This started out as another whine against Kevin going back to Kelly, when there’s a perfectly delicious Adriana dating his son Duke to philander with. But then, I started noticing an awful lot of murder mysteries for Bo and John to deal with. 

Of all the ABC Daytime soaps, ONE LIFE TO LIVE struggles the most with rediscovering its identity (strongest in the ‘80s as a relentless examination of inner human conduct and conflict) and forging a renewed one for the post-millennium. 

Several new head writers within two years later, and I’m still oftentimes bored out of my mind having to watch every day like it’s homework. Except for the wrap-up of the Paul Cramer murder mystery and the unveiling of the Killing Club murders, and even these are problematic, I don’t see much hope for improvement. 

The problematic goes beyond the struggle for as distinct an identity as its more popular sisters, AMC and GH – currently tied for #1 in the demos, as ratings overall sunk a bit. In a nutshell, according to me, TPTB (The Powers That Be): 

  1. refuse to cut their losses.
  2. are pathologically incapable of devoting a story built around long-time character history based on talent first, looks second.
  3. confuse looks with talent.
  4. simplify the complex (on a soap that used to showcase the complexities of human behavior far better than Virginia Woolf or William Butler Yeats).
  5. fail to capitalize fully on the workable characters played by veteran and promising actors.

Take the forced Kevin-and-Kelly re-pairing, please (heh, sorry, couldn’t resist) – a prime example of #1, 4, and 5.  

Some accidents are better than
Photoshop. But the Kelly & Kevin
pairing still smells like a
pre-fabrication to me. 

Dan Gauthier, a veteran of TV and film, is a successful Kevin recast, the 7th Kevin, capable of delving into the pathos and the comedy of the original and the Kevin Stapleton, without going anywhere near the sociopathic touch of a Timothy Gibbs. But Heather Tom as Kelly? I’m not so sure. 

Sure, she’s been nominated for another Daytime Emmy, and she won two, in 1993 and 1999, as Victoria from Y&R, while also earning the honor of being the most nominated actress to date – honors I question myself. Yet, I remain unimpressed with her mostly constipated, dour, unlikable portrayals, on both shows. 

Y&R just hired Amelia Heinle (ex-Mia, AMC) to replace Tom as Victoria – another move I question as insane – and even she incidentally touched on one of the major reasons why OLTL’s recast Kelly, the second, ultimately fails with me. “I’ve watched some of her [Tom’s] tapes and she’s such a great actress, [but] there’s a sensitive, vulnerable side to [Victoria] that I’ll probably bring because that’s just my personality. [SOD, March 21, 2005]” 


I understand some creative license must be utilized when recasting, as each new actor takes on the role with his own interpretation of the character; hence, the term, making the character their own. It’s been done numerous times with brilliance by more powerful actors than the likes of Tom.  

And yet, Kelly Cramer came on the canvas originally as a wacky, hyper-sensitive, manic ball of energy. No life lesson back in Texas will convince me that the lifeless portrayal by Tracy Lindsey Melchior and the world-weary testiness of Heather Tom will ever take the place of the true essence of Kelly, especially if she’s to work romantically opposite Kevin. 

Kevin needs sexual and emotional tension, a firebrand who matches him taunt for tease, preferably a woman who hates his guts and yearns for another man, gentler, kinder, shades of Gone With The Wind’s Scarlett and Rhett. That woman is Adriana, played with impeccable tartness by soap newcomer Melissa Gallo, one of my personal newcomer faves. 

What kills me is that TPTB had a chance to pick up on their obvious chemistry from the moment Kevin warned his son Duke away from Adriana and Adriana resented Kevin’s judgmental interference. He seemed more than mildly amused by her youthful posturing, enlivening and thwarting the goody-two-shoes image, instead of exacerbating it as the painfully self-righteous Duke (played with milquetoasty abandon by another soap newcomer, and former American Idol semi-finalist, Matthew Metzger) does. 

Before fans had a chance to buzz about Kevin and Adriana (Kad?) on message boards across the country, he went back to sniffing around Kelly, settling for leftovers, while she skulked in the background with Duke gossiping about another family feud between the Buchanan/Lords and the Cramers like she was always a part of it all. Then, Kevin and Kelly joined the growing posse of Todd and Blair rescuers, halfheartedly, I’ll bet, in a move by TPTB to redeem their formerly a(pathetic) beginnings . . . she lying, scheming to keep Kevin, he sleeping around on Kelly with Blair just because his hormones went wild. 

