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All: Does The Torch Have To Be Passed....; completely
Topic Started: Sep 19 2007, 04:04 PM (602 Views)
Steve Frame
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This is inspired by a post over in the Spolier section. I posted there at first but deleted as I didn't want to hijack that thread for this topic.

There is a general idea today that soaps have to pass the torch and quit writing for the vets at some point. Obviously most of the writers today believe that as it has happened.

This is the quote that I responded too and my post there. Tell me what you think.

Days4Life
Sep 19 2007, 03:35 PM
And I'll admit, too, that some of this is my age (I'm in my 40s).  I just don't care about partying, hot tubs and sororities.  Give these younger characters a story with substance and I will be much more interested in them.


I totally agree with you, but I am in my 40's too.

I don't care enough about the story to comment on it but I will this.

Y&R even as bad as it is right now at many times realizes this problem too. This is one mistake that Y&R is not making. It realizes that they have viewers of all ages and write stories for all ages. Occassionally they get a little off balance esp. with too much Amber but what show can boast that it regularly features in stories with substance an actress that is near 80 plus many characters/performers who approaching 60, and on down the line.

This is the biggest reason that people have held on to Y&R too and the biggest reason it has not fallen below that 4.0 mark and nosedived like some of the other soaps have even with it's problems. You look at the demos for the last few weeks and even longer than that for Y&R. They rank high in every demo. Most shows have demos where they are stronger and fall way short in others. Y&R does pretty good in all demos except for maybe 1 most of the time.

This is what has helped them.

Yes I agree that there needs to be a passing of the torch but it does not have to be a complete passing of the torch either. Sure it was done in the 80's on Days by phasing out first Bill & Laura and then a few years later Doug & Julie but Marlena had been on the show since the 70's so fans of that era didn't feel like they were losing everyone they were familiar with and that is why it worked. Hogan and Corday are phasing out everyone in their passing of the torch. Sure you might make one set of fans happy with that but what do you do with the fans that you alienate.

ATWT and so many of the shows are making the same mistake. So many of the characters that many fans know and love are just being phased out completely. And large segments of the audience are being lost.

Soaps for years have passed the torch but they have done it so much better. It just proves to me how much the writers of today are such hacks. Search For Tomorrow passed the torch to feature other performers but it still managed to keep Joanne Tourneur a vital character for it's complete 35 year run. She would be backburnered for short periods of time, but she still stayed a vital part of the show. The same can be said for Vanessa Dale on Love of Life who stayed a vital part of her show for 30 years. Everyone just like those 2 have to backburnered at times, but writers choose to write for who they want. A good writer just like Douglas Marland said will write for who fans want and put his personal preferences aside.
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OneBadKitty
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I think the younger generation can be woven into the stories if it's not done with a heavy hand. Balance being the key, of course. But instead of weaving, some shows are just flat out shoving their vets on the back burner all at once and leaving the show to be carried by a bunch of newbs we don't care about.

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Steve Frame
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I agree Kitty. That is another thing that I can point to with Y&R. Lathan has her faults but even with her many new characters none have taken over. Jack, Victor, Nikki, Nick, Phyllis, Kay and Jill are still pretty much the driving forces of the story. But yet she consistently features all ages.

That is the way it should be done. Weaving is the perfect word. And sadly as you said it is not the case anymore.
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Steve Frame
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Another point to go with what Kitty said. That is one of my biggest complaints about the Nuke story on ATWT. I am happy that the show is getting all this publicity for the story, but the story is all about newbies.

And today it started moving into an umbrella story but it is still newbie heavy. Sure I am happy Luke is getting a story but it would be much better if the story was about characters we know and love. Right now I could really care less about some of the characters as they have all been on ATWT less than a year.
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OneBadKitty
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I also think the shows should mine their history instead of bringing on kids of characters that we never knew existed. A prime example being Reva of GL. The way Dylan was introduced was interesting because it used her history with Billy. She had Marah and Shayne with Josh. After that, any kids that have turned up on her doorstep have pretty much been invented.

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PhoenixRising05
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GET EM STEPH!!

I think younger characters need to be tied to their parents or older characters first before entering their own stories.

Say what you want about Langan but he did do that early on with the teen invasion in 1999. Shawn and Belle were connected to their parents' stories quite a bit to start and that really helped the audience invest in them. I think balance is a big issue too.

I will say that while what Steve said is true, if you look at it, what happened back then is the same thing that is happening today. As Steve mentioned in both cases he brought up, Days and SFT both kept a vet or two while also passing the torch. However, that is only one vet. You could make the case a show like Days is doing that same thing now. They have put new characters on the frontburner but there are still a few vets in play on the frontburner. Alison Sweeney is a vet. Peter Reckell is a vet. LK is a vet. Days is still featuring vets in active and vital roles, even if the balance is horribly off.

