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Huge mistakes daytime soaps made....

Discussion in 'US Soaps Forum' started by TJames03, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    Bill Bell had to be (metaphorically) dragged kicking and screaming to expand Y&R to an hour in 1980. CBS bullied him into it. He was one of the champions of the half-hour format. I agree that most soaps would benefit from being a half-hour, especially in this modern age of quickly-cut, shorter scenes. The only reason Lemay and Rauch pushed to expand AW to an hour was because of Lemay's writing style (which was more in the style of stage plays), which often had six- to eight-minute scenes limited only by the demands of commercial breaks. Modern soaps can have four or five mini-scenes (clips, really) in that eight-minute period...and yet the stories drag out so much longer despite the quick-moving pace.
     
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  2. Canon

    Canon Soap Chat Fan EXP: 15 Years

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    I'm currently breezing my way through Ryan's Hope, helped greatly by the half-hour format.
     
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  3. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    The Edge of Night is much the same way. The mysteries could unfold over many months, even years, and if they had ever expanded to an hour, they would have burned through plots so quickly that I think the format would have suffered. Also, the half-hour formatted shows could have smaller casts with more consequential characters.
     
  4. Jason73

    Jason73 Admin EXP: 11 Years

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    Days episodes are full of scenes that are basically recap and filler scenes meant to stretch out the episode to end with something dramatic. Being a half hour would help that. Hollyoaks and Eastenders can still manage to drag storylines over months but without the filler scenes and recaps they just have more storylines in play. Hollyoaks also employs a "previously on" at the beginning of each episode which cuts down on the need for recap via character dialogue and also tips you off on what storylines will be the focus of that particular episode.

    Conversely, Hollyoaks is 22 minutes and has a huge cast. Some storylines are rested for a few weeks while others are playing out front burner and characters can be off screen and not featuring other than in an occasional scene here or there for weeks or even months.


    It would be an interesting move, in an attempt to save a show, to see what would happen if one of the three 60 minute soaps left on air tried scaling back to 30 minutes.
     
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  5. Jason73

    Jason73 Admin EXP: 11 Years

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    Also, Days is packed with flashbacks, usually to something that happened less than a week ago -- another thing 30 minutes would probably not allow.
     
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  6. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    The closest I can recall to such a scenario was in the summer of 1984, when the Olympics were held in Los Angeles. ABC had the broadcast rights, and since there was no time shift (like Olympic games held overseas), ABC was faced with their top-rated soap lineup being pre-empted. So the producers filmed truncated/shortened episodes of their shows with just enough plot movement to satisfy the soap fans. The network had (I believe) five soaps at that time that normally covered four hours of the afternoon, but during the Olympics these mini-eps aired in a two-hour block between events. That was a special case, of course, but I think the networks might be advised to try something similar during the current pre-emptions.
     
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  7. Jason73

    Jason73 Admin EXP: 11 Years

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    I'd never heard about this before. How fascinating. It would be fun to watch some of those.
     
  8. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    I watched the reruns of the final four years of Edge of Night in reruns on the USA network back in the late 1980s, and when they got to the "Olympics" episodes, they showed what felt like separate, 15-minute episodes that had been edited together haphazardly to be half-hour episodes in syndication. I tried to dig up some background on how the shows "shared" airtime, but didn't find much; I assume that EON and Ryan's Hope got 15-minute installments since they were half-hour shows, while the hour-long shows like GH and AMC likely got half-hour episodes, or maybe even 45 minutes each. EON was on its last legs so they may have even given some of its airtime to the bigger ratings draws.

    I was a CBS watcher back then, and I recall As the World Turns tried to counter-program the Olympics by having famous guest stars. They had Jermaine Jackson :eck: appear at an in-show concert. He brought along a young, unknown singer to also appear and do a duet with him. Her name? Whitney Houston.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
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  9. TJames03

    TJames03 Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 10 Years

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    All of the back from the dead’s, too!!!!!!!
     
