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SOD Best & Worst -- 1989
Topic Started: Dec 7 2009, 10:58 AM (1,426 Views)
Matt
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Classic Soap Fan

LOOKING BACK AT 1989 AND FORWARD TO 1990
DO SOAPS HAVE THE GUTS TO MAKE IT INTO THE NINETIES?


This was the year that soaps got impatient. Impatient with ratings that were lackluster, with story lines that weren't making sense and with characters who weren't wowing viewers. Instead of subtle refining, change -- shocking, constant change -- was the order of the day. From January to December, the only thing you could count on was that actors would be recast, writers would be let go and producers would switch shows. People got sick of their jobs or, just as often, someone else got sick of seeing them in their jobs, and gave them the boot.

If began in the executive suites of all three networks. Michael Brockman, former head of daytime, late-night and children's programming at CBS, showed up at ABC. Lucy Johnson, once an executive at NBC, now heads up daytime at CBS, and Jackie Smith, the former legend at ABC, who took a low-rated network and made it number one in daytime, is now charged with the same job at NBC. Whatever changes these executives may have wanted reverberated down through producers, who did their own tinkering and finally the actors on daytime dramas.

One day, the interracial romance between Cliff and Angie on ALL MY CHILDREN was being touted as a socially significant story line that engrossed viewers; the next, it was abruptly cut short and actor Peter Bergman (Cliff) was out of a job. GENERATIONS came on encouraging viewers to expect a new kind of soap opera; instead they were treated to standard fare. It's hard to make drama steam from an ice-cream shop. SANTA BARBARA, an industry darling, still attracts the best actors in daytime, bu twith uneven writing -- sometimes brilliant, other time incoherent -- it's rumored to be on the network's list of shows in need of surgery. And the list of actors leaving their jobs seemed endless: Y&R's Terry Lester, SB's Lane Davies, AMC's Kathleen Noone, ATWT's Martha Byrne, DAYS's Genie Francis and so on.

Whether all the changes that began in '89 will continue throughout the new year and make a dent in viewership remains to be seen. But one has a sense that this is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Changes have occurred, to be sure, but who are these people occupying new jobs? Too many times they are the same writers, actors, and producers we heave seen again and again on other soaps. They are hired and rehired because they have experience in the serial format. Often that seems the only reason they're hired. Granted, soaps are a very specialized way of telling story. And given the furious pace, shows need talent familiar with the format. But in constantly rehiring the same people, soaps prohibit the real change they seem so intent on nurturing. Many veteran writers, producers, and actors lack a fresh point of view. They've been toiling in the field for so long that they have tunnel vision. In order for soaps -- and this includes prime-time soaps -- to break through into the nineties, they need to add new talent: writers from other forms of television, film or print who are passionate about the medium, but have a different perspective on characters and storytelling. Soaps have never shied away from hiring totally inexperienced models (when there are many accomplished actors begging for work) and giving them the chance to grow on screen. Why not do the same for writers, who have at least proven their talent in other mediums? Instead of hiring talent who have been fired from other shows, executives need to develop new talent. This is easier said than accomplished. Developing talent takes time and money, two commodities with which networks are notoriously stingy. Still, without new talent, they are in danger of preventing the kind of growth and scope in drama that artists are eager to create, and viewers want to see.

Having said that, there are promising projects in development right now that could point to an innovative decade. While the current prime-time serials are sagging, ABC will premiere TWIN PEAKS. With David (Blue Velvet) Lynch and Mark (HILL STREET BLUES) Frost producing, and an initial cast of twenty-five moving upwards of forty, TWIN PEAKS has been created with a blend of talented people not soaked in the serial traditions, but anxious to make their mark on the format. Perhaps they can create something classic yet fresh, and inspire others.

Finally, as we enter the new decade it msut be noted that 1990 is the sixtieth anniversary of broadcasting soap operas in America. We encourage the shows to make changes while noting that soaps are still the most profitable, involving, and entertaining way to tell a story.

