One Life To Live
The story so far: After spending the greater part of the year watching Eli 'Bennett Thompson' Clarke terrorize half of Llanview, the show seems to finally be moving into new, more interesting territory. Clint seems to be plotting against everyone who's ever wronged him, manipulating Matthew into a mini-Asa, romancing humble and beautiful Inez, kidnapping David and ruining Dorian's life. Elsewhere, the teens have gone to college, Tea's still alive and being nursed back to health by Greg, and Todd is once again feuding with Ross.
What works: We're finally onto the next, hopefully less redundant chapter in the Eli Clarke saga and for that I'm grateful. Hopefully the town will find out that Tea is alive soon so the story can finally end. The 'veteran' set finally seems to have a real story, with Clint coming back with a vengeance and Kim Zimmer returning to the show to tussle with Viki and Dorian. Tea being alive is genuinely suspenseful, giving her inevitable return some great emotional weight.
What needs work: While 2009 saw the introduction of several new characters, they were for the most part connected to the canvas in dynamic and interesting ways. This year, on the other hand, has seen the introduction of a host of characters that are not only not connected to the rest of the canvas in any interesting or meaningful way, but we've also seen the exits of extremely likable and interesting characters. The beginning of this year started with so much promise; Kyle and Oliver, Kim, and Schuyler had fascinating and compelling stories and yet were all written off by April (Amanda Setton left on her accord but the role could have been recast). The show has tonally shifted from heartfelt and emotional to too-cool and (I use this term loosely) hip, with the introduction of the Ford/Salinger family, unrealistically headed by Inez, played by the talented but too-young Jessica Leccia. Jessica and Natalie have a shockingly trite paternity story brewing, while Christian and Layla have withered immensely from their promising romance last year thanks to the departures of costars Brett Claywell and Scott Evans and an atrocious and tasteless attempt at reuniting Chris with a brain damaged Jessica, who thought she was still in high school. Lastly, smarmy, slight Billy Warlock is totally miscast as Ross Rayburn, formerly a big, muscular hunk with anger issues played with much charisma by Michael Lowry.
Suggestions: Reign in the Fords, bring back the warmth and pathos the show has been lacking since the birth of Sierra Rose, and bring back the great payoffs the show has done so adeptly since Ron Carlivati began his tenure in 2007. Doom and gloom is okay, so long that the end result is the beauty and elegance this show was once known for.