Did you hear that fan-girl squee?

Okay, so my first return was a little premature, here’s hoping this one sticks.

And it’s appropriate that I’m returning from a hiatus, because I am overflowing with excitement about another return. If you haven’t heard One Life to Live is coming back!

If you have heard about it, you no doubt wondered why you did not hear about it from me. The answer is this: I was too afraid it wouldn’t actually happen. I’ve been burned before. Prospect Park told us all they had saved OLTL and All My Children in July 2011, only to tell us it wasn’t happening in November. Now, to be fair, they never said they were cancelling it, they just said they were suspending production, didn’t think it was the right time, blah, blah, blah. I don’t think it was all their fault—ABC definitely played a few things underhanded that kinda screwed them—but a lot of fans, myself included, felt jilted.

So when rumors started leaking in December that they were back at work, I was skeptical. Other rumors indicated that their contracts would allow ownership of the soaps to revert back to ABC in January if nothing had been done on them, so I figured maybe they were doing just enough work to show they were still using the shows so that they didn’t lose them.

Then slowly, actors began announcing they’d signed on. I allowed myself to be a little more hopeful, because I really didn’t want to believe this company would be jerks enough to dangle employment over people’s heads just to check a box on a contract. Then studio spaces were rented. Then specific details on how long and how often the shows would be came out. Then it was announced they were going to air on Hulu. And slowly I began to realize it was probably happening.

But still I said nothing to you all (who I know were dying to know). Because I didn’t want to jinx things and I didn’t want to look like an idiot when things fell through. But… an official premiere date has been set, filming began on Monday. I’m finally ready to admit it’s happening.

One Life to Live is returning (and since it’s not going to be on network television, it’s apparently now with more f-bombs and naked time). I am a happy soap fan.

And ABC can suck it.

(PS. This now gives me an excuse for a Hulu prime membership which will also allow me to watch telenovelas till my heart’s content. In other news, I will never be finishing my dissertation.)

Drinking to Forget it’s Over

Somewhere along the way I developed the habit of inventing cocktails and desserts and naming them after fictional characters. I’ve made The Big Daddy Spencer (Psych), Aragorn brownies, Maddie Hayes ice cream, and a whole list of BSG inspired desserts which have previously been posted on this blog. I felt this tradition fitting to observe for the end of One Life to Live. To be honest, I have not test driven all of these. There’s only so much drinking a girl can do in a day or two.

The Rainbow’s End
1 oz vodka
1 oz white crème de cacao
3 oz orange peach mango juice (I would have just used orange juice, but this was what was in my fridge since it’s what was on sale this week)
drizzle of ginger syrup
splash of pomegranate syrup

Put the vodka, crème de cacao, juice, and ginger syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Pour in the pomegranate syrup which should sink to the bottom. Don’t mix. It should have a pretty gradiated color like a tequila sunrise, but a very different taste.

My thought process: The first theme song I remember for OLTL started with a lyric about “Here’s where you go when you can’t find the rainbow’s end”—that was the main inspiration. Ginger is soothing, much like this show that has been there for us through the years. Pomegranate: the forbidden fruit–what could be more soapy. Vodka is really just there to be booze, I’m not going to lie. I added the crème de cacao because my rough draft of this one tasted a little too tropical. The juice is there as a carrier and something to contrast with the color of the pomegranate. Read the rest of this entry »

Deepest Condolences, Soap Fans

With absolutely no joking or sarcasm, I offer my deepest condolences to my co-blogger and all the other One Life to Live fans.

I can’t even come close to claiming I’m a soap fan in the traditional sense.  Outside of vague memories of my Mom watching All My Children, and Kristy keeping me entertained with well reasoned and supported arguments as to why one Joey Buchanan was the best, and retelling highlights of plots, I am all but soap ignorant.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t see where ABC’s misguided assumptions about achieving a bottom line have created a cultural travesty.  To replace something that’s endured for over 40 years with, well, reality tv, is abominable.

Oh, I get the business reasons.  It’s cheaper, yadda yadda yadda.  Believe me, I know.  I also know that business jack-asses rarely know as much as they think they know and statistics are easily manipulated.  Dollars and cents wise it may be cheaper to go to a reality show with lower production costs, even if the audience shrinks–at least in the short run.  Long run?  I’ve got my doubts.  Soaps are another victim in the ranks of creative programming (and by creative, I mean requiring writing and acting creativity, not just editing).

