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The Story of Soaps Primetime Special


Marco Dane

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4 minutes ago, EricMontreal22 said:

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...


Was that Pioneers of Television? In their defense, that was meant to focus on primetime soaps. In fact, the episode was titled "Primetime Soaps." The big mistake they made was ignoring Falcon Crest - how do you do Dallas, Dynasty, and Knots Landing without realizing that Falcon Crest completes the quadfecta?

When you look at the list of episodes, though, it does make you wonder if they decided to focus on primetime soaps because they either were overwhelmed by the expanse of daytime soap history or didn't think daytime soaps were worthy of recognition.

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22 minutes ago, EricMontreal22 said:




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...

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.

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...

 

Are there any sensation serials you'd recommend?

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38 minutes ago, mikelyons said:

Are there any sensation serials you'd recommend?

Sure.  Wilkie Collins basically invented the genre with The Woman in White (which was a phenomenon--they had so much merchandise, including perfumes, fans, etc, connected to it)--but basically he just took what his friend Dickens had been doing and updated the Gothic serials and combined them (as a rule sensation fiction will flirt with supernatural elements but unlike the Gothic they are based in reality--Henry James famously said that sensation serials were the first to take advantage of modern, even often middle class, settings, new technology like the railroad, etc).  And it's still agreat read--there have been numerous film and TV adaptations that really mess with the story, though the recent BBC series is pretty good and faithful.  Wilkie Collins wrote a lot, but his most famous four sensation serials are White, No Name, The Moonstone and, one of my all time fave novels, Armadale which is wonderful and *crazy* (and surprising in how it deals with things like a sympathetic villainous, racial prejudice, etc). 

Incidentally after Woman in White was serialized in Dickens' magazine, All the Year Round and caused circulation to spike, the followup serial by someone else caused circulation to plummet.  Dickens immediately took the serial he was about to launch himself, and re-edited what he had written to make it much more in the "sensation" model--upping the twists and revelations and use of cliffhangers and reformatting it for weekly installments--that became Great Expectations.

The other really most famous sensation works are by two women.  One is Mary Elizabeth Braddon whose most famous work, Lady Audley's Secret is pretty amazing, and one of the first examples of having a female anti-hero (and Agnes Nixon surely got the Natalie in the well story from a famous part of this).  The follow up Aurora Floyd is also notable.  The other author is Ellen Wood, due mostly to one novel, East Lynne which would have still been a title the general public would recognize well into the 1930s.  The central theme of this, involving a character who returns to her previous family in disguise to be close to her child, is one soaps have long borrowed from...

Wiki's rather basic page about sensation fiction is a pretty good summary.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensation_novel

39 minutes ago, dragonflies said:

Andy Cohen is being dragged for filth on Twitter for this mess 

I mean he's been vocal about his feelings about soaps before (both that he loved them and that there's absolutely no future for them), so this wasn't too surprising.  He did seem to acknowledge that a bit by pointing out that Lucci does not agree with him about Real Housewives serving the same function so I appreciated that at least (and yet Lucci was still praising him in her web interview last week).

Edited by EricMontreal22
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8 minutes ago, EricMontreal22 said:

Sure.  Wilkie Collins basically invented the genre with The Woman in White (which was a phenomenon--they had so much merchandise, including perfumes, fans, etc, connected to it)--but basically he just took what his friend Dickens had been doing and updated the Gothic serials and combined them (as a rule sensation fiction will flirt with supernatural elements but unlike the Gothic they are based in reality--Henry James famously said that sensation serials were the first to take advantage of modern, even often middle class, settings, new technology like the railroad, etc).  And it's still agreat read--there have been numerous film and TV adaptations that really mess with the story, though the recent BBC series is pretty good and faithful.  Wilkie Collins wrote a lot, but his most famous four sensation serials are White, No Name, The Moonstone and, one of my all time fave novels, Armadale which is wonderful and *crazy* (and surprising in how it deals with things like a sympathetic villainous, racial prejudice, etc). 

Incidentally after Woman in White was serialized in Dickens' magazine, All the Year Round and caused circulation to spike, the followup serial by someone else caused circulation to plummet.  Dickens immediately took the serial he was about to launch himself, and re-edited what he had written to make it much more in the "sensation" model--upping the twists and revelations and use of cliffhangers and reformatting it for weekly installments--that became Great Expectations.

The other really most famous sensation works are by two women.  One is Mary Elizabeth Braddon whose most famous work, Lady Audley's Secret is pretty amazing, and one of the first examples of having a female anti-hero (and Agnes Nixon surely got the Natalie in the well story from a famous part of this).  The follow up Aurora Floyd is also notable.  The other author is Ellen Wood, due mostly to one novel, East Lynne which would have still been a title the general public would recognize well into the 1930s.  The central theme of this, involving a character who returns to her previous family in disguise to be close to her child, is one soaps have long borrowed from...

Wiki's rather basic page about sensation fiction is a pretty good summary.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensation_novel

 

Thanks for the suggestions! Lady Audley, here I come  

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17 minutes ago, mikelyons said:

Thanks for the suggestions! Lady Audley, here I come  

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1 minute ago, victoria foxton said:

 

  

Right, but part of that is kinda just semantics.   A lot of women had domestic jobs (either a their own place or working for others) which included the kind of work you could, at least in theory, do while watching your soaps...

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In many ways it kind of felt like a promotional tool for Bravo. Like hey guys, we know your soaps are fading and it doesn't look good that they'll survive so why not hop on over to our network and get your fill by watching Real Housewives. I mean not only did you have Andy on but you had Denise and Erika Jayne both Real Housewives before being on a soap (although Denise did have other acting credits to her name) and of course Eileen but she's not in the same category. I mean it you're bringing on your cast from Real Housewives where was Rinna? 

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1 hour ago, EricMontreal22 said:

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...

 

I think the series was called Television in America or something like that. It was a fun show, not exhaustive or anything but filled with those basics and trivia type of facts. I enjoyed the episodes that I'd watched.

20 minutes ago, EricMontreal22 said:

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Right, but part of that is kinda just semantics.   A lot of women had domestic jobs (either a their own place or working for others) which included the kind of work you could, at least in theory, do while watching your soaps...

 

She does have an important point though and there are some funny stories to be extracted from that. I can remember stories of people saying that when they were kids that they, particularly during the summer had to watch and relate every detail that occurred during an episode of their mother's favorite soap.

Personally, I know that I started learning how to program a VCR at an early age primarily to record the soaps for my mother who worked in a factory. I really got into the soaps and became an avid fan myself.  There were women who worked as domestics, who may or may not have been allowed to glimpse the soaps but there are quite a number of women who were at workplaces where they had no access to a television and went through lengths to keep up with their soaps. Let's not dismiss that aspect. 

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7 hours ago, victoria foxton said:

 

  

 

5 hours ago, YRfan23 said:

God bless Eric Braeden!

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God Bless Eric Braeden. He always keeps it 100% real and cuts through the bullsh*t. Raw and real. My respect for him grows year on year. 

 

5 hours ago, DramatistDreamer said:

 

Ha! Well said, Chrishell. It definitely took a turn. 

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Oh Andy-  always there to take the credit and the attention.  Never one to take the blame.  Don’t you change.

 

The one thing I would argue about the Housewives (I do not watch, but my mother watches all of them), is that they rarely feature multiple women under the age of 30.  They are filled with women that soap execs and writers have been neglecting on daytime for about 25 years.  It is exploitative and often ridiculous, but they do not ignore an age group that soaps often try to, or at least sideline quite often.

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