Busted to Blissful ~ July 2007 ~ OLTL and AMC

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One Life to Live Scores Prom Night Disaster, All My Children Knows How Females Bond

Brandon Buddy, Kristen Alderson, Cole and Starr, OLTLBusted ~

OLTL’S Prom Night: The Musical

On Valentine’s Day, One Life to Live aired a cheesy stand alone show focused on characters’ fairy tale fantasies.  For some unknown reason, the show recently resorted to using gimmicks again to feature its teenage ensemble.  Unfortunately, instead of being contained in a single episode, the carnage that was “Prom Night the Musical” spanned throughout four hours.

The prom centric episodes would have been bad enough on their own, but combining them into musical numbers was the worst move the show has made since deciding to kill off the beloved character of Asa.  Kristen Alderson (Starr) can sing, but even she couldn’t rescue her treacly duets with Brandon Buddy (Cole) who couldn’t sing his way out of a paper bag if his life depended on it.  I had to mute the volume every time he began to warble.

OLTL’s insistence on creating a showcase for teens who can’t sing, and who (with the exception of Starr and Cole) aren’t connected to our favorite characters in any way, wasn’t even their worst offense.  A musical is supposed to feature enjoyable, catchy music, which OLTL clearly overlooked.  Not a single song of the eleven original numbers was memorable for the right reasons.  Most contained lyrics so awful they could have been penned by a four-year-old.  Some illustrious examples include: “You put the M in misery;” “Your style is so unique, you’re a freak;” and my personal favorite, “You think you’re hot but you’re not.”  Did someone actually get paid to write this stuff?

Not only were the songs terrible, but the costumes were awful too.  Normally, a prom theme would give a show’s costume designer a chance to shine, but OLTL failed this test as well.  The characters are supposed to be 16 and 17-year-old girls.  Why all the exposed midriffs and sequined gowns?  This wasn’t the Miss America pageant, and not a single girl was dressed appropriately for her age.  Even the character of Langston, who was the only girl to forgo the long heavy beading of the other girls’ dresses, looked ridiculous in her corset top and petticoat skirt.  This is not the 1980’s.  At least she stood out though, as every other dress must have been created by one designer because they were all practically the same - lots of beading and sheer material covering the stomach.  I haven’t seen any dresses in magazines or on the red carpet that remotely resemble these creations.  Maybe that was the point, but the dresses should at least flatter the girls, and not age them by 15 years.

The only redeeming moment in the entire debacle came when Blair serenaded her daughter by singing a ballad called “My Little Star.”  It worked because Kassie DePaiva (Blair) has a lovely voice, and because of the childhood pictures of Alderson that flashed across the screen.  This moment was all too brief, and then it was back to teens singing about “missing your touch.”

You know it’s a bad musical when real life Broadway performer, Kathy Brier (Marcie), is relegated to such tasks as stuffing the prom king and queen ballot box in between badgering teenage misfits about their chemistry.

The next time OLTL decides to do a musical episode, I will think twice about watching, unless they can utilize actors who have real singing talent in a plausible scenario that moves along character development or storyline.  All we got out of Prom Night: the Musical was over exposure to tone-deaf teens.

Alicia Minshew, Kendall, AMCBlissful ~

AMC’S Female Bonding

For an example on how to create a stand alone show that works, look no further than the recent Fourth of July episode of All My Children.  The entire hour featured just six main characters with cameos from two others.

The concept revolved around Kendall’s desire to force the women who work at Fusion to get along better, so she designed a “Kumbaya, let’s come together day” for her five cohorts.  This setup provided the opportunity for the fearless Fusion females to unleash their trademark sarcasm, wit and humor.  Kendall’s master plan came complete with an instructional video with subtitles such as “Team Tuning,” “Clear Your Space, Clear Your Minds,” and “Let me Lead the Way.”

In following the video’s various instructions, some classic moments unfolded.  While the characters were meditating, viewers were allowed to eavesdrop on their interior monologues.  Each woman’s private thoughts shared a window into her character’s mindset to different degrees.  Di musing about a pedicure, and Amanda’s argument with herself about being attracted to JR and his money, provided levity.  Annie’s fantasies about a Greenlee-free world, and Greenlee pining for Annie’s husband Ryan, illuminated their never ending conflict.  Kendall and Babe’s thoughts about their children brought some necessary tenderness and humanity to the scene.

Another moment of pure genius occurred during the “Personal Exploration” video segment, which instructed the women to reveal secret fantasies from their childhood to each other.  While Di predictably started things off light with a story about an unrequited crush, things soon turned heavy.  Amanda confessed her desire for a happy pill for her mentally unstable mother, only to be followed by Kendall wishing “My mother wasn’t a teenager when she had me, and my father wasn’t a rapist.”  Annie tried to make light of the moment by declaring her childhood “almost perfect,” and wryly commenting, “I can’t compete with that other stuff.”

The hour flew by as one amusing line and situation was followed by another.  When Greenlee and Annie literally went for each other’s throats, there was nothing funnier than seeing the glee in Amanda’s face as she yelled, “Grab her hair, grab her earring.”  Di, Babe and Amanda taking secret swigs from a flask of alcohol was also priceless.

A lot of credit should go to the writers for creating a believable situation in which these women could try and bond together and let their inner freak flag fly.  Credit must also be given to the actresses.  Comedy is much harder to play than drama, and each actress shined.  From Alicia Minshew (Kendall) deftly trying to rein in her rowdy co-workers, to Kelli Giddish (Di) and Alexa Havins’ (Babe) subtle wisecracks, to Melissa Claire Egan’s (Annie) silent rage and Chrishell Stause’s (Amanda) delightful comedic touch, every actress had her moment in the spotlight.  Even newcomer Sabine Singh (NuGreenlee), held her own as Greenlee progressed from quiet seething to outright hostility.  The cameos by the usually obnoxious characters of Colby and Ava didn’t even put a damper on the festivities.

This hour was truly female bonding at its best -- humor, jealousy, frustration, friendship, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, love and compassion all on display at the same time.  What more could a soap fan want?


Lesleyann CokerLesleyann Coker is the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry.  She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.