Saturday, March 24, 2007

For all you soap opera fans...

Recently I was asked by Variety.com to do an article for them about soap operas. Here's the first part of the piece with a link to Variety for the rest. In typical soap opera fashion I end on a big cliffhanger.

GUIDING ALL MY BEAUTIFUL RESTLESS CHILDREN

The last time I spent an entire day watching soap operas was June 4, 1986.

Happily, when I resumed recently, I was able to pick things right up as if I never left. Same story lines: X having Y's baby, Y accused of murdering Z, Z's double mysteriously arrives, X and Z's double plotting against Y, Z's double having X's double's baby, etc.

Armed with my TiVo, remote, and a candy bowl filled with Lexapro and Xanax, I hunkered down for a daylong visit to Genoa City, Pine Valley, Oakdale, Port Charles and all the other generic towns where only Tommy Hilfiger models are allowed to live. (There are more beautiful people in Pine Valley than all of Eastern Europe.)

First up was "As the World Turns." A little girl is talking to a little boy. She says, "My dad left, my grandmother almost died, my dad came back, mom was in a coma, my brother told us he was gay." And she ends the speech with, "My parents worry about every little thing."

That was the only storyline I could follow. Even the characters themselves seemed confused. Especially the guy in a coffee shop clutching his teddy bear. Even at a Friendly's that's weird.

Then there's "The Young and the Restless." Eric Braeden (pictured above) has been on the show for 70 years and still looks fantastic. There must be a portrait of him in an attic where he looks like Nick Nolte's mug shot. My favorite character is Victoria because, well ... I have a crush on Amelia Heinle (pictured right) who plays her now.

Vicky's led a ho-hum life. Saved from drowning, had a stalker, married a guy who had been involved with her mother, saw her second husband shot at their wedding by his ex-wife (it's why you don't invite them), was a volunteer art teacher in Italy, became acting CEO, witnessed her third husband kill two people. Excuse me, but that's every girl on JDate.

The rest of the article can be found here on Variety.com.

20 comments:

Jim said...

That not Amelia Heinle. That's Denise Richards.

Jim said...

That's not

BrianScully said...

Anyone remember Eric Braeden's name before he changed it? When he did "Rat Patrol" he was Hans Gudengast.

Seymour said...

I'm deeply addicted to PASSIONS. Juliet Mills as a 300 year old witch. Talking dolls. Magic. Characters being rescued from Hell. And general utter insanity. A really good episode will make your jaw hit the floor with "I can NOT believe they did THAT!" reaction at least twice.

The dull, regular soap opera-type, boring episodes will put you to sleep, but they're worth it for the episodes like the one where Julian Crane attacked the Tin Woodman of Oz with a chainsaw.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

For a second I thought, "Wow, Amelia Heinle could easily have a new career as Denise Richards's double of any kind...stand-in or otherwise."

In middle school, I was obsessively addicted to Days of Our Lives. Sami and Austin, Carrie and Austin, Kate Roberts, and especially Stefano DiMera. Couldn't get enough of him, Celeste, and the entire Woman in White storyline.

Oh the days when I wasn't too busy for soaps.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I swore off soaps when General Hospital had Laura Webber leave Scotty Baldwin and fall in love with her rapist. Yeah, I know, I'm in the minority and holding a twenty seven year grudge. Decapitated people coming back to life? Sure thing. But, falling in love with your rapist? Adios, Port Charles.

Ken Levine said...

No wonder I like her so much. The real Amelia Heinle is up there now.

tralfaz said...

Congratulations on writing a piece that's been written a thousand times before. From beginning to end, it was one big stereotype of the genre, right down the title. As far as I can tell, there wasn't a single original thought involved. And to think, you take daytime to task for its unoriginality.

benson said...

And let's not forget the female Eric Braeden, Susan Lucci. She's been on her soap since the early days of Calvin Coolidge.

DodgerGirl said...

I've watched "As The World Turns" all of my life, as my mother is still an avid fan. The show used to be very good, with excellent actors and storylines that revolved around families, business relationships and long term story arcs. Now it's boom boom boom, let's kill off 10 teenagers in a serial killer story, or have a major character played by a wonderful actor (John Dixon/Larry Bryggman) simply disappear because the show runners are too fracking cheap to keep him under contract!

Wow. I need a hobby.

VP19 said...

Seymour said...
I'm deeply addicted to PASSIONS. Juliet Mills as a 300 year old witch. Talking dolls. Magic. Characters being rescued from Hell. And general utter insanity. A really good episode will make your jaw hit the floor with "I can NOT believe they did THAT!" reaction at least twice.

The dull, regular soap opera-type, boring episodes will put you to sleep, but they're worth it for the episodes like the one where Julian Crane attacked the Tin Woodman of Oz with a chainsaw.


I've seen "Passions" a few times, and it can be bizarrely charming (there was also an episode a few years ago in which Sheridan believes she's Alice in Wonderland). Juliet Mills' character is named Tabitha, and a granddaughter witch is named Endora. The show's creators must love in-jokes...but apparently not the soap audience as a whole, for whom the series might be too weird. "Passions" is being pulled from the schedule later this year.

maven said...

