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...]

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...]

Why Today’s One Life To Live Reminds Me of the Glory Days of Guiding Light

One Life to Live

By Patrick Erwin

I’ve been writing about soaps for a while, but  I am a relatively new daily fan of One Life To Live. Yes, as Marlena has observed, some of us soap viewers are boarding the OLTL lifeboat, and I, for one, have bought my ticket!

Guiding Light logoI watched OLTL a bit here and there (especially during the first Malone years), but I  am really drawn to the quality of the show now. What could I possibly say about OLTL that has not been said before — about the writing, the characters, the pacing? Nothing, that’s what. So instead of trying to recap OLTL, I decided I’d try to tell you why I’m loving OLTL so much … by talking about Guiding Light.

Huh, you say? Work with me here.

With apologies to The Golden Girls‘ Sophia Petrillo, I say: picture it — Springfield, 1990. The show was slated for some major changes. Pam Long was running into network interference, and she and GL parted ways. At the same time, several of GL‘s biggest stars were [Read more...]

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...]

Why Guiding Light is Self-Destructing

Guiding Light logo

By Patrick Erwin

The other day I got so fed up, I turned off Guiding Light and swore I’d never turn it back on.  That might have been an overreaction — of course I’ve been watching it so long that  I’ll inevitably  tune in again sometime. But in my up-and-down relationship with GL, it’s time to give it some tough love. My old friend has changed drastically over the last few years, but these days, it seems to be self-destructing.

Lest you think I’m fickle and have made the judgment lightly, let me tell you a few things. I’ve been watching GL since 1980 or so, and I’ve seen a lot of wonderful actors playing fantastic stories.  Despite the clunker stories of the 80s and 90s (Ghost Reva, Amish Reva, walking through paintings, etc.)  I have stayed tuned. Why? Well, [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...]

More Emmy Noms 2008: How ‘bout a Little Self-Respect?

By Patrick Erwin

Basketball may have its March Madness, but the soap world has its own spring madness ritual — the Daytime Emmy nominations. The discussions about this year’s nominations have come fast and furious since they were announced yesterday. Marlena gave her take on the whole process, and I had a few thoughts of my own I thought I’d like to share.

Most Confusing Nomination: The three younger actress nominations for The Young and the Restless. Look, I know everyone has their own favorites, and their own likes and dislikes. And as far as these performers go (Vail Bloom, Emily O’Brien, Tammin Sursok), I have nothing against any of them per se. But even the most ardent Y&R fan has to admit all three of these performers played characters who were unpopular with viewers, and have been in very unpopular storylines. For all three to be rewarded with a nomination defies logic.

The “Guiding Light Survival Raft” Nominations: All of the acting nominations for Days of our Lives. Like GL, Days has been the subject of cancellation rumors [Read more...]

Guiding Light and All Soaps: Don’t Change the Quirky Characters We Love!

By Patrick Erwin

Being a Guiding Light fan hasn’t been an easy road over the last few years. But one consistent bright spot for me has been the mother-daughter duo of Doris and Ashlee Wolfe. Ashlee, in particular, is always a joy to watch. She’s a full-figured ball of energy, quirky and often funny, even when she doesn’t intend to be. I think my love for Ashlee (and for actress Caitlin Van Zandt) was sealed when Ashlee sang “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” at Doris and Alan’s farcical wedding.  (Trust me if you haven’t seen it — it’s hysterical!)

So I was a bit concerned when I read that Ashlee has undergone gastric-banding (or lap-band) surgery. Ashlee’s size, after all, is [Read more...]

When Cliché Stories Go Startlingly … Right!

By Patrick Erwin

Soap fans and critics alike complain loudly when we encounter the overused soap plotline. We can see most of them coming from a mile away!

We know, for example, that one woman, plus two men, multiplied by a short period of time = ”Who’s the daddy” story. It seems like a good third of all soap characters have discovered heretofore unknown children, and some lucky lottery winners (Guiding Light‘s Reva, One Life To Live‘s Viki, All My Children‘s Erica and As the World Turns‘  John Dixon) have found more than one along the way!

And yet, every once in a while, even the oldest cliché in the book really works as a story. Recently a  few shows have put a new shine on old chestnuts, with entertaining results.

Back from the Dead: Jesse, AMC. Characters coming back from the dead is one of the oldest soap clichés, and one that often doesn’t work. AMC tried to revive the formerly-dead Maria, then Dixie, with far less success. And I couldn’t imagine a character less likely to be revived than Jesse, who had been “dead” for more than 20 years.  We saw die on screen!  And yet, despite all those potential negatives, this story just worked beautifully  for several reasons. One, of course, was the great performances by Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan. The writing was also beautiful and historically accurate (and as Marlena has theorized, was perhaps guided by [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...]