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« Shocker In Port Charles: Self Awareness! | Main | Ho-Ho-Horrible »

December 19, 2011

The Greatest Hour Of My Life

Oh, am I overstating the case? Well, if this isn't your first visit, you know I'm a tad prone to hyperbole when I get excited. But really, I'm still floating around the room and dancing little jigs about today's episode (and you're lucky you're not here because my jigs do not look pretty).

Today was the special OLTL episode that doubled as a full Fraternity Row episode, and there's really nothing to snark on because the show did such a lovely job snarking on itself. And there's nothing to really pick apart and critique because it was a stand-alone episode that doesn't impact the actual plot of One Life to Live. But it would be criminal to let the episode fly by without giving it at least a little of its due. I'm tempted to start going crazy making screencaps, but there simply isn't enough time since I'd be doing practically every frame today's show. I will try to be economical.

There was nothing that really didn't work for me today, so let's start with some of the standouts in terms of actors:

  • David A. Gregory. Yes, you read that right. The actor behind the character I've spent the most virtual space whining about over the past year was a major standout. All three of the Ford boys' portrayers were hilarious and clearly having a great time (like everyone else) as the "Mazda" brothers (tee-hee), but Gregory really impressed -- dude knows how to parody what he was brought on this show to do. Comedy is his friend, and I was psyched to see it.

Fordmazda

  • Erika Slezak. Shocker, I know. As German maid Gilda and her tougher alter ego Matilda, Slezak masterfully overplayed both roles (with an impeccably overdone accent for both). Not that there was ever any question, but she proved today that she remains Queen in any genre.

Gilda

  • Melissa Archer and Michael Easton. I name them together because they were very much a package deal as possible siblings and lovers Brandon and Briana today, and they played off each other perfectly. Archer as Briana, the Chairman of the Deltas, did a classic soap-acting lampoon full of exaggerated pauses and pointlessly sultry deliveries (my favorite: "These kids just need a little ....guidance," with heaving bosom and the word "guidance" being delivered ridiculously late and breathless in a way that made it sound like porn) while Easton played Brandon as the total antithesis of his type as the uber-preppy "Leader Emeritus" of the Alpha House. He was never without his tennis racket and they were in the background of half the scenes with Brandon giving tennis pointers and Briana absolutely captivated.

Brianabrandon

(How hot was Melissa Archer in that dress? See, wardrobe?! Hot!)

  • Roger Howarth: I know. Shocker again. Howarth went in a slightly different direction from everyone else. He, too, parodied cheesy soap acting, but he parodied it as an actor who was doing it particularly horribly. And it was fantastic. Not only could he not effectively deliver one single line naturally, he also kept having trouble hitting his mark and understanding where to look or how to fill those scene-ending "holds," and he was caught "looking" just about every time a scene started. Priceless, and obviously it was helped along by that darling outfit and the hair. Oh, the hair! They went full mullet, y'all. Dash Dunning is all business in the front, all party in the back.

Dashdunning1

 

I almost feel guilty not just listing every actor in the episode because they were all so wonderful and clearly over the moon to be doing what they were doing, but I have to exhibit a little restraint here. So now let's get into some of the greatest moments:

  • The DNA test jokes. There were, of course, no fewer than three necessary DNA tests during the course of the episode, and M. Povich, the lab guy (played by Nick Choksi/Vimal), naturally almost mixed up all the samples about thirty times. And the tests came back in minutes! And of course they came back with little red ribbons on them, which he handed out like awards.
  • The constant shirtlessness motif. OLTL poked good fun at itself for its over-reliance on shirtless men, not only by requiring each person showing up for a DNA test to remove their shirts for absolutely no reason (which everyone thought was "gratuitous"), but also by making fun of their guiltiest shirtless pleasure, the Fords. Each Mazda brother stopped in a hallway and arbitrarily removed his shirt and struck a pose before entering a room. Really, the only one missing from the shirtlessness-overkill gag was Cutter. It led to some happy moments.

