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Loving/The City Discussion Thread


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I think it worked with Angie and Jacob, Buck, Tess and Ally, Alex and Jocelyn, etc. I believed in those relationships coming out of Loving and in the early weeks of TC, even if I don't think Jocelyn - and I loved Lisa Lo Cicero, both then and now - could hold a candle to Ava and Alex, and I think that relationship with Alex should've been taken much slower; I don't know when they officially became involved on TC because we don't have enough episodes, but they weren't at the outset, they were still just friends with the possibility of more when Loving ended and Alex left town to try to save his marriage to Ava. I think the introduction of Nick Rivers and Lorraine into the mix worked. But I don't think the plot or writing was always there. And I just don't think viewers used to a certain type of soap opera were prepared to see that kind of setup in daytime period.

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"The City" wasn't unique in the sense that NBC was basically trying the same experiment with similar results with "Another World." The writing wasn't there, which was the problem with "Loving." From what I've seen of "The City," the characters are thinly conceived at best and harsh and unlikeable at worst. Like "Loving," the show had some good cast members, but the storytelling and the characterization were inconsistent. I think Harmon Brown and Essensten did attempt some interesting issues (homeless youth, incest, marital rape, transgender characters, racial tension), but the stories were underdeveloped and then quickly dropped. 

 

The biggest issue I find with "The City" is tone. The show would deal with such compelling, dramatic ideas but in the most salacious way possible. Azure C.'s revelation being splashed on the page of the newspapers. Jocelyn Brown surviving incest at the hands of her father and living a dual life as a lawyer and prostitute. 

 

I didn't enjoy those early episodes of "The City" that appeared on YouTube last spring. They had little energy and the one story that I felt had a bit of energy (Steffi / Tony) was never going to last given Heinle started on the show with two months left on her contract. I definitely felt the primetime influences. I think the first Friday cliffhanger was Kayla firing a shot in Angie's clinic which seemed like a rejected story idea from "New York Undercover." Currently, I'm making my way through "General Hospital" episodes in 1995. I can't help but wonder if the Soleito family was influenced at all by the Cerullos. The large Italian family living in the City. 

 

I don't think the found family was the issue. If the characters were more developed, it would have worked. The truth is almost everything from "The City" was based in the work of Brown and Essensten on "Loving" with little of anything from before their period which made sense given what the intention of the network was. I also think most of the pre-B & E characters who were brought to "The City" were bizarre choices. Catherine Hickland's Tess is such a harsh character as written by B & E. The character's backstory was incredibly clunky (the whole Dante Partou mess). And while I get the idea of the cowboy in the City, Buck just seems like a character with limited story potential. What story did Tess and Buck have on the City? Just the cancer stoyline right?

 

Also, it's very weird that the show did nothing with Frankie beyond that brief exploration of his roots with Monti Sharp's film student character. I have to wonder if they didn't dump Frankie to keep Angie appearing as a younger mature lead given that she was now mother to a college student and exploring fertility issues. "Days of our Lives" has this trouble all the time with their super couples having kids decades apart and thanks to SORAS there being a ridiculous age gap. 

 

Final random comment, but it's interesting that Noelle Beck ended up appearing on "Central Park West" while "The City" was airing given that they were both attempting similar things at different times of the day. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, dc11786 said:

I don't think the found family was the issue. If the characters were more developed, it would have worked. The truth is almost everything from "The City" was based in the work of Brown and Essensten on "Loving" with little of anything from before their period which made sense given what the intention of the network was. I also think most of the pre-B & E characters who were brought to "The City" were bizarre choices. Catherine Hickland's Tess is such a harsh character as written by B & E. The character's backstory was incredibly clunky (the whole Dante Partou mess). And while I get the idea of the cowboy in the City, Buck just seems like a character with limited story potential. What story did Tess and Buck have on the City? Just the cancer stoyline right?

 

On paper, I think Tess made sense heading to NYC, as she was a big fish in a small pond in Corinth. They really made her so unpleasant though - some of the soap magazines at the time panned the show for having her blackmail Ally with Steffi's role in Gwyn's death. 

 

B&E were never very warm writers - their tenure on Loving is cold and their new characters introduced on Loving were all aggressive and hard. Loving had had dark periods before, but this was balanced out by a longtime cast viewers knew and cared about. 

 

It's logical, I guess, to have a show based in NYC that isn't kisses and cuddles, but onscreen, it was not likely to bring new viewers or keep the Loving viewers. 

 

They did try later on to have a somewhat warmer atmosphere, but by then it was too late. 

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Tess vs Sydney had potential on the City....and I think Tess being buddies with Jacob..but she/Angie not liking one another was another element not explored.

 

I would have bought out Heinle's contract instead of having her appear and leave 2 months into the new show.  At the same time, she and Tony had a good rapport while her new friendship with Azure had promise.

 

 

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3 hours ago, John said:

Wasnt the City hoping to lure Noelle Beck back as Trisha with her son & also introduce Ally's son & also Alex's kids with Ava if The City had been renewed


Well that would have been easy since Trisha moved to New York City under another name to be a book publisher around that time...

