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SOD Best & Worst -- 1986
Topic Started: Nov 9 2009, 04:27 PM (1,262 Views)
Matt
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transcribes from January 13, 1987 issue of SOD...

THE YEAR IN REVIEW


Traditional values, traditional storylines, and tradition tricks of the trade -- that's what soaps were about this year. Mystery and intrigue, mistaken identities, characters brought back from the dead (or from creative nightmares), amnesia, tortured lovers, calamitous weddings, confused parentage, a slew of kidnappings, topped with globs and globs of romance -- that was the stuff of 1986's continuing dramas.

It was also a time when the soap opera playing behind the screen was as exciting and dramatic as the one on the tube. Gloria Monty, the woman given credit for turning GENERAL HOSPITAL from a show headed for cancellation to the biggest hit on daytime, resigned in December to become an independent producer. Wes Kenney, executive producer of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS (the only show in the last year to give GH a scare for its number one seat) took over Monty's position. Gail Kobe left as executive producer of GUIDING LIGHT and was replaced by Joe Willmore. John Whitesell was installed as the wunderkind to restore SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, but as soon as he pulled off a fantastic flood, made cast enthusiasm grow and the public take notice, his bosses urged him to move to ANOTHER WORLD where more of his kind of work was needed. In the end, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW was cancelled; the same year it celebrated its 35th anniversary on television.

And Y&R's executive producer, creator, and head writer, Bill Bell, decided that having one fabulous show on the air wasn't enough, so he created THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL, scheduled to premiere on CBS this spring.

Executives weren't the only people playing musical chairs. Actors who had left their shows, or daytime in particular, came back. Taylor Miller left Sally Frame on ANOTHER WORLD to once again become Nina Warner on ALL MY CHILDREN. William Gray Espy, one of the all time great heartthrobs, returned to his role as Mitch Blake on ANOTHER WORLD. Also nabbed by AW was Denise Alexander, who was so popular as Leslie Webber on GENERAL HOSPITAL. Bob Woods, after leaving ONE LIFE TO LIVE, turned up on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Tristan Rogers and Sharon Wyatt returned to GENERAL HOSPITAL, Anthony Herrera came back to AS THE WORLD TURNS, Rober Newman picked up his old role of Josh Lewis on GUIDING LIGHT, and the most talked about return of the season was Patrick Duffy's on DALLAS.

DALLAS came out of the doldrums with the return of Duffy and fromer executive producer Leonard Katzman, but some of the other prime time soaps didn ot fare so well. DYNASTY miffed, then lost many of its viewers in the '85 - '86 season when it swerved from the hot triangle between Alexis, Blake, and Krystle, and spent too much time on the convoluted Rita/Krystle storyline. It appears to be a loss they still haven't remedied. Has DYNASTY, once a daring and hlarious program, become a parody of itself? KNOTS LANDING continued to hold steady in the ratings with its moving plots and fine actors until this season, when its time slot was changed for a short while. THE COLBYS, heralded as the best thing to come along since DYNASTY, struggled in its first season, and has been fighting gallantly in a terrible time period against KNOTS and CHEERS.

These shows prove that nighttime soaps don't have the longevity that the daytime ones do. Prime time is a more volatile animal. It is subject to fads and fashions that daytime rarely has to deal with. In the early '80s, prime time soaps were very much in vogue, but in the middle part of the decade the sitcom came back into fashion. With their irreverent comments about life and romance, sitcoms, not the continuing dramas, seem to be the reason people are tuning in most nights now.

Still, the daytime shows forged ahead. This was not the year of the spy or the double identity or love on the run. No, in 1986, daytime soaps began to etch more deeply their own, personal identities. DAYS OF OUR LIVES could be clearly seen as the most amorous and fast-paced soap -- a combination of MIAMI VICE and Danielle Steele-style romance. GENERAL HOSPITAL stayed away from the operating room and continued to chase villains with their stock heroes. THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS kept true to itself with its slow pace and gorgeous close-ups. Y&R must be singled out, not only as the most gamorous show, but as a soap that can be counted on for characters who behave in a way that is in line with the way they have developed. ALL MY CHILDREN my have been ridiculous to many viewers for the first part of the season, but once Jorn Winter returned as executive producer, silly story lines were wrapped up, and integral charaters started behaving in a more understandable fashion.

