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DeliaIrisFan

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  1. I interpreted what Curlee said about the decision(s) to kill Maureen as partly declining to point fingers, for sure, but I'll buy that she was the one who committed to going all-in for realism. That seemed to be her calling card. I'm actually not sure JFP would have cared so much about making the death irreversible. I agree the off-the-cuff story idea Curlee threw out about Roger wouldn't have worked for reasons discussed above, and I doubt Maureen being alive off-camera would have minimized the backlash anyway. And I'm not sure anyone would have given their all to that story if it were just a typical soap opera "death" - including Curlee herself, based on what she said about the writing being influenced by her mother having died a few years before, which I had not heard her say before. I do wish Curlee had spoken more about her thoughts on McKinsey's reasons for leaving while she was away, but I can see why she declined with her husband and co–head writer sitting there. What would she have pushed back on as far as the Alex/Mindy dynamic, and/or how might she have blunted the impact on Alex's character? The GH tidbit is fascinating. Not only would their hiring have presumably meant a radically different direction for GH itself than the one in which it ended up going as 1996 wore on, but that year also seems like such a turning point for soaps as a whole in hindsight. Essentially all the soaps, or at least the non–creator owned ones, were in creative turmoil by year-end, and at the time that could realistically be blamed on the head writer turnover that was also happening across the board. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if there had been a few more seasoned head writers in charge by midyear who were willing to go to the mat for their vision, back in those early days of Disney owning ABC (and the new guard at P&G, for that matter) when everyone was still figuring out how to work together.
  2. Yes, Seneca was a controlling husband; and yes, John Gabriel was charming and sexy as hell in the role. I completely bought both Nell and Jill getting involved with him against their better judgment. I draw the line at his involvement with Kim—her judgment or lack thereof notwithstanding, that pairing made no sense—although I appreciate KM's heartfelt, self-effacing post. Agreed that Nell and Seneca were a high point in the show's first year, likely at least in part because their story were the least affected by the change in plans vis-a-vis Frank dying - but also because they were both so talented and worked well together. They were supposed to last longer (DvD left for medical reasons) and I could have seen them being a tempestuous but tentpole couple on the hospital side of the show, a la Alan and Monica Quartermaine. But the euthanasia story was a stellar ending. Anyway, RIP to a terrific actor.
  3. My inner child will always love that "You Take Me Away to Another World" opening, although I cannot deny the lyrics are completely insipid. It is remarkable that it lasted so long—the visuals at least were probably half-dated by the time it premiered in 1987—but I wonder why Laibson or somebody pre-JFP never tried to revamp it. I feel like with new orchestrations, the song could have fit in with the late '80s/early '90s soft-rock trend, and a new font and non-stylized photos of the cast would have been a relatively quick fix (and easier to update). I'm also not sure how you could have come up with much better lyrics for a song named after the show, because every explanation I've heard put forward for what the show's title was supposed to mean—dare I say, even Lemay and Phillips'—sounds cliched and/or pretentious. I suspect that's because the name was really coined by ad execs who decided they wanted "Another (As the) World (Turns)." In hindsight, that probably made it the worst choice of all the soaps to have theme songs with lyrics that included the title of the show—along with Loving, which oddly enough I believe had the only other lyrical soap theme by the mid-'90s.
  4. I'm still trying to get through 1991-92, but skipped ahead and watched some of that September 1994 episode. I've also caught bits and pieces of what there is on YouTube from that "sequel" a few years later with Mattson's Janet pretending to be someone else in order to once again marry Trevor. I say sequel intentionally, because it really has the vibe of one of the sequels to summer blockbusters from that era that were paint-by-numbers retreads of originals, which—love them or hate them—had real talent involved and were genuinely beloved by many, e.g., Home Alone 2, Addams Family Values, the many Jurassic Park sequels, etc. Especially with that actress who played Janet and Natalie's mother, whom I feel like I saw in so many things in the '90s. And I know Harold the Dog had an even more far-fetched arc, which I kind of wish I could find on YouTube. And like those movie sequels, that story seemingly hinged on nobody having learned anything the first time. Did they even try to explain why someone who had committed Janet's particular crimes would have ever been chosen for such an experiment, or why nobody knew Janet was out of jail and had a new face?
