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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

All is Quiet: A Year in Sudsy Review

A little bit about me

The year 2013 was eventful. Can’t say it was boring at all though at times I wouldn’t have minded that!

For me personally, I accepted a new job in the spring. Though still learning and settling into my new environment, it was one of the best decisions I made. I love being able to go into the office without the feeling of being overwhelmed and being able to leave my work at the office when I go home at night.

I also got to go on my first trip outside the USA when I visited Mexico. It was a blast. I got to try out local cuisine, climb on Mayan pyramids, and drink fruity cocktails with umbrellas in them while laying on the beach. I always wanted to be a world traveler and now I feel like I started that chapter of my life.

I started writing for TVSource this year in addition to my blog. It has a been a wonderful experience. I feel like I am working with a good team and have learned a lot. I am working on some upcoming articles that I hope readers will enjoy.

My year in soaps

2013 was a big year for soaps. Unfortunately not all of it was positive but I think in the end everything has fallen in place for a great 2014.

All four daytime soaps are doing well in the ratings and it appears they will be sticking around for awhile. No more worries about cancellation. It's a pleasant change of pace to just be able to watch the stories without wondering if they will disappear from the screen.

Unfortunately, Prospect Park’s revivals of One Life to Live and All My Children were the complete opposite. When they seemed to go into panic mode very early on and started moving episode counts around, the feeling of impending doom made it difficult to enjoy.

Although I did enjoy watching All My Children for the very first time, One Life to Live was pretty painful to watch. Many of the complaints about Brian Frons’s style were prevalent in the new version such as half naked young women and male dominated story line. It seemed that Prospect Park’s idea of modernizing the shows was to repeat past misunderstandings about audiences but with added curse words. There were also some really great moments in the shows but in the end I feel the failed attempt was not worth the losses. I am left feeling very disenchanted by the experience.

Some good things did come out of the failure though.  I was introduced to some new and possible future soap stars such as the talented Corbin Bleu.  Watching the reboots online also did lead to me checking out a few other online soaps which has been a real treat for me. I do see a future in online soaps just as long as they are done with proper planning.

With the shelving of One Life to Live and All My Children, I decided to add Days of Our Lives to my soap viewing.  It was my first soap addiction and it’s nice getting acquainted with it again. The story line with Eric and Nicole is currently a favorite of mine.

It had been a bit of a bumpy year at times but, General Hospital has remained entertaining for me. The relish wars were overdone and the rewriting for the three actors whose roles were repossessed by Prospect Park was a bit wobbly. The good outweighed the bad though and it was always fun for me to watch.

Some good things I learned this year

Make it a habit to always say “good morning” to your co-workers when you arrive at work and wish them a good night before you leave.  People will appreciate the small gestures.

Sometimes letting go and moving on feels like the hardest thing to do but in the end it can be totally worth it.

Don’t be afraid to give yourself a day off.

Perform a random act of kindness every so often. It can be something as simple as buying your friend a cup of coffee when she has had a rough day.

Don’t take things so seriously.

Social media is a lot of fun.  If you’re ever not having fun, turn off your computer and do something else.

People are always more important than things.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prospect Theory: My thoughts on the shelving of One Life to Live and All My Children

The plan to continue One Life to Live and All My Children online was an experiment.  One that had a lot of risk involved.  Knowing this, I opted to be a little forgiving of some of the trials and errors.  Or at least I was at first.  There were a lot of trials and errors.  Too many of them if we’re going to be real about it.

While Prospect Park seems to want to shift the blame to ABC, I feel that a lot of went wrong with rebooting the shows falls squarely on their shoulders.  The gentleman with Prospect Park have reputations for being mavericks in the entertainment business however, their behavior seemed more uneducated than daring.

Before I dive into the what-went-wrongs, I would like to start by stating I admire the work and effort that the cast and crew put into One Life to Live and All My Children.  It’s clear that they really wanted to make the reboots successful.  The actors really shown in their performances and I’m glad that they will be eligible for Daytime Emmys.  I enjoyed may aspects of both shows and my criticisms have nothing to do with the work that was put into them.  I do not fault the cast and crew for what happened.  The disappointment with the Prospect Park reboots that I am going to share is about what happened off screen and is from my perspective as a fan.

The Lawsuit

For me personally, the biggest mistake that was made (and continues to be made) was the filing of the lawsuit against ABC Daytime.  I really hate that this lawsuit exists.  If ABC did in fact violate an agreement, then by all means sue away!  However, don’t insult me in the process.  I did not need to read pages of General Hospital and the stories that I was enjoying being called trash.  The whole lawsuit makes me feel that Prospect Park’s opinion of soap fans is pretty low.  It coddles couple shipper trolls and uses terms such as “soap apocalypse” and “megasoap.”

To add more injury to this insult, the lawsuit attacks people in the soap business that I as a longtime fan care about such as my favorite actor for example.  In all I felt it is not only bizarrely inaccurate but disrespectful to the hardworking individuals in the industry and their loyal fans.

I believe that the lawsuit didn't just hurt some feelings.  It hurt One Life to Live and All My Children.  It is a complete turn off for those who are not familiar with soaps.  Try explaining this lawsuit to someone who doesn’t watch soaps and then wait for his or her reaction.  I can only imagine how all this looked to potential investors and business partners.

The Weak PR and Online Interaction

Many were a bit skeptical when it was announced that Prospect Park was making a second go of its attempt to revive the soaps but they were also excited to have the shows back.  Members of the soap press would have been happy to help promote had they been given the opportunity.  Richard Sims from Soaps In Depth offered to assist with social media and was ignored.  Entertainment writer Jeff Giles wrote a book about one of the soaps (Llanview in the Afternoon) and was directed to a non-working email address when he asked for comments.  These are just a couple of examples.  There was tons of opportunity for free promotion that was not taken.

Promotion and PR was left to the good people who were creating these shows.  When the weekly episode count was cut in half, it was the actors who responded to customer complaints and tried to provide positive spin.  This was not suppose to be their job but Prospect Park’s PR team seems to be as non-existent as the mighty unicorn.  At the very least, if the actors were going to put their reputations on the line and try to spin hay into gold then they should have been kept informed by Prospect Park. Making employees scramble to respond to something on your behalf they know nothing about is just rude.

For a soap, General Hospital has a strong online presence.  Their facebook page has over a million followers and their twitter account has over 100,000 followers.  The creative teams and actors are active online.  @soapsindepthabc has more followers than @soapsindepthcbs.  All these accounts have more followers than TOLN’s various accounts.  This is the audience that Prospect Park should have tried to snag.  Instead they dissed this fanbase’s show and only interacted with a few fans, most of whom seemed bitter towards General Hospital for breaking up a fictional couple or something of that nature.  This made me not want to interact with them.  Playing nicely would have had a much better result.

After awhile the PR campaign slogan seemed to be “blame ABC.”  This didn’t impress me for a number of reasons.  I do blame ABC for not firing Brian Frons earlier than they did.  I do blame ABC for allowing good programs to be neglected and then canceling them.  I don’t blame them for actors finding other work.  I don’t blame them for Prospect Park’s lack of soap knowledge.  I don’t blame them for Prospect Park’s lack of follow through or communication.

