One Life To Live’s “Tarty” Controversy: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  Melanie isn’t buying the “poor Todd” routine … Jenn misses the days when “soaps relied on love and chemistry” … and more. See Comments below.


My friend, television journalist Ed Martin called me last week to congratulate me on my Todd and Marty: Way Beyond Merely Disgusting column, noting the amazing number of responses (53 and counting). It inspired Ed to write his own response in his own column on I’m encouraging all TFs to read it because, for his television business site, Ed brilliantly and with great clarity analyzes the choice to air the controversial Todd and Marty story as a deliberate network programming move.Todd Marty

Ed recognizes that the story offends women viewers and emphasizes the folly of the network in airing it, considering that the majority of One Life to Live‘s audience is women. That’s an awful lot of viewers to risk losing!  He also scoops Marlena on another piece of OLTL misogny: the frequent close-ups of Jessica’s dead baby in another story aired at the same time. Ed writes:  “I don’t believe women want to see dead babies in their entertainment. Not ever.”

Ed has his opinions as a longtime viewer of OLTL, and this is where we differ.   Despite the offenses he clearly sees, he still likes — no — loves the melodrama of the story and calls it great soap opera  But Ed insists [Read more…]

Celebrating All My Children’s Phenomenal Women!


As a writer and professor, one of my very favorite things is finding new talent.  I got to know Norn Cutson this year because, as one of our Thinking Fans, he frequently writes to this site.  It turns out that Norn is a Thinking Fan who has more than one way to express his enthusiasm for soaps.  When Moose and I saw this illustration, we flipped.  Wow!  What talent!  We asked to share it here at, and Norn kindly gave us permission.

Norn’s illustration is, of course, of All My Children.  It’s the Kane women, Erica and her daughters Kendall and Bianca.  Phenomenal women characters created and watched over by the phenomenal  Agnes Nixon.  So, happy 10,000th show to Ms. Nixon and everyone who loves AMC

Norn is a graphics designer and illustrator who lives and works here in New York City. He is also a huge fan of One Life to Live.  You’ve got to see his portfolio at Norn’s Island . There’re Charlotte Rae, and Judy Garland, and Ann Magnuson and gaggles and gaggles of impressive illustrations of the celebrities we love.   Norn, what a find!



Night Shift 2 Served Up that Old General Hospital Magic as its Sublime Second Season Came to an End


Thinking Fans Comment Update October 26:  Dianne says NS2 was a gift to long-time GH fans … Suzette applauds the celebration of GH history, though she missed Genie Francis … Mike agrees, mostly, but wonders, where was Holly? … and more. See Comments below. 


By Ed Martin 

Sri Rao and Lisa De Cazotte are my new heroes.

The head writer and executive producer, respectively, of SOAPnet’s General Hospital Night Shift have in recent months given me as much to smile about as any creative team presently working in television. They reminded me why I became a passionate fan of General Hospital 30 years ago, and they did it in a manner nobody could have predicted, transforming what had been in its freshman season a perfectly putrid spin-off of a soap opera that is now a mere shadow of its fantastic former self into a sophomore series that embodied almost everything that was sublime about its mother-ship back in its heyday.

And after giving those of us who cherish our memories of GH in the Seventies and Eighties a three-month treat filled with characters from and references to that glorious period, delivered in a storytelling style that was as sophisticated and

I don’t know what Rao and De Cazotte have in mind for season three. I don’t even know if there will be a season three. There should be, and we shouldn’t have to wait until next summer to enjoy it!

respectful as it was heartfelt and thoughtful, Rao and De Cazotte concluded Night Shift’s swell second season with a two-part love note to those fans who made GH a pop-culture phenomenon and the formidable foundation of ABC Daytime.

Like hundreds of thousands (or could it be millions) of GH fans, I have felt increasingly beaten down by the show’s dark, dreary and [Read more…]

A General Hospital (Bang Bang!) Double Header

Thinking Fans Comment Update October 2:  Lois chronicles soaps’  long history of bloody brides (who knew?) … Cat complains that The Shooting was ripped off from The Godfather Part III … while Cyber is just tired of bad, repetitive writing … and more. See Comments below. 


