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Best & Worst Soaps: Less than 10 Years On Air Division

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GH has had some good years and bad years.  GL had good decades and bad decades.  But, which soap did you watch from the first episode to the last and truly enjoyed?  I'm talking shows that lasted less than 10 years, but you tried to stick with them the whole time.

 

BEST

 

Somerset - (1970-1976) - the first show that I watched from the beginning.  I didn't think of the off-tonal shifts while watching (I was very young), but I swear it is what started my fear of clowns and my love of Joel Crothers.  It was the first show that I consciously remember ending because we watched NBC soaps, it seemed novel for a soap to end. 

 

Capitol (1982-1987) - I loved Slone Denning, I loved her wedding dress, I loved her way of speaking, and I loved how sophisticated she was despite her shut-in harpsichord-playing mother.  It was campy in the most fun way because it never intentionally leaned into the turbans, hookers with a heart of gold, and secret foreign princes like some other soaps (cough, cough GH)

 

Rituals (1984-1985)/Dangerous Women (1991) - two attempts at "tea-time" syndicated soaps.  I was attracted to the trashy qualities of both shows.  Dangerous Women was a reboot of Prisoner Cell Block H which was a late night guilty pleasure for me.  Valerie Wildman starred, later she played Dylan's father's girlfriend on 90210 and Nicole's mother on DAYS, but I always remember her running a B&B for ladies to stay right out of prison. 

 

WORST

Generations (1989-1991) - One of the greatest theme songs of all time.  However, it never felt as if anything significant happened in the plot.  The one big reveal was that Adam Marshall had impregnated Doreen Jackson who was married to his father's new business partner.  The fallout of that reveal was mitigated by recasts and new loves; so there was no payoff after a year of story.  For example, her baby was kidnapped (off-screen) and then she got it back (off-screen). There were some other minor mysteries and character development, but it always felt as if it was trying to get off the ground only to reimagine itself halfway through. 

 

How to Survive a Marriage (1974-1975), or How do you survive watching people endlessly navel-gazing for thirty minutes?  It was soooo boring, no wonder there are very few digital copies, most people probably fell asleep trying to transfer it.  I will admit that being in nursery school may have affected my critique, but I just recall how slow it was day after day.

 

Texas (1980-1982) - How do you send Iris Cory to Texas and not let her be a bitch to anyone but Paige?  All of the older male cast were as unconvincingly romantic as their hair color.  You know there are problems casting men opposite Beverlee McKinsey when Alex Wheeler was shot twice in a year, excusing him from scenes, and Eliot Carrington may, or may not, have killed a village of children in Vietnam (even his PTSD wouldn't excuse him from slapping Iris when he found out he wasn't Dennis's father).

Edited by j swift

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I enjoyed A World Apart, although I cannot say that I watched it in the beginning.   My market had no ABC affiliate, so the only ABC soap operas that were aired here were General Hospital (on the mainly CBS affiliate) and Dark Shadows (on the mainly NBC affiliate.)    I am not sure if I would have liked the beginning (with Elizabeth Lawrence and Anna Minot), but a commercial with Kathleen Maguilre for the show aired during the Dark Shadows finale.  I decided to watch the show (The commercial proposed to stop watching what was one usually watched - Search for Tomorrow - and to give a new show a try.), and I immediately liked Ms. Maguire and James Noble (who I knew that I knew, but could not remember him as Donald Hughes on As the World Turns).

 

I also watched loved Dark Shadows during its entime run.  I cannot remember if I saw the very first episode or not, but I know that I saw the second one.

 

Love Is a Many Splendored Thing is another show that I watched throughout the run.  It picked up after Irna Phillips resigned as its writer and Jane and Ira Avery became the writers.    With the quadrangle of Laura, Mark, Iris, and Spence, this show was clearly the hippest thing on television.   Plus other wonderful characters such as Jean Hurley Manning, Helen Elliott Donnelly, Nikki Cabot, Angel and Pete Chernak, Betsy Chrernak and Joe Taylor - this show was absolutely the best thing on CBS.

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I loved Dangerous Women. I hated when it was cancelled. It was pure soapy fun. I could could never get into Port Charles. I did like the first supernatural arc. After that i got tired of all the bad supernatural arcs. I hated them killing of both Eve and Karen.

Edited by victoria foxton

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Despite its' MANY flaws, CAPITOL is probably the ONLY short-lived soap that I love and miss to this day.

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Sunset Beach...a soap with endless promise.  It oddly seemed more like a 3 year telenovela than a soap.

 

Generations and Capital had cliffhangers..just like real life (life goes on)..but a soap is a story..and it felt unfinished.

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Port Charles, loved and watched it from beginning to end

 

I always enjoyed Generations, can't say I watched it religiously, but I liked it

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2 hours ago, dragonflies said:

Port Charles, loved and watched it from beginning to end

My problem with Port Charles was that from serial killers to vampires all of the romantic storylines were in quadrangles.  Lucy/Eve/Ian/Kevin (and sometimes Scotty), Karen/Joe/Frank/Courtney, & Alison/Rafe/Caleb/Livvie were just placed in endless permutations without any rooting value as to the outcome.  

