriting storylines of the past. I LOVE Carlivati for his sincere respect for the history of OLTL, but where is the compelling new drama? Where is the suspense? What compels me to watch? Nothing.

    And I have never in OLTL’s history seen so many weak younger actors. I miss the Jessica Tucks and Roger Howarths.

    The only positive things I can say about OLTL are that Andrea Evans is as watchable as ever, Susan Haskell is back (in yet another BORING storyline) and OLTL has the best lighting on ABC.

    Marlena says: You read my Heaven review in 1987? That was in my column for United Features Syndicate and the only other living person who ever got in touch with me about that column was Mr. Paul Rauch, who called me while I was eating a bowl of cereal one afternoon back then to sweetly thank me. Huh? I’ve always thought it was because at the time no one in the soap press liked that storyline. And Paul (who was executive producer at the time) loved doing that story, since he told me it was based on a dream his wife had when she supposedly “died” on the operating table. She dreamed she had gone to “heaven” just how Viki was sent there when she “died” in the middle of an operation.

    Christian, this is a dynamite letter!

  4. Aaron says:

    You know, I really WANTED to hate it, thought I would, but ultimately didn’t. I do agree it ran on a touch too long, but overall I got a kick out of it.

    When I first read about it, it REALLY bugged me. I hated the stupid campy side of Passions and just thought this sounded like a bad JER stunt.

    But then I realized, I actually LIKE camp, but after 10 years of having JER shovel BAD camp down our throats, I forgot what it was like when it was done well.

    I think the key thing to why this story worked for me is that the characters weren’t made to look like total buffoons. They were confused, dubious and just as befuddled as the audience, but they behaved very true to themselves. Bo was still Bo, Rex was still Rex. Too often in these silly OTT stories, the characters are written as cartoons to support the plot. (I’m looking at YOU, Days…) That didn’t happen here.

    I thought it had fun, escapism and heart, three things all the soaps have been missing for a long time. It was rich in character history and setting, two OTHER things soaps as a whole are lacking in. And, yeah, it was clear it was on a shoestring budget, but there’s nothing that can be done about that.

    I don’t think it’s something I’d want to see repeated, but I dug it. RC’s still in my good books.

    I will say this, though. .. you’re 100% correct, this would have been done better in the old days, but I think RC’s about as close to an old-school writer as we’re likely to get for a while. And while I don’t want to SETTLE for that, I AM encouraged by that. It’s a nice change in direction for the industry.

    Marlena says: Aaron, even though you make some excellent points, I still disagree with you. But that’s okay because I dig your super cool writing style!

  5. Kade C says:

    Like you, Marlena, I had high hopes for this story. I personally like sci-fi/fantasy, and have no problem with it popping up in my soaps — as long as it’s well done. And this story, sadly, was not well done.

    When I first read spoilers of the 1968 story, I expected the main story thread to be Bo learning about Asa (specifically the seemingly horrible things he did, and why he did them) and perhaps the B-plot to be on Rex gaining a new perspective on life (what with the Vietnam war and all). The cameos of Llanviewites as other characters, I expected, would just be short sight gags, nothing more.

    And I really enjoyed the scenes that aired in the anniversary episodes as well. Too bad the story didn’t just end there. I wonder if a Bo-Asa driven character piece was the original plan. What with all of the meddling that seems to go on behind the scenes, perhaps directives from On High called for a change in the scripts to the campy, poorly written, poorly-acted (in the cases of Fath, Brotherton and Archer, as you mentioned) over-the-top mess we ended up watching.

    But I’m not “in the biz,” and I suppose I’ll never know. I’m just glad this story is FINALLY finishing up.

    Marlena says: Kade, I’m sure there is a long, messy story about the creation and making of this story. You know every great soap headwriter in the history of soaps has done at least one story which has turned out to be a clunker. (Yes, even Agnes, Claire and Doug!) It happens!

  6. Soap says:

    I hated the “back to the future” trip story and I tuned out for most of it. Thank goodness for the Olympics for the last two weeks!

    I tuned back in this week because I saw the promo with Gigi and Rex regarding Shane and I am a big fan of this couple. I watch OLTL for this couple so I’m very interested in where their story is going. At this point that’s all that’s holding me to OLTL.

