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How long was Sears at Loving? 

I wonder if her approach was not what the network wanted.

Any Loving viewers able to comment/critique her era?

She popped up again after years away from the business due to owning rights to Handmaid's Tale from years back and getting involved in that series.

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Did either Fran Sears or Haidee Granger ever work in daytime before or after LOVING? The entire history of LOVING/THE CITY would make a fascinating book.

 

Speaking of Haidee Granger, she passed in 2018. Here's her obit:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=haidee-granger&pid=190068886&fhid=2086

 

 

Edited by amybrickwallace
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1 minute ago, Khan said:

I wish I could chat with Tom King about his career in daytime.  For some reason, he's always been one writer who's held a certain fascination with me.

 

Yes, he had the unenviable task of taking the HW reins from Harding Lemay on AW. That alone would be a long discussion. He and Millee Taggart also teamed up as HWs on RH.

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58 minutes ago, amybrickwallace said:

 

Yes, he had the unenviable task of taking the HW reins from Harding Lemay on AW. That alone would be a long discussion. He and Millee Taggart also teamed up as HWs on RH.

Not to mention creating (kinda) the re-tool of Lemay's Lovers and Friends into For Richer For Poorer (both those soaps fascinate me so much) This is all I've ever seen of either

 

2 hours ago, Vee said:

I seem to recall dc doing one of many informative posts about Sears and Haidee Grainger(?). That whole period is fascinating, but most of '90s LOV's turmoil and endless reinvention is to me.

To me as well.

2 hours ago, Paul Raven said:

How long was Sears at Loving? 

I wonder if her approach was not what the network wanted.

Any Loving viewers able to comment/critique her era?

She popped up again after years away from the business due to owning rights to Handmaid's Tale from years back and getting involved in that series.

She was there from July 15, 1991 to May 25, 1992 which was around when I started watching.  Under her Addie Walsh (who would clash with Grainger) was promoted to HW.  (I started watching due to the first AMC cross over when Ceara and Jeremy stayed at the Rescott's--well Ceara did, due to marriage troubles).  Grainger brought back Taggert (along with Guza)

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I like what Fran Sears did. I think she set out to deal with the identity issues by reestablishing the college as a center point for some of the story. I would also she really tries to make "Loving" visually distinct. Boyd Dumrose, the set designer, had been there from the beginning and had done a marvelous job on the sets, but something seems to pop more under Sears. Sears introduces the Tides, the Alden family hunting cabin where Trisha and Trucker live in the final years of their marriage. It seems very symbolic of them as a couple, rustic like Trucker but opulent like Trisha. In the story, Trisha and Trucker are sniping at one another over the differences that seem to have come out more and more as their marriage has progressed. Trisha wants to go out to a French restaurant, while Trucker would rather stay in with a beer and pizza. When Granger comes in, that set is pretty quickly redecorated into a more modern environment. I don't know if I've seen anything that looks like the original Tides on any other soap as a permanent set. I could be wrong. Also, Paul and Ava move into a house outfitted to suit Paul's paralysis. The kitchen set is particularly nice. Even Flynn's studio apartment, which the Bowmans eventually move into, has some neat features. Sears also introduces the bowling alley, Pins, which not only highlights the class difference but is also bright and colorful like so much of Sears run. I just watched the October 7 episode on youtube with Paul in his studio. That bright blue background is very appealing. I think the use of Checkers, the restaurant where the waitresses wear different outfits every ngiht, stands out. 

 

I think the casting was pretty strong under Fran Sears. Jessica Collins started under her, but had previously had auditioned for Ally Rescott when Jackie Babbin was still there. Keith Pruitt and Richard Cox were both early hires in Sears' run. She also oversaw the casting the entire college crew (Hannah / Coop / Casey / Kent / Staige). Most of those actors went on to relatively successful in careers in and out of soaps. Casey may have been Haidee Granger. 

