Happy New Year, mes chers!
Marlena toasts you with a glass of champagne, wishing only soaps that are good this year. Speaking of, so many of my Thinking Fans sent in their own Best and Worst picks for 2007, there’s barely room to post them all! I love the intelligence of them and appreciate how discerning all of you are when writing about a field of soaps that is less than enchanting. Bold and battered, Thinking Soap Fans march on in 2008, using their soap savvy and quality critical judgement …
Oh, the worsts are the easiest to come up with. It’s choosing down to the top five that’s the hardest!
Worst of 2007 countdown:
5. Tammy and Remy (Guiding Light) having sex on the men’s room floor (with a urinal right there where they are laying! Don’ t they know the floor is not clean?)
4. Bold and Beautiful headwriter Brad Bell’s bad way of bringing on great actors and characters and not using them efficiently. He’ll put them on the front burner for six months and then they are hardly on screen, until they show up a few times a year or the actor goes on to other things. Look at Ashley, Felicia, Mario Lopez, Lorenzo Lopez, etc.
3. GL‘s Harley turning into a superhero, and GL working with DC comics. Proof that executive producer Ellen Wheeler is in the wrong business and has no idea what she’s doing. Putting soap characters (with mainly older women as viewers) with comic book characters (that have mainly teenage males as readers). Real smart!
2. General Hospital‘s constant violence and mob stories. Do women really like watching this, and all the time? Makes me wonder if Jill Farren Phelps and Ellen Wheeler are the same person!
1. Passions’ Vincent. He looks like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, talks like Michael Jackson and turned into a hermaphrodite that seduced his father and is pregnant with his baby (eww!). I like Passions and am sad to see it cancelled, but this story put the final nail in the coffin!
Best of 2007:
5. New executive producers and head writers that seem to care about their soaps and want them to succeed (i.e. One Life To Live, As The World Turns, Days of Our Lives). Hope the others take notice and make changes.
4. GL‘s Reva and Jeffrey as a couple! Want to see more of these two together!
3. Tabitha and Endora on Passions. I love these two together, and Endora is a nice sidekick to Tabitha since we had to lose beloved Timmy! I like Endora’s thought bubbles (better than having to hear a child actor try to act) and I like the magic they use on the show. I wish they could get their own show now that Passions is cancelled!
2. The return of fan favorites who are a ray of sunshine to the otherwise dreary shows! Edmund and Bill returning to GL; Stefano, the real Phillip, Lexie and Chloe to Days, and David and Alex to OLTL. But GL needs Edmund back for good, same with OLTL‘s David and Alex.
1. Luke and Noah on ATWT. Daytime has been around for 60+ years and we are now just getting a real gay (male) relationship? And thanks to ATWT for treating them like a traditional soap couple and continuing to give them story. They are one of my favorite couples on soaps now.
Let’s start with the worst — the easy part:
1. The Death of the Quartermaines and other beloved vets! (General Hospital) One by one my all-time favorite TV family is dying. How sad! I remember the days when GH writers didn’t even have to have a story for this bunch. All they had to do was sit them in the Q living room and let them go at it about anything from Thanksgiving Pizza to their sordid pasts. I feel like over the past year I’ve been watching a very long horror movie with Bob Guza as Michael Meyers.
2. The Young and the Restless and All My Children. What happened to these two once great daytime dramas? These were two shows that you could tune into at anytime and find some quality acting, story, and romance. Y&R is so off its mark I get dizzy from watching it. Gone is the suspense. Gone is the Abbott family. Gone is the energy and anticipation that Y&R was known for. Poor All My Children. New writers haven’t been able to fix the damage done by the previous writers. Like GH, AMC made some unfixable errors by killing off Dixie and dispensing with Brooke. Like GH, if you’re not fans of Kendall, Zach, and Greenlee (like GH‘s Sonny, Carly, and Jason), there’s not much of a reason to watch.
3. Days‘ waste of its veterans. Why bring back Patch, Kayla, Tony, and Anna and not use them? Why not use John and Marlena, one of its most popular pairings? Instead we suffer through unlikable newbies and the endless love story of Sammi and Lucas.
4. As the World Turns‘ Meg/Paul/Rosanna/Craig storyline. I cannot even tell you what the story is. It’s confusing and convoluted. Maybe with Rosanna on the way out things will improve. If not, move on.
5. Back to GH and it’s tunnel vision. In my opinion, the show has got to focus on something other than three characters. Long-time vets and families are being sacrificed for more airtime for Sonny, Jason, and Carly. Three characters who don’t have one good intention between the three of them.
Now the best (the hard part):
1. My pick for Best show is As the World Turns. It gave me stories most of the year that involved family, love, and drama. You know, the elements that all soaps should have.
2. ATWT‘s Luke and Noah for best story. Finally, a refreshing and current love story. Keep it coming.
3. The Brad/Katie/Jack/Carly love story. Wow, this one kept me coming back for more. What fun! You know it’s good when you don’t care who ends up together, you just want more of it.
