April 29, 2013 at 9:03 PM ET
The much-hyped revivals of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" became realities when the axed ABC soaps returned online Monday, debuting on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes. New 30-minute episodes will be available for streaming Mondays through Thursdays.
Fans had been counting down the days until the shows were back, but there were understandable concerns: Would the characters be consistent? Would viewers see enough veterans? What about the production values? And, most important, would fans feel compelled to tune in – or make that “log on” – tomorrow?
Neither show disappointed.
"AMC" had the difficult task of being set five years in the future from when J.R. readied to fire his gun at a party in the broadcast finale in September 2011. The show was starting a brand new day in the premiere, yet the writers had to dole out bits -- and sometimes chunks -- of expository information to bring viewers up to speed without making it seem like they were spoon-feeding it. (Has Brooke really had that nightmare about the shooting so often that A.J. can tell what it is? Yikes! Somebody page a psychiatrist from Pine Valley Hospital!)
Loading the online debut with familiar characters such as Brooke, Adam, Jesse, Angie and Opal was a great move. It’s telling viewers right off the bat that they’ll be seeing their favorites. The first Web episode set the stage for young love (Pete/Celia) and trouble for Jesse and Angie with one of their kids (Cassandra) being in jeopardy. "AMC" didn’t answer all the questions that fans have: Who was David visiting at the cemetery? Who’s Cara’s mystery patient? Fans likely have very good ideas as to the identities of both, but "AMC" was wise not to give it all away in one episode.
"OLTL," which aired its ABC finale in January 2012, felt like home right away with Viki picking up a copy of The Banner from her front doorstep. The warm moments she shared with Clint and the start of a confrontation with Dorian were all viewers needed in a premiere, but "OLTL" gave that and so much more: Bo blasted Matthew for holding some drugs; Tea was shown mourning the loss of her and Victor’s baby (which she lost while visiting "General Hospital" last year); and viewers learned that Destiny still has custody of her baby, Drew, named after his late uncle. Shelter – Llanview’s latest hotspot – feels like a nightclub. (Note to producers: Blair will be singing there, right?) There were too many great touches in this episode to list, but a favorite was hearing Todd’s acerbic wit and seeing his dynamic with Blair and his kids.
Camera angles on both shows seemed to be a bit wider than on their broadcast counterparts – perhaps that was done to show off the new sets. Speaking of which, the new sets were a bit jarring at first, but producers did an admirable job of recreating them. Having Nigel (who worked for the late Asa for years) answer Viki’s door made the place feel like Llanview.
Both soaps got in some digs at modern television programming – Pete Cortlandt on "AMC" talked about the increased use of tablets and how “everyone’s watching TV online now.” Meanwhile, "OLTL's" Dorian hissed to David , “Screw your reality show!”
"AMC" wisely closed its premiere by setting the stage for the return of evil Dr. David Hayward, who has promised that there will be “hell to pay.” Everyone in Pine Valley, especially Cara, should be on guard.
Kudos, especially, go to "OLTL" for ending its first new episode with a huge, huge reveal, just as it did its broadcast finale. Viewers were hoping that this particular character was coming back. And, now, they very happily know for certain.
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