Real Talk With Casey III: A Tribute to Another World, Part I

Aw6781Another World premiered on NBC on May 4th, 1964. The new daytime drama premiered to an audience of approximately six million. It was soap created by daytime legends, Irna Phillips and William J. Bell. Irna Phillips originally wanted Another World to be a spin off of then popular As The World Turns. However, CBS did not have any room in the schedule. So, Irna got a hold of NBC and William J. Bell, they wrote the first scripts—and the rest is history.

The pilot of Another World focused on the death of extremely wealthy William Matthews. The first episode was the aftermath of the funeral of wealthy William Matthews. His widow Liz did not like the company of William’s working class brother, Jim. The fights between upper class Liz, and her middle class in-laws started the stories for the show.

As the 1960’s continued, the lives of Jim’s children, Russ, Alice, and Pat took over the show. Jim’s wife, Mary, usually intervened in the the children’s lives when crisis occurred. Which was most of time, considering this was a soap opera.In the first year of the show, Irna Phillips and William J Bell began some controversial storytelling, in an effort to bring up ratings.

One such story involved the character of Pat having an illegal abortion after becoming pregnant. This was the first time that an American television series covered the hot button issue. As the story played out, it was revealed that Pat had become sterile. The shock of the news caused her to shoot and kill her boyfriend, Tom Baxter. She then fell in love with, and married her lawyer, John Randolph.

Another notable story revolved around the super couple Bill Matthews and Melissa Palmer. Liz did not consider Melissa to be well-suited for her son, and she was constantly in the middle of the two. After several trials and tribulations, Bill and Melissa finally married. However, their happiness was cut short, when Bill drowned in a boating accident.

After a one year run on NBC, the soap opera was expected to get cancelled due to failing ratings. James Lipton came on as a writer. His ideas included pushing the Matthews family to the backburner, and introducing the newly created family with the last name of Gregory. Agnes Nixon, then the head writer of Irna Phillip’s popular CBS soap opera, The Guiding Light, was hired to help write the program. Beverly Penberthy replaced Susan Trustman as Pat Randolph, under Agnes’ tenure. As Agnes Nixon’s tenure as head writer progressed, Trustman had been on nearly every episode, and she became terribly exhausted.

In 1967 Agnes created the most popular roles that Another World would ever have. They were the roles of hairdresser Ada Davis, and her daughter Rachel. Down-to-earth Ada could sit in her kitchen, and be perfectly content with life. Rachel was a schemer who hated her much-lower-class background. Rachel would always fight to become wealthy, in the characters early years. Ada would provide Rachel solace when Rachel’s plans would not work out. Rachel trusted her mother, because she was the only one who could get through to her.

In 1968, wealthy Steve Frame was introduced into Bay City life. Steve was a highly intelligent yet brusque businessman. He and Rachel had an instant attraction to one another. They bonded closely, because both of them fought to get out of the poor backgrounds they had come from. However, Alice Matthews stepped in, and stole Steve’s heart. Alice was extremely sophisticated, shy, and demure—everything Rachel was not.

Steve and Alice courted one another, and were engaged in 1969. However, the wedding was called off, when Rachel, who was married to Alice’s brother, Dr. Russ Matthews, crashed the engagement party. Rachel made everyone aware that she was carrying Steve’s soon-to-be child. She gave birth to a son by the name of James Gerald. James would later be referred to as Jamie.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED PT. 1 OF THIS SPECIAL ANOTHER WORLD TRIBUTE. COME BACK NEXT WEEK WHEN WE DISCUSS ALL THE JUICY HAPPENING OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE 1970s!

By Casey Hutchinson

Edited by Akbi Khan

Real Talk With Casey II–Let’s Talk Jill Foster Abott

Jill_Foster_AbbottOne of the most influential and popular characters to ever grace daytime television, is Jill Foster Brooks Abott Abott Atkinson Fenmore from CBS’ hit soap opera, “The Young and the Restless” (Y&R). She has been married into all major Genoa City families (except Newman), but is barely shown on our screens anymore. Jill is also the only original character left. The character of Jill was in the original 1973 Y&R bible. So, viewers expect to see her more.

Jill is probably the most valuable player in Genoa City. This is a woman who fought and loved Katherine Chancellor for 40 years. This is a woman who stabbed John Abbott in the back, by sleeping with his son, Jack. This is a woman who has bedded more men than I have fingers and toes. This is a woman who should be center stage everyday. Right now we should see her hatching a plan to get back at Victor, and Noah, for that matter.