Brand = No Clue

There seemed to be confusion when it came to the brands of these soaps, in particular One Life to Live.  Logos and names aren’t brands.  They are just logos and names.  Brand is emotional connection.  Folgers Coffee’s brand is not a tin can filled with coffee.  It’s parents waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee and coming down stairs Christmas morning to find their son has made it home for the holidays.  “Peter, you’re home!”  In other words, the brand is the story.

All My Children did a good job of going back to the brand it had lost during it’s last few years on ABC Daytime.  There was a feeling of family and young love, a coupling of danger with innocence.  You would not see this in any of the online ads for the show though.  Just purple boxes with logos on them asking you to click here to watch.  Watch what exactly?

One Life to Live seemed to have been taken over by one of Vicki’s alters.  While it had some very entertaining moments and an amazingly talented cast, the focus was put onto a nightclub, the murder of a dayplayer hooker, and a strange tattoo toting evil organization that bored me to tears.  Where was the family dysfunction and diversity?

The photo shoot that Prospect Park did was really cool but a picture is not going to make someone tune in for the first time.  People needed to know what the shows were about and what kinds of stories they would be treated to.  They needed to know how watching these shows would make them feel.  They were never given this information.

Prospect Park ended up not being the soap savior many had hoped.  I am a little worried that they may have hurt the genre a little bit.  I don’t want those who really did put their soul into the shows to take the hit for Prospect Park’s poor decisions.  Some of the actors had other opportunities that they did not take because of their contracts with Prospect Park.  Many were counting on the steady work.  Many more were hoping that this little experiment would be successful and bring a positive light to the soap genre.  For me, that hope is now gone.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Little Rivalry Never Hurt Anyone: My thoughts on One Life to Live so far

If I had to choose one word to describe One Life to Live 2.0 it would be “rivalry."  We have Vicki versus Dorian, Todd versus Victor, Matthew versus Destiny, The Banner versus technology, etc.  While soap rivalries are always fun, there seems to be a little too much on the canvas right now for my taste.  Everyone and everything is clashing with each other.  These conflicts have been given so much importances that they appear to trump any emotional payoff that the audience may desire.

The misstep with Victor’s reveal has been critiqued a lot already but I really can’t talk about lack of emotional payoff without discussing it.  It was a mess.  After over a year of waiting for this story to conclude, fans were treated to lackluster performances and unanswered questions.  This was the story line that had everyone watching One Life to Live during it’s final year on ABC and yet it has completely fallen flat on the online version.  The Two Todds story line itself is ridiculous and it has always been yet fans cared about it because of the emotional connections we were given.  That is what made the story good and the lack of it has made the story a miserable failure.  The end result was a bunch of plot holes and slow moving story.  I’m not sure I care if we ever find out what happened to Victor now.  If this plot was just dropped I would be fine with it.

I really enjoyed the moments we got in Thursday’s episode and hope that this was the beginning of seeing more of the stories that appeal to me.  I liked seeing Todd and Blair work together as parents of a troubled teenager back in 2011.  It seems that story may be picked up again and it should be.  One Life to Live needs more of families working together instead of against each other.

I am enjoying roommates Dani, Jeffrey, and Matthew.  The actors are all very likable and play well with each other.  I’m enjoying Dani as the the troubled lost girl type and hope that gets explored.  I want to know more about her.  What was her major in college?  Is she artistic, athletic, or bookish?  What are her desires other than drinking and ogling a shirtless Matthew?  The answer to these questions would be a nice journey for the audience to go on.  And can we get her a job at the coffee shop a la Rachel from Friends?

Jeffrey is by far the best new addition to the show.  Corban Bleu is talented, charismatic, and handsome.  The three most important qualities a soap star should possess.  He is adding class to the younger set and holding his own with the veteran actors.  I’m very interested in learning more about his character.  I think he can be the show’s next leading man.  He manages to be a good guy without being boring.  He just needs the perfect leading lady.

As for Matthew, I’m not quite sure what my thoughts are on him yet.  I like the actor but the character is spoiled, clueless, and a deadbeat.  While unfortunately there are young men like this in real life, I don’t want to see them on my soap opera.  I don’t want to root for him or even understand where he is coming from.  More One Life to Live did hint at some interesting upcoming stuff for the character so hopefully I will change my mind.

I would have enjoyed seeing Matthew and Destiny struggling together as young parents as oppose to just Destiny as a single parent.  Their arguments could have been more about trying to work with each other’s schedules to take care of their son, how they wanted to raise him, whose going to take time off work to take him to the doctor, etc.  Instead Drew seems to be a unwanted burden on both his parents.  Although Destiny is suppose to be the victim in this story line, I think the real victim is Drew.

One Life to Live does have a pretty good single mother story line with Natalie.  We get to see her at work, trying to have a social life, picking up the dry-cleaning, grabbing a cup of coffee, cautiously starting to date after a broken heart, and pining for her son’s father.  These are all very relatable things for many viewers.  I wasn’t a big Natalie fan when One Life to Live was on television but the online version of this character is smart, sexy, and independent.  My only complaint is that we are not getting enough of her.  I want her to get together with bad boy Cutter and then have to struggle with her decision if John ever comes back to town.

It is nice to see Dorian and Vicki’s rivalry reignited.  Dorian’s oust from the Senate and decision to lash out to Vicki seem very in character for her.  It’s nice to see Dorian being a jerk.  I am also intrigued on what the fallout from her revenge will look like.  Vicki’s struggles with her family’s dying business are realistic and I’m glad that this story is being told.

Although One Life to Live has always been a darker soap (the original title was Between Heaven and Hell), it's lacking some of the humor and light elements it needs for balance.  David’s reality show is cute, Todd still gets some delightfully snarky lines, and Bo and Nora make lovely empty-nesters but the fact that the majority of the characters seem to be making war instead of love can be too much of a downer.  At least we are getting plenty of Todd and Vicki scenes to give the show some heart.

The online version of One Life to Live was suppose to be edgier and sexier.  The first episode teased at this but so far the show hasn’t delivered.  Cursing isn’t edgy.  Dani’s drug problem seems a little forgotten.  The Two Todds story line is uneven.  The seediness of Shelter just makes Blair look like a bad business woman (I’d rather it be more of a place for characters to meet and interact like Roadies was in the 1990’s).  The one love scene between Victor and Tea was really just Florenca Lozano in her underwear.  Todd and Blair are being promoted as a couple in the opening and the show’s social media but not much has happened for the former lovers.

I love the characters and the first weeks of One Life to Live have felt like they have been a lot about the characters.  This isn’t a bad thing because these are some of the greatest characters in soaps.  I do want good stories though to go along with these characters.  Right now it seems like the stories are slowly beginning.  I’m hoping that the new writers will be able to effectively speed things up and still have the characters drive the story.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for the denizens of Llanview, PA.  I know I’ll be watching.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Little Less Love in the Anytime

Prospect Park recently surprised fans of One Life to Live and All My Children with the announcement that the per week episodes were being slashed in half from four to two.  Prospect Park states this decision was based on the fact that fans were getting behind on the episodes already.  They wanted fans to be able to keep up to date on the episodes and the two episode a week format would accommodate.  This choice was made because fans were binge viewing the shows instead of watching daily.  You can read the full press release here.

