One Life To Live Ups the Stakes, But Does It Dare Fire Superstar Slezak?

Erika Slezak

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Cherry Ames declares, “OLTL is so good in some ways, but in other ways it’s just sick and sordid and as bad as reality (global recession, wars, mass killings in Darfur and Sudan, Octo-mom).  I want something more uplifting and positive” … while Beth predicts, “Forcing Erika Slezak from OLTL, in my view, is something that the show would never be able to recover from. There is no heart in this show any more, and I do see the reason is becaue Viki Lord is missing in action” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Double jeopardy!  This week One Life to Live makes history by doubling the plot stakes as the lives of two children are seriously imperiled.  After a car crash, young Matthew Buchanan, the son of Bo and Nora,  will be paralyzed from the waist down.  And young Shane, the son of Rex and Gigi,  will be diagnosed with cancer!

The message boards will undoubtedly be full of hosannas from viewers who love the intensity of the drama.  There will be  calls for Emmy nominations all around to honor powerful performances. Dipsy Farah Fath (who plays Shane’s devoted mom) will be declared the new Jodie Foster.

Historical note: In the old days of traditional soap operas, writers like Irna and Agnes and Bill in the 50s and 60s would never do one story like this involving tragedy to a

These days, the only thing that can balance out the strippers, and the blow jobs, and the show’s general lack of class, is the one character who epitomizes class — namely Viki, as played by  Ms. Erika Slezak. 

young child, let alone two at the same time.  Why?  In those days, it was understood that the majority of the audience was young mothers, and one story like this would so upset and nauseate them they’d flee their sets in droves.Shane  In the 70s, 80s and onward, there were childhood illnesses and tragedies, yet rarely was one attempted which  was as grave as cancer, or paralysis.  These are conditions we’ll have to watch a child suffer with day after day.

Yes, yes, darlings, I know what many of you are going to say:  When Michael Corinthos was about to be shot in the head on General Hospital,  I expressed similar dread. You wrote me in droves that soaps aren’t just focused on the female anymore and these kinds of uber tragic stories about kids are done on primetime and in movies.  Well, I, Marlena, am still a woman, I still love kids, and the prospect of watching the stories of crippled Matthew and cancer-ridden Shane at the same time, possibly daily, actually makes me queasy.eddie alderson

To viewers, the new OLTL of the last year, which fearlessly ups the stakes in some plots and breaks the limits of old soap opera (the night of the accident Blair was stabbed in the shower, Marty remembered Cole was her son, and Star kissed Mr. J!) is fantastic drama. To others it is a great old soap whose quality and class are going down, down, down, and fast.  Needless to say, count moi in the latter camp. I like the exciting plotting, yet it’s been a year in which my favorite old soap of 40 years has featured a blow job and a new lower-than-dirt  stripper character named  Stacy, who says things l like, “Rex, hit the floor and grab your ankles.” 

Well, Mr. Frons,  I’ll make you a bargain:  I’ll put up with this show only if you spare Erika Slezak.  It’s been whispered for the last few weeks she’s on her way out. In the past two months she’s hardly been seen. Dorian, on the other hand, is in every story and if Viki is seen at all she is in support, holding her daughter’s hand and screeching, “Jess-see-ca,  Jess-see-ca!”  Little or no airtime for the show’s central character of 40 years, an actress with six Emmys?  This is a year when veteran actors all over soaps have been fired.  Even Days of Our Lives’ central star of 35 years, Deidre Hall, was terminated this year by the likes of crazy Kenny (Corday.)   Brian, do the right thing:  save Erika!  

And not just as a favor to moi. You really need her!  Many OLTL fans like me feel that over the last 40 years the show’s overwhelming star attraction has been the story of one human woman overcoming every obstacle: Victoria Lord Riley Buchanan Davidson. You axe Viki, you axe all the old fans of the show.  Maybe you know that and don’t care. But be warned: The ratings for the show are already so low, no amount of stripper fans or the hip, cool young viewers you are looking to attract are going to make up for the loss of Erika Slezak fans.

Look at it this way, Brian, OLTL has always been about balance.  Viki has been the good heroine, Dorian mostly has been the wayward villainess.  Together, the show is a moral whole.  These days, the only thing that can balance out the strippers, and the blow jobs, and the show’s general lack of class, is the one character who epitomizes class — namely Viki, as played by  Ms. Erika Slezak.  Keep her, give Viki  a central storyline.  Mr. Frons, the show you save may be your own. 

Comments

  1. Maria says:

    I have no words. I saw the preview for the car accident involving Matthew and Cole, but I never saw paralysis coming. I don’t know what to say.

    Having both storylines all at once sounds like a lot to handle, for me as a viewer.

