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SOD Best & Worst -- 1989
Topic Started: Dec 7 2009, 10:58 AM (1,439 Views)
Matt
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BEST FANTASY


MASON GOES TO HEAVEN, SANTA BARBARA
After being shot, Mason Capwell was on the operating table and dreamed that he went to heaven. Joan Crawford was God's receptionist and she was Mason's personal Cloud Nine tour guide. Mason recalled Crawford's face from a movie he'd seen... was it Mommie Dearest? "That was Faye Dunaway," snorted Joan derisively. This fantasy sequence had all the elements that has distinguished this soap as the one willing to try anything once: a wild concept, pricless dialogue and witty performances (especially by the brazen Joe Marinelli as Joan and NBC programming executive Brian Frons as God). Topped off with SB's usual luscious set design (everything in God's antechamber was white and Cloud Nine was appropriately wispy), Mason's trip to the Beyond made for one of the more memorable fantasy sequences seen on daytime.
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Matt
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BEST TEASE


LEANNA RANDOLPH, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS
Losing Victor didn't keep Leanna down for long. Instead of moping, she squirmend into tight skirts, took a liberal hand with lipstick, and had a ball flirting with every man she saw. She stopped bickering with Victor's disapproving pal Douglas, and started playing up to him. Douglas ate it up. Leanna's boss, Michael, wasn't immune to his receptionist's charms, either, though it did mean fending her off during working hours. Leanna makes no bones about the fun she has being a tease, and now that she's no longer a murderous, psychotic, her antics are an entertaining diversion.
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Matt
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BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT -- DAYTIME


SHARON GABET, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
Sharon Gabet earned her leading lady credentials in two daytime roles: Raven on THE EDGE OF NIGHT, for which she received two Emmy nominations, and Brittany on ANOTHER WORLD. Playing Dorian's younger sister, Melinda Cramer, on ONE LIFE TO LIVE would have seemed, at the time it was announced, to promise another strong performance, but Melinda was never developed into the major figure she should have been. Except for John Martin (Jon Russell) and Larry Pine (Roger Gordon), Gabet's potential with other leading men on the show was also not explored. Turning Melinda into a thoroughly obnoxious career woman was another mistake. For an actress who can, and has, handled important story lines, this was an insult. What's more, the character was not even given a proper good-bye; she simply vanished into thin air.


BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT -- PRIME TIME


ANA-ALICIA, FALCON CREST
Firing Ana-Alicia from FALCON CREST was a decision that spelled disaster for the series last season. A versatile and dynamic player, Alicia was the only woman on the series who worked as an adversary to queen bee Jane Wyman as Angela Channing and she ahd been given the opportunity to prove her strength. In fact, before she was sent packing, Alicia's character, Melissa Cumson, had wrested the vineyard away from Angela. The anticipated struggle between them promised exciting viewing. FC realized its mistake, and re-hired Alicia for five episodes as a courtesan named Samantha Ross in a too-late effort to boost sagging ratings. They never should have disposed of her in the first place.
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Matt
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BEST BICKERING


JOHN & LUCINDA DIXON, AS THE WORLD TURNS
Every married couple fights, and some more belligerently than others. There are the cold wards, where husband and wife clam up to punish each other, adn the china wars, where the plates and saucers and tureens are hurled from wife to husband and vice versa to possibly injure and to prove just how much you hated getting that pattern as a wedding present. Then there are the trial wars, where the husband puts his wife on the witness stand, metes out a death sentence, and the wife says, "All right, I'm guilty. So what?"

This is how John and Lucinda Dixon fight on AS THE WORLD TURNS. For the past year, she's been a very, very, very bad wife, among other things hiring a scarlet woman to lure John's ruffian son out of her house, and pushing the "for better or worse" clause to the max. Formerly no angel himself, the newly censorious John spends most of his time trying to teach his wife a lesson about using people to your own personal ends (until he decides to do the same thing; then it's different). But there's no point. This is one of the most complex marriages on daytime television and John and Lucinda are two proud, rare birds with their chests stuck out and their plumage positively rattling. "I won't grovel, John. I won't," Lucinda told him the last time he left her, and she means it. Larry Bryggman and Elizabeth Hubbard fight with gusto, sophistication and the hardheadedness of people who truly love -- and sometimes hate -- each other.
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Matt
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MOST ENTERTAINING COUPLE