ONE LIFE TO LIVE continued to excel with poignant stories about families and secrets, highlighted by exceptional acting from Clint Richie, Erika Slezak, and Andrea Evans, in particular. And AS THE WORLD TURNS, under the guidance of executive producer Robert Calhoun and head writer Douglas Marland, once again regained its identity as a soap opera for, and by, adults.

SANTA BARBARA grew each day into a bold, irreverent drama with delightful characters and imaginative writing. While watching that show, one can't help but wonder what it's like to pen it. There seems to be an outrageous collective sense of humor there -- not the kind you see on comedy shows, but the kind that comes out of real life situations. SANTA BARBARA seems to realize that humor is the tonic we often use to deal with the most difficult problems, and they have been able to blend it in quite nicely with even the most dramatic conflicts. Sometimes that humor and imagination gets a bit bizarre -- could we ever really forgive them for killing off Mary? -- but even that was carried off with a bit of panache. How many people get to die by a big "C"? We hope the network will be patient because we think with time this soap could be a winner.

The one disappointment this year was GUIDING LIGHT, the soap we named best show in 1985. With continual changes in producers, writers, and actors, GUIDING LIGHT resembled a revolving door more than a dramatic series. Perhaps this could not be helped, but all that change left GL muddled, confused; a mess.

If there was one trend in 1986, it was in the presentation of women. Victims seemed to be fewer, and villainesses weren't the only women in control of their lives. Finally, we began to see women -- nice women -- act as people who could take care of themselves and stand up for themselves. When THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS's Ashley was faced with an unwanted pregnancy, she took action and had an abortion. We applaud the writers of Y&R for giving Ashley that option, even though it is still a controversial subject. When CAPITOL's Sloane Denning Clegg was abandoned by her husband, she did not sit back and feel sorry for herself. She fought back -- with a vengence -- and then found romance with another man. SANTA BARBARA's Sophia Capwell was not about to let her fiance's ex-wife stand in her way without a fight, and even timid, innocent Hillary Martin from ALL MY CHILDREN stood up for herself. Tired of her husband's lies and manipulations, she left Tad after she discovered his final deception. The biggest change of all had to be the strength found in the women from DALLAS. Always dominated by the men, this show finally let their women stand up for themselves. Sue Ellen drove J.R. crazy by buying her own lingerie company. Mandy Winger, J.R.'s mistress, stunned him when she refused to give up her full-time career to be his full-time playmate, and even fragile Jenna Wade told Bobby where to go when he started advising her on child-rearing.

We're not sure why the writers chose this year to finally let kind women be strong women, but we approve their decision, and their work in general. 1986 was filled with tension, glamour, couples we could root for and good old-fashioned drama. We liked it.
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Matt
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BEST WEDDING

TRACI ABBOTT & BRAD CARLTON, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS
Formerly insecure, overweight Traci Abbott blossomed this year, and her maturation culminated with ehr touching wedding to Brad Carlton. Initially, Traci had a hard time understanding why a man as good-looking as Brad would be interested in her, but Carlton convinced her of his sincerity and proposed marriage. The ceremony, this year's loveliest, took place in the Abbott home. In a candle-lighted room and surrounded by flowers, Traci and Brad exchanged vows. To make Traci's happiness complete, big brother (and supposed attempted murder) Jack sneaked in to wish his sister well. By not attempting outlandish theatrics, the intimate family ceremony achieved warmth.
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Matt
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WORST WEDDING