  5. In general I would say Nancy Curlee's team wrote the hell out of so many of JFP's questionable casting choices. The writing was mostly intelligent and—in stark contrast to JFP's later work—they tried to fit new characters/characterizations into the canvas in logical ways, at least until the wheels came off with Tangie. As far as Alex's reintroduction scene, specifically, I think it made sense pre-internet that Alex wouldn't have necessarily gleaned from the headlines during a layover that her company had been taken over in her absence. If none of the articles happened to say "Roger Thorpe and Jenna Bradshaw, who earlier this year won control of Spaulding Enterprises in a lawsuit..." Alex might have just seen that the stock prices were down or whatever and resigned herself to deal with that once she got home, because she was unable to go down a clickhole. And I don't think Marj Dusay was inherently a bad recast Alex. By that point, in hindsight, the cast overall had just been so gutted and she was yet another new face with a familiar name who couldn't replicate what came before. (Alongside potentially familiar faces playing new characters, of course.) I enjoyed some of Dusay's work on GL I saw over the years, and especially much of that early material, but of course she couldn't have replaced McKinsey. I really doubt any of the other actresses mentioned could have either. As far as persuading McKinsey to come back just long enough for the battle for Spaulding, I actually wonder if that story ever would have happened if she were still on the show. It was implied that the reason Jenna and Roger were able to get away with it was because of Alex's absence and Alan-Michael's screwups (one of the best scenes from that time, after truth be told it had been a little hard to swallow 20-something A-M a serious contender for the presidency, was when he acknowledged to Vanessa that he was never qualified to challenge her for the position and essentially apologized for being an entitled brat to her). I feel like the writers scrambled with Alex abruptly gone from the canvas, and ended up giving the Spauldings some of the same materials/beats they had planned for the Bauers after Maureen's death. Of course, going by Ellen Parker's telling of how she learned the news that she was fired (on opening night of the play she was doing, which the NY Times said was in November of 1992), it wouldn't have been too late to reverse course on killing off Maureen once McKinsey quit, or at least postpone it. Whatever else I may think of the decision to write Maureen off, failing to reevaluate in the wake of what would otherwise have been the show's most shocking departure in a decade or more really sealed the deal.
  6. Thank you! Wisner Washam and Lorraine Broderick were at the top of the writing credits (after Agnes Nixon) for most of 1991, so the de facto co–head writers, and Megan McTavish was an associate writer at that point. Washam has since made very pointed comments about working with McTavish and implied the network pushed him out once and for all because they sided with her. Broderick left AMC for several years around this same time, and McTavish subsequently became head writer. McTavish has been unofficially credited with the Janet/Natalie story—and seemed to enjoy revisiting that history during her head-writing stints—although Broderick and Washam (and Nixon) were still credited above McTavish throughout Natalie being trapped in the well and Janet's capture. In that same interview, Washam called himself a "realist," at least in comparison to Nixon, whom I have to assume generally favored more down-to-earth storytelling than McTavish. I got the distinct impression that someone who was still officially in charge was openly making fun of the Janet story in the scripts from the summer of 1991. The best example was when Janet laughed off Natalie's claim that that homeless guy had found her and was going to come back and get her out any time now. Janet joked that if anyone was going to have some random man ride in on his white horse to save her, it would be Natalie given her history, and then Dimitri showed up in the very same episode to do just that. There were other self-referential touches in Hayley and Brian's dialogue. At the same time, there were humanizing details to how other characters began to tell Janet and Natalie apart, unlike in other evil-twin plots I've seen, including from later in McTavish's career. Not to mention, there were more realistic stories happening in parallel—in one of the climactic episodes of the Janet story, Phoebe and Opal (and Enid Nelson!) were meanwhile discussing the Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water regulations. My guess is McTavish pitched the Natalie-in-the-Well story and it either got greenlit over Washam (and Broderick's) objections, or they initially agreed to it but one or more grew to regret it as it played out/overtook the show. In any case, they were all—not to mention Agnes Nixon, to whatever extent she was involved day to day—executing the story as a team, and it certainly gelled. I can see why the show was successful, ratings-wise, and it was definitely more compelling to me than what I've seen of McTavish's official tenure(s). I said before I could see how this wouldn't be sustainable for long, but I hadn't realized how quickly it came to an end until watching the subsequent episode that ghfan89 kindly linked—within weeks of Natalie being revealed to be alive, McTavish and Richard Culliton were now credited equal to Broderick (after Nixon), and Washam's name was completely gone. I never realized Broderick and McTavish ever co–head wrote a show together, although I know Broderick joined GL's writing team within 3 months so that didn't last long either. And I hadn't realized Culliton, who was not in the credits at all previously, was hired specifically to work with McTavish. It's also interesting that Gloria and the Steven Hamill character both debuted within days of McTavish's apparent promotion.