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  10. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    I am on the fence about back-from-the-deads. Sometimes it gives a show a shot in the arm that it needs (witness the miraculous revival of GH in recent months courtesy of Nikolas Cassadine's resurrection). If proper groundwork is laid when the character is 'killed off' to make their return semi-plausible, I can forgive the plot device when the results are anything like the situation with Nik. The main issue, though, is how over-reliant soaps have become on this device. In years past they would simply write the character out of the show by saying they've decided to move, or (gasp!) they take a job out of town. I think soaps have this idea that death scenes are Emmy Bait, so they would rather have a "pseudo-death" and eventual resurrection than just have a character move away and return when the actor chooses to come back.

    I'm not familiar enough with Days to make a list, but I think it might be easier to list the characters who haven't been presumed dead at some point. I know GH is only slightly less in love with that plot device. When Nikolas came back, he had to tell his teenaged son Spencer, who is understandably upset that Nik hid from him for three years. Spencer's childhood friend Emma Drake can offer advice, though--her mother was presumed dead for three years also, only to turn up alive. Emma's grandparents can also be counted in the "Not Quite Dead" Club--and they stayed 'dead' for over a decade.

    Like I said, it can get quite absurd when so many related characters all have these big gaps in their work history, if you catch my drift.
     
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  11. TJames03

    TJames03 Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 10 Years

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    It has just been......done to death.......

    DOOL has become a joke because of it, sadly.
     
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  12. Jason73

    Jason73 Admin EXP: 11 Years

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    There are zero stakes when a character dies on Days. I miss the days when they decided to write off a character and give them a really sad goodbye and permanent death -- like when Isabella died on Days, or Megan on OLTL.

    I'm not that bothered that Adrienne is supposedly dead on Days right now. When they want to bring her back they will either say it was really Bonnie who died or have Dr. Rolf bring her back to life.
     
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  13. TJames03

    TJames03 Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 10 Years

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    I think it’ll be Bonnie. Yeah, Staci Greyson has said that she has been approached to return as an alive Isabella but she always says no. I liked Isabella and Megan’s returns as ghosts, though.

    When characters never die (unless their portrayed do in real-life), there’s no consequences or tragedies. The BFTD sh-t started in the middle 80’s and hasn’t went away, sadly.
     
  14. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    One of the reasons I became hooked/obsessed with AW in 1986 was because of a "two-fer" BFTD story, when Reginald Love turned up alive with his amnesiac wife "Marissa" actually being Mary McKinnon. Yes, it was nuts but the performances were superb. The stakes were high for everyone involved, and the multiple layers of stories it created lasted for years. That scene where Donna spotted her "dead" father and fainted was what got me watching daily after only being only a casual viewer to that point.

    On the other hand, the resurrection of Grant and Ryan's "dead" mother Justine ten short years later....words fail me. I still feel terrible for what they put poor Vicky Wyndham through, and of course they killed off Ryan! :scream:
     
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  15. Ray&Donna

    Ray&Donna Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    JFP went on an apology tour when she was hired at Y&R...then promptly killed off Delia Abbott, nullifying years of storyline past, present, and future.

    The endless DAYS Roman Brady/John Black/Chris Kositchek mess really ruined DAYS back in the 90s. And then Wayne Northrop returned as a completely different character whom Marlena had been married to when, in reality, she was married to Don Craig. That's why you can't take Ken Corday too seriously.

    Making Stephanie and Brooke besties on B&B prior to Susan Flannery's retirement was also a huge gaffe that undermined years of enmity.
     
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  16. TJames03

    TJames03 Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 10 Years

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    Gloria Monty ruined soaps by introducing stupid far-fetched story lines and taking established characters and making them to the proverbial backseat to younger and more boring characters/actors.
     
  17. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 20 Years Staff Member

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    Monty was given permission to do what she did only because ABC was ready to cancel the show. It obviously breathed new life into the show, but it turned a hospital-based drama into something totally different--so did she really save it? I think she basically started a new show using the old one as scaffolding. People still scoff at the show's title, since the show's links to its hospital are no more vital than links to hospitals on other shows that didn't have "hospital" in its title.