And they said it wouldn't last.
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juniorz1
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The Royal Stoner

***mouth waters***
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Matt
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BEST AND WORST OFF-CAMERA


MOST OVERDUE CANCELLATION
DYNASTY topples: Dynasty, once top of the heap of prime-time shows, saw its ratings plummet after its ludicrous Moldavian massacre story in 1985. Efforts to resuscitate the once-mighty soap met with lukewarm audience response. The 1988-89 season, its eighth, was DYNASTY's last. There was talk of a TV-movie to tie up the cliffhanger's loose ends, but the project never materialized. Did Blake survive his gunshot wound? Did Dex and Alexis survive their tumble from a balcony? Were Fallon and Krystina saved from evil Dennis Grimes? We'll probably never find out....


BEST GAME OF MUSICAL CHAIRS
Trading Places: Lane Davies made news by leaving his pivotal SANTA BARBARA role of sexy, sardonic Mason Capwell. Terry Lester, Emmy-award nominee for his own major role as sexy, sardonic Jack Abbott on the #1-rated YOUNG & RESTLESS, made bigger news by taking over for Davies. Insiders weren't shocked -- Lester was a logical choice for the black sheep of the Capwell family. What did come as a surprise was the replacement for Lester: Peter Bergman, who had just been released from his long-running role as nice guy Cliff on ALL MY CHILDREN. Bergman's abrupt dismissal had stunned many in the industry, and followed the decision not to continue the interracial love story of Cliff and Angie (Debbi Morgan, who plays Angie, remained on AMC). Many were pleased to see the well-liked Bergman land a plum role so soon after his AMC termination.


BEST INTENTIONS
Race for Ratings: GENERATIONS premiered in March, accompanied by much fanfare about being the first soap to make black families part of the fabric of the show. As promised, the show delivered a healthy mix of black and white characters. It has yet to deliver healthy ratings -- a problem with most new soaps -- but appears to be gaining a following.


BIGGEST CHANGE OF HEART
Honeymoon's Over: Eileen Fulton, who plays AS THE WORLD TURNS's much-married Lisa, was wed for the third time on June 11 to Rick McMorrow. By mid-September, she had filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.


BIGGEST POWER PLAYS
Meet the New Boss: All three networks hired new executives to command their daytime programming departments. Jackie Smith is now in charge at NBC, Michael Brockman has taken the reins at ABC, and Lucy Johnson is leading CBS daytime. NBC has the most to gain -- their four shows were often at the bottom of the soap ratings, keeping company with ABC's LOVING -- and Jackie Smith earned a reputation as a hit-maker during her time at ABC. While there will undoubtedly be tinkering at all the networks, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, ANOTHER WORLD, SANTA BARBARA, and GENERATIONS are the most likely to undergo overhauls.


BIGGEST CAST CUT
Sad Sacks: The ax was swinging at DAYS OF OUR LIVES, when in the space of a few months eleven actors were either taken off contract and relegated to day-player status, or let go. Suzanne Rogers (Maggie), John Clarke (Mickey), Peggy McCay (Caroline), Frank Parker (Shawn), James Reynolds (Abe), Christie Clarke (Carrie), Michael Bays (Julio), Jay Robinson (Marty), Joy Garrett (Jo) and Patrice Chanel-Carter (Gail) were some who lost their contracts.


TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
Cricket Bugged Viewers: This was the year many YOUNG & RESTLESS viewers overdosed on Lauralee Bell (Cricket). The actress had been popular in the past, as a teen with a crush on Danny and then as Phillip Chancellor's girlfriend. But thrust front and center on the show, Bell didn't fare as well. One departing Y&R actor, Terry Lester, expressed his frustration publicly, sparking an outcry from viewers protesting the elevation of Bell, the daughter of the show's creator and senior executive producer, at the expense of other characters. In this magazine, Bill Bell objected to the fuss, explaining that Lester's story had been reduced because the actor decided not to renew his contract, not to give Lauralee more air time. Meanwhile, throughout the controversy the show remained a strong number one in the ratings.
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Matt
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MOST SHOCKING TWIST -- DAYTIME


BILLY IS DYLAN'S FATHER, GUIDING LIGHT
Our readers guessed first that Dylan was Reva's son. But when Reva ran around crying "Rape!" the letters poured in. Seems none of the viewers could recall Reva getting raped. When did this happen? they wanted to know. The truth was, it didn't, but nobody guessed that Reva was lying -- again. Then, even when Hampton told Sarah and Hawk that Billy was the father, Hawk couldn't connect the dots. He was in good company with all the viewers who thought that Billy raped Reva, when actually she had slept with him on the rebound from Josh. Everybody was surprised when the truth came out, but nobody more so than Reva. Because everybody wanted to protect her from the truth, Reva was the last to know that Dylan was her son -- and that she was a grandmother.
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Matt
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MOST SHOCKING TWIST -- PRIME TIME