RUBY BRIGHT & MARCO DANE, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
For a soap opera's soap-opera creation, Ruby Bright was a heavenly delight, a character from ONE LIFE TO LIVE's soap-within-a-soap, FRATERNITY ROW. Played by actress Megan Gordon, Ruby was a change of pace for the intelligent, blond actress -- a gum-chewing, tacky brunette with a Brooklyn accent. When Megan went to an Atlantic City casino to research her role (gussied up as Ruby, no less), she met Marco Dane, OLTL's hustler from way back, and he thought she was for real. Well, wasn't she?

And so began the most entertaining and crazy love story of the year. Ruby and Marco made us laugh with their great comic timing and touched us with their true concern for each other. In every Megan, there is a Ruby, and Jessica Tuck had a ball finding her. She displayed an unexpected flair for gritty comedy. Gerald Anthony made a triumphant return to the show where he always caused so much trouble.
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Matt
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GIMME A BREAK


THE VIRGIN KATHERINE, GENERAL HOSPITAL
This year, GENERAL HOSPITAL introduced a world-famous classical pianist named Katherine Delafield, who was beautiful, sensuous, and sophisticated. Strangely, the writers needed her to be a virgin, apparently for a sexual sacrifice on the altar of Robert Scorpio. Since Katherine wasn't saving herself for marriage, it's implausible that she wouldn't have attracted scores of seducers and chosen at least one. Piano practice may require hours of solitude, but Katherine couldn't have spent all of her time working on her arpeggios.

When Katherine lost her virginity to Robert, the writers didn't even take advantage of the opportunity to do some character exploration. If the couple's apres-sex chat was any indication, it was a night of ecstasy for both parties. Are we to believe Robert didn't realize she was completely inexperienced? Was he too polite to bring up that minor detail or was she just that good an actress? Portraying such a moment in purely romanticized terms is further proof that saddling this character with prolonged virginity was nothing but a sexist, cheap shot.


ROGER THORPE'S MASK, GUIDING LIGHT
It was the year's worst disguise, a half-rotten avacado that grew progressively more decayed as Roger Thorpe's (Michael Zaslow) re-entry into GUIDING LIGHT became more prolonged. And let us not forget his strange accent, so happily abandoned since, that was supposed to make this avacadoed-man sound so mysterious, so... absurd. Next time you want a disguise, GL, stay out of the produce section.


THE DE-PATCHING AND RE-PATCHING OF STEVE JOHNSON, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
The Patch. Seldom has a character been so closely identified with a fashion accessory, but DAYS had, in Steve Johnson -- better known as Patch -- a sensation whose hook was a leather swatch attacked to an elastic string. The patch gave the one-eyed anti-hero a certain cachet that DAYS milked to the last drop. Wouldn't a good woman like Kayla make him see that in his soul Patch was beautiful? You bet. The audience clamored for more and DAYS made him the centerpiece of the show.

Eventually, DAYS decided it was time to restore Steve's missing eye, so he underwent a miracle surgical procedure in order to do undercover work for the ISA. Then, in what had to be this year's most unbelievable coincidence, the eye was again taken away. Steve (whose first eye was poked out by Bo), suffered another ghastly optical injury and was hurriedly re-patched. What are the odds of this happening once, let alone twice, in a lifetime? It's hard to chalk it up to bad karma. The powers-that-be at DAYS insist that Steve Johnson "needs his indentity back." Sounds to us like they lost their gimmick.
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Matt
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MOST ENTERTAINING ROGUE


JACK DEVEREAUX, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
In a show populated by characters painted either black or white, Jack Devereaux is a refreshing shade of gray. A complex man, Devereaux possesses a rare commodity for a fellow in Salem -- unpredictability. One day, he's gleefully creating havoc; the next, he's going out of his way to help someone in need. Jack has come a long way. Initially a sweetie, he was turned into a rapist and at that point, the character seemed irredeemably stuck in the gutter.