    As for as the 1968 storyline, I thought it was like watching a very bad B-rated movie. It was cheesy, campy and way too much for me to wrap my brain around.

    Sorry, OLTL didn’t have this fan glued to the set. Thank goodness it’s over now WHY is Mendorra back on my screen again? GOD make it stop!!

  7. Jay says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I started watching OLTL during the mid-90′s during Susan Haskell’s brilliant turn as rape victim Marty Saybrooke, I instantly became a fan, much to the dismay of my CBS soap devoted family. Then the show lost it’s spark and I tuned out.
    When I heard about the much hyped anniversary shows, I decided to tune back in … what a waste!

    I never saw the original “western” sl, so I was excited about getting a newer updated version, but what the writers gave me was an uninspired and downright cheesy play on the show’s history. The whole thing reeked of publicity “whoring,” with the premise that the story would honor the rich history of OLTL.

    I was quite disappointed that the story centered around Rex and Gigi, two characters that have nothing to do with the roots of OLTL, and don’t get me started on the performances and overall confusion. I would have much better appreciated the whole sl being about Bo and him resolving the issues with Asa. Robert Woods deserves that type of story worthy of his talents; instead the whole thing was just a prop for Rex/Gigi.

    I can’t express how disappointed I am in OLTL’s new head writer. He had a perfect opportunity to bring back a fan, and wasted it!

  8. Hi Marlena !!

    I have to agree with you about the story beginning with potential and then lingering WAY too long. But underlying the silliness and fluff I saw a compelling psychological adventure for Bo. He was forced to go back into his past and deal with problems and conflicts from Asa’s point of view. He literally had to walk in Asa’s shoes, and struggle with how his father’s behaviors conflicted with his own.

    About a month ago, we discussed in the Soap Shrink column how Dorian facing her past in Canton symbolized the tenets of Freudian therapy. I think in Carlivati’s own way, this was another opportunity to illustrate how facing one’s path can help them build empathy for their parents, and move forward emotionally. Although we’ve yet to see how this journey will improve Bo’s functioning, I’m hopeful it will allow him to heal some of his childhood wounds and finally move forward with some healthier relationships.

    Or, I could be reading way too much into it.

    Either way, I think the story also served as a nod to viewers that were hoping Bo would somehow turn out to be Rex’s father. This way we at least got to see them work together as father and son. But if I never see those HORRIBLE wigs again it won’t be too soon!

    Marlena says: Damon, thank you for illustrating for the zillionth time why Moose and I are so proud to have you on Team Marlena as our Soap Shrink. And you are not reading too much into this story re: Bo and parental conflict. I agree totally! Bo’s rocky realtionship with Asa has been part of the history of One Life to Live since Bo first appeared in 1979 (before even Asa was on the canvas.) This may have been why I loved the final scene in this story with Bo and Asa that I wrote about. We should all be so lucky as to resolve the lifelong problems with our parents (dead or alive) that Bo finally did with (ghost) Asa after THIRTY years! At least one part of this awful storyline was written with great insight.

  9. I am apparently far more torn over this story than some of the rest of you are.

    I certainly agree that it went on too long, but for the most part I didn’t have a problem with it. It wasn’t cohesive – and I cannot for the life of me figure out why they were trying to suggest that Cord is only 39 years old – but day to day it delivered enough little moments to keep me reasonably happy. Especially in the back and forth between Bo and Rex.

    All that said, I’m happy it’s done and am far more interested in where they take the stories now moving forward than I was in being stuck in the past for too long.

    Like Soap above, I’m far more concerned about the return to Mendorra. I understand why they have to do it, but I’m really not at all interested.

    And while I agree with your point that big stagey things like this were done better in the past, I guess I’m a bit more pragmatic. Everything on soaps was done better in the past for a whole variety of reasons, first and foremost the budget you mentioned. But if I sit and watch everything wearing my “how would then have done this in 1985 or 1993?” glasses then I’ll never be able to enjoy anything. And the one thing OLTL has been delivering to me since I started watching which the other shows – especially GH – have not, is something enjoyable.

    Marlena says: When I look at some of today’s soap actors, there’s no way I can help but think how different (they took acting lessons, they had depth!) actors were in the past on soaps. And how much the quality of their work added to the intensity of the drama I loved to see every day. If I started watching soaps today, I probably wouldn’t watch them at all. And you can quote me! I bet there are old soap watchers out there who feel the same way I do. Our old bond to the medium is stronger than anything that’s on screen right now.