Joking aside, I could have enjoyed that as a Loving fan but I am not sure Loving legacy characters were going to be of any interest to the "new" audience The City was supposed to reach.
If they wanted Loving fans, they could have kept Loving. And yes, that's me being bitter.

Edited by FrenchBug82
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On 3/27/2021 at 9:39 AM, dc11786 said:

"The City" wasn't unique in the sense that NBC was basically trying the same experiment with similar results with "Another World." The writing wasn't there, which was the problem with "Loving." From what I've seen of "The City," the characters are thinly conceived at best and harsh and unlikeable at worst. Like "Loving," the show had some good cast members, but the storytelling and the characterization were inconsistent. I think Harmon Brown and Essensten did attempt some interesting issues (homeless youth, incest, marital rape, transgender characters, racial tension), but the stories were underdeveloped and then quickly dropped.

 

Was Another World trying the same thing?  I... don't see that but I'd love to hear what you mean.

Your description of The City isn't wrong, but it makes me think you've only watched the first six months or a bit more.  As I've said before, I think it really came into its own in its final six months or so and (rather quickly all things considered) understood and improved from a lot of its early problems (including short term "shock" stories like how they handled the racial and trans storylines).  There was a much stronger sense of a found family and genuine affection.  And of course having Tracy on the show helped immeasurably (I don't think I've ever liked her character more).

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On 3/27/2021 at 9:39 AM, dc11786 said:

The City" wasn't unique in the sense that NBC was basically trying the same experiment with similar results with "Another World."

 

On 3/31/2021 at 3:48 PM, EricMontreal22 said:

Was Another World trying the same thing?  I... don't see that but I'd love to hear what you mean.

Not to go too far into the weeds on the AW analogy, but the Bayview Courts apartments on Another World was another attempt at trying to tie twentysomething characters together based on living in a communal space rather than within a family unit (very Melrose Place).

 

However, even in the 90's, it would have been rare for a rich woman like Sydney Chase to live in the same building as an editor's assistant like Ally.  And I don't know many municipal building officials would allow a permit for a new drop-in clinic to be next door to a dive bar.  In retrospect, perhaps the writers of The City thought too small by having everyone live within feet of each other rather than using the entirety of Greenwich Village, or the borough of Manhattan, as a backdrop?  

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31 minutes ago, j swift said:

In retrospect, perhaps the writers of The City thought too small by having everyone live within feet of each other rather than using the entirety of Greenwich Village, or the borough of Manhattan, as a backdrop?  


That's usually the problem with soaps set in a proper urban environment. It seems silly to the audience that people who live in a big city would be constantly on top of each other in the same five places - that's not how it works in real life - but if you start spreading people out, you lose the sense of "place" that is crucial to soaps. It is a hard balance to waive and that's why writers have always set soaps in mid-size towns instead where they can stretch the importance and size of the city when needed for story.

Britain has done much better finding a way to create a sense of place and community in a large city setting: both Coronation Street and East Enders are in proper cities.

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58 minutes ago, EricMontreal22 said:

Within two weeks--hang on to your hats--I should be able to upload and post some of the Jonathan sells his soul to the devil/turns into a snake storyline

 Wow! It has been so so difficult to find any of that era. Even my vague dislike of John O'Hurley won't keep me away. Thank you,

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1 hour ago, DRW50 said:

 Wow! It has been so so difficult to find any of that era. Even my vague dislike of John O'Hurley won't keep me away. Thank you,

Watch this space...

2 hours ago, j swift said:

 

Not to go too far into the weeds on the AW analogy, but the Bayview Courts apartments on Another World was another attempt at trying to tie twentysomething characters together based on living in a communal space rather than within a family unit (very Melrose Place).

 

However, even in the 90's, it would have been rare for a rich woman like Sydney Chase to live in the same building as an editor's assistant like Ally.  And I don't know many municipal building officials would allow a permit for a new drop-in clinic to be next door to a dive bar.  In retrospect, perhaps the writers of The City thought too small by having everyone live within feet of each other rather than using the entirety of Greenwich Village, or the borough of Manhattan, as a backdrop?  

Aww thanks--that does make sense.

You're right (although Sydney did own the building and had the penthouse, but...)  It made more sense with Tracy given her life situation.  But, while I defend the last half of the City, I completely agree that it might have worked better to pull from a small neighbourhood (maybe fictional) in NY instead of one building 

As FrenchBug says that's always a problem when you set a soap in an actual big city (and even small town soaps suffer from this when they started to have every conceivable thing in their town including several massive businesses).  The UK soaps do make it work by creating fictional communities within a big city, although even there you do start to wonder why they all seem to live, work and have fun on the same four streets...

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2 hours ago, EricMontreal22 said:

Within two weeks--hang on to your hats--I should be able to upload and post some of the Jonathan sells his soul to the devil/turns into a snake storyline

*faints*

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On 3/27/2021 at 2:12 PM, DRW50 said:

 

On paper, I think Tess made sense heading to NYC, as she was a big fish in a small pond in Corinth. They really made her so unpleasant though - some of the soap magazines at the time panned the show for having her blackmail Ally with Steffi's role in Gwyn's death. 