I think the difference between then and now is the execution was better. We had more character development and better stories. Of course, everything was fresher back then. I think soaps are just out of ideas story-wise because they have used everything so many times and there is very little that hasn't been done. However, I remember the 80's were similar to now. Days underwent a huge shift in characters on the frontburner and it feels the same way it does now.

I understand it has to be done but it does have to be done better. It does give off a deja vu feel because this did happen before but it was handled better. Then again, these are different times. Marland's words are right but there also comes a time as a writer when you feel it's time to shift things to others. I mean, you can only do so much before you run out of ideas and you get a feeling of "been there, done that." I love the vets but I often get the feeling that it is time to move on. I've seen couples like Bo and Hope and John and Marlena do so much that I feel whatever they are given to do won't be all that shocking or fresh.
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Steve Frame
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But it wasn't just one vet in the 80's that Days kept. Maggie & Mickey didn't have front burner stories like Marlena did but they have their share of stories and were seen a lot. Alice was seen a lot. Tom was seen a lot. They were all heavily involved in the stories as well. Also at first Doug & Julie was a big part of Bo & Hope's story even though they weren't the star of the story any longer.

SFT kept Jo frontburner but also kept Stu in there too.

And as to Marland, throughout his entire run he featured characters like Lisa, Kim, Bob, John and others up front just like Latham is doing with the older vets. They were not the front and center of every story but what they were given was fresh and vital. And they were used in a way that you felt they were special to the story and used for their uniqueness. Their history together was used so well by Marland too. Stories involving and featuring other characters were built off that history. STories featuring others were made to affect them too. The whole Sabrina/Frannie story was about Frannie. She was the star but it never felt that way because Marland used the history of Bob, Kim and John from so many years before as a backdrop in the story. It was a passing to the younger character but a blending too.

Hogan Sheffer at ATWT and now Days; Dena Higley as OLTL; and so many of these current writers choose to ignore the older characters and completely turn the show over to the younger set. They don't blend at all. And even when the vets do show up many times you know it was just meeting an obligation as the role could have been so easily filled by someone else. I can't say how it has been since Ed Scott came on to Days but before that it was always the case.

So much of what Bo & Hope have been given in this story could have easily been filled by someone else. And the same can be said for so many other times vets have been used on Days and esp. when Hogan used them on ATWT. Same for Higley and esp. for Higley on OLTL.

It just goes back to what Kitty said - blending is the key.
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PhoenixRising05
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GET EM STEPH!!

I agree Steve but those were different times. Budgets were better, writers didn't have to overcome overbearing execs, and fans were more willing to be patient and sit through character-driven stories. Now, a show could be written by the great Marland and it would be at the bottom of the ratings. Why? Because fans today won't sit and watch romance and special moments between couples and families. Fans want action and nonstop movement and drama. The tastes have changed. The times have changed. All that has changed the mindsets of those in charge and that is why we are being given what we are.

It's sad and I do agree with you but I have just grown to accept what the shape of daytime has become. It sucks but I am not going to stop watching my shows because who knows how long I will have them. I still hope things will get better but with rabid fanbases and execs being so thickheaded I doubt it will.
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OneBadKitty
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Then there is the approach of not trying to pass the torch at all and instead, have every story revolve around the same few characters, because the show (GH) believes that is what the audience wants to see.

In other words, they put all their eggs in one basket instead of spreading the wealth around. I do admit that there are times when GH has proven that they can use the majority of the cast when the situation calls for it, then it's right back to CenterCharacter central.

Today's episode was a prime example of how NOT to write a show. The entire episode revolved around Lulu and every single scene was about Lulu. Talk about a waste.
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oakdalelover


This has been a good discussion. Great topic ,Steve!

I have complained about Y&R but I agree that they are the one show that uses their vets and I agree that is why they still lead in all the demos.

ATWT has many fine vets but they are sadly misused and only used as props.What a waste! They have brought on a couple of newbies that are a total waste of airtime,Cole and Sophie. Cole is Gwen Munson's brother but he is a totally unlikable character.He is a wannabe song writer who is domineering and she is a weak,pregnant girlfriend. I bet most ATWT fans could care less.They would have done better if they had brought in Hughes ,Snyder or Stewart grandkids and then tied them to Bob and Kim,Lisa,Emma or Susan.

In Douglas Marland's "How Not to Wreck a Show" a list that has been passed around many times he says:

Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing characters. Don't shove them down the viewers' throats.

If Marland were alive today I don't think he would be writing for daytime television. It has been said that Nancy Curlee and Pamela Long have had the oppourtunity to come back but they won't because of too much network interference.I don't think Marland would put up with it either.
Another person that wouldn't fare well today is Irna Phillips. I remember the GL show about the early days. The network execs tried to tell Irna Phillips what to write. She listened and then wrote what she wanted to write. She would prove she was right with the ratings and fan mail.