  FRPDripsoffdashshirt

Dashface
(That face slayed me.)

Lorrainemazdas

  • Pretty much every single thing about their send-up of the Two Todds story. From relentlessly mocking the vague "undisclosed location" set, to taking an appropriate jab at that "it" that Todd's captors kept blathering on about for months when we knew full well no one had yet decided what "it" was, to the inspired casting of Shaun in the "prisoner twin" role (complete with the trademark Todd Manning scar!) and Destiny in the "Irene" role, to the acknowledged absurdity of the motivation for the retconned backstory in the first place (Destiny: "I never wanted this but I was single mother forced to raise a child all alone! What choice did I have but to join a rogue branch of the C.I.A.?"), to the bit about how unlikely it is that these two could be twins (everyone ignoring that Dash was white and the "other" Dash was black, and instead opting to focus on the height and eye color differences which, let's face it, we all picked apart mercilessly!), to the focus on the utter implausibility ("she's an evil genius, anything is possible!").

Undisclosed location

Shaunasscar


Destiny

  • The fun with OLTL's wildly inaccurate portrayal of D.I.D. (Jessica's character Roxie: "It's an unfortunate non-hereditary ailment I... inherited from my mother."), including the silly "shifts" of alters brought on in seconds by a headache and indicated by an exaggerated vocal change or a new prop (Jessica's character trying to change alters by grabbing M. Povich's conveniently-located spectacles and "Moon" and "Jane" preventing it by simply stopping her from putting the glasses on was effing priceless).

Glasses2

  • Even the way they came back from commercials was a delight, with Jerry verDorn adorably delivering progressive variations on the "And now... even more Fraternity Row!" voiceover.
  • The deliberately badly-staged soapy slap between Dani's character "Jane" and Jessica's character was hysterical.

And of course, it wasn't to last. Roxy woke up from her wonderful dream, the lights were low and the colors were muted, and David was there to bring her back into reality.

David: Hey listen, I know how much that show meant to you but... it's over. Let's get outta here.

And the two of them took one last look at the set and then walked down that long, long corridor, saying goodbye to Roxy's beloved soap for what she believes to be the final time.

Setwalk1

Setwalk2

Setwalk3

Setwalk4

And just at the very last moment, they grabbed each other's hand to walk out hand-in-hand because David and Roxy knew how much each other's hearts were breaking. Or, indulge me here, quite possibly because Tuc Watkins and Ilene Kristen knew how much each other's hearts were breaking.

Setwalk5

Setwalk6

Or maybe it's because Tuc Watkins and Ilene Kristen knew that my heart was breaking?!

Oof.

What a gift. It wasn't just a big, fat thank-you card to the viewers, it was a big thank-you card to the cast and the writers and the crew and the directors and the art department and everyone else. They broke down the literal fourth wall for a moment and, in doing so, broke down the figurative one just a little bit, too, letting us know they know we're here and it matters -- love every storyline or hate every storyline or somewhere in between, they know we're here. I can't think of a better word for it than "sweet."

And because I'm getting maudlin, I'm bringing the mood back up with this final image of Peter Bartlett as Fraternity Row's Nigella!

Nigella

Fabulous.

Thank you, Afternoon Television Program!

So I know I didn't even begin to touch on everything. What did I miss? What were your favorite moments?

Comments

It seems some people could find offense in the way the sun comes up or the smell of the rose.

In this case, in particular, any offense seen in yesterdays's show is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

Yesterday's episode had nothing to do with soap fans so I don't get how it insulted us. It made fun of soaps, not fans.

I really, really LOVED yesterday, it was a riot. It's something pretty unique to OLTL (I think? Certainly among the ABC soaps!) to be able to laugh at yourself this way. It's something I'm really, truly going to miss. :(

And what an AMAZING Christmas present to have RH shirtless and tatted up running around like that! LOL. He's in better shape that the "Mazda" (ha!) brothers, and may be double some of their ages. I loved him looking at the camera like he was waiting a second too long for someone to cue "Action!" I can't even with the mullet...Between this and the Trading Places special episode years ago, RH certainly is never...boring...when he's on OL but not playing Todd for a day!