Even if I didn’t doubt the accuracy of the business decision, I’d still hate the over all cultural impact.  For one thing, it’s hard not to see the downfall of One Life to Live and All My Children has a kind of insult to women.  We’re the overwhelming portion of the viewership for soaps and have been from the start. And before that?  We were a listener-ship when these types of works were on the radio. For many of the soap fans I know, they started watching because older female relatives watched.  Kristy acknowledges her memories of her Mom watching soaps.  My Aunt (a PhD scientist) watched occasionally because my Grandma watches.  Another friend of mine watched because it was part of her summer stays with her Grandma who has passed on.  A girl in law school talked about watching with her Mom and Aunt to learn English when they came to the U.S.  Take away a multi-generational point of connection for so many women, and it’s hard not to have your feminist hackles rise a bit.

Additionally, while I never really dove into the genre, I’ve always been able to respect the unique way a soap is driven.  From a writing perspective, I’m in bloody awe. When you think that one of these series entails generating written scripts for Every. Single. Weekday. For. Decades.  Even if you have multiple writers, you have got to tip your hat to that–after all, sitcoms have whole teams of writers, too and they’re sure as shit not that prolific.  These writer are juggling an ensemble cast and at this point, over 30 years of back-story.  Creatively, that’s just fuckin’ impressive.  And for the actors?  Amazing.  I’m not going to claim that all soap actors are great (ZOMG, I have seen some seriously painful scenes in my channel surfing times), but when you pause to consider that these people are memorizing and performing a different script every week day of every week, year in and year out?  I can’t memorize a 6 item grocery list.  It took honest and painful effort to get myself off-book when I was playing a teensy little roll in Julius Caesar (Kristy’s fault) with maybe 5 lines, let alone entire scenes.  These people are acting machines!  In high school I got sent to a summer nerd camp for humanities and  arts.  One of the girls attending for drama was telling me how she really wanted to go into soaps.  She liked the idea of getting to play one role, but having new material every day and not spending a lot of time on that material.  She memorized quickly and liked to play the scene and move on to something else, so the world of soaps seemed to fit like nothing else.  Until then, I’d not really thought of the unique work this kind of programming offered for actors.  Now what will fill that creative-style void?

And the real shit of it is that through Kristy’s tweets and re-tweets about the end of the series, I was more intrigued than I’ve ever been before (even more than when Kristy was telling me about how someone had a sassy black woman in their head–honestly, how can you not have your interest piqued by that?).  A little activity like that on the part of the damn network would probably have resulted in drawing in more viewers like me and–with only minimal cost to capitalize on the power of social media–tipped that scale to a point where reality TV would be way less of a bargain that it is alleged to be.

But they didn’t, and now it’s just a sad day for a large fandom.  I’m truly sorry.

A Few of My Favorite Things

On Friday a show I have watched on and off for two-thirds of my life will air its final episode.  I’m still having a hard time wrapping my brain around it.  I’m trying hard not to spoil my enjoyment of the last couple weeks by focusing on how it’s being replaced by a reality show designed to profit from women’s low self-esteems.  I’m trying not to think about the fact that it will almost certainly end in a cliff hanger because it was supposed to migrate to the internet until that all got fucked up.

Instead I’m focusing on why I’ve loved the show so much.  And since there’s no one here to commiserate with me in person, you gentle readers, shall have to listen to it.  Here, in no particular order are some of my favorite things OLTL has given me/us over the years:

  • Sassy black Mel. Okay, when I explain this one to you, you’re going to think, “That’s insane! Why is this on a list of good things.” You’ll just have to trust me, it was. It shouldn’t have been. It shouldn’t have worked, but bizarrely, it did. Back story: Sometime in the mid to late 90s Dorian, the grande diva of the show, was married to a man named Mel Hayes.  A wise cracking alcoholic he was a better match for Dorian than perhaps any of her other mates (she’s had a lot, it’s a soap opera). Well he died (maybe. I think it was one of those “we never found the body” soap deaths which can always be undone, except, of course, the show ends in five days). For the show’s 40th anniversary they decided to bring him back as Dorian’s conscience; he convinced her that even she wasn’t evil enough to let her arch-frenemy Viki die. Evidently the plot device worked so well, TPTB decided to continue it. Only the actor was unavailable or too expensive or something, so they did the only logical thing: Have late middle-aged, Irish American male Mel Hayes played by a sassy young black woman. And strangely enough it worked. It was awesome. (Until they ruined it, but we’re being positive here).
  • Shirtless David Fumero.  Yes, yes, it’s exploitative to have a man on the show just so he can take off his shirt regularly.  Deliciously exploitative.
  • For that matter, Detective Price in the sauna. I will maintain till the end that if they had started inserting one scene of Max Tapper shirtless each week, we probably could have saved the show.
  • Bo and Nora’s first wedding. Performed by Little Richard.
  • Bo and Nora’s second wedding.  Which included tomato juice baths, hair dying accidents and a touch of happily ever after.
  • Dorian’s clothes. When I am… more mature I’m going to turn Dorian Cramer Lord into my fashion icon.
  • Asa’s funeral. No, not the real one, though it was also awesome. I’m talking about when Asa faked his death in 2001 and all his ex-wives showed up to his funeral.  It also was full of heart and inside jokes. Blair saying she was a completely different person when she married Asa (it’s funny because she was: At the time she married Asa, Blair was Asian, by the time this funeral took place she was a blonde with a southern accent.) And Natalie barging in in a red dress declaring herself to be Asa’s real granddaughter.  That is also good soap.
  • A ret-conned history in which Bo Buchanan and Snoop Dog are friends from way back. Because it makes me happy.
  • The line “I was shooting blanks, just like Kevin Buchanan.”
  • The Killing Club Killer storyline.  The execution (poor word choice) wasn’t the greatest, but you have to love any time you have a serial killer story line where the villain turns out to be an evil literary agent. As if that wasn’t enough it gave us the beautifully soaptastic “I thought it was you!” scene between John and Natalie (after he thought she’d had her head shoved in a deep fat fryer. Seriously.) And it provided for the elimination of a bunch of obnoxious undergrads—which is sometimes a fantasy of mine. (That’s a joke, Big Brother)
  • Roxy’s Fraternity Row fantasy sequence.  I know at least one of you happened to see this, but those of you who didn’t, if you ever watched the show at all, you must find this on YouTube, because it was that awesome.  Full of inside jokes, but still generally funny enough you didn’t have to get them all.  And it took me from literally laughing out loud to kicking me hard in the shins and making me cry in the final moments. That’s good soap.

I could sit here all night and the list would keep growing.  But I have to teach in the morning.  If any of you have favorite moments, feel free to share in the comments.

I Have More Faith in Peanut Butter than Television These Days

A couple years back I wrote something for a different blogging site stating that for the first time in a long time I had hope for television.  It just so happened that year there were a lot of creative shows with great concepts or writing that had me excited to watch them on a weekly basis.  I thought great storytelling was gaining ground back from reality television and it was such a relief.

Well, gentle and not-so-gentle readers I have to admit something: I was wrong. That hope I had back then?  Fairly diminished.  I’m not saying hope is gone; I believe somehow or another, someday we have to hit rock bottom and at that point entertainment, in whatever form it takes, will start elevating again. But at this moment… it’s not a pretty picture.

Of the shows I blogged about back then, the only one that’s still on the air is How I Met Your Mother.  I’m not going to climb on the bandwagon with a lot of people on the internet and say that the show has jumped the shark.  I think it’s still good.  I look forward to watching it every week.  Neil Patrick Harris  is still one of the most brilliant comedic actors ever and the show continues to bring the funny while occasionally kicking me in the shins with a sad moment.  Here’s the problem: One of the things I like most about the show, the storytelling frame, has become a trap. I think the writers are afraid that the day Ted meets the mother of his children the show is over.  My advice to them?  It doesn’t have to be.  Come on, you really don’t think Ted has more stories to tell?  How he convinced her to go out with him.  How she convinced him to marry her.  How they decided to become parents.  I think it’s time we start telling at least one of these.