Now if the two episode a week formula keeps these soaps alive, I am perfectly okay with it.  If Prospect Park found that it was more cost effective to produce less episodes, I can understand.  However the explanation we were given seems confusing.  Why would binge viewing be a bad thing for anytime television?  They wanted us to be able to watch the shows anytime right?  It seems restricting viewership to “day of” isn’t any different than how television is watch.  It was my understanding that the new online medium was suppose to throw that notion out the window.

The viewer solution to the getting behind on a show is typically marathoning many episodes in one sitting.  As I stated in a previous article, I watched All My Children in this manner on the weekend.  Why not release the episodes in a block instead?  Let viewers watch them all at once and give them time to watch them again.  This concept worked successfully for Netflix with the online show House Of Cards. 

These soaps are designed differently than House Of Cards though.  They are going to have much more episodes.  They are also very character driven with less plot.  They need fans to get attached to the characters and get in the habit of watching the shows.  I’m not sure if two hours a week will accomplish this.  If there are gaps between episodes, then viewers may forget about the shows.  Prospect Park wants us to fill the gaps with the opposite show if we are only watching one of the soaps but I’m not sure that will happen.

Viewers who do marathon viewings of the shows will have to set aside less time to do this with the two episodes a week so this could be a good thing for them.  I am curious though as to whether the plot structure of these shows would work for the hour/two episodes a week.  Although the pace of the shows are faster and it feels that a lot happens in just one episode, the actual plots themselves don’t particularly unfold fast.  Elements dangle in the background awhile before reveal.  The way these stories unfold may have to be adjusted.

While Prospect Park states this decision is based on viewership patterns, there is a lingering feeling that money may be the bigger issue.  Prospect Park did not just revive One Life to Live and All My Children because they are major soap fans and thought it would be fun.  They wanted to create online programming that would have a huge fan following and generate revenue for them.  This change in episode count raises some concerns about the profitability of these shows.  It is of course better to reduce the number of episodes if that is what it takes to keep the shows in production.

I get the impression that Prospect Park may have also made the same mistake that ABC Daytime did with Katie.  It seems they may have spent too much upfront making it difficult for the shows to recoup the costs.  Both All My Children and One Life to Live have been on Hulu’s top ten list since the debuted.  I don’t know what that means numbers wise but they are generating viewer traffic for Hulu.  However it seems that traffic may not be enough for profit to be made.

It appears the real culprit in this situation may be just doing too much in too little time.  Reviving the shows was a huge undertaking.  The shows had to start from scratch which isn’t a bad thing when looking to give shows a facelift but it had to have cost a lot.  With a deadline set, they also had to put in a lot of work to pull off these relaunches.  All My Children actress Jill Larson paints a good picture of this in her facebook posting which can be read here.

One Life to Live and All My Children are pretty good shows but are they as good as they could be?Taking a few steps back and a few deep breaths might not be a bad thing.  However, I’m not sure I agree with Prospect Park’s decision to reduce the episodes so quickly.  I think there are other options that would have been better such as releasing the episodes in blocks or just keeping them available on Hulu for free longer. I don’t know if the two episode a week plan will have the effect that Prospect Park is looking for.  We’ll all have to anxiously watch, wait, and see what happens.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Like a (Soap) Virgin: Are the One Life to Live and All My Children reboots appealing to new viewers?

Two weeks ago TOLN made soap opera history with the launch of the online versions of One Life to Live and All My Children. I was among the many fans that started setting their alarms early to watch the first episodes.  Both shows had a very good couple of weeks and audience reviews have been favorable. (You can read more about that here.)

The shows have had their critics though. Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times is one of those individuals.  His review of the soaps was pretty scathing to say the least. (link) While it is obvious that Ganzlinger is not nor ever has been a soap fan, I don’t think his harsh criticism should be totally dismissed.  His hate for the shows did seem to be rooted more in an odd dislike for the housewives that he stero-typically assumed were the only viewers of these programs.  However, I think under the vile he spewed there were some good points that were made.  Most importantly that the shows as they are may not appeal to new viewers.  I believe the shows deserve to have a more caring critique than the one Genzlinger provided.  

My viewing experiences were different for each show.  I am a long time fan of One Life to Life and decided to watch it daily.  I like how the show felt like it was taking off where it left us and had a feel that it had never been off the air.  The changes are easy for me to adjust to and everything seems very recognizable to me.  With All My Children, I am a new viewer and I decided to watch in a marathon during the weekend.  I think this worked best as I could spend two hours learning the show instead of only half an hour at a time.  I would recommend it to those unfamiliar with the shows.

As an All My Children novice, it was a little confusing at first to get the hang of who’s who and how everyone relates.  I do wish that TOLN would have some better guidance for new viewers.  I am not a fan of exposition typically but when it is done right it can be very helpful. Some of the gaps did get filled in from one episode to the next but vague references to him, her, that day, and five years ago were a little frustrating for me.  The five year jump for All My Children did make it a little easier for me to feel as though little historical knowledge was needed for some story lines though.

While I am knowledgable about One Life to Live’s characters and history, after being a new viewer of All My Children it was clear that that some of the stories were probably only understandable by those who were already familiar with the series.  I doubt a lot of the Two Todds storyline makes sense to those who have never watched.  I think having a narrator for the first episode as One Life To Live did on its last television airing would have been a good idea.  The show could have used a voiceover telling us “this is the story of Victoria Lord Gordon Riley Burke Buchanan etc. and this is her brother Todd...”  This approach would have been helpful for All My Children as well.

I had originally thought that having the character names in the opening credits of All My Children seemed silly but it helped me learn who is who.  This probably helped long time viewers as well as with some of the new characters.  I think adding this information to the official website would also be useful.

I would really like to see TOLN worked on is its website.  For a network that is producing online programing you would think that it would have a better website. Currently the website is just links to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Hulu.  The site needs a lot more meat to it than that.  There should be cast and character bios available so that new fans can easily learn about the shows.  They could have a few of the actors or characters write a blog.  Several actors already have blogs that would be easy to move over or link to the site.  There should also be a message board and place to give viewer feedback.  I would love for fans to be able to get information on the shows' fashions so they know how they can look like their favorite soap character.  It could also have a list of the songs in each episode complete with links to where fans can buy the music and learn more about the artists.  In a nutshell, the website should be a one stop shop for everything One Life to Live and All My Children.  Don’t make the fans go elsewhere for this information!

The Friday episodes of More One Life to Live and More All My Children are a great way that TOLN is providing some viewer education.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I would want to watch these episodes every week.  The first ones left me bored outside of the actor and executive producer interviews.  The most recent ones though felt truly interactive.  Fans got to ask questions and we got a nice look at some behind the scenes stuff.  It felt like I was watching a DVD extra instead of a talk show.