And Sean with the scar just about killed me. Destiny was awesome!

Blair looked like (a really hot) Carmen Sandiego to me, LOL. I liked TW's accent. I almost fell over when Nigella showed up, and Viki and Clint were real hoots!

The walk away at the end was incredibly poignant. Someone mentioned that they sort of/kind of wish this was somehow the end, and I know what you mean. (In a way, I felt that Friday's episode was like the "Manning closing episode" we might have gotten if OLTL were ending things the way AMC did their last week.) It, of course, can't be THE ending because of the wonderfully campy ridiculousness of it all, but in a way, that ridiculousness so captures a certain spirit of OLTL, and the ending was so touching that emotionally it was very appropriate and satisfying as the show comes to an end.

I know how screwed up everything was as the show wound down shooting and production, so who knows what the actual end will be. But for this and some other recent episodes? I can only give kudos to TPTB.

Hey y'all! Just reminding that we totally encourage lively discussions and disagreements in the comments, but please make sure your disagreements aren't framed in a way that comes off as a personal insult to another commenter.

Kumbaya, y'all!

Also, one who lost his talent at GOOF and has never recovered it can only be mediocre.

Shakespeare can and should be taken lightly.

Oh give it a rest. We get it. You didn't like it. Move on.

Why should I?

I'm of the opinion that people should enjoy what they can, so if you liked it, that's great. That is the benefit of different perspectives.

I also have the right to speak my mind and be offended. I can be as ridiculous as I want about it should I choose.

Christmas came a few days early. PHENOMENAL episode. With the weight of cancellation on their minds, the cast, crew, etc. rose to the task and created a hilarious, self-deprecating, and touching hour of television. Why does it have to end??

I don't have much to add to what other posters have already said but I loved today's episode. I admit I was prepared to hate it and to be offended and see a "put down" to the fans. Instead, I was treated to a real Valentine. The writers of FR made fun of themselves and soaps but in a loving way. They were on a fine line between funny and offensive and IMO they were 100% funny and fun and we were all in on the joke. I was LMAO right up to the very last but when David and Roxy walked hand in hand through the dark, empty studio, I realized how sad I was and how sad the actors, crew, writers et al must be. We were united in that and I must say, after today, once again WHY oh why is OLTL cancelled? One of the best TV shows on the air-daytime or primetime. Now tomorrow when the show is SSDD I'll be right back to griping.

LOVED LOVED LOVED it!!!! I've had a pretty crappy few days and this episode did the trick!

Blair looked freaking AMAZING! in that trench, fedora, and boots!

Loved FL's Betty Boop persona!

Loved RH's gratuitousness. Seriously, who knew he was packing like THAT? I make jokes, but, damn. I'll need Blair to get some of that soon, for real. I've been a good girl, Santa. Make it happen!

Loved Des and Shaun, and the play on "IT" and not even remembering (or knowing) what "IT" is!

The end broke me, though. Seeing IK and TW walking hand in hand through the studio and the tears in IK's eyes, I was done. That was one hour of television that made me laugh from beginning to end, and one more reason why I will miss this show and the actors involved. Great column as always, Louise.

Once the show established that Roxy is the biggest fan FR has ever had, the parody episode had to revolve around her. None of the actors were playing the parts they usually play. It was Roxy's dream...or was it. It wasn't supposed to move story-lines;it was supposed to entertain and delight. And with this viewer, it definitely achieved that goal.

Actors had fun, writers had fun and I had fun. When I realize that this show is going to be replaced by yet another self-help show, I can appreciate even more the love letter SHOW delivered yesterday.

I adored this episode and I'm never going to erase it from my DVR.

