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Loving/The City Discussion Thread

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@EricMontreal22, glad to see you popped back in. Agnes Nixon's 1993-1994 stint seems incredibly strong from everything I've seen and read. It seems much stronger than her 1985-1986 work post-Doug Marland. I like that she doesn't really dump a whole bunch of characters immediately the way so many other new writers / producers do when they first appear at "Loving." I admire that she really tries to make everything work even when it clearly doesn't (the Dante stuff always sounds cheesy to me). 

 

The writing credits for Loving are always so messy. Feel free to submit edits, but I think the latest is as I know it:

 

Doug Marland (6/1983 - summer 1985)

Agnes Nixon (summer 1985 - late 1985/ early 1986)

Bill Levinson (1986)

Ralph Ellis (1987 - spring 1988)

Writer's Strike (spring - early fall 1988)

Tom King & Millee Taggart (fall 1988 - April 1991)

Millee Taggart (April 1991 - late summer 1991)

Mary Ryan Munisteri (late summer / early fall 1991 - January 1992)

Addie Walsh (January 1992 - summer 1992)

Haidee Granger (defacto) (summer 1992 - late 1992)

Robert Guza & Millee Taggart (late 1992/early 1993 - 1993)

Millee Taggart (1993- fall 1993))

Agnes Nixon (c. October 1993 - September 1994)

Addie Walsh & Laurie McCarthy (c. October 1994 - January 1995)

James Harmon Brown & Barbara Essensten (c. February - November 1995) 

 

Episodes have finally appeared on trading circuits and I have most of November 1991 - September 1992. I'll be honest, I know the college kids era is well loved, but after watching the climax of the Matt Ford story, I cannot believe that the show allowed Eric Woodall slip through their fingers and the bits of the college stuff I've seen so far seems so tedious. I absolutely adore Mary Ryan Munisteri's work, flaws and all. It's been really hard to even start watching the show become louder in either Munisteri's final days or Addie Walsh's opening episodes (the credits are rare in what I have). In the stuff I've seen, Walsh centers a lot of story around Dinahlee, which is probably due to Noelle Beck's maternity leave, but it still is rather sudden. The characterizations change wildly from Munisteri to Walsh with Dinahlee seeming as a more traditional heroine, Giff losing the fun and carefree demeanor he exhibited upon his arrival, and Isabelle seems less driven by Cabot's history of infidelity and becoming a more traditional heavy. To be fair, I have only watched scattered episodes after January 1992 so my assessment may change. 

 

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On 12/9/2011 at 11:30 PM, DRW50 said:

12/21/93 Digest. Carolyn Hinsey reviews Loving.

 

Acting A

Stories D

Romance C

Humor B+

Look B-

 

How many different ways can we say that LOVING is improving? This is a soap opera that has had a lot of trouble telling stories, and that makes it difficult for viewers to get really hooked on this show.

 

No matter what they do to Stacey Forbes, she is still the heart of LOVING. Greatly aided by the fact that Lauren-Marie Taylor has been on the show since its inception, this character creates interest no matter what. Even when the widowed Stacey suddenly married her former father-in-law, Clay (Dennis Parlato), we cared about her and rooted for for her to be happy. There were such rich story possibilities with that marriage - Stacey's daughter, Heather, was fathered by Rick Alden, Clay's son, and Stacey had been very close to Clay's beloved daughter, Trisha. Yet, their story made a brief pit stop at a mental institution and checked out.

 

These days, Clay is spending quality time with his ex-wife, Gwyneth (Christine Tudor-Newman), and Stacey is steaming up the screen with Buck (Philip Brown), Clay and Gwyn are one of daytime's best divorced couples, and LOVING has wisely paired them together a lot recently. Clay even went out and bought Gwyn a home pregnancy test! Unfortunately, what could have been a great storyline - Gwyn's mid-life pregnancy - fizzled in two weeks. What health issues does a 40-ish woman face when she chooses to go forward with an unplanned pregnancy? What emotional issues would Gwyn have faced, given that two of her three children (Rick and Trisha) are dead, and a third (Curtis) keeps disappearing? What would Gwyn and Buck's baby have done to Stacey and Buck's love story? How would Clay have fit in? Such great possibilities existed, yet Gwyn suffered an immediate ectopic pregnancy and the opportunity was missed.