GREG MARRIES ABBY, KNOTS LANDING
As Greg and Paige's steamy affair progressed, viewers rooted for the lovers to stay together. When Greg and Paige finally admitted they loved each other, and Greg bought a magnificent engagement ring, it appeared everything was on the right track. But ambition beat out love when Greg realized that his political aspirations would be ill-served by a sexy young wife, and offered the ring to Abby instead. The proposal came as a surprise to Abby, who hadn't even been dating her intended. But abby, anxious to get a permit to drill for oil on Lotus Point, understood the advantages to becoming Greg's political helpmate. While everyone in the cul-de-sac shook their heads in amazement, she became the third Mrs. Sumner.
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Matt
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BEST WEDDING


JOSH & REVA LEWIS, GUIDING LIGHT
In contrast to most lavish soap weddings, which often travel to exotic locales that have nothing to do with the characters getting married, GUIDING LIGHT went back to Cross Creek, the hometown of Reva and Josh Lewis, for this year's best wedding. It made sense for these two to go back to their roots, to the place where they fell in love. Sequences filmed in Milford, Pennsylvania, set a lovely pastoral backdrop for the hordes of Shaynes, Lewises and friends who traipsed in for the big day. By the end of the week, we felt like one of the invited guests. Diverse background music -- from Bonnie Raitt singing "Home" to John Hiatt's "Have A Little Faith In Me" to excerpts from Mason Williams's "Classical Gas" album -- was especially memorable but also a welcome change of pace from those incessant soap opera love themes that are drummed into viewers' ears.

Reva and Josh's wedding also provided a wonderful look at the pasts of the show's central characters, while at the same time setting the stage for the future family story -- Dylan was introduced and Hawk and Sarah were brought to the forefront of the drama. And doesn't everyone have someone like Billy, who runs around with the video camera getting stupid interviews from guests?
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Matt
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BEST BREAKUP


VICKY & JAMIE FRAME, ANOTHER WORLD
The best breakups on soaps aren't knock-down, drag-out fights, but wrestling matches. This protracted split came on the heels of months of Vicky's lying and changed Jamie from a wimp into a man. There is still unfinished business between the couple -- like who gets custody of their son, Steven. Anne Heche plays teh manipulative Vicky with gusto and the right amount of vulnerability. Watch her in action and you'll see how hard it is for a pliant soul like Jamie to get away from her. Vicky's already tried to bribe Jamie with her vote to win the presidency of Cory Publishing for Rachel, in exchange for Steven. Vicky claims to hate Jamie because he won temporary custody of their son, Steven. Jamie claims to hate Vicky for all of her deceit. Sure. When they got their divorce papers in the mail, they were still upset about being separated. With Little Steven caught in-between, watch for serious fireworks in the ensuing custody battle -- Vicky is a monther with a mission.
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Matt
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BEST RECONCILIATION


PHILLIP SPAULDING & RICK BAUER, GUIDING LIGHT
Male friendships are seldom explored with any depth on soap operas. Basically, men compete for or save the women. On GUIDING LIGHT, Head Writer Pam Long develops her friendships between men as fully as her romances between men and women. When Rick found out that Phillip was the father of his wife's baby, Rick told Phillip that their lifelong friendship was over. Phillip was devastated, but the damage seemed irreparable. However, Bauer's resolve to detest his best friend crumbled; he couldn't stay away. When Phillip acted on these signs of encouragement (like Rick showing up at his wedding), Bauer backed off. Then it looked like Beth was alive. Rick tried not to care. He told Phillip to handle it on his own. But when the going got tough, Rick showed up at Beth's grave and he and Phillip traded hatred for hugs as they shared a tearful reconcilliation. Mature, sensitive performances by Michael O'Leary (Rick) and Grant Aleksander (Phillip) proved that chemistry is not restricted to soap cuper couples.
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Matt
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WORST RECONCILIATION


