Thoughts on the ONE LIFE TO LIVE Finale (Spoilers for West Coast)

Barbara Garrick narrated "One Life to Live by Allison Perkins" on Friday's finale of beloved ABC soap opera ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Throughout the episode we saw her talking to someone but did not see who it was until the end (more on that later).

At the time this was taped (November 18) everyone still thought ONE LIFE was going to live on the web, thanks to Prospect Park, so we were told to expect cliffhangers. [See the full Prospect Park timeline here.]

My gripe with the ALL MY CHILDREN finale, which actually felt more warm and fuzzy than this one (except for that little J.R. shooting ending), was that I strongly believe both shows could have wrapped up on TV without cliffhangers, satisfying fans who may have watched for decades. Then when the web versions debuted, a hot trailer could draw old, and possibly new, fans in, like movies do. It wasn't to be on either show.

This review is based solely on the final episode, one that many people will tune back into who haven't watched in years. As with ALL MY CHILDREN, the last few weeks have felt like one big finale and many things were done right.

We did see some nice touches on the final ONE LIFE which felt somewhat like a finale: Clint revealing to Jessica that she's his biological daughter; a return visit from Brody (which sort of felt out of place but was still enjoyable); the birth of baby Drew (the moment "Drew" was named was the biggest tearjerker of the day); and Starr reuniting with Cole. We also got a nice "Love you Red" Bo and Nora moment.

And, of course, we had another Clint and Viki marriage proposal ("Will you marry me?") with a piano version of the ONE LIFE theme song playing in the background.

But in many ways I was disappointed.

Characters kept mentioning moments from the past but there were no flashbacks. Why not?

Viki got her due at the end of the show's run (even a return trip to heaven) but I expected, and wanted, her to have the final word on Friday's episode, cliffhanger or not. In a way I felt FRATERNITY ROW got more of a fitting tribute than ONE LIFE TO LIVE in the final month. I enjoyed every spot-on minute of it.

And the final scenes on Friday? Todd and Blair have finally made love then John McBain rushes in and arrests Todd for the murder of Victor Lord Jr. followed by the big reveal of who Allison was talking to the entire episode: a bound and gagged Victor Lord Jr.

"Things are rarely what they appear," Allison said. She referred to "another chapter" during the episode which we now know isn't happening thanks to Prospect Park's failure to find funding to the web version. We will at least get to see some continuation as the characters of Todd, Blair, John and Starr will move on to GENERAL HOSPITAL for a while. But the rest?

Watching the show it was nice to see a diverse cast being used, more than any other daytime soap opera, and true to ONE LIFE TO LIVE's original vision, although these days most soap characters are mostly rich or upper middle class.

It felt special and like a good Friday episode, but with ONE LIFE TO LIVE, a show that has set the bar for daytime many times, I expected more. As with ALL MY CHILDREN, it would have been nice to see what might have been had Prospect Park not altered the finale.

The final moment of ONE LIFE TO LIVE: Allison throwing her script in a drooling Victor's face.

ONE LIFE TO LIVE has been guilty of several daytime cliches and blunders in recent years but has consistently been the best remaining drama on the air in the afternoon. It always found a way to entertain and it did again today. There's really no perfect way to end a serial that has been running for over 43 years. It didn't have that home run moment like Maeve singing "Danny Boy" on RYAN'S HOPE (23 years ago TODAY) or Stu and Jo on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW. But neither of those shows were in as good of creative shape in general at the time they left the air as ONE LIFE is now. It's very sad it won't be there Monday at 2 p.m.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of ONE LIFE TO LIVE both present and past for their dedication, hard work and commitment to entertaining soap fans since 1968.

That's my take. How did you feel? Weigh in below in our Comments section and take our survey below.

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  1. Roger, I hate to say it, but you're really, really nitpicking. I thought that was a beautiful ending. Of course flashbacks would have been great, but they had a lot to pack in, and I think the pictures they zoomed in on throughout were at least a partial replacement. I thought there were nothing BUT "out of the park" moments, especially the proposal, the ending, and the named of Drew. And Allison's VOs were perfect and perfectly encapsulated the show.