Since then, Jack has crawled out. By permitting the audience glimpses of the hurt and vulnerability hidden beneath a slick veneer, DAYS has let its viewers understand the charcater's motivation and begin to care -- and root -- for him. The smirk, the sneer, and the stare are still part of Jack's amusing facade, but a tender heart beats there as well. Thus far, DAYS has resisted transforming Devereaux into a noble type. Wise move -- there are enough heroes in town. We like the rogue.
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Matt
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MOST OVER-EXPOSED HEROINE


CRICKET BLAIR, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS
All roads in Genoa City last year led to Cricket. Who had the tenderest hospital scenes with the dying Phillip? Not Phillip's wife, Nina; not his mother, Jill. It was his ex-girlfriend, Cricket. Cricket's terminally ill mother had to choose between John, a man who gave her the best year of her life, and Jim, the man who gave her Cricket. The decision was made by Cricket, who wanted her mother to marry Jim. Cricket's love life was fraught with difficult decisions: Phillip, or Chase? Scott, or Danny? Derek, the winner in Cricket's romantic sweepstakes, careened her into another story line by raping her. Having professional dater Cricket undergo the horrors of date rape made sense, and it was a social issue worth tackling. But did every male around have to take turns playing hero to Cricket's damsel in distress? John, Jack, Chase, Scott, Danny and Skip all leaped to help their town pet. That there is only one nice girl Cricket's age in Genoa City, and that she is wiser than anyone else, strains credibility. To have her stick her nose into almost every plot strains the nerves. We're surprised she's not the one who willed George Rawlins.
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Mason


Matt
Dec 24 2009, 12:16 PM
In a show populated by characters painted either black or white, Jack Devereaux is a refreshing shade of gray. A complex man, Devereaux possesses a rare commodity for a fellow in Salem -- unpredictability.
Too bad none of the writers since then have remembered this, and instead decided to write Jack as either a boring run-of-the-mill soap hero or as a complete buffoon.
Edited by Mason, Dec 24 2009, 11:47 PM.
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Matt
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MOST IMPROVED SHOW


GUIDING LIGHT
In previous years, GUIDING LIGHT wallowed in poorly planned and preposterous stories, such as Johnny Bauer's miracle recovery from cancer and The Dreaming Death. Miscasting left characters in unrealistic limbo. 1989 saw a confident reconnoitering. Now GL is, day-to-day, an absorbing serial. Why? GUIDING LIGHT's head writers, Pamela K. Long, has assembled an excellent staff of writers who write dialogue that is believable but not trite. Characters never come on to recap someone else's story, a nagging problem on other soaps. And for her already-strong characters, Long has crafted compelling stories. In fact, GL's emsemble playing is arguably the best on daytime, and every generation of Springfield's families is given a fair shake, from Hawk and Sarah Shayne to Alan-Michael and Harley Spaulding. Though later in the year, GUIDING LIGHT suddenly found itself having the difficult task of recasting several principal roles, Long has her melodramatic juggling act so controlled that you always kept watching. Highlights of 1989 include Rick and Phillip's touching break-up and reconciliation (see Best Reconciliation), Josh and Reva's wedding (see Best Wedding), Will Jeffries's "killing" of Rose, and the arrival of super-story catalyst, Dylan.
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Matt
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MOST INTRIGUING STORY


ADAM CHANDLER, BROOKE ENGLISH, & DIXIE COONEY, ALL MY CHILDREN
How would you like to watch your husband have an affair, lie through his teeth and then slam him at the right moment? Could you do this? Would you like to watch someone else do this? This was the premise behind ALL MY CHILDREN's story of Adam Chandler's dalliance with winsome, naive Dixie Cooney (Cady McClain) and his wife Brooke's (Julia Barr) surveillance and exposure of the event. As Adam's (David Canary) deception (and pregnant Dixie's waistline) increased, so did Brooke's suspicions. She started to gather evidence and, with each lie that Adam told, prepared to trap Adam at his own game. For months, the audience -- solidly behind Brooke -- anticipated a climax commensurate with the intensity of the story. They got it. Barr did some of her best work as the fabulously righteous and outraged Brooke, and Canary, delivering Adam's inane falsehoods (e.g., "I never slept with Dixie"), has seldom been slimier. For once, we got to see Adam get his well-deserved and long over-due comeuppance -- not only with a wonderful verbal assault, but with a slap across the face that packed the power of a Tyson punch. Classic.
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Matt
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MOST RUINED SHOW


