Before the daytime serial, Guiding Light was to go off the airwaves, a group of fans decided to start planning the Otalia Virtual Season, which would continue the stories of the citizens of Springfield in a different format. That format would be in a prose style medium, rather than in a video format, and as the name of the OVS suggests, the storyline would deal with the families of Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera in front-burner storylines. Though as with any ensemble drama, Otalia doesn’t operate in a vacuum, isolated from other characters, so there are always other character storylines.
The preparation was quite extensive but before we could get started on writing the series and start editing, compiling artwork to accompany each episode, and direction of the OVS, we had to wait until the end of the show to provide a sense of direction. The actual ending of the series with a year’s jump ahead part way through provided a wonderful jump-off point: What happened to each of the characters in that year’s ‘unaired’ time?
And so, the producers of the series got together to plan how the series was going to run. The first season was going to stay within canon, that is, it we were keeping as much to the show’s core elements of the characters; we knew how they would be by the year’s end jump. There was a team of writers, editors, and artists that had been chosen to join the project. We were ambitious our first year. There were seventeen full episodes and five minisodes. Subsequent seasons, the decision was made to have less episodes, especially as there were less writers than previously to draw from, as with many fandoms, writers move on after a while to other interests. So, series two and three had ten full episodes each, and an assortment of minisodes. After the first season, there was more freedom in where to take the characters and explore other characters, bring in new characters, and explore other storyline ideas.
One particular aspect that made our virtual season different than the aired version was that our characters were not limited in their affections, love scenes, or swearing where appropriate for the characters or scene. If Olivia and Natalia wanted to be more sexually physical in their relationship, they could be. This pertained to other characters as well. In the online (HTML) version, the more sexually explicit sections of the scenes are put behind an Afterdark cut-away, so that if people wanted to read it they could click on the separated text, and those for whom the more explicit aspects are not their thing could just continue reading on. However, for coding purposes in putting the files available to read in PDF or EPUB formats to read on mobile devices, the Afterdark sections are included with the rest of the text. If more graphic content is not your thing, you can skim over the text.
I had the privilege to be part of the OVS for three years in various capacities: editor, writer, continuity checking, web site coding and maintenance (mostly just series three and beyond, though incorporated series one and two as hosting site responsibilities changed). It was a wonderful experience of which I’m proud to have been a participant as it was a unique challenge to work with a team of different writers and editors, compiling ideas into stories. I am thankful for our executive producers of the OVS: Calliopes Muse and Geekgrrllurking, as well as many of our other writers, editors and artists, for which this project could not have been accomplished. I also have to thank Irma Phillips for creating the show in the first place, and the team of writers, crews, actors at Guiding Light who brought this series through rough periods into some strong storytelling over the last year.
This year, 2014, marks the fifth anniversary of the end of Guiding Light’s departure from the airwaves. This spring, I have finally gotten round to complete the digital coding of the third season of episodes into e-reader formats (PDF and EPUB), during which time I read through the final series again, bringing back fond memories. If you haven’t read the series, or if you have and are looking to re-read, go and enjoy!
The Otalia Virtual Season is located at: http://celtic-dragon.ca/otalia_vs