  2. I think Frank and I might be twins, because I completely agree with everything he said. The show gave us happy endings and gave us the news we knew, that Todd killed no one.

    And remember the on-line version was supposed to start the next Monday. so, it was a great week, a great ending and a great soap.

  3. I totally agree with your comments on cliffhangers. Online or not, why do that to fans who have watched on television since for so many years?

  4. The snap of Victor had me confused - I did not recognize him. I had to find this posting to see who it was.

  5. That's an interesting thought, Beth, that I hadn't thought of. I think because of the order of scenes before the final one I was sort of expecting it at that point.

  6. I thought it was lacking. The segmet with baby Drew was rewarding as was the proposal from Clint. But Jessica was left hanging. Brody came out of no where. And the whole Todd killed Victor thing left unresolved. I wanted Blair and Todd to have an HEA. The whole thing felt out of place. Surely they could have adjusted once the news was out that they wouldn't continue. AMC didn't have a choice and they still did a better job.

  7. Frank, I actually did the opposite, and avoided nitpicking.

    Dee, they shot this before they knew OLTL wasn't continuing on the web.

  8. well if some of you dont know the victor lord jr killing will carry over to general hospital so that's the new chapter

  9. Thursday's show felt more like the finale. Friday's show seemed more like a addendum designed to lure people online.

    Would have preferred they combined the two into a single show. They could have done it easily -- just move the birth of baby Drew, Blair and Todd making love, the Jessica is Clint's child reveal and Clint proposing to Viki prior to everyone watching the final episode.

    Then in the final few minutes, while Viki was giving her speech about what soap operas mean have her add a bit about how Friday cliffhangers always leave you wanting more. As she is saying that, you see Todd getting arrested and Victor still alive but held captive by someone mysterious.

    No need for Allison Perkins in there at all. And it's especially preposterous that Allison had Victor since she was in Statesville Prison at the time of Victor's murder; she only escaped because of the blackout.

    Then, after Viki's speech about soaps, a brief montage of all be of people crying after Fraternity Row aired its last episode.

    And of course, the final shot would be of Erika Slezak, as it should have been.

    I realize they had to end on a cliffhanger to get people to tune in online on Monday, but it was a slap in the face to Slezak's 41 years and to all the loyal fans that the final shot was of Allison Perkins and Victor, Jr rather than of Viki.

  10. ITA with....James. Thurs was better and Viki should been the ending. Victor and Allison should been before Viki. AW did this better with Grant alive soaking up sun and then Rachel getting the last line and shot.

  11. Extremely disappointing. I understand the complications behind-the-scenes that led this to feel like an ordinary cliffhanger. But no closure? No party/event to see all the remaining cast members together? No last wisecrack from Roxy? No final word from Viki?

    The Buchanans could have gathered together to celebrate Jessica's paternity and Drew's birth. You could have had every one together one last time, while still bringing back Brody, arresting Todd, throwing scripts at drooling Victor, etc.

    Sad, truly sad. Didn't realize this was the same day RH went off the air in 1989. What a difference.

  12. I agree that they did get a few things right here, but overall it was a sad ending to a wonderful show. The time spent on things like Frat Row was a waste of air time. Some of these things made no sense at all. If by some weird chance they are over time going to integrate the characters into GH, then maybe it will satisfy us and clear up some of the loose ends. Why bring back Victor, or is this another brother! The actor was not known to be signed on for the online show, so what was that all about? I would love for the story to continue onto GH. To get ready I viewed a couple of episodes of GH and frankly, I hated it. It just has a very dark and weird vibe about it. Maybe they will make it more fun and OLTL like. Then maybe I will watch. Were Alison's last words foreshadowing?

  13. How is it that none of you realizes that that wasn't. Victor Lord Jr.? That was Todd Manning tied up at the end. That is why I stopped watching the show months ago. They killed the REAL Todd Manning and I was done. Pay attention people.

  14. It did feel like Allison was telling the fans that the real Todd was tied up aka TSJ's Todd. When she said "things are rarely what they seem" then again it could be referring to his "death". I kind of wonder if Thursday wasn't supposed to be the actual finale but when PP requested cliffhangers they refilmed scenes, and that's what we saw on Friday.