Now I must admit, for someone who says she’s losing hope in the genre, I watch a lot of television.  There are other shows I like.  There just aren’t a lot I love.  The rundown:

One Life to Live.  Okay, actually, OLTL is great.  Best it’s been in years.  I’m excited to watch it every day.  Why it’s making me lose hope?  Oh yeah, because it’s going off the air in a month.  To be replaced by yet another show telling women that if we lose weight and wear different clothes everything that’s wrong with our lives will disappear.  (And because Brian Frons has still not been fired.  Oh yes, I’m still bitter.)

General Hospital. At the moment this show is not just bad, it’s offensively bad, but it’s still in my DVR because I feel like I need to support the few remaining daytime dramas while I can.  (I’m not in the least concerned it will be around next year to suck)

Castle.  I like Castle.  But the only thing that separates it from hundreds of other procedurals is Nathan Fillion.  And as Richard Castle has become slightly more tortured in the past season, he’s lost a little of his energy.  I’m not saying the character shouldn’t evolve, I’m just saying… as a whole, the show is not nearly good enough to make me break my ABC boycott starting in January.

Ringer.  I really want to like this show.  It has actors I like and my old roommate’s names, but… it’s about one hectic week away from being taken off my DVR.  There’s a difference between building suspense and just not telling the story and with regards to the real Siobhan, I don’t think this show knows that.  Also… I like Sarah Michelle Gellar just fine, but she’s not doing enough to delineate her portrayals of the two sisters.

Glee.  Again it’s a like, but not as much as I want to kind of thing.  The weird thing is, it’s the closest depiction of high school as I actually experienced it that I’ve ever seen.  Yes, including the singing.  This show is good at bringing the funny, I’m just not invested emotionally in many of the characters.  I will be interested to see what happens when a lot of the cast “graduates” at the end of this year.  Can the pull off a Degrassi style slow transition?  I’m curious enough to stay tuned, but if I miss an episode, I don’t freak out.

Psych.  Okay, weirdly, if anything is giving me hope on television it’s this show.  Not that it’s that amazingly well done, but they’ve managed to take the procedural format (which as a general rule I dislike) and make me enjoy it.  They also continue to bring the funny.  But most impressively, they’ve let the characters and their relationships evolve (and let Shawn and Juliet get together) and it hasn’t ruined anything.  My only concern is the recent obsession with big name guest stars.  Some are great, but I feel like it indicates they don’t think the regular characters are enough to sell it, and they’re wrong.

Bones.  I dunno.  I like that Booth and Brennan are together and still have drama.  I like that Hodgins and Angela are together.  I just… feel like the show is becoming a little too formulaic in its episode style.  Way too many of them are defaulting to the Law and Order standby of “people doing random thing find gross body, they freak out, cut to our investigators.”  They’ve always used this, but it just feels like they’re using it more and more.  I still like it, but I’m not as excited about it as I once was.

Grimm.  My mother’s friends convinced me to give it a little longer trial.  I want to support fairy tale inspired shows it’s just… there’s nothing new about this show.  I stand by my initial assessment that it’s Angel with less funny and a less charismatic cast.  Honestly, there’s only one character who interests me at all and he’s our domesticated Big Bad Wolf.  Even the villains aren’t fun to hate.  They’re just… meh.  And at the end of the day, it’s just a procedural with a twist.  Which isn’t even a well executed twist.  Also… it’s a little rapey.

Fringe. I was really excited for this season to start.  And I’m excited for it to come back from hiatus.  I like a lot of things about this show—genuinely creative plots, characters I care about, good acting and dialogue, plus it brings the right amount of funny.  But I’m starting to have concerns that recent plot twists are kind of just JJ Abrams being weird because he can be, not because it pertains to the overall integrity of the story.

Once Upon a Time.  Okay, I figured out why I like this show.  Because I like when shows do alternate reality episodes, and essentially, this show is a giant alternate reality episode.  So it’s fun.  But again, I’m not invested.  I don’t care if Snow White gets her prince back.  I don’t care if we “bring back the happy endings.”  I enjoy watching it, but again, it’s not going to be worth violating my ABC boycott come January.

