Remembering Texas

texasNBC’s Another World scored impressive ratings for much of the 1970’s.  The show was second only to CBS’s blockbuster As the World Turns, and it actually tied for the top spot on occasion.  By 1978, both NBC and CBS saw their daytime ratings cool as ABC’s wildly successful “Love in the Afternoon” lineup was on the rise.  Another World slipped from second place to eight; and NBC decided to expand the soap to ninety minutes in an effort to boost ratings.  The experiment failed, and NBC wanted a new soap to air after the sixty minute version of Another World.  Paul Rauch, who was AW‘s producer at the time, worked with with Joyce and John William Corrington, who had just wrapped up a well-received stint on Search for Tomorrow, to create Reunion. Reunion was set in South the years after the civil war.  NBC balked at airing a costume drama opposite General Hospital, which by then was the highest rated soap on the air.  Rauch and the Corringtons went back to the drawing board, and came up with a spin-off of Another World.  With Dallas being the hot new primetime drama at the time, Rauch and the Corringtons decided to set their new soap in Houston, and make the soap about wealthy oil barons and their families.  To get Another World viewers to stay on for the new show, Rauch hired Beverlee McKinsey to move her AW character, Iris, from Bay City to Houston.  

And that is where the problems started.  While the late Beverlee McKinsey is widely recognized as one of the best actresses in daytime, Iris was a villain. How do you create an entire show around someone the audience is supposed to root against?  And that is where the problem continued.  The show quickly dismantled ever nuance of the troubled, insecure, spoiled Iris that was lovingly written for years by AW‘s legendary writer Harding Lemay, and turned her into a leading lady who was reunited with her long lost love.  Other stories focused on Arab royal families, a Vietnam vet who had been presumed dead, and a middle aged doctor having an affair with a younger doctor.  Texas hired GH‘s Kin Shriner, who had been the odd man out in the Luke/Laura/Scotty triangle, hoping to get some GH fans to tune in. However, the show introduced Shriner’s character as suffering from a severe heart condition.  Teenage girls who swooned over GH‘s Scotty Baldwin didn’t exactly fantasize about his Texas character, who might keel over at any given minute.  

The ratings tanked, Beverlee McKinsey chose not to renew her contract, and Gail Kobe came on board as executive producer.  Kobe quickly sped up the pace of the show, introduced new younger characters, and paired Carla Borelli, who played spitfire Reena Bellman, with daytime veteran Donald May as Grant Wheeler.  Later in the run, actress Pam Long (who played Ashley Linden) began writing the show.  Long wrote old fashioned love stories with a lot of heart, and ratings slowly began to perk up.  

Sadly, Texas was canceled by NBC and last aired on Decemeber 31, 1982.

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2 Responses to “Remembering Texas”

  1. Texas was my all time favorite soap ever, along with Edge of Night, which was canceled a mere two years after Texas.

    I didn’t initially warm up to Texas. But I adored Reena!! She kept me watching during that troubled first year. What a spitfire!!!!!

    And when Gial Kobe came along, she helped the show find its proper footing, wisely hiring Donald May to head the Wheeler can. And also wisely pairing Grant with Reena.

    And she also wisely began focusing on the younger characters, who were quite compelling. I so loved Lurlene. And Ruby too! Oh, those two were the Lucy and Ethel of daytime.

    I could go on and on. In fact, I did. I wrote several papers about Texas in college.

    Ahhh, what memories. Thanks for evoking them.

  2. Wonderful Clip and comments! It feels as if NBC has slowly been killing daytime all on its on for a very long time. I know that’s not quite the case, but NBC got rid of more shows I’ve loved than any other network.

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