Sonny and Kate

The occasion of yet another one of Sonny’s love interests being shot by a Mafia enemy, this time right before the wedding ceremony of Kate (a.k.a. Connie Falconeri) and Sonny started, triggered a high decibel  phone call between my friend Ed Martin and me.  As we have both watched General Hospital forever, we were furious with yet another cliche Guza plot,  which is an insult to our joint intelligence.  Ed bitched the circumstances of the shooting, and I bitched about how sick I am of Italians being portrayed as stupid mob stereotypes.  You see I’m really Italian and really a Connie …





By Ed MartinSonny

No soap opera exasperates me quite as much as General Hospital. Latest case in point: The shooting of Kate Howard.

I haven’t been paying much attention to GH of late, largely because I find the mobsters and their ladies to be increasingly uninteresting, and also because — after too many years of withdrawal — I am finally getting a very satisfying classic GH fix from Night Shift on SOAPnet.

But I did tune in Friday for the wedding of Sonny and Kate, and here’s what I saw: Kate and her cousin Olivia, with whom she was recently reunited after a separation of twenty years, engaged in a loud, embarrassing argument in the back room of the church, with Kate unaware that she was humiliating herself for the enjoyment of her two nemeses, Carly (who had threatened to kill Kate just a few days earlier) and Claudia (who menaced Kate months ago when she lay helpless in a hospital bed). In a telling closeup,

This isn’t simply repetitive storytelling, or storytelling that I don’t find appealing. This is bad soap writing, plain and simple.

Carly was the picture of crude contentment listening to Kate, likely realizing how humiliated she would be when she later learned that everyone in the church heard all the ugly details of her battle with Olivia.

I was waiting for the ferocious spat between Kate and Olivia to degenerate into a clawing catfight. Mercifully, that did not occur. But then [Read more…]

A Descent into Prime Time: 90210 and Gossip Girl

Marlena has always looked down her nose at prime time soaps (at least those post-Dynasty and Knots Landing.)  Years ago at SOW I even wrote a column called “Who Needs Beverly Hills 90210?” and to my surrpise,  thousand of young fans wrote in and said, “We do! We do!” So although the new 90210 and Gossip Girl are not theoretically fodder for my Thinking Fans, I thought you all might enjoy a thoughtful, funny and intelligent read by my TV critic friend Ed Martin, on the season kickoffs of each show.  Aw come on, TFs, slum it!





By Ed Martin 

I figure the reason why The CW chose not to provide advance review copies of the 90210 two-hour premiere is because, right at the start, one of the main characters was shown getting a hummer in the high school parking lot.

Can’t you imagine the headlines? “90210 Blows!” “90210 Sucks!”

Come to think of it, the comments that would have followed in dozens of reviews might have drawn even more young viewers to the show.

As it happens, the contemporary continuation of the hot 90s phenom that began as Class of Beverly Hills, then became Beverly Hills, 90210 and was eventually known simply as 90210 isn’t half bad. It’s going to take more than a discrete scene of oral sex [Read more…]

Welcome Back, Genie! Laura’s Heart Could Save General Hospital

Thinking Fans Comment Update Aug. 25:  horselover fears Genie’s return is just another bait and switch … Mike, a disappointed ex-GHer, will come back for Laura … so will Denise … and more. See Comments below.


In 1982, at the height of Luke and Laura mania on General Hospital, I was fortunate enough to publish “The Legend of Luke and Laura” in the classic soap magazine Afternoon TV, where I was then editor.   The extraordinary two (later three) part series of articles chronicling the history of the characters’ romance became a legend itself because its writer, Marilyn Henry, combined the skills of  a professional writer (The Films of Alan Ladd) with insight, feeling and an adult understanding of what really made these two characters psychologically reverberate both in our hearts and in soap history.Genie Francis

