Losing “The Natural” — An Appreciation of Beth Ehlers, Guiding Light’s Irreplaceable Harley

By Patrick Erwin

Beth Ehlers is on her way to ABC and All My Children‘s Pine Valley, and they’re all damn lucky to have her. But for the second time in just a few months, P&G and CBS have made the boneheaded move of allowing someone who was woven deeply into the tapestry of a show to walk away. P&G clearly hasn’t learned from the loss of As the World Turns‘ Martha Byrne (the definitive Lily) and made the same mistake twice! They’ve let another beloved performer walk away with the audience’s heart and a big chunk of the tapestry of the show with all of the history and memories attached. This is something few recasts can ever replace, no matter how hard they try!

It’s hard to not be nostalgic and mournful. How do you let years of history and connections walk away? Harley — and Ehlers — had a connection with nearly everyone on the Guiding Light canvas.

Harley was one of the most complex [Read more...]

10 Merry Mid-Month of May Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix and Patrick Erwin

1.  When you saw John-Paul Lavoisier as Rex in his recent pre-wedding scenes on One Life to Live, wandering around a bar drunk, shirtless, and disheveled with a wild head of hair, didn’t he remind you just a little of Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones?

2.  Have you been lost in the maze of brunettes on As The World Turns? When we watched Noelle Beck as nuLily, she looked a lot like Marie Wilson (Meg). Who also looks a lot like Julie Pinson (Janet).  Janet also has a [Read more...]

Patrick’s Postcards from Oakdale, Salem and Springfield

By Patrick Erwin

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven’t been around as much lately.  I’ve been dealing with the plot twists and turns of my own storyline, including a move to another city — not just any city, but the Windy City of Chicago. Chicago is, of course, the cradle of soaps, where Irna Phillips started it all and where Bill Bell began. Speaking of cities, I’ve managed (despite my busy schedule) to visit several soap cities. Here’s my postcard from each …

Postcard: Oakdale – It’s no secret that As the World Turns has been the center of an incredible amount of friction, both onscreen and off. Many of the stories that played out on our screens over the last several months were incredibly dark and depressing (like Dusty’s murder, the custody battle for baby Hallie, and the Craig/Paul/Meg/Rosanna triangle, to name but a few). I have to say, though, [Read more...]

As the World Turns: Good-bye to Martha Byrne, The Real Thing

Martha ByrneBy Marlena De Lacroix

It’s hard to watch daytime soaps chip away piece by piece, and of course no one actor is daytime TV.  But watching Martha Byrne leave As the World Turns (because of a contract disagreement  with P&G) is really painful.  If ATWT can be looked at as a truly American, heartland soap (as do my friend Sam Ford and his students do in his soap class at MIT), than Byrne is indeed Mom and Apple Pie.

But not in the goody, goody sense!  For the last twenty-three years (with one hiatus), we’ve watched her Lily grow up from a bubbly, giggly teenager to wise wife and mother.  We love Lily and Martha because they are both always true and real.

Bryne, then a teenager from New Jersey, came to soaps by way of Broadway’s Annie, in which she played one of the orphans.  As Lily, there was no hiding behind tons of make-up, false eyelashes and teen queen phony cleavage.  At age 15, when Byrne made her debut on ATWT, Lily was just [Read more...]

The Daring and the Cowardly: Four Sweeps Surprises

By Marlena De Lacroix

With spoilers, there are no storyline surprises on soaps anymore.  That’s not to say that the ways in which storylines are presented can really come as shockers — especially in the February sweeps that just wrapped up, the sweeps in which we expected little to nothing interesting because of the Writers Strike.  So here are four soap stories/sweeps events which really shocked moi this month, either because they were so daring … or so cowardly!Ameera

Daring — As the World Turns Introduces an Iraqi character:  When Ameera, the hijab-wearing newly arrived ward of Colonel Mayer (Noah’s murderer father) turned up at the Snyder farm to get to know Noah and Luke, I was truly shocked.  A Muslim woman on daytime! We’ve never seen that before!  I usually like social issue stories and this could either turn out to be wonderfully humanitarian (demonstrating how hard it is for a Muslim woman to blend in to the U.S. in this time of war) or it could merely be a device to further a writer or producer’s liberal political agenda.  How long will it be until Bill O’Reilly is on to this?

