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Forgotten soaps of the 90's

Discussion in 'Sundry Prime Time Soaps' started by Carrie Fairchild, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I actually remember watching University Hospital - it was an attempt for Spelling to break into syndication. I guess with the success of hospital shows + Baywatch selling well worldwide it seemed like a good idea. He also had a show a few years earlier called Nightingales with Suzanne Pleshette, Susan Walters and Kristy Swanson, which unpredictably, got trashed by critics.

    I guess he thought that a show about hot young nurses would be a thing so he tried it twice.
     
  2. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Also, remember The Heights? Clearly a show that was meant to feed off Beverly Hills 90210 popularity, flopped but not before landing a number one single How To Talk To An Angel. Interestingly it went to number one before Fox pulled the plug - I wonder if Fox had been more patient it could've gained an audience like they allowed both Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place did.

    Poor Jamie Walters ended up going to Beverly Hills 90210 and almost killing Donna. He apparently became really unpopular to the point where the writers attempted to give him a redemption arc.
     
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  3. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Oh, I just remember another one which is fairly forgotten - Eden (not to be confused with Return to Eden).

    It was basically Playboy Channel's (!) foray into prime time soaps that also got aired in a censored (read: no T&A) version on USA Network - by todays standards it's fairly tame but starred among others Jeff Griggs who infamously got canned a few years later from Days of our Lives when it was revealed he had a sordid past in the early 90s as a gay porn star. Shockingly, all 26 episodes got released on DVD in 2004 - not that I'm paying $100+ for it anyway:

    https://www.amazon.com/Eden-Complet...n&refinements=p_n_theme_browse-bin:2650368011
     
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  4. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Fan

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    I can't think of The Heights without this sketch coming to mind



    I remember Eden. The T&A version used to air on UK digital channel Living in the early 00's. The only thing that stands out in my mind now was that one of the stars went on to play Deb in One Tree Hill.
     
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  5. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I just remembered another one:

    Push, possibly the last official prime time soap to be launched in the 90s (Kevin Williamson's Wasteland was labeled a "drama") - it aired early mornings on weekends here, but I'll be damned if I remember the plots. I'll say one good thing which is that it had a fairly unique approach when you had either teenagers in high school scheming, or young 20 somethings that just hung out, Push was about athletes trying to get to the Olympics. ABC first aired two episodes in April 1998, pulled it, then later aired a random episode in August, so that gives you an idea about how good the ratings were.

    [​IMG]

    And yes, that's Jason Behr of Roswell fame.
     
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  6. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Fan

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    I've heard of this but never saw it. I doubt it aired here given it's very short run. I always thought it's premise sounded very similar to Australian series Sweat which did air here and starred a pre-Hollywood Heath Ledger. So similar, I wondered if it was a US remake.
     
  7. Soaplover

    Soaplover Soap Chat Active Member

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    Dangerous Women was a syndicated primetime soap that aired two episodes in a two hour block once a week for several weeks with a total of 52 episodes before it was cancelled back in 1991/1992. It was an American version of Prisoners and I watched it faithfully every week, and of course it ended on a cliffhanger.

     
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  8. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I've always been curious about this one - odd that they'd air two episodes in a block. I would think people might not have the patience to watch two hour blocks every week - no wonder it failed...
     
  9. Soaplover

    Soaplover Soap Chat Active Member

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    From what I recall, it was only syndicated on city stations and not nationwide so while the ratings were respectable in places like New York City and Chicago.. the lack of nationwide clearance was the main issue. I think it was cancelled suddenly because there were lots of cliffhangers in the final episode.

    I also think it didn't start to get good until they had a soap opera writer come on as a head-writer... I believe the first several episodes are floating around on youtube, as well.
     
  10. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Valley Of The Dolls

    Not one of the best, but they showed some nice buns every now and then.
     
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  11. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Superstar

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    Oh God.... That's actually just exactly what Melrose and 90210 were.
     
  12. ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989

    ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989 Soap Chat Addict

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    Looking at all the 90s prime time soaps, its not hard to see why they failed to launch, even if they did have a good premise and storyline, with the start exception of BH 90210 & Melrose Place, both of which ran for most of pretty much the entire 90s decade with BH 90210, just making it into the first few months of the Noughties, however I'll get to reason as to why those shows were successful in a moment.

    The prime time soap genre had reached saturation peak point by the middle of the previous decade, by 1986 all four of the major prime time soaps of the era (DALLAS, KNOTS LANDING, DYNASTY & FALCON'S CREST) beginning fall in popularity,
    Dallas, Dynasty and FC had all ended within a year of one another between the years 1989 to 1991, only Knots Landing continued to stride well into the mid 1990s (though the years 1990-94 did seem slightly more 80s hangover) but that was because it was structured around a middle class community with several families rather than based around a singular wealthy upper class family as with the other three.