4. OLTL‘s Ron Carlivati! Let’s hope he can keep his “Life” saving changes going.
5. Ugh, I have to give it to GH for the Hostage Crisis. Yes, it took my beloved Alan Q, but it was riveting from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28.
My best of 2007 choices are based on the only three soaps I currently follow: AMC, ATWT and GH.
The best of 2007:
1. For characters that you care about, characters that come first, characters that care more about their lives than any plot … ATWT. I’ve been watching soaps for over 50 years. My daytime appointment has always been with the characters, not plot. ATWT is the only soap that treasures its characters, their families and their family history! And, because the show nurtures character over plot, the ties that romantically bind characters seem more compelling. I believe that Carly and Jack are truly each other’s destiny. I see characters changing for the better in the romance of Brad and Katie. I can see how true love can sustain in the worst of times through decades of Bob and Kim and young pairings of Will and Gwen and, given time, maybe of Noah and Luke. The characters make you feel the love, and value it.
2. (Yes, it’s a tie!) For Best Production Value, GH must be applauded and appreciated for the enormity of its success! It has bucked the worst trend of the era (budget reductions that make the physical look of the program threadbare). GH has the greatest variety of sets. The show looks like they’re actually spending a few bucks to produce it. I’d say that AMC and ATWT look like they’ve been produced on a dime, but I can’t because the paucity of sets representing actual homes for their characters (especially on ATWT) suggests that they’re only being produced on a nickel.
3. Performer of the year: Sabine Singh on AMC. Most of the past year (post-Zoe/Zarf) has been the year of Greenlee’s return. From the moment Sabine joined the show as the unknown and unwelcome recasting of this popular character, every scene has been about Greenlee. If Greenlee wasn’t actually in the scene, every character was talking about Greenlee … and dealing with Greenlee in one way or another. And in the middle of this Greenlee spotlight has been Sabine Singh. For me, she not only brought Greenlee back, she made me care and weep over and root for an AMC character for the first time in years! She was the one pocket of warmth and emotion in what’s been a very cold, barren AMC. Sabine Singh as Greenlee was the AMC story of the year … a resounding success on air. Her reward: probably the shabbiest treatment of any daytime performer in the history of the medium.
4. The senior citizens of daytime: Only the advance word that Frances Reid would be back as Alice Horton got me to tune in to the July 4th episode of Days, and while the program essentially bored me, I just loved seeing Alice surrounded by family. This just makes me smile. Similarly, Helen Wagner as Nancy on ATWT, John Ingle as Edward on GH and Eileen Herlie as Myrtle on AMC. Is there any viewer on the planet who doesn’t instantly break out with the biggest smile (just like every character she interacts with) whenever Myrtle appears on the screen!
And speaking of smiles …
5. A sense of humor. Two bests here: To GH for the character of Diane, mob lawyer with a lust for couture … and maybe Max! To AMC for an actual attempt to write romantic comedy with Erica and Jack. Although the narrative drive never totally delivered the goods, it was nice to see AMC work the lighter side for a change and to remind us of how much fun Erica’s attempts to manipulate her love life have been.
6. Best new trend: speed! Although Agnes Nixon’s old formula for the successful soap (Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, make ‘em wait!) is ever true, kudos to ATWT for making us wait a little less for the pay-offs we want. ATWT has sped up the process. Scenes flashcut characters from one location to another rapidly. The amount of activity that characters cover in a day (an episode) has dramatically increased, which makes the rhythm of ATWT more dynamic. (Downside: The regrettable decrease in sets and cast frequently leaves the characters endlessly traveling in circles only to bump into each other over and over again.) Another aspect of ATWT‘s new speed is how quickly the show introduces a plot and wraps it up. Which is great … a) because plot isn’t ATWT‘s strong suit … and b) because we don’t have to wait forever for a resolution … and usually, it’s the resolution we want. Remember when one of the joys of daytime was rooting for the outcome we wanted … and getting it? Quick beginning-middle-and end stories (good, bad, and indifferent) include: Adam’s “murder”, Casey’s “crime”, the “Cleo” story, JJ’s kidnapping, the Maddie-Noah-Luke triangle, the “Cheri Love” murder, Paul Ryan’s visions of Meg, Luke’s paralysis, and, of course, Carly’s “terminal brain lesion” rendering the marriage of Jack and Katie kaput! Lots and lots of story was told, all of it supporting rather than submerging character!
My Worst of 2007 list …
1. Budget cutbacks that make daytime shows look cheap.
2. Too much of a good thing: overdoing character quirks to the point of annoyance (Spinelli on GH. Diane, be careful!)
3. Pointless twins: (Cleo on ATWT, Ava on AMC. Is this a budget cut thing? Take a good and popular actress and have her play two roles. Increases the cast list, cuts down on the health benefits!
