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Viewing Single Post From: SOD Best & Worst -- 1985
Matt
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Classic Soap Fan

Beginning a series of postings in this thread reliving what Soap Opera Digest deemed the Best & the Worst of soaps in 1985, transcribed from the SOD issue cover dated January 14, 1986


WHAT HAPPENED IN 1985?

It was a year of romance. Social issues took a back seat to it, a few treasure hunts (thankfully!) took a back seat to it, even espionage stories took a back seat to it. Soap opera went back to its roots and told stories about couples finding each other and struggling to stay together.

The best part of this wave was the backlash beginning to be felt toward all those young-love story lines. While ratings remained high on ALL MY CHILDREN, this office received quite a few letters complaining about all those front-burner, teen story lines. What about Pheobe? they asked. What about Ruth and Joe? Toward the end of the year, Erica Kane was once again embroiled in a love affair -- this time with a fascinating Frenchman -- but it took a long time for AMC to get their minds off eighteen-year-olds. Yes, teens should have storylines, but not the only story lines.

DAYS OF OUR LIVES, often criticized for their indulgence in young love, brought us a fascinating story: a wealthy, very handsome and sophisticated crime boss (Victor Kiriakis) became passionately obsessed, not with some blonde tootsie, but with a housewife and mother of four adult children. Hurray to the writers, producers, and actors who helped us feel Carolyn and Victor's sexual tension and reminded us that lust doesn't happen just to kids.

Perhaps with the success of prime time's GOLDEN GIRLS, as well as the nighttime soaps which show people over 40 leading exciting, passionate and interesting lives, the daytime shows will once again remember who the meat and potatoes of their audience are (hint: they're not twelve-year-olds), and give the more mature and more experienced actors something to work with.

Soap operas have never really been ground-breakers when it comes to dealing with socially relevent issues. Instead, they let stories seep into the news where they're later captured in a movie-of-the-week, and then, if those movies get good Nielsens, daytime might pick up the story. It would be fascinating if that cycle changed. While the troubles in South Africa, Ethiopia and fear of AIDS dominated headlines, you'd never know it to watch the daytime and prime time soaps. If, in fact, these characters inhabit the same planet we do, it would be interesting to see them struggle with the same issues. Frankly, many of us are tired of seeing storylines that deal with teenage pregnancy and substance abuse -- they ahve been dealt with and dealt with for years. We would like to see something contemporary.

To that end, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS proved it was an Emmy winner in more ways than one by dealing with the matter of adult illiteracy, a major problem in this country. And they did it in a way that blended perfectly into the fabric of the soap, instead of making a red alert statement.

1985 was the year that saw the demise of PAPER DOLLS, BERRENGERS, and RITUALS, all shows that were born in the 1984-1985 season. Does that prove television is no longer willing to get involved with another soap? We are not sure, but with THE COLBYS coming on soon after this copy goes to press, we should have a better idea.

DYNASTY was a major disappointment to many viewers last season, although their ratings were stronger than ever. The soap nabbed celebrities including the late Rock Hudson and Ali MacGraw, proving that "stars" felt DYNASTY was a fashionable (and lucrative) show to do. But their storylines were ultimately silly and stilted.

On the other hand, DALLAS, FALCON CREST, and KNOTS LANDING served up smashing stories that kept us riveted to the screen. From the search for Val's babies on KNOTS LANDING, to the sensative handling of Sue Ellen's alcoholism and Bobby's death on DALLAS, to the humor and love injected into FALCON CREST, all three shows seemed to grow and improve.

We were all saddened in 1985 by the deaths of two daytime queens. Charita Bauer and Kay Campbell both began on their respective shows many years ago, and both will be sorely missed by the viewers of GUIDING LIGHT and ALL MY CHILDREN. Rock Hudson passed away this year, but the courage and openness he displayed in discussing his disease, making all of us more aware of AIDS, will be remembered a long. long time.