CLIFF & NINA WARNER, ALL MY CHILDREN
Cliff and Nina, Ciff and Nina. They left. They came back. Daytime's romantic boomerangs got married -- again and again and again. And somewhere in between they lost their chemistry and we stopped caring. For their fourth go-round, the writers broke up a perfectly plausible romance between Angie and Cliff. Why? So Cliff could explore his feelings. It took about a week. Cliff decided he was still in love with Nina. What a novel idea. For Pete Cooney's sake, are we supposed to believe that after three trips down the aisle with Nina, Cliff hasn't learned? After professing his undying love for Angie, he passed her up like an appetizer in a restaurant. Cliff's rememberance-of-things-past reunion with Nina was an exercise in flaming idiocy. We're past believing that these two are soulmates. Next time Nina comes sniveling back to Palmer, she'll probably be alone.
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MichaelGL
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Sexy Jew

This was when GL improved greatly in quality after a few rough years in the late 80s.


Wow, look at all those people who were put off of contract at DAYS. What was the reason for this?
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juniorz1
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The Royal Stoner

I remember that because the DAYS cast list always goes in order of seniority and for years after (and when most returned), the cast list was all jumbled because of it. It was hard to understand at the time why Drake Hogestyn was higher than Suzanne Rogers. I think they did eventually end up correcting it, as I know for a fact that John Clarke resumed his spot as the top-billed regular contract cast member.
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Matt
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BEST CASTING -- DAYTIME


SUSAN MARIE SNYDER, AS THE WORLD TURNS
As classic bad girl Julie Wendall, Susan Marie Snyder was cast for a short-term, non-contract role. When it became immediately clear that this was an actress who could serve as a catalyst for several of the show's young male actors, ATWT quickly typed up a contract. Julie is just the kind of girl this show needed, and Snyder, with her built-in pout and wide, sympathetic eyes, is a natural. She plays the role with just the right mixture of guile, sensuality and vulnerability. It's easy to see how she hooked two guys as different as scruffy, street-wise Duke Kramer and the upstanding, innocent Andy Dixon. Julie is a temptress who's not obvious and Snyder can give ATWT the grist for many juicy story lines to come.


BEST CASTING -- PRIME TIME


CATHY PODEWELL, DALLAS
J.R. (Larry Hagman) never had any trouble wrapping a woman around his finger. Even the valiant Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) lost more battles than she won against her notorious sagebrush Casanova. But last year J.R. got lassoed -- by an alleged backwoods innocent named Cally, who roped him into marriage, and provided one of the most enjoyable stories DALLAS has seen in years. The spitfire responsible for the merriment is an actress named Cathy Podewell. Appealingly ingenuous without being a birdbrain, Podewell plays her part with intelligence and style that proves that, though Sue Ellen was a tough act to follow, DALLAS has a worthy new heroine.
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Mason


Ugh, Cathy Podewell was terrible and that storyline was one of Dallas's worst.
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Matt
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Mason
Dec 10 2009, 11:55 AM
Ugh, Cathy Podewell was terrible and that storyline was one of Dallas's worst.
Really? Did you watch it 1st run or much later? I watched it as it aired and Podewell was hugely popular at the time. I know I adored her in the role as did my mother with whom I always watched Dallas (and Falcon Crest) every Friday night from beginning to end.
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Mason


Matt
Dec 10 2009, 11:59 AM
Mason
Dec 10 2009, 11:55 AM
Ugh, Cathy Podewell was terrible and that storyline was one of Dallas's worst.
Really? Did you watch it 1st run or much later?
Obviously much, much later, LoL. I couldn't stand Cally.
Edited by Mason, Dec 10 2009, 12:01 PM.
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Matt
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BEST OPENING CREDITS


GENERATIONS
If any theme could charm viewers into watching a show, this one could. Written and produced by Michael Gore (who won Oscars for penning the themes for Fame and Terms of Endearment), the GENERATIONS theme mixes pop, blues, and ragtime, with a gentle Scott Joplin-flavored piano accompaniment. The fresh and clever graphics, featuring colorized photos that give a smattering of American history, black and white, attempt to place the show's characters in a larger context -- a first for a soap opera.


