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Generations Discussion Thread

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I was just watching her (as herself) in the Gong Show episode of What's Happening!! :lol:

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I have been slowly making my way through "Generations" episodes that I've gotten. I don't think Barbara Rhoades is as 'dramatic' as she is in that commercial, but there are issues with Jessica in those early episodes that go beyond Rhoades interpretation.

 

As most know, Jessica' father, Hugh, died in the opening episode leading to an inheritance plot that goes nowhere until about August 1989. This is a recurring issue in the early episodes of "Generations"; something will be introduced, but only be discussed for episodes on end (Ruth talks about buying the Whitmore house in episode 2 or 3, but she doesn't purchase it until November and there is little conflict in between.) Anyway, Jessica, fresh from rehab, arrives in Chicago to deal with the funeral and to learn her son, Hugh Gardner II, has inherited the family fortune. Again, this plot point is discussed every now and again, but no real effort is made to find him for several weeks.

 

Rhoades' Jessica fits in well in a very well intention story structure. As a houseguest of Trevor and Laura McCallum, Jessica is in contact with Laura (her childhood friend), JD (Laura's down on his luck rock star brother), and Trevor (Laura's successful husband). Each relationship is well developed and its clear the early plan was an affair between Jessica and Trevor, which would force Laura to divorce Trevor and see how Laura handle the circumstances that her mother was dealt with when Peter Whitmore ran off on her. The problem is nothing really pops. Jessica and Laura revisiting their childhood friendship is a nice layer, but its hard to see Rhoades' Jessica pursuing Massett's Trevor while on the wagon. Maybe the plan was for Jessica to fall off again and, for Trevor, while attempting to play savior, to fall into a passionate affair with Jessica. If that was the case, none of that played out. Instead, the show plays Jessica's alcoholism as a secret (it could ruin her career!) and allow Trevor in on only to have Jessica have a surprise hook up with fellow addict Rob Donnelly. I believe I'm missing the episode where Rob and Jessica first meet, but it comes out of almost nowhere.

 

Rhoades spends a lot of her time with Gerard Prendergast's JD Whitmore, Laura's rock star brother. JD is trying to reunite his band, Men of Essence, but needs the money to finance their new album. Enter Jessica- the 'heiress' who JD grew up pining for. JD and Jessica have some sweet moments: JD provides Jessica with a picture of her EP to through darts at, but there is little build. JD is given little to do outside of his relationship with Jessica, which doesn't progress very far. JD and Jessica split when Trevor realizes JD wants Jessica to finance his new album even though JD admits to Laura he has very real feelings for Jessica.

 

Most of the time, though, Jessica is waiting to learn whether or not she will return to her role on "Tomorrow is Another Day." So Rhoades is only occasionally given significant beats to play, but when she does, she does well. One smaller moment that stood out was Jessica and Laura chatting about the graduation party thrown for the younger set at the fancy upscale Le Charmare (sp?). Jessica notes the interaction between Laura and Ruth Marshall and Jessica states that Ruth has avoided the typical pitfalls of the nouveau riche by patterning herself off of Laura, which by itself is an interesting comparison. I think Rhoades worked better when Jessica was in a world that intended to be more drawing room drama than crazy aunts jumping out of airplanes.

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I can see why people liked Kyle and Sam. The early stages of their romance is very well done. Rutherford grew so much as an actress in such a short period of time. I think the writers did a good job fleshing out Kyle. I think the show also did a good job giving Sam significant reason to be attracted to both men: Kyle is strong, charismatic, and loves her because she of her passion for life while Jordan is suave, rich, and has lived a life of loneliness that Sam can relate to. George Shannon does a good job to avoid coming off as too creepy. I truly believe that Jordan's interest in her is not just sexual, but maybe I'm a fool.

 

It was nice to see Robert Wilson (ex-Channing, Jr, SB and ex-Chase, SFT) and Pat Tallman (who previous appeared as one of Jason's lingerie models during the Leather and Lace storyline) as Brad and Christy Russell. It's a shame that the show recasts Christy and goes in a completely different direction with those characters.

 

There's also a lot of nice overlap in terms of story. The introduction of Hale hotel has taken a lot of random story threads and given them a place to bump into each other. I didn't care for George Deloy as the put upon professor, but I do like him in this brief clips where he defends and empathizes with Dr. Daniel Reubens (who I think has just begun to appear, these clips are from January 1990). The Jessica-Sam rivalry gives both women are strong sparring partner. The insinuations about Jessica being one of Jordan's abandoned flames was interesting. The Hale Hotel uniforms must have kept the cost of costumes down.   

 

I think my favorite bit is Kyle and Sam reuniting to "Here and Now." I've only shipped a few couples in my soap viewing, but I could see why the (few) viewers watching loved Kyle and Sam.

 

It's funny to hear people talking about Sally Sussman Morina's work on Y&R because this material is so strong, but the earlier stuff has a lot of trademarks of the complaints I'm hearing now. Did SSM return to Y&R after GENERATIONS was cancelled? When she was trying to write a Chicago version of Y&R, it didn't work. This faster paced, more comical, more romantic storytelling is definitely more in line with what NBC was looking for during that time period.

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