One Life to Live: Don’t Anoint It Best Yet! (Part 1)

By Marlena De Lacroix 

I have to admit I was very suspicious.  Not more than two weeks after its new head writer Ron Carlivati’s debut, a soap reporter from the northern climes  proclaimed One Life to Live the best soap of the year.  As a veteran soap critic, I’ve always felt you had to watch a soap a couple of months at least before you declare a soap has improved and a watch about a year of it to deem it the “best.”

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One Life To Live: Viki Is Back Where She Belongs

By Marlena De Lacroix 

As I write this, it is only the third day of sweeps and automatically I can give my approval to one storyline, a new one on One Life to Live. Widow and career newspaper publisher Viki Davidson is newly depicted working as a waitress in a diner in Paris, Texas. Hooray! Doesn’t Viki, the very portrait of a lady, deserve a life away from her brainless, whining twin daughters Jessica and Natalie, her ultra-neurotic lifetime nemesis Dorian, husbands who have a habit of dying on her (Ben), and a brother, Todd, who is a former rapist, not to mention a liar and a creep? Suffering fully in the spotlight in Llanview nearly every year since OLTL‘s 1968 debut, Victoria Lord Buchanan Davidson deserve a new storyline — and far, far away from everybody she knows!

In one of the biggest mistakes in daytime history, Viki, played by phenomenally popular six time Best Actress Emmy winner Erika Slezak, has been given no front-burner storyline for the past two years by a brainless head writer, Dena Higley, who was does not appreciate older performers. The ever ladylike Slezak did not formally complain until last spring when she lacerated the writer in an interview with her fan club president.  Now a new head writer, Ron Carlavati, makes his formal OLTL debut by smartly giving Viki a storyline, and at the same time brilliantly getting her out of Llanview.

A diner setting isn’t exactly original but it could be the right prescription for miserable Viki. On All My Children, Erica Kane ran away for a while to work as a waitress in a diner in SeaCity (Atlantic City) about ten years ago. When last seen before they returned to Port Charles in 1993, General Hospital‘s Luke and  Laura, with their young son Lucky, were working at a diner in the Pacific Northwest.  As anyone who ever saw the primetime show Alice in the 1970s knows, diner life is the paradigm of living the simple, better life for tired city slickers. Truths and laughs are served up with the eggs and hash browns.

Which poor Viki can use. In her first two months in Paris (shown in flashbacks), she’s become fast friends with diner owner Moe (the delightful John Rue ) and a  fellow waitress (played by Days of Our Lives’ endearing Farah Fath, who used to play — get this — Mimi on that show). She’s just met slated love interest Charlie, played by Brian Kerwin. Kerwin, who has done dozens of TV spots over the last twenty years (most recently as Eddie in the HBO miniseries Big Love) and was seen last summer acting in the very prestigious Williamstown, Mass., Theater Festival. He is an actor well matched to the repertory theater- trained Slezak.

So far, Mr. Carlavati, so good.  Viki seems happy and carefree already. We who have missed Viki stories so much are grateful she’s back on OLTL‘s center stage.   Imagine a soap scoring a bulls eye because it has returned its heroine of 37 years to her rightful lead position on the show.

You see, Erika Slezak and Viki are the very heart of the One Life to Live audience, an audience  that has never stopped building since she came on the show in 1970. Viki is Everywoman, who suffers and survives all of life’s tragedies and challenges. She is our Mother Courage, to whom viewers relate and admire.  Slezak is one of the last of the truly brilliant actresses left in daytime. Fans like me, who watched Slezak for all the years she’s been on, actually worship her.   Whenever one of my personal friends who has stopped watching soaps sees me, they also ask about how soap operas are today. And the second question is always, “How’s Viki?”

Now I can answer, “Much better, now. You should watch. She’s back!”

Originally published on www.jackmyers.com.