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...]

The Young and the Restless: Katherine Chancellor, Always!

By Patrick ErwinJeanne Cooper

The Young and the Restless has a long history of being a solid hour of soap, mostly unmoved by trends or the fleeting fancies that other shows have lived (or died) by. But in the last few years, Y&R has undergone some substantial changes — changes in writers, in producers, and in the pace the story unfolds on screen. Fans are, as you might expect, divided on the pros and cons of all these changes.

I’ve got some very mixed feelings about the new direction Y&R is taking. But I am here today, not to bury Y&R, but to praise it. I’d like to rave about a minor miracle:  that in 2008, these days of budget cuts, demographic pandering, and the supposed death of daytime, a very substantial portion of Y&R’s canvas is (a) over 40 and (b) in a front-burner storyline!

And perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that the character of Katherine Chancellor, as played by Jeanne Cooper, [Read more...]