What’s to Watch Now?

By Marlena De Lacroix

As the World Turns was over on Friday and at least two dozen of my old soap pals all called or wrote. But what to watch now? If you are still around to watch afternoons, it’s slim pickings.ATWT Days is way too juvenile even to contemplate. Young and Restless is very competent soap opera. But someone help! We’re left with the ABC Daytime line up. Admiring my dog Nigel sleeping on the couch seems to look like better entertainment after a while.

All My Children is boring. Who ever heard of a soap opera without a villain? What happened to Vincent Irizarry (David, who is now really, truly dead). Did he want too

Goodbye, As the Word Turns. But … One Life to Live is boring … General Hospital is boring … All My Children is boring … So what’s to watch now?

much money? No Adam, no David, and JR does not cut it as a first class villain. I could care less about Rebecca Budig. What puzzles me is that a network that is obsessed with shirtless boys (like the indistinguishable Ford boys on One Life to Live) should foist such a middle age frump as Caleb Cooney (the I’m-so-bored-please-pay-me Michael Nouri) on me. Why, Lord, why? By the time Susan Lucci arrives back in town as Erica, I will have had twelve nightmares about plaid shirts. If I want to look at half-glasses I can pick Moose’s off the coffee table and stare through them and howl from my afternoon loneliness.

One Life to Live is boring. Please ABC, give me some men! I almost had an anxiety attack when they killed off my boyfriend Eli, (along with Thorsten Kaye, my only other crush in decades of soap watching). But now it looks like he’ll be back. So I’m glad I won’t have to swoon only at Matthew Walton’s commercials anymore. And Inez — what a flopola poor Jessica Lecci is! I can’t even berate OLTL for being misogynist anymore. It’s such a snooze, its hardly worth watching. Poor Robin Strasser. She’s being written as so unlifelike it’s as if they took Dorian’s head and mounted it on the wall next to Viki. And Marlena has no greater soap loves than Slezak and Strasser! Big bad Clint indeed. What a villain! I’m so scared of Jerry ver Dorn, so-so-scared, aren’t you?

General Hospital is boring. Who will Sonny shoot next and get away with it? Me? You? You just had to laugh when Sonny went to Rome and confessed shooting his son and that cutie Brandon Barash and didn’t realize she could be shot in her beautiful face by him right then and there. Actually Vanessa Marcil and Maurice Benard do have chemistry — if you put the sound off. Seriously, they are the last of the soap supercouples — it’s a shame to waste our own Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino. Who wants to bet me three other soap analysts that Carly and Brenda get into a catfight before Marcil’s year back on the show is over?

So what’s to watch? Marlena, a home owner for the first time in my life, is big into those home shows on HGTV these days. At least this network knows how to present really attractive men. Have you seen gorgeous Carter Oosterhouse (Carter Can)? Or Scott McGillvray (Income Property)? Yowsah, now that’s what I call Real Guys. Even Holmes on Homes takes me away with his brain, hammer and perpetual overalls. I never thought I’d spend my afternoon admiring men putting insulation on pipes. At least on HGTV, the men don’t wear plaid shirts and they don’t carry guns. On daytime afternoons of these lousy and long daytime television days it seems only rooftops needing bricks get me excited!

P.S. Someone who likes me above must have been reading my hormone levels because I just heard that John Wesley Shipp is coming back to daytime as the Fords daddy on One Life to Live. Now, we all love John — who could forget his and Doug Marland’s Kelly on Guiding Light or their Doug Cummings on  As the World Turns? But daytime reporters like him because he is as nice as he is hunky.  And so talented! In my book he can out Oosterhouse Oosterhouse and that’s saying a lot. Welcome back John and thank goodness for embarrassing middle age desires come true….


  1. I think the extent of David’s demise has been greatly exaggerated! 🙂

  2. Actually, as weird as it sounds, B&B is doing a very good job lately

    Marlena says: Ever since Brooke had blind sex with her daughter’s boyfriend, I’ve been repelled by the smarm of this show. Now that Stephanie is developing cancer, I’ll look in again. But if they get rid of the one and only Susan Flannery (due to salary differences) there will be hell to pay. Paying hell is Stephanie’s specialty!