    I love Matthew and Shane; I’m sure there’s a chance that this could end in some mature abnd classy way, but I have serious doubts …

    And I still miss Michael …

  2. Matthew J. Cormier says:

    If they fire Erika Slezak than they are asking for trouble, the show will never recover from that, never. I knew that Diedre Hall’s firing would set off a series of events in the industry that will leave people like Slezak and Lucci vulnerable to firings.

    Marlena says: Both Susan and Erika are ultraprofessionals, the classiest of dames, and tough as nails. And their fans (myself amongst them) would NEVER let either go without a LOT of protest.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Soap opera should be supreme forms of escapism –from work, our own problems, for love and laughter.

    Stories that induce tears have always been part of soaps, whether the death of a lover, or the death of a great romance, even incest and abuse (social stories) have been part of their fabric. You are absolutely on target about the failure to balance the stories and the characters. Pace tragedy with comedy and romance with many stories reaching into the other. New characters (Stacey –not a hit with me) should be introduced slowly and perhaps, at some point, someone would care about new person and their antics. Sick kid stories should be few and far between, not all at once.

    The best stories from One Life To Live’s past and should be for the future involve Viki and Dorian. Dorian’s marriage to Viki’s father and everything that followed –the DID, Dorian’s trial and death sentence, the secret room, Joey and Dorian (loved them together surprisingly), Viki coming to terms with her father’s abuse etc. were a gold mine of story that can still be utilized. What I got out of those stories(besides years of entertainment) was that the wayward villian tried to protect Viki when it came to Victor –why not explore that aspect of the story? Its different and it would be interesting to see Viki have to come to terms with her most hated rival was her protector to some extent.

    Lastly, as should be noted from the above, I appreciate the talent of Ms. Slezak. She is necessary to the show. But so is Robin Strasser. TPTB have treated Strasser as an expendable quantity too often. Perhap, I am being too sensitive after reading your column, but I do not think Dorian should not have story because Viki does not have story. Both should be involved; two dynamic actresses are a gold mine — USE THEM, together preferably.

  4. Cherry Ames says:

    I very much dislike these children in peril stories. My most hated SL on OLTL-or maybe any soap ever!- was the death of Brian Kendall. It literally made me sick. Sure it was great theatrics and fallout from the story, but it left a very bad feeling with me. ( I, too, adore kids. I have 2 of my own and I work as a Neonatal ICU nurse).

    OLTL is so good in some ways but in other ways it’s just sick and sordid and as bad as reality is these days (global recession, wars, mass killings in Darfur and Sudan, octomom!) I want something more uplifting and positive. Today, poor naked Blair was stabbed multiple times in the shower. Turn off!

    Last, but not least, I do not believe Erika Slezak would ever be fired. But, she may be placed in a position where she may wish to quit. Her extreme lack of meaningful airtime may make her her unhappy enough that she will opt to retire. Honestly, I believe this is what TPTB are going for. It’s sad but in a way I understand the economics of the situation. Times everywhere are really, really tough and I feel for anyone of the 650 million who lost jobs recently.

    Marlena says: Oh, I remember when poor little Brian Kendall (Pat’s son) was run over by Talbot Huddleston. And Karen (Judith Light) turned him in, and in so doing admitting she was a prostitute and that she was with him at the time! Now THAT was incredibly scripted and performed drama!!! I loved it. I lurved it!

    If Brian wants to make Erika unhappy enough to retire, he’s gonna have to deal with moi, Marlena, and millions of other longtime OLTL fans first!

  5. Cherry Ames says:

    I want to add one other thought. Not for one minute do I think Matt will be permanently paralyzed or that Shane will die (at least I hope not). I feel the dictates of ABC daytime is “style over substance” and “shock and awe” storytelling. It’s all too much for me. I don’t need to shed any more tears or feel depressed., Enough is enough. I am sort of getting hooked on GL and Olivia and Natalia. Two women who are very different becoming very close friends and maybe more. I find it sweet and special and not demeaning as so much of ABC soap material is.

  6. Christian in Boston says:

    Hi Marlena- Amen.

    First of all, OLTL’s younger cast is iffy in the acting department, which makes these plot driven gimmicks and one note ( and terribly nosejob-ed) characters like Stacy all the more unbearable.

    OLTL (ABC) cannot even follow Soap Opera 101, where new characters are introduced to the audience slowly. No, you have stripper Stacy and her clipped off snout (feel free to edit, Marlena) pushed to the forefront from day one.

    I have watched OLTL since I was 9 (I watched in the summers at my grandparents in the mid 80′s), and even then it was the ADULTS like Erika who I tuned in for.