 

Ava (Lisa Peluso) and Alex (Randolph Mantooth) are another dynamite divorced duo. When he kisses her, he means it, and their chemistry is palpable. The fact that she has fought her feelings makes for better story, and the triangle with Jeremy (Jean LeClerc) raises the stakes even higher. Manthooth has made Alex Masters a very sympathetic spy, and his ad-libbing is second to none. "Thanks for bringing that up," he said during a recent bantering session with Ava. "Not that we haven't discussed it six or seven times." Recapping the action drags down the storytelling, so it's nice to have someone around who gives the repetition some levity.

 

Angie (Debbi Morgan) and Frankie (Alimi Ballard) are a welcome addition to Corinth, and it will be nice when they get a front-burner story of their own. (Paging Charles Harrison?) Tying Frankie to Cooper (Michael Weatherly) was clever, and milking the relationship will make for some humorous raised eyebrows - like snooty Isabelle's (Patricia Barry). Kudos to LOVING for finally introducing an African-American story.

 

Cooper has actually turned into a fun character, and I like him paired with Ally (Laura Sisk). There's another good divorced pair. And they do seem like real teenagers (although hopefully most real teens don't have babies) and are very sweet together. Casey (the excellent Paul Anthony Stewart) and Steffi (Amelia Heinle) are a believable pair too. The scene where Casey was photographing Steffi was beautifully filmed (fog machines and all), but I wasn't thrilled about the scene's message: A worried Ava studied the photos and said to Casey, "Take another look at the way she is looking at the camera and tell me how professional it really is between you two." Modeling (like acting) is a job.

 

I'd love to see LOVING address the one issue that actually unites all the Corinth kids: none of them have parents. Cooper's folks died in a plane crash, Casey's mother died and his dad went over the side of the belfry, Ally's mom lives out of town and we have no idea where Steffi's are. It makes perfect sense that orphans would gravitate towards each other, but wouldn't they discuss this?

 

It was nice of Shana (Susan Keith) and Leo (James Carroll) to name their baby Patti, after Trisha, and their story has been LOVING's most socially relevant. It makes sense that Shana, who has already lost a child, would have clung so hard to this one, and exploring possible birth defects was a positive, unusual story for daytime. A marriage between these strong, independent souls would be a hoot.

 

The character of Dinah Lee really suffered this year, and it's a fine tribute to actress Jessica Collins that viewers still care as much as they do. Dinah Lee went from Tucker (the underused Robert Tyler) to Clay to Curtis (Patrick Johnson, then Michael Lord) so fast, we couldn't get a handle on her true feelings. Worse, she married Curtis just when Lord had taken over the role, so viewers watched their beloved Dinah Lee marry a total stranger. Collins has really grown as an actress, and she can handle comedy with the best of them. A triangle with Alex and Ava, or Clay and Gwyn would be really fun. I could see her taking another run at Trucker, too (Wouldn't you?) The repercussions of that union would be most amusing.

 

Where does Tess (Catherine Hickland) fit into the action, now that Curtis is gone? How will Kate (Nada Rowand) cope with the loss of her beloved Louie (the late Bernard Barrow)? What's the deal with the mysterious Joe Young, a.k.a. Dante (Thom Christopher)? Where is the presumed-dead Trisha? And Jack Forbes, for that matter? These and other questions will no doubt be answered by the new team over at LOVING, headed by Executive Producer Jo Ann Emmerich. She has inherited a talented cast of actors who truly care about their show. And LOVING is a show that is positively brimming with storyline possibilities - so stay tuned.