  3. As always, I love what you have to say but even HGTV is a bit of a bore these days. How many episodes of HOUSE HUNTERS can we see in one day? How many versions of HOUSE HUNTERS can we see in one day (the original, INTERNATIONAL, PROPERTY VIRGINS, etc., etc.). The design element of HGTV has dwindled to almost nothing other than their Saturday night line-up. I know it’s all because of budget but I loved HGTV back in the day when they had more of a variety of shows AND more design/designer tips themed show. And yes, you’re right Carter & Scott are major eye-candy — but even that’s not enough.

  4. When you’re right….you’re right. GH was my soap. WAS being the operative word. Now it’s the same recycled crap day after day.

    Time and time again, GH had the opportunity to present a good story and they always choose not to do it. They trash the show’s history and do the same mob storylines. It’s so boring. If you watched at all in the last 10 years– you don’t have to watch now. It’s the same story. and in the end– Sonny wins and Jason saves the day. Zzzzzzzzz GH needs to fire Guza and Phelps STAT

    ps- i still want to see it revealed Ethan is a scorpio.

  5. As to what to watch during the day, I have four letters for you: NCIS. Runs constantly on USA, Sleuth or ION. And it has Mark Harmon, ex-soap cutie Michael Weatherly and for a few years, ex-soaper Lauren Holly. Very smartly written, a bit of hopeless shipping for couples….great stuff. It’s sad where I have to get my soap fix these days.

  6. Preacher'swife says:

    I sticking with Days & Y&R As well as Joyce Meyer and Martha Stewart

  7. My beloved AS THE WORLD TURNS is gone. And I will miss it. But life goes on.

    I really don’t care about THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTFUL.. I find it silly, repetitve and in dire need of some fresh middle aged characters. I grew totally disinterested in the show when Taylor was resurrected.

    YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS is okay. Not bad. Not great. But okay, which is better than unwatchable, eh? But if Maria Arena Bell were smart and she has demonstrated that she is, she’d defenestrate the yawn-inducing crime stories and resume telling the kinds of tales that popularized Y&R–stories about love, romance and familial conflict unwrapped slowly and culminating with a thunderous payoff.

    Neil could have a one night stand with Malcolm’s fiancee. When Malcolm discovers it, he could accuse Neil of doing it to get back at him for what happened with Drucilla all those years ago. “I hurt you deeply,” Malcolm could say. “And I guess you wanted me to know how that felt. Well, I do and it hurts.”

    Maybe some mysterious person, Olivia Bowman could come to town with an axe to grind with a greatly admired character, Nikki. This person makes unflattering remarks about Nikki in public. Talks about Nikki being a dissembler, that at one time, she was a pill-popping stripper. That Nikki was recently seen at the coffeehouse, clearly inebriated, with a flask, spiking her morning brew. And then the person gets so low that they bring up that Nikki’s father molested her.

    The Newmans are perplexed, to say the least. Why is this person trying to debase and humiliate their beloved Nikki? Of course, they do a background check and can’t find out anything about this Olivia Bowman. “The name is clearly an alias,” Victor mumbles.

    And the reveal could make perfect sense. But please, don’t let it be a long lost child of Nikki’s out for her pound of flesh.

    You get my point. Y&R should resume telling the kinds of stories that at one time, kept soap viewers
    in a lather.

  8. Oh, I actually didn’t know about Stephanie. Damn. (I try to avoid spoilers)

  9. In my youth, I was a TV junkie and spent most of my time watching the tube. So I can’t believe I’m gonna say this…These days, I get my fix for romance and family drama from books.

  10. Dear Marlena,

    This is my first time writing to you, which is kind of a big deal for me, since I’ve been reading your columns for such a long time.

    I discovered soaps in the early ’90s when I was in high school, and there was a time (circa 1993) when I, believe it or not, knew almost all of the characters and actors by name on each of the eleven series on the air. “General Hospital” was the only one I taped and watched every day, but I used to read every issue of Soap Opera Digest (and a lot of Soap Opera Weekly issues as well) cover-to-cover.