Those days are sadly gone.
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OneBadKitty
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And you know, Marland's rules on how not to wreck a show still apply to this day.
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cassie1013


That's a good question.

I think that before pointing the finger at any particular show or storyline, the facts need to be faced - the downfall of the daytime soap opera will be its inability to change with the times. The stories never adapt, and I'm sure we've all sat there wondering why the fuck someone doesn't know who the father of their baby is. The genre itself is far from being over, because obviously shows like Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and The OC are/were incredibly successful. A daytime soap can still exist with all of it's basic elements, but the cheesy execution has to change and soon. The problem is that they'll decide to put some 2007 sex related story in the show, but not follow it through for fear of offending the middle america audience...why bother at all then?! The writer's should understand that if you're not going to follow through with an abortion story 100% (in terms of portrayal) then don't waste our time.


For me (and I try not to overthink these things), LML is a tricky subject. She's maintained the balance of the character's on Y&R well, probably considerably better then other soaps, but her storyline's are ridiculous. They're like "good" Days of Our Lives stories being told with Y&R characters...I consider the standards of those shows to be different, but in terms of writing for the cast as a whole? Thumbs up, but Y&R has ALWAYS done this, so it's not like she went in there and fixed shit up or anything. I can't say that I am liking the way she's mixed age groups, like replacing Nikki and Victor with Nick and Victoria in the other character's romantic lives (Nikki had an affair with Brad, who married Victoria like 6 years later? Ew. Jack was married to Nikki, then to Phyllis, who is now married to Nikki's son and Jack's ex-step son Nick??). If this is her way of passing the torch..meh.

Sheffer and Days is a mess. His writing isn't bad, but the storylines are terrible, if that makes sense. The dialogue is a million times better then JER's redundant bullshit. That said, you can't expect us to ok a HUGE sloppy transition (Sami and EJ) when everyone's been sitting here waiting for a good Vet based storyline since arguably 2002? I've grown to absolutely LOATHE the character of EJ...he's doing nothing for the show anymore. He was a great addition at first, by expanding the DiMear family/the element of mystery and just overall being an interesting character. They've somehow made mistake after mistake after MISTAKE with this character, and revolving the entire show around Ali Sweeney's Sami was a BRUTAL mistake. Ali is good, but she's not THAT good...she can't carry the entire show, her capabilities aren't that diverse, and either way, soaps are supposed to be an ENSEMBLE show. There's a reason she's still on a soap opera. Santeen was fucking ridiculous.. I was just sitting there thinking, THESE schmucks are the future of DOOL?!?!

Sheffer's introduction of Jeremy, the new Stephanie and such was handled horribly. Bringing in Stephanie and Jeremy as this new couple who hooked up off screen was complete idiocrisy, and if they are expecting people to get on a Max/Steph ship he's living on another planet. The actors they cast aren't very strong, with the exception of Blake Berris and Rachel Melvin, and I see NONE of these people in days' future.

Anyway, my point is that Days' isn't ready FOR this transition in the least. We need a few more cycles of the vets, or else the show just needs to go and soon. I'd rather it just go now as opposed to going through a slow, painful death.
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px780
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Streetcorner Philosopher

Interesting topic.

I think it really depends on what the ultimate goal is.

If a show wants to last, IA that they need to transition away from older characters at some point. Problem is, I've yet to find a show where they create and cast compelling, entertaining younger characters, so they don't have anyone to transition to.

On the other hand, it has to be hard creating characters that compare to some of the icons that came out of the 80s, especially if they're still around in some capacity. Maybe it's best if the show doesn't transition but stays with the vets until the stories reach a reasonably satisfying conclusion. I mean, if you can't match Erica Kane, or Bo and Hope, or Marlena Evans maybe it's best to use them up completely and wrap it up.

I've got a related history question: When they built a younger set in the past, did they anchor their storylines to high school/college?

Thinking about it, I can't get into younger characters lately because they're written very young. So I'm curious how they worked it in the past. I'm ok with stories where high school/college is a backdrop, or if there's an age-related event like a prom; but when the story is high school/college I tend not to watch, which means I don't even meet the new characters they're introducing.
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Rick
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Dreamlander

PhoenixRising05
Sep 19 2007, 06:05 PM
I agree Steve but those were different times. Budgets were better, writers didn't have to overcome overbearing execs, and fans were more willing to be patient and sit through character-driven stories. Now, a show could be written by the great Marland and it would be at the bottom of the ratings. Why? Because fans today won't sit and watch romance and special moments between couples and families. Fans want action and nonstop movement and drama. The tastes have changed. The times have changed. All that has changed the mindsets of those in charge and that is why we are being given what we are.

But that's clearly not working either. :huh:
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Steve Frame
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Px, I'll use 2 examples from two soaps.

