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Paul Raven

Lovers and Friends/For Richer For Poorer Discussion Thread

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Loved reading the opinion piece at the end. It sounds like the show wasn't very well liked... Lack of plot sometimes was a problem of Lemay's I take it, but you'd think by then he would know how to structure a soap better? The implied lack of feeling for the characters doesn't sound like Lemay though... I find all this fascinating.

Edited by EricMontreal22

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I wonder if Lemay knew how to structure a soap or not - at AW he brought other playwrights in as breakdown writers and seemed to restructure the soap to his tastes. This worked with AW because it had a strong past for viewers which he could still use, but L&F didn't.

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Some longtime AW fans insisted that Lemay/Rauch destroyed AW...while that's probably hyperbole I have often seen their point.

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Dumping the Matthews family (although that also went on after Lemay left), focusing on characters who left after a few years, bringing in the Frame siblings who were seen as mostly too unsympathetic or toxic for some to invest in. I don't know if this was a popular opinion or not. I do wonder sometimes as the show seemed to have little structure by the end of the 70s, and if Vicky Wyndham or Doug Watson had decided to leave I don't know what would have happened.

Sometimes those fans reminded me of Aunt Liz or Rachel when they used to tear into the Frames - something Lemay captured very well in his brief 1988 return.

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I find the opinion piece a bit odd. I believe in the summaries it mentioned Lester was promoted at the plant. He was now management and the suggestion was the management job would have pay for things. Everyone has the right to their opinion and the general consensus is there wasn't much plot in the traditional sense. Most soap books tend to take a neutral stance simply stating Lemay chose to give the audience massive amounts of backstory rather than revealing the details when it was more appropriate in terms of the story.

I don't get the references to the interaction seeming forced, but not having seen this all play out maybe I didn't see it.

Casting seems to be a serious issue, but there were people who could have done the heavy lifting.

I think it may have been a bad idea of having both Desmond / Megan and Rhett / Connie engaged unless the show planned on highlighting how each family reacted differently to the engagement. I think status consciencous Ellie should have been more concerned about what Mrs. Cushing might think of the idea of Rhett / Connie possibly living in sin and how that would reflect on Ellie and her behavior.

At times, I think the Saxton family was too large and question why Amy was a cousin rather than a sibling. It might have been more fascinating to see Amy enter a relationship with an alcoholic Austin having grown up with the dysfunction that came out of Lester's own drinking. Or maybe that was the point. Amy was close to the family, but didn't grow up in the household seeing how it could cause destruction.

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the problems I saw with the Lester / Josie marriage. Lester was a drunk who would chose booze over his wife and children. Wasn't this similar to Bill Bauer? Bert still managed to maintain the role as the head of her family. I wonder if Josie could have found a similar

I'm rambling, but I don't think the show was poorly structured. It was new and going through its growing pains. Most soaps go through it and "Lovers & Friends" just needed to find its groove.

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I wonder if it's because the new soaps of the 70s - with the exception of How to Survive a Marriage - seemed to be strong right off the bat (I'm not sure if Somerset counts as 70s as it was mostly created in 1969). And then the high expectations on Lemay and Rauch. It's strange though that the Digest was this critical. Perhaps that was just the phase at the time, as they were often critical of Mary Hartman.

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The soap press was very different in the 70s - much more independent and not reliant on the shows for material, so they didn't "owe" them anything - certainly not to the extent we see today where the shows control all the access to the actors, provide the publicity stills, the synopses, etc. They were free to review the shows as they saw them and not worry that they'd be cut off. They haven't even done reviews in SOD for the last twenty years or so because the press is completely in the pocket of the shows.

I think the biggest weakness in "Lovers and Friends" was the casting of the young leads, with the exception of Arrants and Jones (and Backus, who had the acting chops but wasn't a conventional leading man by any means). Who were these people? I mean, really, Patricia Estrin as the central heroine? She was adequate as Joan Barnard on AW, John Randolph's secretary, but she never had a storyline beyond a secret crush on John that never went anywhere (nearly all Lemay's minor characters had little things like this, plot points that never rose to the level of a real storyline). Lemay's contempt for the "popular" sorts of soap stars of the day (like Jacquie Courtney and George Reinholt) probably kept him from considering the sort of actor he really needed to draw in an audience for a new show. Surely there were some young, popular stars of the day that could have been cast, even with many of the competing shows looking at expansion, but you get the impression that if an actor had ever appeared on the cover of Daytime TV that Lemay wouldn't have considered him/her.