All these years later, I’m proud that Marilyn is one of Marlena’s Thinking Fans. To commemorate Genie Francis’ short return to General Hospital beginning today, Monday, Marilyn has written an appreciation of Laura and the Emmy-winning Ms. Francis. She briefly recaps and explains their history on GH and, as a longtime fan of the show, recommends that Genie’s  heart, talent and womanly goodness be the panacea for a show beset with the ugliness of  crime and violence. Marlena couldn’t agree more …




By Marilyn Henry

Genie Francis returns to General Hospital today, August 25th, for a short run.   She is one of the most beloved actresses of daytime and the fans have been begging for her prolonged return for years, to no avail.  Now the show seems to be at its lowest point, suffering from acute ennui on the part of the viewers.  Even the complainers have given up hope for change and the message boards, which used to be alive with rantings and ravings, are oddly quiet.  So the question is: will Genie’s eagerly awaited return be enough to bring mob- and violence-weary fans back into the fold?

Or is it simply too late?

Genie Francis started on General Hospital at age 14, after just one other acting job on the TV series Family.  The daughter of actor Ivor Francis, Genie had been around actors and listened to actor talk all her life and was already sure she wanted to be a

Genie Francis should have become the heart and soul of the show, much as Viki is at One Life To Live. But when GH went plot-driven and mob-infested, it was not a place where a character of decency and depth could thrive.

part of the business. She had excellent instincts and GH, under Executive Producer Gloria Monty, was trying to establish itself with the youth market, so she was given as much air time as the law then allowed.

She played Laura Vining, adopted daughter of the Vinings, but actually the biological daughter of leading lady Dr. Lesley Williams, who thought her child was dead, due to a baby switch at birth. Lesley fought to get her child back and won, but Laura was resentful and [Read more…]

General Hospital: Night Shift 2 Is a Monty Man’s Dream Come True

Thinking Fans Comment Update August 22: Bonnie likes GH:NS2 much better than “General Mob” … MontyFan is desperately seeking Holly … Chris says even Gloria would be proud … and more. See Comments below. 


So many readers responded to my two earlier columns on General Hospital: Night Shift 2 that I’ve decided to run another very interesting viewpoint.  It belongs to my longtime friend Ed Martin, who is a television columnist for

Ed is a charter member the ”Monty Men,” a group I affectionately invented  for my many male soap pals who started watching GH in the  late 70s and 80s as teenagers when the legendary Gloria Monty was the show’s executive producer  All my Monty Men (I have at least 9 or 10 of them)  have watched the show daily ever since, waiting for the show’s magic of that era to remateralize.  They are usually a frustrated, complaining bunch.  But as he reveals here, Ed and his fellow Monty Men may finally be getting what they’ve longed for thirty years later in this summer’s GH:NS2.





By Ed Martin

It has been a while since I started a column with a sentence I never thought I would write, but here goes: SOAPnet’s General Hospital: Night Shift is one of the most enjoyable original television series of the summer.

A caveat: The low-budget Night Shift may not be everyone’s idea of a sudsy medical drama, especially in the era of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, but damn, it sure delivers the goods. It’s a sexy, spirited, compassionate and totally satisfying [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.





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…]

General Hospital: Looking Back on 45 Years

(A note from Marlena:  It’s General Hospital’s 45th anniversary!  Here’s a celebration of the event by my good friend and journalistic colleague Ed Martin.  Ed and I have been happily debating General Hospital over coffee now for almost ten  years — and believe moi, we’re not always happy about the current state of the show.  Still,  Ed is clearly very sentimental about the show he once dearly loved.  Read Ed’s authoritative column TV Buzz at Hospital

By Ed Martin

General Hospital today is marking its 45th anniversary. The daily drama about the residents of fictional Port Charles, New York isn’t the oldest soap opera on television – CBS’ Guiding Light and As the World Turns have it beat – but it is still a vital and important show. It is the centerpiece of ABC’s afternoon lineup and remains the most talked about serial on daytime television – a distinction it first achieved 30 years ago this year when a young character named Laura Vining, who began on the show in 1976, moved to the center of the show’s narrative. Laura, one of the most messed-up kids in the history of soap opera, was played by Genie Francis, who was then only in her mid-teens. She had a [Read more…]