Do You Love or Hate it When Soaps Repeat Their Histories?

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 31:  How to repeat soap histories? Melanie counts the ways … James cheers the Reva/Josh movie wedding … while esther is generally unimpressed by retreads … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Patrick Erwin  

Each of the eight daytime soaps on American network TV these days has a substantial history. The Bold and the Beautiful is the youngest at 21, Guiding Light the eldest at 71. Collectively, this is a rich history. And I’m all for calling on the past to inform current storylines.

But there’s a curious trend emerging this summer, and I’m not sure what to make of it. A few shows have gone beyond revisiting history — they actually seem to be reliving the stories in a way we haven’t really seen before. The stories we’re seeing are often [Read more...]

General Hospital: Will Night Shift 2 Be Nightmare 2?

GH Night Shift

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 26:  horselover thinks NS2 has potential … Thirty misses Cody and Lainey … pjs opines NS2 is up slightly from NS1′s nadir … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

I can’t stand watching General Hospital because of the din of Crazy Carly’s constant yelling about Jax’s relationship with Kate (when Carly secretly screwed Sonny).  I could hardly bear watching last year’s incoherently plotted GH: Night Shift because in the end it was sound and fury signifying nothing.

So the last thing I expected the premiere of this year’s season of Night Shift to be was deadly boring.  Did anyone make it through the entire hour?

The premiere of any show is at least supposed to be exciting, vamping you for the entire season.  I think it was supposed to be exciting when the car crashed through the hospital’s wall into the nurse’s station.  But, not only was it cheese-ily produced, but we soap fans have seen the car-crash-through-the-wall shtick twice before: on Another World, when Wallingford and Lily hilariously [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: Days of Our Lives’ Marlena Evans and John Black

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 30:  Kim wants Marlena and John to fall in love … Casey thinks John is having a middle-age crisis … but Angela thinks Carrie can help. See Comments below.

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By Damon L. Jacobs 

OK, Thinking Fans, Pop Quiz:

Which couple’s problems are most like the kind the Soap Shrink would treat during the day:

A.  The Young and the Restless‘ Niki’s growing fears around David’s criminal background;

B.  One Life to Live‘s Clint’s anger at Nora for blasting the truth about her ex-husband fiancé’s crimes in the middle of their wedding; or

C.  Days of Our Lives‘ Marlena’s aggravation and disappointment that her husband John Marlenahas permanently changed into someone she’s not sure she even likes.

ANSWER:  C

What?  Days Of Our Lives portraying a realistic problem?  Does the Soap Shrink need treatment of his own?

Not so fast, TFs.  Hear me out.  Although it is not common for me to deal with brainwashed patients coming back from the dead, it IS quite normal for couples to struggle when one person has gone through a life altering change.  If one person is happy with that change and the other isn’t, then there is potential for much sadness and resentment. 

Marlena (Deirdre Hall) likes to [Read more...]

Remembered: A Day With the Late, Great Larry Haines

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 22:  pjs praises Search for Tomorrow’s man of yesterday … Cherry Ames remembers Stu and Jo … DS0816 wishes the young’ns could have seen Mr. Haines … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Larry Haines passed away July 17 at 89 in Delray Beach, Fla.  How sad that is for soap fans!   He was a character actor character’s actor.  During 35 years on Search for Tomorrow, he delivered wit, wisdom, tears, inspiration, love, sympathy, excitement, sweetness, pathos and more.  And he played all that in just one character, Stu Bergman.Search for Tomorrow

Stu was Jo’s (the great Mary Stuart) best friend through the whole run of the show, but he was nobody’s side kick.   The astounding versatility with which he played Stu made him the most human of soap characters.  Any one of today’s overly plot-oriented soaps could use a drop of the heart and genuine human warmth Haines offered by just by showing up every day to tape Search for Tomorrow.

In 1986, I had the opportunity to work with Haines for two episodes of Search.  The show was about to be cancelled and NBC was looking for newspaper publicity.  So to write a story on what it was like to act on a soap, I was cast as [Read more...]

The Bold and the Beautiful: Sadism in the Afternoon

Bridget

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 19: Purple Haze questions Bridget’s sanity … Levi says the whole story is unrealistic … renee has a new definition of B&B … and more.  See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

In college or on DVD,  did you seen the cult movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)?  There’s a sweet. funny  character called The Black Knight (played by John Cleese), whose simple duty it is to guard a bridge in Medieval times.  In a battle one day, his right  arm is cut off.  Then later, he is shorn of his left arm. He says happily, “It’s only a flesh wound.”  In another skirmish, he loses a leg and, still cheerful, hops around on one leg.   And then on another day, the Knight loses his left leg, but not his optimism.  His torso is seen hopping wildly across the landscape, as he whistles happily.           

That  to me is the character of Bridget Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful.  Even in a medium where it’s an expected practice to cause heroines  heartbreak, the degradation of Dr. Bridget is reaching [Read more...]