Yawn. I think I’ll pass. Besides, I’m already fast-forwarding through any and all Todd and Blair scenes, because a) I’m sick of Todd and Blair, and their latest plot-driven escapes with death as one villain after another keeps them from happiness, b) Todd’s recast portrayer Trevor St. John has been pissing me off with his one-note pissing contest, in lieu of remembering who the reformed, tormented rapist Roger Howarth’s Todd always was, nuance, nuance, c) it seems Todd and Blair won’t ever get to address the intrinsic handicaps within their own relationship that keep them apart. 

In the middle of my wondering what the fuss was about over Kevin bonding with Kelly at the grave of their stillborn baby, and my not seeing Kelly’s lightening up in the slightest (it’s just uptight with a smile and another lecture), I couldn’t help but get caught up in the mystery of Paul fast closing in on Daniel, aka Theodore. Seems “Ted” will turn out to be the guy framing Jennifer, quite willingly and eagerly, in order to hide his past as a wife beater and a violent alcoholic and the fact that Paul caught onto something horrible from that past with which to blackmail Ted with. And, that Rex (he’d make a surprising cop, wouldn’t he?) will stumble upon this fact. 

Are they gonna come right out and
blame Daniel for Paul Cramer’s
murder? Or is he just framing Jennifer
to protect someone he loves, not just
his shady past? What’s next, he caused
the tsunamis in mid-Asia?! 

The jury’s out as to whether Ted/Daniel actually shot Paul pointblank. While the *spoilers for next week hedge their bets on that score, I’m fairly certain he’s the one, or at least, to protect his son Riley, who will walk away from Jennifer. 

At this late stage in the game, the who in this whodunit is merely a formality, and an afterthought at that. Nobody cares, this mystery dragged on too long, then was left on the backburner while another mystery nobody cared about, Tico’s murder, drew to a close to expedite a Cristian teaser, otherwise known as the easy way out. 

I feel both murders a) took the easy way out, b) did a great disservice to character motivation and character history by using Cristian, Paul and Daniel as scapegoats to preserve the beloved mainstays, and prop up a dead supercouple, Bo and Nora, and c) reek of overkill. 

Adding to the overkill is yet a third murder mystery. Wait, make that fourth (can’t forget the Music Box Killer). The Killing Club is the title of Marcie’s best-selling novel (in real life, former head writer Michael Malone, who came up with all those mysteries to begin with, penned this one, rising on the New York Times Best Seller List, not Marcie, she’s just a fictional add-on). 

Michael breaks the news of Julie’s
car accident to Marcie (middle),
Riley and Jennifer. 

In case viewers wanted desperately to forget the waste of a summer that was the Love Crew attempts and fails to build the Love Center while squabbling and making up in the Love Shack (which I sorta dug), here’s another reminder to twist the knife. Marcie will realize the not-quite accidental deaths of former roommates Hudson and Julie are replaying the same murders in her book, with more to come. She’ll share this information with Michael, who’ll think he’s onto the killer himself, while his police detective brother John quickly figures out much the same and acts fast to prevent another member of the Love Crew from dying prematurely. And since Evangeline has fast become John’s proverbial hemorrhoid, she’s gotta get in on the sleuthing too.

And you thought the poltergeist wailing for Jennifer’s ears only and messing with the Love Shack site were done? 

Since Bree Williamson (see problems #1 through 5) needs something to do besides purse her lips, part her lips and keep her eyes wide open while dressed in the latest fashions and issuing her declarations of independence in a breathy but Canadian Marilyn Monroe voice, and since TPTB are so obviously in love with her (looks, resemblance to original Jessica, Erin Torpey, but sexified), might as well give her the kind of DID story only a veteran like Erika Slezak could pull off – up until Nikki turned into a caricature to expedite Ben’s hasty exit. 

Who cares if Jessica never suffered the kind of mental, emotional and physical violations repeatedly the way most DID victims had? Who cares if Jessica’s portrayer couldn’t act out an alter if a Muppet took over as bad girl (but not a slut!) Tess? Who cares if Tess sounds and acts a lot like Jess lately, complete with eye rolls, lip pouts and impatient snapping? 

I go on about Jess/Tess, because I suspect she’s guilty of (besides bad DID) the Killing Club murders. But then again, it’s probably Nigel and Roxy. 

