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I’ve Heard This One Before: Stories Head Writers Did Over and Over (And Over)

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1 minute ago, applcin said:

WIth Claire Labine, as well-written and topical as her stories were on GH, she basically dished out a triple series of heavy-hitting, tragic medical storylines: BJ's death, Stone's AIDS and Monica's breast cancer. She definitely wanted to go for the realistic, heavy-hitting topics, that would get people thinking and talking.

And sadly, people ended up tuning out in the end. On the flip-side, she also played up the mob element via Sonny which has been prominent ever since. 

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Y&R - Victor had a guy in a cage in the basement (or something) and then he did it with Lisa Mansfield kidnapping Brad and keeping him in a cage.  

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21 minutes ago, BetterForgotten said:

And sadly, people ended up tuning out in the end. On the flip-side, she also played up the mob element via Sonny which has been prominent ever since. 

It started with Luke & Laura and Frank Smith though.  They brought the mob back with them, and then Labine’s team used that to give Sonny a purpose post Karen.  Then Brenda happened.  At that time he barely had scenes away from Luke’s story.  Tony even told him to go talk to the writers about a background or family or else he was going to be Luke’s sidekick.

 

It is sad that the audience turned away from what they were doing, but it was a lot of heavy and sad drama in three years.  Some of it not planned- Mary Mae Ward.  But still sad times on the show. 

 

In hindsight, I loved that period but it needed some balance.  The Brenda wire thing happening at the same time Stone was dying really upset that section of the show, even if it was compelling drama.  And I loved Lois and Ned, but they were not enough lightness to keep the show balanced.

 

Guiding Light under Curlee, before Beverlee and Sherry Stringfield both quit might be my ideal soap period of the 1990’s.  And I mostly saw that on YouTube, but it just sparkles and has great balance.

 

 

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And the 'lightness' she did have, like Lucy often becoming an over the top comedic cartoon, was a little too heavy-handed. IMO, Lucy was one of those character who was more interesting pre-Labine. 

 

Truth be told, Labine also had a fascination with the mob on Ryan's Hope, and after GH, she also played up the mob element on GL. That's one of the things that's been consistent in her work. 

Edited by BetterForgotten

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The other thread discussion about villains and the subsequent debate over whether the character of Roger Thorpe (Guiding Light) was or wasn't a villain sent me to Wikipedia to look up the character's history on the show and I came across a storyline (presumably from the late 70s or early 80s?) that bears a resemblance to a storyline that I just watched on YouTube from July 1993. 

Roger had followed Holly and his daughter Christina (A.K.A. Blake) to Santo Domingo, where Ed and Mike Bauer were in hot pursuit (presumably, they'd discovered that Roger was trying to find Holly and Blake and wanted to stop him) resulting in a confrontation, once Roger had captured Holly and proceeded to take her along against her will.  Shots were exchanged and Ed kicked Roger over a fence that led over a cliff.  Roger struggled to hold on and Ed tried to grab Roger's arm to pull him up and save his life but Roger lost his grip and fell over the cliff (where, for a time he was presumed dead).

Fast forward to 1993.

Roger's former lawyer (played by P&G designated bad guy and actor Larry Pine) who was blackmailing him for $3million over a favor/dirty deed he had performed on Roger's behave and proceeded to try to find a way to punish Roger for reneging on the money he owed, quickly realized that Holly was Roger's spot of vulnerability, so he tracked Roger, after Roger, (having returned a lost locket to Michelle Bauer, found out that Holly was taking Michelle to a secluded house...wait for it...overlooking a cliff) followed Holly and Michelle to where they were staying for the Fourth Of July holiday.  Roger showed up with sparklers and fireworks and convinced an excited Michelle and reluctant Holly to stay for the celebration while unbeknownst to him, his former lawyer is waiting below, disabling Roger's car.  At the end of the night, Holly thanks Roger for the fireworks but insists that Roger has to leave.  Roger gets to his car, which won't start and decides to sleep in the car. This lawyer shows up at Holly's door, Holly thinks it's Roger but soon after opening the door to tell Roger that he cannot stay inside, discovers that it is not Roger and is soon taken hostage.  Roger, decides he cannot sleep in the car because it's too cold and goes to try to convince Holly to let him sleep on the sofa and soon discovers that Holly is in distress after she flashes the outdoor lights.  Ed, after a oddly cryptic phone call with Holly (he had called to check on Michelle), makes his way to the house and runs into Roger, and the two struggle until Roger gets Ed to understand what has happened to Holly.  The two plot how to gain entry inside.  

