BUSTED: OLTL SLIGHTS TINA AND MISUSES MARTY
One Life to Live had a major coup on its hands this summer when it brought back not one but two fan favorites. Andrea Evans who plays Tina Lord Roberts, and Susan Haskell who plays Marty Saybrook, are arguably two of the show’s most popular actresses. However, OLTL has done them both a disservice by squandering their talents on misconceived storylines.
The return of Evans - who had been off the OLTL canvas for 18 years – was especially anticipated by fans. The actress has spent the last nine years honing her comedic chops on Passions playing the spoiled Rebecca. Her immediate return did not disappoint, as she brought her flair for comedy to the equally spoiled Tina. Her scenes with Tina’s little dog, David Vickers, were especially priceless, and in the hands of a lesser pro could have ended up cringe-worthy at best.
Ever since those first appearances when she was on the run in Llanview, Tina’s storyline – and airtime – have both gone downhill. Instead of re-establishing Tina’s ties with her family and friends in town, she was instantly whisked off to the fictitious country of Mendorra and isolated in a ridiculous plot about stolen jewels and stolen identities.
The less said about the whole Mendorra fiasco and the show’s attempt to revisit its own history, the better. Now that Tina is back in Llanview again, she needs something more to do than talk to a dog and fret about a daughter she hardly knows.
Evans couldn’t help the fact that Erika Slezak (Vikki) went on vacation at the same time she returned to the show. Yet the characters, who are sisters after all, merited more than a brief reunion. If Vikki can’t be onscreen, why not at least show Tina having a one way phone call where she voiced her concerns about the strange behavior of Vikki’s daughter, Jessica?
Instead, Tina realized Jessica has morphed into her alter ego Tess, and has allowed herself to be blackmailed by her unstable niece. This is unfair to the character of Tina and the fans who love her, because the Tina we know would never allow herself to cower in fear – let alone help Tess imprison her sister Natalie. It’s painful to watch Tina acquiesce to Tess’ every demand, all in the name of protecting her dog or her daughter. The old Tina would have found a way to turn the tables on Tess and help Natalie escape.
There is also no escape for Haskell’s character, Marty. She is being simultaneously wooed and brainwashed by Todd, who just happened to have raped her in college. I realize the writers have shoved down our throat the little detail that Marty has amnesia, and that she is grateful to Todd for helping save her life. This doesn’t negate the insult to longtime viewers who don’t have amnesia when it comes to their sordid history. Are viewers really supposed to believe when Todd told Marty about her rape (conveniently omitting details of his participation) that it didn’t trigger anything within her? It certainly triggered something for me – it made me change the channel. This plot violates Marty all over again, especially because she’s on the verge of falling in love with Todd. It’s just plain creepy and wrong, not to mention inappropriate.
Both Haskell (who returned after an 11 year absence) and Evans deserve better than mindless drivel. Evans is worthy of more screen time than she has recently received. She needs her own juicy storyline to sink her teeth into. Haskell should have a storyline that doesn’t make fans want to change the channel or vomit - or both.
BLISSFUL: CHLOE IS KATE ON Y&R
The revelation the character of Chloe Mitchell is really Kate Valentine, Chancellor maid Esther’s daughter, was a brilliant plot twist. It’s even more genius since Chloe/Kate is pregnant with the Chancellor heir. Or so she claims.
This secret has given the long underused Kate Linder (Esther) a chance to shine in tender scenes with her long lost daughter. Linder and Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe/Kate) have excellent chemistry and work well together. Linder was heartbreaking portraying Esther’s hurt when she realized her daughter is ashamed of her. Hendrickson was equally touching in Chloe/Kate’s plea that Esther didn’t have to be a maid and could do more with her life.
Their scenes lent pathos and believability to an issue which is rarely touched upon in soaps – the wealthy and their employed help. Usually when the help is mentioned, it’s played for laughs or as a plot device to give a kid a nanny to explain their onscreen absence. Hopefully, there are more upcoming scenes between Linder and Hendrickson exploring this topic, as well as their mother/daughter relationship.
Mother issues aside, the character of Chloe/Kate has a lot on her plate. Hendrickson (best known for playing Maggie on AMC) has turned the previously one dimensional Chloe into a complex force to be reckoned with. Chloe single handedly destroyed the show’s sexiest relationship, between Cane (the sexy Daniel Goddard) and Lily (the gorgeous Christel Khalil).
When Chloe discovered she was pregnant, she tricked Cane into thinking he slept with her during a drunken one night stand, hence the impending birth of the “Chancellor” heir. Beside the fact this makes Cane’s mother, Jill (the divine Jess Walton), and her nemesis, Esther, both grandmothers to the same child, the opportunity for dysfunction is multifaceted. Jill’s other son, Billy, (a perfect recast in Billy J. Miller) has returned to town and shares a secret past with Chloe, so one might suspect he could really be Chloe’s baby daddy. Not to mention Billy is now making eyes at his brother’s ex, Lily. The potential for classic soap opera abounds.
Y&R has taken its new characters and tied them to beloved favorites in a way that makes us care about them. We care about Chloe and Cane and Billy because our beloved Jill and Katherine and Lily do. It’s a simple soap formula which yields satisfying results. If more soaps followed this prescription when bringing in newbies, the ratings might not be in such decline throughout the genre.
Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com. She is also the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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