    And this was probably why BH 90210 and MP were successful, it focused primarily on teens and twentysomethings, a demographic the 80s soaps never really focused on, plus both shows were set in a community, okay the Walsh family on 90210 were the main family for the shows early years, but this quickly changed.

    Prime time soaps in the 00s were probably more successful than their 90s counterparts because, enough time had passed between the final episode of Dallas and the first episode of Desperate Housewives for instances, in order for the genre to be revived somewhat, also 90s soaps were often branded as a "drama serial" when we all knew that it was still cola with a Pepsi label on it.
     
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  13. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I also think it's important to note that the two new prime time soaps that managed to launch also were on the starter network Fox at the time and they were willing to let both of them grow into themselves. Beverly Hills 90210 was given a second season despite so-so ratings and Melrose Place was given 32 episodes to prove itself. They were even willing to give Models Inc 29 episodes to try and make it work! Central Park West on the other hand got 9 episodes before it was yanked, starter network WB couldn't afford more than 22 episodes per season to fight the fact that prime time soaps repeated lousy. Most other shows quickly got yanked or never went beyond 13 episodes.

    Could as example Central Park West had succeeded if given the same treatment as Melrose? In the first incarnation... yes. It had started a very slight curve upwards, just not enough not to yank it. 2000 Malibu Road was clearly a short-lived success but politics and money hindered more episodes of that. Syndicated prime time soaps were just an experiment which no one seemed to want to invest in properly.
     
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  14. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Fan

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    I think Central Park West could have survived in two cases. One, if CBS had aired it at 10pm, out of the reach of the FOX soaps. And two, if it had aired on FOX to begin with.

    Like you said, FOX at the time appeared to be open to giving their soaps a chance to grow as witnessed with MP and 90210. Even as late as 1997, they gave Pacific Palisades a longer run than it probably deserved. I think FOX really would've tried with Central Park West given that it was (in my opinion) a quality product. I think CBS basically crapped their pants when it wasn't an instant hit because of the amount of hype the show had gotten in the lead up to it's premiere. I think FOX would've stuck with it.
     
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  15. tommie

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    Fox were damned intent to kill Central Park West - they first scheduled a two hour premiere of Beverly Hills 90210 against it, then when CBS tried to re-air the pilot it was against Melrose's 100th episode. Fox and Aaron Spelling were furious that Darren went to CBS instead of them. There was a similar situation to this the other week - ABC premiered the Grey's spin-off Station 19, a firefighter drama; NBC answered by scheduling a special two hour episode of Chicago Fire, which probably drew down the sampling of Station 19.
     
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  16. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Fan

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    It's not unusual for networks to counter programme against each other but I think FOX were pissed because Darren Star had the opportunity to do Central Park West with them but he went with CBS instead because they were offering bigger money. I wonder was Spelling pissed at Darren too for refusing (wisely) to involve himself with Models Inc?
     
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  17. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I'm usually totally clueless when it comes to network politics or any kind of behind-the-scenes shenanigans, but in this case I have to ask,
    Do you think FOX would have continued with the tone of the first half of the show, or was the retooling (the Brock Dynasty) inevitable?
    Did Mariel Hemingway leave the show or was her character written out (according to Wikipedia)? Surely this was a big mistake as it changed the position of the other characters.
     
  18. tommie

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    Fox is more youth-oriented, so bringing in Raquel Welch and written off most of the younger cast certainly wouldn't have happened. It's possible that they would've pushed for a "special guest star" a la Heather Locklear or Emma Samms, but Darren Star wouldn't have been kicked out like he was in favor of Camille Marchetta. That said - Fox would've never allowed the budget that CBS let them have. There's a huge risk they would've shot most of the show in Los Angeles instead of New York. Possibly they would've given them an expensive pilot, but the following episodes would've been set-based.
     
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  19. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Fan

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    I think FOX would've stuck with the show's original tone and setup. In the mid-90's, CBS was the home of older skewing fare like Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder and Dr Quinn Medicine Woman. They were hungry for a younger audience and hoped that Central Park West would do the trick. When it failed to attract the numbers they hoped for, they panicked and tried to pull in their older viewers by shifting the focus to older characters like Allen & Linda, who were previously on the sidelines, and the new arrived Adam & Dianna. I don't think FOX would've done a retool to that extreme. They might've dropped a few characters like they did in the early stages of Melrose Place but I reckon they would've kept the tone young.

    Regarding Mariel's departure, she apparently had an option to leave after the first thirteen episodes and she used this option. I'm guessing she saw that Stephanie would be sidelined following the retool and decided to leave. If you watch the revamped episodes, the focus shifted to the Brock family while the likes of Rachel, Nikki, Alex and Peter often felt like spare parts being written into corners. I'm guessing that Mariel didn't want to become one of those spares. Alternatively, being the biggest name on the show, Mariel may have gotten the chop to make way for the incoming Raquel's salary.
     
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  20. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    That makes it all very dilemma-ish!
     

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