    It’s been a while since I’ve felt much interest in the U.S. soaps, and in fact I wondered if I had just grown tired of the genre. But when I was living in Europe a few years ago, I re-discovered soaps all over again. I almost wondered if it was possible that there could still be soaps out there with human, funny characters, and engaging storytelling that takes full advantage of an ensemble cast.

    Now I can only speak for the German soaps that I watched, but I know that there are Italian, Spanish (Telemundo!), and British soaps, and probably a whole lot more out there around the world — certainly French ones as well, n’est-ce pas? I’ve heard that the daily soap opera genre is the most popular form of entertainment across the world. So why have U.S. soaps gone down the drain?

    Since your column is posing the question “What’s to watch now?” this week, I’d like to suggest that your readers take a look online. It’s really amazing how many networks are now offering full-episode streams of their soaps. For anyone who can understand German, I highly recommend my now-favorite show “Rote Rosen” (“Red Roses”), episodes of which are available on the German ARD network website. Some other popular German soaps are “Verbotene Liebe” and “Marienhof” (which air in the early evening in Germany and therefore attract a large audience).

    British soaps like “Eastenders” air on some public television stations here in the states; I think they are also available on the BBC website. And of course, if you have Telemundo, you’ve probably seen the soapiest of soapy moments as you flip through the channels in the evening. A bit too soapy for my taste, but these shows are incredibly popular with Spanish-speaking audiences.

    It is unfortunate that the major U.S. networks are doing their best to maim, deform and kill the soap opera genre, but other countries are fortunately still producing entertaining shows that actually make you want to watch and keep coming back for more.


    Marlena says: Thanks for writing Roger. And such a VERY interesting letter about soaps outside of the U.S. Gives us lots to think about!

  11. I know this was outside your generation Marlena, but John Wesley Shipp also played Dawason’s (James Van Der Beek) dad on The WB (now CW network) teen drama series “Dawson’s Creek”!

  12. Marlena,

    That constant murmuring you hear is the sound of readers everywhere saying “uh-huh” in unison as they read your column!

    I gave up on soaps after GL went dark for the reasons you mentioned. But my grandmother, whom I hooked on GL when she retired some 25 years ago, asked me what other soap she should check out once ATWT was gone (she hooked herself on ATWT — and also watched DAYS, until Marlena started floating around and spitting pea soup on John Black).

    I was at a loss, really. The only choice that seemed plausible was Y&R, and she is giving it a try. She has a friend that is quickly filling her in on who’s who, and so far has only good things to say. Based on her reviews, it seems like Y&R has a good range of generations in its cast, a balanced use of that cast and halfway intelligent writing.

    We lose more than the shows themselves, it seems. I miss discussing GL with my gram when I visit her (and my late grandfather, who swore he never paid attention to the shows but would chime in immediately to correct us when we said something wrong, and throw in his two cents while he was at it!)…it was always great to have that in common.


  13. Roger :: Very well said! I was just about to mention how come they are killing an American tradition storytelling when even in Nigeria they have popular soap opera style formats that I can sometimes catch on Jamen; if not I have to wait for my African pals to send me the series on DvD when the season is done.

    I have been getting into the European soaps Coronation St which is in the Guiness Book as the longest running soap?


    Maybe for the UK not sure…it seems everywhere in the world can make it work except here. I didn’t even know Germany had soaps LoL…

    I’m backtracking re-watchng vintage soaps because I was young the storylines now seem different. rewatched Susan Moore Murder storyline…now on a lot of Duke/Anna e.g. the Jerome family (mob) and Olivia’s Fatal Attr. storyline circa 1988.

    Since the Tudors is now gone, TrueBlood is off, I’m into Damages, The GoodWife, Spartecus and will be watching the mini series Pillars of the Earth..another newbie that caught my eye since I like cop shows and a few of my favorite actors are in it .. Detroit 187


    I’m also hearing good things about Hawaii five O on CBS so I’ll check that out too…

    Soaps? I watch are Y/R, B/B, DOL, I’m hanging on for dear life. I’m trying to watch Brenda’s return and already the misogony has kicked in…and I thought Vanessa is Guza’s muse.

    For me GH is just horrible yes it looks pretty real pretty and the storylines look ok if you don’t know the lay of the land…But when you get down to the drama? Women are written horribly and I can’t believe they have women writers on that show.

