So it’s been about two weeks now since OLTL went off the air and it’s given me enough time to reflect. I didn’t think I would do a On The Brain feature on this but I said to myself this is a piece of history that is now gone and had to speak on the matter since it played such a huge impact on my life. I know some folks might be reading and saying Lee soap? Yes indeed, One Life To Live played a huge part on the man I am today and I’m very sad that the show is off the air. Let me elaborate further…

See I can remember growing up as a kid how it was always hard finding neighborhood kids to play with because they all wanted to play with other kids and usually I was always being a bad little boy and getting a lot of time outs so I mostly stayed indoors as result. Usually when my timeout was over I’d get to do as I please and run around the house, play with my toy cars while my mom would begin preparing dinner so it could be ready for my dad by the 5pm newscast. As she was getting the early start on dinner I would notice her take breaks and sit on the sofa with a bag of mixed butter flavored popcorn & sour cream & onion chips made from UTZ, and a nice big cup of Coca Cola and sit in front of the TV watching One Life To Live. “MaDear what you watching” I’d ask and she’d say you’re too young to understand it, go draw me something nice. I would but I was always curious what she was watching. I could remember hearing the theme song come and how catchy it was and wanted to watch it with her. Sometimes I’d peak around the corner trying to watch but she always knew and would yell at me and I’d giggle while running for cover somewhere. She would really get embarrassed and be yelling when I would sneak in and watch a hot steamy make out scene and ask what they were doing. “When you’re older you’ll understand”, she said and so I let it be.

                                                           Heading West

It wasn’t until we moved to California back in 1991 did I really get my introduction into the stories otherwise known as soaps as my Aunt Patty was a huge, huge, huge fan! She followed them all religiously every day and would get upset when she would miss an episode. I can remember Aunt Patty giving me my first crash 101 coarse into the soaps as one day I was bored and lonely cause I couldn’t find any kids to play basketball with and she said well come watch TV with me. I sat next to her and we drank homemade lemonade, cookies and chips, and sandwiches and would watch All My Children, One Life To Live, General Hospital, Young & The Restless, and Guiding Light. All of them were good soaps but I grew quite fond of OLTL. I wasn’t sure why but the characters on that show to me seemed more real and very likeable. I tried to watch as much as I could with my Aunt Patty but stopped watching with her when I became popular in the neighborhood and had friends to play with and my 1st girlfriend but more on that later.

                                             Introduction To The Fraternity

I remember when my mom and I moved to the Washington, D.C area in 1992-93 and how bad the neighborhood was we were lived in at the time. I dreaded going out as every time we would watch the news someone was always getting shot. If someone wasn’t getting shot then they were getting arrested for selling drugs. All I would do is go to school and come straight home to do my homework and watch TV and play video games. How I loved going to school because it gave me something fun to do as it was pretty boring at home. Summers always proved the most difficult as I didn’t have school and couldn’t find anything to do around the house. It was during this time I really started paying attention to OLTL. See there was a particular storyline that had me hooked and not miss an episode. This storyline involved a certain actor whom later it would turn out I would admire for many years and do a lot of my drawings based off of his appearance. This now infamous storyline involved a young girl who went to a party and got pretty intoxicated and as result passed out on a sofa. Three college students who were at the party soon noticed her in the current state she was in and decided they were going to take advantage of her by taking turns sexually assaulting her. The victim was Marty Saybrooke played by the talented Susan Haskell and the actor who lead the other football players into assaulting her was no other than Roger Howarth playing the devious Todd Manning. The way this man commanded the scene when the cameras were on him was just superb. I had to stop whatever I was doing and see what he was going to say or do. It was because of this talented actor I learned a lot as his portrayal of this character showed the ugly side to life. For me it was my true exposure to everything dark that was happening in the world head on, smacked right in my face.

                                                                Good And Bad

When summer was over I always dreaded going back to school because it would mean I didn’t get to see my stories but I came up with a clever plan. I talked my mom into recording a weeks’ worth of episodes for me and when the weekend would come we would watch them together. Soon I had my mom hooked right back into the show again as she didn’t watch it for a while. “Who’s that guy with the long pretty hair” she asked. “That’s Todd Manning, he’s pure evil, you’ll learn about him real fast”, I’d say. My mom hated Todd’s guts and wanted him to burn you know where big time. For me he seemed like this dark, bad rebel who was going to do what he wanted to do, when he wanted to and there wasn’t anyone he was going to let stand in his way. I could relate to that to a certain extent but at the same time couldn’t do half the despicable things he was doing. It was through Howarth’s portrayal that had me liking the other actors he worked alongside as well. The scarlet lawyer Nora Gannon, who was passionate to throw the book at those who broke the law. The honest, hardworking, play it by the book Bo Buchanan played brilliantly by Robert S. Woods who always got his man or woman. He reminded me a lot like Al Pacino’s portrayal of Serpico as he was just an honest cop who wanted to serve his people and the community and wasn’t going to let himself or his other officers be corrupted. Of course my most favorite of all was someone who I looked at as a 2nd mom and grandmother all rolled into one and that was Victoria Lord played by the very lovely Erika Slezak. For me these actors, the characters that they played were just so spot on good and just enjoyable, loveable to watch. For me not watching OLTL was like missing out on saying hello and spending time with my extended family.

