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Loving/The City Discussion Thread


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I wrote about it a lot last summer when I got to rewatch the whole story for the first time since childhood - I do not exaggerate when I say the Loving Murders was a huge part of what got me through 2020, along with Marland's ATWT, classic Y&R reruns and some other resources - but I think they seeded Gwyneth often and well, right from the very beginning. There are both little and very big clues, like Gwyneth constantly haranguing Alex and Charles to read her psych profile of the killer - part of her wants the world to know it all, to know her pain. The final scenes she has with her father are also fascinating to analyze, and very early scenes in the story with Jeremy when she talks about going on vacation with Clay and the kids. I also think the past of Loving, particularly the early 90s episodes we've been watching, inform a lot of it.

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Posted (edited)

One of the big clues. I remember was the locket Clay had given Trisha. When a amnesiac Trisha disowned the Alden's. She gave Clay the locket back. In turn Clay gave the locket to a devastated Gwyneth. This took place about a year before the Loving Murders. When Gwyneth was going after her next victim. A clicking, clacking noise would be heard. Which was Gwyneth making that noise with the locket. A brilliant clue. On the writers part. But easily overlooked. I totally overlooked this at the time.

Edited by victoria foxton
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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, victoria foxton said:

One of the big clues. I remember was the locket Clay had given Trisha. When a amnesiac Trisha disowned the Alden's. She gave Clay the locket back. In turn Clay gave the locket to a devastated Gwyneth. This took place about a year before the Loving Murders. When Gwyneth was going after her next victim. A clicking, clacking noise would be heard. Which was Gwyneth making that noise with the locket. A brilliant clue. On the writers part. But easily overlooked. I totally overlooked this at the time.

For the longest time I thought the clicking came from a pen

Edited by John
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47 minutes ago, victoria foxton said:

One of the big clues. I remember was the locket Clay had given Trisha. When a amnesiac Trisha disowned the Alden's. She gave Clay the locket back. In turn Clay gave the locket to a devastated Gwyneth. This took place about a year before the Loving Murders. When Gwyneth was going after her next victim. A clicking, clacking noise would be heard. Which was Gwyneth making that noise with the locket. A brilliant clue. On the writers part. But easily overlooked. I totally overlooked this at the time.

Before Angie and Charles' wedding, Gwyneth and Stacey have a heart to heart and Gwyneth tries to give the locket to Stacey, almost as though she's trying to replace Trisha with Trisha's best friend. Stacey declines to take it and later, during the reception, we see the "killer p.o.v." for the first time. It's like Stacey's rejection caused Gwyneth to relive Trisha's rejection, making Stacey's status as the first victim all the more poignant.

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4 hours ago, FrenchBug82 said:

This was 1995. Online wasn't a thing.
I wonder if they could pull off a story like this now. Not just departures being leaked and stuff but fans putting together the kind of clues you mention.

I was genuinely shocked at some of the twists and turns at the time. And I had NO idea it was Gwyn until the very last moment.

The bulletin boards were in force at that time and there was a lot of discussion about soaps on those boards. I remember stumbling across the boards in 1993 and seeing the heated discussions about who should replace Beverlee McKinsey as Alex and fans’ disgust about a possible Austin/Jennifer pairing on DOOL. And there was discussion about the Loving  Murders. It was a wonderful precursor to what we have today.

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Posted (edited)

I have very vague memories of the rec.arts.tv.soaps groups on USENET in those days, but I only read, I didn't engage as a poster til the 2000s. I do remember James DePaiva (Max Holden on OLTL) taking to either USENET or AOL to trash the writing on OLTL somewhere around 1995 or 1996, or maybe a bit later. A few actors did that in that period, back before the shows could ever understand the Internet and how to find them.

3 hours ago, Kane said:

Before Angie and Charles' wedding, Gwyneth and Stacey have a heart to heart and Gwyneth tries to give the locket to Stacey, almost as though she's trying to replace Trisha with Trisha's best friend. Stacey declines to take it and later, during the reception, we see the "killer p.o.v." for the first time. It's like Stacey's rejection caused Gwyneth to relive Trisha's rejection, making Stacey's status as the first victim all the more poignant.

That is fascinating.

As I said last year, a lot of the key elements of the story, like the locket and its signature clicking, bear so much resemblance to the classic tenets of the Italian murder mystery "giallo" genre, where the stories are always puzzles with strange little audiovisual talismans.

