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« Farewell to the Pairing of the Year | Main | Happy (...?) Thanksgiving, All! »

November 23, 2011

The Darkest Day (or Matthew Speaks For Us All)

I feel like today's post should be a sympathy card. There was some cruel television twist of fate that aired today's episode on the same day as today's announcement

And do not say I didn't warn you. If you haven't seen today's episode of One Life to Live, stop reading. You don't want to read this before you watch this. Trust me.

Let me just get right down to it if I can make it through without sobbing so hard over my keyboard that I get electrocuted. Matthew narrated today's episode.

"Is there anybody else like Roxy? She's the bomb."

Nora actually expressed concern for the mayor and how what can seem like a spirited hit in a minor physical skirmish can have unintended long-term damage even if the person seems fine. Kind of the way it happened to Matthew.

"Way to go, Aunt Viki. No one keeps the peace better than you."

"John McBain talks just about as much as I do these days."

Roxy tried to convince Shane there's a volcano in Brazil ("all fire and brimstone, red hot lather") that's keeping Rex away on Thanksgiving.

Brody defended Jessica to a fellow patient at St. Anne's.

Clint and Shane had another heart-to-heart and this show is trying its damndest to melt me into the floor. So, Clint's speech to Shane...

Clint: I just did not do right by you and your dad, and I regret that more than you will ever know. Rex is my son, you're my grandson, and me? I'm the fool that waited too long to count his blessings, but you and your father are gifts in my life that I just don't deserve. But I'm going to try and do better. And I'm going to try to be worthy of you, your dad, and (puts his hand over his heart) this wonderful heart that once belonged to your mom. I know I got a heck of a long way to go, so I'm asking you for your patience.

And I don't know why Ford needed to be present for Natalie's apology to Jessica but speaking of that apology, everyone is still showing compassion for Brody for his actions, assuming that he'd snapped rather than assuming he's evil. And Jessica looked truly crestfallen to learn that Brody was back in St. Anne's, back where it all began for the two of them. Three years ago on Thanksgiving. And then Jessica went to visit him in St. Anne's and got the crazy patient to stop taunting Brody! And he asked after Liam and after Nigel and I was thinking about OLTL Thanksgivings past and so grateful for this one because it wasn't the last one.

And they had this lovely exchange...

Jessica: Brody, you didn't lose one child, you lost two. (Three, in a way.  --Ed.) First Ryder, then Liam, and that would drive even the strongest person over the edge.

Brody: You don't have to do this.

Jessica: Hey. Hey. Look at me. You have been my rock for so long. Whenever I felt like I was floating away, you were always there to bring me back down to the ground. You were a good man and you still are.

Brody: How can you say that?

Jessica: Because it's the truth. You are smart and strong and kind, and you're going to get through this.

Oh, and just in case we weren't already choked up at that point (Brody and Jessica 4EVAH!), we then cut to Clint telling Nigel that after what he did for the family, he has to stay for Thanksgiving and they should be serving him and then Natalie held Liam up and did a fake voice for him begging Nigel to stay. So cute!

And what would Llanview's final Thanksgiving (I'm sorry I had to use those words, but I did have to) be without a speech from Victoria Lord...

Viki: Oh my my my my my, we have a great deal to be thankful for today. To start with, how lucky are we that Liam is home, safe and sound with his mother and his father. John, welcome. And welcome to the family. Nigel, we owe you so much, you risked your own safety for us. Thank you so very much. And we are very lucky that Ryder's with us today, having his very first Thanksgiving with us, and so is Liam. And his father is here -- thank you, Robert, and welcome (Well, no holiday is perfect. --Ed.). And Bree! So glad you're here! And Shane, it's wonderful that you're here with us, really it is. The newest member of our family! Roxy? What can I say! Thank you. Thank you for your spirit and your caring, I am delighted you're here. Obviously there's some people who should be here but are not, my late brother Victor, and I miss him. I'm very grateful Todd is back with us, although he's supposed to be here with us today and I have no idea where he is! I miss Tina and Cord; I'm very glad they found their way back to each other and I wish they were here but... they're happy. And of course we miss Kevin and Joey and Clint's son Rex. And there's one person who should be here but she's not. And that's Gigi. Gigi gave us her heart. And that has brought new life to this family. Thank you, Gigi. So I think that we should all just be very, very grateful for the love that we have, the love we have for each other, for the love that is in this room -- spoken and unspoken (with the nod to John and Natalie but also a terrific and significant look from Clint to Viki). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

And then Shane visited Brody at St. Anne's and brought him a picture he drew of Brody as a superhero!