MARLENA & ROMAN BRADY, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
Brides should look like brides, not statues. But the Statue of Liberty is exactly what Dr. Marlena Evans seemed to be impersonating at her re-marriage to Roman Brady. The vows were beyond mushy, or as Diva von Dish said, "Far be it from me to stop people on the happiest day of their lives from playing 'Up Where We Belong,' or exchanging sophomoric vows, but did we have to see Roman's nose running and Marlena wiping it for him?" Diva used the word, "Yuck" to describe the whole affair and we can't help but agree.
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Matt
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BEST MYSTERY

THE DOUGLAS CUMMINGS MYSTERY, AS THE WORLD TURNS
The Douglas Cummings mystery was the best seen this year beceause the revelation of the killer who stalked Oakdale came as a total surprise. Cummings's assistant at Caroline's, Marsha Talbot, figured prominently as the probable murderer, and actress Giulia Pagano made her an ominous figure from the very beginning. As the bodies piled up (there were three victims) and the list of suspects grew, the police got further away from teh real killer himself -- Douglas. John Wesley Shipp's transformation from boyish geniality to psychotic desperation was remarkable as was Pagano's descent into madness after it was revealed that her obsessive love for Douglas turned to hatred and drove her to kill him.

Furthermore, the Douglas Cummings mystery featured one of the best sets of the year -- the fan room in which Douglas had covered every inch of wall space with photos and memorabilia from the singing career of Kim Hughes (Kathryn Hays), his own impossible obsession.
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Matt
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MOST POINTLESS STORY


ASA'S MARRIAGE TO PAM, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
We thought that finally Asa Buchanan was going to get his comeuppance. After years of lying to and manipulating everyonein town, including his sons Clint and Bo, it was revealed that Asa, a known bigamist, had been "married" to Pamela, a woman who lived on teh far off island of Malekeva. Using the assumed name Jeb Stuart, Asa covered up his long absences from Malekeva by pretending to be a ship's captain who was often at sea.

Asa's ten-year marriage to Pam means that at one point Asa was guilty of being married to three women at the same time. It also means that what viewers were led to believe was Asa's genuine love for Becky Lee Abbott, was not as sincere as we had thought. This ridiculous twist to the otherwise lively saga of Asa Buchanan's life might have been salvageable had there been a point to the story line. Alas, there was none. As usual, everyone came to grips with this latest outrage too quickly to be believed. Pam tricked Asa into marrying her legally and moved to Llanview, leading us to believe that ONE LIFE had concocted this story so that Pam would change Asa. Not so. Instead, Asa's overbearing ways drove Pam into the arms of Pete O'Neill and this happened, as far as we can tell, so that Pam and Pete would have something to do. This whole story line leaves us wondering why ONE LIFE TO LIVE would do such a thing to its loyal viewers.
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Matt
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MOST ROMANTIC SCENE


MICHAEL SERENADING DONNA, ANOTHER WORLD
While love most definitely rules the day on soap operas, serials can get a bit maudlin what with characters going around saying hopelessly sappy things that no real person would ever utter. ANOTHER WORLD, like its daytime counterparts, has been guilty of overdosing on sugary sweet sentimentalism. Nevertheless, this year's most romantic scene goes to that serial for a truly well-done scene between Michael Hudson and Donna Love on the occaision of the consummation (for the second time in 20 years) of their love.

Hudson, who had whisked Donna away to Hawaii, serenaded her from below as she stood, slightly embarrassed, but deeply moved, on a balcony. The fact that Michael's behavior did not seem too out of the blue to be true, went a long way to make this scene work as well as it did. Intense, yet possessing a whimsical, devil-may-care attitude toward life, Hudson wouldn't hesitate to pull a stunt like this. And, he was only fulfilling Donna's wish, expressed on the night of their engagement party, that he sing for her. Besides the fact that Kale Browne's rendition of "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" was surprisingly good, the scene was enhanced by the chemistry between these seasoned performers.
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Matt
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WORST STORYLINE