 

Isn't odd how a 19-year-old soap can look so dated?  So many frosted tips, unflattering low-rise pants, and crop-tops; and that was just the men's wardrobe...

Edited by j swift

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No love for Santa Barbara here? When it was good, it was awesome! (And when it was bad, a la the last year or two, it was painful.) still, it seemed to get a lot of love and a cult following for only 8.5 years on the air.

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22 minutes ago, Wendy said:

No love for Santa Barbara here? When it was good, it was awesome! (And when it was bad, a la the last year or two, it was painful.) still, it seemed to get a lot of love and a cult following for only 8.5 years on the air.

Santa Barbara has always been my top soap...and one of my favorite TV shows period. I watched from the beginning to the end. When it was hitting on all cylinders it was off the chain good!

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3 hours ago, Wendy said:

When it was good, it was awesome!

 

Yes, it was.  Patrick Mulcahey and Frank Salisbury were and are the best dialogue writers in the business, bar none.  But, SB might have been TOO different (for daytime) to have any real staying power.  Plus, was it just me, or did anyone else who watched notice how the writers tended to throw out or cut short even the stuff that WAS working?  It's as if Chuck Pratt, Jr., or whoever was HW'ing the show at the moment, had an extremely short attention span.

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11 minutes ago, Khan said:

 

Yes, it was.  Patrick Mulcahey and Frank Salisbury were and are the best dialogue writers in the business, bar none.  But, SB might have been TOO different (for daytime) to have any real staying power.  Plus, was it just me, or did anyone else who watched notice how the writers tended to throw out or cut short even the stuff that WAS working?  It's as if Chuck Pratt, Jr., or whoever was HW'ing the show at the moment, had an extremely short attention span.

Stories moved very quickly sometimes! And many characters came and went as a result. I often think it was a show way ahead of its time.

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On 5/22/2019 at 6:05 PM, j swift said:

How to Survive a Marriage (1974-1975), or How do you survive watching people endlessly navel-gazing for thirty minutes?  It was soooo boring, no wonder there are very few digital copies, most people probably fell asleep trying to transfer it.  I will admit that being in nursery school may have affected my critique, but I just recall how slow it was day after day.

 

Nursery school? So you must have been born in 1971-ish, and watched HTSAM when you were 3-4 years old?

 

I agree that being a toddler, or just slightly older than one, will affect how any very young child will perceive and react to a TV show or film.

 

I felt HTSAM was schizophrenic, mainly due to its huge shifts in storytelling quality. When it premiered, it was written by Anne Howard Bailey and featured several strident "talking heads," pontificating on women's liberation and wives' need to have lives separate from her husbands'. The principle problem was: the characters were flat, cardboard, and not particularly interesting or likeable. As a viewer, I did not want to be lectured to, LOL.

 

The third and final writer before the show's cancellation was Margaret DePriest, who presented us with her usual tepid, functional-but-generally bland material. I had trouble sitting through both Bailey's and DePriest's reign as headwriter.

 

The middle third of the series, however, was written by Rick Edelstein, who was wonderful. He was never better than when he was writing this series, IMHO. He predicated his scripts on intense interpersonal-relationship conflict, with multi-dimensional characters whom the audience could relate to and care about, even if we did not always agree with their choices or behavior; characters who were nuanced in shades of gray rather rather painted in black-and-white terms. The tone and presentation of HTSAM under Edelstein's pen was very much like Harding Lemay's handling of Another World in the early 1970s: thoughtful, adult drawing-room drama.

 

Unfortunately, from past experience, I knew that if a new soap premiered and proved itself to be dreadful right from the get-go, the initially-interested audience may be turned off and never have any incentive to give the show a second look later on. Anne Howard Bailey and NBC executive Lin Bolin crippled HTSAM from the start just by giving us subpar material. I think if it had been kept in a comfortable time-slot, Edelstein's writing and the excellent performances by several members of the cast could have given HTSAM a fighting chance, but when the network shifted the series to air against ATWT, that was the fatal blow. ATWT was a Nielsen powerhouse back then, with a rating of 10.8 and a 37 share. Poor HTSAM, even when it was brilliantly written, never stood a chance. But when this program was good, it was great, and I am grateful to have been there to see it. 

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Rick Edelstein seemed to have been a great writer all around, even though he wrote only for HTSAM and THE DOCTORS.  It's a shame he moved onto primetime.

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31 minutes ago, Khan said:

Rick Edelstein seemed to have been a great writer all around, even though he wrote only for HTSAM and THE DOCTORS.  It's a shame he moved onto primetime.

 

Humanity shines through the work of some writers (like Claire Labine and Pamela Long), and I would put Edelstein in that category, particularly for his sublime work on HTSAM. I was sorry to see him leave daytime (he would have been a good fit at Another World--much better than Tom King--upon Harding Lemay's departure from that program.

 

Still, daytime's loss was primetime's gain. Edelstein even managed to bring humanity to scripts for Starky and Hutch (!!!), which was remarkable to witness.

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I always will enjoy the first 3-4 years of Passions, 1999-2003ish. I can always re-watch those years and still be entertain.....not so much 04-08 Passions.

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