Being an experienced soap viewer it was easy for me to get caught up on the happenings of Pine Valley.  I am concerned that the shows could have been a bit hard to get into for newer viewers.  Behaving as if soap fandom is an exclusive club for members only isn’t the way to go.  I feel it is important to the survival of soap operas to look at how soaps can appeal to new viewers.  The new medium opens up a lot of possibilities for the genre.  Being online isn’t just a fall back plan for programs that television networks carelessly cancel.  It is an opportunity to refresh the genre and bring in new viewership.

For me, soap viewership has primarily been done via VCRs, DVRs, and websites.  I have always been an anytime viewer.  Getting me to watch a show anytime is easy.  It’s those who are not already soap fans that will be the challenge.  Do I think that these shows are appealing to viewers unfamiliar with the genre?  I'm not sure if they are but I believe they have that potential.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Breaking Blair: A look at the character of Blair Cramer

It’s New Year’s Eve 2011 in Llanview, Todd has framed Tomas for the murder of his brother/Blair’s ex-husband.  Tomas had Todd incarcerated for years and ironically is also Blair’s lover.  Blair is looking at a portrait Tomas has painted of her and wondering how she could be so stupid.  “What the heck is a manner with you?  What happened to the woman I fell for?” Todd asks.  Good question.

When Blair came to town in the 1990’s she was a bit different than she is today.  She was often refered to as the great seductress. She would purr when she talked, smiled coyly, and give a man just enough of what he desired to trap him.  If she didn’t get what she wanted, well let’s just say payback was a bitch.  She ran over a lover’s wife with a car, pushed a rival out a window, and tried to kill more than one of her husbands.

When Todd “died” in Ireland many years ago, Blair’s grief took the form of rage.  She irrationally blamed Marty for Todd's untimely death and set out for revenge.  That revenge took the form of seducing Marty’s man.  She did this through pure manipulation.  She’s dressed and styled her hair the way he liked, just happen to bump into him everywhere, and ask for a dance after playing a slow song on the jukebox.  I didn’t root for Blair because I thought in anyway that Marty deserved this punishment.  I rooted for her because she was fun to watch.

However, overtime the provocative qualities of her that I loved become a bit cartoonish and not in the Jessica Rabbit type of way.  Smart men started following her around like love sick puppies with little reason given.  The men looked like idiots.  I wasn’t sure whether to feel pity or annoyance for them.  What guy would believe that a woman loved and wanted him when she jumps into bed with her ex the first chance she gets?  I think it started with the recast Sam. The supposedly bright lawyer mindlessly chased after her while she strutted him in front of Todd every chance she got.  The end result was that Blair looked like kind of jerk.

Yet despite this behavior it began to seem that it had been decided Blair was now the tragic heroine.  Sure Blair was vulnerable and got her heart broken often but she was never the good girl.  She just wasn’t as bad as Todd.  Her relationship with Todd began to get stunk in an endless loop of her lying, him telling a bigger lie, her leaving him for some poor sap, and then Todd falling over himself to get her back.  It became less fun to watch.  She was only enjoyable for me in those small glances at happiness she had when Todd and her were back on again.

Blair’s leading man was then recast and the chemistry wasn’t the same.  This version of Todd (later Victor) didn’t have the same kind of obsessive love for her as the previous version. As Kassie Depaiva stated in an issue of Soap Opera Uncensored "Whenever Victor was with Blair it was because he was trying to prove a point. It was never because of Blair.”  The couple still continued to break up and make up though for several years.  Blair was never given any good leading men outside of this.  The one guy she ended up having some chemistry with turned out to be a serial killer.

Eventually Blair became the fragile woman who’d been beaten down one too many times.  She wasn’t the lively schemer who dressed up as Marilyn Monroe to trick David into sleeping with Dorian anymore.

One could argue that the changes in Blair show that she has grown as a character.  I think that is a very valid point.  Now that Blair is in her 40’s and a mother of three, I don’t think it would work for her to be the man-eating, vixen that she was but I think she can be better than how she turned out.  I want her to be vulnerable but not weak.

When the first of Todd and Blair’s marriages fell apart, she had quickly moved funds to her accounts and had him voted off the board of her cosmetic company.  She wasn’t going to be left penniless.  “Did you think I was going to crawl right under the covers and cry, Todd?” she asked him.  Back then the answer was no and now it is a very solid yes.

How fun would it have been if instead of crying over Tomas, Blair had helped Todd frame him?  The feisty young Blair that I loved so much would have wanted revenge on Tomas like she did on Marty years ago.  She wouldn’t have shed a tear over it either.  And after having tried to kill a few ex-husband’s in the past, it’s hard for me to believe she really would care so much about the death of one.  It would have been out of character for her to have done otherwise.  I think the story we ended up getting, though not perfect (you could tell there was some hurried rewrites), was in character for today’s incarnation of Blair.

While I’m enjoying the rebooted One Life to Live, I’m a little perplexed by the moping we are getting from Blair and her longtime leading man.  True these characters have had their dark moments and I can understand both feeling a little depressed right now but I am hoping to see some of that old fire spark up again.  Most of all, I want my strong Blair back.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Eyes on the Prize: A Critical Look at the Daytime Emmys

It’s that time of year again.  Daytime Emmy nominations have been submitted and the process of picking winners has begun.  While I love that daytime has it’s own awards that give honor to all the talented folks that work so hard to bring my favorite characters alive, it feels like the Daytime Emmys have become less about talent and more about behind the scenes politics.  Nowadays the Daytime Emmys are less about the actual shows while the shows themselves have become more about carefully navigating how they could best win an award.

I’m not sure specifically when it started to happen but somewhere along the line executive producers, head writers, etc. decided that it was more important to win a Daytime Emmy than to produce a good soap.  Instead of focusing on creating programming that was consistently engaging for fans and viewers, energy was used on producing a few episodes that were designed specifically for Emmy nomination.  In my opinion, Jill Farren Phelps is a very good example of one of these type of  producers.  With a whopping seven Emmy wins under her belt, she has got the strategy of this game down.

Phelps’s last win in 2012 for General Hospital is actually a great example of the disconnect between the Emmy’s and the shows.  In order to win an Emmy, one only really needs one great episode to submit.  General Hospital had this so it won.  But for shows that are on five days a week for an entire year, one episode can be a very poor example of the quality of a show.  I’m certainly not suggesting that all of General Hospital was bad during the 2011 year but a critical darling it was not.  Months before General Hospital’s Emmy win, Phelps (along with writers Bob Guza and then Garin Wolf) had been replaced with One Life to Live’s creative team.  It’s important to note that One Life to Live had high ratings, critical acclaim, and yet lacked an Emmy.

While “Emmy Episode" strategy works in terms of winning, what does it do for the shows themselves?  Nothing as far as I can tell.  Soaps need to focus on putting out great material year round to keep fans engaged and viewership high.  Focusing talent on only a handful of episodes does not create ratings or bring in new viewers.  If a new viewer pops in to watch a show, it needs to be good for them to invest their viewership hours into it.  Not having consistently good programing makes gaining viewership into a game of Russian Roulette. Winning an Emmy should never have been more important than keeping a show on the air.