FALCON CREST
We named FALCON CREST Best Prime Time Soap in 1987 and 1988 fo rgood reasons. Droll writing, unpredictable plotting, innovative direction, sterling performances and a renewed energy made the show very entertaining and suspenseful at the same time. Several highlights come to mind: Maggie giving birth in Angela's living room while Dan Fixx played Chopin; the murder game at Falcon Crest where an actual body did turn up; Kim Novak and Roscoe Lee Browne's riotous guest-star turns as mystery woman Kit Marlowe and necromantic mogul Rosemont; Ana-Alicia's hilarious turn as Veronique the Slumming Socialite and those humdinger cliffhangers.

But then they fired everyone, or nearly everyone. Out went the creative producing and writing team; out went Ana-Alicia. Instead they put all their eggs in one basket and called it Pilar Ortega, played by the beautiful Kristian Alfonso. She has not developed into lead actress material since her days at DAYS. Then they wiped out the long-planned reconciliation between Richard and Angela Channing, which had provided many volatile and moving moments in the previous two seasons. Add to this lackluster roster as truly pointless insider-trading plot. But the biggest disappointment was the show's abysmal lack of humor. FALCON CREST no longer cracked us up. It was unforgivably dull and no reason to stay home on a Friday night.

One bright spot: the 1989 season has already shown much improvement over last year, so it looks like FALCON CREST has emerged from its slump.
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Mason


Matt
Dec 28 2009, 11:50 PM
One bright spot: the 1989 season has already shown much improvement over last year, so it looks like FALCON CREST has emerged from its slump.
LMAO. Are they kidding? As bad as Season 8 was, Season 9 was so, sooo much worse.
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Matt
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Mason
Dec 28 2009, 11:55 PM
Matt
Dec 28 2009, 11:50 PM
One bright spot: the 1989 season has already shown much improvement over last year, so it looks like FALCON CREST has emerged from its slump.
LMAO. Are they kidding? As bad as Season 8 was, Season 9 was so, sooo much worse.
Even more ironic is that the show aired its final episode only 5 1/2 months after this issue hit the stands. lol
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Matt
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BEST SHOW -- PRIME TIME


KNOTS LANDING
The Reagans are out, and so are glitzy nighttime soaps. Viewers who deserted DYNASTY in droves have stuck by KNOTS LANDING, a soap that never fit the glamour mold. KNOTS's strengths are its well-drawn characters and honest story lines. Last year brought Mack's mid-life crisis, an examination of his situation that led him to quit his job and be tempted by another woman. Jill was killed off, an intriguing development that was resolved surprisingly briskly -- the mystery didn't drag on in typical soap opera fashion. Greg and Paige's affair was passionate and wickedly fun (the nude croquet scene was a highlight), and Greg's subsequent marriage to Abby was a heart-breaking but credible follow-up. The muddled Murakame story was at least partly redeemed by Abby's devlish villlainy and Robert Desiderio's portrayal of slimy Ted Melcher. The show has remained fresh, the plotting strong and the performances outstanding. KNOTS is still a class act.
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MichaelGL
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Sexy Jew

Matt
Dec 25 2009, 01:12 PM
MOST IMPROVED SHOW


GUIDING LIGHT
In previous years, GUIDING LIGHT wallowed in poorly planned and preposterous stories, such as Johnny Bauer's miracle recovery from cancer and The Dreaming Death. Miscasting left characters in unrealistic limbo. 1989 saw a confident reconnoitering. Now GL is, day-to-day, an absorbing serial. Why? GUIDING LIGHT's head writers, Pamela K. Long, has assembled an excellent staff of writers who write dialogue that is believable but not trite. Characters never come on to recap someone else's story, a nagging problem on other soaps. And for her already-strong characters, Long has crafted compelling stories. In fact, GL's emsemble playing is arguably the best on daytime, and every generation of Springfield's families is given a fair shake, from Hawk and Sarah Shayne to Alan-Michael and Harley Spaulding. Though later in the year, GUIDING LIGHT suddenly found itself having the difficult task of recasting several principal roles, Long has her melodramatic juggling act so controlled that you always kept watching. Highlights of 1989 include Rick and Phillip's touching break-up and reconciliation (see Best Reconciliation), Josh and Reva's wedding (see Best Wedding), Will Jeffries's "killing" of Rose, and the arrival of super-story catalyst, Dylan.
Long actually started the golden age which Curlee and Demorest continued if you look at it. GL was at its finest from 1989-1993.
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Matt
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MOST DISAPPOINTING SHOW