  10. Marceline says:

    First a point of disclosure: I stopped watching OLTL a year and a half ago after 20 years. I continue to follow it because of the respect and affection I feel for many of the actors but I have no attachment to the show itself. Understandably, this will lead many to discount my opinion. That said…

    I’ve caught a few clips of this story and agree with some of the observations made by you and others regarding the acting skill of many of the “younger” set. There’s some talent there but its raw and undisciplined. (If I may be so bold to suggest it, I think that’s worth a column in and of itself.)

    But I’d like to suggest something else…

    Sci-fi is a genre that doesn’t lend itself to being “dabbled in.” While truly good sci-fi (All the Star Trek series, Buffy/Angel, BSG, Firefly/Serenity, Heroes, Terminator, etc…) has a naturally “soapy” element to it, soaps don’t have a “naturally” sci-fi element to them. As a lifelong sci-fi fan and a former soap fan, I can attest to the fact that both genres attract a similar “type” of fan: committed, demanding, accustomed to being disrespected by the “mainstream”, history-focused and unforgiving of perceived screw-ups.

    If soaps want to play with sci-fi, they need to “bring it.” Otherwise they end up disappointing everyone. It sounds like that’s what happened.

    I know conventional wisdom says Ron Carlivati is the Jesus of Daytime. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t make him Gene Roddenberry or Joss Whedon.

    JMHO

    Marlena says: Very interesting! Since Marlena has never been a sci-fi fan, I encourage further comment on this letter from all my readers who are. And unless it is a Reilly-out-to-lunch special that’s done strictly for laughs, I don’t like sci-fi stories in soap operas. I am the only person in America who hated General Hospital’s Ice Princess story!

  11. Dana (Aka: MellieBabi) says:

    Hello Marlena.

    I too have been disappointed with this OLTL 1968 story. It’s sad that I was waiting for the end of today’s episode just to see Tanner Woods in Bob Woods Green Beret uniform, so I could experience some emotion(al reaction) from this story.

    The OLTL 1968 story was, as you said, long and drawn out. It was a guessing game how the “magic” would work … I guessed that the true love of Gigi and Rex would be confirmed by the Spontaneous Combustion (or whatever) that would catapult them back to the present. I really did enjoy Lea Delaria in her role as Professor Del Fina … lol. Quite funny!

    But the scenes with Melissa Archer as Maria were unbearable! Skin like porcelain but range like a bath mat — FLAT! John Brotherton was okay. His dialogue meant to remind us of the (tough) cowboy that Clint was/is … which hardly coincides with the beautifully talented Jerry verDorn’s version, of the strong (but in a gentle way) Clint.

    The story which was supposed to help “Bo find himself” but I think it was more about pushing a couple on us that ABC wants to market to us as a real life couple, who hardly can pass themselves off as soap couple. While I enjoy Farah Fath to a degree, her delivering her points with her open hand gestures is getting old. Well, I give her credit on working hard to eliminate the eyebrow on the fish hook technique

    On to another subject, I did enjoy Cat Hickland as Olympia. I never saw the original Olympia on OLTL (played by European movie actress Taina Elg) so I was giddy to enjoy that crazy character as Cat was to do her interpretation of her!

    Just my thoughts…

    Dana

  12. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Well, I’m going to go against the crowd and say I LOVED the 1968 storyline. I’m a big fan of Rex and Gigi — they’ve got great chemistry — and they carried the story well.

    The heart of the story was a couple overcoming the obstacles to be together. Granted a 40 year time gap is rarely the obstacle used to keep a couple apart. But it has been done before. On OLTL, in fact — remember that it was Viki who went back to 1888 to save Clint.

    Sure it lasted a little too long. Sure the sets were cheesy. Sure there were no special effects save for the lighting. Sure the continuity had plenty of holes (Cord is only 39?? Spencer Truman was 50??). Sure some of the acting lacked a lot (Melissa Archer was particularly painful to watch).

    But it was still a FUN story follow. The actors, for the most part, seemed to be enjoying themselves. And when the actors are having fun, it can help sway the audience. In fact, I found it so much fun, I even saved a few of the episodes to disc.

