'One Life to Live' fades to black

David Gregory,left, and Kassi DePaiva, right, from One Life to Live," pose for a picture with a happy fan at the Single Best Town in America Block Party Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010, in Three Lakes, Wis. (AP Photo/Luke Laggis/Rhinelander Daily News)
David Gregory,left, and Kassi DePaiva, right, from One Life to Live," pose for a picture with a happy fan at the Single Best Town in America Block Party Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010, in Three Lakes, Wis. (AP Photo/Luke Laggis/Rhinelander Daily News)

After 43 years, like losing an old friend.

Posted: January 14, 2012

How does a 43-year-old friendship end? When one-half of that relationship is a soap opera, it cannot possibly end with a satisfying thud in the heart.

That's how it was Friday, for me and undoubtedly tens of thousands of others who have been loyal fans of One Life to Live, as we watched the soap opera's finale after ABC canceled the show.

There is no good way to handle an unwanted breakup. Still, the writers tried. (Spoiler alert! If you haven't yet watched the episode, stop reading. We give away the ending.)

The story began working its way to the last episode weeks ago, with a story line involving a recurring, fictional soap opera within the real soap opera. (Got that?) The One Life to Live characters were aghast when they learned that their beloved sudser was being canceled. The plot paid affectionate homage to soap fans who feel the loss of entertainment that helped them escape life's real dramas.

In One Life to Live's final week, imprisoned baddies were brought back amid a massive prison break. Two convicts remained at large.

That brings us to Friday's denouement.

The criminally, comically deranged Allison Perkins, an escapee who remained at large, was the finale's narrator, seen reading to an unidentified hospital patient from a manuscript she wrote called One Life to Live.

She began by introducing the show's central character, "Victoria Lord Gordon Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson Banks." (Even good marriages don't last on soaps.)

Soon after, the character of Starr knocks on a door in Los Angeles and is reunited with friends Langston and Markko and, later, with true love Cole, another escapee.

Check, one big story arc resolved.

Meanwhile, Destiny feels her baby coming right there in the Buchanan living room. With the unbelievable luck only a soap opera character can have, Destiny's OB is in the same room - and so is Matthew! He walks in before the baby is born to take responsibility as the father.

Another plot resolved.

The story line for a third family is tied up when Jessica learns that Clint, not the evil Mitch, is her bio dad. Clint proposes (again) to Vicki, the mother of his children.

Some stories were left hanging. Todd is back with Blair, but not for long, as cop John McBain bursts into the couple's bedroom.

"Todd Manning, you're under arrest," McBain said, for the murder of Victor Lord.

Then came the final scene - the heretofore unseen patient in the room with Allison is, tah-dah - no, I won't tell you that, in case you read past the spoiler warning.

It was a surprise, somewhat stupid ending, likely written when the plan was to continue the show online. That effort failed. Now, some characters will migrate to General Hospital, the last ABC soap opera.

But the postscripts don't really matter. One Life to Live is over, ending where it began 43 years ago, with a focus on family, friends, and fans.


Contact staff writer Carolyn Davis at 215-854-4214, cdavis@phillynews.com, or @carolyntweets on Twitter.

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