    As a 32 year old male viewer watching today’s episode kicking off the aformentioned storyline(s)- I marveled at the downright horrible “performances” by the under 30 crowd on OLTL. You know, Fron’s favorites. How a director would allow performances like this to air, I will never understand. Why every storyline is based on having over 30′s as supporting players to 12 year olds I will never understand.

    Why this show would let a 6 time emmy winner and viewer favoirite like Slezak (and a well regarded actor like Brian Kerwin) appear once a week as token grandparent characters is beyond me. Erika’s last episode had her counseling the amazingly complex, talented heart and soul of Llanview- GIGI. Yeah, you get what I’m saying.

    As much as I feel that Ron Carlivati truly LOVES the show. I don’t think ANY soap at ABC can thrive to its potential. The corporate side favors youth and sensationalism.

    To me the show has no heart at all. The acting sucks. The storylines are an absolute bore. OLTL gives you alot of action. But it is empty. I really don’t care what happens next. And like Days Of Our Lives has proved, the ratings won’t be affected by ditching veterans. You don’t think Frons has not noticed this? Come on.

    Im down to once a week with this show and i don’t see myself bothering with it much longer.

  7. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Well, I’m still loving OLTL. It’s the first thing I watch on my Tivo each night. Althought I will admit that they’ve made several mistakes in recent months — David as a Buddhist went on too long; Stacey was introudced too quickly, Viki and Charlie have been severly neglected.

    While the old rule of not putting children in jeopardy is a good rule for soaps to follow, I must point out that some of the most memorable storylines were ones that broke that rule — BJ’s death on GH; Laura’s death on AMC, Cassie’s death on Y&R. And part of the reason they stick out as being so memorable is that they are rarely done (unlike who’s the daddy, kidnapping or back from the dead plots).

    Another reason they were so memorable is that they were so well written, so superbly acted. And OLTL certainly has the writers and actors to pull of these stories!

    From what I understand, these storylines will be centered aroudn injuries, not death. If handled properly, these could be exciting storylines. I’m not a parent, so perhaps I’m less sensitive to these things, but I’m looking forward to seeing how (if) they pull this off.

    The big question will be if the child actors involved are up for the task of playing out these plotlines.

    Marlena says: James darling, my point was that OLTL has never tried doing two of child being sick stories at once. But, I bet the kids pull it off!

  8. Bob says:

    “I like the exciting plotting, yet it’s been a year in which my favorite old soap of 40 years has featured a blow job and a new lower-than-dirt stripper character named Stacy, who says things l like, “Rex, hit the floor and grab your ankles.”

    As always, great column. Slezak’s own site alludes to the fact that she might not be around too much… I hope that everyone is wrong and that Viki and Charlie have a great story just around the corner.

    Guess I really do have to check the Natalia/Olivia stuff at GL.

    Marlena says: Thanks Bob. Your nice words make my day!

  9. Beth says:

    Forcing Erika Slezak from OLTL, in my view, is something that the show would never be able to recover from. I tried to watch today’s kickoff for all the sweeps, but you know, after five minutes I turned it off. One main reason being that the same few people were on the show again and in new stories for these same few, again. There is no heart to this show any more, and I do see the reason is because Viki Lord is missing in action. We do not even see Viki and Todd any more, let alone Viki and everyone else. Have we ever even gotten a scene with Marty and Viki? With their history of her being like a daughter to Viki you would think Carlivati, who seems to sort of like nods to history, would at least show some scenes and involve Viki with Marty.

    What the show fails to remember is that this show is really about Viki’s life and everyone and everything is an extension of that. Viki and Erika Slezak is the reason I, like so many, tuned in and continue to watch. But it is so apparent something is going on backstage that is not allowing Viki any storyline, which I think is really idiotic on their parts, as it is making me tune out now more than ever. Even Viki’s love interest, played by a wonderful actor Brian Kerwin, who is a star of stage, film and tv, he too has been completely lost from the show for months. I don’t even remember the last time I saw Charlie, and sadly the only Viki I remember of substance was actually last Thanksgiving when Viki railed at her father at the crypt, Charlie found her, set her straight and then opened her eyes to life again via the Buenas Dias cafe. That was the last time this show had heart and soul. Since then it turned into a high school mess with all the same boring one noters featured day in and day out and day in and day out ad nauseum…

    All I can say is at this point getting rid of Erika Slezak will to me be the death knell for this show. It isn’t just that Slezak has fans, is a classy lady and the show has stayed on air for years because of her, her Emmy’s and her performances, it will be the death knell because there will be no substance for the show and no real reason to tune in when the soul and heart has been cut out.

    I find it hard to believe that Frons would even be considering this and I also find it hard to believe that Carlivati can’t even find ways to incorporate Viki better into the canvas as is since Viki is the central line to the show.

