More Actresses Depart ABC Soaps

by | January 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Deep Soap

“One Life To Live’s” Brittany Underwood Fired

With daytime fans still processing the shocking news of Becky Herbsts impending departure from “General Hospital,” Thursday “One Life To Live” announced that Brittany Underwood, who plays Langston, will be leaving the show this spring for what is being termed storyline reasons.  While Langston’s character is not as important to OLTL as Liz is to GH, this still comes as a surprise.  The show has been pulling out all the stops to sell the audience on the Robert (David Gregory) and Langston romance.  Though she has only been with the show for five years, she is a member of a core family with ties to numerous other characters.

However, I cannot say that I am angered by the decision to write the character off the show.  I am sorry that Underwood will be out of a job, but the once lovable Langston has been destroyed by poor writing.  Langston was originally an artsy misfit who had disdain for the popular kids at Llanview High.  I loved the revelation that she had been living on her own because her parents died and she did not want to end up in foster care.  I was thrilled when Dorian adopted her and she became a Cramer woman.  I enjoyed her sweet romance with Marko (Jason Tam).   Then Robert came along and ruined everything.

Langston’s affair with him could have been a realistic storyline about a young woman realizing she is not ready for a committed longterm relationship and that her first love will not be her only love.  Instead, she was written as stupid, desperate for sex and unconcerned about other people’s feelings.  Her decision to reunite with Robert even after she learned that she was just another notch on his bedpost was, for me, the final nail in her coffin.  Langston went from a strong, interesting girl to a pathetic young woman.  A good redemption storyline, in which Langston focused on something other than men and rediscovered her Cramer women strength could have salvaged the character.  If OLTL is not interested in telling that story, I am okay with Langston leaving the canvas.  It is unfortunate, however, that she is yet another casualty of the Ford family’s invasion of Llanview.

“All My Children’s” Melissa Claire Egan Quits

At this rate, there may not be any actresses left on ABC daytime by February.  Melissa Claire Egan, whose performance as Annie has been the best reason to watch “All My Children” for the past few months, has decided to leave the show when her contract expires this spring.  She issued a statement making it clear that this is her decision, saying, “After 4 and a half incredible years as a member of the All My Children cast, I have made the extremely difficult decision to leave the Pine Valley family that I have come to love and respect so much.”   Annie is currently in the midst of a red-hot clandestine romance with J.R. (Jacob Young).  If Annie leaves the canvas, it will be the end of the most entertaining storyline on the show. If AMC recasts, finding a replacement for the Daytime Emmy nominated Egan will be a tough task.

As disappointed as I am that she is leaving, I understand her decision.  She is young, incredibly talented and beautiful.  It’s pilot season.   If Alexa Havins (“Torchwood”) and Annie Ilonzeh (“Charlie’s Angels”) can land starring roles in primetime shows, then so can she.  In fact, I think it would be awesome if the new “Charlie’s Angels” were all soap alums.  Egan would be great as Abby Sampson who the casting breakdown describes as, “She grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is the daughter of a notorious Wall Street crook a la Bernie Madoff. She is an expert thief, con artist and is trained in the deadly art of Krav Maga.”

Happy Rerun Wednesday

I have a potentially unpopular opinion.  I am starting to enjoy ABC’s monthly rerun Wednesdays.  I qualify this with concern for what it means about the network’s commitment to the soaps, and for the cast, writers and crew who are all taking de facto salary cuts because there are fewer original episodes.  To my surprise, the network is starting to dig deeper into its vaults.  No more “classic” episodes that are only six months old.  Wednesday, “General Hospital” aired an episode from 1996, when the show was amazing.

Jason (Steve Burton) and Robin (Kimberly McCullough) were going to have sex, but Robin couldn’t stop thinking about Stone and put on the brakes.  So Jason ended up sleeping with Carly. Jason’s brain damage made him flawed and interesting, not an unemotional superhero. Sonny planned to leave Lily for Brenda, but Lily was pregnant.  Sonny and Brenda said all their lines without pauses and stuttering. Brenda was wearing head-to-toe silver satin and made it look like a viable fashion choice. Maurice Benard was a completely different actor and Brenda was a completely different character — headstrong and brave — from the neurotic victim she is being written as today.  Luke’s (Tony Geary) hair was long and hideous, but he was madly in love with Laura.  Everyone was having realistic adult conversations.  It was all of the same characters who seem like they are hogging the airtime now, yet none of them seemed overexposed.  Watching them now, knowing that Brenda and Sonny were not going to run away together, that Lily and her unborn child were going to die, that Carly and Jason would end up as BFFs, while Jason and Robin would have little to do with each other, gave it all the poignant inevitability of a Greek tragedy.