GENERAL HOSPITAL
It is painful to even go back into our recent archives and remember the particulars of the tortuous Laurelton mystery. You see, there was once this sick chick named Terry who was frigid but curious as well. She saw some guy named Earl Moody get strangled by fiance Kevin O'Connor in the town hall of her hometown. On hand were her imperious grandmother, Jennifer Talbot, and her mealy-mouthed lawyer, Ted Holmes. Many medallions and strangulations and MONTHS later, the murderer was still at large, in Port Charles. Terry turned up the volume on her screech box and soon was drowning out fire engine and ambulance sirens all over town. Although the Laurelton mystery did turn up on ironic twist -- Jennifer Talbot was fittingly stuffed up a drain pipe -- the real disappointment was that the killer never killed Terry. In our eyes that would have been judged a mercy killing, for the audience was not spared anything in this excruciatingly dull story.
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Matt
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BIGGEST LETDOWN


FATHER CHRISTOPHER, FALCON CREST
Father Christopher provided FALCON CREST with something they've never had -- a male character with a conscience. He wasn't just a priest who wanted his flock to conduct themselves in the Christian way. As Julia Cumson's illegitimate son, he was an heir to the Falcon Crest fortune and had a stake in the business decisions they made. As a spiritual man plunked down in the backbiting world of vineyard politics, he added a welcome dimension to the standard maneuvering of the Gioberti and Channing families. When he was written out of the show, FALCON CREST lost a potentially pivotal and exciting character, a talented actor in Ken Olin, and an opportunity to develop stories that were different from the usual confrontational plots that FALCON CREST and other prime time soaps have exhausted.
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Matt
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MOST RUINED CHARACTER


JILLIAN RYAN, RYAN'S HOPE
Once upon a time, Jill Ryan was a loving wife and a dedicated lawyer. Though she had her share of problems, Jill loved her husband, enjoyed her career and acted her age. Then one day, Jill got amnesia, caleld herself Sarah-Jane and shacked up with a fisherman named Dakota Smith, who was years younger than she was -- and her husband's brother. That was the beginning of the end for Jill Ryan. She not only dressed sleazily, she acted sleazily. We wondered when she would come to her senses, ditch Dakota, and remove the three earrings she wore in one ear. We didn't like seeing Jill like that and we were glad that she finally started to change. But even now that she's back with Frank, it's just not the same.
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Matt
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BEST LOVE SCENE IN A TENT


SLOANE & ALI, CAPITOL
Don't laugh. Canvas proved to be quite an aphrodisiac last summer. There were a number of tent romances that didn't succeed nearly as well as this one did.

Our intrepid journalist, Sloane Denning, trekked on camel aong Baracq's sand dunes and palms in order to grab an exclusive story on rebel Prince Ali (whom she'd known years before) and his revolution. The solitary beauty of the desert and the imminent danger heightened the emotions of this highly attractive, sensual pair. Inevitably, the prince and the reporter fell into bed and in love.

Exotic and exciting, their adventure avoided becoming a cornball cousin of those laughable Hercules "B" movies. The same could not be said of the under-the-tent exploits of SANTA BARBARA's Mason/Mary and GENERAL HOSPITAL's Frisco/Felicia, whose scenes elicited giggles and guffaws from us. (By the way, Sloane did get her interview.)
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Matt
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BEST STORY LINE


SUE ELLEN EWING'S ALCOHOLISM, DALLAS
J.R. Ewing could drive anyone to drink, but when Sue Ellen headed for the bottle again last season, the story threatened to be a tiresome retread of past years. Instead, a well-motivated plot had a desperate Sue Ellen pushed over the edge by her curelly manipulative husband. Masterfully performed by Linda Gray, Sue Ellen hit bottom in a Texas drunk tank then fought for her sanity as she dried out and had to once again face the problems she'd used alcohol to escape. Taking one day at a time, she turned away from J.R. and put her time to good use raising money for medical research. Sue Ellen's decline and gradual emergence as an intelligent, assertive business woman was believeable, the product of fine acting and good storytelling.
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LoL, too bad that just turned out to be a dream. :laugh:
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Matt
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MOST SHOCKING TWIST