Blue.. I think the lighten up comment came from a place of, "Why ya gotta rain on our parade?" Clearly most of the readers here LOVED the episode and it feels slightly insulting (to me anyway)for you to post that it was in any way offensive to the fans or poorly acted by any one of the most wonderful ensemble casts on a soap. OLTL staff have gone above and beyond to let fans know just how much they respect and care about us and this was a huge example of that. Just my opinion.

I'm gonna watch Tea and Blair strip down Todd over and over and over..

YES! PLEASE lighten up! ...for a mmunite it was CAMPY fun.... you can tell the actors LOVED it, they definetly got the point across.. it was ROXY's fantasy dream.

Wasn't it being poorly acted the whole point of the episode itself?? Just saying! Once again I LOVED IT.

If Tea, Blair or Natalie had been the protagonist of this parody of a soap story, it would have made no sense. There has been no mention from either Blair or Tea that they even watch FR. Natalie is too consumed with her own obsession with being miserable to even notice that Roxy is heartbroken over losing her "stories." So, again, making Roxy the symbol of all of us devoted soap viewers was pure brilliance , IMO. Roxy's dream is my dream...save this soap.

I'm not sure why anyone would think that OLTL is making fun of its fans. We soap opera fans buy the products during the commercials, soap magazines, and attend various fan events which means they need us to stay on the air! Why would anyone kick or spit on their fans?

Me thinks someone is taking themselves waaay too seriously.

Yesterday's show was meant to be FUN. And it was, with a capital F.

There's enough time for gloom and doom and persecution complexes on January 16th.

It was the most hilarious soap i've ever seen. Made my day. So disappointed that the end is truly near. The talented cast, the clever writing...nothing will replace it.
(and I will never watch the chew or the fitness show after it) OLTL did more than a noisy cooking show with too many talkative cooks could do...OLTL fed my spirit.

I enjoyed every minute of it. they are the best actors. I wish nothing but the best for all of them in the future. I have watched this show since I was a young girl. As i am typing I am crying, That last scene will remain with me forever with Tuc & Ilene walking out of the empty studio. Also thank you for such outstanding writing on Oltl We share the same last name. It is now my maiden name Van Etten May the whole cast have a blessed Christmas & New year.

I was looking forward to the episode, but it completely sucked. The writing was tired and the joke of having the actors play really bad soap actors making fun of OLTL storylines didn't seem like a love letter to fans.

It made Roxy look like a stupid person who's obsessed with a lame form of entertainment that deserves to be forgotten.

So thanks for that, you tired hack Ron Carlivati.

Roxy was having a dream, though. It's not as if we were watching an episode of the show she's trying to save. I don't think we were meant to take it as a comment on the show she (and every other character in town, even the "smart" ones) loves.

Personally, I loved every minute. Nigel in drag alone was worth the hour. This was a wonderfully entertaining hour and one of the few currently produced comedy pieces that have made me laugh. Thank you, Ron Carlivati and the oh so talented cast. Truly enjoyed it.

Tea yelling "I have a gun!" in the middle of everyone fighting at the end. Classic. Shaun and Destiny's kung fu fighting. Gold. Nigellas big reveal. Priceless.

I haven't watched this ep yet, but now I really can't wait too!
:)

Also...are you a "Supernatural" fan? Becauseif you are I totally saw what you did there...

I have gone on record as saying I wasn't thrilled with the Frat Row storyline and making Roxy the poster girl for soap fans. The first few episodes featuring the story I could take or leave; HOWEVER, I loved this episode. The show was making fun of itself and thanking the fans for sticking with it even when the writers pushed us a bit or asked for a lot of faith. I also think it was a great thank you to the wonderful actors for having to sell, at times, some real shit, imho. And it showed some of the stigma they probably have to deal with being soap actors. They are so much more talented than they really get credit for. I was prepared to not watch this episode, but the fabulous episode Friday and that ending just made me salivate for Monday's show and it didn't disappoint. I've always appreciated that OLTL did some really great special episodes and I'm glad we got one last well written and well acted one for the road.

And I just want to say WORD to RealGHfan4now's entire comment ;)

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