WORST OPENING CREDITS


LOVING
One-time chartbuster Johnny Mathis's hits have found a permanent home on any lite-FM station in this country. "What Will My Mary Say," "Wonderful, Wonderful," "Chances Are," -- his songs of sugary romance have made him a very wealthy man. LOVING hired him to croon their first vocal theme, a song with four lines in it. One of them, "My loving will protect you," is a real yawner. They would have been better off updating their instrumental theme. While Johnny croons, eight generic couples swirl across the screen. These amateurish paintings might have been illustrations for a comic book about brides. Why did LOVING choose to emphasize couples? The show is not about couples. It's about love triangles, quadrangles and pentangles.
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Matt
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MOST INTRIGUING COUPLE


ROGER THORPE & HOLLY LINDSEY, GUIDING LIGHT
Put these two in a room and you know you're going to see some friction. They collide like two Rolls-Royces, rarely showing any dents in their serene and gleaming exteriors. Roger and Holly were in love once, till he tried to kill her. Now she's out to block his every move and make his every moment in her presence miserable. But Roger's unflappable. And very, very dashing. Michael Zaslow plays the role with consummate charm and charisma. His partner in barbs, Maureen Garrett, is a woman who doesn't lose her stinger after she's stung. She tosses around her lines (and that red hair) with bemused and sexy nonchalance. Who's got the upper hand here? It's debatable, and it keeps us watching.
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MichaelGL
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Matt
Dec 11 2009, 04:31 PM
MOST INTRIGUING COUPLE


ROGER THORPE & HOLLY LINDSEY, GUIDING LIGHT
Put these two in a room and you know you're going to see some friction. They collide like two Rolls-Royces, rarely showing any dents in their serene and gleaming exteriors. Roger and Holly were in love once, till he tried to kill her. Now she's out to block his every move and make his every moment in her presence miserable. But Roger's unflappable. And very, very dashing. Michael Zaslow plays the role with consummate charm and charisma. His partner in barbs, Maureen Garrett, is a woman who doesn't lose her stinger after she's stung. She tosses around her lines (and that red hair) with bemused and sexy nonchalance. Who's got the upper hand here? It's debatable, and it keeps us watching.
Very true. :hail: Man, do I miss the good ole days.
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IMissAremid
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After all... tomorrow is another day!

Matt
Dec 7 2009, 10:58 AM
Whether all the changes that began in '89 will continue throughout the new year and make a dent in viewership remains to be seen. But one has a sense that this is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Changes have occurred, to be sure, but who are these people occupying new jobs? Too many times they are the same writers, actors, and producers we heave seen again and again on other soaps. They are hired and rehired because they have experience in the serial format. Often that seems the only reason they're hired. Granted, soaps are a very specialized way of telling story. And given the furious pace, shows need talent familiar with the format. But in constantly rehiring the same people, soaps prohibit the real change they seem so intent on nurturing. Many veteran writers, producers, and actors lack a fresh point of view. They've been toiling in the field for so long that they have tunnel vision. In order for soaps -- and this includes prime-time soaps -- to break through into the nineties, they need to add new talent: writers from other forms of television, film or print who are passionate about the medium, but have a different perspective on characters and storytelling. Soaps have never shied away from hiring totally inexperienced models (when there are many accomplished actors begging for work) and giving them the chance to grow on screen. Why not do the same for writers, who have at least proven their talent in other mediums? Instead of hiring talent who have been fired from other shows, executives need to develop new talent. This is easier said than accomplished. Developing talent takes time and money, two commodities with which networks are notoriously stingy. Still, without new talent, they are in danger of preventing the kind of growth and scope in drama that artists are eager to create, and viewers want to see.
Still true today.

Thanks for posting this!
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Matt
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MOST BORING COUPLE


DAVID RAMPAL & MELANIE CORTLANDT, ALL MY CHILDREN
Gooey. Sticky. Dated. If you fell in love in the 1950s, this story might have appealed to you. But guess what? It's 1990, and people don't act like David and Melanie anymore. Maybe the script writers at ALL MY CHILDREN who fell in love in the 1950s think they do. The audience was "treated" to soda shop courtship -- endless walks, hand-holding, soulful gazing into each other's eyes -- and very little content. Not that everyone has to be deep, but the audience needs more. Especially if AMC expects us to sit through it for an entire summer. David and Melanie only became interesting when AMC broke them up.
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