So, why isn’t Jill being shown more? The bottom line is this: the actor who portrays her, Jess Walton, decided to put Y&R on a lower list of needs about four years ago. But she has said in three interviews, that since Jeanne Cooper passed on, she wanted to take on more of a leading role. Now, that leaves it to the writers. In the beginning of this year (January and February) we saw Jill back in the drama. She was crying and screaming at Billy’s bedside. So, where is she now? Billy needs her just as much now that he recovered from coma as he did when he lay comatose in a hospital bed. There is so much left for Jill. Jess Walton wants a bigger role, so come on writers!

Now, this is not the work of Jill Farren Phelps, or Charles Pratt, Jr. This is the work of every writer since Kay Alden and William J. Bell left the show. Jill has always taken a backseat since those two amazing writers left. But just because writers come and go, doesn’t mean one of the most important characters in Y&R history should be placed on the back burner.

In my eyes, Jill is just as important as Nikki and Victor. She should be front and center just like they are. Maybe Jill could go after Victoria to get Newman. Jill could go after Noah for hitting Billy with his car, accident or not. Billy might have forgiven Noah, but Jill protects her own, and it would be in line with her character to exact some sort of revenge for Bily. Jill could always find out Brock died. I mean, my goodness, Beau played Brock since day one. He dies, and nothing. We dedicate two seconds of an episode to him. Brock was in Jill’s life long after they got divorced in 1975. She should have a whole funeral in Chancellor Park. Brock should get a plaque next to Katherine.

In conclusion, Jess Walton is so important to Y&R. The character is currently the most important on the series. We either need new writers, or Jill needs to step in and kick some butt.

By Casey Hutchison

Edited by Akbi Khan

Real Talk With Casey; As the World Turns, an Old Fave

Editor’s Note: Hello, readers! We’d like to introduce you to our newest regular contributing writer, Casey S. Hutchinson. He is 16-years-old, a BIG soap fan and has an encyclopedic knowledge of so many soaps’ history. On this, the anniversary of As the World Turns‘ premiere, we give you his first blog–a tribute to that fabulous soap! Proof that the younger generations are united with LTAS never to give up on As the World Turns–and soaps in general!

Your Editor-in-Chief,

Akbi Khan

——

ATWT-LogoWho remembers that 54-year-old soap opera, As The World Turns (ATWT)? You know, the one on CBS that ran for over 13,000 episodes! Well, ATWT will always be one of my all time favorites! I and millions of other enjoyed it because each day it left us thinking. ATWT could be dramatic, mysterious, sad, and, yes, even educational.

As The World Turns had a certain quality about it that was unlike any other soap opera. Yes, it had outrageous plot twist, like any other soap opera. However it was very real. ATWT was not afraid to keep its realism, no matter how many writers walked through the door. When Hogan Sheffer was head writer, we had several lead females go to an aging spa. But, we also had Rosanna suffering through her baby drama that same year. ATWT always kept a balance of juicy soap opera plot twists and realism.

As The World Turns had mainstay characters. That is another reason to love this soap opera. When viewers turned on their screens, we knew what we were going to get. We were going to get Carly, Jack, Lily, Holden, Bob, Lisa, and of course everyone’s favorite, Nancy!

Through the 60s and early 70s, ATWT golden years, it was a powerhouse. It pulled in millions of viewers each week, with its peak rating being 14.0 million viewers in a week. The reason that ATWT stayed in the number one spot of all daytime dramas for so long is because was its solid family roots. Sure, every soap opera has families it revolves around, but ATWT never let go of the Hughes family. Everything was about them, and who they knew in the 54 years ATWT was on.

In conclusion, As The World Turns brought us 54 years, and over 13,000+ episodes of catfights, love, shocking cliffhangers, deaths, marriages, and of course those great slaps. I will miss it for as long as I live on this Earth. But I also know fan support will bring it back! It was truly one of the best series to ever pass through our TV screens. And it will be again. And when one of our fave CBS soaps is back, others will soon follow!

HERE”S TO OAKDALE!