One Life To Live at 40: That’s Entertainment!

OLTL cast

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 18: EricMontreal22 recalls OLTL 1980 … Dale salutes Phil Carey … norn calls Llanview home away from home … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Happy 40th birthday, One Life to Live!  I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks, trying to come up with an overall through-line for the four decades this show has been broadcast daily on ABC.  But it’s hard to find one, because, within that span of years, the drama has gone through so many different eras and been presented in so many different styles, by so many writers and producers with individualistic approaches.  So why have I continued watching through it all?  Forty years is  a long time, indeed most of my adult  lifetime!

And then it struck me:  I’ve watched OLTL so long simply because it has always been entertaining, and in so many ways!

I loved the social  relevance and the breakthrough ethnic and racial diversity of the early Agnes Nixon years.  When Carla Gray, who was black and passing for white, confessed all her problems and her pain to [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Dorian Cramer Lord, Part Two

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  CeCe says Dorian should leave Llanview … cher wonders if Dorian is ready for therapy … Dale tries to imagine a “good” Dorian. See Comments below.

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Part 2 of a 2-part OLTL 40th anniversary appointment!

By Damon L. Jacobs 

When we left off on Friday, we discussed Dorian’s symptoms which are consistent with Paranoid Personality Disorder.  As a Thoughtful Fan pointed out on this page last Friday, Marlena herself wrote a wonderful column back in 1998 about how the Dorian facing-her-past storyline  of ‘97-’98 accurately illuminated the tenants of traditional Freudian psychoanalytic therapy.  She faced her painful history, gained insight, and literally killed the mother that had been perceived as a source of so much dysfunction.  But I submit, did this insight make Dorian happier?  Did it help her gain peace?  Did it improve her relationships?  Change her behavior?  I’d say no, especially based on her behavior in the last six weeks, which is arguably worse than it’s been for a very long time.

In order for Dorian (played by the cherished Robin Strasser) to truly heal, I would recommend [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Dorian Cramer Lord, Part One

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  cher shares on Dorian and respect … norn on Dorian and revenge … and more. See Comments below.

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Part 1 of 2-Part OLTL 40th Anniversary Appointment!

By Damon L. Jacobs

Each week the Soap Shrink tries to offer a glimpse into a soap character’s history, symptoms, and hopefully suggest an optimistic view of how, growth, change, and development are possible.

This week his hands are full.  Because Dorian Lord, perhaps the most brilliant, yet self-destructive, person in Llanview has been very naughty lately.  How can someone so smart, with such great wardrobe choices, make SO many of the same mistakes over and over?  Let’s take a look and find out.

Dorian, played with timeless mastery by the inimitable Robin Strasser, grew up in an environment that can best be described as chaotic.  Throughout her childhood she witnessed domestic violence between her mother and father, and she herself was physically and psychologically abused.  This in and of itself can lead to rage, distrust, and [Read more...]

Point-Counterpoint: The Infuriating Holden/Carly Romance on As the World Turns

Holden and Carly

What is daytime’s most unpopular romance? Judging from fan complaints, I’d say it’s Holden and Carly on As the World Turns.  Here are two characters — wed not to each other — who are or were partners in two separate long-running supercouples.

Well, so what?  Since partner switch — and adultery — are staples of soaps, I can’t quite understand why there is such a huge fan outcry against this romance.  So I’ve sought guidance from two valued members of Team Marlena:  I’ve asked our Patrick Erwin, who dislikes the pairing, to explain the fan hostility he believes is justified. For the other side of the coin, I’ve turned to my longtime friend and ardent ATWT fan, a television writer/producer who wishes to be known only as pjs.  He, too, has an explanation for why the fans hate the romance, why the fans are wrong, and why he likes the pairing of Holden and Carly.

Enjoy the debate, Thinking Fans.  It may inspire you to post your own thoughts in the comments section at the end.

                                                                        Marlena

                                                                        XXXOOO

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HOLDEN AND CARLY:  THE WRONG TIME, THE WRONG FACE

By Patrick Erwin

Message boards and the virtual soap universe have been filled over the last few weeks with some loud and strong reactions to the pairing of Holden and Carly on As The World Turns. I don’t think [Read more...]

One Life To Live at 40: How Has One Life Changed Your Life?

One Life to Live original

By Marlena De Lacroix

One Life to Live‘s 40th anniversary is next week.  I’ve watched the show for 39 of those forty years, so it’s been a big part of my life!  And it has meant a tremendous amount to me.  Thinking Fans, I’m interested in how OLTL has affected your life, what it has meant to you, your evaluations and memories of the storylines which have meant the most to you personally.  How has One Life changed your life?

Here’s my One Life to Live story:

I am 14, maybe 15, a latchkey kid in Queens, New York, watching TV after a day of high school.  I’m watching ABC, waiting for that weirdo [Read more...]