 

Sears had two headwriters (she may have also been there briefly with Millee Taggert). I like Mary Ryan Munisteri's material. It is often more emotion than plotting, but I feel the stories are pretty complex and winding. Munisteri continues the Ava / Paul / Carly triangle but switches out Clay for Flynn. I really liked the dynamic between Paul and Flynn; Flynn was a physical therapist and helped Paul shortly after he was paralyzed. Paul and Flynn were friends, but Pauls' demons, his lack of self confidence after his paralysis and his linger feelings for Carly, complicated it. It would have been easy to make Flynn an adversary, but Flynn remained pretty aware of Paul's reasons and didn't really bat too much of an eyelash. Munisteri continued the complicated dynamic between Ava and Carly and eventually had Ava make the decision to agree to help Carly find Michael even though she knew it could destroy her future with Paul. I think the Michael story could have gone on at least another year with Michael's presence creating a strong push-pull dynamic between Ava and Paul and Carly. Michael idolized Paul do to his radio show and had the personality of a young Ava. What was going to happen when Michael was slowly pulled into Paul and Ava's world leaving Carly in the dust? And what would have happened to Paul and Ava when Paul learned he has sterile as a result of the accident? 

 

Munisteri also pens the Trucker / Dinahlee affair, which I think was problematic. I mostly enjoy it, but it leaves too much of the tension in Trucker and Trisha's marriage strictly to subtext rather than actually calling out the rift that should have come from Trucker keeping secrets about Tommy's adoption. I think Trucker's draw to Dinahlee was practical and the end result is a decent story for Trucker, Trisha, Dinahlee, Jack, and Stacey. Trucker identified with Dinahlee; he was an outsider in the Alden clan. I think that identity worked given Trucker's history with the Aldens. I also think it was bold that Trucker and Dinahlee weren't a one night stand; he went back to Dinahlee a second time. I thought it was different not to alleviate Trucker's culpability by allowing the audience to right it off as an impulsive mistake. I really like how all of it played out even though I could see where the Trucker / Trisha crowd would be livid. I thought they were smart to weave in Giff and Gwyn, who took two very different stances on the affair. Gwyn salivated at the thought that she could finally removing Trucker from her daughter's life, while Giff took a more practical approach reminding Gwyn that people are complicated. There's a nice scene where Giff traps Gwyn in her office at AE overnight because he doesn't want her to squeal to Trisha. Of course, at some point, Gwyn tries to run Dinahlee out of town by offering her cash, which Dinahlee turns around and uses to by Pins. I think it set up Dinahlee nicely as the potential antagonist the Alden clan needed. 

 

The last big story that Fran Sears / Mary Ryan Munisteri tell is the Ally / Matt tale. Matt and Ally were introduced under Babbin / Taggert, but it was very late in the game. Matt runs the gambit of emotions in the course of the tail end of the accusation storyline. The drug angle is, at times, a little heavy handed as it is typically on most soaps. After hearing a caller on Paul's radio show comment how messed up his life will be, Matt does heroin and ends up overdosing. The Matt / Ally story was pretty well remembered by those who saw it. I would love to know the circumstances of Eric Goodall's departure in early 1992. I hope Sears fought for him. Of course, also weaved into the tale of Matt and Ally was Ceara Connors, who rented a room at Kate's and briefly worked at AU. Francis fit in well in Corinth. The tender motherly relationship that developed between Ceara and Matt was wonderful and progressed both Ceara and Matt's stories. I think Jeremy's interloping in the Trucker / Trisha story wasn't as exciting.

 

The last thing to consider with Munisteri and Sears is that they were the ones to introduce Celeste Holms as Isabelle. I think the initial arrival is well done. The writing is strong enough to make this version of Isabelle captivating while heavy handed enough to let the audience know, "Yes, this is a very different version of Isabelle, but we think you'll like it." I know I've referenced this scene several times already, but I enjoy nothing more than watching Isabelle having Bethel Ford, Matt's mother who is applying to be Isabelle's secretary, call Shana so she can listen in while Shana talks crap about Isabelle. Delightful. 

 

Mary Ryan Munisteri leaves in early January 1992 and things are less delightful. It all shifts pretty quickly. Addie Walsh wasn't as interested in the emotional complexity of the characters, in my opinion. She seemed very adept at moving the story forward, but it didn't explore the motivation and reaction as much as Munisteri did. A bulk of Walsh's story revolves around the return of Clay Alden, his attempts to repair his relationship with Trisha, and his relationship with Dinahlee. Walsh plans a pretty windy story about the mystery room at the Tides that turns out to Isabelle and Tim Sullivan's love nest all to get us to the revelation that Clay wasn't an Alden but rather the product of an affair between Isabelle and a stablehand. I don't think the ends justify the means. 