    Personally, I don’t think I would watch OL without Erika Slezak and Viki, it would just gut the show and that would be it. Frons is a fool to even be remotely attempting this, which apparently he is. Major thumbs down to ABC daytime for this insane move. And it will be a move that will have me moving on (and I fit squarely into the major demo, so I don’t think it will be just the long time viewers who will mutiny, but viewers like me, at age 26, leaving as well with no desire to look back).

    Why not try something different and revolve some major story around Viki and see what happens? It sure couldn’t hurt considering how low this show has become in such a short time. Shame on Frons, Carlivati and the rest of the crew at OLTL, this is a really low-ball move on their parts, just classless to do such a low-class thing to such a classy lady.

    Marlena says: Beth, well said! But Carlivati seems to really like Viki and he created Charlie, remember? The proof of this was the diner story which was wonderul and fresh, even though it was proabably inspired by the movie The Waitress. At the time, Carlivati was credited with reviving the character of Viki after she had been ignored for years by the previous headwriter Dena Higley. So I’m surmising that Viki’s current absence from central story isn’t Carlivati’s idea. It has to be someone else’s …

  10. Mike G says:

    There are so many stories that need Viki around, just like there were so many stories that needed Dorian around, after Phelps got rid of Robin for that brief time. When the fallout of Jessica raising Starr’s child comes out, how can Viki not be there? Imagine the fireworks between Dorian and Viki? Viki obviously is very close to Starr as her Aunt, but Jessica is her daughter. What about the scenes between Todd and Viki when the truth is revealed? OLTL is great when it comes to history, but on the flipside it seems to be getting more and more vulgar everyday. I know soap fans can’t have everything, but blowjobs and Stacey the stripper aren’t needed, when the show has so much to offer. And one more thing, Erica on AMC and Viki on OLTL are so much more connected to their respective shows than Marlena was on DAYS. Marlena’s departure has hardly been felt; if Viki and Erica were gone; the shows would be forever changed

    Marlena says: I agree with every word! OLTL is good show which doesn’t need the vulgarity!

  11. Dave Feldman says:

    During the Paleolithic era, I worked on The Doctors, and our new head writer decided that the number one priority should be to create a dashing new romantic lead, who would be a pediatric cardiologist.

    In some ways, a hospital is a wonderful place setting for a soap. It’s an excuse to cram characters, men and women, together. As a workplace, the stakes are higher in a hospital than in a restaurant or a cosmetics company. But if you set many scenes in the hospital, you can’t fill all the beds with regular characters. But the audience doesn’t care very much about the plight of patients they don’t know. It’s a problem.

    The head writer insisted that the character be Australian (sexy!). So Colin Wakefield was created, a character not unlike David Hayward on AMC. We promoted the new character like crazy, and the actor was, to say the least, easy on the eyes.

    Immediately we ran into problems. Some blamed the casting. Some blamed the writing. But the real problem was the basic concept of putting defenseless children in jeopardy day after day.

    We ran some focus groups on it and the regular watchers were livid. They resented us cramming a new character who they didn’t know down their throats, felt that we were exploiting prepubescent kids.

    Ironically, I think everyone involved went in with the best of intentions. The writer was (and evidently still is) involved in children’s issues, but sometimes you can’t ever get past a bad idea, even if it’s executed well. Colin Wakefield didn’t last long.

    I can’t judge whether OLTL’s plotlines will work, but there is grounds for concern for sure.

    Marlena says: THANK YOU so much, Dave, for this eyewitness piece of soap history. I knew all along it wasn’t just my hormones! Thanks as always, for your true friendship!

  12. Marilyn Henry says:

    Oh, Marlena, what can I say?

    Maybe I’ve been watching GH too long and my standards have been lowered.

    I find OLTL riveting these days—and Friday and today I was clutching my chair. In fact all last month was fun.

    I really enjoyed David as a Budda-pest, and am so happy to be able to see A Martinez (and am so hoping they don’t make him a murderer!) I like Scott Clifton on the show, though he is a bit too serious, and I have long loved Robin Strasser. And also Susan Haskel.

    I do agree this show would not be OLTL without Viki–can’t even imagine it. And I miss her when she has dry spells like right now. She and Charlie need to be in the thick of things. Love them both.

    But there is much to enjoy on the show–Roxy and her secret, Ray and his recent past, Marty and her troubles, Bo and Nora–always liked them together.
    I’m not very fond of the teens, but then I prefer stories about grown-ups.

    There is so much going on now and it is continuing into sweeps, so I guess it is hard to work every character in full time. Just hope the writers remember what is important.