So yeah… it’s not that television is all bad.  It’s just… I’m not seeing things going in positively creative directions.  There are a lot of things I like—there just isn’t a lot I love.  And given I’m a broke graduate student it’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether that cable bill is actually worth it… Am I missing something, readers?  Is there great television out there somewhere I’m missing?

MTVMPB Designs Hell: Can’t Cancel This

Due to our hiatus, writing about other things, and complete oversight on my part, very little construction has taken place on our particular version of Hell. 

Tonight we are adding:  People who cancel television shows prematurely/for stupid reasons/at stupid times.

Before you think this is nothing but a veiled reference to the cancelation of One Life to Live while it was the only soap opera whose ratings had been steadily climbing over the past year let me explain:  This is absolutely a veiled reference to the cancelation of One Life to Live while it was the only soap opera whose ratings had been steadily climbing over the past year.  But it’s about more than that.  It’s about the people who put Firefly in a craptastic time slot and canceled it after half a season¹.  It’s about those who canceled Farscape when it was the highest rated show on its channel.  It’s about the assholes who canceled Veronica Mars (which I will admit had gone downhill) on a cliffhanger in order to bring us whatever crap it is that the CW brings us.  It’s about asshats who canceled Remember WENN because even though it had viewers it didn’t have the viewers they wanted it to have².

Oh yes, Brian Frons will have company in this layer of Hell. 

For their heinous acts against fandom I place these sinners in the seventh layer of Hell, where I am devising very fitting punishments for them.  They shall be strapped to uncomfortable chairs and forced to watch episodes of Two and a Half Men, Corner Gas, episodes of The X-Files featuring Agent Reyes, and the one bad episode of Battlestar Galactica (Yes, there was one though I think most of us choose to pretend it never happened) while Taylor Swift music plays and someone reads aloud the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  And if they keep putting crap on my television I will simply add it to their eternal torments³.  Because I feel it would be wrong to wish actual physical harm to any of these people, but for some reason I find no conflict in wishing an eternity of suffering upon them in the afterlife of my own little universe.

¹Cammy Footnote:  What happened to Firefly is one of the most heinous travesties of TV programming history.
²Cammy Footnote: SCREW YOU AMC!  No resolution to the Victor vs. Scubby debate.  Total cliffhanger.  AND NOT EVEN THE DECENCY TO RELEASE THE SHOW ON DVD.  FUCK YOU, FUCK YOUR CHANNEL and I AM STILL BOYCOTTING YOU MORE THAN 10 YEARS LATER!
³Cammy Footnote:  I’m thinking heads on pikes as a warning to the next 10 generations that some actions come at too high a price, or perhaps turning their bones into flutes for little children to play…..my apologies to JMS for bastardizing B5 there.  At least THAT didn’t get totally shit-canned.

Why MTV…MPB is breaking up with ABC

This post was originally going to be titled “When You Can’t Find the Rainbow’s End” and it was going to be a tribute/en memoriam to One Life to Live which, as was announced Thursday, will be going off the air in January.  I imagine that post will appear eventually.  But I’m not up to writing it yet.

For a while now being a OLTL fan has been a bit like having a family member or friend with a terminal illness; you know the end is coming, but you still hold out hope for a miracle.  After 43 years it seems the show is out of miracles.  I thought I would cry.  I still think I will eventually.  But I haven’t yet.  Wanna know why?

Because right now I’m too pissed off.

It’s not just because they canceled my show.  That makes me sad, but like I said, I knew it was a matter of time.  And I’m enough of a realist to know that television networks are businesses and they’re going to make their decisions based on money not emotional attachments.   What makes me mad is the way the whole thing has been handled.

Rumors of the impending cancellations have been really loud for the past several weeks (All My Children is going off the air in September).  According to what I’m hearing the decision to cancel AMC was made weeks ago while the final decision to cut OLTL was made last week.  The network knew about these decisions.  And yet, rather than responding to the rumors with the truth they threw out red herrings; AMC was getting a new, great head writer.   Roger Howarth (original Todd) would be returning to OLTL.  Granted, many fans were skeptical and saw these announcements as confirmation of the end rather than denial.  But that wasn’t how ABC tried to spin it.

