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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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


(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.



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.


(That face slayed me.)


  • 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



  • 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).


  • 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.





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.



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


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!



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?


I haven't seen the episode yet and now I can't wait!

I know I won't be disappointed.

Monday was my birthday and the OLTL cast gave me a surprise birthday gift!
There was so much fun on this show and it was obvious the actors were having a ball. It was contagious. Shenell E really impressed me as the evil lady--she has improved SO much.
I imagine there hasn't been a lot of joy going on backstage since the show was canceled so this parody was a perfect way for them all to blow off a little steam. When this show gets rolling on humor it is a joy! However, I hope they do not submit this episode for their Emmy show because taken out of context of the show it wouldn't be understood. Much as I laughed and cried (yes, literally, at the long walk ending) over this show, I feel the best single episode was the Vicker Man premier...that's their Emmy show and they MUST win. No other soap even touched them this past year.

Louise: I loved the parody and the spoofs, but the thing that said "brilliance" for me was the moment when, after Roxy woke up, she felt Lorraine's earring on her ear. That WRECKED me and I was sobbing when I was laughing 60 seconds before.

That spoke to the whole twist of soaps: we know it's not real, but in some ways, it is very real to us. And OLTL understands that. It broke my heart (in a good way).

Wow! Some soap fans are NEVER pleased. The Fraternity Row episode was one of the greatest soap episodes I have ever seen. Kudos to the cast and especially head writer Ron Carlivati for a job well done. I'm so going to miss this show and hope RC and FV bring the same passion and dedication to GH they have brought to OLTL.

Some fans are never pleased? Hogwash. OLTL has done great things like the trading places episode, live week and many other highlights.

This just wasn't one of them. It showed the gigantic inferiority complex of soap producers and actors. They think deep down their medium sucks.

One of the only actors who took the Fraternity Row episode seriously was Erika Slezak. She acted her part without trying to look like a bad actor, and was actually funny as a result. Most of the actors trying to seem bad were simply tedious.

I've said before: The Viewer may ASPIRE to be VIKI, DORIAN or BLAIR, but The Viewer ★IS★ ROXY!
This was 1,000,000% LOVE LETTER & I was hyperventilating from laughing so much!
& then... choking up.

What a wonderful feeling to know that ONE LIFE TO LIVE loves us back!

The fact is, IK came to many of the NYC protests to save the show, so it's TOTALLY fitting that Roxy would end up spearheading the campaign to save FR, and the dream sequence just took that to the nth level. The spoofs on the stupid storylines could be seen as a poke at ABCD for the shit Frons made them do. RC and FV had more freedom than the guys on GH, since OLTL was the red-headed stepchild of ABC soaps (thank God for that!), but they still had to put in actors Frons wanted and do stupid s/ls that Frons dictated.

This whole SOS story was a tribute to the fans for being so dedicated and trying our best to show our support. I'm sorry you felt offended, Blue, but I'm dead sure there was no insult intended. No way. RC, IK, and the rest are touched by our love for the show, and they LOVE US! They wouldn't diss us after the support we've shown.

So to answer Louise's question, my personal favorite was FL and the ditzy "Macy!" HAHAHA! That was a different take altogether for her! I also enjoyed seeing ME smiling :) I found ES's French German odd at first but now I'm cracking up cuz I totally bought it!!! And her Matilda was a scream. I literally bawled at the end. I felt so sad. I am still hoping, but it made me feel very close to the end. Stupid ABC/Disney!

All I have to say is I want a Nigella Smythe-centric soap NOW.

I completely disagree with bluelittlegirl. I find her proclaiming FL as the ONLY decent actor offensive and her statement about soaps as offensive as she apparently found a blatant spoof offensive.

I found Shaun as the twin and Destiny as Irene to be pretty funny because it was a perfect pointed satire of that plot. I hate when soaps take themselves too seriously and this episode was great for just that. Instead of taking an offense at a loving spoof that delighted me (and others) in pointing out the ludicrousness in certain plots that we ourselves pointed out first (looool CIA branch for single mothers), maybe some people should take offense at actual -isms in soaps and at the lack of diversity. A spoof on soaps? Wow how offensive though RME.

Also, passive aggressive pot shots and overpraise of certain actors only reveals one's own bias under the disguise of apparent legitimate critique.

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