KELLY'S BABY, CAPITOL
Here was Congressman Trey Clegg's decision: Should he leave the beautiful, successful, socially prominent wife he loved for Kelly, a reformed hooker who had loved and left him? It was a tough choice because Kelly had an edge -- Trey's adorable son, Scotty. For a while, Trey had the best of both worlds, but when the time came to make a decision Clegg elected to live with Kelly and Scotty. The move jeopardized his career and estranged him from his family. Trey accepted the humiliation and ostracization because he was doing it for his son. Not quite, as it turned out. When Scotty was rushed to the hospital after an accident, Trey discovered the little boy was not his son. Scotty's real dad was Sam, Trey's father!
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I hate all these breaks you take in between. The anticipation kills me. LOL
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Matt
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BEST RECONCILIATION


PAUL & LAUREN WILLIAMS, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS
Lauren Williams had done a lot of nasty things in her life, but leaving her husband Paul for Shawn Garrett was not one of them. Unknown to Paul, a demented Shawn forced Lauren to move in with him. The deal was if Lauren deserted Paul, Shawn would spare Williams's life. Paul divorced Lauren, but his buddy Andy Richards convinced him that Lauren's life was in danger. The men travelede to San Francisco just in time to save Lauren from the vindictive Shawn, who had buried her alive.

Back in Genoa City, Lauren spilled the truth to a hurt, disillusioned Paul, who couldn't buy his ex-wife's strange story. When proof of Lauren's claim emerged, Paul raced to Lauren's side to make up for lost time. At first, they kept their reconciliation a secret. Paul announced to his parents that he'd invited a woman over for dinner. No one was more thrilled than Carl and Mary when their son's mystery date turned out to be Lauren!
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Mason
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Matt
Nov 10 2009, 11:20 PM
The men travelede to San Francisco just in time to save Lauren from the vindictive Shawn, who had buried her alive.
If only they'd left that bitch in the ground.
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Mason
Nov 10 2009, 11:29 PM
Matt
Nov 10 2009, 11:20 PM
The men travelede to San Francisco just in time to save Lauren from the vindictive Shawn, who had buried her alive.
If only they'd left that bitch in the ground.
Of course, your not biased at all.
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Matt
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MOST CONTEMPORARY STORY LINE


TEEN SEXUALITY, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
In a beautifully written, thought provoking and entertaining story line, DAYS OF OUR LIVES has dealt responsibly with one of the most important issues facing America today: teen sexuality. That teenagers are sexually active can no longer be ignored with the pregnancy rate currently standing at 96 per 1,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. DAYS has wisely chosen to confront this issue head-on. In a series of sensative, indepth conversations, Jennifer Horton and Glenn Gallagher have talked about birth control, with Glenn deciding to take responsibility for protecting them both against an unwanted pregnancy. Alice Horton, Jennifer's grandmother, while making it clear that she disapproves of pre-marital sex, has counseled her granddaughter against engaging in sex without taking the proper precautions. But DAYS OF OUR LIVES did not just stop with the obvious issue of birth control. It chose to probe into the emotions surrounding the sometimes difficult decision a couple must make when contemplating becoming lovers. Confused as to her motives for wanting to make love with Glenn, Jennifer turned to brother Mike for advice. Without chastising her, sounding preachy or being hypocritical, Mike, who admitted to being a sexually active teen, advised Jennifer to make sure that she made love to Glenn because she truly wanted to, not because she felt sorry for him, or felt she owed it to him. Later, Jennifer, in an attempt to comfort Glenn, decided to make love to him, but pulled back after admitting that she wasn't sure she loved him. Glenn understood and reassured his girlfriend that he only wanted her to be with him because she loved him as he did her. Bravo DAYS OF OUR LIVES for this well-developed intelligent story line.
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This was practically the ONLY social issue storyline Days has ever done, and probably will ever do, correctly.
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MichaelGL
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Sadly I agree Amello it probably will be the only one.

Was this during Leah Laiman tenure? It's hard to believe that she was once regarded as a good writer from her time on DAYS.
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