 

B&E were never very warm writers - their tenure on Loving is cold and their new characters introduced on Loving were all aggressive and hard. Loving had had dark periods before, but this was balanced out by a longtime cast viewers knew and cared about. 

 

It's logical, I guess, to have a show based in NYC that isn't kisses and cuddles, but onscreen, it was not likely to bring new viewers or keep the Loving viewers. 

 

They did try later on to have a somewhat warmer atmosphere, but by then it was too late. 

 

Thanks. In that context, Tess moving to the City makes sense. I just get so bogged down by her clunky backstory with Dante, Curtis, Buck, and Kuwait. Nixon made the best of the situation and fleshed out a more complicated backstory for Tess to rationalize her decision to enter into a violent marriage. In what I've seen, a lot of that complexity doesn't come across in later material once Nixon leaves. 

 

In defense of Brown and Essensten, I do think they helped to rectify one of the problems I had with "Loving." "Loving" had a tendency to be too light at times. There was definitely a maturity to the material I watched in those summer 1995 episodes. It just was just so jarring in context of the amplified snark over some rather gritty matters. 

 

The possible culture clash between the suburbanite Corinthians and the urban New Yorkers would have given the show something more to play in those early episodes that didn't come across. 

 

On 3/27/2021 at 2:27 PM, Soaplovers said:

Tess vs Sydney had potential on the City....and I think Tess being buddies with Jacob..but she/Angie not liking one another was another element not explored.

 

I would have bought out Heinle's contract instead of having her appear and leave 2 months into the new show.  At the same time, she and Tony had a good rapport while her new friendship with Azure had promise.

 

I think it would have been for the best to write out Steffi earlier like you suggested. 

 

"The City" might have worked if they had done it a year and a half earlier in mid-1994 when Michael Weatherly, Amelia Heinle, Paul Anthony Stewart, and Laura Sisk Wright were still all present and had around a year left to their contracts. That younger group worked. I don't hate what I've seen of Corey Page's Richard in the later material from "The City" though I found the character incredibly crass and obnoxious on "Loving." Amy Van Horne seemed like a solid junior vixen, but a lot of the other younger actors were still developing their characters. 

 

On 3/31/2021 at 6:48 PM, EricMontreal22 said:

Was Another World trying the same thing?  I... don't see that but I'd love to hear what you mean.

Your description of The City isn't wrong, but it makes me think you've only watched the first six months or a bit more.  As I've said before, I think it really came into its own in its final six months or so and (rather quickly all things considered) understood and improved from a lot of its early problems (including short term "shock" stories like how they handled the racial and trans storylines).  There was a much stronger sense of a found family and genuine affection.  And of course having Tracy on the show helped immeasurably (I don't think I've ever liked her character more).

 

Jill Farren Phelps was hired to revamp "Another World" around the same time and was doing a lot of primetime influenced things. There was the introduction of a new hospital set, police station, and Italian restaurant which were suppose to be the hub of stories. Then, you had a bunch of older contract players written out, the brutal of a young mother, and a stronger emphasis on younger characters. I do think that "The City" went farther, but I think both were looking to accomplish similar goals. 

 

For the most part, I was referring to the first year or so of the show. I've seen a lot less of that then "Loving." I will agree that the end is an improvement and is closer to reaching those goals. In watching some later episodes recently, I still feel the show slips into the problems I talked about though. I think the episodes with the fake Quartermaines are fun, and the confrontation between Carla and Tracey is well played. In my recent reviewing of these episodes, I find something still seems off. The relationship between Carla and Tracey is intriguing, but it's still harsh and brittle in the context there is nothing to contrast it in those episodes. Everyone working to cover up for Tracey does build into that family element, but everything is based on a con job. I think playing up the fact that they have to lie to Dillon about his grandparents leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

 

I do think there was an attempt to make the more salacious elements less tasteless, while still crossing the line. Didn't Gino die in bed with a prostitute who he thought was Tracey? That seems to be an attempt to integrate something flashy into a bigger story where that event is not the sole climax of the story. 

 

I also watched the last few episodes recently. Who were people rooting for at the end in terms of the quad with Carla, Danny, Tony, and Ally? Carla is fun, but I still find Danny sleazy. Tony has mellowed, but I don't necessarily find him some big catch. I also don't get a strong connection between Laura Sisk and George Palermo which is what the show sees as the "it" couple. 

 

I thought the final story with the arrival of baby Cassandra was sort of sloppy. I imagine the plans may have accelerated to accommodate the conclusion, but the psychic stuff with Lorraine seemed less intriguing to me than watching Lorraine and Nick's relationship a few months earlier after Nick had been released from the hospital. 

 

It's nice to think that, if given more time, Essensten and Brown would have gotten it together, but they were given two years with the same producer, which hadn't happened on "Loving" since Doug Marland and Joseph Stuart. 

 

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