  7. That channel went up to 1992...I know, because I had been binging the Natalie-in-the-well story in recent weeks, for the first time. I found this period fascinating, in part because the backstage drama I've read about was so obviously spilling over onscreen. The show was clearly shifting its focus, but there were still elements of Pine Valley being a community where people had to deal with real/mundane day-to-day things amid the melodrama. It was clearly not going to be sustainable, but it made for compelling viewing while it lasted, and the Natalie story was the over-the-top, garish centerpiece of all that. In some ways, this was both the smartest and dumbest evil twin story I've ever seen on soaps. On the one hand, Janet and Natalie weren't even actually twins, but unlike other stories involving long-lost, never-explained doubles, Janet didn't even have the element of surprise. On the other hand, at times the scripts were overtly making fun of the plot holes. I couldn't help but think of Wisner Washam's very candid comments about Megan McTavish some years back—I can only assume there were factions of the writing team who hated the direction this story represented for the show, but some of those writers were still officially in charge, so I guess they managed to get their digs in via the dialogue. I also recall reading that Collins and Kiberd allegedly did not get along off camera, which also came to mind watching this because some of those scenes between Trevor and "Natalie" were frankly uncomfortable to watch. But I have to admit part of that discomfort was due to watching this almost a year into COVID, especially with that chickenpox plot device. In some ways, right now we are all Trevor and Janet, at once getting the sense that our loved ones have been replaced by hateful doppelgangers while resenting the universe for sending us a contagious disease on top of everything else. So they sort of tapped into something more emotionally real than many soap "newlyweds" have managed to reflect... Does anyone know if Nader was intended to be paired with Lucci all along, or was the show actually trying to make Dimitri and Natalie happen in order to move her and Trevor out of each others' orbits permanently? Unfortunately if that was the intent, I can't say Natalie and Dimitri and Helga at WildWind made for compelling viewing (I wished I'd skipped ahead to Janet's exposure or Will's murder). Those scenes also were like a parody of a soap opera, much like the evil twin trope, except there wasn't a character like Janet or Hayley around to provide MST3K-esque commentary. And speaking of Hayley, I dare say unlike any time I can recall in decades of watching various soaps—including when I was a teenager myself, eons ago—I actually found myself looking forward to a teen character showing up. Whatever it says about the storyline, Hayley was officially the smartest character living in that house, and she was actually fun. It's too bad most of what I saw of the way Hayley was written as an adult was so spiritless—clearly someone at ABC remembered that Ripa could do humor, so I don't know what happened there.