Edited by Vee
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, robbwolff said:

I was genuinely shocked at some of the twists and turns at the time. And I had NO idea it was Gwyn until the very last moment.

 

12 hours ago, John said:

One of the big clues. I remember was the locket Clay had given Trisha. When a amnesiac Trisha disowned the Alden's. She gave Clay the locket back. In turn Clay gave the locket to a devastated Gwyneth. This took place about a year before the Loving Murders. When Gwyneth was going after her next victim. A clicking, clacking noise would be heard. Which was Gwyneth making that noise with the locket. A brilliant clue. On the writers part. But easily overlooked. I totally overlooked this at the time.

I would suggest that the reason Gwyneth's reveal was such a surprise is that there was not enough groundwork in terms of clues for the audience to be able to guess whodoneit, and the murders were implausibly committed by a woman of Gwyneth's age and experience.  Perhaps a final "kaiser soze" like montage of the murders would have tied things up better but I was left with a lot of questions.  For example, how did Gwyneth learn to make poison makeup?  Where did she buy lethal candles?  How could she lift enough cement to kill Jeremy?  Why was Trisha's disappearance more traumatizing than killing her other child Curtis?

12 hours ago, John said:

For the longest time I thought the clicking came from a pen

They showed a pen in a promos for the murders so it was reasonable to assume.

 

I think it was a rush job that was poorly written because there were too many loose ends.  Steffy's final scene with Gwyneth, and Tess's use of the stalker to gain press were interesting.  However, a week later everyone moves to Manhattan and never experienced any consequences from the serial murders.  In fact, from the dead body in Ally's rug to the smiley face murders, one would think that the ex-Correntth residents had never met a serial killer

Edited by j swift
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I rewatched that whole storyline last summer. There was plenty of groundwork AFAIC in the arc itself, even if you left out the last 3-4 years (where there was also a lot of misery and pain for the Aldens and plenty of track laid).

As dc mentioned a while back, Gwyneth had run Amourelle, the cosmetics division. That explained how she'd have access to and perhaps knowledge of the chemistry.

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Gwyneth's being the killer made sense, and it tied back to when she and Trisha first came on the show.  Their relationship was always strained..and remember she would interfere in her kids lives.

I think Trisha's 'death' started her mental breakdown.  She had a fling with Buck, miscarried, was lost and listless.  I recall her trying new jobs like bartending in order to find purpose. She also was motherly to Janie and later Steffy.

The final straw was Trisha being found alive and rejecting her.  I believe that happened in spring 1995.  And the killings started a bit afterwards.

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Came across an old issue of Soap Opera Weekly from 1993 and found this article about one of the only times (perhaps the only?) when a soap opera focus group convinced TPTB to keep an actor and give them a story. I'd say it's a shame the show didn't consult them again the following year when they decided to write Susan Keith/Shana out after all, but if she'd stayed Shana probably would've been murdered in '95 anyway.

Based on the timing of the issue (July/93), I'm guessing that the unnamed actor is Patrick Johnson, who played Curtis from February-May, 1993. He was pretty wooden, but I'm not sure what was so objectionable about him that the audience reaction was that bad. I certainly preferred him over the next Curtis, though I didn't think either was ultimately very good in the role.

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Neat article. 

If I had to venture a guess, it wasn't Patrick Johnson alone that the audience was rejecting, but the Curtis storyline. My first introduction to "Loving" were the old rec.arts.television.soaps messages; that crowd was not found of the Kuwait storyline. Watching those episodes in more recent years, Patrick Johnson has the misfortune of arriving several weeks before Noelle Beck leaves and is positioned in a major pairing with Dinahlee with some very bizarre trappings (the false names, the introduction of the country western bar). Jessica Collins had managed to sell so many different versions of the Dinahlee character, but this just wasn't going to work. The idea of a Curtis / Dinahlee / Clay triangle was much more interesting on paper than it was in execution. 

I prefer Lord over Johnson, but Lord overplayed a lot of the material. Also, I'm not sure we would have gotten crazy Curtis if it wasn't for Lord. With that said, I would have liked to see what would have happened if he had been given a few more months in the role. Prior to Lord's Curtis leaving, Curtis had been messing with Dinahlee's birthcontrol and I suspect they might have done a Who's the Daddy storyline involving Curtis, Dinahlee, and Clay or maybe Trucker. 