 

A lot of the end of Sears and Walsh is really unmemorable excluding the arrival of all the young characters in the course of several days. The sorority / fraternity story ends pretty quickly under Granger so it's hard to see the full potential, but often it plays out like older people educating younger people about what life in college is like in the Greek system. 

 

Others may have a different opinion of Walsh, but I found her work the hardest to get into during both runs. The 1994 / 1995 run at least has some really good Steffi / Cooper and Casey / Ally material, but everything else under Walsh and McCarthy's run is of little interest to me. 

 

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Thanks (once again) for your analysis, @dc11786.  I watched LOVING only intermittently, so it's nice to get an in-depth perspective from someone who followed the show more closely.  You really help me (and others) "see" what was happening on the show, if that makes any sense, lol.

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49 minutes ago, dc11786 said:

I like what Fran Sears did. I think she set out to deal with the identity issues by reestablishing the college as a center point for some of the story. I would also she really tries to make "Loving" visually distinct. Boyd Dumrose, the set designer, had been there from the beginning and had done a marvelous job on the sets, but something seems to pop more under Sears. Sears introduces the Tides, the Alden family hunting cabin where Trisha and Trucker live in the final years of their marriage. It seems very symbolic of them as a couple, rustic like Trucker but opulent like Trisha. In the story, Trisha and Trucker are sniping at one another over the differences that seem to have come out more and more as their marriage has progressed. Trisha wants to go out to a French restaurant, while Trucker would rather stay in with a beer and pizza. When Granger comes in, that set is pretty quickly redecorated into a more modern environment. I don't know if I've seen anything that looks like the original Tides on any other soap as a permanent set. I could be wrong. Also, Paul and Ava move into a house outfitted to suit Paul's paralysis. The kitchen set is particularly nice. Even Flynn's studio apartment, which the Bowmans eventually move into, has some neat features. Sears also introduces the bowling alley, Pins, which not only highlights the class difference but is also bright and colorful like so much of Sears run. I just watched the October 7 episode on youtube with Paul in his studio. That bright blue background is very appealing. I think the use of Checkers, the restaurant where the waitresses wear different outfits every ngiht, stands out. 

 

I think the casting was pretty strong under Fran Sears. Jessica Collins started under her, but had previously had auditioned for Ally Rescott when Jackie Babbin was still there. Keith Pruitt and Richard Cox were both early hires in Sears' run. She also oversaw the casting the entire college crew (Hannah / Coop / Casey / Kent / Staige). Most of those actors went on to relatively successful in careers in and out of soaps. Casey may have been Haidee Granger. 

 

Sears had two headwriters (she may have also been there briefly with Millee Taggert). I like Mary Ryan Munisteri's material. It is often more emotion than plotting, but I feel the stories are pretty complex and winding. Munisteri continues the Ava / Paul / Carly triangle but switches out Clay for Flynn. I really liked the dynamic between Paul and Flynn; Flynn was a physical therapist and helped Paul shortly after he was paralyzed. Paul and Flynn were friends, but Pauls' demons, his lack of self confidence after his paralysis and his linger feelings for Carly, complicated it. It would have been easy to make Flynn an adversary, but Flynn remained pretty aware of Paul's reasons and didn't really bat too much of an eyelash. Munisteri continued the complicated dynamic between Ava and Carly and eventually had Ava make the decision to agree to help Carly find Michael even though she knew it could destroy her future with Paul. I think the Michael story could have gone on at least another year with Michael's presence creating a strong push-pull dynamic between Ava and Paul and Carly. Michael idolized Paul do to his radio show and had the personality of a young Ava. What was going to happen when Michael was slowly pulled into Paul and Ava's world leaving Carly in the dust? And what would have happened to Paul and Ava when Paul learned he has sterile as a result of the accident? 

 

Munisteri also pens the Trucker / Dinahlee affair, which I think was problematic. I mostly enjoy it, but it leaves too much of the tension in Trucker and Trisha's marriage strictly to subtext rather than actually calling out the rift that should have come from Trucker keeping secrets about Tommy's adoption. I think Trucker's draw to Dinahlee was practical and the end result is a decent story for Trucker, Trisha, Dinahlee, Jack, and Stacey. Trucker identified with Dinahlee; he was an outsider in the Alden clan. I think that identity worked given Trucker's history with the Aldens. I also think it was bold that Trucker and Dinahlee weren't a one night stand; he went back to Dinahlee a second time. I thought it was different not to alleviate Trucker's culpability by allowing the audience to right it off as an impulsive mistake. I really like how all of it played out even though I could see where the Trucker / Trisha crowd would be livid. I thought they were smart to weave in Giff and Gwyn, who took two very different stances on the affair. Gwyn salivated at the thought that she could finally removing Trucker from her daughter's life, while Giff took a more practical approach reminding Gwyn that people are complicated. There's a nice scene where Giff traps Gwyn in her office at AE overnight because he doesn't want her to squeal to Trisha. Of course, at some point, Gwyn tries to run Dinahlee out of town by offering her cash, which Dinahlee turns around and uses to by Pins. I think it set up Dinahlee nicely as the potential antagonist the Alden clan needed. 