  8. Thank you. Oh yeah, I can see why the network gave PFS more latitude than Munsteri. If anything, I'm just more surprised that they (temporarily) abandoned the idea of turning RH into a more generic show at all after the brief Kirkland era, as opposed to scapegoating Munisteri for the poor showing and immediately replacing her with a more established head writer from one of the more popular shows of the era. In fact, seeing those early '80s ratings—thank you for sharing those—and how GL was the highest rated non-ABC soap that one month when RH rode GH's coattails to the top four made me wonder... What might have been if ABC had hired Doug Marland as RH's head writer around that time? He was after all the one who first youthified GH and took it to the top of the ratings, and despite the fact that he apparently parted on not the best terms, he did come back into the ABC orbit not long afterward (to create Loving, because of course everything in the soap biz is connected). And his rate at that time must have been comparable to what PFS commanded. I feel less guilty suggesting this because Labine herself said later in life that she wished she'd taken a year or two off in the early '80s because she was burnt out: Marland is about the only writer from that period I can think of who could have maybe successfully integrated some of the elements ABC was looking for at the time, while juggling the Ryans and Coleridges as well. And perhaps he would have left behind fodder that Labine and/or Mayer might have enjoyed exploring when they inevitably returned. I know, it would be almost as unbelievable to watch Ryan aged to be older than Little John. Especially remembering that he was (indirectly) the cause of the two biggest fights that led to the breakup of Jack and Mary's first marriage while she was pregnant with Ryan. But maybe they could have at least cast someone who seemed less mature for his age, whereas Adams came across as a grown man, no way around it. Also, Ilene's return was intentionally timed with Jonno, Lizzie, and Owen's introduction, which just drew attention to the ridiculousness of him being her son at that point. Unlike so many soap relatives in recent years who rarely remember they're family because of lazy writing, I dare say that Delia and Little John barely crossing paths with each other once he grew up actually could have been justifiable, with the added benefit of helping downplay the age issues. Delia was never a good mother, and her son had plenty of reasons not to be that attached to her (or Frank, for that matter). That said, I do think what the Labines did with Delia and Jonno's relationship after they (re-)took the head writing reins—and inherited a canvas that included both characters very much involved in each others' lives—was interesting, and also represented an alternative direction in which their relationship could have belieavably gone. (In other words, Delia putting her manipulative tendencies to work to help her son, while conveniently going after someone she also had reason to dislike, i.e., Maggie and Jill's brother.)
  9. I think she's not so much contradicting herself as admitting she wasn't an objective source. She was ordered to create a new, paint-by-numbers family, but admittedly had no inspiration to do so and maybe that was partly why it didn't work. The early Buchanans (and the Lewises, for that matter) seem like shameless Dallas rip-offs in some ways, but someone at least was excited to be writing for them and seemed to genuinely have a vision for how they could shake things up...I suspect that's partly why those families evolved and carved out niche roles for themselves in their respective canvases, and ultimately outlasted the primetime soap fad by several decades. Whereas the Kirklands were at least derivative, but there was nobody creatively invested in them. The quote also kind of dovetails with something Labine said in another interview decades later, about how she wished by the early '80s she'd admitted she was burnt out and taken time off. It seems like she acknowledged something had to give, and maybe new blood with a less jarring transition would have been more successful. Based on this great find from safe, I'm modifying my previous theory—my best guess now is that there were elements of the Kirklands that Labine and Mayer enjoyed writing (Leigh chief among them, which makes me all the more curious about whether Munisteri or whoever arbitrarily changed the name of the Kirkland daughter who was first introduced, or if the plan was always for Leigh to arrive last), but by and large their hearts weren't in it and when they returned it seemed easy enough to send most of the family packing and start fresh. I am curious how much the ratings actually dropped in 1982. It seems likely the show would have reached "an all-time low" by the end of the year barring a miracle, because the entire ABC lineup had enjoyed GH's lead-in audience during the Luke and Laura heyday (it's a cruel irony that the highest ratings of the show's history were probably during that putrid strike material in the summer of 1981) even though the long-term trajectory of soap viewership by that point was downward. It's hard to believe RH plummeted as drastically that year as it did in 1984, after the show had been completely gutted and lost its timeslot to boot. But of course ABC stayed the course for at least a year after that, with the even more radical changes they had implemented after Labine and Mayer left again. It seems like if ever there would have been the time to do a complete about-face, that would have been it—not in 1982 with the Kirklands or 1983 with the McCurtains. I suspect Labine being in the room in 1986-87 couldn't have hurt, plus the fact that she was welcome back in the room was probably itself an indicator that there was general interest in making the show better and reviving the core. Whether or not aging Little John so drastically and making Delia a grandmother (even with Yasmine Bleeth/Ryan, her surviving parent was muuuch older) was the best way to do that, at least they were trying. The treatment of Delia/Ilene Kristen was shameful (although I'll take Labine's word for it that it wasn't what she and Mayer wanted to do), and Pat and Faith did nothing for me, but aside from that I would say that brief 1983 period was a high point for the show, and not like any other '80s ABC soap I've seen. The dialogue was never better, and the characters had energy and life again. Even Pat and Faith were a visual cue that the show was looking like itself again, and Faith was at least being written as a functioning member of the Ryan-Coleridge circle. And I think Charlotte's mystery was genuinely exciting and she was the kind of new blood that could have actually helped the show, especially if she'd stayed at least long enough to overlap with Maggie, which I have to assume was the original plan.