    Marlena says: Perhaps the reason the continuous vulgarities bother me so much is because I do watch the show and like a lot of it. I love A, and I think his storyline with Robin is about to explode. Ilene Kristen has been sensational lately in her scenes with Rex’s unnamed father. (It has to be Mitch; Roscoe Born is beyond sublime and Mitch is by far the most dangerous villian he ever played.) Scott Clifton has been adorable so far, and isn’t it interesting that his Mr. J is suspended from teaching because Star kissed HIM? Clifton also looks like he lost a lot of weight and his skin is so much clearer than when he was on GH! Yours truly wrote the first article on Bo and Nora back in 1992, so of course I am always interested in them!

    Marilyn, I really feel the show has so much going for it, but I hate that the producer and whoever makes the final decisions on the show degrades it constantly with little touches of what they think is hip, but that which actually repels the veteran audiences. I have always been a Slezak advocate. Love her with Brian Kerwin and hate more than anything when she’s only seen in scenes with Viki’s daughters, those twin brainless twits, Natalie and Jess-SEE-ca. Viva Viki, forever!

  13. Aviad says:

    Hi Marlena,

    I must admit that I agree and disagree with you. I watch OLTL daily via the intetnet since nobody in Israel is broadcasing the show (thank you ABC/Disney) and I enjoy it very much. I watch it even before watching shows like 24 and Heroes because I feel like I’m watching a tv show and not hidden commercial content.

    While I agree with you on Vicky and Stacy, I have to disagree with you about the children plots. I think that this decision is very brave and I think that it will pay off because those young actors do a brilliant job.

    I think that the quality of OLTL is just getting better from day to day. But hey, that’s my opinion.

    Marlena says: You are writing me all the way from Israel? That is thrilling to me! Thanks, Aviad, and do keep in touch!

  14. PK ( Kel ) says:

    I was going to mention Brian’s death on OLTL but I did want to point out in polite partial disagreement that SOMETIMES deaths of children HAVE provided amazing story — remember even Agnes during some of AMC”s heyday — she killed baby Beth of Ann’s so Ann could go crazy and think that Paul and Ellen could be together and happy until Ann inconveniently became sane — and what she did to the Palmer/Chuck/Donna triangle when Palmer John got killed in the Chataeu fire.

    And remember WAY WAY back in our soap encyclopedia that in one of the first 6 years of Search for Tomorrow– Jo’s son Duncan Eric died— but this is all polite devil’s advocate in general I TOTALLY agree with you– now it seems like if you kill a kid or make them sick it’s just another lurid attempt at attention just like Lesbian weddings that get annulled 15 mins. later , twins with different fathers, etc etc.

    And partially is my opinion that while it’s had grand moments– I have NEVER been on the RC bandwagon, I still think his entire OLTL stint has been hideously overrated , I will never ” recover” from the way the rapemance was set up, and I think people see OLTL as some sort of beacon simply because GH is an unwatchable stupid mess and because AMC while have shining moments of potential in CHuck P’s reign-also of course has all of this Bianca/Reese apalling fallout.

    Just my 2 cents. !! :)

    Marlena says: Hey, Kel! Always great to hear from you! You and me babe! Once outspoken soap critics, always outspoken soap critics!

  15. Soap_gryl says:

    You say Agnes Nixon never would have told a story involving a child being hurt? Wasn’t Brooke’s daughter killed by a drunk driver when Agnes was writing AMC? What about Claire Labine? Was she wrong to kill off BJ, while having Maxie suffer from Aplastic Anemia?

    Marlena says: I said, in the 50s and 60s Claire and Agnes would never kill kids, but in the 70s, 80s and 90s (when the storylines you mention happened) storylines where children were massively imperiled were done on soaps — if rarely.

  16. Truvy says:

    Why is a child – or any person – who is rendered partially paralyzed deemed “sick?” Why is it necessarily a “tragedy” or is such a person relegated to a life of suffering?

    You’re right, Marlena: we’re not living in the 50s anymore, when society would automatically consider a paraplegic somehow halfway human or pitiable.

    Matthew has yet to even be diagnosed and already you’re attacking the show for what your envision the denoument will be. All you tell us in your column is a spoiler: Matthew will be paralyzed. And oh, how awful it will be!

    But perhaps there’s a journey in this story. Perhaps it’s a story of personal triumph. Perhaps it’s a story about a character we know and love, indeed a whole family of characters we know and love, dealing with an everyday issue and overcoming adversity.

    You stipulate in one response to a comment that your point is that OLTL has never tried doing two “child being sick stories” at once. Again, that’s your perhaps dated point of view. I don’t think a paralyzed teenager is sick, and I doubt the writers at OLTL do, either. But if we continue to disagree on that point, so what? Pardon my French, but “merde” happens in life and even moreso on soaps.

