Discussion in 'US Soaps Forum' started by TJames03, Jan 13, 2020.
All My Children’s letting Kate Collins go as Natalie and Robin Mattson go as Janet......
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This site takes a more general approach (behind-the-scenes stuff more than individual stories) but they do mention stinkers like killing Maureen Bauer (GL) and Marlena possessed by the devil (Days). It's over eight years old, but most of it still applies.
Oh yes, killing Maureen off GL was the death knell for the show - that and centering everything around the character of Reva when Zimmer returned in ‘95. I disagree with them possession story line, though. The prob with it was that it went on too long. It started in Nov. of ‘94 and didn’t end until Jul. of ‘95. Way too long.
Jill Farren Phelps did not learn a thing from the mistake of killing off Maureen when she ran GL (into the ground...). She went to Another World and killed off Frankie Frame in much the same way, and got the same bad press. When cornered by a reporter many years later, JFP admitted she was responsible for the death of Maureen, but inexplicably refused to take the blame for Frankie, even though she was the Executive Producer of both shows. She tried to shift blame to the Head Writer, even though the EP hires and fires writers based on whether they do what they (the EP) wants them to do.
Everyone rightfully spits on the name of Brian Frons, the Daytime Exec who oversaw the ruination (some would say the 'euthanasia') of numerous soaps, but if he's the Prince of Darkness, Jill Farren Phelps can be named his Queen Consort.
But wasn't that only 4 days in Salem?
Though I wasn’t born yet, the killing of Meredith on One Life to Live in 1973 was a huge error, too. She was an original legacy character that could have easily been used up until the shows final episode.
Also, the deaths of Renee DiMera, Mary Anderson, and Samantha Evans on DOOL were huge mistakes, too.
Still felt shorter than Krystle in the attic.
Wasn't she actually wanting to kill off Donna but was talked out of that and so it was narrowed down to either Paulina or Frankie? Am I remembering that correctly?
I'd argue a recent mistake that is still being made on a daily basis is this determination on Days of Our Lives' part to redeem the character of Ben. They've had to lower the IQ of all the characters around him in order to try to make it work. I enjoy looking at Robert Scott Wilson as much as the next guy, but they should have brought him back as a twin or something if they wanted to keep the actor around.
She did indeed put plans into motion for Donna/Anna Stuart to get killed off. Due to her general mismanagement of AW's budget (including that enormous "city street" set she had built in AW's tiny studio), she realized she needed to get rid of a "mid-level salaried" actor in order to balance the books. The three "finalists" were indeed Anna Stuart, Judi Evans and Alice Barrett. JFP had already scuttled the very entertaining Donna/Matt relationship so it was obvious she had no love for the character. But fan feedback was negative when it appeared she was being set up to be killed off by the serial killer on the loose, so JFP hired one of those almighty focus groups to give feedback on samples of work from AS, AB, and JE. It was said later on by Maggie DePriest, the Head Writer at the time, that the focus group just found Frankie (AB) to be kind of boring, while they really liked JE and AS. They did not react negatively--just sort of unenthused. So JFP (with MDP and her staff doing the writing) "unwrote" a scenario where Donna, after being accused of being the killer, would be found murdered. Instead, she had a mini-breakdown due to some drugs that Fax Newman (the real killer) had prescribed and was shuffled off to the hospital for a brief time. They then steered Fax toward first Vicky (to fill some time) and then to Frankie, whom he of course murdered in a graphic sequence that took the better part of an hour. JFP, in that later interview, tried to say that Maggie DePriest had decided to kill off Frankie, that she (JFP) had just wanted Frankie to disappear/be presumed dead...but did not explain how a Head Writer managed to overrule her EP (the boss) in such an important story decision. JFP just wanted to shift the blame because the blowback was so severe. JFP and DePriest spent months pointing at each other in the press, but both lost their jobs over the fiasco, deservedly so. DePriest basically never wrote for soaps again, but JFP, the Typhoid Mary of Soaps, just kept getting hired to wreck other shows until there were none left willing to hire her.
I've read with some interest about this, mostly because this has been done so many times with irredeemable characters. Jake McKinnon raped his ex-wife Marley on AW, and yet five short years later they were positioning him as the Second Coming of Ward Cleaver, married to the twin sister of the woman he raped. He never served a day in prison. Even more shocking is the way OLTL sought to push "Frat Boy #3" who led the gang-rape of Marty Saybrook into leading man status as Todd Manning, even ret-conning him as the brother of town saint Viki Buchanan in an effort to give him some "palatability". The efforts to make him a romantic hero caused Roger Howarth to quit the part for many years. The most infamous "reformed rapist" would be Luke Spencer on GH, and GH's Franco is another reformed serial killer/psycho now firmly ensconced with Liz Webber and her kids singing his praises to anyone who will listen.
I can't really comment on Franco because I only watched GH for a short time while Howarth was playing him and never when James Franco played him. With Jake and Todd (and I think Luke too) the characters at least went through years of self-loathing afterward and it took years (if I'm remembering correctly) for Marty and Marley to accept them. Plus they always had characters like Iris or Nora who never really came around to them (again, if I'm remembering correctly). Not saying that makes those stories acceptable, but Days seems hell bent on making every single character love Ben in record time. He wrapped a tie around Will and strangled the life out of him but the show has contrived a way to bring Will over to Ben's side. I guess my biggest problem with the Ben stuff is the lack of nuance which has been sorely lacking on Days for quite some time. The show is just determined to make him the show's romantic lead regardless of anything or anyone else. Maybe it didn't seem quite as transparent to me with Jake and Todd. Maybe it's just because Howarth and Eplin are much better actors. Certainly the writing on AW and OLTL was better. Also, Jake and Todd spent the remainder of their time on the show as sort of dark, edgy anti-heros at least. Days wants Ben to be the show's hero. As much as I like Robert Scott Wilson, it bugs me. But then I'm not watching Days anymore at the moment, so it only bugs vicariously through social media.
