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"Reflections by Jill" - A Weekly Commentary on OLTL
September 7, 2001
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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the characters that have been and are currently being written off of OLTL and it seems to me that in many cases, the writers have given up on the characters because they’re leaving and don’t properly end their storylines.  All of the characters that have been written off in the past year, except for one that I can think of, have been dismissed without so much as an ounce of loyalty to their character’s personality, beliefs or relationships.  Even some of the characters that remain are not being written in a way that is true to their character’s history and some of them need to get back to what their character is really all about.  In my humble opinion, we have many cases nowadays on our show of LAZY WRITING!

I’m not quite sure who should bear the bulk of the blame here…whether it should be the writers or the “higher ups”, but in many cases it seems that when someone is being written off the show, it almost doesn’t matter how they are written out.  Any reason or excuse seems to suffice and it bothers me because I feel it’s not only an insult to that character and the actor who portrays the character, but it also diminishes that character’s relationships with others on the show…not to mention the fact that it insults our intelligence.  This became most evident to me in the last couple of weeks with the news of Darlene Vogel’s dismissal from the show.  So, although I know a lot of people are not fans of Melanie, I did really like her and am very disappointed in the way they have handled her.  Wait, I take that back…I am shocked at the way they have handled her.  So first, let’s talk about…

Melanie – Here is a woman who came on the show as Lindsay’s sister, which was interesting in itself, because I for one wanted to see just how much heredity could affect one family…LOL.  Melanie was certainly the antithesis of Lindsay.  Aside from her first encounter with Bo at the Cherryvale Inn, which many considered a mistake (but Bo is still so very cute and irresistible), Melanie was brought onto the show as an accomplished doctor and a woman of principles.  Her scenes with Viki during the breast cancer story were wonderful and aside from being a wimp in Lindsay’s presence in the beginning, I liked the person she was.  SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO HER????  As soon as it was decided that she was no longer necessary to the show, she became Alien Melanie.  This was the woman who stood up to Creepy Colin and divorced him and now she’s cowering to Bo in search of a wedding band???  They’ve made her a clone of Lindsay…scheming and plotting to get Bo to the altar…what is that about?  Why are they writing her this way?  I can think of at least three ways to write her out with dignity.  She’s supposed to be a very accomplished and respected plastic surgeon.  Why couldn’t they have her go on a project with doctors overseas to some third world country where children who have no access to medical care need plastic surgery to give them normal lives?  That would have been totally believable.  She’s always been a very dedicated and selfless person, so why degrade the character by turning her into a whimpering, desperate woman?  It’s as if the writers said…ok…she’s going…let’s just find a silly way to get her out of Bo’s hair.  I am very disappointed to see how they have ruined her character.  She is loved and respected by everyone she knows (except maybe her dear sister) and is this going to be her swan song?  I’m not sure I even want to see how she finally leaves the show.

Now, I’m really not too sorry to see the following character leave the show, but his exit was also quite sloppily written….so what about..…

Will – Like him or not, Will did have a big part in the show for quite a while and was involved with a lot of major characters.  I understand his need to leave, to start over and not have to see Jessica all the time, but the writers spent all summer doing nothing with him, and all of a sudden one day he announces he’s leaving town and his plane is leaving in an hour.  What was that????  He did have a decent goodbye with Jessica, and I did shed a tiny tear when he said goodbye to Lindsay, but his goodbye with Sam was almost non-existent.  He has been through a lot with his father over the past few years and just having him go with his dad’s blessing was ridiculous.  He was also very close to his Uncle Ben and according to Ben, they obviously had some kind of off-screen goodbye…maybe Will drove by Llanfair and waved to Ben on his way to the airport.  Couldn’t they have had some kind of family dinner or gathering to send Will off?  He didn’t know where he was going to live or what he was going to do.  He was just flying to Los Angeles in an hour and would “decide when he got there” what he was going to do.  Yes, that makes a lot of sense.  What about his business that was falling apart thanks to Colin?  Once again, lazy writing.  He was leaving the show, so they just wrote him out with very little or no thought.