  17. David says:

    Hi Marlena, The soap world surely is a different place now than even just a few years ago. If you had told me then that Erika Slezak would be let go I would have said you were mad…. as a hatter! Of course I wouldn’t have believed that AMC was this close to being cancelled either. Dark times! Even if ABC can’t afford Ms Slezak with a 40% pay cut, there must be places in the budget where other actors or behind the scenes folk could be cut first. How does Brian Frons keep his job??? Just sad!

    Cheers!

    David

  18. esther says:

    Great article, Marlena but I do need to comment on a comment first.

    Cherry, 650 million people have not lost their jobs. I think you’re quoting Nancy Pelosi, who dreadfully misspoke. You want to know how I know it’s not that many? Because as of eight months ago, there were only around 300 million people in the US (http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/uspopulation.htm) total. In half a year, we couldn’t have more than doubled our population and then all lost our jobs. It is bad out there — but not THAT bad….yet. :) Sorry, I just couldn’t leave that hanging out there unchallenged.

    I have never counted myself among the fans of Erika Slezak. That said, if I were put in charge of OLTL, I would still give her tons of story! Hello?! That’s a no-brainer. Even though I’m not a fan, I still watch her scenes. She’s not FF material, unlike a major part of the show. As for storylines where kids have been killed, that left the ADULTS to act. What makes this so different is they are giving very adult storylines to children to act. And neither actor has really been tested to show they can handle the workload. I’m sure they’ll probably do fine. Not sure I’ll care enough to not FF, but we’ll see.

  19. John says:

    Marlena,

    As always I appreciate your take on things, even as I respectfully disagree on a few points.

    Like Truvy, I don’t think that the idea of someone living with a disability is nearly as hopeless or tragic as anyone, let alone a child, facing the possibility of dying from a terminal illness. That said, paralysis stories on soaps are usually bigger downers than terminal illness stories for me, because typically characters who are dying suddenly have big epiphanies about things that they (and usually all of their loved ones, who line up for deathbed advice) should have done years ago. Whereas characters faced with being paralyzed/blind/deaf typically act even dumber than they did previously, pushing away the people who love them because they think they are unlovable and a burden because of their disabilities. I’m actually surprised that Matthew is going to be paralyzed, because he doesn’t have a love interest to break up with for her own good (or has one of those girls I saw while fast forwarding through the school dance scenes already become his love interest?). But these paralysis stories are so overdone – and we know that no network is ever going to allow a differently abled character to be a viable lead in the longterm, so any disability is going to eventually be cured – that I’m more bored by them than anything else. In this case, I don’t care about Matthew so I’m even less interested.

    Whereas I don’t know what Stacey’s motivation is, and what is more I don’t care, and I doubt the actress knows or cares either. And the fact that we are being introduced to Stacey (ad nauseum) through this aspect of her personality makes it all very ugly to me. I would gladly take Dorian and David in a risque love scene any day. That said, I can’t imagine that anyone directly involved in any aspect of putting this show out on a day-to-day basis actually relishes bringing Stacey to life for us. It’s pretty clear to me that her instant frontburner status has been dictated by someone very far removed from the writing/production (and probably from reality). Was the actress so popular on GL to merit this fanfare? Did she even leave of her own volition after a full contract, or was she replaced with the acclaimed actress who has been playing Lizzie for years? I have not watched GL regularly in over a decade but I don’t remember her lasting very long…

    Finally, while I bet the highers up at ABC would sadly be all too happy to be rid of Erika Slezak and Viki, I have hopes that this is the show where it is actually the least likely to happen. As you said, Ron Carlivati clearly enjoyed writing for Viki when he started and created that whole story about her in the diner. And Frank Valentini, despite having been executive producer for well over five years, has presided over very few longtime veterans being fired – in fact, he even rectified the stupid decision to let Robin Strasser get away. Hopefully these are rumors and Viki will be kept around in some capacity, even if it looks like in the immediate future that capacity will consist of giving advice to her daughters and, worse, Gigi.

    All of that notwithstanding…I can’t say I’m watching regularly these days. I did see Friday’s show, and a stabbing and a two-car crash was too much. It’s clearly desperation. And despite what I said about the differences that I see between disabilities and terminal illness, I absolutely agree that two medical stories involving children playing out at the same time is a bad idea (what is going to happen with Shane anyway? Are they going to find out he has cancer when he goes to the hospital from injuries in the car accident? Or will the car crash and the cancer be two separate major events for him in the course of a month?). But a part of me hopes this breakneck pace works and that the 12-17 year olds they are targeting tune in. There are still more moments on this show that I like than on any other soap on the air these days, so the rumors that Carlivati is in the line of fire do not sit well with me. I don’t think anybody is going to be able to do any better in the current climate at ABC, but I firmly believe a writer who doesn’t care can and will do a lot more damage. In a few weeks, if I can tune into OLTL and see the characters I love doing interesting things, then I’m happy to just not watch Stacey and the serial killer and whatever else is happening in the mean time.