Another issue that the Daytime Emmys has is which actors are nominated and more importantly in which category they are nominated.  Michael Mulhony got himself in the outs with some fans last year with comments he made regarding the leading actor category.  After Anthony Geary won for leading actor, he tweeted the following:

"Some old guy who has won a bunch of Emmys wins again? Is that really what soaps need to grow a NEW audience? We need new judges’ panels."

The general fan response to his tweet was not positive.  I wasn’t really impressed with what he said and when he said it myself.  I don’t know Mulhony so I can’t speak to what kind of person he is outside of twitter universe and tv screens.  He could be a total you-know-what or he could be nice guy who made some poor choices in wording.  I really don’t know but I do believe that within the negativity of his comment, he may have had a point.

Not only have the list of nominees become somewhat predictable but lead categories seem to be reserved for the baby-boomers only.  A sort of generational divide has taken place between leading and supporting role nominations.  Actors in the 50 plus age group tend to submit for the leading roles while the actors below that age group are resigned to the supporting category.  In the end actors who are clearly supporting get nominated in the leading role and vice versa.

To everyone’s credit, sometimes roles are both leading and supporting depending on what storyline you are looking at and on what particular day.  This can also change through out a characters time on a show.  For example the character of Todd Manning started out as a day-player, then supporting, and then lead.  For others, roles may start out as leading then over time move to supporting or even recurring.  This is not uncommon although there seems to be a reluctance for some to accept it.  For some reason, “supporting” seems insulting to them when it shouldn’t be.

While soaps have great veteran actors, fresh talents should be rewarded for hardwork and creativity as well.  Why should eager go-getters who pour their souls into their scenes be told they are not as good of a soap star because they didn’t work in soaps during the ‘80s hay days?  It seems petty and insulting.  I could see where this could be a sore subject for some actors that are newer to the genre.  I could also see where it could make the genre seem unattractive to new talent as well.  People want to be rewarded for doing a good job when they do it not 20 years after the fact.

This is also unattractive to viewers.  We know the difference.  Seeing our favorite new soap crush in the supporting category when they are on four to five days a week and the center of their own story is irritating.

I do think some fault lies on the soap stars who resolve themselves to submitting in the incorrect category.   For example, The Bold and The Beautiful has been focusing on the love triangle between Steffy, Liam, and Hope.  Yet Scott Clifton, the leading man of this story line, has submitted himself for supporting (and the supporting actors in this tale have submitted for lead).  I suspect some of this is the actors' attempt to submit in a way which will best improve odds of winning.  But that means that they are just playing the Emmy’s game like everyone else.  While I don’t blame the actors for wanting to win, this just further enforces a broken system.

It feels as though the end result of all this game playing is that Daytime Emmys are just a little less special than they used to be.  Many actors and creative teams as well as fans just simply don’t care as much as they used to.  As a viewer there is no longer the thrill of sitting on the edge of your couch with fingers crossed that your favorites will win.  You already know who is going to win.  All the soap reporters and bloggers have the exact same predictions because it’s so obvious.  The camera no longer pans out to a crowd of actors nervously biting at their lower lips in hopes that their names will be called out.  Many of the truly deserving don’t even submit anymore.  This is a far and sad cry from what a honor these awards use to be.  It’s no wonder that for the last few years The Daytime Emmys have had to struggle just to even be aired.

This last year soaps had to take a look at what was working and what was not and do some reinventing.  As bleak as things have been for the genre, one of the positive things is that it has started to re-exam itself and work to gain viewers.  I think now is a perfect time for The Daytime Emmys to be reinvented as well.  Most of this really needs to start with the shows themselves.  Creative teams need to start focusing on having consistently good episodes so that the one episode they submit for consideration will be an accurate representation of the quality of the show.  Actors need to start submitting for categories that correctly represent the work they do.  The Daytime Emmys may have turned into merely a game of wits but the shows allowed it to happen as well.

Do I think The Daytimes Emmys will ever go back to there glory days?  Probably not.  I would like to see them try though.

Monday, April 29, 2013

One Life to Live 2.0 - My thoughts on the first episode

In a nod to the TV finale we open with a shot of The Banner on Vicki’s doorstep.  What better way to open the show than with the shows long running heroine and moral center.  Loved seeing her and Clint together at Llanfair.

The sets were all really nice and let’s face it new sets were long over due!  If you looked to closely at the old sets it was pretty obvious they were in bad shape.  The sets that Prospect Park put together were nice updates of the originals.  I could tell Vicki, Dorian, and Bo’s homes were their homes - just a little shiner now.

Speaking of new sets, it’s about time that Natalie got her own place!  I’m already enjoying Natalie as a whole.  This reboot has done her well.  Melissa Archer looks great and they are styling her way better than they did on ABC.  I can tell her story is going to be really important to the show.  She has a new look, a hot new love interest, new home, and what I think will be the start of a really good story.

Cutter and Natalie are hot!  I am team Nutter all the way!  I’m perplexed as to why Prospect Park even wants John in the picture when they have these two instead.  They looked sexy and have a smoky chemistry boiling just below the surface.  They had a vibe to them that reminded me of a certain beloved super couple - another pairing between a bad boy and trampy temptress.  Not saying they could ever be the next TnB but it’s the same type of combo and one that works.

Speaking of Todd and Blair, both these characters have a tie for my favorite moments.  Todd’s line of the day - “Give me Shelter” and his tossing money at the crowd were just so delightfully Toddlike!  Then there was poor lonely Blair trying to get lucky at her own night club only to be denied. “I’m not really into cougars” she’s told.  It was a needed humbling moment for the character.  I think that may have been the first time a man has turned her down!

Then of course there was the surprise return.  I have to say that I honestly didn’t know he was coming back but had really hoped he was.  I have always enjoyed Nigel and it was lovely to see him again.

Which of course brings us to the non-surprise return.  Victor Jr is no longer tied to a bed and in running about town with a new tattoo and black hoodie.  He is either being chased or chasing other tattooed men who happen to all be dressed in black.  It’s a bit unclear at this time but we know it will eventually involve his brother Todd.  I am intrigued by what is going on with this bit of story line.  Why is Victor running around strangling people?  What’s up with that symbol he has tattooed on his arm?  And what the heck does Victor do by the river?  No really - the lighting was a little bad in that scene and I can’t tell.

Other than the lighting, the sound is a little off at times.  A few of the scenes at the club are a little hard to hear but the club scenes are fun and look young and hip.  It’ll be a nice place for Matthew, Destiny, Dani, and Jeffrey to hang out.  I really do like the direction they are taking with the younger cast.

Dani is a character that really deserves her own story line.  She is the daughter of two of the shows most memorable characters and it will work to put her on the front burner of her own story line.  The girl is going to be a handful.  She spends a large part of the first episode drunk and high and feeling self destructive.  We’re obviously going to be going on a downward spiral with her.  It will be interesting to see what choices she makes.

One of the choices will evidently involve Matthew.  Wow, Matthew is a real d-bag!  He’s young and stupid and acts like a jerk but not in an over the top kind of way.  We’ve all know guys like him.  Something will have to make him grow up and so far his parents haven’t had any luck with that themselves.