 

By Casey S. Hutchison

Edited by Akbi Khan

Primetime Is Reborn–In 2016, So is Daytime

2016 banner fbWe at LTAS have vowed never, ever to give up on the canceled soaps we believe should rightly be on the air. Skepticism that we will accomplish this abounds, but we now have proof we can do it, and thus we will. The rebirth of several canceled primetime shows long after many, but not their true blue fans, gave up on them.

Mega-fans of four cancelled primetime shows now have reason to rejoice as four shows massively popular with their cult, die-hard followings are have been rebooted or spun off and air on three of the big four networks (Fox, NBC, and CBS—any surprise you don’t see ABC’s name in that list?).

20th Century Fox’s X-Files enjoyed a massive cult audience and critical acclaim. So much so that the movies based on it had fans lined upprimetime 2 around city blocks for tickets. One of the reason it boasted such popularity, and not incidentally great popularity with soap fans, was the chemistry between its main characters Agents Scully and Mulder.

The moony looks on their faces as they gazed at each other, the way the sometimes even held hands, the way they seemed incomplete when they were apart. Just like soap super-couples such as AMC’s Erica and Jack, Days of Our Lives’ Patch and Kayla, GL’s Reva and Shane; the list goes on and on. In March 2015 Fox announced it would revive couple and their adventures that riveted so many fans as a miniseries. The actors, network, and writers have already discussed a rebooting of the series after the last episode of the miniseries airs tonight. Boosting them no doubt. Last week, the miniseries episode came in fourth in the top 25 shows of the week.

For six seasons, NBC Universal’s Xena, Warrior Princess, enthralled fans in 10primetime 38 countries around the world, gave rise to dozens of tie-in products, and topped several critical lists of top TV heroines, fantasy series, and cult shows. The show, one of the few at the time with a both literally and figuratively strong female lead, one who donned a suit of rigid armor and wielded a sword with the skill of a samurai, will long hold a place in the television history books as one of a kind. NBC, in one of those inexplicable network decisions we soap fans know all to well, cancelled the series in 2001. The network now plans to once again produce and air the show. Kudos to NBC for showing their loyal fans that even 14 years later is not too late to right a wrong and give their fans due respect.

soap 3I include the cancellation and reboot of Dallas by Warner Bros Television and TNT, respectively, in this article about primetime’s rebirth, as, even though it aired in primetime, it had the structure and qualities of a daytime soap.
I doubt I need to remind readers of LTAS, a website about soap operas, how much you loved and supported Dallas, when it started out on CBS, its portrayal of the high-flying, champagne and caviar, mansions and yachts lifestyles of ultra-wealthy Southerners. You made the, “Who Shot JR?” cliffhanger and the reveal two TV episodes with the highest ratings in the medium’s history. CBS cancelled Dallas in 1991. But, Warner Brothers Television, who always owned the rights to Dallas, honored fans and showed business savvy when it allowed the cancelled series to air on TNT in 2010. Fans loved the reboot too, but TNT cancelled it, so we ask Warner Brothers Television to work with CBS to once again honor fans, allowing CBS to once again air it.

Warner Bros Television has once again honored fans of another show (ANOTHER one ABC/Disney cancelled too soon and unfairly), Lois and Clark, by creating a spinoff, Supergirl,supergirl-lois-and-clark which currently airs and enjoys stellar ratings of a 12.9 million-viewer average. It airs on CBS, so I give CBS/Warner Bros Television additional points for that. But ABC/Disney doesn’t deserve any credit for allowing this to happen—because they didn’t. Warner Brothers Television owns the rights to Lois and Clark. They are just the pathetic saps who have to watch a spinoff of a show they cancelled become a cultural phenomenon, especially because one of the reasons they cancelled Lois and Clark because, for whatever reason, they didn’t want, a “sci-fi” show on their network. ABC/Disney will only get my kudos when AMC and OLTL are back on their network for one hour each in their original timeslots.

Now, dear readers, which of the Big Four network remains in our list of networks smartly andprimetime 5 reverently rebooting shows? Ah, yes: ABC/Disney. We all know how they have disrespected and broken the hearts of daytime fans. But their treatment of Twin Peaks serves as just one example of how they did so to primetime fans. Luckily for ABC/Disney, David Lynch, an esteemed director of art films, agreed to write and produce that show’s pilot, which reached a whopping and head-spinning 35 million viewers. That episode and dozens that followed had viewers tune in week after week to watch Agent Cooper sip coffee, eat pie, and speak in odd quips, as he searched for the killer of Laura Palmer. The image of Palmer’s lifeless, blue-ish corpse wrapped in a plastic tarp and dotted with lake water debris still lingers in the collective American psyche. In another bad programming decision, ABC/Disney decided to cancel Twin Peaks, leading TV Guide to put it at high on its list of series that were cancelled too soon. This summer, Showtime, will reboot Twin Peaks, but no thanks to ABC/Disney. Thanks go to David Lynch, producer Mark Frost, and CBS. The first two have retained ownership of the show, while CBS has distribution rights.