And then Bo and Nora kissed Matthew goodbye in his hospital room and told him they would see him soon, and Matthew's voice provided the final narration of the episode...

Matthew: Mom and Dad put their arms around each other. That's my happy ending right there. My name is Matthew Buchanan and today is Thanksgiving Day. It was a day of gratitude, of joy and hope, and wishes, lots of wishes. But in the end, it was also the day I died.

And then they cut to Bo and Nora, who were still in the doorway after all, seeing him flatline.

Well, this episode certainly evoked what it was intended to from me. I believe Courtney Simon was the scriptwriter for today, so I commend her on the beautiful dialogue.

I'm at a bit of a loss right now. I am sad ("sad" is the understatement of the decade) about Matthew and I am sad that this might mean Eddie Alderson's finale on the show was in voice-over, but I wonder if they might not have him do a little narration from beyond as we near the end. And we've heard about some actor returns that indicate we may be paying Heaven a visit, which I would totally accept if we get to see all these people in action once again. And I cried like a baby, for the sentimental components of the episode as well as the tragic, and because today's news was fresh in my mind. 

As I've said on Serial Drama's Facebook page (we have one! visit if you haven't!), the writers and producers of both OLTL and AMC had no choice but to include cliffhangers in the presumed TV finales of their four-plus-decades-long shows, and it makes sense that they did what they did (who wouldn't want the shows to continue online, and Prospect Park was certainly sincere in their intent, despite the failure of the effort). But now we need finales, and I don't see any reason at all that both OLTL and AMC couldn't both be produced in two-hour made-for-TV movies as a conclusion. After forty-three years and more than eleven thousand episodes, I think series finales that the creative teams intended as finales are the absolute very least that the shows and their casts and crews and their viewers deserve. I can't possibly be the only one with this idea, so let's hope that it happens. If any of you folks are business-minded, tell us who to write to in order to make this happen! We will, we will!

So readers, this is still your spot if your heart hurts for OLTL. There's time yet, there's hope yet, and if we lose all hope, there are still goodbyes to be said. And so today let's be thankful for our fictional families and friends we've spent these years with and tomorrow we can be thankful for the real ones who really matter, the real family and friends who we're reminded of when even these silly melodramatic hyperbolic soap operas hit the highest highs of story and character. When "our stories" give us great storytelling that gets under your skin and lives with you in ways that truly resonate, it's life-affirming for us in the real world. And for that, we can give thanks! 

Happy Thanksgiving, Serial Drama readers!


Louise - Beautifully written. I read the news about the Prospect Park deal falling through and I was saddened thinking about the fact that OLTL and AMC may never receive televised finales. OLTL is so very dear to me and it will be hard to see it go but especially if it's left on a cliffhanger.

I am also saddened for the cast and crew of these shows.

In trying to be grateful, I was pleased with much of today's episode. Eddie Alderson's Matthew narrating today's episode made it one of the most impressive hours in OLTL's recent history. Besides most of the dialogue, the direction and acting seemed sharper today as well. I really hate the idea of Matthew dying, so I hope he makes a trip to heaven and promptly returns to the living. It would be too much for my heart to take if he died.

A bit of negative criticism, as much as I LOVE Viki, I was not too impressed by her speech. It, like the show, propped Ford and Gigi, lessening the impact. Bree cheering Ford at the beginning of the episode was too much and I nearly chucked my coffee at the TV. Then she asked if he would be her daddy and it stuck, hurting my ability to thoroughly enjoy the episode...THEN Ford is present when Jessica and Nat talk. I nearly cried because Ford mars OLTL. Ugh.

Matthew Buchanan is supposed to be exactly the same age as me (17 and a senior in high school), and since I started watching OLTL in eighth grade, I've basically followed Matthew through high school. I had just gotten out of the hospital when Matthew got into his car accident, and when he was struggling with the person he liked (Dani) wanting to be with someone else, I was going through the same thing. I feel like we've grown up together, and I like him way more than I like most of people I actually go to school with. It's always traumatic when someone your age dies, no matter how old you are. And I've been watching soaps since middle school, so it's not like I haven't seen characters much younger than me killed off, but I couldn't relate to any of those characters like I could to Matthew. And yeah, he went through his little douchey phase, but don't all teenagers? He was the most realistic teenage character I've seen on any soap, and even on most primetime shows. And the combination of Matthew and OLTL being killed on the same day is just so much to deal with. I'm losing the show that's helped me get through some of my most difficult times and the only character who was right where I was the whole time. I know it seems like I'm overreacting, but it just seems cruel to rub salt in the wound of the show ending by killing off a young, promising legacy character.