    And I commend Ron C. for taking a risk. Instead of being conservative in his storytelling, he decided to be daring.

    And we’ve even got a lingering mystery to be dealt with somewhere down the road — is it Asa, Bo or Rex who is the father of David Vickers?

    Send the Soap Shrink over to check me out if you want, mon chere. But I’m glad I got to go back to 1968 with them.

    P.S. If it makes you feel better Marlena, I hated every minute of the Mendora storyline, including Sarah going over the falls. I hate that they ruined Andrea Evans’ return with that clunker of a storyline.

    P.P.S GH’s Ice Princess storyline was indeed hokey. But in that case, it was Luke and Laura’s amazing chemistry combined with the sense of fun that Luke and Robert Scorpio seemed to be having that carried that story for me.

    Marlena says: I hated the Ice Princess story simply because I couldn’t follow it. It made no sense whatsoever to me.

  13. EricMontreal22 says:

    Great post.

    Don’t forget some of the odder choices made. I know the original time travel story even in campy late 80s OLTL divided people and apparantly all meant to be a big dream until the scab writers during THAT year’s writers strike had Vicki time travel too –but from what I’ve read it didn’t try to affect future stories … Touches like having David Vickers fade in and out back in Llanview in front of the mirror (are we to assume he’s now Rex/Bo’s son?) just make it even more confusing.

    Rex said he had to go to Vietnam so that Bo’s life would end up how it did — but if Rex is Bo and ends up living his life as Bo did how would he return to Gigi after Vietnam anyway and and … it all just gets too confusing. I know, it’s a silly soap story and I shouldn’t try to make sense of it but I like SOME sense and adding these extra layers of confusion made it all the weirder (I won’t even mention that they were watching a 1968 episode of One Life to Live in the Buchanan living room in one scene …)

    I think another problem was we got this AND the bumbling, cartoony, comic Mendorra “caper” at the same time — one wacky, lasting longer than it should, Rauch-era OLTL homage at a time please (well, they’ve run out of their share now…)

    As for sci-fi I admit I like a lot of fantasy especially with some basis in reality (the only new primetime pilot I saw that has me excited is the wonderfully soapy, vampire series True Blood from my fave TV writer Alan Ball, but I also was a massive Angel/Buffy fan) but have never been too into sci fi. But I love the new Dr Who which most would call sci fi …

    To call this plot sci fi OR fantasy seems weak — I’m not sure Ron Carlivati even considered much of those elements as all the sci fi bits were so vague (such as “a conduit, portals, etc”) That is what I think the sci-fi poster (Marceline, above) was getting at.

    I was around 0 years old when Ice Princess aired but I think it looks disastrous (was that when Luke had super powers or before?) and while ratings were huge, the show also got a lot of criticism for it, didn’t it? Of course because of it OLTL started its sci fi era — I think first with Dr Ivan Kipling’s return, now with a bionic hand and a chip to implant into Larry Wolek and control him.

    Marlena says: I always love hearing from you, Eric, because your soap viewpoint is so fascinating to me. You are an avid soap historian, but you are obviously young and haven’t actually lived through most of these times as I did. Love to hear your interpretations and compare it with my memories.

    Back in the Ice Princess days, there were very few soap critics in the soap mags (I think there was one — my magazine’s critic, John Genovese.) Luke and Laura mania was so intense back in 1982, I don’t think I remember anyone writing anything that was very heavily negative. But if you have some of my back Afternoon TV magazines from that year, you may look up the introductory columns I used to write as editor. I think I remember being a little bitchy about the whole story in them.

  14. 1968Fan says:

    I admit, I wasn’t sold on it at first but I liked the 1968 storyline as it progressed!

  15. Jumps says:

    Gotta disagree. I LOVED the 1968 storyline I LOL’ed so many times, I lost count. It was NOT a bomb, as you stated.

  16. Barb says:

    As a science fiction/fantasy fan, and an OLTL fan, the 1968 story left one thing to be desired…A point. So many things were smashed in the mix, it became pointless camp.