Why have CBS, Fox, and NBC networks now rebooted or spun off shows primetime fans have been endlessly and loudly rallying for the return of for decades? We at LTAS say because they see the way daytime fans have stood outside ABC/Disney headquarters in the cold, waving posters and shouting pro-soap slogans, they have watched ABC/Disney’s profits plummet from daytime’s fans’ boycott of all things ABC/Disney, and they see us daytime fans posting literally and figuratively colorful pro-soap and anti-ABC/Disney content day after day. CBS, Fox, and NBC wisely do not want to be next.jag 2

We want another primetime show reborn, and that is JAG. We urge Paramount Television to take a cue from Warner Brothers Television and give fans/viewers/consumers what they want: a rebooted series, one in which Mac and Ham get the happily ever after they deserve. The series ended with a picture of their wedding! What a slap in the face to fans—they want an actual wedding and to see them in a committed, long-term relationship.

Our relationship with the networks is a two-way street. So now it’s our turn to clean our side of the street by accessing the networks’ Facebook and Twitter accounts and web page contact forms. Let them know we realize how they have made some first steps in giving us back quality, scripted television in primetime, but now they must fully do so in daytime too.

And then let’s lean back on our couches, put our feet up, and watch our primetime shows and soaps, content and secure in the knowledge that quality, American scripted television is reborn in primetime, and daytime’s rebirth will now occur in 2016.

By Akbi Khan

Edited by Akbi Khan

The Disgrace of Daytime: Time to Spit Out The Chew–Just Like We Did FABLife

12659754_1710630675818986_236468850_nGreetings, my lovely soap fans of All My Children (AMC) and One Life To Live (OLTL)! It’s me, Toure Cannon. I’m back again, giving you another awesome LTAS BLOG!

This week’s blog post is about that god-awful The Spew/Chew on Disney’s yucky network, ABC. You’ll find links below to take you to sites that go deeper into the issues I discuss. And more importantly you’ll find ones to contact TPTB to tell them how you feel and speed up the return of AMC and OLTL.

Did you know that Mario Batali, co-host of The Chew, has lawsuits pending against him? Well, it’s true! One lawsuit alleges he steals tips from his employees. A neighbor complained about a very foul odor coming from one of his restaurants and is suing him. And another woman alleges that Mr. Batali made sexual gestures in her direction, groped her, and rubbed up against her. She filed a sexual harassment suit against him. The question that the Editor-in-Chief of letstalkaboutsoaps.com, Akbi Khan, asked, was this: how can a network that touts itself as “family-oriented,” like Disney/ABC employ a person who is accused of cheating people, abusing a neighbor, and bullying and sexually harassing woman? [Editor’s Note: two of the three lawsuits mentioned above have been settled as of this writing].

Answer: it’s because Disney/ABC lacks morals or ethics themselves. They’re greedy and cheap. They cancelled our soaps for that  trash they have on now, because it’s cheaper to produce. They say we viewers don’t want drama in the afternoon, which was and still is a lie!

Did I mention they don’t know what they’re doing from a business standpoint either? The Spew has to go! Down with The Chew! After reading the above linked articles and almost puking in disgust, I am certain more than ever that AMC and OLTL have to return to their rightful timeslots. I hope you all STAND WITH US AGAINST THE CHEW! THIS SHOW HAS TO GO! How in the world can anyone watch junk like this? Especially knowing the background of one of the hosts, Batali!

FABLife kicked the bucket and so will The Spew/Chew! Continue to boycott Disney/ABC until they return our soaps. The next hearing in the Disney/ABC vs. Prospect Park lawsuit is in May, and it’s outcome will hopefully go a long way in ABC’s deciding what to do with our soaps.

Disney/ABC is living in a fantasy, a bubble, thinking they’re fooling us, as if we’ll just watch whatever they put on. They don’t know that they can’t and aren’t fooling us at all!! Eventually that bubble is going to burst as our boycott hurts their bottom line more and more. And I feel it’s just about there at its breaking point! Something tells me that they might have something in the works before May arrives.