Okay, fine, ABC wanted to control the story and announce when they were ready.  I think they should have done it sooner, but whatever.  I can handle their desire to issue the release in their own time.  Except they didn’t.  Instead they buried the news in a press release announcing the new shows which will be bumping the soaps out of their timeslots.  After four decades the alphabet network didn’t even think the ends of these shows deserved top billing in their own announcement.  Bastards.  Cat Hickland (former Lindsey, OLTL) tweeted that it was like your husband coming to you and saying he didn’t want to stay married, “But you’re going to love my new girlfriend.”  It’s actually more like your husband coming home one day and gushing about this new woman he’s in love with then saying, “By the way—obviously this means we’re over.”  Bastards.

And if I’m pissed about how the audience was told I’m even more pissed about how those who worked on the shows were told.  Robin Strasser who’s played Dorian on OLTL for the better part of four decades found out from a reporter; best I can tell she wasn’t at work the day the news broke so she didn’t get told with the rest of the cast.  I’ve heard the rest of the cast found out only shortly before the announcement was officially made.  I realize that the network was probably concerned that if they told the cast and crew someone would leak it before the official announcement.  What the fuck ever.  It was already being leaked all over the place; act like human beings for about twenty seconds, that’s all I ask.

But what’s really, really pissing me off is Brian Frons, head of ABC Daytime.  In the midst of talking up his new shows and how they’re exactly what the audience wants (more on those shows in a minute) he’s been cavalier.  He’s been making jokes about the cancellations.  Yes, Brian.  Hundreds of people just lost their jobs because of a decision you made.  That’s hysterical!  Imagine someone who ran any sort of manufacturing business announcing the closing of a major plant resulting in major layoffs and joking about it.  ABC needs to get this man away from the media stat.  He joked about preemptively joining the witness protection program.  Oh Brian, soap fans don’t want you dead.  They want you to live long enough to see your new shows fail and your network run into the ground by your decisions.  They want to see the day you find out from a reporter that you have lost your job.  And they want to laugh.

They may also want to saran wrap your car on a very hot day, but that’s another story.  (Please note:  It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter does not advocate vandalism of anyone’s property.  Not even the property of rat sucking asswipes like Brian Frons.)

Then there are the condescending comments from Mr. Frons.  There isn’t interest in the shows anymore.  But One Life to Live trended on Twitter worldwide all day Thursday and into the wee hours of Friday morning.  There isn’t an audience for soaps.  Coming on the heels of Univision announcing a 24 hour telenovela network, that sounds a bit idiotic.  I think the problem, Brian, is there is not an audience for your soaps.  Because you did everything possible to drive them into the ground.

Then he tells us that the new shows are exactly what his audience wants.  Let’s consider them briefly.  AMC will be replaced by The Chew.  No, I didn’t make that name up.  And strangely, the show is apparently not about tobacco, no matter what the name suggests.  It’s like The View but it’s all about food.  I love food, I even like a couple of the cast members, and I still think it’s the most idiotic idea for a knock off show since I found out Animal Planet had a Ghost Hunters knock off which was basically, “People who live in haunted houses and have pets.”  Well if that idea’s stupid (and the name downright revolting) OLTL’s replacement is downright offensive.  It will be The Revolution a show about health and lifestyle transformations by the same people who brought us The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover:  Weight loss Edition.  Translation:  It’s a weight loss show.  Each week will show one woman’s five month weight loss journey.  Translation:  they are replacing a long running show targeted at women with one that will prey on women’s insecurities and tell us everything that’s wrong with our bodies.  Gee Brian, I didn’t know you were such an advocate for eating disorders.  Why don’t you just call the show “Your friend Ana.”

You know, I think I’d be less mad if he’d just be upfront and say, “We realize these new shows won’t get great ratings, or make for good television, but they’ll be so cheap to produce we don’t care.”

And in one final asinine comment, when asked what message General Hospital fans should take from their show being the last ABC soap left, Brian said that as long as GH had good ratings it was safe.  Last week OLTL had better ratings than GH.  Translation:  GH cast should invest in current headshots.

In my day I’ve seen a lot of beloved shows canceled before their time, but I’ve never seen in handled this badly.  I have never in my life campaigned for anyone to be fired, but starting in January I will boycott all ABC shows until I hear that Brian Frons has lost his job.