 

Of course once one gets inside, the struggle between the three men spills out onto the balcony...wait for it...overlooking the cliff.  The lawyer goes straight over the railing and falls to his death with Ed hanging on, dangling over the balcony and the cliff.  Roger grabs Ed's arm as Ed struggles to hold on.  In a twist, Ed's grasp does not slip and Roger is able to hold onto him and pull him up over the railing and back onto the balcony/deck.  Whereas Ed was unable to "save" Roger from falling over the cliff, Roger was able to prevent Ed from falling over the cliff-side house.

 

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Hogan Sheffer literally spent back to back summers having characters marooned on the same deserted island. The first summer, Lily and Simon were stranded there (while Rose took over Lily's life and no one realized the real Lily was missing) and the next, Katie went there. (I forget why, exactly...)

 

Sheffer had a knack for recycling his own material. And considering he only lasted five years, is kind of pathetic. 

 

And didn't Passanante have rep for killing off legacy children? She killed off Bryant from ATWT, and Morgan from GH

 

Marland had a real knack for writing teen heroines. There was Laura from GH, Morgan from GL and Lily from ATWT. (And on ATWT, he loved writing the poor little rich girl who found "realness" living on a farm....)

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4 minutes ago, Dr Neil Curtis said:

One of ATWT biggest mistakes!

 

Yep. I think with a stronger actor playing Bryant, the Craig/Bryant dynamic could have played out over years. 

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6 hours ago, DramatistDreamer said:

The other thread discussion about villains and the subsequent debate over whether the character of Roger Thorpe (Guiding Light) was or wasn't a villain sent me to Wikipedia to look up the character's history on the show and I came across a storyline (presumably from the late 70s or early 80s?) that bears a resemblance to a storyline that I just watched on YouTube from July 1993. 

 

Roger had followed Holly and his daughter Christina (A.K.A. Blake) to Santo Domingo, where Ed and Mike Bauer were in hot pursuit (presumably, they'd discovered that Roger was trying to find Holly and Blake and wanted to stop him) resulting in a confrontation, once Roger had captured Holly and proceeded to take her along against her will.  Shots were exchanged and Ed kicked Roger over a fence that led over a cliff.  Roger struggled to hold on and Ed tried to grab Roger's arm to pull him up and save his life but Roger lost his grip and fell over the cliff (where, for a time he was presumed dead).

Fast forward to 1993.

Roger's former lawyer (played by P&G designated bad guy and actor Larry Pine) who was blackmailing him for $3million over a favor/dirty deed he had performed on Roger's behave and proceeded to try to find a way to punish Roger for reneging on the money he owed, quickly realized that Holly was Roger's spot of vulnerability, so he tracked Roger, after Roger, (having returned a lost locket to Michelle Bauer, found out that Holly was taking Michelle to a secluded house...wait for it...overlooking a cliff) followed Holly and Michelle to where they were staying for the Fourth Of July holiday.  Roger showed up with sparklers and fireworks and convinced an excited Michelle and reluctant Holly to stay for the celebration while unbeknownst to him, his former lawyer is waiting below, disabling Roger's car.  At the end of the night, Holly thanks Roger for the fireworks but insists that Roger has to leave.  Roger gets to his car, which won't start and decides to sleep in the car. This lawyer shows up at Holly's door, Holly thinks it's Roger but soon after opening the door to tell Roger that he cannot stay inside, discovers that it is not Roger and is soon taken hostage.  Roger, decides he cannot sleep in the car because it's too cold and goes to try to convince Holly to let him sleep on the sofa and soon discovers that Holly is in distress after she flashes the outdoor lights.  Ed, after a oddly cryptic phone call with Holly (he had called to check on Michelle), makes his way to the house and runs into Roger, and the two struggle until Roger gets Ed to understand what has happened to Holly.  The two plot how to gain entry inside.  