So, TV-viewing Americans, are you with us on destroying The Chew and still fighting for the return of our soaps? If so, stand with us and together we will win this fight to restore Love In The Afternoon next to General Hospital! Who do you want to see in daytime: someone accused of tip skimming and sexual harassment (Batali), a gang of dullards spouting unsolicited advice (the cast of The Chew), OR the glorious and inspiring Queen of Daytime and her stellar cast mates (Erica Kane, America’s sweetheart, and the actors on All My Children) and a family that had been a part of our lives for 45 years (the cast of One Life to Live)? Let Disney/ABC know! Email Disney and ABC. Let Ben Sherwood, head of ABC Daytime, know how you feel on Facebook and Twitter (@bensherwood).

Thank you, from die-hard, hardcore soap fan, Toure Cannon.

By Toure Cannon

Edited by Akbi Khan

Looking Back on LTAS’ 2015

2015-300x300Well, dear readers, a new year is upon us. Many of you have probably made some resolutions for 2016. We at LTAS have too! But before we tell you about those, we wanted to review some of our accomplishments during 2015 that we’re most proud of. This is also important to do to review and bring home points salient to the soap renaissance we wish to hasten the coming of. Vegetation has not bloomed anew, and many animals still can be found curled up hibernating in deep slumber. Before they and we glow with the reinvigoration of spring, now is a good time to reflect on what we achieved last year.

 

We pointed out in one blog that the embarrassing chapter in television history called “Reality TV” is coming to a close. The pandering to the lowest common denominators such as the voyeuristic impulses of human nature; the celebrating of people with nothing interesting to say and no discernible talent simply because they are willing to allow themselves to be manipulated into creating “drama” in their lives and have that “drama” recorded; the coming and going of train wreck “Reality Stars” and their shameless and overbearing behavior, regrettable attempts at imitating what dramatic actors do that has come to be collectively known as “Reality TV” has one foot in its grave and continues to insert itself further into it. Witness, for example, the abysmal ratings of two shows in the lifestyle show sub-category of reality TV: The Chew and FABLife. Talk shows have fared little better. Viewer rejection has darkened the stage of more than one talk show this year, even that of the familiar and well-liked Katie Couric.

 

Another LTAS blog based on an article that appeared in TV Guide helped articulate viewers’ desire for scripted television. We asked three soap community members to show that networks wary of the cost and risk of scripted television could use franchises already familiar to viewers to create new, successful shows. Wisely, CBS is airing and heavily promoting, Supergirl, a spin-off the old ABC cult classic, Lois and Clark.

 

In 2015, we brought home the point that soaps, with their sprawling backstory, beloved characters, and multigenerational viewing constitute the most familiar franchises of all, ones that, with a little support from their networks, viewers can hold dear in symbiotic and long-standing embrace. If that failed to grab the attention of ratings-obsessed network executives, hunched over giant conference tables in Hollywood, trying to figure out “the next big thing,” we would be surprised. And sorry copycat shows like Blood and Oil do not cut it when it comes to “familiar franchises”. Why not give a Dallas reboot another chance instead?

 

Remember ABC and P&G: we reminded our readers our boycott of your products and services continues. And it will until you bring our soaps back. What all our 2015 blogs, and LTAS as a whole, showed and show is we soap fans are a powerful, loyal bunch. We can make or break you, depending on how well you treat our soaps. So let 2016 be the year of daytime soap opera rebirth!

 

These were just some highlights of our original Monday blogs. Stay tuned for more in 2016

Eric Martsolf (Brady Black) Returns to His Country Roots

Days_Bio_BradyBlack_EricMartsolf_500x500Hello, soap fans, Days of Our Lives fans, Eric Martsolf (Brady Black, Days of Our Lives) fans, and Brady Black fans. Eric Martsolf, as you’ll see below in my post and the following press release that we received here at LTAS, has released a single “Days Go Buy” . It is lovely, and I encourage you to buy it (links to do so are at the bottom of the press release) for that reason, but also because we need to support our soaps and soap stars! Especially in a time when the fates of our beloved shows can be tenuous and frequently called into question.

