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The Story of Soaps Primetime Special


Marco Dane

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John Stamos posted a few old backstage photos last night.

 

 

Another big problem of the special is that soaps were treated as one singular thing. There was no labeling of clips, much less anything to let anyone stumbling in know that Luke and Laura were a completely different show in a completely different time as Marlena levitating off the bed.

 

It's befuddling that telenovelas weren't mentioned at all, or that nearly nearly every nation with a network has tried soaps at some point. And you've got Carol Burnett, why not talk about her show's sendup of soaps, As the Stomach Turns? 

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1 minute ago, AbcNbc247 said:

Interesting.

 

I'll have to check this out when it debuts.

Its a fan made thing but they got big names. Jack smith is a story consultant. They got a guiding light alum to play a character.

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5 minutes ago, Dylan said:

Its a fan made thing but they got big names. Jack smith is a story consultant. They got a guiding light alum to play a character.

Yeah. It's written by the same guy who writes There's Always Tomorrow on here. I'm enjoying that, so maybe I'll enjoy this too.

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4 hours ago, GLATWT88 said:

 

I'm not sure if this is it, but it was so long ago that I don't really remember much. I believe it may have been later in the 90s and it was a daytime special or aired during daytime. Perhaps, a special for ABC soaps. All I remember was mention of Luke and Laura, their wedding, and they played the ambulance intro to GH. I also believe they mentioned lots of soap weddings. I was fascinated by it as a kid and I remember there being lots of clips from soaps...not poor blurry ones like we had on this Story of Soaps. I tried searching for it online some years later, but there's so much more uploaded online these days I'm sure it may be up somewhere or it may actually be this. I'm positive this special was on during daytime, because my mom and sister were home and I was either home for a holiday or summer vacation. 

 

P.S. I recognize your name from another forum I used to be on some time ago. 

This was a cute moment. I love when celebrities share their love for soaps and this made me smile, because it was hilarious. I also enjoyed Kristian Alfonso's story about the male soap fan. I feel like the special would have done better having random moments like that and showing clips from major moments in soap history rather than trying to fit in so much in so little time and essentially not covering much at all because it was too much for the allotted time. 

Yes, I was really surprised by that. Even on the acting credits listed next to her name they only mentioned General Hospital. I thought it was shady and really weird. She was on GL for a very long time it wasn't just a blip in her resume. Some of the commentators had credits of stints that didn't even last a year to tie them to the soap world. 

You recognize me from another forum?  Uh OH...  Are you sure you're not thinking of the ABC special devoted to the weddings of AMC/OLTL and GH?  It was marketed as a video tape but may have aired on tv too.  (I have a copy somewhere).

Those credits were often wrong--they never mentioned Brown writing Loving or co-creating The City for example (and also listed all the dates he was at the shows--as headwriter or just as script writer, but I guess that's understandable).

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2 hours ago, mikelyons said:

I'm going to pour a big cocktail before watching this over the weekend.

He's right! My dad - 6'2", owned a landscaping company, loved to fish, loved sports, a real man's man - LOVED Jesse and Angie, Adam Chandler, and Erica Kane. You'd never guess it, but that's what happens when network execs and lazy "journalists" assume. 

You know, usually the assumption that men don't watch soaps drives me crazy, but it didn't particularly in this special for some reason.  I felt that they DID make the point that men watched soaps.  It's true that the second (third?) segment was all about "by women for women" or whatever, which I can see ruffling feathers.  That said, I think it is a very important part of the soap opera narrative that traditionally these were stories aimed at women and often made by women.  That's a *huge* reason that they have not had much respect historically, and I think it's important to acknowledge that.  I know no one here is doing this, but elsewhere I've seen male viewership used as an indication of quality.  "I loved Edge of Night--did you know it had a large male viewership?  That's because it was so good."  (It's similar to how the press and others used to like to give soaps some legitimacy by naming all the celebrity fans--you know, it's not just something those uneducated housewives like!).  I think Eric Braeden is over-focusing on this element of the special when there's other stuff to complain about.

58 minutes ago, Titus Andronicus said:

John Stamos posted a few old backstage photos last night.

 

Another big problem of the special is that soaps were treated as one singular thing. There was no labeling of clips, much less anything to let anyone stumbling in know that Luke and Laura were a completely different show in a completely different time as Marlena levitating off the bed.

 

It's befuddling that telenovelas weren't mentioned at all, or that nearly nearly every nation with a network has tried soaps at some point. And you've got Carol Burnett, why not talk about her show's sendup of soaps, As the Stomach Turns? 

Oh, I get only focusing on American soaps.  I think it simply becomes WAY too broad to mention the soap tradition in other countries (and then you kinda have to go into how they are similar and yet so different in many ways). 

But I mentioned how they should have at *least* labelled those clips (which would not have been hard at all) and maybe dated them too.  As I said, it felt like the show both wanted to be accessible for soap newbies, and yet assumed an awful lot of knowledge from its audiences (even when they name drop, say, Gloria Monty they don't clearly say what exactly her role was at GH.  Or when they did their Irna and Agnes Nixon mentions--couldn't they at least write on the screen the soap operas they created??)