 

Of course once one gets inside, the struggle between the three men spills out onto the balcony...wait for it...overlooking the cliff.  The lawyer goes straight over the railing and falls to his death with Ed hanging on, dangling over the balcony and the cliff.  Roger grabs Ed's arm as Ed struggles to hold on.  In a twist, Ed's grasp does not slip and Roger is able to hold onto him and pull him up over the railing and back onto the balcony/deck.  Whereas Ed was unable to "save" Roger from falling over the cliff, Roger was able to prevent Ed from falling over the cliff-side house.

 

 

Nancy Curlee did that on purpose.  IIRC, when Soap Opera Weekly covered those scenes in one issue, they interviewed Curlee, who talked up the similarities and parallels between the two storylines.

Edited by Khan

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7 hours ago, BetterForgotten said:

And sadly, people ended up tuning out in the end.

 

Yep.  That was especially true for Stone's battle with AIDS.  When you know how the story ends -- "he ain't gonna make it, folks!" -- what's the point of sticking around?  Does it really matter that the story is being told brilliantly and with great care?  At best, the element of suspense is gone.  At worst, it's just too depressing to know he's going to die from something too many of our own loved ones have succumbed to IRL.

 

Michael Malone faced a similar dilemma when he killed off Megan on OLTL.  As great as it was to see all the old clips w/ Viki narrating them, what was gonna happen once her daughter finally died from complications of lupus?  How was Malone gonna keep people from tuning out?  I think even Agnes Nixon told him, "Now what?," or words to that effect.

 

That's why I believe in the following axioms when it comes to writing soaps:

 

1.  Never give a character a disease that's terminal and incurable.  Viewers need a sense of hope.  Similarly, never have a character die from something that's actually treatable IRL unless you include significant complications.  Otherwise, you'll scare the hell out of real-life sufferers.

 

2. If you have to kill off a character, do it as quickly as possible.  The more time you get the audience used to the idea that a character has X amount of time to live, the more likely they are to revolt.

Edited by Khan

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When soaps were healthier in audience and talent behind the scenes, I think a storyline with an illness that leads to death is within the bounds of what soaps do best.

 

At no point has any other show provided such a realistic and hard watch of someone dying of AIDS.  All the setbacks and the degrading of Stone’s health.  I have watched people die that had AIDS.  People do need to see storytelling like that.  And Robin being HIV positive was the right move because that broke your heart and gave you some hope, because she wasn’t dying (at least not yet back then).

 

I feel the same way about similar stories on other shows.  But it was maybe a little too much for any audience to accept.  We had killed BJ and Bobbie and Tony were in near constant turmoil over it.  Monica had breast cancer and it was harrowing, including Paige’s death (Emily’s mom).  Stone slowly succumbing to AIDS lasted almost a year.  Robin was HIV positive.  It was a lot for one show in less than three years, even if it was wonderful television.

 

Today, however, the talents and the audience are not healthy enough to produce this material and they should avoid it.  Oscar I am looking at you.

 

I think killing people like Zach Brady on DAYS and Bryant and Jennifer on ATWT are the real problem.  They stopped building a future for their own shows and it destroyed them piece by piece.

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Yeah, Labine’s GH had too many grim stories happening all at once or in quick succession. It was too much. Real life can be tragic and depressing enough, and while I love watching a sad movie and having a good cry, very few people want to be immersed in that every single day, no matter how strong the writing is.

 

And I loved Claire, but her attempts at balancing the darkness with comic relief were far more “miss” than “hit.” I *loathed* her take on Lucy Coe.

 

But I do believe soaps have a unique opportunity and responsibility to delve into uncomfortable things (like terminal illness). The Stone story was one of the most challenging and deeply moving things I’ve seen on TV.

 

(Side note: I wish soaps had the guts to tell that type of deep story with a gay character, especially when we [and many members of the soap world] were dying in droves in the ‘80s. I know some people would argue it would have stigmatized us, but I say dramatizing the pain and suffering would have humanized us.)

 

And speaking of Claire, she loved her some mob. I knew she’d really hone in on Danny the mobster when she booked GL.

Edited by Faulkner

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