Archive for soaps

When I Watched… “All My Children”

Posted in When I Watched with tags , , on November 23, 2008 by Jeff

all_my_childrenIn the eight days leading up to my “return to soaps” experiment I’m going to examine each of the eight soaps currently on the air, describe what I liked and didn’t like about when I watched, and what caused me to stop watching.

First up is All My Children.  I started watching All My Children when I was a kid. I must have been about seven years old when my  teenage sister would grab her lawn chair and suntan lotion and tell me “Watch this show and tell me everything that happens until I get back.” Then, she’d lay out in the sun while I would stare at the people of Pine Valley, trying like hell to figure out what exactly was going on.  After my descriptions started off with “The blond lady was mad at the guy with dark hair,” my sister gave me a crash course of who was who in Pine Valley.

As I grew older, I continued to watch All My Children every summer when school was out – there were no VCRs back in the 70’s, at least not in my household.  I’d be thrilled when I had a day off from school in the fall or winter and I could catch up on the goings on in Pine Valley.  I loved Erica and her schemes.  I enjoyed Chuck Tyler’s romance with Donna Beck, complicated by the evil Billy Clyde Tuggle and his cohort Tyrone (who much to my horror was played by actor Rocoe Orman, who also played lovable Gordon on Sesame Street). As the 70’s passed the 80’s began, I grew older and began to understand the stories a bit more.  I was glued to the TV as Cliff romanced Nina, much to the chagrin of Nina’s bizarrely overprotective father, Palmer.  Greg and Jenny’s romance soon followed, along with Angie and Jesse, and Opal’s wacky goodness.  Erica was still in the picture, now a supermodel in New York, but always with a scheme up her sleeve.

By the mid-eighties, Cliff and Nina had broken up, Jenny had died, Opal left town, and Erica went from being a schemer to a self-centered heroine.  New characters came on board, but there were no new Martins or Tylers, and I got bored.  I stopped watching every day for a few years.  I came back to the show full time in the early nineties and enjoyed the Natalie/Janet storyline, along with Hayley and Matteo, and Erica’s discovery of her long-lost daughter Kendall.  I never went back to watching every day, but I kept up with the show until 1996. By that time, most of my favorites had been written off and replaced with new characters that had little or no ties with long-standing characters.  That was the last time I watched regularly.

On December 1, I’m going to give All My Children a full week of my time.  I’ve heard about Bianca and Reese, the tornado, and the hirings of Beth Ehlers and Ricky Paull Goldin, but it will be interesting to see how different Pine Valley is now from when I was a fan.


My Return To Daytime

Posted in Soaps in General with tags , , , , on November 22, 2008 by Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have watched soaps most of my forty years.  Some of my earliest memories involve Erica Kane, Rachel Cory, Mike Bauer, and John Dixon.  All throughout my formative years, soaps were my favorite entertainment genre.  When everyone else was glued to Charlie’s Angels, I was wondering if Iris was going to split up Mac and Rachel on Another World.  When others were giggling at Three’s Company, I was waiting for General Hospital‘s Laura and Scotty to get married in the park.

Like all good friends, sometimes soaps disappointed me.  Some stories work, and some don’t.  However, for most of the eighties, I was a happy soap fan.  Then along came the nineties, or as I call it, “The Soap Killing Decade.” Sure, soaps enjoyed somewhat decent ratings during the Clinton administration, but things were going in the wrong direction.  I know the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987 and the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995 pre-empted soaps and that caused a ratings to dip.  I also know that the onslaught of cable channels didn’t help matters either.  But in the end, it was the writing that drove me away from my once dear friend, the daytime drama.

I have watched every soap currently on the air at one time or another in the last thirty years.  The shows that I watched the longest were All My Children, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, and One Life to Live.  The last soap I watched on a daily basis was Guiding Light. I stopped watching watching daily at the end of 1998, although I have tuned in occasionally here and there.

Now that it’s been ten full years since I’ve had a daily commitment to a soap, I’m realizing that I miss my old friend, the daytime drama.  Can any soap out there win me back?  Starting December 1 and over the following eight weeks, I will watch one soap per week; every day for an entire week.  Starting with All My Children the first week and ending with The Young and the Restless on the eighth, I will watch each one for five consecutive days with a new and fresh perspective – and I will report my findings here.

Will any of them hook me? Can I be a soap fan again?

Tune in and find out.