Donna Reed left DALLAS and Barbara Bel Geddes came back in a flurry of controversy; Taylor Miller, the original Nina on ALL MY CHILDREN, came back to daytime as Sally Frame on ANOTHER WORLD; and Roscoe Born, who was adored as Joe Novak on RYAN'S HOPE, skipped over to PAPER DOLLS< then found a temporary home as Mitch Lawrence on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Morgan Fairchild took off for FALCON CREST, Dane Witherspoon, whose experience on SANTA BARBARA was frustrating, found a role on CAPITOL, and Kristen Meadows returned to ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Michael Zaslow left that soap, and Apollonia Kotero was invited to play herself on FALCON CREST. Thaao Penghlis left DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Tristan Rogers, Emma Samms, and Brian Patrick Clarke left GENERAL HOSPITAL, Mark LaMura left ALL MY CHILDREN, James Kiberd left LOVING, and Vincent Irizarry left GUIDING LIGHT.

Michael Wilding, Jr. came to GUIDING LIGHT, and with his British accent and smoldering sensuality, made Jackson Freemont a character we were drawn to. Ava Gardner spiced up KNOTS LANDING and Joe Lambie, who works everywhere, brought his considerable style and depth to SEARCH FOR TOMORROW.

The couples who captured out hearts were the non-teens once again. Kyle and Reva on GUIDING LIGHT seethed with passion, AS THE WORLD TURNS's Margo and Tom shared intelligent humor, and GENERAL HOSPITAL's Robert and Holly were still able to keep a good marriage interesting television viewing.

Weddings were in full bloom (especially during ratings sweeps periods), and the ones that were most fun to watch were Bo and Hope's on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Mindy and Kurt's on GUIDING LIGHT, Val and Ben's on KNOTS LANDING, and Jimmy Lee and Celia's on GENERAL HOSPITAL.

GENERAL HOSPITAL became the first daytime show to introduce a full-fledged Asian storyline, giving work to a group of actors who rarely receive front-burner storylines (let alone roles!). While Frisco and Felicia were fun to watch, the love story of Ginny and Rick was moving, and Judith Chapman's fine acting must be singled out. John Reilly brought spice, wit and sophistication to the role of Sean Donely, and everyone was writing us about the split-up of Holly and Scorpio, combined with the arrival of Anna Devane. Finola Hughes proved to be exceptional in a job that was almost impossible -- asking the viewers to accept her as a "good guy."

ONE LIFE TO LIVE revived their old Niki/Viki storyline. While the idea of it inspired yawns, this was one of the few times where the sequel was better than the original. Erika Slezak was riveting not only in her portrayal of a woman with a multiple personality, but as Viki being Niki, pretending to be Viki. Don't ask. You only need to know it worked, and worked because of Slezak's fine talent. The storyline was made all the better when Andrea Evans returned to ONE LIFE TO LIVE as Tina Clayton. Her acting was never better.

With MIAMI VICE and MOONLIGHTING being two of the most talked about prime time series this season, it should be interesting to see how their themes infiltrate the soaps. Of course, we are listening to more rock music on daytime. And didn't Bo and Shane, DAYS's major super sleuths, just head down to Miami to catch a thief? What other characters, we wonder, might soon be dressed in tee shirts, Italian sports jackets, and no socks in search of criminals?

Then there is the business of MOONLIGHTING, ABC's classy show with outstanding writing and two characters who seethe with sexual tension and exchange snappy repartee. AS THE WORLD TURNS created that a long time ago with Tom and Margo, and ANOTHER WORLD had it was Cass and Kathleen. We like snappy repartee. And if each show wants to have their own Maddie and David (MOONLIGHTING's characters), we won't mind. Couples who are bright, charismatic and witty are always a pleasure to watch. But listen, any copycat producers, writers, networke executives or soap company owners out there: if you decide to create such characters, we would appreciate it if one isn't a model who looks like Cybill Shepard and the other isn't a detective agency owner who looks like Bruce Willis. A little ingenuity, folks. Please.
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SOD Best & Worst -- 1985 · Soap Opera History & Discussion