  20. Matthew J. Cormier says:

    First it was Martha Byrne, then Deidre, if they think we’ll let Erika Slezak go they have another thing coming…. because I WILL write letters, call the hotlines and protest in every possible way…

  21. David C says:

    So much is working on the show these days. The storeis are connected to many other characters-no one is in isolation anymore. And any writer who puts H B Smith and Bob Woods on nearly every day with a gut wrenching story can do no wrong. BUT, this out of the blue annoyance named Stacey played by a half-note actress has me insantly fast forwarding through her scenes inwhatver episode she appears.
    That’s not good.
    She’s obviously going to play an important role in the Shane is sick story and the idiots at ABC Daytime have all but given away the whole of six weeks story in a promo. Still, so much is incredible in the show right now, I will stay with it with a fast forward button in hand.

    Why Slezak is marginally on anymore is puzzling but maybe Frons and company want to see if the show’s ratings stay good or improve with her off the canvass much of the time. Maybe that’s a lesson for Slezak and her agent that the show will thrive without her presence so maybe she should ask for less money this time around. Maybe Erica is being used as an example for any actor who thinks they’re indispensible.

    Let’s call it ABC’s Hall syndrome.

  22. Stephanie says:

    Do I enjoy watching children in peril? No, but I think that this storyline could work. Maybe it’s because I am recovering from years of abuse at the hands of the GH writers, but the fact that this storyline is about families and the results of personal choices makes me think that it could be written in an uplifting way.

    The scenes last week of Bo and Matthew in the Gym, and Nora looking at Matthew’s baby album (and wiping away a tear because her baby was at his first dance) are the kind of details that I can relate to as a mother. If these kind of scenes continue, I could love this story (even if it didn’t have a fairytale ending).

    I admit that I have more hope for Matthew’s story, since it is rooted in both the show’s history and the current storyline. Bo and Nora’s relationship…Marty’s fling with being the irresponsible teenager she once was…Cole’s drug use…and his relationship with both Marty and Nora…There’s a lot there to work with. (And a lot of veteran talent to lean on.)

    Shane’s illness seems more contrived (and bringing in stupid Stacey to muddy the waters is a bit much), but again there are possibilities.

    If the focus is on the shock value of kids in trouble, that’s not for me. But if the real story is about families coming together and dealing with adversity, (or in Cole and Marty’s case, the consequences of their choices), this could be one of the best stories we’ve seen in a long time.

    Marlena says: I agree. Matthew, Nora and Bo have terrific story potential. If this was done in another, earlier soap era, I’d be polishing up the Emmys for the three actors; if they were given some good serious writing, OLTL could tear the house down with the power of this family story. But I wrote a column a year ago about the terrific opportunities OLTL had to seriously delve into and explain Todd’s psychosis. And look what ABC did instead — had Todd rape Marty again for maximum shock value! As my reader Cherry Ames says, we live in a soap era of shock and awe. I will be seriously shocked if OLTL does a Matthew story that’s anything more than plot events and tabloid titillation.

  23. antmunoz says:

    Some of the greatest acting that can be done by an actress is the grief that accompanies the loss of a child. I’m not sure if either Matthew or Shane will live long, full lives on OLTL. I had thought that other second-gen characters like Danny Wolek and Josh Hall would have taken over by now, not disappeared, and I certainly never anticipated the death of Bo’s other son, Drew. However, that death gave Bob Woods quite a bit to work with, acting-wise, didn’t it?

    If the child ISN’T going to be allowed to “grow up” on the show and become a full character, why not occasionally “sacrifice” one to give the parents/adult players something really meaty to play? Even Erika got to mourn Megan! And Jessica’s lost a few children at this point. I like the kids on soaps, particularly this soap, but that will only heighten the loss I’ll feel when one of them–yes, just ONE–is lost to me. That’s good character development, acting, and writing, and isn’t that what we want on soaps?

    I remember Brian Kendall. And Chuckie Shea on ATWT. And the MANY, MANY mothers who died saving children, pushing baby carriages out of the way of oncoming cars and trucks. All sad. All great drama. I’m currently suspecting (hoping?) that Carly’s insta-alcoholism on ATWT leads to her running down her little darlin’, Sage, only because I want to see Maura West and Michael Park GRIEVE over that child, blame each other up and down and up again, and then bond, truly BOND, over the loss of the only child they truly share together. That would be POWERFUL. Maybe not pretty to watch, but some really powerful drama. Beats amnesia and a serial killer any day for me.