 

Bumping this since @EricMontreal22 asked about reviews for the show (sorry if this isn't the type you meant).

On 2/15/2012 at 6:21 AM, DRW50 said:

From a February 1992 Digest

 

SOD21892016.jpg

 

SOD21892017.jpg

 

Bumping this since @EricMontreal22 asked about reviews for the show (sorry if this wasn't what you meant).

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Thanks for those--that's exactly what I want!  ;) Isn't it odd that Hinsey doesn't mention Agnes Nixon returning as part of that new creative team she mentions?

On 9/30/2018 at 6:56 PM, dc11786 said:

@EricMontreal22, glad to see you popped back in. Agnes Nixon's 1993-1994 stint seems incredibly strong from everything I've seen and read. It seems much stronger than her 1985-1986 work post-Doug Marland. I like that she doesn't really dump a whole bunch of characters immediately the way so many other new writers / producers do when they first appear at "Loving." I admire that she really tries to make everything work even when it clearly doesn't (the Dante stuff always sounds cheesy to me). 

 

The writing credits for Loving are always so messy. Feel free to submit edits, but I think the latest is as I know it:

 

Doug Marland (6/1983 - summer 1985)

Agnes Nixon (summer 1985 - late 1985/ early 1986)

Bill Levinson (1986)

Ralph Ellis (1987 - spring 1988)

Writer's Strike (spring - early fall 1988)

Tom King & Millee Taggart (fall 1988 - April 1991)

Millee Taggart (April 1991 - late summer 1991)

Mary Ryan Munisteri (late summer / early fall 1991 - January 1992)

Addie Walsh (January 1992 - summer 1992)

Haidee Granger (defacto) (summer 1992 - late 1992)

Robert Guza & Millee Taggart (late 1992/early 1993 - 1993)

Millee Taggart (1993- fall 1993))

Agnes Nixon (c. October 1993 - September 1994)

Addie Walsh & Laurie McCarthy (c. October 1994 - January 1995)

James Harmon Brown & Barbara Essensten (c. February - November 1995) 

 

Episodes have finally appeared on trading circuits and I have most of November 1991 - September 1992.

 

That looks about right to me, though I think Agnes Nixon might have actually been there a bit longer after Marland in the first run.  I noticed that a lot of 1991-92, as you say, has recently suddenly picked up (I guess I didn't become a fulltime viewer until sometime in 92 with the Carter Jones/AMC crossover).  How dare you insult the Dante/caged "pet" story ;) But that's pretty much how I feel--Nixon did as good a job as possible I think trying to make the show truly cohesive, etc (interestingly the review from Hinsey posted below seems to have been done just at the start of her run).

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I'm following the classic SOD recaps on Tumblr and we are currently at the Rick Alden murder.  There is also a story about Jacqueline Babbin, who came on as headwriter with a love for writing mystery.  I've totally forgotten the outcome, but so far it is a delightfully constructed story.  Stacy has been set up as a pawn, but she is not doing anything out of character.  The murder brings about the introduction of great side characters like Norma and Paul.  It is exciting that there are so many plausible solutions, even though SOD immediately pokes holes in it by revealing the actor's contracts for key suspects.  What I really appreciate is the "EON-style" of soap mystery wherein the main mystery is exciting, but there are also secrets that will come out at trial, romances that blossom while trying to solve the mystery, and the story propels the plot forward by resolving the Rick/Stacy/Jack triangle rather than being resolved and forgotten.

 

I must have stopped watching during the Rick Alden years because I have no memory of the character or the portrayal.  As I've mentioned before, to me he is conflated with Tony, (Jack's roommate, not the later mob character), Curtis, and Dinah-Lee's brother.  Loving always seemed to have a spoiled bad guy character over the years.