    Most science fiction/fantasy that deals with time travel has a reason behind it — someone that either resonates with them, usually an ancestor. Yes, the original thought was a tribute to RSW and the Buchanan clan for the fortieth anniversary. The casting — Mrs. Woods, his son, pulling Rex with him, all centered on Bo. And an prequel/coda to the Bo/Asa relationship made sense after the fantastic scenes at Asa’s death. Dealing with the circumstances around David Vickers birth even had huge ramifications for present story, but hard to deal with without either Phil Carey or Tuc Watkins on contract and around.

    Rex and Gigi are a couple, and they have a major secret — but what was special about 1968 for THEM that the universe conspired to send them there for their big revelation? It is a story, but there is nothing in 1968 critical to their story/situation.

    Had it been a buddy film, where Rex and Bo had to do something to get sent back, it might have worked. Had they dealt with Bo as Asa going to bed with Emma to understand what Nora did in the cabana might have worked. Even having the pressing David Vickers question to be answered might have worked.

    But the ending Gigi/Rex stuff has a place on the soap, but it didn’t have a place in THIS story.

    Marlena says: Fascinating, Barb. But why didn’t you tell us what your ideal ending would be? My only guess is that the end should have been the revelation that Bo is Rex’s father. Maybe they are saving that for November sweeps….2012? And what is Rex and Gigi’s secret? That their mutual father is David Bowie? Larry Wolek?

  17. Dale says:

    Oh, Marlena! Can’t say that I am on the same wavelenght as you on this one!

    Where to start? My biggest issue with the whole thing was how the past was “modified” to fit this storyline. Olympia was banished by Asa when Clint and Bo were little boys! And neither of them knew who Renee Divine was when she first hit town in 1987. Then there’s the matter of nobody in Llanview knowing who Spencer Truman was when he came to town in 2004, yet half the town had met him in 1968!!!

    Once I put all the logistics aside, I just sat back and enjoyed the experiment. Was I bowled over? No. Bored? No. Did I think the 1988/1888 story was better? Yes. Am I ready to write off Ron Carlivati? NO!

    I truly applaud RC’s attempts to acknowledge and play the history of OLTL. I am surprised that a long time Llanview-ite like you could not find more to enjoy with this arc! It certainly was different than the standard summer fare, yes? For that reason alone, I liked the spirit and intent of 1968.

    As for the acting…well……..OK, Melissa Archer was truly horrid (“Cleent!”). John Brotherton was passable as Clint. But how can you deny the way Farah Fath imbued Emma with sarcasm, vulnerability and sexy charm? She nailed Emma! I thought Fath’s performance was the best of the whole sequence! She really created a new and interesting character in short order.

    When all is said and done, the summer of 2008 won’t go down as OLTL’s worst, nor it’s best. It rests comfortably in the middle of the pack. But Marlena, give this show credit for thinking out of the box! You and I have not disagreed in a while, but I still luv ya!

    Marlena says: Have you ever heard that expression “Nero fiddles while Rome burns?” The ratings are down to next to nothing right now (on all soaps, not just OLTL!)

    Do a story that’s serious, that tugs the heart! The leisurely time to do a story like this was in the 80s, when soaps had huge ratings and budgets to burn! Also, if you are a first time headwriter, wouldn’t you do the type of story you know you are good at doing? I’m not writing off Ron Carlivati, but he should have stuck to classic soap opera that he has proven he can do right now

    Dale, you know no one likes TRULY funny and creative storylines more than Marlena (check my raves for the first two years of Passions, my review of OLTL’s Heaven, weirdly wonderful stories on various soaps going back to Santa Barbara) but let’s get practical here! Between this and the awful Mendorra 2 story someone at ABC needs to call OLTL on the carpet. Unless they think they can ultimately sell this kind of very young, male-skewing story to cable …

    (Dale, I still adore you!)

  18. The 1968 story should’ve been about Viki and Larry, plain and simple.

  19. pjs says:

    Hi, Marlena…

    You are not the only person in America who hated the Ice Princess story, though you are in a minority of two…with me.

    Count me in as one who also hates the 1968 OLTL story. It made no sense to me, never raised itself much above a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” don’t believe a word of this story sensibility, and as you said, was for the most part horribly acted.

    Worse than all its glaring deficiencies is how it removed whatever steam the “Tess takes revenge against Natalie and Jared” story might have had. Granted, that it’s not the world’s greatest story to begin with, but any momentum it had was lost. Tess’s revenge should have flowed unbroken out of Nash’s death. Instead, the story virtually disappeared for weeks while we viewers were subjected to the balderdash and boredom of 1968.