Jeffrey has just showed up in Llanview but I am finding him very likable.  Corbin Bleu has grown up pretty well and I enjoyed his scenes with both the young crowd and Vicki.  He’s a nice addition to the cast and will hopefully draw viewers.

The episode had many dark parts but it was also pretty amusing too. David and Dorian were fun to watch as always.  Love David’s attempt at a realty show and his attempt to be cool by dressing up in a ‘70s leisure suit.  He is a nice bit of light for the show.

I saved my least favorite thing about the show for last.  The opening of the show.  Love the theme song.  Iza Lach has a pretty voice and it has that hint of romance to it that a soap theme should have but The Cosby Show dance numbers left a little to be desired.  I’m not sure if it was awesomely bad or just bad.

The final shot of the episode, not unlike the beginning shot, mirrored the television finale.  A look at a very much alive Victor Jr and all the big questions that come with that revelation.  I look forward to seeing where this will all lead.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Young Folks: The importance of 20 somethings and teens in the soap genre

My college roommate Erin and I were very different in many ways.  Her favorite actors were Christian Slater, Cary Grant, and, for some reason, George Burns.  I covered the wall on my side of the room with a very large poster of Brad Pitt in all his Legends of the Fall, pre-Brangelina glory.  Her favorite film was Singing in the Rain and mine was the German film Run Lola Run.  While she listened to jazz and showtunes, I blasted Garbage, Bush, and Radiohead from a busted up CD player.

We had another major difference - Erin was a diehard fan of General Hospital while I was a diehard fan of One Life To Live.  This did not lead to any arguments or need to divide our room in half.  Unlike aggressive sports fans who bicker back and forth over their teams, we decided to watch and enjoy both shows together.  It lead to a lot a female bonding and deep (at least we thought they were deep) discussions over characters and storyline.  We even co-wrote a term paper on General Hospital which discussed Luke’s rape of Laura turned romance among other things. 

Erin adored Lucky’s romance with Liz and, being a religious girl, really dug Joshua Jackson’s values.  She found Jax utterly dashing and made every Aussie she met pronounce the word “Brenda."  In contrast, I enjoyed Todd and Blair’s tormented love affair a la Wuthering Heights while swooning over Roger Howarth’s long hair and goatee.  

We were both soap fans and saw the importance in these types of shows.  As young women, the show’s influence on us.  For Erin, whose uncle had died of aids, the Nurse’s Ball was very important to her.  Maurice Benard’s openness about living with bipolar disorder helped her feel more comfortable dealing with her own illness when she realized she had depression.  Liz’s rape inspired active involvement in the Take Back The Night March which I helped organize.  

For me, One Life to Live provided the companion that I needed during my angsty young life.  Coming from working class roots and having gone to high school with mostly upper class kids, I could relate to being "between heaven and hell."   When Antonio spoke about feeling inferior to the business men in sharp suits with manicured nails, I knew where he was coming from. Not to mention the messed up Lord family tree made me feel a little better about mine.  Mostly though, I was just entertained.

I’m not sure that it would be so easy to find a pair of young women so committed to their stories these days.  There are a number of reasons for this but I think the major reason is that soaps just stopped appealing to the younger audiences.  Somewhere along the way soap audience stopped being young and just got restless.  

While the entertainment industry’s need to only appeal to certain age demographics has gotten near absurdity in my opinion (hey advertisers, my parents have more money than I do!), soaps actually do need to start appealing to younger audiences again.  Soap fans should be life long fans.  There needs to be a balance of story lines and characters that appeal to all ages and fans.  I have noticed that viewership for many fans started when they were young.  Certain characters appealed to them during their youth and they stayed loyal viewers because they can still watch these characters’ stories.  Soaps stopped having really great young love stories that drew fans though.  There isn’t really any modern day Luke and Laura, Sonny and Brenda, Todd and Blair, etc.

So how can this be fixed?  Should soaps just shrug and give up on the young audiences who have no interest in them?  Should established soap vets be the only ones with story lines?  We love the vets because they once started out as young adults on these shows with stories that we loved.  Soaps need to not only honor their vets but create new vets.

I think that the trick is that soaps need to bring in young characters that are attached to the canvas already and most importantly these young characters need to be interesting.  The stories need to be less Hanna Montana and more relatable.  The word “edgy” seem to be a a little unappealing for a lot of soap fans (I blame supposedly edgy shows such as the messy Nip/Tuck for that) however, the stories that drew many young fans in the past were the ones that took some risk. Stories such as One Life to Live’s Spring Fling and General Hospital’s Stone and Robin where told by the twenty something cast yet managed to attract everyone.  That’s because these stories had a strong connection to what was happening in real life.  They gripped us emotionally unlike some of the recent stories that seem to have been ripped from MTV’s Teen Mom instead of the headlines.

Prospect Park’s reboots of One Life to Live and All My Children are said to have a more prominent younger cast than they did when we last saw them.  In a recent interview with Michael Fairman, One Life to Live’s Erika Slezak commented on this new shift.

"You have to have the younger generation take over and become the core characters, but I don’t see that happening now.  I know that had we stayed at ABC, Jessica and Natalie would have become Viki, and Viki would have become older, and that is fine.  That is what happens in life.  You go through ups and downs and arcs.  I think Viki will always be a character there.  How important she will be after awhile would be determined by who comes to take her place.  You do need a vocal morale center of the show, which Viki has always been.  If they can replace her with somebody else then they should.  Hell, I am not going to live forever, and Viki’s not going to live forever.  But for now, I don’t see that happening at all.  Viki is very much in the forefront mixing into everybody’s life, as she always does.  She is very concerned about The Banner, and her family, and Clint and Jefrrey, and Natalie, and everybody, so let’s see where this goes.  But yes, I think that at some point that should happen.  What they have to do is bring in very interesting younger characters and give them time to develop.  And, that is something that soaps don’t always do.  You can’t just throw a character bing-bang in the middle of a story!  The audience doesn’t know who he or she he is.  They have to learn to like them, or not like them, one way or the other. You know, the characters you love to hate, as opposed to the ones you love.  You have to give them time to grow as characters, and the audience to get to know them.  But for now, everything is as it was.” link

Slezak is a smart cookie and I can’t really say it much better than that.  When I watch One Life to Live and All My Children tomorrow, I’m hoping to see not only my past favorites but some new characters to fall in love with.  After watching the promo, I am as excited to see Vicki and Todd as I am to see what’s going on with Dani.  Dani is actually a character that has always been kind of waiting to make her mark and Kelley Missal is a talented young actress.  She just hasn’t had a great story of her own to tell yet.  The daughter of Todd Manning and Tea Delgado should be rebellious and I should want to root for her even when she makes mistakes.  I am hoping this is what I get to see and I hope it can attract new viewers.  If her story continues to be entertaining then those new viewers could be hooked for life.  Years from now she could have fans that are still watching her.