ONE LIFE TO LIVE
"Is my daughter Megan or Sarah?" Viki and all of Llanview wondered for what seemed an Eterna-ty. What was the big deal? Viki knew that the baby was born on Christmas Day twenty-five years ago. All she had to do was ask. This is but one example of ONE LIFE TO LIVE's fatal flaw: it doesn't know how to tell a story.

They set it up, i.e. Gabrielle switches the babies, and from then until three months later, everything related to the story line is just filler. There is no gradual building to a climax; the climax is not the final result of a logical progression, but rather is delivered when the writers feel enough time has passed. A long-term story is not a complicated set of situations building on each other, but an interminable period of red herrings, false leads and dead ends; watching Sarah be tormented while everyone sat around suggesting she get professional help was painful. With ONE LIFE TO LIVE, waiting for the characters to discover what we already know is the hardest part. But astute viewers have realized that they can turn off the show for months and turn it back on only when the end is near, and not have missed a thing. Not only this, but the main stories that were plugged into this formula were abysmal: Eterna, The Crown Jewels of Mendorra, The Llanna Flagg Story, Viki's search for the daughter she didn't remember having. Though characters may be well-defined by talented actors, theya re not used effectively. In short, the show has become juvenile, as predictable and as superficial as a cartoon.

Let's not forget the production values. The sets are old, the lighting murky and the makeup atrocious. Why must everyone look orange? What other soap would make pretty women such as Fiona Hutchison and Erika Slezak look like rags? This show can do, and has done, better.
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Matt
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BEST SHOW


ALL MY CHILDREN
At its best this year, ALL MY CHILDREN gave its large cast ample opportunities to grow, integrating their new and veteran members in stories that were mostly compelling. Characterizations were well-rounded and several actors had the opportunity to display their talents.

Preeminent among these stories was the triangle (see Most Intriguing Story) between Adam (David Canary), Dixie (Cady McClain) and Brooke (Julia Barr). A spectacular climax, when Brooke confronted Adam, was followed by his most corrupt plot -- to have Dixie committed to a mental hospital in order to gain custody of their son. Cady McClain's performance when she was led to the hospital was heartbreaking and Canary revealed Adam as a monster. He makes James Mitchell's Palmer look like a grade-school prankster.

This year also saw the maturation of Pine Valley's number-one rogue, Tad Martin. Tad's own adoption compelled him to obsess over the fate of Dixie's baby. Michael E. Knight showed unexpected depth and sensitivity in his concern for Dixie, while displaying his more familiar wily charm with Susan Pratt (Barbara Montgomery). She had a passionate romance with AMC veteran Richard Shoberg (Tom) that gave the actor his best story in years. This welding of new and familiar characters continued with the show's most entertaining couple, Nico (Maurice Benard) and Cecily (Rosa Nevin), whose story involved meddling Phoebe and moderate Langley (Ruth Warrick and Louis Edmonds).

Granted, there were times when the show seemed to lose its nerve or tell a bad story -- where was the show's history of tackling social issues when it copped out on the romance of Cliff and Angie (Peter Bergman and Debbie Morgan) for a last-minute, tedious reconciliation; the summer love story of David and Melanie (Trenty Bushey and Paige Turco) was one of the all-time corny flops (see Most Boring Couple), and the show's insistence on writing Jeremy (Jean LeClerc) as an action-adventure type is blind fantasy -- but overall, AMC was solid viewing.

The show continued to serve up timely message-oriented stories with the drunk-driving death of Laura Cudahy and the subsequent exploration of organ donation and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The death of AIDS victim Cindy Parker (Ellen Wheeler) was followed by a contribution by her Pine Valley friends to the AIDS quilt that travels the United States. Entertaining and illuminating, AMC was in top form.
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