    More about the acting. Many of the younger actors on OLTL do their best work in stories that are essentially plot-driven. The actors playing Jared and Natalie were reasonably compelling during the “Jared pretends to be a Buchanan” story. Since that story ended, all they do now is sit uncomfortably in every scene they’re in. Without a story, who are these characters, and why do we care. Neither is that skillful an actor to make these characters even remotely interesting while they sit passively waiting to be forgiven for their mistakes. Once dynamic in their pretense and anguish, they bore us in their contrition. Where is the risk-taking spirit that first propelled Jared onto the OLTL canvas. Why, after months of being job-driven, are both Natalie and Jared sitting around accepting their outcast lot in life? Not working, not taking charge, not anything? Not interesting.

    Few in the cast could or did invest anything in the cartoon characters they were asked to present in the 1968 scenes. Most were thrown into ’68 with no warning and no help from the writers and producers.

    The only decent thing the ’68 storyline did tacitly condemn the Iraq War by reminding us of how unpopular the 1968 “living room” war was with full, daily tv coverage of the war’s wounded, coverage which has been “edited” out of today’s tv news shows. I also applaud the way 1968 shredded Nixon’s secret plan to end the war, which basically reminded us that some politicians will say anything to get elected.

    But 1968 did not tell a coherent story. No one cared about anyone in the story other than Bo and Rex. Making the sci-fi a lynchpin in resolving the Gigi-Rex-Shane story was cheap, and a dubious part of their ongoing character histories.

    Marlena says: You said it, pj…..so eloquently!

  20. Barb says:

    Just wanted to clarify — the Rex/Gigi secret I was referring to was the one about Shane’s paternity. PJS made my point far more succintly: 1968 was not a coherent story — and the examples I was giving were trying to give it one. Even in the fantasy genre, Rex and Gigi would need a far more solid reason to be back in 1968, something that echoed their own story more successfully — but then their story has changed tune over the past nine months.

    Marlena says: Thanks for writing back, Barb! I should have realized the secret was Shane. And I really, really appreciate you giving us your sci/fi fantasy expertise.

  21. Liz V says:

    You had me at
    “What did I do to deserve two Farah Faths on my TV screen? “

  22. norn says:

    I think it would’ve been a fun two week summer story. But three weeks was definitely the expiration date.After that, it stunk. And then it hung around for three MORE weeks! And
    even after all that, the ending still felt rushed and slapped together!

  23. esther says:

    Your column was so dead on, Marlena, it was frightening. Course, not as frightening as watching some of those scenes.

    Marlena says: Thanks for the rave, dahling! It wouldn’t be a party without you, Esther!

  24. BL says:

    The revision of history in this plot bothered me as well, as Dale said Bo didn’t know Spencer, Emma, or Renee back then plus. Olympia was gone from the Buchanan ranch years before Bo was grown too. If they had left well enough alone and not had Bo and Clint discuss this on camera, it would be easier to ignore their bending of an established past story. If history had been followed, Maria and Clint wouldn’t have appeared in the plot either. Cord was conceived well before Bo went into the military, Maria had been sent away by Asa by this time, and Clint had left the family. That subplot wasn’t really needed, as it really didn’t add much to the main story, except perhaps for Bo to live in Asa’s shoes and be a jerk?

    My biggest issues outside the changing history aspects were what Barb mentioned in the sci-fi realm. Using Gigi telling the truth to Rex about Shane to get them sent back to Llanview was just strange. The time travel being about Bo made sense as to him coming to grips with his past. Rex and Gigi for example didn’t get a new understanding of what it was like to be Brody who has gone to war.

    Gigi and Rex could have been caught in any sort of tragedy where Gigi thought Rex may not see her or Shane again, and she could have spilled that news. No time travel was needed, to achieve that goal.

    If this had been a two to three week buddy story with Bo and Rex, I bet I would have enjoyed it more, it felt like it ran out of steam. Typically though I don’t care for scifi on soaps. It just ran too long for me especially with the camp Mendorra plot being one of the other three main stories getting the bulk of the airtime (the third is the Blair/Todd/Marty/John/Starr/Cole saga).