  24. BL says:

    I wish OLTL was either doing paralysis or leukemia. Having both stories at the same time may be overkill like how in the summer we had the two high concept campy stories of Mendorra and 1968. I don’t get why they can’t spread the storytelling styles out giving more variety to the viewers.

    With Erika Slezak, I hope the rumors aren’t true, as OLTL’s through line would be destroyed in a lot of ways. Regardless of what one feels about the character of Viki, she’s been part of a lot of many of the most memorable stories on the program.

  25. Melanie says:

    I have long loved the dynamic duo of Dorian and Viki, although I lean more toward Dorian. That said, I hate when people pit the two characters and actresses against one another as you seem to be doing with your statement that Viki isn’t on, but Dorian is in every story. Robin Strasser is a 40-year daytime vet, and she feels the same wolves nipping at her heels. It scares me to think that we could lose two talented actresses and replace them with the Gigis and Staceys of the world. While, RS has left OLTL several times over the years, there has always been a terrible void when she is gone. It would be the same if either one of this show’s truly legacy characters/actors are dismissed. If we are going to champion the cause of daytime not divesting itself of longtime talent, then we need to cast as wide a net as possible rather than focus on one compared to the other.

    Marlena says: In Marlena’s daytime world, two goddesses rule. One is Robin Strasser who hooked moi on soaps forever when she played Rachel on Another World in 1969. After that, I’ve watched her on OLTL and on all her primetime guest shots and miniseries. The other is Erika Slezak, who Marlena has watched from her first day on One Life to Live, 1970. If you catalog the times Marlena has mentioned each in her collective soap writings (1980-present), I’ve mentioned Robin 28,456 times and Erika 28,456 times.

    Melanie, I wasn’t comparing them! I was just observing that in the last two months or so Erika was hardly on and Robin was on almost all the time. It was to make a point within a larger essay on what the writers have chosen to write on the show recently.

    Erika and Robin have twin and equal places on OLTL as long as it lasts, and in Marlena’s heart–forever!

  26. Adam says:

    I must agree with you about the show, right now, as I’ve never, in all my 25+ years of watching this series, been as disgusted with the series as I am right now. I find myself wondering what happened to the brains of characters I once loved, or loved to hate. I see Nora, Dorian, Bo and Clint’s bodies on the screen, but the spirit, the intelligence and the humanity, is all gone. Instead, shrill, false, downright nasty and hateful clones have replaced them. Dorian all of a sudden hates anything Spanish, loves everything French and believes herself to be a blue blood? What happened to her back story about being a psychotic, money-grubbing white trash nothing from Canton, Ohio? What happened to the Buke’s being all about family, in the end, instead of all about trying to keep David from discovering the truth? Brian Frons is a blight on daytime. If one listens to his interviews, I don’t think it is only me that detects not only someone who does not understand the medium he works in, but is a horribly smug and hateful individual. Maybe, being the litigious type that he is, he can sue himself for making himself look bad. But, please, in the meantime, Mr. Frons, spare us our Vicky. If she goes, out goes the audience for OLTL and you might not realize this, but with THAT, go the numbers for both GH & AMC.

  27. Nicholas says:

    I am very new to OLTL – been watching for just over a year and am in love. So in love, I started my own blog since NO ONE in my life shares my passion for it!!! DOOL was what I grew up on and GOOD LORD, OLTL is so much better than the awful, repetitious soap Days has turned into. I appreciate that the characters don’t have the same conversation every day. I think OLTL, while it still has problems, is still SO much better than some of the other soaps out there. You know the saying, even when it’s bad, its still kinda good??? I totally think that applies here

    I don’t have much from the past to compare to the present when it comes to OLTL; however, I have really enjoyed the recent stories. And I agree that Gigi and Rex aren’t the best actors on the show – but I do think they have been performing better now than in the past.

    And I really feel that these tragedies, and the stories since I have been watching, haven’t been so much about the kids (Matt and Shane) but about the people around them being effected by tragedy. It has been AMAZING seeing Nora (Hillary B. Smith) more. Her scenes have continually moved me. I think it’s these moments that make OLTL so great – - – the writers seem to understand that drama happens not just through actions but in how people react to each other under stress. Seeing the recent scene with Marty and Nora, just before Cole was released from the hospital was earth-shattering! Two best friends, at each others throats because of grief – it was SO DAMN REAL! I think MANY other soaps could take a page from OLTL and show the characters we love so much interacting around plot – not just loopy plot with people we can’t relate to or don’t know well. And, I fully agree – MORE VIKI!!!!!

    Marlena says: It warms my heart that you like Nora and Viki. Perhaps this is the ultimate proof that a classic will always be a classic, loved by viewers of ALL ages. Hear me, Mr. Frons?

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