I thought of Brady Black often while listening to the wistful track: his breakup with the woman who was arguably the love of his life, Chloe—they loved each other deeply but had to separate for many reasons despite their bond; how Nicole betrayed him, and despite their great friendship, they had to then part; Melanie leaving him while they still had a great affection for each other, so Theresa wouldn’t make their lives miserable.

I left ratings and reviews on the single’s Amazon site and iTunes page! Consider doing so as well!

For more on Martsolf’s latest musical undertaking and links to purchase it, see the press release below!

By Akbi Khan

Some Information Provided by Robert Feldmann

Edited by Akbi Khan

——–

For Immediate Release

From Dollywood to Hollywood: Eric Martsolf, Days Of Our Lives star, goes back to his beginnings and teams up with a former Dollywood Co-star, Holly Norman, to release new music with an old friend

Days Go By Single Pic

NASHVILLE, TN (January 1, 2016) – Eric Martsolf is best known for portraying Brady Black on the

hit soap Days of Our Lives.  But long before he was making TV audiences swoon, he was making music. Although acting has become his full time job, Eric has always had a passion for music.  So, he recently teamed up with longtime friend, Nashville singer/songwriter Holly Norman, to record a brand new duet penned by Norman, “Days Go By.”

In the late 90’s, one of Eric’s musical ventures included being a featured performer in a theater at Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s nationally recognized theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN.  It was there Eric first met and worked with Holly Norman, performing together in a 50’s themed show, Let The Good Times Roll. After leaving Dollywood, Eric continued to pursue music, but his acting abilities landed him a major role on the soap opera Passions.  Currently, he plays the Brady Black character role on Days of Our Lives, for which he won an Emmy Award in 2012 for best supporting actor.

Almost 20 years went by since Holly and Eric had seen each other or spoken. Then by fate they were reunited. Eric was invited back to Dollywood in August 2015 to participate in a charity/fan event.  Holly was contacted by the organizers to surprise Eric for the event, as sort of a homecoming celebration. During the event, Holly and Eric ended up reconnecting and reminiscing about the paths their lives had taken, Eric’s to California and Holly’s to Nashville. They talked about their love of music and singing and Holly told Eric about a duet song she’d written that she’d been looking for the perfect male to sing on with her. Eric jumped at the chance to be able to come to Nashville and record. So, in October 2015 while Eric was in Nashville for a DOOL fan event, he carved out some time to record his vocals at Funhouse Studios on legendary Music Row – and there, magic was made!

The song, “Days Go By”, is about a couple parting ways; something Eric relates to all to well since his Days character Brady can’t seem to settle down with the right woman. The song really showcases the beautiful, effortless blend of Holly and Eric’s vocals. With Holly’s sweet, angelic tones and Eric’s deep, rich voice, the song is certain to capture audiences and paint a vivid picture of a love gone wrong. Holly and Eric are excited to be working together again and hope to make this the start of something special.

The song is now available on iTunes at http://apple.co/1RXzBOX and on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1RHnDtA.

 

Stop the Death on Days of Our Lives

Days HourglassDear Readers and Fellow Days Of Our Live fans, Those Involved in the Production of Days, and Others:

Should the title of Days be changed to Days of Our Death?

I originally wrote and published this post below a few weeks ago. But with the death of Daniel Jonas and now Stefano DiMera, I felt the need to publish it again. No more death on our beloved Days! That’s what it boils down to. I was traumatized watching Daniel die over several days. It made me not want to watch, and I know fellow fans who felt the same way. Please hear us, TPTB at Days: we want a soap that we don’t dread watching, because our family (the characters) is dropping like flies!

One death in particular makes zero sense at all to me: Stefano’s. I get that Joseph Mascolo has personal issues that are requiring him to retire. Totally understandable. But look how General Hospital‘s writer’s dealt with Tony Geary’s wish to leave the show. They had him say goodbye with dignity and leave with the door always open for Luke to come back. Why could this not have been done with Stefano? Why have him shot? Why the same week as a car crash that killed one central character, horribly injuring two others? Why after a summer of death after death after death on Days?

—–

Stop the Death on Days of Our Lives

Soaps revolve around and are driven by the characters that people them. One way these characters enter fans’ hearts is as half of a super-couple. I define a super-couple as one that resonates particularly powerfully with fans, loves intensely, or lasts particularly long. Its chemistry sizzles, crackles, and practically leaps off the screen—better have a fire-extinguisher at home! The most famous example is Luke and Laura, who wed as 30 million Americans looked on. We rejoice when their partnership prevails over obstacles. We cry along with them when circumstances come between them. And we can even accept that, as the old dramaturge’s saying goes, happiness is boring. So their comfortable, cuddly moments will be few and far between.