Coffee with… Nathan Fillion

Would we drink coffee with Nathan Fillion?

Kristy: Um… you’re kidding right?  Is this even a question?  Of course, I would drink coffee with Nathan Fillion.  We’re talking about a man I’ve loved in three different television series.  Though I know as a geeky fangirl I’m almost required to love Malcolm Reynolds, Mr. Fillion will always be Joey Buchanan to me.  I have actually chosen to believe that Malcolm Reynolds IS Joey Buchanan.  I figure if Viki can have a whole city buried in her backyard, her son could captain a spaceship.  One of the things I love most about Mr. Fillion is that, unlike many actors who were given their start by soaps, he never tries the fact that he started on One Life to Live.  He’s told some amazingly touching stories about some of his costars.  Perhaps we can get more out of him?  On top of being talented and associated with several aspects of my fangirl identity, he also knows how to bring the funny when he’s not scripted.  So after I get done with any embarrassing fangirl squeeing, it’s possible we can also have an entertaining conversation (if I haven’t terrified him by that point).

Cammy: You betcha I’m gonna be there.  For one thing, I don’t think it’s possible that he won’t bring the funny.  I just can’t imagine it.  If it were just that he was funny as Mal, I’d write it off as the script thing, but he was hilarious as Mal, hilarious in Dr. Horrible, and he continues to make us snarf in Castle (I can’t speak to his bringing of the funny in One Life to Live since I don’t do soaps).  For the amount of hilarity he’s bestowed upon us already, we owe him a cup of coffee (or a beer) even if he doesn’t want to make with the jokes right then.  Plus, I have to help make sure Kristy doesn’t over-fan-girl-squee on the guy.  This is one of few people for whom I have real fear she might approach that scary place (really, she’s all about that Joey Buchanan thing).  And, as she so astutely pointed out, if she scares him, he can’t bring the funny, or be dragged into a conversation about why other people don’t capitalize more on the fact that they were in soaps.

Suspending Our Regular Program

Alright, if you’ve been paying attention to the rhythm of this blog, you know that when Friday is my day to post, I usually post a BSG list.  But this week there’s a wee problem.  We only have one list left and I seem to have misplaced it.  So until I find it or we reconstruct it and/or write more (though it might be time to stop beating that dead horse for a while) the BSG lists are on hiatus.

Instead we’re going to talk about a little issue I have.  Suspending disbelief.

Clearly I don’t have an overall problem with suspending disbelief.  I mean, I love Sci-Fi, fantasy and musicals.  And soap operas.  In general, I’m all over suspending disbelief.  I’m an incredibly uncritical viewer.  But there are moments that break me.  And not the ones you’d think.

For example, Stargate SG-1.  Magic portal that transports people to the other side of the universe?  This I will accept without blinking.  And anthropologist that looks like Daniel Jackson?  Okay, seriously?  I’m not sure I can buy that.  (And I’m not alone on this one.  When I pointed to the character and explained to faithful reader Mary that he was an anthropologist, she snorted and said, “No, he’s not.”)

Another example:  Lord of the Rings (the movie trilogy, I think the moment in question happened in The Two Towers)—the moment where Sam and Frodo fall down the hill outside the gates of Mordor and Sam gets stuck in the gravel.  Frodo throws his cloak over them and the soldier that comes over to investigate mistakes them for a rock.  There’s something about the camera work in this sequence that makes it impossible for me to believe the guard doesn’t see them.  Again, the whole “magic ring has the power to cover the earth in darkness” is totally believable in my brain.  But this moment?  Pulls me out of it, every time.

Sometimes my reactions aren’t even on base.  Take my soap opera of choice, One Life to Live.  We’re talking about a show where people come back from the dead with a fair amount of regularity.  Where the “good” characters go through a dozen marriages or so.  But when the show revealed that Jessica and Natalie Buchanan were twins but had different fathers I went, “Okay, OLTL, you’re really reaching here.”  Thing is?  It turns out it’s actually possible (the real world kind of possible) for twins to have different fathers.  My mother’s even seen it happen.