Leanne, don't worry -- if you're overreacting, then we all are! The double-whammy today was not intentional, but it certainly felt like the fates were against us. So hard to take. It was heartbreaking, and Matthew was a great character played by the best teen actor on the show.

soapbaby, I hear you on the Ford stuff. It was the only blemish for me, though. Gigi wasn't my favorite character, but she was a good friend to Viki and Clint does have her heart, so their comments only made sense to me. But Ford... ugh.

I haven't been able to bring myself to watch today's episode yet tbh. I started but Matthew's narration was killing me on top of everything else.

I'm 22 now, I found OLTL when I was around 14 because that's when a channel in my country started airing it. This show has actually eclipsed the love I have for the shows I grew up on (B&B and Y&R) and the thought of it not getting a proper send-off kills me.

Oh, I get Gigi being mentioned for the obvious reason, her recent death providing Clint a heart and Shane having a worthless imbecile for a father, so basically the kid's an orphan. I complained about Gigi because she is discussed ad nauseum. Her name is mentioned daily.

Grateful, grateful, grateful...well, at least I had another holiday with my extended family!

Oh, Louise. I started crying at 2:45 when Viki made her speech and then shouting "No no no!" at the TV when Matthew started saying he didn't get the chance to make up for what he did...I am so with you hoping they are faking us out and he comes back from the dead. He is leaving the show but they don't have to kill the character.

And I loved the Jess/Brody moment - it gave me a glimmer of hope that they will bring those two back together before the end. The rest - what a fantastic episode. And how crushing to think it might not be salvageable. I like what you said about a movie to wrap it up if nothing more. A Kickstarter campaign is something I've been posting all over the save our soap pages on FB, so maybe someone who's deep in the trenches on the saving will run with the idea. Or maybe I will, heck, it's worth a try. Thanks for the brilliant recap, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today show was sad and great at the same time. I loved that Matthew was the voice of the show I just wish that they would of had him mention something about Destiny and the baby other then that....perfect! You would think that today was the final episode the way it was perfectly written but it was just a wonderful Thanksgiving episode. I was suppose to be in the kitchen preping for tomorrow but I couldn't leave my seat. Now GH on the other hand I was able to cut my vegetables, cook the cornbread for my dressing and put my pies in the oven so that tells you who had the better show! smh HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!

WOW!!! I can't believe how hard Matthew's death has hit me today. I kept myself from getting sentimental at work when I heard the word about PP, but I didn't know I'd come home to watch such a beloved character die. OLTL is one of the few shows I used to be able to watch with my mother and with the holidays she was already on my mind. I am a little embarrassed to say that I bawled over a TV character's death, but I am still bawling.

So i have not been able to watch yet, but just reading your recaps made my cry. Clint and Shane wow. Jessica and Brody!! I am happy the writers gave us that, and hoping for more! & matthew, no words can express the gigantic loss I feel right now (& i am not even a long time viewer, GH is my 'long time' show), I cannot even imagine how people who have been watching this show all their life feel about these final episodes.

So sad that both Matthew and the PP deal with AMC/OLTL died today! At least Jessica wore more appropriate covered clothing and visited Brody at St.Anne's today!

Oh, BTW, Louise, I think Roxy's volcano comment was about fire and GRIMSTONE! So funny - Roxy IS the bomb!

@LaTanya, you're so right about Destiny and the baby! Oops! Honestly, though, the epi was so well done I didn't even notice.

"Gigi gave 'us' her heart". Viki talking about her family! There are not enough superlatives to use about Erika Slezak and her ability to evoke emotion.

I was a mess this entire episode. Matthew narrating. Clint and Shane. Jessica and Natalie. Jessica and Brody. Shane , Roxie, and Brody. Viki! And Matthew!! "but in the end it was also the day I died". Where the hell did that come from?!?! In a way I sort of liked the shock value (if there was news out there that this was going to happen I missed it). It made it feel like what soaps user to be like before the magazines and then the Internet.
God I 'm gonn miss this show and these people.

Its a double dose of tears today with the BALTIC AVE™ news & now MATTHEW.
...& I hadn't even recovered from cryin' over BRODY!