    Marlena says: Thanks, Blossy, for figuring this out and explaining it so clearly. In my experience there is nothing soap fans hate more than when show history is changed, or when ridiculous plot points that make so sense or could never have happened are retroactively inserted into it. No one on earth has a better memory than a soap fan! And these days we are often more astute than the writers.

  25. kandy says:

    This show today resembles nothing of the ground breaking show that premiered in 1968. I gave up even trying to stomach the “Mend-horrow” storyline. To have even attempted to honor 40 years without a mention of the Woleks, Grays, Halls, truly showed how much the show has lost their identity. The return of Andrea Evans was such a waste, this is what I waited 18 years for? I love the Vegas, but even I couldn’t watch and even feel their embarrassment in that storyline from hell.

    The best part was Sarah going over the falls, but dang nabbit, why couldn’t she have got caught up in seedweed and dragged under? Watching Sarah and Cristian is like having skin peeled from my back with a pair of tweezers. Not really feeling Talia and Antonio, though I love both of them separately. Now, the Bo, Rex, Gigi nightmare, please pass the Tums. Somebody please give Robert Woods a storyline, this is an Emmy winning actor, you sadly get precious little opportunity to act.

    I’m standing in the gap for you on this one Marlena, you hit the bulls eye, this show is bull sh*t.

  26. Julien says:

    They rewrote too much of history by having it take place in 1968. Maria had Cord before ’68. She came to town in either ’85 or ’86 and it had been 20 years since she’d seen Clint.

  27. Gene says:

    I do agree with that the “Back in Time” s/l was the worst, awful s/l with “Mendorra. This story is a jump-the-shark for the soap. I don’t know what happened, but if this is entertainment, I’ll watch something else. I do believe that Frons is involved along with RC and FV. I do hope that RC comes back in the fall to resurrect the show back to what it is because it is falling out of viewers’ favorite soap. I do agree that RC did drag out the s/l to the point that it lost it luster. I hope that the soap comes back. It will take a lot of work to get fans back to loving OLTL again.

  28. David says:

    I have to agree with you on this one Marlena. You know when Guiding Light is holding your attention more than One Life to Live, that something is wrong in the land of soap! GL is supposed to be the worst show on the air (not in my opinion… and I STILL hold out hope that the “Light” will shine again!) so OLTL must off it’s game. I must say that I didn’t see this decline in quality coming so soon after winning the best writing Emmy. Thank Heavens for Robin Strasser during this summer! She made me remember why I watch OLTL. I was really disappointed in the way Andrea Evans was brought back as well. I don’t think either Mendorra or 1968 would have seemed so bad if they weren’t happening at the same time. I spent more time this summer watching the Gilmore Girls on DVD than the soaps. Now that’s a great show!

    As always another great column!

    Marlena says: As always, thank you dear! These days, however, I get no joy in writing about such obvious misfires. Time in the soap world is fleeting. When you are sinking, swim! Don’t get “arty” especially in a medium in which misconstrued ‘art’ turns so easily into junk. Darlings, look what happened to Passions, which was indeed art done by the master of soap silliness and creativity in the very beginning, but which degenerated into…..cancellation!

  29. Melanie says:

    The 1968 s/l was incredibly disappointing, like much of the show lately. There have been too many stories that have started off as good drama and ended up in camp: Bo’s disasterous wedding & skipping town turned into the 1968 story, Nash’s Death turned into Tess’ story, Tina’s Back turned into the Mendorra silliness. I’m all for fun and humor on my soaps, but really they should stick to one “campy” story at a time.

    As for the performances, it was definitely hit or miss (though better than the Mendorra s/l performances). I’ve decided to be kind to Melissa Archer (who I think is charming) and just see it as an ode to Natalie Wood in West Side Story (you know, Natalie/Natalie, Maria/Maria, 1960s/1960s, bad accent/bad accent.) Yeah, it’s a stretch but it helped me get through her scenes, lol

    Marlena says: Thanks for giving me a much-needed laugh! “Tonight, to-night, I see my love to-night, Tonight there will be no morning star…..” Never ever did I ever imagine quoting Mr. Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein in this column…..

  30. Lulu says:

    I totally agree about Farah Fath. She’s appropriately named (FF). She overacts, is horrible at acting with real emotion and has a hard time playing a supporting character much less a lead one. Even JPL is better than her.

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