HeldenFiles: Soap fans get another chance

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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In this promotional photo released by The Online Network, the cast of "One Life To Live" is shown. The Oprah Winfrey Network is hosting a summer fling for soap fans as the network has acquired the first 40 episodes of The OnLine Networks reprisal of the popular daytime dramas All My Children and One Life to Live for a 10-week limited engagement. Half-hour episodes of each show will air Monday through Thursday beginning Monday, July 15 with "All My Children" at 1 p.m. EST and "One Life to Live" at 3 p.m. EST. (AP Photo/The Online Network)

The journey from broadcast TV to online has been a rocky one for One Life to Live and All My Children, including a reduction in the number of episodes made each week. But it has been even rockier for many longtime fans of the soaps who either did not have online access or had not mastered the whole TV-on-the-Internet thing.

Those viewers will get at least some short-term relief beginning Monday — if they have cable or a dish, and their channels package includes OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. (On Time Warner Cable, it’s on Channel 152, and in an HD version on Channel 1152.) Beginning Monday, the channel will offer telecasts of the first 40 episodes in the online version, which began in April on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes.

For the next 10 weeks, All My Children and One Life to Live will air Monday through Thursday on OWN. There’s been a little confusion about telecast times, but here’s what an OWN rep told me this week: On Monday and Tuesday of next week, three episodes of AMC will air from noon to 1:30 p.m. The third episode will then repeat at 1:30 p.m. OLTL will follow, with three episodes airing from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Then the third episode will repeat at 3:30. Then, beginning Wednesday, All My Children will be at 1 p.m. and One Life to Live at 3 p.m., and those will be their time slots on Monday through Thursday for the rest of the shows’ OWN runs.

“We are really excited to bring OWN viewers and our audience at large an opportunity to catch up on All My Children and One Life to Live on traditional television,” said a statement from Jeff Kwatinetz, CEO of Prospect Park Networks, the company behind the new versions of the shows. “We look forward to our millions of fans enjoying the first 40 episodes of the shows.”

First of all, I’m old enough to love the idea that cable — especially nosebleed-section channels — is now thought of as “traditional television.” But this does seem to be a good sign for viewers for whom these two soaps were a real tradition.

Monday, after all, is the 45th anniversary of the premiere of One Life to Live. And All My Children is almost as old, having begun on Jan. 5, 1970. When ABC decided in 2011 to drop the two soaps, one executive said, “Viewers are looking for different types of programming these days.” Not that ABC knew exactly what that programming was. When it dropped the soaps, it added two lifestyle shows, The Chew, which is still on, and The Revolution, which lasted only six months. In fact, its failure may have saved General Hospital, which moved into The Revolution’s time slot as ABC was making room for individual stations to air Katie, its syndicated Katie Couric show.

Still, the cancellation of OLTL and AMC also made clear that ABC thought the audience for the soaps was getting old — too old, in many cases, to appeal to its advertisers. But lamentation came from a lot of those viewers who had grown up — and yes, in some cases, grown old — while following the events in Pine Valley and Llanview.

So the show’s fans had better turn out in force for the OWN telecasts. You know who you are. Maybe if enough of you do, OWN or another cable network can persuade Prospect Park that the shows have a place in some kind of “traditional” TV.

Calling something “one of the greatest serial killer movies ever made” may not send you scurrying for a DVD, but that’s what one critic said about a recent film about Northeast Ohio’s own Jeffrey Dahmer. And you can check out The Jeffrey Dahmer Files on DVD from IFC Films beginning July 23.

The film, says the DVD announcement, “talks to those who knew Dahmer during and after his hidden killing spree. Recollections from Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen, Police Detective Patrick Kennedy and Dahmer neighbor Pamela Bass, among others, are interwoven with archival footage and dramatized everyday scenes from Dahmer’s life, working collectively to disassemble the facade of an ordinary man leading an ordinary existence.”

Chris James Thompson directed and co-wrote the movie, which features Andrew Swant as Dahmer.

Reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes were 65 percent positive but few in number (20 as of midday Thursday, compared to three figures for major releases). Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times called it “mesmerizing and haunting …, lacking in gore or cheap psychology and made in part for those who think they never want to see another serial killer movie.” On the other hand, Rene Rodriguez of the Miani Herald said it “pulls off the seemingly impossible feat of making this horrific crime seem dull.”

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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