I was not happy at all with the way the writers disposed of…

Kelly -  Here is a character that literally grew up on the show.  The writers had plenty of time to come up with a believable way to write Kelly out.  It would have been more believable if she went on that trip to Africa for Andrew as a reporter.  All of a sudden she was picking up everything to move to Texas with Kevin.  Have we ever heard that Kevin would be staying in Texas?  Have we ever heard of a newspaper that The Banner owns in Texas?  And why was Viki nowhere to be seen in any of this storyline about Kelly leaving and Kevin running a Banner-owned paper in Texas?  Kelly’s goodbyes with Jessica and Blair were very touching, I must say, but I felt it was unrealistic for Kelly to leave Blair the way she did.  After all, Kelly is all Blair has and she left her in quite the mess…pregnant and in the clutches of Max, Todd and Gabrielle.  Not that Blair deserves anything from Kelly after she did her wrong so many times, but Kelly admittedly loves Blair because they are family…and then she takes off, telling Blair that Texas is not that far away….right!  I think Kelly deserved a better send-off than running to be with Kevin, who all of a sudden needs to be with his son.

On to another Buchanan castaway….

Joey - Here is yet another example of lazy write-outs.  We all know that Joey was devastated by his brother moving in on his wife, and like Will, he felt the need to leave town.  So it would make sense that Joey is in London, getting through every day the best he can.  I thought it was strange when Viki went over to London to visit him and she came back saying he was so happy and that he was jet setting all over Europe with new friends.  I suppose as soon as he left Llanview, nobody was supposed to care about Joey’s feelings any more.  LOL...I guess that was the writers’ way of telling us not to expect him back in Llanview any time soon.  I think it would be nice every once in a while for Jess or Viki to read an email or a letter from Joey or Kevin...I mean, they’re not dead and we want them back.  I won’t even talk about poor Sophia again, who is still in rehab in Minnesota and not getting any better at last word.  I hear that Charissa is going over to The Guiding Light and I wish her much success over there. Our PTB are going to be regretting her dismissal, if they don’t already.

I can only wonder how they are going to write John Sykes out of the picture.  As soon as it was decided that John Bolger’s “days were numbered”, Sykes just kind of dropped off the radar screen altogether.  He and Rae had such a nice relationship that was growing all the time and all of a sudden they were at odds over a tape of Jenn’s session with Rae.  That was ridiculous and to have that relationship fall apart at the drop of a hat was nonsense.  And then there was that little heated moment between John and Rae in the police locker room.  I guess we were supposed to be satisfied with that…NOT ME!   Now, I hear that John will be transferred to San Francisco, but will he get more than a 10-second goodbye with Rae...not to mention the other citizens of Llanview he’s been involved with?  I doubt it, because much more important characters than John have had their departures just glossed over and I don’t see him being any different.

I find it ironic that the one character that was the least intrinsic to anyone’s storyline got the best send-off, and that was....

Roseanne - Roseanne remained involved in a steady storyline until the day she left the show, silly as the voodoo storyline was.  Her leaving town made perfect sense.  She had burned all her bridges and needed a new start somewhere else.  Her goodbyes with Cristian and Antonio were heartfelt and her departure allowed the character to finally come full circle, realize the mistakes she had made in her life, and finally put closure to that part of her life that she so needed to leave behind.  The writers gave Roseanne a chance to reflect on what she was and what she had done and allowed her to grow up and move on.

Every character that left the show deserved to be given a sendoff like Roseanne was given....and none of them got one.  It seemed strange to me that a character like Roseanne received a very well thought out departure, and others who were much more enmeshed in storylines and relationships, like Joey, Kevin, Kelly, Sophia and John got the bum’s rush.

Now on to the folks who are currently staying in Llanview.  I wonder if the writers are paying attention to the history of some of the characters.  While people like Lindsay, Asa, Gabby and Todd are running true to form as always, a couple of Llanviewites have morphed into people I don’t think we recognize sometimes.  The first one that comes to mind is…

Sam “Put Your Dukes Up” Rappaport – Hey, we already have the beloved Harry the Hook – now we have Sam the Slugger.  I love Sam and I really like Larry Lau, but I have to laugh.  When did calm, sensitive, levelheaded Sam become the Sugar Ray Leonard of Llanview?  He has already popped Troy twice and if not for that fire escape outside Troy’s loft, they would still be scraping Troy off the cement outside The Break Bar.  If Troy is going to continue living there, RJ would be wise to install a boxing ring and charge admission.  After all, his list of profitable businesses has been greatly diminished lately.

I realize that Sam is having a tough time dealing with his feelings for Nora and waiting for her to come back to him, but poor Sam is over the edge.  I could understand him popping Troy at the reading of Colin’s will.  After all, everyone thought Troy was Colin, but come on Sam – you used to be the sensible brother.  I don’t really even want to talk about Brother Ben encouraging you to break into Troy’s place….LOL…especially since Ben’s not that good at avoiding getting caught himself.  Ben, did you think Allison was never coming back to her room?  How far did you think the front door to St. Ann’s was when she went to walk Larry out?  Shame on you Ben!!!  You and your brother need to fine-tune your skills a bit.  But Sam, it sure didn’t take you long to make the decision to “use your keys.”  To be honest, the writers would have been truer to Sam’s character if Ben took the keys and checked out Troy’s place himself…as much as it distresses me to say that.  Or maybe they should have sent Harry…after all, he does have his own set of lock picks.  Who needs keys?