I had a chance to catch up with my former roomie about a year ago.  Between munching on our dinner salads and catching up on real life happenings, I asked her if she was still watching General Hospital.  She said she wasn’t anymore.  She stopped for a time due to a busy schedule of going to grad school, teaching, and working a part time job.  She had started watching again when Joshua Jackson returned to the show but was unhappy with the story line. She commented he was always crying and didn’t have enough scenes with Liz - a common complaint amongst fans.  She also said there was too much mob and she didn’t like those kind of people in real life.  I had told her that the new creative team were balancing the show more and suggested that she give it a try again.  Hopefully she did.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Extreme Makeover Soap Edition: Why I’m now excited about the Prospect Park reboots.

The day that Prospect Park finally called “Action!” on the new set of All My Children has finally happened.  After the roller coaster ride that it has been, this seems like a pitch-me-I’m-dreaming moment.  I can’t wait to see how the stories continue however, what excites me the most is the potential All My Children and One Life to Live now have to revamp and restore themselves.  I want what is old to be new again and the shows seem to be returning to their roots. Agnes Nixon is being consulted for the reboots.  I’d like to imagine that there was a conversation with Prospect Park about Nixon's original visions.

In All My Children’s case, it is returning back to the show’s tales of troubled young love.  Fans will still get some of their favorite vets back but the show will also be featuring a very attractive young cast.  While some fans aren’t excited about this particular change, I think it was a smart move on Prospect Park’s part.

I suspect that not getting leading lady Susan Lucci back may have had a hand in All My Children’s current direction. As I have mentioned in a previous post while Lucci is certainly deserving of her star status, she should have never been the only soap star with brand recognition.  In the long run I think this hurt the soap genre.  I like the idea of All My Children bringing in new talent to build on the show’s original identity and I see the possibly to give some others the chance to become stars.

For One Life to Live, it appears to be returning to its place between heaven and hell particularly with Matthew and Destiny’s story.  A leaked plot line involves Matthew being a deadbeat daddy and single mother Destiny resorting to dating older men for money in order to make ends meet.  I’ll admit my initial reaction to this was a touch of distaste.  But once I thought about it, the foundations for this story line were already set up before One Life to Live’s television finale.

After Nora convinced Destiny to keep her baby, Matthew woke up from his coma a little freaked out by the idea of fatherhood.  To add to it his older brother (whom he looks up to) admitted to having a child as a teen and walking away.  For Destiny, there were conversations about the financial struggles that she may face such as going to school while being a parent at the same time.  So even though the story may seem out of left field, it isn’t really.  I’m intrigued by how this will be told especially since it can now be told differently then it would have been on daytime television.

Without the limitations of squeamish networks, the shows have the potential to be edgier and sexier.  I don’t think this means the cast is going to be standing around naked while yelling out obscenities.  There just won’t be network censorship when it comes to story lines and scenes.  Actors will no longer have to make sure they are straddling only one of their partner’s leg during love scenes or adhere to other such odd rules.  And story lines about controversial subjects such as abortion, prostitution, drug abuse, sexual origination, etc. (which have always been a part of the soap world) will now have freedom to push the envelope slightly more.

I don’t have a full picture of what One Life to Live and All My Children will look like yet but I am optimistic that they will return rejuvenated.  I think the shows have gotten writing teams that will be able to tell some amazing stories.  Even though there are some things about the Prospect Park deal that I’m still not sure how to feel about, I think these reboots could be the remodeling that the genre and shows needed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One Life To Live 2.0 Wish List

When the original Dallas went off the air, I remember reading in one of my mom’s fashion magazines an article on the extinction of the nighttime soap.  I don’t remember the name of the magazine or the exact wording but the author had offered up a formula for a night time soap.  Take one dashing grey haired man, one brainless pretty boy, three B actresses with great legs and mix until frothy.

I think the reboots for One Life to Live and All My Children need to have a similar character formula in mind when casting.  It shouldn’t be a mater of simply grabbing up which ever cast members they can get from the previous shows.  The characters and actors need to fill a specific purpose for the show.

One of my wishes for these shows, is that the opportunity to reinvent them is taken while still staying faithful to the shows' histories.   The move to online is a great time to bring in some fresh perspective.  What this means to me, as far as casting goes, is that they need some big name vets for the rest of the cast to be built around.  I also think it may mean taking a new perspective on some old characters.

I didn’t have the pleasure of watching All My Children when it was on television (I’m sure I missed out) but I did enjoy One Life To Live for many years.  I have compiled a list below of some of the characters who I would like to see on the online version of One Life to Live. (If you watched All My Children, I would love your thoughts and please feel free to post your wish list in the comments section.)

The Matriarch and Patriarch - Vicki and Clint

These characters are the heart of the show - especially Vicki.  They guide the rest of the cast and offer sage advise all while having their own stories and making their own mistakes.  Vicki’s journey has been essential to the show’s stories for many years not only because her character has been on the show since the beginning but because she is so likable to fans of all generations.  She is very relatable.  While most of us don’t have to deal with things such as DID, we do have crazy bickering families and messed up love lives!

When we last saw Vicki and Clint, he had purposed to her.  I would love to the new One Life To Live begin with their wedding.

The Seductress - Blair

I’ll admit I’ve been less than thrilled with Kassie DePavia’s recent couple shipping on Twitter.  One of the reason’s is that as much as I enjoyed Todd and Blair as couple, I would love to be given the chance to love Blair as her own person.  I truly think that Blair is capable of being a viable character on her own if given the chance.  In an interview, the actress once jokingly called her alter-ego an “aging slut.”  I say let’s have some fun with that.

The last time we saw Blair she was still pining for Todd while getting ready to marry her best friend’s shady brother.  I want Blair to decide that any man that has her chasing around the globe because he ran off to do secret (rogue) CIA stuff is too high-mantance for her.  Let her have flirtations and have fun.  She doesn’t necessarily need to be this generations Samantha Jones but enough with the serious life or death romances that she loses herself in.

The Trouble Makers - Cutter and Alex

Every soap needs a few characters to scheme and keep things interesting.  I have always enjoyed money-hungry Alex.  She is femme fatale meets Real Housewife.  She is not only playful and seductive but a little bit dangerous.  She also has a lot of history with One Life to Live.

Cutter doesn't have as much history but the character and actor are great.  Not only is he wily and mischievous but he’s very sexy.  He can fill the bad boy role and giving the show some sex appeal.

I was intrigued by the reveal that Cutter was Alex’s son.  We were given just enough information that a new writer would have a ton of possibilities as far as what direction they wanted to take.  I would love a little bit more backstory as well as some mother/son con-artist team ups.

The Heroine and Hero - Marty Saybrooke and Patrick Thornhart

Every soap needs a heroine to root for and for a long time Marty was that lady.  Beautifully flawed and tragic - one couldn’t help to be on her side.  She was dangerously close to being the wilting flower but ended up as one of the strongest female characters that the show has ever had.

Last time we saw her she had gone through some major character destruction. She had been morphed into a crazy killer and all over not getting the guy that she wanted.  Ugh!  It was very sad for Marty fans.  I would love for her to be redeemed and return to the strong female character that she once was.

Of course if Marty comes back, her white knight Patrick should be with her.  Every soap needs a good guy and Patrick fits that role well.  His character was classic romantic hero.  The heart of gold poet with a sexy accent and nice hair.  Together he and Marty can go on adventures and save each other while trying to save the world.