Edited to add: Ben acts entitled and Jake and Todd acted damaged and remorseful.
Maybe it's the march of time. Jake and Todd did their evil deeds in the early 1990s when the writers were more respectful of the female audience. Now in the 2010s soaps are so desperate to crank out story and do it cheaply/quickly that things like nuance and reflection are not important. When GH brought Franco back and sought to make him more "mainstream" a lot of the audience did feel much the way you feel about Ben on Days--and of course Ron Carlivati was/is responsible for both stories. They even went so far as to say Franco had a brain tumor which, once removed, absolved him of all his psycho murders and mind games. In the post-Carlivati era of GH, they felt they had to keep having Franco do heroic things to curry favor with the people he'd hurt the most, then match him up with the most eligible legacy character in town. Like the Ben situation, there are many viewers who will not be swayed no matter how much the show says everyone should like him--I know I just dug in my heels even further when it came to the Jake situation. When he unceremoniously got thrown off that roof on As the World Turns my first thought was that he deserved it for how he'd hurt Marley.
I know that Ron C had to make Roger Howarth's recast as Franco work, since he was sort of forced onto the show by the network. But I can't imagine what makes Ron so obsessed with making Ben work. [beat] Okay, maybe I have a certain idea, but it can't just be that. Can it?
That's probably it. And to be honest I was never much of a Jake or Todd or Luke fan anyways, so maybe I just don't remember how much their "redemption" was crammed down our throats back then.
I think that actually is a large part of it. And also, the fact that the "Cin" (Ben and Ciara) fanbase is pretty vocal on social media.
Off topic side note: I've run into Robert Scott Wilson in public twice--once when he attended the same play I was attending and once at the airport. I didn't interact with him either time, but he's definitely very charismatic and looks just as good in person as he does on screen.
Back on topic, I'd argue that canceling All My Children and One Life to Live was a pretty huge mistake.
Agreed. I wish they'd allowed OLTL at least another year, since it was actually gaining audience in the final months it was on the air. Cancelling both showed just how much Frons hated the soap genre--which was odd since he was the head of daytime for two networks at different points. It's like being FC's Angela Channing and hating wine.
But those awful online revivals were much worse. Those were terrible and I wish they had just allowed the shows to remain dead rather than bring them back in that hideously cheap, two-dimensional form that bore virtually no resemblance to the originals. Add to the mix the con artists who were behind the productions stiffed half the actors out of their paychecks and kept trying to sue ABC for any reason they could think of (to bilk them out of whatever money they could).
Oh, yes. Those were truly train wrecks. Add those to the list of biggest mistakes.
I disagree. AMC and OLTL should have been cancelled years BEFORE they were. They both suffered hideously from poison pens and cheap teeny bopper characters and it was sad, yet it was also mercy killings when they finally died....
Going way, way back here and I can't vouch for it myself, but supposedly Another World expanding to 90 minutes was a pretty big mistake. I can't imagine watching a daily tv show that was 90 minutes a day. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my soaps as it is.
The timing was more of an issue than viewer fatigue. If they had expanded to 90 minutes a few years earlier, when the show was basically tied for #1 in the ratings with Days, it might have been worth all that extra work. But in 1979, GH was taking off and shows like AW were losing favor (and ratings). It was a situation where viewers left to see something different, but the response from the network was to provide even more of what those viewers didn't want.
The biggest issue, though, was logistical--there was simply no way to run a 90-minute soap at all, much less run it with the level of quality that AW had in that era.
Harding Lemay did a better job than most when it came to giving his characters lengthy, meaty scenes that "had a point" and meaningful stories--it was why he wanted the hour-long format. But to achieve 90 minutes, the writing teams had to invent several new characters (entire families) just to fill up time--not because Lemay, King, and the other writers felt the show needed more families and storylines. NBC seemed to think that it would just be 30 more minutes of Rachel, Mac, and Iris. In fact, the longer format meant the viewers saw less of their three top stars, since they had to fill up so much more screen time with other characters and working those three actors to death would have gotten them arrested. I can't recall the exact way it was juggled, but the viewer would see only Mac twice per week, perhaps only with Rachel or only with Iris (rarely both), and all three were being used with a lot more of the newbies onscreen rather than the viewer-favorite Mac/Iris/Rachel conflicts. Their contractual guarantees did not allow the writers to put them together onscreen as much. So the bigger episodes had a lot more filler, and very little of it was what the viewers wanted. Lemay was basically phoning it in by that point and left, with his underlings not able to do it any better.
I give them points for the decision to create Texas for McKinsey, allowing AW to revert to 60 minutes. I think Lemay and Rauch should have sought a "sister-show" format rather than expanding AW in the first place, rather than having one soap covering the whole 90 minutes that way. I think it might have been successful if they had planned it to be a temporary "event," a really juicy umbrella story that they could claim was so big that "60 minutes could not contain it!". For two months or so they could expand for 90 minutes, and once the story played out they would go back to the usual 60 minutes. If viewers got exhausted by 90 minutes every day, then the story obviously wasn't as good as they thought! But if viewers liked it, they could do it for Sweeps events or something when NBC cancelled a game show or another soap and had a half-hour free.
AW never did recover from the 90-minute experiment, though an argument could be made that AW would have dropped off in the ratings even if it had stayed 60 minutes, since GH (and later GL) was becoming so popular.
I always have thought soaps should go back to only being 30 minutes.....
I agree. The British soaps I watch are all 30 minutes and the pace moves really nicely without a bunch of filler scenes and repetitive dialogue.
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