    I still record them all…I don’t want another show to die. But I don’t watch ABC shows very much. Basically I’m doing a lot more “reading.”

  14. Marlena,
    Hi Marlena,

    First time poster, long time reader.
    On the web, if you know where to look, are downloads of the big four British soaps. EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. They are what our beloved American soaps always used to be – about real people. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they get a little boring, but 99% of the time it is just good old drama, and the accents take very little getting used to. I am over 50, and had watched the soaps since I was a girl in the 60s with my Mother. I gave up slowly, beginning in the mid 1990s as one by one they deteriorated, and haven’t watched one regularly since then. Tuned back in to see Andrea Evans return as Tina on One Life, and switched off in horror as Todd “seduced” Marty, realizing I was watching some sick executive’s idea of a love story. Still love some of the actors (I try to catch Jane Elliot’s scenes on YouTube) but the charcaters are unrecognizable. Anyway, give the Brit soaps a chance. I think you’ll be happy you did.

  15. I haven’t watched the last episodes of ATWT yet. Still procrastinating on that end. Since I watch five of the six soaps still airing (don’t have time for B&B as it isn’t on SoapNet), I do have opinions. If someone is looking for the old days, they aren’t going to find it–I have very low expectations. If I like something and am not offended I think that is a win. If it is boring, that’s preferred to disgusting.

    AMC: I’m bored and fast forwarding a lot of it because I just don’t care. That’s awful, but it is true. I do agree that there is just something missing without a real villain, as JR doesn’t cut it. Killing David is stupid and reminds me way too much of GL’s Phillip Spaulding “murder”. Even if the way Angie lost her sight is bad science, I enjoy most of the acting.

    Days: This show really only has two-three stories and everything relates off of them. This is somewhat good and somewhat bad. We have Chloe’s pregnancy and the fall out from that if people find out that the baby daddy isn’t her fiance, which is closely tied into Vivian being buried alive as they involve most of the same people. The other plot is Sami shooting EJ. I don’t hate what is going on, but it isn’t deep or meaningful. People seem to love Maggie and Victor, but would Maggie really fall for him? Some things are unintentionally funny like Vivian getting all upset being put in a coffin, and telling Brady how could he do something like this to her. Well, he is Victor’s nephew, like Victor hasn’t done awful things. Silliness people.

    GH: Michael, argh…the whole issue with how he may or may not have been raped. Why? Yuck. Sonny shooting people is getting to the point of someone being hit by a pie in classic television comedy. And yes Sonny and Brenda are better when the sound is off, and I do agree they are one of the last supercouples I wouldn’t say the last, but they are close to it.

    OLTL: I could never get into Eli as why invest in a boyfriend of Blair? They all go crazy and are written off the show except for Todd. Seriously when was the last time, Blair was given a love interest that wasn’t psycho? Crickets… The way they have been writing Dorian is bad, the way they have been writing Viki (if we’ve seen her is really bad.) Viki and Charlie conspiring together to reunite David and Dorian by seducing them to make the other jealous. What??? Argh. I felt embarrassed for the actors. In comparison, the Clint stuff is better (than the last three to four months of much ado about nothing), not great mind you (though in my list of stories JvD has had over the years GL included this is not the worst…far from best. No I don’t see Clint as evil SOB, partly due to writing partly because of who is playing the role as for a part of me he will always be GL’s Ross. Really his targets are kind of pathetic–Rex, Kelly, and Dorian wasn’t allowed to fight back, disappointing. I thought he played Clint more ruthlessly during the writer’s strike, especially those two days they brought in Tom O’Rourke may he rest in peace.) Then we have what I find icky/gross which is Natalie and Jessica, great idea two half-siblings potentially pregnant with half-siblings. We are supposed to find this exciting, it is not to me. When I heard about John Wesley Shipp, I was happy, but he’s 20 years older than Jessica Leccia (who is about a decade too young for the part)..at least he realistically could be father to the Ford boys due to his age.

