BUSTED: THINGS THAT DIDN’T WORK IN 2009
1. Canceling Soaps:
-Seventy-two-year-old Guiding Light and 54-year-old As the World Turns were canceled in 2009. Procter and Gamble owned both shows. It’s a sad commentary on soaps’ relevance in today’s world when P&G - who invented soap operas as a way to sell their products to housewives in the 1930’s - is officially out of the soap opera business. Is nothing sacred any more?
2. Trashing Beloved Characters for Storyline:
-All My Children enraged fans when they ruined the popular character of Aidan Devane by turning him into a psycho stalker/kidnapper who out of the blue became obsessed with his friend, Kendall (Alicia Minshew). AMC opted not to send Aidan’s portrayer, Aiden Turner, to LA with the rest of the cast when the show relocated, but it still could have found a way to send Aidan out of town with his dignity intact. After seven years on the show, it was an egregious way to treat both the character and the actor, not to mention the fans.
-Days of Our Lives is coming perilously close to the point of no return with the way it’s writing the character of Hope (Kristian Alfonso). Hope is shrill, unreasonable, and above all, unwatchable right now. The writers need to pull back on Hope’s insecurities before we start to root for Bo (Peter Reckell) to get together with his ex-love, Carly (Crystal Chappell), just to teach Hope a lesson.
3. Rushing Couples Together:
-On The Young and the Restless, Adam (Michael Muhney) and Sharon (Sharon Case) progressed from acquaintances, to friends, to lovers, to eloping in about a month’s span. The beauty of soaps is that they have the time to allow couples to grow, and to play things out indefinitely. Most soaps take years to build good storylines. Y&R used to be a measured, well thought out soap, but by rushing the Adam and Sharon pairing for seeming sheer shock value (he stole her newborn and let her think the baby was dead, while he gave the child to another woman), the story instantly loses credibility. It would have been creepier in a good, soap opera way, if we were allowed to watch Sharon slowly succumb to Adam’s charms, and actually fall in love with him, as opposed to marrying him on an impulse after about five minutes of dating to help her get over Nick (Joshua Morrow).
-On General Hospital, former brother and sister-in-law, Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) and Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst), developed the hots for each other and started sleeping together. Their actions made no sense as they have been practically related for years and Elizabeth is engaged to Nikolas’ brother, Lucky (Jonathan Jackson). This couple is a major plot contrivance to showcase a triangle no one wanted in the first place.
-On The Bold and the Beautiful, the character of Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) went through four different guys this year. First she was dating Marcus (Texas Battle), then she was engaged to Rick (Kyle Lowder), then she was chasing the married Owen (Brandon Beemer), and finally hooking up with the married Bill (Don Diamont). She shifted her amorous affections so often viewers needed a score card to keep up. Her fickle behavior did nothing for the character other than to establish her as an immature tease who doesn’t know who or what she really wants.
BLISSFUL: THINGS SHOWS GOT RIGHT IN 2009
-One Life to Live successfully introduced the new characters of Kimberly and Danielle in 2009. Even though Kim was introduced as a confidant to the awful Stacy (Crystal Hunt), her portrayer, Amanda Setton, is so warm and likeable that she instantly overcame any disadvantages her character had by association. Even though Kimberly is manipulating Clint (Jerry ver Dorn) so she can become a Buchanan, she does it with so much spunk that you can’t help but root for her. Danielle was introduced as the long, lost daughter of Tea (Florencia Lozano) and Todd (Trevor St. John), and even though the timing of her conception doesn’t work with her age, she is the perfect spawn of Tea and Todd. She’s everything one would expect these two to have reproduced – selfish, stubborn, strong, yet vulnerable and sweet underneath her brassy exterior. Her portrayer, Kelley Missal, even looks like her TV parents. OLTL out did themselves when they cast these two talented actresses.
-As the World Turns got it right with the casting of the quirky and adorable Vanessa Ray, as Janet’s (Julie Pinson) little sister, Teri. She lights up the screen whenever she’s on. A Janet/Dusty/Teri triangle appears likely and will be an excellent showcase for Ray’s underused talents. Ray possesses great chemistry with Grayson McCouch, who plays Dusty, and realistic sibling rivalry with Pinson.
-General Hospital aged Alexis’ (Nancy Lee Grahn) daughters, Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) and Molly (Haley Alexis Pullos), and both girls have been a delight to watch. Ainsworth portrays Kristina as the ideal mix of her neurotic DA mom and her mobster Dad. She is brainy and uptight, yet immature and insecure. Pullos has infused Molly with the proper preciousness tinged with a charm that’s contagious. Her joy is infectious.
2. New Couples:
-One Life to Live hit pay dirt with the pairing of gay couple, Kyle (Brett Claywell) and Fish (Scott Evans). Kyle, by himself, was an unlikeable and annoying character. As soon as his back story with the closeted Fish was revealed, it changed everything. Kyle was suddenly a romantic lead out to capture the heart of the one who got away in college. “Kish,” as they have become known, have had a remarkable journey to find each other again, and hopefully opened minds in the process. OLTL hasn’t shied away from showing the guys kissing, and a recent love scene was a daytime same sex first.
-General Hospital had a successful pairing with the unlikely coupling of Johnny (Brandon Barash) and Olivia (Lisa LoCicero). Even though Johnny is around the same age as Olivia’s son, they share believable, crazy chemistry. Their getting together seemed to be a result of the writers noticing the actors had chemistry and writing specifically for them, instead of vice-versa.
3. Bringing Back Old Favorites:
-Days of Our Lives almost made up for letting Steve and Kayla go this year, by bringing back old favorites Justin ( the charming Wallace Kurth), Vivian (the divine Louise Sorel) and Carly (the incomparable Crystal Chappell). It has been a delight to watch Vivian spar with Kate (Lauren Koslow) and Carly like she never missed a step, and to see her ingratiate herself with Victor (John Aniston) once more. Carly and Bo have chemistry unlike what he has with anyone else, Hope included. It has been a treat to watch them slowly circle each other again. It’s too bad that in order to make Carly and Bo a viable couple Hope had to be trashed in the process, but she does have surprising chemistry with Justin. The only thing that could make this foursome even better is to have Justin’s estranged wife, Adrienne (the delightful and much missed Judi Evans), return to town.
-As the World Turns also succeeded in creating magic again when it brought back the characters of Simon (Paul Leyden) and Molly (Lesli Kay). Simon instantly reconnected with his ex-wife, Katie (Teri Colombino), and Molly still has a ton of chemistry with Holden (Jon Hensley) after a five year absence. In fact, Hensley has more chemistry with Kay than he does with Noelle Beck (Lily). They are all safe bets to watch for continuing sparks and good drama in 2010.
Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com, as well as an entertainment columnist for The Huffington Post. She's the co-author of Boob Tube, a novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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