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« Dumb Guys and Smart Mamas | Main | A Fond Farewell To All My Children »

September 23, 2011

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

Yes, it's true! We are still writing our My Take/My Take, Too column for Soap Opera Digest. It just...hasn't made its way to the blog in a long while. It's so tiny, it fits perfectly into piles of mail and paperwork! But read on for our most recent takes, which appeared in the magazine's September 20th issue and happens to feature Mallory's very last All My Children column (it's the end of an era. SOB!).

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My Take
By Mallory Harlen

As we near the end of ALL MY CHILDREN's run on broadcast television, I've been feeling increasingly nostalgic and also, depressed. I've found myself tearfully thinking things like, "This is AMC's last August 26 episode" and "Are they seriously replacing this with something called THE CHEW? Network bosses really green-lit that?" during the show's opening credits. And I know, I know---Pine Valley is moving online, thanks to the Internet deal with Prospect Park, but it won't be the same. The entire cast isn't going with the show (Jacob Young and Debbi Morgan, in particular, are taking their brands of awesomeness to BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL and YOUNG AND RESTLESS, respectively) and I have this worry that the online version will only share some sets and a few minor characters with ABC's AMC. And while I'm sure the life of Krystal's Patron No. 37 is interesting, I'd much rather have the current cast, plus a few notable returns.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. As I write this, I still have a few more weeks to enjoy the current AMC, and enjoyment is the perfect way to phrase it. Stories that have been dangling for years, unfinished and without a writing staff interested in them, and long-separated couples are being reunited. I have cultivated a coldhearted reputation over the years and I've been a vocal fan of Tad and Cara, but even I melted at Tad's encounter with Dixie despite--soap blasphemy ahead!--never having really cared about them in the past. And sure, the circumstances behind these returns from beyond the grave are more than a little bit ridiculous: If anyone you know needs some cheering up, briefly recap the whole Project Orpheus story for them, because it's hilarity of the highest order ("And then he brought all of these people back from the dead." "Why?" "Because...he's, like, super-evil and has a God complex"). But I'm so happy to have these characters back (please note that this statement will be null and void if, in the future, it is revealed that Babe is still alive) that I'm more than willing to accept an explanation inspired by PASSIONS if it gets Zach Slater back to Kendall with a chance of a happily ever after.

The past few weeks have given us some happy couples (how cute are Bianca and Marissa?! I'm only disappointed that it took this long for the show to give Christina Bennett Lind a real story), inspired storytelling, epic returns and great performances (as hard as JR's downward spiral has been, Jacob Young has been thrilling to watch), and if the show is going to end, it's nice that they're ending on a high note. I've complained about this show often/incessantly over the years in this very magazine, with a tone veering from mildly disgruntled to enraged--that sounds like an overstatement until you realize that the show made Adam murder Stuart and it becomes an understatement!--but I will really and truly miss it. Spending the afternoon in Pine Valley has been a routine of mine since middle school and I can't thank the cast members, writing staff and the impossibly brilliant Agnes Nixon enough for making that routine such a special one.

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My Take, Too
By Louise Schwarz

WHen I was a kid first getting into soap operas, the word "addicted" doesn't begin to cover it. For a while there, my bus dropped me off around 3:50 p.m. and I would tear down the street to get home just to watch the last five minutes of GENERAL HOSPITAL. Seriously, five minutes (and those minutes were especially worth it when I got to catch Anna and her choice insults of Olivia Jerome). And the slightest sniffle would mean an imperative stay-home-sick day for me; I might have been considered a hypochondriac by anyone who didn't realize my only sickness was the pressing need to know what was in those letters to Tina, Dorian, and Viki that they found in the secret room at Llanfair, or whether or not Eden and Cruz could finally be happy, or if Lorna Forbes would be convicted of murder. At one point, I got in trouble for accidentally taping over many of my parents' MASTERPIECE THEATRE episodes, and my punishment was no longer being allowed to program the VCR to tape my soaps; I cried my little heart out. For a while, I picked up Y&R solely because it was also broadcast on the radio and I could listen to it during shcool lunch on my headphones. That's dedication!

It's been a while since it felt like that, and that's to be expected. Things ebb and flow. There have certainly been engaging and exciting storylines over the years, as well as particularly great episodes of all the soaps, and I can't pretend that I haven't deprived myself of sleep just to catch up on a few storylines (or deprived myself of sleep getting all rage-y about a few storylines, of course). But these last few weeks of ONE LIFE TO LIVE? They've got me gidy. Old-school, childlike, rush-home-from-school, willing-the-bus-to-go-faster, dreading-the-weekends giddy. It's not just the outrageously impossible but emotionally spectacular Tale of Two Todds, though that's certainly the driving force (and not just in a "these great actors are making moments out of mediocre material" way--the writing and especially the directing are both sparkling lately). Destiny's pregnancy, which infuriated me at first, has led to some great drama between Phylicia and Nora (the meaty kind of drama where you cringe at how everyone's behaving but you can understand all sides), and they even came up with a great way to keep Clint in the mix while still paying a penalty for his crimes--house arrest at Llanfair! Delicious.

Add to this the great drama over at B&B, with Katie and Bill and Steffy with her claws out looking for some prey, and the mixing of the mob world with the hospital world (and actual Quartermaines!) on GH, and the "nobody ever died ever!" visits on AMC, and I am just having one heck of a non-cynical, soap-loving renaissance. To call it bittersweet would be an understatement. Magnificent but heartbreaking is more like it.

Comments

Eden and Cruz!!!! Oh how I miss Santa Barbara. I LOVED that show so it was nice to hear you mention those characters. Because it came on at the same time as General Hospital in Northern California, I, uh, dropped GH LIKE A HOT POTATO for it. And that was back when GH was being well written. There was (and still is mind you!)something about A Martinez that had me drooling like a puppy.

I don't think I will be one of those that follows the shows online. It's just not that serious to me. I was never one for "webisodes" so I am going to let these show go and remember how great they use to be.

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