 

The last big story that Fran Sears / Mary Ryan Munisteri tell is the Ally / Matt tale. Matt and Ally were introduced under Babbin / Taggert, but it was very late in the game. Matt runs the gambit of emotions in the course of the tail end of the accusation storyline. The drug angle is, at times, a little heavy handed as it is typically on most soaps. After hearing a caller on Paul's radio show comment how messed up his life will be, Matt does heroin and ends up overdosing. The Matt / Ally story was pretty well remembered by those who saw it. I would love to know the circumstances of Eric Goodall's departure in early 1992. I hope Sears fought for him. Of course, also weaved into the tale of Matt and Ally was Ceara Connors, who rented a room at Kate's and briefly worked at AU. Francis fit in well in Corinth. The tender motherly relationship that developed between Ceara and Matt was wonderful and progressed both Ceara and Matt's stories. I think Jeremy's interloping in the Trucker / Trisha story wasn't as exciting.

 

The last thing to consider with Munisteri and Sears is that they were the ones to introduce Celeste Holms as Isabelle. I think the initial arrival is well done. The writing is strong enough to make this version of Isabelle captivating while heavy handed enough to let the audience know, "Yes, this is a very different version of Isabelle, but we think you'll like it." I know I've referenced this scene several times already, but I enjoy nothing more than watching Isabelle having Bethel Ford, Matt's mother who is applying to be Isabelle's secretary, call Shana so she can listen in while Shana talks crap about Isabelle. Delightful. 

 

Mary Ryan Munisteri leaves in early January 1992 and things are less delightful. It all shifts pretty quickly. Addie Walsh wasn't as interested in the emotional complexity of the characters, in my opinion. She seemed very adept at moving the story forward, but it didn't explore the motivation and reaction as much as Munisteri did. A bulk of Walsh's story revolves around the return of Clay Alden, his attempts to repair his relationship with Trisha, and his relationship with Dinahlee. Walsh plans a pretty windy story about the mystery room at the Tides that turns out to Isabelle and Tim Sullivan's love nest all to get us to the revelation that Clay wasn't an Alden but rather the product of an affair between Isabelle and a stablehand. I don't think the ends justify the means. 

 

A lot of the end of Sears and Walsh is really unmemorable excluding the arrival of all the young characters in the course of several days. The sorority / fraternity story ends pretty quickly under Granger so it's hard to see the full potential, but often it plays out like older people educating younger people about what life in college is like in the Greek system. 

 

Others may have a different opinion of Walsh, but I found her work the hardest to get into during both runs. The 1994 / 1995 run at least has some really good Steffi / Cooper and Casey / Ally material, but everything else under Walsh and McCarthy's run is of little interest to me. 

 

Thanks for this wonderful write-up!

I was watching LOVING last night and I realized, the "L" in the original logo is an open heart on its side. Very clever! 

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Wow, DC, as always your analysis is indispensable--thank you.  For some reason I always thought I started watching under Addie Walsh, but maybe that's just when I began paying attention to the credits, as I definitely started watching when I could when Ceara crossed over to the show (which was done well but seemed an odd choice--she hadn't even been on AMC that long, of course back then when I was 11 I didn't realize she was the actress who played Laura!).  I didn't start taping it daily though until a year later (I remember Kate, I think, locking Jeremy and Ceara in a garden shed or something so that they'd resolve their feelings).  In hindsight she probably would have fit better on Loving permanently than Jeremy, but of course her character was killed off camera when they were to move to Corinth (and Genie already had left the role).

I wonder if Munistari was fired or quit.  I admit even at the time, I thought it was a mistake how Haidee phased out the campus setting.  Walsh's second tenure between Nixon and Brown/Esensten was very brief, and more of an interim job, wasn't it?

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