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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Soap Dish: The Best & Worst of All My Children and One Life to Live's First Seasons



The beloved daytime soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live, returned last spring with brand new episodes via The Online Network, and I reviewed their debut weeks, giving AMC a B+ and OLTL a C+. Although there was room for improvement with both shows, I was very happy to see them again. A few weeks later both shows were reduced from four episodes a week to only two (due to online viewing patterns), and then last month it was announced that both series would be airing first season finales. So it has been a bumpy four months for AMC and OLTL behind the scenes as well as on-screen, where their characters and storylines have entertained, frustrated, confused and put me to sleep. And now here is my review of the Best & Worst of their first seasons:

Hottest Hunk: Pine Valley's Most Eligible Bachelor Pete Cortlandt (played by the frequently shirtless Robert Scott Wilson).

Hottest Hunk Runner-Up: OLTL's Matthew Buchanan (Robert Gorrie), who spent an entire episode taking shirtless pics of himself to post online.

Hottest Hunks Honorable Mention: OLTL's Jeffrey King (Corbin Bleu) and Cutter Wentworth (Josh Kelly), who both appeared shirtless in only their underwear - and you can watch Mr. Bleu strut his stuff on the new season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, which begins Monday, September 16.

Best Mystery: AMC's Celia had nightmarish visions all season of a mysterious man from her childhood. Is he her secret guardian - and if not, who is? And Opal Cortlandt is somehow connected to this mystery - I only hope that Celia and Pete don't turn out to be related.

Best Secret: Will AMC's David ever find out that young Oliver - whose life he saved - is his and Cara's son?

Most Dramatic Storyline: Last spring I found Cassandra's violent kidnapping by sex traffickers on AMC to be too disturbing and sleazy to enjoy. However, this storyline did eventually lead to some satisfying emotional drama, including Cassandra's pregnancy and abortion and Jesse's resignation as Pine Valley's police chief.

Worst Storyline and Worst Exits: OLTL had many storyline misfires, but the worst was Victor and Todd's confusing tale. First Victor tried to poison and then strangle Todd before disappearing because dangerous people were after him. Then Todd tried to find Victor to either kill him or help him (I was never quite sure which). And finally Todd left town to find Victor, but by this point I just didn't care anymore.

Worst Storyline Runner-Up: The Pellegrino Fund on OLTL - both Dorian and Viki were stuck in this dull storyline as the latter lost a fortune in a bad investment.

Worst Storyline Dishonorable Mention: OLTL's Nora Buchanan as "The Nightbird" - she got her own advice show podcast, which was less than exciting to watch - and big waste of Hillary B. Smith's talent.

Best Couple: AMC's Pete and Celia - he's a hot romantic and she's one lucky girl.

Best Couple Runner-Up: AMC's Brooke and Dimitri finally kissed in the season finale - and although I prefer her with her absent husband Adam, it was nice to see over-60 actors Julia Barr and Michael Nader get their own storyline.

Best Couple Honorable Mention: I really liked AMC's J.R. and Cara together when he was still a nice guy.

Most Boring Couple: OLTL's Vimal and Rama Patel - I was so glad that the writers forgot this dull duo's open marriage once she became involved with David's movie.

Most Boring Couple Runner-Up: AMC's Zach and Lea (we all know he belongs with Kendall).

Most Boring Couple Dishonorable Mention: OLTL's Todd and Blair - I was so happy to see him finally leave town and put their yawn of a relationship to sleep (Roger Howarth seemed like he was sleepwalking through the role and ready to get back to Port Charles - but perhaps he was just doing the best he could with bad writing).

Best Triangle: AMC's Angie and David's close (and platonic so far) friendship makes Jesse crazy jealous - and this is fun to watch.

Best Triangle Runner-Up: It's so obvious that AMC's Miranda and AJ are meant to be together, but he's dating her friend Heather.

Best New Character: I get a distinct Clark Kent vibe from AMC's bespectacled Dr. Carter Anders (played by Jason Pendergraft). This handsome and mysterious guy apparently lost the love of his life - and I'm looking forward to learning more about him.

Best New Character Runner-Up: Soap opera vet Ron Raines (Guiding Light) pretty much saved the first season of OLTL from being a total disaster. It's too bad this his character, wealthy philanthropist Carl Peterson, didn't show up much sooner because he definitely added some much-needed intrigue and spark in the final three episodes. The revelation that he is Allison Perkins' evil brother suddenly made the confusing Todd/Victor tattoo storyline much more interesting - and I hope that he becomes Dorian's new love interest (Raines and Robin Strasser have great chemistry).