They’re not that important, right?  

*At the time I wrote this column, I had not yet seen the Friday, March 18th episode and missed the part where Daniel mutters that he’s framing Jennifer to keep from being found guilty himself. So yeah, it is Daniel/Theodore who did Paul in.


RE: “WUTHERING HEIGHTS IN PINE VALLEY,” AMC, week of March 14, 2005 . . . 

Misunderstood? Hmm. 

I think I understand both of them very well. I'm sorry but I'm not going to be cheering for Jonathan ever. He has been sleazy, slimy, creepy ALL ALONG. I've never liked or trusted him for one single second. Whether it is really Braden (which, if true, is a total cop-out by AMC to make the perpetrator be someone not on screen or on the show at all) or it is Jonathan with a split personality (which I also suspect but I'm not sure either), I have no interest at all in hoping he is redeemed or gets "therapy" instead of going to jail for everything he has done. The thing is I have to "like" a character before I can accept them being redeemed. I hate Jonathan and have from day one. 

I do agree that Pine Valley has a load of hypocrites in the town. But that doesn't make it okay for ANOTHER criminal to get away with it. No disrespect is intended towards Jeff Branson but he isn't Tony Geary or Roger Howarth. It took Todd years and years to pay for what he had done and he is still paying for it. As for Luke, I wasn't watching when the rape happened. If I had been, I would NEVER have wanted Luke and Laura together. I would NEVER want the victim to be paired with their victimizer, ever! 

As for Zach, well he is playing the martyr to the hilt waiting for the moment that the REAL killer will try to kill someone again and therefore he will be proven innocent and will be able to spit on everyone in the town. Yeah, he's some winner. So what, if he was ticked at Maria and Ethan. He should have told the truth, instead of being the jerk that he was and just confessing. He is letting the real killer just walk around with everyone believing that the real killer is behind bars. 

As for Maria, if Zach has told her he didn't do it she would have believed him 100%. She has believed everything he has told her since he came back. She has protected, defended him all along. She would have this time as well even if all the evidence said he did it. She would have believed him over EVERYONE in the town. 

IMO it's too bad Zach doesn't have a plane out of town forever. I'm just not into character destruction to try and prop up a new character. It just ticks me off and will make me hate the new character when I could have given them a chance. Why the ABC soaps just don't understand that less is more? When new characters come on they shouldn't be in our faces 24/7. They should slowly come on and allow us to get used to them instead of 24/7 and trying to force us to love them right away. It's a  turn-off every time for me. 

Sorry, didn't mean to be so long. LOL. AMC has just done the one thing that is the straw that breaks this viewer's back. The Carey Women Show was disgusting enough. The destruction of almost ALL characters to prop up these two lying tramps. The destruction of Edmund's character and Maria's to force Zach and Maria on us and expect us to just forget WHO Edmund and Maria really are just ticked me off. 

After Edmund's memorial, I will be signing off of AMC because of all of the above. If you got this far, thanks for reading. I’m really angry at AMC for what they have done and are doing. 

Barbara Stopinski


Oh, lady, you nailed it good with this critique! I am crazy to find out what will happen to both characters and going nuts with impatience to have that flat tire of a story with Babe and Jamie and JR over as soon as possible. It gets in the way most of the five days of the week.

Thorsten Kaye (Zach) is really the most subtle actor on the soaps, at least on ABC's soaps. His character was betrayed by writers' who took over OLTL when the original creator of Patrick Thornheart left the show. Port Charles had to make a vampire of him, but still, no matter how silly that story became his scene with Lucy, when he tried to tell her what had happened to him by silently showing her his fangs did not make me laugh as I normally would have, because he made his misery so pathetic, even with the funny teeth. His best scene on that show was one with his newborn son, and it earned him an Emmy nomination. I was hoping he'd get one for recent work on AMC, but at the same time I terribly much want Jeff Branson to win the Emmy and don't think he will. Pop-eyed Cameron is going to win, I think, for letting us see the whites of his eyes in nearly every scene he plays.   

I always wish the writers would do the more subtle thing, the thing that would make their stories more interesting, by not writing the simplistic bad guys out too soon. I've thought since I first saw him that Thorsten really was an actor born to play Heathcliff; you really hit it on the nail there. I can hear that husky voice praying over Cathy's lifeless body for God to let her haunt him. Zowie! 

Marilyn Durham