By the time they were preparing "Lovers" for its launch I think they were starting to believe a little too much in their own reviews. The hour-long AW was a hit and they had lots of critical acclaim, but what they had really done with the show was renovate it from an already existing foundation. They hadn't built it from the ground up and found with the new show that it wasn't enough to do the drawing room dialogue scenes with actors from the theatre. It needed more meat, more plot (remember that his highest AW ratings were with the Sven Petersen story, which was practically radio-style melodrama at times), AND some familiar faces that an already-existing soap audience might want to follow, but Lemay didn't want to do it that way.

With AW he already had an audience when he started, which he (mostly) convinced to go along with the ride, adding more viewers on the way, but he wasn't starting from zero. The new show probably got a lot of people who were relatively new to AW and liked what he was doing there, but it didn't necessarily attract the long-time viewers, who may have kept watching AW partly becuase of Lemay and Rauch, but also were still watching for other reasons that predated their tenure. And because L & R didn't really know what they needed to start out with, they didn't know how to fix it either, and "For Richer, for Poorer" seemed to suffer from too much (probably conflicting) input from outside.

Edited by BuckyB12

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Intersting analysis Bucky and very true that Lemay inherited a popular show that had Irna Phillips and Agnes Nixon in it's past. Cenedella was criticized for riding on the coattails of Nixons revamp and Lemay could be accused of the same in that he inherited Alice/Steve/Rachel and Lenore/Robert,Pat and John etc.

Yes,he took these characters in new directions but the foundations were there.

.Really,looking back,Iris and Mac were the only characters he created that made a long lasting impact, And they were terrific characters.

Part of that was that a lot of his characters were short lived,either by design or the fact that the actors didn't want to stay.

Did Lemay do any recasts,apart from Alice?

Of course,apart from any other issues,Lovers and Friends had to compete in a timeslot that NBC never had scheduled a soap, opposite SFT and RH,2 popular shows.

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Willis was recast. So was Emma. I think Mac was also recast. That was about it I think, under Lemay. The only major one in that was Willis as Mac and Emma were smaller roles pre-recast.

Bucky I am just fascinated by what you wrote. Do you think Daytime TV was more in the pocket than early Digest or were they all more free-minded? I know that soap history analysis said it was the Reinholt firing/Courtney leaving and all sides telling their stories that made the soap press grow up, as it were, but even before then the press seemed more mature than what we have now, which often seems like a press release.

If you had cast L&F who would you have cast in the roles?

The other thing I wonder about is that Rauch and Lemay seemed to have no time for actors who were not low-key and who did not keep a calm presence onset. Can a new soap have that and still continue? Or do they need some volatile, live-wire actors who communicate to the audience?

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Carl, I don't really think it was a matter of Rauch and LeMay preferring "low-key" actors ... Connie Ford, Dorothy Lyman and Vicky Wyndham were hardly shrinking violets. And Beverlee McKinsey was quite vocal in her displeasure over unprepared actors. (Ask Nic Coster.) But with those four, it was all about doing the best work possible. With Reinholt, it was all about his personal demons. I think Courtney was a relatively calm presence, but R&L just didn't "get" her work (to the show's everlasting detriment, I think).

As for the soap mags, I do remember them being much more independent. There were certainly a lot of fluffy profiles, but I have very fond memories of Afternoon TV, in particular -- it would run these very long, very detailed critiques of shows in the late 70s. Soaps got more superficial in the 80s, along with American culture in general, and soap mags followed suit. Soap Opera Weekly made some forays into critical thinking in the 90s – Ken Corday wouldn't even talk to them for awhile, he was so upset over something they printed. But those days are long gone.

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