Attaching Ameera into a story with fellow “societal outcasts” Luke and Noah can [Read more...]

As the World Turns’ Men in Love: The Controversy Rages!

By Patrick Erwin

A few months ago, I shared with our “Thinking Soap Fans” my thoughts on the Luke and Noah story on As the World Turns, and  what it meant to me.

In the last few weeks, buzz about the story has erupted into controversy, as many fans are up in arms about the show’s reluctance to show the couple kissing or expressing affection. The story has expanded to mainstream media, and took on new dimensions when the conservative American Family Association jumped into the fray by designating Procter & Gamble — which produces ATWT and supplies much of its advertising — the catalyst for an “action alert” as a result of P&G’s sponsorship of what the AFA termed “pro-homosexual” programming.

To make sense of what’s happened, I asked a few people who are familiar with both the soap world and the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) world to give us their perspective. [Read more...]

For Valentine’s Day, 5 Soap Couples Who Were Really Super

By Patrick Erwin

I  want to observe Valentine’s Day by discussing some of my favorite soap couples. I know soaps are famous for their “supercouples,” those pairs that keep coming back to each other through sleet, snow, and psychotic ex-spouses. Most shows have had these grand couples:  Luke and Laura,  Bo and Hope, Josh and Reva, and so on. But I’d like to honor Another Worldfive couples that had the most impact on me — the ones that moved me, made me laugh, made me sigh and made me believe in love — or as Marlena would say, l’amour!

Rachel and Mac, Another World:  Mac and Rachel were one of the most believable stories ever to play out on our screens. A theater director I worked with once said the magic of any performance was when you really believed, and I really believed that Mac [Read more...]

10 Sweet and Soapy Valentine’s Day Questions

By Marlena De LacroixSarah Brown

1.  Is it my imagination or did bravura actress Sarah Brown return to General Hospital (as Claudia Zacchara) with a little something extra under the signature slutty red wrap dress?  And isn’t fierce mob princess Claudia very similar to Maerose Prizzi (Oscar winner Anjelica Huston) the fierce mob princess who wants to take control of her mob family in the 1985 hit movie Prizzi’s Honor?  Is there a mob movie that Bob Guza has  failed to rip off?

2.  Indeed, is there any Hollywood movie that Guza hasn’t ripped off? Last night I watched 1983′s War Games, about a nerdy but lovable teenage computer hacker [Read more...]

As the World Turns: The Dark Side

By Patrick Erwin

A few weeks back, when I watched the scenes surrounding the death of Dusty Donovan on As the World Turns, I was overwhelmed — not because of Dusty’s death, or because of a performance or a line of dialogue. I was completely overwhelmed at how utterly dark ATWT is — and has been for some time now.

I mean, look around Oakdale. There’s prostitute Emily, former porn actress and drug addict Alison, overdose victim Lily, and a manipulative Chris Hughes. There’s an emotionally desperate mother (Sofie) and an extremely creepy adult (Sam) spending way too much time with Carly and her kids. And that’s before we even begin to contemplate the quadrangle of darkness that is Craig, Meg, Rosanna and Paul (soon to end, with the unfortunate departures of Cady McClain, who plays Rosanna, and Scott Bryce, who plays Craig).

Now, I’m not suggesting that ATWT launch a new storyline arc by having the entire cast gather at Bob and Kim’s, hold hands, and sing “Kumbaya.”  Clearly, exploring [Read more...]

On Soaps, Multiple Suspect Murder Mysteries are So-o-o Done!

 By Marlena De LacroixStephanie shot

I have grown so tired of the soap opera convention known as the multiple-suspect murder mystery storyline.  Of late, they’ve become meaningless, predictable or, even worse, totally incomprehensible.

The multiple-suspect murder plot was only done to perfection on the old full-time soap mystery show Edge of Night.  But the plot only became really popular on other soaps around the time [Read more...]