Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
In case you missed the July 22nd issue of Soap Opera Digest (which would be tragic, since the Take Five feature on the last page was about Peter Bergman. His pet peeve is bad manners. Mallory's is, too! Her delighted squealing over this fact seriously made Becca consider kicking her off of the blog), our columns appear after the jump. This month, our editors asked us to weigh in on the Daytime Emmys and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, we're still a little bitter about some of the awards. And the ceremony itself. And the pre-show. We're seriously considering sending our therapy bills to Brian Frons and his intrepid team of producers...
By Mallory Harlen
The 2008 Daytime Emmys were an exercise in how NOT to produce an awards show. There was the terrible red carpet show on SOAPNet, which was basically two hours of awkward silence, since none of the clips they had were ever ready to air, with a performance by a Disney singer that relegated actual red-carpet arrivals to a tiny box on the side of the screen, which...sort of defeats the purpose of a red-carpet show. The ceremony itself was a thinly veiled commercial for ABC Daytime ("Did you know that Beth Ehlers is joining ALL MY CHILDREN? Because she totally is! And just in case you have short term memory problems and forget in the next five minutes, we'll keep reminding you!") hosted by Cameron Mathison (Ryan, AMC) and Sherri Shepherd (THE VIEW) who, though entertaining in their own rights, had negative chemistry with each other.
The air of inteptitude crept into the awards themselves, too. Kristoff St. John (Neil, Y&R) is, without a doubt, a great actor, though it seems strange to reward him for a year where he had only a handful of scenes. I suppose I could be optimistic and hope that it sends a message to the powers-that-be to use the Winters family more, but I had the exact same hope following Bryton McClure's (Devon) win last year and his screen time decreased from minimal to invisible. Anthony Geary (Luke, GH) is another performer who is almost always stellar, but it's disappointing that he won this year. I honestly thought that it would be David Canary (Adam/Stuart, AMC) or Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R) for their powerhouse years, but it seems that the Emmy voters had a serious case of remorse for not giving Geary the award in 2007 for his heart-wrenching scenes with Laura. I know the saying is "Better late than never", but to watch Canary's breakdown over learning Tad was the father of Krystal's baby, where he went through 12 emotions in a minute, and give the Emmy to Geary's over-the-top heart attack? That's kind of criminal.
Also criminal? Naming GENERAL HOSPITAL Outstanding Drama. I know that they submitted the Metro Court hostage crisis, which was 10 times better than the rest of their year, but it sends the message to the GH brass that the way they are running this show is accolade worthy, which could be dangerous. If they're named best soap in a year where they kill off Alan, Emily and Georgie, twist characters and rewrite history with reckless abandon in order to make Sonny and Jason look good? What's to stop them from burning the hospital down, turning Edward into a rival mobster and killing off more core characters?
That's not to say that the entire evening was without highlights. It was fantastic to see Jeanne Cooper (Katherine, Y&R) win after three decades with the show, and her snarky, tongue-in-cheek speech was one of the best awards show moments in recent memory. And AMC's Susan Lucci (Erica) and Debbi Morgan (Angie) proved why they are soap icons. Both of them looked spectacular, and in their short time presenting, they were far more entertaining than the show's actual hosts. I say that we put them in charge of producing next year's telecast.
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
This was a pretty forgettable Emmys for me, though most of them are since I only watch two shows and one (DAYS) has been mostly ignored by the Academy for eons. I adore Anthony Geary, but I was a bit surprised that voters found the scenes from when Luke was in a coma compelling (that’s assuming voters actually watched the clips in any of the categories, which I probably shouldn’t). As for DAYS, it went 0-for-4 in the acting categories, but I was happy just for the nominations and I hope Rachel Melvin in particular is back in her category next year.
Of the best show or writing awards, I guess I’m glad that GH won the show one, because the idea that anything on GH last year was better written than everything else on every other soap would shake my world view. Even without watching the rest of them I know that can’t possibly be true. But Emmy or not, GH overall is in dire need of a fresh perspective and new ideas. I can’t live through another text message killer months-long story, or another child getting shot in the head and us being told he deserved it. Viewers should be the ones getting awards – for slogging through those storylines.
But my real disappointment of the night was the pre-show and ceremony themselves. I tried to pinpoint what it was about them that I found most bothersome, and I think what it comes down to is: I’m not convinced the people behind them really like soaps.
I’m not suggesting pulling screaming fans out of the bleachers and turning over the reins of the Daytime Emmys, but shouldn’t the people in charge of these productions give the impression that they appreciate the genre they’re “honoring”? The ceremony was so generic; it looked like any other awards show. I watch lots of them, but it’s become increasingly difficult to distinguish them from each other. Daytime, however, has unique aspects that should be celebrated. What about montages of different soapy happenings – bantering couples, catfights between divas, great one-liners, over-the-top weddings? How about at least showing clips of all the nominated actors? That doesn’t seem like asking too much, if you’re actually out to honor daytime and not, say, just promote the soaps on your network.
The pre-show was especially awful. I love Finola Hughes (Anna, GH), and Mallory tells me Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) is great on AMC, but the show was a mess. Inane host chatter, Judge Judy, a random adolescent singer, and Regis Philbin took up seemingly half of what I thought was supposed to be a red carpet fashion show. Viewers got to see only a handful of stars. The mics and pre-taped pieces didn’t work, and even when everything technical was working…the rest wasn’t. I say bring back Chandra Wilson and her obvious love of soaps. I got to see tons of gowns, and she almost had an excitement-induced stroke interviewing daytime legends. That’s the kind of Emmys I’d remember.