I've been watching "All My Children" for 25 years (12:00 was when my son took a nap), and I can't believe I just owned up to that fact! LOL If nothing else, soaps can be a way for people to connect to each other when the conversation starts out: "I can't believe what happened today on the show..." (BTW: I am not enjoying the transgender storyline (fast forward through that one.)

Seymour said...

Yes, PASSIONS has been cancelled (There go MY afternoons, or whenever I choose to look at the tape.) and is going off the air in late August. They're losing it to make toom for ANOTHER hour of TODAY.

Actually the ratings aren't that bad, but it attracts non-soap fans like me, and the sponsors are trying to reach the crowd who actually like the non-parodic soaps. Sigh.

Naming all the witches after characters from BEWITCHED hardly constitutes an in-joke. Is anybody out-of-the-joke-loop there? They've also had actual characters from BEWITCHED, like Dr. Bombay, show up. But at least it's openly silly.

Anonymous said...

Ken, you WOULD happen to watch All My Children on the day that Alex Cambias Sr. was holding his daughter-in-law Kendall hostage in the climax of one of the DUMBEST storylines ever to grace soap operas. When Alex Sr. was introduced a few seasons ago, he was a pretty good guy with two sons: Michael, who was a evil rapist who eventually met his just desserts, and Alex Jr.,who was presumed dead, but turned out to be very alive and had changed his name to Zach Slater. Well, Alex died, leaving a corporation to his heirs. Zach Slater fell in love and married Kendall Hart, who ironically was the sister of Bianca, who Michael Cambias raped.

Jump ahead a few years. Pine Valley has a serial killer (The Satin Slayer)who's knocking off several prominent female characters! Oh my gosh, who could the murderer! Maybe that new transvestite in town?

No! It was....Alexander Cambias, Sr.! Returned from the dead! And now evil! And wanting revenge against the "good son" for, well, for some stupid reason. So he started killing all the women who were "friends" of Zach's. Almost ALL the fans were crying foul over this idiotic development. All My Children is currently the joke of the soap opera world, and rightfully so.

VP19 said...

Seymour said...
Yes, PASSIONS has been cancelled (There go MY afternoons, or whenever I choose to look at the tape.) and is going off the air in late August. They're losing it to make toom for ANOTHER hour of TODAY.

Actually the ratings aren't that bad, but it attracts non-soap fans like me, and the sponsors are trying to reach the crowd who actually like the non-parodic soaps. Sigh.

Naming all the witches after characters from BEWITCHED hardly constitutes an in-joke. Is anybody out-of-the-joke-loop there? They've also had actual characters from BEWITCHED, like Dr. Bombay, show up. But at least it's openly silly.


Interesting. Perhaps before August, the "Passions" powers that be could find a way to give Beth Broderick one final turn as Zelda Spellman (Sabrina's smart, sexy aunt).

Anonymous said...

Ken, you really should have written this article about four years ago during the height of the Salem Stalker/Killer storyline that saw Marlena being the killer, which was an odd twist given her twin was killed on the show 20 some odd years earlier by the Salem Slasher. I know, it's all very confusing. That storyline was headed up by the man who ran PASSIONS. I used to watch them back to back, but then I grew tired of the recycled storylines on DAYs after the Stalker storyline. Admittedly, there was one plotline you missed out on DAYS that was original. Alison Sweeney went on mat leave so they hired a man to be her. It was a great twist where Sami was supposedly in disguise as a man to do evil deeds for the three months Alison was gone. The actor who played Dan, her man character, drew great reviews and fan appreciation for his adoption of Alison's Sami mannerisms whenever they had a scene with him looking in the mirror and Sami would be talking in her head as she paced around fretting about being caught by Lucas doing her evil deeds. I rather liked that. And how did DAYS follow that storyline up? They brought Austin and Carrie back. It came down to the show or my sanity. I chose my sanity. I don't watch soaps anymore. I prefer online porn instad. :-)

Stacey

Anonymous said...

I just need to know if when Passions goes of the air later this summer, will all loose ends be tied up, or will we be left wondering "what happened"??? As a fan of this pretty crazy and often silly soap, with weak acting and all, I've gotta tell ya, I am hooked on this show..and Ireally love watching it...it's the only soap that I watch..Is there any hope in saving it...Please say YES!!!! I am totally addicted...

Anonymous said...

Oh... and I forgot to mention that Ethan and Jared are so hot...who in their right mind would not watch this show!!!

Anonymous said...

I love soap operas! That's why I am really glad that SOAPnet was nominated for 2 Webby Awards this year! Check them out at:

http://soapnet.go.com/specials/oneminutesoaps/webby_awards.html

Then vote at:
http://pv.webbyawards.com/account/login

*Angel_eyes* said...

I only started watching it like 2 yrs ago at a friends, i didn't have the channel. then i eventually got the channel, and found myself addicted ! actually going thru withdrawals if i don't watch it. i tape it if i'm not home. i'm always looking at the hawties boys and girls! i love it so much even tho it can be CHEESY as hell its worth a laugh and it keeps ur attention. i can't let this legacy end.. ive only just begun. i mean sure it's bin on fer like almost 20 yrs, but it deserves 20 more ... so i can grow old with my theresa lol .. ! i can't live without her, she's mah kinda woman! lol ttyl folks let's write global and see what we can do cuz i am the number one CRAZED fan of passions :D:D u are my passions 4 life :)