Part of the issue with Curytis was the character had been a mess for several iterations prior to his 1993 return. Chip Albers Curtis was too young and sending Curtis off to the Persian Gulf would have worked better if they used the experience to age the character (both in terms of actor and characterization). Instead, they continued playing him in the younger crowd when he was Trisha's older brother. I don't think anyone could have made that material work as it was written. 

The Shana / Leo storyline is good. Shana's desire to have a child was a smart move for the character. Taggart and Guza made Leo super chauvinistic which gave the characters some very natural conflict to play. Add in Ava and you had a very interesting set of circumstances. Sometimes they overplayed the slapstick in this story, but I felt the meat of the story (Shana's baby having developmental delays, Burnell's being owned by Shana) was enough to keep the story going much longer than Nixon did. 

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The Shana/Leo story really fizzles after they have the baby; they largely disappear until their exit storyline. It's unfortunately typical on soaps that while they like to milk the drama of the idea of a character having a baby with disabilities, they seem largely uninterested in dramatizing the day to day reality of a character raising a child with disabilities. The only time I can think of when a show actually made an attempt to keep a story like that going beyond the pregnancy was Holly and Fletcher on GL and, in the end, Fletcher and the baby got written out.

I agree that part of the problem with Curtis was that the show could never settle on how he should be characterized. You had scheming Curtises (Marcantel, Albers, Lord) and more heroic Curtises (Ashby, Moses, and Johnson), but there's not really a common through line that connects the original Marcantel Curtis to the returned Marcantel Curtis. I remember on the Men of Loving reunion Marcantel mentioned looking through Curtis' history since he had last played the character and just tossing a lot of it out since it didn't work with the character as he understood him.

The Kuwait story was a mess, but I think that’s partially the result of Guza/Taggart having to strip away parts of the original plotting. When I rewatch the storyline with the benefit of hindsight, it’s quite clear to me that it was originally plotted with the intention that Trisha would still be there and that there would be more to the Clay/Dinah Lee/Curtis triangle than what we ultimately end up with. I think that originally: 

  • Curtis would come back, haunted by an experience in Kuwait, which is what happened on screen.
     
  • Trisha would be appalled by Clay’s plans to dismantle AE and seek to stop him and her newfound corporate ambitions would cause strain between her and Trucker, which is what started to happen. Trisha wanted to team up with Curtis to stop Clay and started to show glimmers of ruthlessness in what she was willing to do to accomplish this and the show made a point of showing Trucker disapproving, but then the whole Clay selling off AE piece by piece plot was abruptly dropped after Trisha died.
     
  • Curtis would have been reluctant to join in Trisha’s plan because he didn’t want to get dragged back into the Alden mess, but then would have learned that he’d fallen in love with his father’s ex-girlfriend and would have joined forces with Trisha after all as a means of asserting himself and showing that he was better than his father.
     
  • Buck would have shown up and begun insinuating himself into Trisha and Trucker’s life. I don’t think Buck was originally meant to be part of the Kuwait part of the story or have a past with Curtis, I think he was shoehorned in once it became clear that Noelle Beck wasn’t going to re-sign and they needed a reason to have Trisha speed off into the night so that she could be “killed.”
     
  • Trisha and Curtis succeed in taking over AE and because she’s now spending so much time dealing with the company, she and Trucker need to hire a nanny to help out at home and Buck makes sure that Tess, his partner in crime, gets the job. Together Buck and Tess seize on the tensions that have arisen between Trisha and Trucker as a result of her getting in touch with her Alden dark side and him disapproving and work to further undermine their marriage. At some point there’s probably a beat where Tess and Buck make it look like either Trucker slept with Tess or Trisha slept with Buck, making the “cheated on” spouse vulnerable to an overture from their opposite sex con.
     
  • Curtis panics when he learns that Tess is working for Trisha and Trucker, but can’t say anything because she’s holding her husband’s murder over his head. He tries to get her out of town without exposing himself in the process. Dinah Lee misinterprets Curtis’ fixation on Tess and her insecurities send her back towards Clay, who can’t resist even though he doesn’t want to hurt Curtis.
     
