Friday, December 7, 2007

Soap Opera Musings

I suppose I could take time to talk about what I have listened to of late-waking up with the Everett fire and going to bed to the Omaha massacre, listening to ON POINT archives and noting that Tom Ashbrook foreshadowed his current health situation. Immediate on my mind though are soaps.

Anyone who really knows me is familar with the fact that for all that I am quite the intellect and at home at dry knowledge and that I cut my teeth on soaps. My mother watched them when I was young and well, I watched them on and off during school and then never looked back once I hit college.

The first soaps I cut my teeth on were All My Children and Another World (I thought my mother had something of a love for the "A's" until I saw that we also watched Days of Ours Lives, The Edge of Night, Ryan's Hope and Love of Life.)

My "first run memories" (meaning that I watched it when it was on and not as a rerun or as a part of the increasingly lame retrospective/compilation shows that networks have resorted to since 2000 to fill programming needs) are definitely of All My Children. Erica Kane and I go back. I remember when she was married to Tom Cudahy and I did at the age of 2.75 see the infamous episode when he finds out that Erica was taking birth control pills and that's why they weren't having babies and he kicked her out of the house. I remember most from that two things:

A) The dialogue:
(with admitted paraphrasing-c'mon I was almost 3)
Erica: where do I go?
Tom: I don't give damn where you go!

When I first saw "Gone With the Wind" on tv, I couldn't remember why the ending dialogue of Scarlett and Rhett seemed so familiar. When I was a teen, I put it all together.

B) Up to that moment, I had never seen a person be that furious on tv or real life. I think I may have asked if he was going to hit her.

Yeah, back in the days when it was okay to play with wooden toys that had wire parts and to eat peanut butter in everything.

I was with Erica for the most part through marriages 3-present (although she and Jack are divorced for now), through the drug addiction, the loss of mother Mona (not too long before the loss of my own), the jail term, Bianca's coming out, the roller coaster marriages to Adam and Dmitri, the arrival of Kendall (the Sarah Michelle Gellar version), the bear incident, Charlie 1.0 where Ruth Martin in Stephanie Forrester style asks Erica how many generations of the men in her family was she going to go through and her last wedding (so far) with Jack where all of her children were present.

Now I have a hard time watching the show simply because everyone looks a like on the show. I can make out Erica's daughters, Kendall and Bianca and sometimes I pick up Josh Madden (Erica's son by her first ever husband Jeff Martin who was conceived apparently in a manner that led me to call such things the soapdish rewrite.
Info dump: "Soapdish" was a movie in the 90s that starred Sally Field, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Shue and Robert Downey, Jr. that spoofed the soaps. The scene that was played forever in the movie trailer was of Whoopi as Rose the head writer and Robert as the producer having a difference of opinion about how to reintroduce Kevin Kline's character, since he was killed off in an accident that decapitated him. Robert apparently felt that saying that a groundbreaking surgery where they reattached the head would take care of it while Whoopi, speaking for all of those who have common sense kept saying, "but he doesn't have a head" in frustration to get him to see that this doesn't make sense. She did the rewrite per Robert's suggestion because he was the producer but I imagine that there are discussions that take place like that in the real world considering some of the ways retcons and aging and exits and returns are explained.)

I can't say that I can tell any of the blondes a part. This was once true for me of As The World Turns but I can tell Katie from Carly and now that they killed of Rose (though personally I felt they killed the wrong sister and yes, I know I incurred the wrath of all the 'Lilden' fans out there) and some recasts have alleviated the problem with the men although Carly and Jack's sons Parker and AJ (?) are still a problem with me.

Guiding Light is proof of what happens when you runs a show into a ditch. I don't listen to it so much anymore. I thought that it did a great thing by writing the storyline with Daisy choosing abortion and exploring the aftermath although that started getting a bit heavy handed. I got sick of the Marina-Cyrus-etc. storylines. The Marina/Cyrus relationship is the type that I wish soaps would stop doing. I never think that it's romantic to be kidnapped, shot and to place your family in danger-even if the perpetrator is handsome, has a "heart of gold" and "mends his ways" because of the love of a good woman. This is a fantasy and a stupid one.

More egregious is the "if I wait long enough, he'll mature and we'll be together..." General Hospital did this with the one character I thought was above that-Robin Scorpio. Robin and I go back to the 80s. She has the dubious distinction of being one of the few characters who has not been aged as well as being played by the same actress that originated the role-Kimberley McCullough. I rather liked Robin and her precociousness and her fearlessness and I was all for her and mobster Jason. Their breakup I thought was one of thse stupid soapdish moves and I am continually irritated that they will not put them back together. Robin came back to Port Charles in '05 to work in GH and then the writers decided that it would be fun to pair her with Patrick Drake, Noah Drake's arrogant son. He treated her like crap for months and then they became close-one of the main drivers of this was Patrick's exposure to HIV and the uncertainty. Then of course he would display behaviour that would remind you why this strategy never works-the "love of a good mature woman to make a man be better". They finally broke up over the fact that Robin wanted a baby and could with the means today have one as an HIV positive person. He did not want a child.
Then they have Robin go off the deep end in trying to find a donor for her father in a way that really make her character look pitiful. (Again running characters and stories into a ditch.).

The Young and The Restless is my "drug of choice" these days. I have always says that it is the best plotted-best written of the soaps with some of the best written characters.
Notice I said "some of" for characters because there are some good ones that are languishing on poorly written shows. Robin for the most part, Jason, Sonny and Spinelli on General Hospital for one.

Well, I think I will muse more about soaps later-it's time for The Young and The Restless.

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