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Generations Discussion Thread

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Generations had it tough.

By the end,the show had really come together(isn't that true of many cancelled shows?)The timeslot was one factor-up against 2 top shows. Also,I don't think it ever had the affiliate support as NBC was never a player at 12.30 and it never had strong network coverage.

Where are you getting 2 top shows from? I know Y&R was on top but Loving, it's other time slot competitor, was at the bottom of the ratings.

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What fun that catfight is! :lol: I'm guessing it truly was GEN's brightest moment. And it is kinda sad to read that second piece. I wish I would have watched when BET re-aired it, I guess 1990 was still a time when we wouldn't automatically :rolleyes: at the notion of a network soap going syndicated.

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Has anyone taken the time to watch the episodes from the final month on youtube? It is a mix of fairly entertaining to weak and generic. I didn't care much for Sam / Kyle reuniting after the death of Jordan Hale. Maybe if I had been watching the entire arc it would be more entertaining, but the whole story involving Kyle and his brother Sean seems a bit unnecesary, as does Butch Hartman's mullet. I thought the return of Peter Whitmore (Ron Hale once again playing an absent father) was a brilliant story and would have loved to seen that story reach its climax. Doreen seemed close to getting the whole story and she would have loved lording that over Ruth.

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Not that I know of. Years ago, it reran on BET. You may be thinking of the South African soap opera also called Generations that is airing on The Africa Channel.

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September 5, 1989 Digest.

Generations Report Card and review, by John Kelly Genovese.

Acting C-

Storytelling D

Romance C

Innovation B-

GENERATIONS: Black and White - and Bland

GENERATIONS was touted in press releases as the show that would catapult daytime drama into the 1990s. "Black and white - in color," the on-air promos blared. Naturally, we waited anxiously for the show which would ultimately elevate the serial art form.

The opening credits are certainly a grabber - fast-moving photos of various points of American history (the industrial revolution, the Kennedy years, etcetera) are flashed on the screen while a jazzy, Scott Joplin-esque theme plays in the background. It sure beats an hourglass. The structure of GENERATIONS is also novel. For the first time in network soap opera history, one of the two core families - the Marshalls - is black. They mingle with the white Whitmores in friendship and business - and probably, in the future, in romance. This is a long overdue premise, allowing for no built-in excuses as to why black characters "ran out of story line' or "were difficult to assimilate with the rest of the show."

What isn't novel is the treatment GENERATIONS gives these characters and their surrounding issues. Outside of the basic premise, we have yet to see anything new here - not to mention exciting.

Granted, a new show must take time initially to introduce its characters. The audience must fully savor who the people are, what they want out of life and why it is so important that they have it. Unfortunately, after six months, the characters on GENERATIONS are still explaining themselves with very little of consequence going on. This would be more tolerable if the characters were given revealing monologues (instead of lengthy voiceovers, which are not only distracting but an antiquated technique) about what it was like growing up in Chicago; poetic glimpses into a character the way Claire Labine (former head writer of RYAN's HOPE) and Douglas Marland (AS THE WORLD TURNS's head writer) do so beautifully. The Marshalls and the Whitmores merely sit and chat about their family backgrounds, constantly hitting the audience over the head with their value systems and beliefs. It is almost as though GENERATIONS provides the facts about its characters, without character.

An incredible amount of time is spent discussing career moves. Rebecca Whitmore (Patricia Crowley) agonized endlessly about her long-awaited law partnership. Entire episodes centered on the impending ice cream partnership between self-made, down-to-earth Henry Marshall (Taurean Blacque) and slick Martin Jackson (Rick Fitts). The clincher of the ice cream deal - a game of pool - was enough to make George Jefferson look like Donald Trump. This is supposed to be a flattering, accurate representation of successful black people?

GENERATIONS also made much ado about whether Samantha ("Sam" ) Whitmore (Kelly Rutherford) would graduate from college. Frankly, this young lady is so obnoxious, we wouldn't have put it past Miss Frances to expel her from DING DONG SCHOOL. The bomb scare at her graduation ceremony could have served as a wonderful climax, kicking off a racially motivated mystery story and/or heavy romance.Instead, it was merely a prank pulled by a lovesick nerd.

The most irritating quality about GENERATIONS, however, is the day-to-day script writing. This soap is not of the 1990s, but of the early 1970s. Social-climber Ruth Marshall (Joan Pringle) clicks her tongue to hr mother, Vivian (Lynn Hamilton) about the new living arrangement between son Adam (Kristoff St. John), Sam Whitmore and Sam's cousin, Monique McCallum (Nancy Sorel). Vivian shakes her head and sighs, "It's this new generation. Why, in my day, there'd be tongues a-waggin." Aw, shucks. Henry's South Side background comes out when he visits Martin and his flirtatious, addiction-prone wife, Doreen (Jonelle Allen). When Martin invites him to play a game of billiards, Henry whoops, "Mmm-mmm-mmm, this is sho' one beauty-ful pool table!" Wonder if he gets invited back. And the young people all speak in early YOUNG AND RESTLESS lingo. There is a lot of "Cool it, man," "She's laid a hell of a trip on me," and "That's the understatement of the century."

When there is mystery surrounding a character, it is drummed into the audience incessantly. Monique's romance with Jason Craig (Tony Addabbo) should draw cheers from her relatives, but they immediately assume - with no basis - that something's rotten: "Who is this man? What's his background? This is your first serious boyfriend and we don't know a thing about him!" Considering the level at which GENERATIONS operates, one can only imagine Jason's horrifying secret. Maybe he was Henry's first ice cream distributor, and he purposely substituted Tabasco Walnut Fudge for Rocky Road to get back at Henry for beating his father at pool.