Between Sam burying Colin’s body, breaking and entering and assaulting Troy, I have to ask, “Who are you Sam?”  And writers, if you keep this up, you’re going to have to send Sam to the clink.  Oh, what am I saying?  Sam probably knows he’s safe from imprisonment if Lindsay hasn’t even gone to jail yet.  He’s safe.

We also need to talk about what the writers are doing with….

Jessica – Wouldn’t it make sense if someone who came from two intelligent parents like Viki and Clint got smarter and wiser with age instead of going in the opposite direction?  You would think so, wouldn’t you?  People…Someone….give Jessica the “smart stick.”  She needs it badly.  It makes my ears hurt to listen to her these days.  How many times is she going to fall for the lame excuses Seth and Natalie are handing her.  As Viki said, Jessie has been through a lot in her young life…and I say it’s enough that she should have her guard up a little more.  The writers sure have her acting like a dumb little girl.

Oh and writers, while you’re smartening up Jessie (which I know you will…hint, hint), I’m putting in my request that she NOT be someone else’s child.  Don’t take us down that road….PLEASE!

OK…now to be fair…the writers have done some good things lately.  They’ve given the smart stick to Ben…FINALLY…which I’m glad to see since Viki isn’t quite sure yet what to think of Allison.  I am happy to see that after the “Blind Ben” fiasco when Gina kept Viki in the basement, he’s finally got his senses in working order and is onto Allison.  How happy was I to see him put aside his hatred for Asa and go right to him for information in order to protect Viki.  And how funny was he pretending to be an outpatient at St. Ann’s?  It was a bit scary how well he fell into pretending to be a mental patient…LOL.  Hey, if that isn't true love, I don’t know what is.  And what about Jen?  There is definitely more than one smart stick on the set this week.  I was thrilled to see her realize that her dear mom was the culprit in ruining her happiness.  As hard as it must be for her to turn on her mother, she showed a lot of maturity and guts this week…Go Jen!!!

One more thing…the writing for Todd and Viki is wonderful.  When those two get together and start telling each other to shut up…I can’t contain myself.  And truthfully, the vulnerability that Viki brings out in Todd is quite adorable.  I know, I know…there, I said it.  And I’m not kissing up to you Todd fans…when he shows that side of himself, I love watching him.  He thrives on Viki caring about him and I love that she knows it and just accepts it.

My one fear is that the exodus of characters we love on OLTL will continue, in the current crusade to bring back the stars of yesteryear.  TPTB and the writers need to concentrate more on what’s going on now and not so much on bringing back what’s already been done.  There is potential for some great storylines, utilizing the current cast and it is my sincere hope that these wonderful actors get to strut their stuff and are not pushed to the back burner for a trip down memory lane. If they need to write in people from the past, I hope they do it well…meaning that I hope they sensibly bring them together with the great people we have left.  I trust that the writers can do the show justice…now let them prove me right!

See ya next week…..


CJS888 (Carolyn) writes: “Hi Jill, I just finished reading your latest column and I'm scratching my head wondering what your point is? You wrote an awful long column and said nothing - except that you have quite a bit of animosity yourself for Clint Ritchie and his fans. What started out as a lecture on how we should all be nicer to each other on the Internet, became nothing more than a forum for you to DO the very thing you were supposed to be speaking out against – attacking fans of a certain character/actor. And unlike on a MB, they don't get a chance to tell their side. I don't think it's fair of you to use your forum to take shots at FANS of the show. I wasn't aware that was the purpose of your column. I thought it was a commentary on OLTL.  You are obviously upset that Clint fans came to 'your' Ben/Viki board and you used your column on About.com to take them to task for daring to invade your inner sanctum.  Are we to believe that the B/V fans have never said an unkind word on the C/V board (if such a place exists)?  Before you attack me, I am NOT a Clint/Viki fan or a Ben/Viki fan or a Clint or Viki or Ben fan. I have never visited any of their MBs, let alone posted there, so I am not defending myself or my friends. I really couldn't care less about the whole lot of them, but I was disturbed by the spirit of your column. I understand that it is yours to write as you please, but don't you think a commentary on the SHOW would be more worthwhile than using your bully pulpit to ridicule posters on some mystery MB that you frequent? If you can't handle those types of posts, you need to find a more private medium than the WWW to express your adoration for Mark Derwin and all things Ben/Viki or you need to be more tolerant of the fact that not
everyone agrees with your opinions.  This wasn't a 'why can't we all be nice' column, it was a cheap shot at the Clint fans who dared to invade your turf. Get over it already! I know it must be hard to come up with topics on a weekly basis, but maybe you could confine your 'commentary' to the show and its actors and refrain from taking shots at the fans who don't like the same things you like.”