Best Surprise and Best New Character Honorable Mention: It took until the final moments of Episode 36 (out of 40) to finally make OLTL worth watching. Viki's cute reporter and Matthew's best friend Jeffrey King was revealed to have a tattoo on the bottom of his foot, which means he is involved with the dangerous people after Todd and Victor and other Llanview residents. The sudden transformation of a nice guy into a bad one is the kind of delicious soap opera twist that I love.

Most Annoying and Worst New Character: I much preferred OLTL's Michelle when we couldn't see her. Ever since Matthew's mysterious online girlfriend showed her face, I've been hoping that he would dump her for Dani. This hotel maid lied to him about everything - and the worst part is that she will probably turn out to be Carl Peterson's daughter, which means she won't be going away anytime soon.

Worst New Character Runner-Up: OLTL's creepy Arturo Bandini wants to be Dani's sugar daddy, but I just want him to disappear.

Best Return: AMC's former pimp Billy Clyde Tuggle returned from the dead and became a good guy after winning the lottery. I would like to see him and Opal get together - and I suspect that he is the one who bought Pete for Celia at the gala.

Most Entertaining Character: OLTL's David is always good for a laugh - and Tuc Watkins is terrific in the role. I especially enjoyed him pushing Blair out of the way at the gala. And I have a feeling that he and Dorian - who broke up after she caught him kissing Rama on the dance floor at Shelter - will eventually find their way back to each other after she learns the truth about Carl.

Best Bitch: AMC's Colby Chandler - I didn't care much for her at first as she broke up Celia and Pete and slept with both him and David. But then it was revealed that she was friends with poor Cassandra, whom she helped through the painful aftermath of her kidnapping. It was nice to see that Colby had a nice side - and even though she continued to be mean to Celia (i.e. changing the measurements of the girl's gala dress), I now liked her as a more "well-rounded" bitch.

Worst Bitch: I'm not a fan of OLTL's Nikki, Shelter's bitchy bartender - especially after she informed Natalie that she's been sleeping with Cutter.

Worst Brat: OLTL's Jack Manning was in a sour mood all season - except when the 17-year-old was getting laid by his English teacher.

Most Histrionic Character: I know OLTL's Téa has suffered a lot with the loss of her baby and Victor as well as dealing with her daughter Dani, but she spent the entire season either crying or screaming.

Most Boring Guest Star: Musician Snoop Lion (formerly Dogg) paid a visit to Llanview in order to promote his new documentary, Reincarnated.

Best Cameo Appearance: AMC's Kendall, now divorced from Zach, appeared in one episode as she recovered from a heart condition with her half-sister Bianca at her bedside. Hopefully she will return in Season 2.

Best Actor and Actress: Next year's Daytime Emmys better acknowledge the wonderful performances by AMC's Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan as their characters, Jesse and Angie Hubbard, dealt with their daughter's traumatic ordeal.

Best Gala: I found it interesting that both shows ended their seasons with galas, but I have to give AMC a slight edge with two public meltdowns (J.R. and Jesse) to OLTL's one (Clint).

Best Cliffhanger: I was more surprised by AMC's Jesse calling his old friend Tad (who will apparently be returning to Pine Valley next season) than the return of OLTL's psychotic Allison Perkins, who stood at Clint's psych ward bedside with a hypodermic needle. However, I am curious to find out what happens next with Allison and her brother Carl.

All My Children Grade: A
Despite the absence of our beloved Erica Kane, the show did an excellent job of entertaining us with dramatic storylines (Cassandra's kidnapping), amusing returns (Billy Clyde), secrets (Cara and David's son), young love (Pete and Celia), mature romance (Brooke and Dimitri), and mysteries (Celia's visions and Dr. Anders' past).

One Life to Live Grade: C-
There was very little drama going on on this soap, which spent almost the entire season moving way too slow as characters played poker, danced, exercised, hosted online advice shows and got their fingernails painted. But during the last few episodes, life in Llanview finally got interesting with the arrival of Carl Peterson and the surprise revelation about nice guy Jeffrey. These two guys helped to raise OLTL's grade from a D to a C-.

Unfortunately, it was recently reported that One Life to Live's second season will be put on hold until production company Prospect Park settles its lawsuit with ABC over the OLTL characters that were loaned to General Hospital in 2012. So we may be waiting a long time - or forever - to see Viki, Dorian and the rest of Llanview again.

You can catch up on the first seasons of All My Children and One Life to Live on The Online Network at www.toln.com.

2 comments:

Christoph said...

I was actually looking forward to the returns and the premiere episode of AMC featuring some tease nudity from Eric Nelson promised of things that the rest of the seasons for both shows failed to deliver. After a while, I just tuned out again.

Marc said...

Thanks for your comment, Christoph!