These are of course but a few of my choices for One Life to Live 2.0.  The show has had so many great characters through the years that there are of course too many to name.  I think these characters would be a good base though for the show.  Family and friends can be filled in around them.

I’m becoming more optimistic about the shows’ reboots now that some experienced writers have been attached to them.  Pieces are starting to fall into place.  Now we just need a good cast and great characters for the stories.

Please feel free to share you character wish list as well as thoughts on mine in the comments.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Will Prospect Park Save Our Suds?

Prospect Park the production company that was going to save One Life to Live and All My Children after their early demise at the hands of an ill-run ABC daytime is back in the soap genre’s orbit once again.  Or maybe it is trying to pull the soap genre into its orbit.  Honestly it a little hard to tell if this sudden reappearance is a good thing or a bad thing.  The reason for my confusion on this topic is that there simply isn’t enough information out there yet for me to make a decision about how I feel.  You can’t get the whole picture when pieces of the puzzle are missing.  

During Prospect Park's first attempt at launching the shows, I was very excited about the possibility of soaps pioneering television’s move to the internet.  There is actually a lot of information about how viewing habits are moving away from TV sets and towards online.  What better way to move into the future of entertainment than with a beloved genre with loyal fans?  Not to mention it would give these shows an opportunity to breath outside of the confines of ABC Daytime and its president at the time Brian Frons.  This excitement along with my heart was crushed when the Prospect Park venture failed.  And it failed quite epically.

While Prospect Park does produce quality shows for cable, it didn’t seem to know a lot about the soap genre.  The big question now is have they learn anything over this past year?  Let’s do a little comparison of the situation now and then.

In 2011, Prospect Park had Frank Valenti and Ron Carlavanti as the creative team for One Life to Live along with a handful of cast members attached.  Not as many were attached to All My Children.  Allegedly negotiations with Susan Lucci weren’t working out which may or may not have caused delays.  However not much more was known by not only fans but the cast and crew of this soap.  Prospect Park was simply not communicating to anyone.

When the ax fell down on these online reboots, there was a lot of finger pointing as to the cause.  Negotiations with unions had gone sour.  Prospect Park blamed the unions for not being flexible and unions swore that it was Prospect Park who didn’t want to work things out.  Allegations that Prospect Park had just stopped talking with cast, crew, and unions were plentiful.  There was a lot of he said, she said.  It seemed as though the feat of bringing One Life to Live and All My Children online was more than Prospect Park were equipped to handle.  They just gave up.  Or so we all thought.

I was very surprised when buzz of Prospect Park popped up again.  News broke that Prospect Park had reached an agreement with SAG-AFTRA and the DGA.  They were given an extension until the end of February to get things off the ground.  Executive Producers were announced for both shows.  Vincent Irrizary a.k.a. Dr. David Hayward signed a deal to join All My Children and released the following statement:

"Happy to share that I just signed on with Prospect Park for the All My Children reboot! Excited to bring dastardly Dr. David back to life, as he did for so many others, and to see my dear friends in Pine Valley once again. A great, big thank you to all the fans for your tenacity in keeping the hope alive. You're awesome!!! Let's all keep our fingers crossed together that it becomes a reality.”  (link)

Although only one other actor has been announced, there appears to be a lot of interested former cast member from both shows.  This seems promising yet this time around, I am not quite as optimistic as before.

While I would love to have these shows resurrected, I am still seeing some of the same issues that arose the last go around.  Most notably is the lack of any sort of communication from Prospect Park.  While I can respect that some things probably need to stay under wraps until all is set in stone,  a simple statement from Prospect Park would be appreciated.  

Another thing that really stands out is that as of yet there are no writers attached to the projects and Prospect Park is still trying to workout a deal with WGA. (link)  They can’t have these shows without any writers.

When I asked production company 4th Street Media for their thoughts on the lack of writers it was pointed out that this may not be the biggest obstacle Prospect Park has.  "Not having actors is the biggest challlenge, so many are scattered to the wind. Can't have writers until you know who you're writing for.”

Good point.  The actors are the most important ingredient for these shows.  Without them, it simple won’t work.  This is definitely where things become tricky regarding Prospect Park.

Prospect Park plans to reduce the run time of these shows from a hour to 30 minutes. (link) I imagine this will mean they can run with a smaller cast but what will that cast look like?  Some of these actors have been keeping busy with other projects.  Will we get fractured core families and only half of our favorite super couple?  Will they recast to fill in these gaps?  The right cast and group of characters need to be attached to these projects in order to bring viewers.

Then of course there is the issue of the One Life to Life alum that are currently on General Hospital.  At the beginning of 2012 General Hospital appeared to be on the chopping block but now it is a healthy show that is enjoying increased ratings and positive buzz.  I can’t imagine an actor would want to leave that right now for something that may or may not work out.  But these characters have One Life to Live origins and it is reported that Prospect Park has the option to pull them from General Hospital.  Considering that Prospect Park is the one that is having difficulties getting things working, it seems like a cruel twist of fate.

While the crossovers have had some controversy, they have also had positive feedback and these characters are woven into the canvas now.  It may be messy for General Hospital to remove them.  For example, if Starr leaves not only will the months of building up Starr and Michael’s relationship be down the drain but the only other female that will be left for Michael to date will be his adoptive sister.  As Jamey Giddens with Daytime Confidential stated in his article Report: ABC Give Prospect Park Additional Time to Reboot All My Children and One Life to Live; Will It Be at General Hospital’s Expense?:

"Howarth specifically has become integral to GH's success. The actor and his character test through the roof with focus groups! Here's hoping Vicki Dummer continues to prove she's much smarter than Brian Fronsby not letting this madness happen." (link)

Also what will happen to these characters if the actors who bring them to life chose not to sign with Prospect Park?  Theoretically Prospect Park can recast them.

That’s the thing though...a lot of this is all still theoretical.  Nobody, except possible Prospect Park, knows for sure what the exact plans are for these shows yet.  Any details I can find regarding what kind of licensing agreement they even have with ABC is murky at best.  I think what has me the most uneasy is all the unknowns.

While it may seem like I am being a bit of a "Debbie Downer” here, I do have a hope that this time around Prospect Park can truly save the day and become my hero once again.  The fact that there still seems to be interest from Prospect Park in producing these soaps in itself is actually a good thing.  It means they see soaps as being profitable.  As much as I would love to believe Prospect Park is just doing this out of love for the genre, the fact is they're are in the business to make money.  One of the many causes for the demise of the daytime soap is that it is no longer seen as genre that can bring in money (I disagree).  If Prospect Park is successful then this can change that perception.

With the latest news of the possible resurrection of One Life to Live and General Hospital, I have decided to stay cautiously optimistic for the time being.  If these shows are revived I will be a very happy camper to say the least.  However before I can truly celebrate, I think I need to know what these shows will look like.  For the most part, this means I need to know which actors will be attached to these shows.  In the meantime, I will be patiently waiting for more news.

For more compete information and updates regarding Prospect Park’s plans to reboot One Life to Live and All My Children, I suggest the following publications/resources:  Soap Opera Digest, Daytime Confidential, Soaps Uncensored, and TVSource Magazine.