For all of these harsh words, our purpose is not to damn GENERATIONS as a bad show or a waste of air time. Its premise is original and its cast is reasonably good for a new soap, but the pace is simply too slow - and the dialogue too stultifying - for any of these performers to truly shine and grow in their roles. There is a disturbing self-consciousness that creeps into this show about "issues" like upwardly mobile blacks, older working women or two sexes cohabiting in a platonic environment - when, truth be told, it's old news.

In order to succeed and fulfill its promise, GENERATIONS needs to go in either one of two directions: It can become a daring, topical soap about race relations; exploring the ramifications of radical pressure groups, AIDS and violent city crime on the two families. Or, it can become a traditional family-based serial in which one family just happens to be black, a la COSBY's Huxtable clan. Either way, GENERATIONS could carve a niche for itself, developing its own unique style. As of this writing, however, GENERATIONS is still trying to find itself. And for all of Marshall's ice cream flavors, it's still afraid to sample anything other than vanilla.

Edited by CarlD2

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September 5, 1989 Digest.

Generations Report Card and review, by John Kelly Genovese....

And for all of Marshall's ice cream flavors, it's still afraid to sample anything other than vanilla.

I'm always curious to read anything about Generations, which I wish I'd seen/been old enough to appreciate. I am ambivalent at best about catfights in soaps to begin with, but that behind the scenes article was a very interesting read.

However, the main thing I have to add to this thread is that I heart John Kelly Genovese. Even when I vehemently disagree with him - like a scathing review he wrote of Ryan's Hope circa 1983, and the sequence with Jack and Mary's "ghost" in particular, which from YouTube I consider some of the most moving and beautiful material I've ever seen on a soap - I've always just admired the way he expressed his opinion and held soaps accountable for producing quality material, the same as any other creative form. And such a good writer...he could well have been reviewing any art form. I even bought a copy of his soap opera trivia book from the mid-'80s a few years back (one of those Amazon used book deals, where the shipping cost more than the book itself).

I think this may be the latest piece that I've seen from him. I read something a few years back that he is (or was) still with us. Does anyone know what became of him? I really believe that, if he had stayed in the soap field, he could have been a powerful voice against the perception that soaps are these mindless pieces of trash that could be twisted around, with no regard for logic not to mention taste, to suit the agendas and the prejudices of the network higher ups. I'm assuming he was one of the first casualties of the collusion of the soap magazines in the dumbing down of soaps, so long as they got access to the lame spoilers that (their editors believed) were their bread and butter. But I wonder what would have happened if he had found a forum to continue expressing his opinions. For all I know, he had no interest in providing in-depth critique of what aired on soaps as we got further into the '90s, not to mention the millennium...

Anyway, thanks for posting, Carl!

Edited by DeliaIrisFan

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I didn't know he was still alive. I couldn't remember if he was another of the male soap writers who passed away in the early 90's.

Donna Hoke Hathaway took over the criticisms in the early 90's Digests, then finally, Carolyn Hinsey, by the middle of the decade. They were OK, but Genovese is more unflinching, as SOD generally was in that era. I wonder how much was his voice. They are very critical of incredibly popular characters like OLTL's Tina and ATWT's Lily, Holden, and the Snyders in general. That wouldn't happen today.

Marlena de la Croix agrees with you about catfights - she was, I believe, pretty offended by the Generations catfight, from what I remember of her SPW column.

Thank you as always for reading. I always look forward to your responses, and your avatar!

amc I think SSM stayed through the end, but I'm not totally sure.

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I'm not sure. She had had a lot of experience at Y&R and they may have wanted to try a new writer who hadn't been able to create a soap before. Brandon Tartikoff was willing to try new things.

When did Pat Crowley leave?

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I didn't know he was still alive. I couldn't remember if he was another of the male soap writers who passed away in the early 90's.

Donna Hoke Hathaway took over the criticisms in the early 90's Digests, then finally, Carolyn Hinsey, by the middle of the decade. They were OK, but Genovese is more unflinching, as SOD generally was in that era. I wonder how much was his voice. They are very critical of incredibly popular characters like OLTL's Tina and ATWT's Lily, Holden, and the Snyders in general. That wouldn't happen today.

Marlena de la Croix agrees with you about catfights - she was, I believe, pretty offended by the Generations catfight, from what I remember of her SPW column.

Thank you as always for reading. I always look forward to your responses, and your avatar!

amc I think SSM stayed through the end, but I'm not totally sure.

Haha, thanks!

I don't think I've ever seen Genovese's commentary on OLTL's Tina, or Paul Rauch's work in general. Come to think of it, other than several pieces on Ryan's Hope, which I only saw in reruns on SoapNet, most of what I've read by him was about shows I wasn't old enough to watch the first time around and have never been resurrected (Capitol, etc.). But it didn't matter, it was still just fascinating history. It's so hard to think of SOD being known as the hard-hitting soap mag - I remember when that was SPW, and then of course they merged and both began filling kind of the same niche.

And, wow, JKG is on Facebook. I'm not that avid a user and I am not connected with any soap people - even those I've actually met. I guess I'm overly cautious about invading people's privacy, etc. But I'm tempted just to see his reactions to the state of the genre.

Edited by DeliaIrisFan

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