                                                                   No Means No

A lot of things I had to learn on my own when I started becoming a young man like dealing with sex, drugs, alcohol, my education. I had so many questions but received very little answers as it was hard catching up with my mom because she was always working hard to provide for us and so I would be left to my own devices. Luckily I had my extended family of OLTL who were able to answer a lot of the questions I had at the time. Need to know the right things to say to a girl? Watch OLTL. Need to know why it’s a bad idea to get a young girl pregnant when you both are teens? Watch OLTL. Want to know why drinking and driving is bad? Watch OLTL. Why is drugs bad? Just watch OLTL! I mean you name the scenario and 9 out of 10 OLTL has it covered and that’s what I really liked about the show. They dealt with real issues and it was executed brilliantly by people who felt much attached to those characters and could relate to those scenarios. In a way OLTL was a parent, friend, shoulder to lean on for the times when I needed one. It’s amazing though how attached one gets to a show especially when you have your favorite set of actors that you love to watch on a regular basis an how sad it can get when your favorite actor goes away especially when there’s a huge gap that’s very noticeable. For me I was pretty heartbroken once Roger Howarth left the show in 1998. I understood the reasons why he left and I had always thought that with his looks and his talent he deserved to go onto the big screen. Sad that Hollywood didn’t really share those same sentiments. When he left the show I actually said to myself what’s the point in watching?

                                                      Anything Else On TV?

What’s the point in watching? Well the show is like family you bonehead I would say to myself and so I’d keep watching. The storylines at that time just seemed so bland, not really creative. It was like someone sucked all the wind out of them. During the time that Howarth was gone I ended up focusing more on my drawing and painting. Couple years go by and my skills are getting really good to the point I start to draw my own regular comic book series. My main character was named Jake and I always felt that if a live action movie was made it would be Howarth I would want to play him as I couldn’t see anyone else. There was one issue I did where I decided that Jake was going to lose his long hair and so I cut it short just barely touching his shoulders. I can remember being bored one afternoon and turning on OLTL just to see what was and low and behold there was Roger Howarth back as Todd Manning with Jake’s new haircut! What are the odds?! I began watching the show faithfully again until his departure in 2000. Once again the storylines seemed bland and didn’t really go anywhere and I found myself asking the following…What else is on? I actually ended up following Roger on over to As The World Turns but he just seemed out of place over there. I couldn’t really get into that show and just left soaps along for many years.

 

                                                                  Two Todds?
Spring of 2011 I’m surfing online and I begin to hear the rumblings. Howarth rumored to return to OLTL to resume his role as Todd Manning. I’m saying to myself really? Then this is good news I thought and to get ready for his return I start watching again. I see this guy who apparently has been playing Todd Manning since 2003 named Trevor St John. Like many fans I didn’t like him and I wanted my original Todd back. It’s like drinking Pepsi for so long and one day you’re looking for it at your local store and you find Clear Pepsi. Oh, it’s the same great taste! Try it, you’ll love it! Yeah that didn’t turn out to well did it as that was pulled and discontinued real quick. I felt the same way about Trevor St. John’s portrayal of Todd Manning but in time I fell in love as he brought a very fresh, unique approach. He made that role his and he did it extremely well. Though many will always debate on who is the better Todd Manning I’d like to look at it from this perspective, comparing the two versions of Todd Manning is asking whose Interpretation of Joker is better. Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson? Both actors’ portrayals are very good for its respected era and approach. Neither one is bad as they are both equal and what one portrayal may not have the other has and vice versa. Like many I was very heartbroken when Trevor St. John exited the show and felt that there could have been more storylines but at the same time said myself man they must really trust and love Howarth. I also said to myself okay Howarth now you’ve got your character, your job back so run with it and don’t let go and as always Howarth never disappoints. Sometimes I missed the Todd I watched in the early 90s but then again who wants to watch a character that doesn’t age and adapt to the times? For a character to remain the same for many years can become stale and thus have lots of the viewer’s lose interest. I loved the whole man trying to seek redemption for his past sins and be a better man. To me that shows a sense of maturity and admitting that it’s time for change, it’s time to grow up. Once again another life lesson learned from my extended family. Way to go Todd Manning!