I don't mind the cliffhangers. I'm always going to wonder what fictional Viki might be up to. The knots needn't be all tied up. If anything, that's the opposite of the "tune in tomorrow" ethos of soaps. I still wonder what fictional Angela would be up to on "Falcon Crest."

I just keep praying that Monday's episode opens with Matthew's voiceover saying "That was the day I died... and it was also the day I was brought back to life" or something to that effect. My God, I don't know why this is hitting me so hard, but I'm genuinely sad about this.

I am livid! What is the freaking point of making us love a young core character like Matthew if the show is going to kill him and leave scum like Ford alive? Sheesh. Ford should have been the one that killed Eddie instead of Matthew. I am so tired of soaps killing off the future while leaving characters like Gigi, Rexx, Ford brothers, etc stinking up the place. Boo!

Now, that I got that off of my chest. Bravo! I still remember when EA joined the show and the awesome chemistry that he had with his parents Bo and Nora.

Brody Lovett deserves his happy ending more than Ford needs to breathe air.

I had a hard time looking at John and Ford at Llanfair today without wanting to smack them in the face with a dead and rotting fish.

Jessica and Brody broke my heart today since their journey started three years ago and now he's back in St. Anne why the other scum walks around town.

It pains me to say that Clint is on my crap list since he is the one that started the whole nonsense with bad Daddy Ford, the paternity nonsense and now he's going to get to live while Matthew is dead. Boo!

Bo has once again lost another child. What the hell? Just because EA was leaving the show there was no need to kill off Matthew. Why not send Matthew off to a clinic in Switzerland until he recovers and then recast the roll down the road.

Since PP bought the rights to AMC & OLTL is there a chance that they can simply resume looking for funding in early 2012? Or, why not make both soaps 30 minutes until the economy picks up and then go back to 60 minutes? Heck, I could live with 30 minute soaps nine months out of the year. There are way too many folks in front and behind the scenes that have once again lost out on good paying jobs.

That's great story telling for a character, played by an actor who had opted not to continue on the show. This death will have repercussions for everyone. Matthew was important-his death, tho heartbreaking, is significant. And Ford, is not significant. His death would be a blip. No lessons would be taught or learned by a Ford death.

Exaltations for a brilliant tearful episode that will end up mattering. If it had been the last show of this wonderful soap, it could not have been better written or acted. Not to be forgotten.

Brody lost Bree as well, so that makes four children.

I'm still amazed with the compassionate, gentle way the writers are handling Brody. Loved his visit from Jessica. I always liked Jessica best when she was him, he brings out her more adult side.

Hate Ford. Haaate.

Louise, thanks for the recap. I've been trying for two days to steel myself to watch 'cause it sounds like I missed an awesome episode, but I just can't bring myself to do it. It's all so sad, especially now that the show won't be going online. I grew up watching OLTL, since 1977, and it was my favorite among the three ABC soaps because of the great acting, stories and characters. Even when the storylines were over-the-top, the characters still seemed very real and down-to-earth--it was easy to forget they were just actors playing a role. If it has to go off the air, at least it's going off with style and class. How very fitting for its primary heroine, Victoria Lord Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson Banks (hopefully Buchanan again).

The episode hit me hard too. Other than the Ford propping it was great - but I cried through the entire thing - until it became uncontrollable sobbing at the end.
I'm hoping the fact that Matthew's voice over at the end being very similar Docotor Who's Rose's "death" voice over is on purpose and the it is a psych out - I think these writers are nerdy enough and clever enough to do that too.

It was definitely a hard day for OLTL fans. I've been watching this show for the entre 29 years of my life and I really can't imagine it not being around. But I guess if it's going to go at least it's leaving us with some great soapy stuff.

Never having trusted or believed one word of ABCDisney or any of its puppets I have to wonder if PP was ever for real or if it was a put up job by ABCDisney to hold off the fans from becoming a mob and totally shitcanning the whole network

I think PP (which has produced a couple of very successful cable shows) had no idea what a 52 week commitment to good story-telling really meant. It was probably more expensive that they had considered and it was definitely difficult dealing with the unions. But I doubt a conspiracy was involved. It's the economy, not an undercover operation to destroy us...

If money was a problem for PP, I kept wondering why they didn't drop AMC & OLTL to 30 minutes five times a week? I saw a post over at DC where ABC sold the rights to PP with the current format of 52 weeks @ 60 minutes per show x 5 days a week. If ABC/Disney was getting rid of the soaps due to cost then why in heck did PP think they could afford AMC & OLTL with GH by 2013?

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