  15. I actually though Fraternity Row was amazing but why so much time spent on Starr and Cole?

  16. I was disappointed with the finale. Some beautiful moments = of course! But as a John McBain and a John/Natalie fan, I was unhappy. No scenes of them together. I wanted to see John in a more "balanced" perspective...still a great cop, but also in love with Natalie and a family man too. His scenes were wasted on the Delgado family, which I never cared for to begin with. He was propping their story and he wasn't allowed to be in his own. And that is pretty disappointing to me. I"m thrilled that we got the wonderful reunion scenes with John, Natalie and Liam a couple of days earlier. But, I was let down in how they were just pushed aside for the final 2 days.

    I loved the Alison stuff as well as all the Buchanan and Bo/Nora/Matthew scenes. I liked the Todd and Blair stuff. If Jolie got the inclusion they were entitled to, I might feel different. But, because of its absence, the show didn't end well for me. Also, I wasn't surprised about Victor being it was a big "so what".

    I'm genuinely happy for those who were content with the final show. Just wish I was!

  17. Oh, I forgot to mention that I was disappointed by the silo approach of the Buchanan scenes on the last day and the Bo/Nora/Matthew/new baby scenes. They are all family...we should have been able to see them reunited on the show's final days. We got no closure between Bo and Clint. We didn't get to see Viki and Clint react to Matthew becoming a father. We didn't get to see Liam or Bree surrounded by family. There was no finality for the extended Buchanan clan and that was highly unfortunate. Just my opinion and feelings. Others may see it differently.

  18. @Peter - I actually wondered if that was Walker Lawrence she had tied up at the end? It would make more sense for Allison Perkens to be messing around with Walker than Victor or Todd or whomever...

  19. Sharon, if they had shown Natalie and John together, it would have made the ending even worse. I am glad that they weren't on. They are what ruined the show and you guys really didn't get much for waiting all those years. Natalie is still Natalie Banks and a baby moma. Gigi got a wedding and a husband. I hated Jolie, but you guys got screwed with no marriage, after being loyal all that time. I would have barfed if they were together, other than seeing Drew being born and Brody healthy, the ending was not great.

  20. I just watched the last two episodes on Sunday and let me tell you, I cried like a baby on Thursday's. They weren't saying bye to Frat Row, they were saying bye to OLTL and thanking the fans. It was incredibly touching. I was all in all happy about the way things wrapped up. Trevor St. John tied to a bed is, after all, one of my favorite things! I was glad to see Roger Howarth's Todd (I guess it was Todd) get cuffed and stuffed and beyond glad to have TSJ back. Of course I'd love to know what happens next, we all would. Maybe somehow, someday...

  21. Bring back One life to Live!! I do not like GH its not even close to OLTL... I will miss it so much! I felt like they really left us Hanging... Bring it back!! I can't believe we cant get a spot on soapnet or something!!!

  22. Okay let's look at this again. If Victor Lord Jr. Or Walker Lawrence were still alive what would be the oint of keeping them tied up away from people? Seriously give me on reasonable reason. Now Todd Manning being tied up is clearly what that is. That way this fake Todd can take over. Their Mom was WAAAYYYY to quick to spill the beans about the plan she spent 40 YEARS on. That was the real Todd Manning tied up and I hope that they dive into this story on GH causeim gonna start watching again in February so I can watch my favorite CHARACTER todd Manning. Who ever plays him.

  23. Could it be that the tied up Victor Lord Jr. is really the son of the bad guy mistakenly thought of as Natalie's dad? Sorry forget his name... Victor Jr. was suppose to be made to look like the son of "the master" as Allison calls him. Just leave it to her to have hidden the master's son away to bring him back to take over when needed. Remember she said she was the brain? Reading him the history and bringing him up to speed would be very appropriate. I LIKE!! Just don't put the religious spin on it this time. Hide behind a menagerie of animals to keep "the son" calmed down, and bring in Betty White as Allison's mother!! Guaranteed spin off!!