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If Douglas Marland Had Lived...


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Marland died in March 1993, and as we approach the 20th anniversary of his passing, I just wanted to reflect on the man's career and speculate on the path he would have charted had he lived longer. I would argue that 1993 was pretty much the last truly good year of soaps, but the wheels were really starting to come off for the genre at that time, particularly at PGP.

My guess is that Marland probably would have lasted another 2-3 years at ATWT, and then he probably would have retired, like Nancy Curlee did at GL. But perhaps he have given it the old college try like Claire Labine, testing the waters at different soaps before concluding that network interference was simply too much? Would JFP have tried to nab him to return to GL or AW? Could he have found a place on a writing staff, maybe at Y&R, or was he simply too accustomed to head-writing alone?

I miss the guy...I still watch episodes from his golden age at ATWT and marvel at the purity and honesty of his characters.

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If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: had Doug Marland lived, there's no doubt in my mind that PGP eventually would have transferred him to ANOTHER WORLD (probably around '94 or so). Might he have been able to save that show? Frankly, that's hard to say. Between the sponsors and the network, Marland would have fought an uphill battle, to say the least. As it was, Marland's reputation at AS THE WORLD TURNS had been tarnished slightly due to the "Who Stole Carolyn Crawford?" story. If NBC and/or PGP had interfered with his work at AW, he might have suffered the same fate as Claire Labine: a master soap scribe, once widely acclaimed, ending his career on a bad note.

From there, I see Doug Marland either developing his own show (which he actually was in the process of doing when he died, composing a bible for a new soap opera) or leaving the industry altogether. But I don't see him retiring as a writer. Instead, I see him writing the occasional mystery novel or play, keeping himself busy creatively, yet free from the grind of writing soap opera five days a week, fifty weeks a year.

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Could he have found a place on a writing staff, maybe at Y&R, or was he simply too accustomed to head-writing alone?

I don't think so. I think Marland relished the role of HW too much to go back to writing "meager" breakdowns and scripts. Perhaps, though, ABCD would have retained him as an overall consultant?

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I would say that Douglas Marland would have left soaps after to much network interfering began to happen. He was unhappy at General Hospital in the 1970's and left due to the direction that Gloria Monty wanted to take Luke and Laura. He seemed like a person that knew that if you left him and the genre alone that it would have survived in a different manner that is has today. I like his work that he did on ATWT but I think he would have been out by 1994-1995 as P&G began their dismantling of the soaps they produced. I also believe that during his time network heads knew they had someone who could do the job without their insight into the storylines and that no matter what they did not need to worry. He was trained under Harding Lemey at AW during the 1970's. He had Lemey and Paul Racuh influence to help him do what he did best. He, Claire Labine and Agnes Nixon to me are the last of the golden generation of soaps.

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He probably would have done thankless consulting work for both PGP and ABC, like Harding Lemay did.

I don't think so. I think Marland relished the role of HW too much to go back to writing "meager" breakdowns and scripts. Perhaps, though, ABCD would have retained him as an overall consultant?

I had a feeling that might have been his fate.

It would have been interesting to see if he would have had more creative control than the writers who led AW into the mid-'90s and ultimately its demise. Marland was a writer who really cared about community, and well, we know how most of the soaps dismantled any sense of community around that time.

He would have been interesting at GL, post-Curlee. He might have made something of the Coopers.

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If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: had Doug Marland lived, there's no doubt in my mind that PGP eventually would have transferred him to ANOTHER WORLD (probably around '94 or so). Might he have been able to save that show? Frankly, that's hard to say. Between the sponsors and the network, Marland would have fought an uphill battle, to say the least. As it was, Marland's reputation at AS THE WORLD TURNS had been tarnished slightly due to the "Who Stole Carolyn Crawford?" story.

I could see that. Especially after the panic of 1994 when the OJ Simpson murder investigation started and P&G started playing musical chairs with all their headwriters and EP's. BTW: Not familiar, so was wondering what was the "Who Stole Carolyn Crawford?" story and why was his reputation tarnished from it? :)

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snapback.pngGray Bunny, on 01 September 2012 - 03:58 PM, said:

I could see that. Especially after the panic of 1994 when the OJ Simpson murder investigation started and P&G started playing musical chairs with all their headwriters and EP's. BTW: Not familiar, so was wondering what was the "Who Stole Carolyn Crawford?" story and why was his reputation tarnished from it? smile.png

They mean the "Who Killed Carolyn Crawford?" mystery that devolved into a year-plus long trainwreck. Probably mostly because they switched murderers midstream (due to Rex Smith's popularity, supposedly) and worked overtime to rehab Rex Smith's character (Darryl). A year was too long to draw out a murder mystery involving tangental characters with murky ties to core Oakdale citizens. If not for the fact Darryl turned out to be the father of Barbara's daughter Jennifer, there would have been nothing significant to tie him to the canvas.

It was sort of like a mash-up of Suspicion and a standard "oops, I slept with that guy before you did, sis" love triangle (since Darryl became involved with Barbara's half-sister Frannie.)

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I always envisioned Marland as a writer who hated ANY interference, no matter who it came from... had he lived, I think he would have given up writing save for being a network consultant or a writer emeritus...

When you consider this is the guy who quit Guiding Light because Allen Potter fired Jane Eliot... I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing, because GL was really on fire back then and Potter almost doused the flames with that dumb move. :)

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What I never understood was the need to have Darryl and Barbara wearing different hairstyles and Darryl with that Roaring Twenties mustache for the flashbacks.

That's one of those slick "hit'em over the head to remind them time has passed" directorial moves.

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It's a shame, because the Carolyn Crawford Murder Mystery actually started out pretty well. There were a lot of neat elements to it...the wheelchair-bound victim, the unfaithful husband, the mysterious baby-surrogate, the connection to Barbara and Frannie, etc. And who can forget that great scene when Frannie goes to the deserted ski chalet (great location shot, btw), and she is trapped with Daryl on the moving ski transport?

The problem was that the story just went on and on. Carolyn wasn't on long enough before she was killed to have anybody care about her. And the ending? Wasn't she killed by Gavin Krueger, who never even shared a scene with her when she was alive? And it wasn't even Gavin who killed her, it was just some flunky. Awful ending, but I enjoyed Mary Ellen Stuart's turn as Frannie, who did a great job following Julianne Moore.

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