    But Monty's last-ditch effort seems to have become the go-to maneuver when a show is about to get the ax: go totally wacky. Capitol, a show set amidst the endless intrigues of Washington DC politics, ended its run having moved much of its action to an imaginary Arabic nation. The Doctors ended its respectable run with a bizarre story about some old woman taking a youth serum and masquerading as her own daughter. Another World introduced a disfigured time traveler who pursued Amanda Cory as the reincarnation of his dead wife. The Edge of Night ended with a mystery surrounding a disappearing city street named Wonderland Lane. One Life To Live had its soap-within-a-soap cancelled, allowing the actors to bemoan the death of their own soap through a thin veil of characterization (and no veil over the sarcasm and/or criticism of ABC).

    It's more than just "throw it against the wall and see what sticks"--they seem to think that since the show is ending, there's no need to respect the long-time fans who stuck with the show and let it end in the style with which it ran. There might have been desperation behind the storylines (especially in the cases of Doctors and AW), but I think there is also a degree of "giving the finger" to the network who cancelled them. Santa Barbara famously ended with the EP walking through the darkened studio and stubbing out a cigarette on the floor as a final scene--tell me THAT wasn't purposeful imagery. Some shows of course resisted this urge (ATWT, GL), but it seems as fewer soaps remain on the air, the Gloria Montys of the world won't step up to try to save them because the networks won't give them the support they need to succeed.
     
  18. TJames03

    TJames03 Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 10 Years

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    What is supremely ironic is that there was absolutely nothing wrong with GH before Monty got her hands on it to begin with....
     
  19. ChrisSumner

    ChrisSumner Soap Chat Active Member EXP: 19 Years

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    The biggest problem with modern soaps is simply a lack of care and imagination. With YouTube and other resources, having seen soaps from the 60s on, you can't complain about the budget limiting you. For example, watching The Doctors and Ryan's Hope, it makes no sense that the storylines are more relevant and frank (especially when ti comes to sex) than they are in 2020. If feels like even something as simple as a real soap rivalry or a villain or villainess doesn't really exist anymore. Where is our Sheila Carter? James Stenbeck? Craig Montgomery? 90s Phyllis Summers? These characters just don't exist anymore. I feel like if the soaps hiring better writers and wrote to reflect the current world they'd be better. I need an integrated cast, not a bunch of white people and token minorities. I need stories that represent what is really happening in the world. With primetime, cable and streaming really stretching storytelling, it's hard watching the soaps tell tepid retreads of stories that have been told better. Each and every one of the current US soaps IMO are horrible even on their best day.

    Watching Hollyoaks on and off since 2006, I think that would be a good template for US soaps. They have a huge cast, much like the US soaps, but they rotate their stories so every character is valuable. It also keeps it from being boring. On US soaps you have a large cast, but only a few have real stories and the others just languish in the background. The pacing feels slow because you can only do so much with a handful of characters when you have 20 episodes a month. B&B is probably the worst at this since they'll only feature 4-5 character in a lead story at a time, often for a year or more at a time. Also with Hollyoaks, they reflect the real world in terms of people of different ethnicity, people with disabilities, people of all ages and they often tell "social issue" storylines, but they feel real. The show still has your love triangles and soapiness you expect, but it's balanced.

    I just feel like with the ratings the US soaps should be better. There is no excuse for their current state. If they don't take themselves seriously nobody will.
     
  20. Ray&Donna

    Ray&Donna Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Vicky and Marley are okay since Donna had a terrible family life and was banished to the basement to give birth, but this "I gave birth to twins but never knew it!" has become silly. Cane and Cassie on Y&R, then Jason and Billy Miller on GH.

    Also, Victor and Sharon consummating their marriage on Y&R. One of the biggest character killing stories in that show's history.
     
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