                                                               End Of An Era?

Cancelled!!! All My Children??? Well, that show kind of was dragging on and kind of sucked anyway I said to myself when I found out the news. I was sad for the actors and staff as they were now out of work but said well at least we’ve still got good old OLTL and GH. Then I begin to hear the rumblings that OLTL is getting the axe next despite its ratings gain. I’m thinking to myself wait a minute this can’t be right. Why punish a show that’s been bringing in great ratings out of the three on ABC when it should be the weakest ones that should go? Enter Prospect Park who came to the scene like a white knight on a beautiful horse to save the day. They acquired the rights to both OLTL and ALL My Children and promised that the shows would continue its legacy online. That didn’t turn out to be the case as they soon backed down on the idea of making AMC transition to online episodes and instead focused all its attention on OLTL. This is good I thought to myself as they can really just focus on one show and make it a real juggernaut and then later perhaps focus on AMC once the revenue starts coming in regularly. Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day as my family and I got done eating dinner. “What you want to watch baby” was what my girlfriend said and I said well we’ve got OLTL on DVR, lets watch the 2 weeks’ worth of episodes and off we went to watch. Like usual I’m surfing the web getting ideas on what to write next as we’re watching the show and I see the following: OLTL officially cancelled as Prospect Park decided they weren’t going to be bringing OLTL online after months of negotiations, trying to acquire talent and so forth. I thought to myself if this isn’t a screw job then I don’t know what is as it smelled funny. To find out that the actors and staff found out the same way I did by reading it online and/or receiving an email, and to not even get a phone call? To me this was just downright unprofessional and disrespectful as it was playing finically with the livelihood of many that were depending on the work. To me this company didn’t really do all it could to do research first before making such a huge commitment. I know the economy is rough for a lot of corporations but there’s no excuse when you do all these negotiations and you find out 2 months before you tape your final show that you’re out of work. Many people have said why not put them on Soap net? Well that’s because Soap net is becoming a new network aimed towards 4 year olds with educational shows. Kind of sad when you think about the networks that could have saved them. OWN comes to mind, Lifetime, AMC, WWE Network since Vince McMahon is looking for reality based shows. Doesn’t get any real than good soaps Vinnie Mac!

                                               Where Do We Go From Here?

I wasn’t ready I said to myself. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to a show that had made such an impact on my life. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my old friends and my new friends. Was it really goodbye or was it more like see you down the road? Either way I got under the covers with my bowl of chicken soup and a grilled cheese sandwich as I came down with a nasty cold and grabbed my remote and was ready to watch the final episode of OLTL. I kicked it off by watching The View special on OLTL which was okay but would have been cooler if I had been there in person. I had requested tickets a month in advance but they must have lost my request. Envy I was at the end of the show as guest that were in attendance got a really nice 11×18 photo of the entire cast. Only 2200 floating around it turned out would go on sale later that afternoon but later became sold out. Well at least I’ve got my final episode I thought and so I turned it on ready to say see you down the road to my extended family. If there was ever a way to end a series that is how you end it’s run…On top and on a high note! There was no disappointment from this end as all the storylines tied up very beautifully with the exception of one. Holy #### I yelled when I saw the very last scene and said to myself it can’t end like this. I was ready to hire an artist and come up with an original storyline on how I’d like for the series to truly end and hope that if it was really good I could get Agnes Nixon’s blessings and just release it to the public for free but luckily certain OLTL characters are going to be going to General Hospital. Already I can hear the GH fans saying hey this is going to be overkill and this is going to hurt the GH cast and where’s the loyalty? On the contrary folks, this isn’t overkill and its called ratings. Make the right amount of ratings and the executives and corporate like you and give you whatever you need to keep producing the same numbers. Keep struggling and eventually you’re going to get pulled. Is it a risky move bringing OLTL actors to GH to reprise their roles when GH’s future is in doubt? Yes it is a risky move but it’s worth the risk because if it means many jobs can be saved and besides who said this was permanent? Personally I would like to see proper closure for these certain characters as I feel they deserve it and then have them ride into the sunset. That’s all because if it extends further than that then it’s really taking a gamble when ABC executives aren’t sure about what to do with the show. But General Hospital is for another discussion. It was sad seeing my favorite show end but I was happy that I was able to see my friends one more time in those roles doing what they do best which is entertain. As the Def Leopard song goes you don’t ever have to say goodbye and I’ll never say goodbye but instead say see you all down the road and thanks for all the great memories of daytime TV.

Oh and by the way I did get my poster and OLTL tribute magazine that’ll be hanging up soon in my study. Thanks Monique!