WHEN | WHERE New high-def episodes post online daily Monday-Thursday, via Hulu.com (free) or Hulu Plus on web-connected TVs/mobile devices ($8 a month gets all Hulu content); also via iTunes ($10 for 20 episodes)
REASON TO WATCH Viki vs. Dorian! Blair and Todd! Jesse and Angie and Dr. David Hayward! Axed ABC soaps resume serious suds with core characters.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Same as it ever was for daytimers "OLTL" (1968-2012) and "AMC" (1970-2011). "Dead" characters return to life. Kids age overnight into troublemakers both beautiful (girls) and built (guys). Kidnappings, sex, paternity issues, sex, rivalries/retribution. And now that they're off over-the-air TV, words like "----" and "----" can be heard. Plus, the sex is steamier.
The OnLine Network brought each show back April 29 in a half-hour format (three- minute ad breaks). Now shot in Stamford, Conn., after decades in Manhattan, both "AMC" and "OLTL" in their first streaming week seemed a bit less claustrophobic, but otherwise their old selves, thanks to many returning actors -- 19 for "OLTL," a dozen for "AMC." (Notable no-show: Susan Lucci as "AMC's" Erica Kane.)
Newbies have been added, too. "High School Musical" hottie Corbin Bleu brings the most juice to "OLTL," as a reporter on to a "black ops" CIA scandal pitting upstanding publisher Viki (linchpin Erika Slezak) against ruthless rival Dorian (Robin Strasser). Some key roles have been recast, with returns and replacements still being announced.
MY SAY Nice job, OnLine Network. The shows feel pretty much the same. Great for those of us who know and love them. Not so hot, perhaps, for new viewers. (Internet soap "bibles" can help.) But even a million returning fans, which would be middling for a broadcast network, would make a nice aggregate for watch-anytime web host Hulu. (The soaps' returns led last week's Hulu stream counts.)
Staying on its past track works best for "OLTL," which was sizzling before ABC's ax and returns with that political mess, among other entanglements. There's delish drama in finally having both Todd portrayers back (long story), at least until actor Roger Howarth returns to his "General Hospital" contract. "OLTL" also kept its Indian young marrieds, while "AMC" has daytime's first black supercouple, Angie and Jesse (Debbi Morgan, Darnell Williams).
"OLTL's" youthful actors are better woven into adult action, while "AMC" has long struggled with that. AMC also has grappled with creating any buzz in recent years, and has lost key characters in its five-year timeline leap. The pace there still drags compared to "OLTL's" real-world full-throttle, aided by humor from Howarth and Tuc Watkins' boy-toy David Vickers.
BOTTOM LINE Works in progress but progressing well
GRADES "OLTL": A