So anyway, long and the short of it is I don’t really understand why these moments jump out at me.  And yoink me out of my happy fictional world.  (Okay, I really do think in my second example camera work has something to do with it)  But I feel like it needs to be said.  For the children (so long as they aren’t hot anthropologists or half-sister twins).  I don’t think I’m the only one this happens to, but it seems to be different for everyone.  One of my old roommates always said the part about Lord of the Rings she couldn’t believe was the whole Frodo being willing to give up his life for the good of the world thing.  Clearly she and I are different.

Ode to Soaps

Since this blog is going to spend plenty of time discussing the great TV we love, I think it’s only fair that I acknowledge the bad TV I love. (I’m also going acknowledge right now that “great” and “bad” are extremely subjective terms, and that if I love them both, perhaps misleading. Don’t over think it—just go with it.) More specifically, I’m talking about Daytime Soap Operas.

Really? Yes, really. I LOVE soap operas. I have since I was a wee thing. My mother used to watch All My Children religiously back in the day and I used to watch with her. During summers when I was usually home alone for most of the day I would watch the whole ABC soap block. Which I suppose was ultimately what led to the strange deviation that One Life to Live, not All My Children, became my soap of choice. I’ve left and come back a couple times—tried to get clean. From about 1999-2004 I didn’t watch at all (it helps to leave the country). Then I moved in with someone who watched One Life to Live, and it was all over. I was hooked again. For a while I watched General Hospital too, but I still haven’t forgiven them for killing Georgie. Long story. Messy break up. Sometimes General Hospital still calls me drunk at 2am, but I keep telling it we should both see other people.

I’d call this a guilty pleasure, but the problem is I don’t really feel a lot of guilt about it. No, it’s not necessarily something I advertise all the time. I don’t sit in graduate classes and say, “You know, it’s interesting, because Dundes’s argument here really reminds me of this one time on One Life to Live…” (For the record, I think Alan Dundes could have had fun with soap operas.) But I don’t actively hide it. I don’t lie about it. But I do find that it bothers many of my more intellectual friends. Hell, it bothers a lot of my less than intellectual friends. So for the record, here’s just a few of the things I love about daytime soaps (list of things that drive me nuts about soaps to come at a later date):

1. Escapism. Okay, I’m a full time student in a PhD program. I’ve studied the great works of literature. I’ve taught the great works of literature. My “occupation” tends to be looking for deeper meanings in everything. So sometimes, I like to have the opportunity to turn my brain off and watch trash. It’s a survival technique.

2. Related: Lack of pretension. I’m sure I often come off as pretentious, but I really hate pretension in others. And I like that soaps have kind of embraced their own stereotypes. They don’t try to pass themselves off as more than they are. Let’s be honest, there are soap elements in every primetime show, no matter how critically acclaimed. But they try to pretend they’re all deep and whatnot. Whatever. Get over yourselves.

3. Possibly the only place on television where the men are consistently hotter than the women. It’s kind of the reverse of the sitcom formula of the overweight slovenly guy with the wife who looks like a supermodel. Granted, the women on soaps are still much hotter than I will ever be, but they tend towards being an achievable type of hot. The kind you look at and think: I don’t look like that, but I probably know people who do. The guys on the other hand… Okay, maybe gratuitous shots of David Fumero with his shirt off are exploitative. But given the much more widespread exploitation of women in the media, I’m willing to live with it. And drool while I live with it.

4. Ahead of their time? Okay, it might be successfully argued that soaps have lost this to some degree, but I think it’s worth acknowledging that daytime television dealt with issues like interracial relationships, abortion, and homosexuality at times when primetime wouldn’t touch them. Give props where they are due.

5. I’m a sucker for a long, rambling, complicated story arc. And no one does that better than soaps because no one has the time to do it better than soaps. What they lack in continuity, these story arcs sometimes make up for in sheer complexity. I mean, I’ve explained the Summers family tree to Cammy (X-Men reference for the nongeeks) and I might have broken her brain in the process. But I wouldn’t even attempt to explain the Buchanan or the Lord family trees. Not unless there were copious amounts of alcohol involved.

So there you have it. Confessions of a soap fan. I know everyone’s already writing the eulogy of daytime drama, and I’m not swearing they’re wrong. But I intend to enjoy the ride as long as I can.