 

Side note: 1989-1990 was a mess of a year for the soaps.  All of the ABC soaps changed executives.  Major characters like Max (OLTL) and Reva (GL) left their shows.  New characters like Dawn (GH) are being recast right and left.  The Daytime Emmys weren't broadcast.  Writers are quitting and then giving very gossipy exit interviews.   It's four years before the OJ trial and the soaps were already in major trouble.

Edited by j swift

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6 hours ago, j swift said:

I'm following the classic SOD recaps on Tumblr and we are currently at the Rick Alden murder.  There is also a story about Jacqueline Babbin, who came on as headwriter with a love for writing mystery.  I've totally forgotten the outcome, but so far it is a delightfully constructed story.  Stacy has been set up as a pawn, but she is not doing anything out of character.  The murder brings about the introduction of great side characters like Norma and Paul.  It is exciting that there are so many plausible solutions, even though SOD immediately pokes holes in it by revealing the actor's contracts for key suspects.  What I really appreciate is the "EON-style" of soap mystery wherein the main mystery is exciting, but there are also secrets that will come out at trial, romances that blossom while trying to solve the mystery, and the story propels the plot forward by resolving the Rick/Stacy/Jack triangle rather than being resolved and forgotten.

 

 

Side note: 1989-1990 was a mess of a year for the soaps.  All of the ABC soaps changed executives.  Major characters like Max (OLTL) and Reva (GL) left their shows.  New characters like Dawn (GH) are being recast right and left.  The Daytime Emmys weren't broadcast.  Writers are quitting and then giving very gossipy exit interviews.   It's four years before the OJ trial and the soaps were already in major trouble.

Was Jacqueline Babbin *writing?  She was the EP--I remember one article that I seem to have lost about her hiring where she talks about all the changes she'll make but unfortunately she was only given a year (I love her time at AMC--Wisner Washam said it was she who insisted on a gay storyline with the short lived lesbian story since she was a lesbian).  She could have suggested a mystery to the writer of course...

Yeah the late 80s were a hard time for ABC--all their soap ratings were dropping so they did a lot of surgery--with AMC/OLTL/GH it (at least till the mid 90s) seems to have worked, though.

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Publisher's Weekly review

Bloody Soaps: A Tale of Love and Death in the Afternoon

Jacqueline Babbin, Author 

abbin, who once produced All My Children , calls on her extensive backstage knowledge of daytime soap operas to enrich this lively, tartly witty murder mystery. The cast and crew of a TV soap opera called The Key to Life are shaken when their producer, obnoxious Wally Krog, is found in the studio with a knitting needle thrust through his neck. New York homicide detective Clovis Kelley, whose girlfriend Yancey Howland acts on Key , quickly learns that nearly everyone associated with the program resented the dead man. In fact, Wally's bullying and taunting infuriated so many people that Clovis is hard put to identify a prime suspect. To gain additional insight, he questions Key stars, writers, executives and staffers. What emerges is a tangled tale of behind-the-scenes backbiting and tenuous alliances just as titillating as the show itself. Then a second murder complicates things even further in this overpopulated piece of light, entertaining fiction. (July)

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It's amusing to note that both Babbin and Sleasar wrote mysteries about killing producers on soap sets; a bit of hiding in plain sight. 

Edited by j swift

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7 hours ago, j swift said:

It's amusing to note that both Babbin and Sleasar wrote mysteries about killing producers on soap sets; a bit of hiding in plain sight. 

Ha!  I\m trying to find a file I have saved from Babbin about being an openly gay woman in the industry, she pulls no punches!

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6 hours ago, EricMontreal22 said:

Ha!  I\m trying to find a file I have saved from Babbin about being an openly gay woman in the industry, she pulls no punches!

 

That's an interesting perspective that I would like to read.  So many male actors had weird relationships with female producers, as evidenced by their exit interviews.  They were either kind mothers or brutal bitches.  It would be delightful to hear how an openly gay woman would navigate that territory.  