Dear Carolyn:  I’m sorry I left you scratching your head last week.  Most of the dozens of fans who wrote to me completely understood the point of my article and as a matter of fact, you are completely correct about my article being a commentary on OLTL.  That’s exactly what it is, which means I get the privilege of editorializing about anything I choose.  Believe me, in no way is it difficult to come up with topics to write about and sorry, but you don’t get to tell me what to confine my commentary to.  If you had thoroughly read my article last week, you would have come across the part where I did lay some of the blame for the controversy on the Ben and Viki fans.  If it’s my feeling that their reactions are often provoked, and that is my opinion, then of course you are entitled to disagree.  And by the way, the Ben and Viki boards are not inner sanctums.  Everyone is welcome to come and post, as did the Clint fan that I highlighted in my article, who is more than welcome there at any time.  I’m sorry you don’t choose to identify yourself as a Clint fan.  I’m proud of my “adoration for Mark Derwin” as you put it.  He brightens my day.  I hope you find something to brighten yours.

Sheree writes:  Dear Jill, I love your column and read it every week. There are several subjects I'd like to comment on and ask your opinion on. What do you think about Dorian's living room? Too red? Aren't you tired of Blair being Todd and Max's doormat? What happened to the strong, don't mess with me woman? Get her back to work!  Ben&Viki. Yes, I like them, but give Ben his medical license back! There is no legal reason to keep it from him.”

Dear Sheree:  Funny you should ask…I commented a while back on Dorian’s living room…to me it looks like the reception room in a bordello…can’t stand it…yes, too red…or whatever color that is.  Yes, I am tired of Blair being a doormat.  She should stand up for herself and kick them both in the rear end like the tough woman she is.  Then let them try to win her over.  And oh yes, I definitely want Ben to have his medical license back.  I don’t know if it will ever happen, but don’t you think someone needs to run that new clinic that Troy just donated?  Ben would be the perfect candidate.

Arianne writes: “Your article about courtesy on the internet was excellent.  The only people who will object to it are those vocal few who use the Internet to vent negativity -- when in truth their negativity comes from within themselves.  It has nothing to do with the persons or shows they attack.” 

Dear Arianne:  Perfectly stated…and I have nothing to add…you said it all and I thank you.

Mortisha writes: “I read your commentary about common decency on the internet.  Maybe it is my generation, I am 25 and numb to a lot of things, but some of the posts you referenced as being "trash" and "offensive", just do not strike me as such.  They are not saying nice things about the characters, but is that a prerequisite for posting? These are message boards for nice things you want to say."  I have always felt that this was a way for people to voice their opinions about their shows.  If people think a character is awful and they want to say "Ben makes me sick.  He gets on my nerves; I wish they would kill him off.” that is their opinion and are entitled to it.   As for criticizing the actor, what is wrong with someone saying that they think Derwin is the worst actor they have ever seen and they can't stand to watch him?  I don't agree, but that's their opinion.  Part of being an actor is getting up in front of people, exposing yourself to their critique.  Yes, it may hurt an actor to hear that about himself/herself, but they say the truth hurts. Maybe an actor is doing a terrible job.  Sometimes you need to hear that to improve.  The person will hurt, but if they are meant for that work, they will pick themselves up, take it maybe with a grain of salt and work hard.  Sometimes things need to be said.  No, you do not want to wish real people dead and injured. In short, I feel perhaps your "indecency/trash brush" was just a bit too broad.” 

Dear Mortisha:  I find it a bit sad that you are 25 and consider yourself numb to things and find it acceptable for people to say nasty things about the actors personally.  I often wonder what kind of training gives people the right to offer the kind of harsh criticism that I read on the Net.  Do you really believe that actors benefit by harsh criticism, pick themselves up and correct their craft according to what a bunch of people who know nothing about acting have to say?  I find that hysterically funny.  And by the way, your generation is not so many eons behind my generation and I would hope that parents today are still teaching their kids what my parents taught me…It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.

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