  10. Several years after Mary was killed off, Kate Mulgrew returned for a few episodes, in which Jack and Maeve imagined conversations with Mary that helped them make peace with her death. The impetus for everyone having Mary on the brain was supposed to be Jack's budding relationship with Leigh—whom they all discussed by name, and at length, in those Mulgrew scenes. Several news articles reported that those scenes were pre-taped almost a year in advance, before the show had even cast Leigh, apparently to accommodate Mulgrew's schedule. However, before those scenes could air, the show's creator(s) were pushed out, Leigh's family—which was also referenced in one or more of Mulgrew's scenes—debuted, and then said creators returned and promptly introduced Leigh at the same time they wrote out the rest of her family. And, in spite of all that, I dare say Mulgrew's scenes made sense, both in terms of character development and story continuity. I'm fairly certain the executive producer was replaced in the interim as well, but the editing looked consistent from a visual perspective as well.
  11. These are great finds, especially that '82 cast photo. (Side note: How recently did lower-rated soaps still get swanky all-cast parties for off-year anniversaries?) Interesting that Claire Labine is standing with Haskell and Nancy Addison, though. It reminds me that the early recaps involving Hollis had him interacting with Jill. I wonder if Claire had more of that planned. Jill representing Hollis in his efforts to take Delia's restaurant—while Rae seethed at the idea of her secret first love spending time with Jill—would have made for lots of interesting scenes, at least. Or would Hollis have even had a past with Rae—and Kim, whom Labine and Mayer had just written out—or something else? I do remember, now that you mention it, Labine being credited in the 1982 St. Patrick's Day episode without Paul Mayer, but at the time I assumed she herself left not long after and the Kirklands must have arrived not much later in 1982, given that they were gone a year later. Knowing more about the timeline, though, I wonder if Labine would have been perfectly content to have Hollis and at least one daughter mixing it up with the original cast members. Perhaps jettisoning the Kirklands altogether was a consensus decision when both creators returned together—since Mayer had no hand in creating them and I'm sure neither of them were thrilled with their having completely taken over the show by the time they came back anyway. Labine seemed a bit more comfortable integrating the newer characters into her vision when she returned in 1987 as well. As far as the 1988 strike, this sort of confirms that Behr took over for Hardy midway through that. I've always been fascinated that Hardy lasted so long at RH, through multiple transitions, culminating in Claire Labine's final return, at which point he seemed to be on good terms with her—only to go onto his last job (I think?) at GH, which by most accounts was more in the vein of the material he produced at RH during Labine's absence. And that timeline means Behr only executive-produced the show for a few months when Labine was in the building, but they apparently had a very strong working relationship, though of course Behr was promoted from within the show so they presumably knew each other before that.
  12. To be fair, Catherine Hicks took over the role just after Faith had a psychotic break and underwent intensive, in-patient psychiatric treatment (off-screen). There were many references to Faith having confronted and overcome her neuroses in that process. Labine and especially Mayer (who found a new career as a therapist) were big believers in psychoanalysis. Whether or not I 100% shared their perspective that the best therapist in the world could have ever turned Faith Catlin's interpretation of Faith into Hicks', I think Faith had an arc and it made sense internally, and I was willing to swallow disbelief because it suited the recast's strengths. Wasn't the rumor that Faith was supposed to be paired with Clem Moultrie, but the network balked at any interracial couple? I suspect, if Frank had also died in the first episodes as originally planned, Faith/Pat/Delia would have happened much sooner and Clem might have played a role similar to Seneca's with Jill. I guess I could see FC's Faith going for Seneca but I...wouldn't have wanted to see that, if you know what I mean. Her Faith was soooooo immature that the age difference would have been in some ways even creepier than Kim and Seneca's pairing. Anyway, I honestly never saw CH's Faith as smug. And I say this as someone who pretty much rooted for Delia no matter what she did to whom, and could always find a reason why whoever was calling her out was being a hypocrite. But my recollection is that Faith at that time was a decent human being and had every right to hate Delia, but didn't actually take much satisfaction in that.