 

Not to go off on a tangent, but I am fascinated by lesbian soap actresses, like Maureen Garrett, and their time on the shows.  Soap fans are constantly trying to suss out the sexuality of male stars however, nobody ever talks about any falsehood in the chemistry between Holly and Roger.  She must have worked hard to establish and maintain a sensuality that would be appealing to daytime viewers. 

 

I maintain that part of the dropoff in LGBT soap viewership is that fans of my generation were willing to watch "approximate gay characters",  (like Ava Rescott, who faced many of the same issues as LGBT fans: i.e. family acceptance, feeling different, and liking some sparkle, but weren't actually gay), whereas today we have the choice to watch more accurate representations.  When Tim Gunn got his job on ABC daytime and revealed that he hadn't had sex in 20 years, I joked that made him the perfect guy for a network that created gay characters; just as long as they never actually had sex or expected to find love.

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I went watched and read up on the Rick Alden stuff today.  I hadn't realized he was recast from Ron Nummi to Bryan Fitzpatrick right before he was murdered.  Loving had a tremendous amount of recasts, and usually not for the better.  Given the number of characters, one would think that they could simply replace rather than recast, but that seemed to be the ethos of that period.  

 

 

In my book, both Ricks were too old to be Clay's son.  Part of the issue is that he was constantly costumed in suits, but he seemed to also be a maturational peer to his father.  I know Clay and Gweneth were teens when they had Rick but he still appeared much older than Curtis or Trisha .  It also doesn't help that both Gweneth and Clay take multiple lovers who seem to be even younger than Rick.  I think it was easier to kill him off because of these discrepancies.  Also, at the end, Gweneth is so upset that Trisha might be dead, or just won't talk to her, but I don't recall her even mentioning that Rick was murdered.        

 

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On October 5, 2018 at 11:19 AM, j swift said:

I'm following the classic SOD recaps on Tumblr and we are currently at the Rick Alden murder.  There is also a story about Jacqueline Babbin, who came on as headwriter with a love for writing mystery.  I've totally forgotten the outcome, but so far it is a delightfully constructed story.  Stacy has been set up as a pawn, but she is not doing anything out of character.  The murder brings about the introduction of great side characters like Norma and Paul.  It is exciting that there are so many plausible solutions, even though SOD immediately pokes holes in it by revealing the actor's contracts for key suspects.  What I really appreciate is the "EON-style" of soap mystery wherein the main mystery is exciting, but there are also secrets that will come out at trial, romances that blossom while trying to solve the mystery, and the story propels the plot forward by resolving the Rick/Stacy/Jack triangle rather than being resolved and forgotten.

 

I must have stopped watching during the Rick Alden years because I have no memory of the character or the portrayal.  As I've mentioned before, to me he is conflated with Tony, (Jack's roommate, not the later mob character), Curtis, and Dinah-Lee's brother.  

 

As mentioned, Babbin was EP, but she talked about having a heavy hand in the writing. King and Taggert were there for several years, but their writing seems better under Babbin than Hardy or Bunim. 

 

Its fs a shame it was Rick, not Curtis, in a triangle with Stacey and Jack. There was much more history there with Lilly and Ava.

 

I assume by Dinah Lee's brother you mean Todd Jones, Egypt's brother? I'm watching early Addie Walsh episodes now and she does have Dinah Lee mention her desire to bring her family to town, but it's only her ingenue sister Hannah who should be appearing in the next few episodes. 

 

Most of the actors playing Clay and Gwyn were too young to have children at the age they were at. I'm watching material from Clays return which is in the earliest of Addie Walsh episodes. Immediately, they hint that Clay is not an Alden in the last of Wesley Addy's appearances as Cabot's ghost. Walsh also torpedoes Gwyn and Gifford in order to play Gwyn and Clay tension despite the fact that a Giff / Dinah Lee / Clay / Gwyn story would tell itself. 

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