First Search For Tomorrow.

The 50's was all about Joanne and her troubles with the Bergman's thrown in.

Along came the 60's and it was still about Joanne and her romances with Arthur and then Sam Reynolds with stories about the Bergmans too. These were the A stories but early on in the 60's they aged Joanne's daughter Patti and the Bergman's daughter Janet and started featuring stories about them in their teens and early 20's and on up.

IN the 70's you still had Joanne with her new husband Tony Vincente with stories about Jo's sister, Jo's daugther Patti, Jo's foster son Bruce, and Stu Bergman and his new love Ellie. But the show aged Janet on up some as well as her oldest 2 children Gary and Liza and you began to see stories about them in their teens and collge years.

The 80's came along and you still had Jo with then husband Martin Tourneur who's nephew had married Liza. You still had Jo & Stu's friendship too. They began to feature stories on Jo's neice Suzi and the daughter of Jo's rival from the early 70's on. But also of Liza's adopted daughter too. The kids stories transitioned into A stories at points but for the most part they were always B stories to begin with - and the older people were used to balance them out in the A story. The biggest problem in the latter part of the 70's and the 80's was that Jo's daughter had been written out and all her grandchildren. Her only tie in town was her best friend Stu and her niece Suzi. They still managed to keep her involved but they needed ties to the past.

Now Days:

Days transitioned in the 70's of course with Michael & David who were aged to their late teens but they were not played like the vampy teens of today. Mike was so innocent and David had big issues with his mother Julie. Their stories were always secondary to Doug & Julie, Bill & Laura, Mickey & Maggie, and even Don & Marlena. Their stories always seemed to depend on the older story or tied into it but had circumstances that involved them though.

In the 80's they transitioned after a really bad period early on in the 80's with the aging of Hope and Melissa and they were some really good stories but they were never the A story again. Doug & Julie was heavily involved in Bo & Hope's story and Mickey, Maggie & Linda (Melissa's natural mom) were heavily involved in Melissa's story. Alice was even brought into the Roman story when she made the doughnuts and helped him escape jail.

Each time that Days used to transition - even when they transitioned to Jennifer Rose and Frankie and then even to Shawn & Belle the stories were dependant upon the older characters. They were never given free reign or completely led their own stories. And their story never started out as the A story.
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morlock sevigny


Interesting topic and some very valid points being made.

My 2 cents:

I am puzzled about who the execs think the audience is these days.

Isn't the desired demographic 18-49?

That covers an awful lot of viewers.

Surely you would focus your characters in that age group also which would mean some characters in late teens/early 20's,then others in their 20's.30's and40's.

Nightime is chasing the same demos and I think Desperate Housewives does very well in that demo.The shows leads (except Eva Longoria)are women in their 40's.The teen characters get a look in via subplots that always affect the parents.

Older characters(usually the Housewives parents) are also brought in -often actors in their 60's and 70's!!

Daytime has always had the young characters -remember Bob&Lisa were once the Gwen & Will of their day-but their stories tied in heavily with their parents so both generations were equally represented.It gave the stories more interest and depth and probably more appeal to a wide age group.

I remember reading years ago that the appeal of soaps for young viewers was to see caring parents that they perhaps lacked/to see the older generation mess up their lives and to identify with the young heroine and the bad girl.

Seems nowadays the bad girl is the heroine of the show!

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Days4Life
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Steve, so glad my comment inspired this thread because it's a great topic! I don't always like that my favorites aren't on as often as I like, but I do understand the necessity of introducing new, fresh characters. I've seen it happen many times and over months and years, these "newbies" have become my new favorites. But notice that it took months and sometimes years...you can't throw a newbie on the screen and immediately have them frontburner and isolated from the vets. And that's exactly what DAYS did this summer. They introduced a recast Stephanie in late spring (and Stephanie herself is a new character since she hasn't been seen since she was a small child), the two new characters of Jett and Jeremy arrived in June, and those three combined with Chelsea and Nick (who has been on less than a year) ruled the summer! We don't know these characters, why should we be the slightest bit interested in their story--which was lame anyway.

I do think the torch has to be passed, but it has to be done slowly and by incorporating the newbies into the stories of people we care about. On DAYS, the younger set has not been established enough to grab that torch because we don't care about them...at least not yet. I loved Hope because I loved Addy, Doug and Julie and I loved Sami because I loved Roman and Marlena. Those connections are what originally got me invested in them, until their involvement in others' stories made me see them as real people with their own stories to tell. However, just because the torch is passed doesn't mean we shouldn't see the vets any more, especially on a show like DAYS where the focus has always been on family. If you take away Doug, Julie, Maggie, Alice, Marlena, John, Caroline, Victor, Bo, and Hope then the core families are gone and the heart and soul of DAYS goes with it.
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