Deep Soap: Will ‘One Life To Live’ Characters Work on ‘General Hospital’?

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Watch “One Life To Live’s” Emotional Tribute to Soaps

The penultimate episode of “One Life To Live” (it is killing me to write that) contained a beautiful love letter to soaps and its fans. In what has got to be the most meta scenario in television history, everyone gathered to watch the final episode of Llanview’s favorite soap, “Fraternity Row.” Because the gallows humor satire is so pitch perfect, Fraternity Row also gets a tribute episode on the local talk show, mirroring the episode of “The View” that is airing before the show’s final episode. Viki (Erika Slezak) made an emotional speech about why the show was so important to so many people that summed up why the soap genre is unique and important. Grab a box of tissues and watch it.

What I loved about it is that, in addition to all of the clever inside jokes about OLTL, it was a defense of all of the reasons people mock soaps — the rapid aging of children, the recasts, the blend of realistic and preposterous storylines. OLTL has stood out for the past few years because it is proudly, unabashedly soapy. While other shows attempt to emulate prime time, OLTL is unashamed of being a daytime show. It recognizes that the conventions of the genre are what make it fun and unique. I cannot believe that less than 24 hours from now it will all be over.

Emma Samms Returns to “General Hospital”

The 1980s revival continues on “General Hospital.” TVLine reports that Emma Samms is returning to the show this February. Her character, Holly, will reportedly help “Luke and the Spencer clan — including her own son Ethan — deal with the always-scheming, always-present Helena Cassadine.” Previously, GH announced the return of two other GH stars from the 1980s, Tristan Rogers (Robert) and Finola Hughes (Anna). Anna and Holly were the two great loves of Robert’s life, though Robert and Anna’s upcoming storyline is reported to have more to do with the exit of their daughter, Robin (Kimberly McCullough).

Yesterday, ABC announced that four “One Life To Live” actors, Roger Howarth, Kassie DePaiva, Kristen Alderson, and Michael Easton will be joining the show as their Llanview alter agos. The show, as of this week is being shepherded by former OLTL headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer Frank Valentini, who are clearly not afraid to shake things up. It seems as though they are going to attempt to reboot GH, in the same way that a new leadership team rebooted “Days of Our Lives” this fall.

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I have to rant. Soap fans always complain that TPTB don’t listen to them. On the whole, they are right. However, the negative reaction to the news that several OLTL characters are moving to GH is a good illustration of why internet fan reaction is so often ignored. Since the news broke yesterday, Twitter and soap message boards have been filled with complaints: OLTL characters have no place on GH. The influx of newbies will destroy the show. Why are Todd, Blair, John and Starr instead of [insert fan’s favorite OLTL characters] joining GH? How dare John move to Port Charles without Natalie! Why haven’t “All My Children” actors been given the same opportunity? This is an attempt to pit GH and OLTL fans against each other! (This one makes little sense to me. The network does not care about a bunch of people arguing with each other on message boards.) Since the press release stated that Sonny (Maurice Benard)would be involved in the story, there were numerous complaints by Sonny haters that the mob boss was going to continue to remain front and center.  Yes, a month and a half before we get a glimpse of the Llanview/Port Charles mash up, a significant chunk of the internet fanbase has proclaimed it the worst.storyline.ever.

Well, maybe. Or maybe it will be outstanding. This is, in my opinion, an example of TPTB attempting to do the right thing, and receiving little credit for it. Consider the facts. The Garin Wolf version of GH has been a debacle. Warring GH fandoms stopped arguing with each other about whether Sam or Liz is a better love interest for Jason to agree that the show, as a whole, is unwatchable. The soap press unanimously proclaimed that the show was terrible. Nielsen households agreed, and the show’s ratings fell. And, instead of letting the show wither and die, TPTB actually listened. They replaced Wolf and Jill Farren Phelps with the team that most people think is the best in the business right now.

Everyone also agreed that OLTL’s cancellation is unfair, unjustified and tragic. In an ideal world, “The Revolution” would have been put on hold when OLTL’s ratings improved. But this is the real world, where the bottom line trumps everything else. The only way that the show can live on is by saving some of the characters. This is a sign that someone at the top was listening to the OLTL fans and attempting to do right by them. Sonny was mentioned in the press release to make clear that these characters would be a part of a GH storyline, that Carlivati wasn’t just going to use whatever stories he had planned for the on-line version of OLTL, and cast all of the GH characters aside.

Why these four characters? (So far. There are rumors that a couple more Llanview-ites are headed for Port Chuckles.) Well, Howarth’s Todd brought a few hundred thousand viewers back to OLTL. It makes sense to see if he can do the same for GH. With just one episode left, Todd and Blair’s storyline also seems to be the most unresolved in Llanview. Everyone else has their happy endings. GH needs a good cop who can go head-to-head with Sonny and Jason. Easton’s John is perfect for the role, and once upon a time he and Kelly Monaco (Sam) played the hottest couple on “Port Charles.”

Carlivati has bravely joined Twitter. While most fans are thanking him for doing such a good job with the OLTL finale, a few are complaining that he is not giving their favorite characters the precise send-off that they wanted — even though they know he thought the show would continue on-line. Some GH fans are already criticizing him for bringing on the OLTL characters, even though he is also bringing back three veteran GH stars. Why be rude to a writer who is attempting to interact with fans? It certainly is not going to inspire any other headwriters or executive producers to make themselves more accessible. I follow a lot of primetime writers on Twitter. Their fans seem a lot more respectful.

I am as wary as anyone after enduring the double cancellations of AMC and OLTL. If the OLTL/GH mash up turns out to be less Sheila moving from “The Young & the Restless” to “The Bold & the Beautiful” and more Rae’s tour of annoyance across the ABC soaps, I will be the first to criticize it. But until the new and improved GH starts airing, I am choosing to see the glass as half full and be thankful that I am going to get to see more of Todd and Blair — and Anna and Robert.


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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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