4. GH’s trashing of its legacy characters by killing Alan, Georgie and Emily, and demoting Jackie Zeman’s Bobbie from contract to recurring. There’s that budget thing again? Further note: Tracy and Nicolas aren’t the only ones seeing dead people. We all see dead people (Alan, Georgie, Emily, Alcazar, Justus) and absent people (Dillon, Ned) every day! Update your series open, GH … or is retention of an opening that’s lived over two years past being current also a budget thing?
5. The soapicidal treatment of Sabine Singh! Not only do they tacitly trash the near-year’s work of this excellent actress with her abrupt firing and despicable on-air ad campaign — “The real Greenlee is back … January 16th!” — they do it quite needlessly. Assuming the re-hiring of the very popular Rebecca Budig is a smart business move to improve the fate of the ratings-depressed AMC, Brian Frons and his AMC top honchos could have been smarter in the way they handled it. The cold dismissal of the outgoing actress could certainly have been handled far better, perhaps with a promise of a new role to come. Sabine Singh had tremendously proved her value. Instead, the classless and clueless powers-that-be not only fire her outright, they promote her replacement by publicly acknowledging that the Greenlee we’ve been watching for the past year was bogus … insulting not only the actress, but their own program. Furthermore, they promote that “the real Greenlee is back … on January 16th” right in the middle of the tear-jerking climax of the current Greenlee’s story … which is pretty stupid, don’cha think? Especially because it also suggests that you may as well take a pass on watching the final month of the bogus Greenlee! Why didn’t they simply promote the return of Rebecca Budig to AMC, leave the character name out of it, and cut the losses they’ve earned with the shabby campaign they chose?
Now that I’ve detailed the best and worst of 2007 as I see it, it’s time to flat-out state the single very worst thing to happen in the world of soaps 2007, a thing that trashes the entire genre by its very existence. Of course, I mean, General Hospital: Night Shift. Please, ABC, no more, not now, not ever, don’t even think about it!
Finally, the very, very best news in the world of soaps 2007 is the new, increased frequency of intelligent, loving, and thought-provoking commentary about and criticism of the daytime drama that’s now provided by marlenadelacroix.com. Take a bow, Marlena. You’ve got your work cut out for you in 2008 if you’re going to single-handedly save the soaps!
1. The Summer of As the World Turns. I know this show has been controversial, but, for me, the summer of ATWT was engrossing and fun. I enjoyed nearly every scene in nearly every episode.
2. GL‘s 70th Anniversary Episode. Why can’t every episode have the same warmth, but, more importantly, the same passion in writing and acting?
I only have one, but it’s big enough for my all three of my remaining slots. The worst thing to happen to soaps in 2007 was SoapNet dumping Another World. Those reruns of AW were miles better than anything on the air right now. I still hold that a reason AW disappeared was about more than contracts and rights — it made ABC’s current soaps pale in comparison. (I also hold that’s a major reason why soap’s finest hour, Santa Barbara, has never appeared. Music costs are a good excuse, but seeing SB‘s first four years would starkly show how far daytime has fallen and remind people of the dizzying heights to which its brilliance can reach.
My Choices for Best in Soaps 2007:
1. Tracy, Alexis, and Diane on GH. I adore these smart, independent, funny, mature, sexy women. They are the saving grace of mob-centric GH where stupid women abound!
2. Maxie Jones on GH. She’s my guilty pleasure.
3. Natalie and Jared on OLTL -- a hot, exciting, refreshing couple to root for. They keep me tuning in every day.
4. The David Vickers pop-ins at OLTL. I want him on a 100-year contract, but I’ll take whatever I can get. Tuc Watkins makes even the crankiest soap viewers happy!
5. The firing of OLTL headwriter Dena Higley. The show has improved tremendously with Ron Carlivati at the helm.
I’ve given some thought to your Best and Worst of the year, and here are some of my thoughts:
Y&R — Bad writing, plot-driven mess, a ruined masterpiece. That’s what LML did to my favorite soap opera. The previous three episodes (written by Josh Griffith and Marina Arena Bell) were better than the entire 2007. I hope she never returns to the show.
AMC — They promised us a lot, they did nothing. The same characters are being used in each episode and the others are there only when they need to fill the episode. Del, Sean, Dre, Colby, even Josh and Hannah … they don’t get enough because it’s always about either Zendall or Greenlee. They need to be fired — pronto.
OLTL — Wow. Just wow. Ron Carlivati should be called a god. The show was transformed into a masterpiece. I’m glad both Robin Strasser and Erika Slezak got more air time. Characters are more interesting, fun and the show is, overall, one of the best of this year.
The Bold and the Beautiful – I don’t know if it’s because Kay Alden joined, but this show has changed for the better, and along with OLTL, it’s the best of this year.
Happy and safe New Year!
Best of 2007: Marlena starts her own website!!!