    Y&R: The cast of this show is huge, I’ve been watching for again regularly for months and sometimes it feels like I don’t know everyone. The end of Chance was entertaining, but Nick, Adam, Phyllis, Sharon, I have no clue. When you watch a show and can’t figure out who you should be sympathetic to and aren’t feeling that way towards anyone in a plot there is a problem. Nikki becoming a drunk again due to Meggie, what is the point of that? Watching Billy and Victor fight is kind of useless as they are not peers.

    If you are enjoying HGTV that’s fine with me Marlena. I’m all for watching what one enjoys even if it isn’t a soap opera.

    Marlena says: I too find Nikki becoming an alcoholic again boring on Y&R. Send her back to school: give her a profession. The death of Chance was magnificent on Y&R, but couldn’t they just someone stay dead for a change. And there’s nothing on daytime that compares with Debbi Morgan’s acting. She and Darnell are the absolute and only geniuses on daytime given story right now.

  16. Ironically, primetime television is filled with soap opera-ish plots and many of them are thriving. If only Daytime TV would remember what made it so successful in the first place. Romance, family intrigue, friendships, strong women. One of my current obsessions is The Vampire Diaries, a show which is obviously aimed at the youth demographic, yet it revolves around a town and centuries worth of family conflict, a battle between the human townsfolk and the vampires, a battle which is still going on today. There’s a love triangle/qaudrangle at the center, and strong young women who can kick some ass. Where is any of this in daytime anymore?

    I still watch GH, there are stories I am enjoying. I like the Scrubs/Crazy Lisa story. It’s contrived, but it reminds me of past soap storylines. Plus, it focuses on three hot young doctors (four if you count Steven Webber), one of which we watched grow up on screen. There are still characters and stories I like on GH, it just gets overshadowed by the dreary dreck of the mobster storylines.

    The only other soap I watch fairly regularly is DOOL. The Maggie/Victor romance is positively inspired! Watching Victor soften and lighten up around Maggie, who is always sparkling, has been great fun, has been Vivian going nuts. If only the rest of the show was as interesting and entertaining.

  17. Great evaluation for the ‘As the World Turns’ fans whom are out there just wandering around aimlessly with no where to go. Poor souls.

    Personally, I’m an ABC boy. Have watched all three shows for the past 18 years and I love them. I don’t think they are in as bad of shape as you pointed out, Marlena but you’re definitely right about the cloning of the Ford brothers on ‘One Life to Live.’

    If only ‘ATWT’ had been as good during the past five years as it was 10-20 years ago, it would make saying goodbye a lot harder. It wasn’t hard to say goodbye because the show was simply not worth watching over the past year.

    ~ Kevin

  18. Hi Marlena – I don’t have anything to add to your perfect assessment of the shows (though with JW Shipp AND Zimmer at OLTL I may have to take a peek there).

    But you make a great point about the renovation shows…and you’ve picked up on a connection there…..they seem to look for actors with carpentry skill, etc who can sell whatever story they are telling. And it may be “real” but those shows are still stories.

    I remember for ATWT when Mike was recast (I think when Mark Collier was cast) that Carter Oosterhouse auditioned for it. Digest ran something about him being in the running.

    And of course there’s John Littlefield, who’s one of the team members on Extreme Makeover Home Edition but used to play one of the many Garys on Another World (it was after Timothy Gibbs, I think…..)

  19. You know Marlena, the term “flopola”is absolutely perfect about Jessica Lecia(sp, I know).She was weak on Guiding Light-and boy that’s saying a lot!-and at least she remains consistent on One Life.
    Okay, maybe what many are calling Llanview’s instafamily would go over more succesfully if there was someone playing the struggling Ford matriarch with skill or acting ability.
    I don’t believe ANYTHING this character says or does because she’s portrayed by a woefully miscast weak actress.
    Now with the charismatic J W Shipp coming on board as the neglectful and missing patriarch, this actress has no choice but to improve her performance or this whole family-eye candy or not-will be only annoyances on the show. Not a good way to build a supposed new core family.
    Lecia is the second major casting blunder the show has made in the last year. The hated Stacey Morosco was on for nearly every episode for the better part of six months and she and that storyline got worse minute by minute as a result of that. Building the show now around so many Fords-already not going over well with at least half the audience[-with a weak central actress in the middle can only add to the show’s heartache.
    Wait until mama Ford starts having multiple scenes with Slezak, Strasser and Zimmer. Oooooh, the bloodshed will be awful to watch..