2 hours ago, Aback said:


Absolutely. My father was a truck driver. Obsessed with B&B. Same for my brother. 
 

My Uncle was an accountant and he would not go to meetings or pay any attention to his daughters when Loving was on. 

Ah but they are European so it doesn't count

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3 hours ago, YRfan23 said:

God bless Eric Braeden!

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I'm always here for EB cutting up, especially when he's completely justified with his ire, but I have to disagree with Chris Evans's "especially Y&R" comment. Y&R was definitely the most present CBS soap - it's not saying a LOT, but you definitely saw more of Y&R than you did of GL, ATWT, or even B&B (which I'm not sure was even included at all). There were some early 80s Nikki clips they kept showing.

 

2 hours ago, DramatistDreamer said:

I didn't watch but do folks agree with this sentiment?


I do. You can even see it here lol Within the first hour, Faulkner and myself both said it was well-done, but our comments took a turn for the negative as the special nosedived.

I'm glad EB and Chrishell are sharing their thoughts and I hope others did/do, as well. ABC needs to know from actual soap performers that this was not good.
 

1 hour ago, DramatistDreamer said:

I think you'd need to go back farther than this, tbh. The soap opera started on radio (1930s and 40s) and any series that dismisses that aspect, or the first Golden Age of Television in the 1950s and 1960s wouldn't be doing the in depth type of coverage that the genre deserves.  Covering the breadth and depth of soaps speaks to its longevity which is critical in giving it a modicum of respect that it deserves, imo.


I would absolutely adore this. Ken Burns's Country Music really set the bar for how to track and analyze the history of a pop culture phenomenon. It wasn't perfect, especially as it got to the end (but I get it - it was easy to address everything under the country music umbrella when the umbrella was smaller in the 1920s-1950s, once the genre blew up and exploded in the 1960s and beyond, you had to pick and choose what you'd highlight). That special had this amazing "from the roots up" feel about it that would work so well with soaps, especially when you consider country music and soaps were both born in the late 1920s and grew in popularity during the Great Depression.
 

49 minutes ago, BetterForgotten said:

Hell, Irna Phillips herself deserves a 3 hour documentary devoted entirely to her. 


Wasn't someone at some point talking about writing a play based on her life? Someone who actually had the ability to do it and get it produced, I mean.

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2 hours ago, Faulkner said:

Yes, definitely seemed like it was dancing on daytime’s grave. As if they were a thing of the past and there’s no need for them to exist anymore. 

Yeah, there’s no way this would fly on a network, especially after those ratings. But who needs the networks anymore. That’s actually part of the story they *didn’t* want to tell: that the big broadcast networks and their precious primetime programming have become just as irrelevant as the daytime soaps they’ve relegated to the ancient past.

 

But yeah we’ve been begging for a Ken Burns-style documentary series. Maybe even PBS would be good, but a streaming service would be ideal.

One of the talking heads did point out with a smile how the ratings for a current primetime hit on network tv would have gotten that show canceled twenty five years ago--but oddly she didn't point out that soaps also had higher ratings than nearly everything on primetime tv does now.

The odd thing about the show becoming more negative about soaps in the last quarter was they did have all these people talking about how they were dead--and then in the fianl bit before the credits it seemed like they did a 180 and were all "we need escapism!  everyone must watch the remaining soaps".  Like other segments, it definitely was a mixed message.

A couple of years back PBS had a series about TV history that had an episode devoted to soaps.  And it was ALL about the rise of primetime soaps post Dallas...

2 hours ago, DRW50 said:

 

How do you go from that to working with a producer who consistently puts out anti-gay material? He was at OLTL at a time when they told viewers that gay men fake hate crimes to get attention and sympathy. What bullshit.

I mean I agree with you, but I can't blame him for sticking around in his job at all.  Especially with so little alternatives to work in the industry--I hate to say it but I doubt I would behave any differently in his shoes.

1 hour ago, Faulkner said:

Hell, I’d be into a doc that starts with Dickens/newspaper serials and the Greeks and sh!t like that. I totally want to an opportunity to geek out and watch something over and over again. And learn.

There's such meaty material that can be used here too.  I know when I was doing my MA thesis for English and connecting soaps to the infamous Victorian sensation serials (particularly from "the sensational [18]60s") the parallels were astounding.  Sensation serials were read particularly by women, and, increasingly, written by women, the basically perfected plot points like amnesia, people thrown down wells, doppelgangers, etc, while also craftily integrating taboo social issues into their storylines, they increased serialization from monthly to weekly which caused a lot of (snobby, often male and upper class) intellectuals to fear that they were addicting their readers like a drug and those readers could no longer tell what was real and what wasn't (exactly the fear that radio soaps caused), etc, etc.  I know a number of people who came to my various MA presentations with zero knowledge of soap operas told me how fascinating they found it all--there's definitely work to make a compelling doc series...

1 hour ago, Soapsuds said:

Are you Chris Van Etten? That's what he said on the show.

I'm in the same boat--I was 12, and noticed the Billy storyline so started setting my recorder to tape OLTL after AMC, but always made sure to watch it when my mom wasn't home...

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