  13. I was reminded of Ron Hale's quote when watching that one late 1982 episode on YouTube, because to my surprised Roger was prominently featured in the Kirkland intrigue that day. I tend to think it came from a place of Hale being genuine concerned about the show's identity starting to erode, as opposed to pettiness and ego about being backburnered for a few months. Again, it was also such a blink of an eye period in the show's history that it seems impossible to know who would or wouldn't have had airtime if Munisteri's long-term vision had materialized. That said, I also get the sense, partly based on what I've read about Munisteri's later head-writing stints but also that one RH episode that's surfaced, that vision just wasn't her strong suit as a writer. Even in that one YouTube episode, I found myself scratching my head that a serial killer on Ryan's Hope was not treated as more of a BFD. It was seemingly nothing more than a plot device in the Siobhan/Joe/mob story, and the only people who cared were Siobhan's dueling protectors. I believe that was around the time DOOL (Pat Falken Smith's DOOL, because everything in the soap world is within six degrees of separation) got so much praise for featuring the first gritty—well, gritty for an '80s soap—serial killer storyline in daytime, and of course this was just five years or so after the Son of Sam murders actually happened in RH's real-life setting. It seems like blasphemy to speculate, but I am curious—morbidly perhaps—what would have happened if Munisteri had been paired with a more dynamic co–head writer from outside of the show...dare I say, maybe even PFS? I still would have wanted to see the shows' creators return eventually and go back to basics, but it might have been a more interesting detour. I suppose some iteration of Hollis must have been a Labine/Mayer concept, or at least a Labine concept (adding to the chaos of 1982, didn't Paul Mayer supposedly leave of his own volition a month or two before Claire Labine was forced out?), although I have my doubts about Amanda given the character was recast and then abruptly written out within a handful of months in 1983. I am forever fascinated by the bit of trivia that those scenes from Kate Mulgrew's return, in which she and Michael Levin spoke of Leigh Kirkland and her family by name, were supposedly filmed a year earlier, before the writing shakeup. Even though Leigh ended up being the last Kirkland to arrive, I wonder if she was actually supposed to be the main Kirkland all along and Munisteri changed the daughter's name to Amanda just because, ultimately giving Labine/Mayer the opportunity to revert to their original plan when they came back and finally get to use those pre-taped scenes. Oh, right, I forgot Jack's long-lost father turned out to be tied to the mob. I'm surprised that Labine said that, because what I've read of that story sounds like exactly the kind of far-fetched, stereotypical soap material she always fought so hard to avoid. And it wasn't just something that happened with random character(s) she inherited from another writer and could maybe have some fun dabbling in the melodrama of it all—the story seemingly cheapened/watered down Jack's nuanced and fairly original backstory, which dated back to the show's original bible. Not having seen any of this material play out on screen, I just assumed some scab writer said, "Oh, Jack always was so attached to that nun—what was her name again?—and we don't know anything about his birth parents. Wouldn't it be interesting if it turns out she was really his birth mother?" In any event, even if this was something Claire Labine might have come up with herself, I feel like half of the experience of seeing her tell the story would have been the dialogue, and if the 1981 episodes that aired on SoapNet are any indication the scripts in that period may have gotten very rough.
  14. That I would have watched! Better yet, Maeve's partner from that 1982 dance hall story could have been a secretly rich Hollis Kirkland/Max Dubujak type—and all of his evil, uber-rich deeds were just part of his master plan to make Maeve his Queen of the Night. And if he'd had a history with Rae, to top it off... In all seriousness, though, I just rewatched that first Max episode and now that you mention it, he was pretty much laser-focused on Jill's slide. Despite the fact that they ended up crossing paths about as much as Stefano and Julie did; and, in that very same episode, Rae commented on the fact that Jill already had her hands full with drama. However, RH hadn't completely overhauled its writing team, not yet anyway (Judith Pinsker and Nancy Ford were still credited, among others), so Max's henchman at least made a show of talking up Jill's time on the Yale Law Review and her recent run for Congress. The implication being she might prove to be a thought partner or whatever, and Jill's photo (probably Nancy Addison's headshot IRL) conceivably came from whatever source prominent individuals willingly provided with such images pre-Google. Whereas it sounds like Stefano was just ogling photos of women taken without their consent based solely on their looks...ick.
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