  20. I think it is real hard to distinguish my old GL faves on these new shows. I thought John Driscoll was good as Chance—-it kind of made me not think of Coop as much when I was watching him. Now Marcy Rylan is starting to come into her own as Abby as she is a little bit more lighter and not as serious as Lizzie was. And Jeff Branson has great chemistry with Tricia Cast (yet who doesn’t have chemistry with that great actress).

    The one I may have to really get adjusted to is Kim Zimmer—to me and millions of others she is always Reva. It would be kinda like Erika Slezak popping up in Springfield playing a new character if it was reversed. She is a great actress and can play anything but it will be weird to see if she kisses Clint (Ross). I do look foward to Echo confronting Dorian and Viki. I never really watched OLTL much, but I will give it a glance to see how the Echo story goes.

    B&B is high camp yet I don’t want to see Susan Flannery go yet her retirement would be appealing in her life too. You got to think of the actress herself and the life she wants. If she does leave, prolong the cancer for 6-7 months to finish it out. Yet if she has the recovery that would be great too. SHe is a big anchor in the show so if she does leave that is a huge void.

    I can’t believe we are down to 6 when in 2000 there were 10 I think. But soaps wil be on the internet soon yet I think so will tv period in the future.

  21. Melanie S says:

    Wonderful piece as usual! I’m still missing ATWT badly. To be honest, I’ve completely lost interest in all the remaining soaps. I’ll be tuning into B&B for Stephanie/Susan Flannery’s upcoming story, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it because of the possible outcome (let’s just say, if Susan leaves B&B, then I leave B&B.)

    I agree w/ many of your readers that foreign soaps are great. I really enjoy UK’s EastEnders and the Aussie soap Neighbours and would love to start watching Coronation Street – however these shows are very difficult to find online (at least for me.) Once I find a ‘supplier’ they tend to disappear quickly and I’m stuck unable to feed my addiction 🙁

    Someone asked why UK soaps seem to do better than US shows – as I understand it: Corrie, EE and Emmerdale are primetime shows, not daytime, and that probably explains why the ratings are better for them.

    So what am I watching? Old soaps. I started watching Dark Shadows again (up to ep #260) and I’m about to begin Part 2 of Peyton Place (I wish they would continue releasing Peyton Place dvds, but it’s unlikely.) How sad that I’d rather watch older soaps than newer ones.

  22. I could agree with much of this, although I caution that if you’re after some pretty faces, be careful what you wish for! Daytime these days has suffered from having so many actors with pretty faces and defined pecs who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag.

    (Remember the 90s glory days of OLTL — when the cast had its share of pretty people, but also a range of people who looked like America? Some frumps, some divas, some skinny guy with a scar, etc.?)

    Marlena says: I was writing this before you were even born, dear. But we middle-age girls have so little to oogle these days, and we have needs just as much as the young boys and girls do too.

  23. Hi, Marlena!

    To your readers suggestions of “…European soap operas; cable reruns of prime-time shows; reality TV and the local library,” I would like to add my new blog “Eye On Monticello — Through the Eyes of DiDi Bannister-Stoner” to the list: http://eontoday.blogspot.com/

    Along with a storyline that updates EDGE OF NIGHT characters to the present time and attempts to build some suspense (“stay tuned” :-), I’ll also be doing cast updates from time to time for Soap Opera 451: http://pgpclassicsoaps.blogspot.com/ — with recent interviews with Jennifer Taylor (Det. Chris Egan) and Mark Arnold (Gavin Wiley).

    It’s a weekly “episodic,” with 7 installments so far and new posts each Wednesday. I’d love to get your feedback and am open to suggestions from you and your readers as to how you’d like to see the story develop. Meanwhile…

    XO, Mariann

    Btw…my “day job” is a show I’ve co-written/produced & perform with Iona Morris (ex Fiona Griffin, ATWT)! I think you’ll get a kick out of it. 🙂

    Marlena says: Viva Marianne and thanks for writing. I remember meeting you the first time at Sky and Raven’s wedding. And I love your blog!

  24. Thanks, Marlena! XO

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