  • Buck starts to have second thoughts about what he and Tess are doing, but before he can come clean, Curtis realizes that Buck is working with Tess and tells Trisha and Trucker everything, resulting in Trucker rejecting Buck just as he finds out Buck is his brother. Curtis then decides to let Dinah Lee in on what’s going on, only to discover that she’s now having an affair with Clay. He ends up turning to Tess and then Dante turns up alive and out for revenge and maybe he tries to kill Clay and frames Curtis for it.
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1 hour ago, Kane said:

The Shana/Leo story really fizzles after they have the baby; they largely disappear until their exit storyline. It's unfortunately typical on soaps that while they like to milk the drama of the idea of a character having a baby with disabilities, they seem largely uninterested in dramatizing the day to day reality of a character raising a child with disabilities. The only time I can think of when a show actually made an attempt to keep a story like that going beyond the pregnancy was Holly and Fletcher on GL and, in the end, Fletcher and the baby got written out.

I agree that part of the problem with Curtis was that the show could never settle on how he should be characterized. You had scheming Curtises (Marcantel, Albers, Lord) and more heroic Curtises (Ashby, Moses, and Johnson), but there's not really a common through line that connects the original Marcantel Curtis to the returned Marcantel Curtis. I remember on the Men of Loving reunion Marcantel mentioned looking through Curtis' history since he had last played the character and just tossing a lot of it out since it didn't work with the character as he understood him.

The Kuwait story was a mess, but I think that’s partially the result of Guza/Taggart having to strip away parts of the original plotting. When I rewatch the storyline with the benefit of hindsight, it’s quite clear to me that it was originally plotted with the intention that Trisha would still be there and that there would be more to the Clay/Dinah Lee/Curtis triangle than what we ultimately end up with. I think that originally: 

  • Curtis would come back, haunted by an experience in Kuwait, which is what happened on screen.
     
  • Trisha would be appalled by Clay’s plans to dismantle AE and seek to stop him and her newfound corporate ambitions would cause strain between her and Trucker, which is what started to happen. Trisha wanted to team up with Curtis to stop Clay and started to show glimmers of ruthlessness in what she was willing to do to accomplish this and the show made a point of showing Trucker disapproving, but then the whole Clay selling off AE piece by piece plot was abruptly dropped after Trisha died.
     
  • Curtis would have been reluctant to join in Trisha’s plan because he didn’t want to get dragged back into the Alden mess, but then would have learned that he’d fallen in love with his father’s ex-girlfriend and would have joined forces with Trisha after all as a means of asserting himself and showing that he was better than his father.
     
  • Buck would have shown up and begun insinuating himself into Trisha and Trucker’s life. I don’t think Buck was originally meant to be part of the Kuwait part of the story or have a past with Curtis, I think he was shoehorned in once it became clear that Noelle Beck wasn’t going to re-sign and they needed a reason to have Trisha speed off into the night so that she could be “killed.”
     
  • Trisha and Curtis succeed in taking over AE and because she’s now spending so much time dealing with the company, she and Trucker need to hire a nanny to help out at home and Buck makes sure that Tess, his partner in crime, gets the job. Together Buck and Tess seize on the tensions that have arisen between Trisha and Trucker as a result of her getting in touch with her Alden dark side and him disapproving and work to further undermine their marriage. At some point there’s probably a beat where Tess and Buck make it look like either Trucker slept with Tess or Trisha slept with Buck, making the “cheated on” spouse vulnerable to an overture from their opposite sex con.
     
  • Curtis panics when he learns that Tess is working for Trisha and Trucker, but can’t say anything because she’s holding her husband’s murder over his head. He tries to get her out of town without exposing himself in the process. Dinah Lee misinterprets Curtis’ fixation on Tess and her insecurities send her back towards Clay, who can’t resist even though he doesn’t want to hurt Curtis.
     
  • Buck starts to have second thoughts about what he and Tess are doing, but before he can come clean, Curtis realizes that Buck is working with Tess and tells Trisha and Trucker everything, resulting in Trucker rejecting Buck just as he finds out Buck is his brother. Curtis then decides to let Dinah Lee in on what’s going on, only to discover that she’s now having an affair with Clay. He ends up turning to Tess and then Dante turns up alive and out for revenge and maybe he tries to kill Clay and frames Curtis for it.

Sign me up for this version. I wanna watch it

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