Fictional storytelling is about conflict, which moves story forward. Characters even grow from it, and I love that. Even super-couples will have lots of rocky times. This is the case in life too. We grow and evolve by learning from our troubles. Fine—I wholeheartedly accept this. But sometimes, stories (like life) take turns we cannot understand and that make no sense to me.

Such is the recent ubiquity of death on Days of Our Lives (DOOL). Rumor has it that the Salem morbidity and mortality report (as they call it at the Centers for Disease Control) will not include any more death A super-fan and contributing writer here at LTAS has blamed it largely on what fans have informally called The Reckell Effect. Yes, this is an informal, unconfirmed theory, but we at LTAS tend to believe it. Peter Reckell, the most cherished portrayer of powerhouse character Bo Brady (though Robert Kelker-Kelly was an admirable actor to portray him too) is said to have wanted to come back to DOOL. Producers, who must look out for ratings and the financial windfalls that can ensue from high ones, supposedly told writers to make his return happen, story-wise. An actor of Reckell’s popularity, who instills devotion of the most passionate sort in fans, commands a high salary. To accommodate that salary in the ever-shrinking budgets of daytime soap operas, other characters had to be killed off, leaving their portrayers’ salaries to be handed off to Reckell. The last twist in Bo’s return to Salem, though, makes the deaths of other characters and firing of their portrayers totally bizarre to us. Read on.

So if The Reckell Effect is an accurate evaluation of what has gone on at DOOL over the last few months, it would be responsible for three deaths we at LTAS cannot abide. And the resultant ending of two DOOL super-couples, two of them including legacy characters. These events have all been difficult for us to stomach, to say the least. We define legacy characters as those descended from fan-favorite characters, often inheriting some of what made their progenitors popular with fans, causing those that begat their characters to live on in some way.

One such character was Will Horton, son of Sami and Lucas. We and many fans, gay and straight, were thrilled by DOOL’s inclusion of a gay couple, Will and his boyfriend, Sonny, on the main story canvas, wedding and all. Not long after their historic, televised wedding, the writers broke up this nascent couple. Sonny left town. Eventually, Will, son of my beloved Sami, grandson of possibly even more beloved Marlena, fell victim to The Necktie Killer.

Then there was Paige. Her death too struck us as unnecessary and a serious bummer—I don’t want one of my favorite soaps to dishearten and disappoint me every day, though I’ll never stop watching. Paige and JJ were another super-couple that I wanted together for a long, long time. And JJ, as son of fan faves and their own super-couple, Jack and Jennifer, is a legacy character who means a lot to me. I want him to have a full, satisfying life. Additionally, soaps need their young characters in robust storylines now more than ever, as network executives obsess over appealing to the 18-49 demographic.

Remember the last wrinkle in the Bo Brady returns story that struck me as extraordinary (in a bad way!) that I mentioned earlier? Well, as I said, if I and you, dear readers, take The Reckell Effect to be true, it is almost inexplicable: Bo Brady just died! Why bring an immensely popular actor and character back after years of absence only to kill the latter, rending super-couples and butchering legacy characters along the way too?

Super-fan Karim el-Masri put it thusly, “I understand that sometimes things need to be burned for something new to be made. But this is ridiculous! It’s like Salem is becoming the movie, ‘The Purge,’ or worse.” Luckily, on a soap opera a character can be cremated or put through a wood chipper and still come back from the dead one day!

I respectfully, and with the knowledge that they have difficult jobs that may be even more complicated than I realize, ask the writers at DOOL to, in the words of Suzanne Powter, “Stop the Insanity!” No more killing, please! The late, great soap scribe, Douglas Marland, wrote a list while head writer at As the World Turns titled, “How Not to Ruin a Soap.” The also late and great Jeanne Cooper recounted it in her book, Not Young, Still Restless. The full list is included below, but I have bolded the parts most germane to this post:

How not to ruin soap by Douglas Marland

  • Watch the show.
  • Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the backstory of your characters.
  • Read the fan mail. The very characters that are not thrilling to you may be the audience favorites.
  • Be objective. When I came in to ATWT, the first I said was, “What is pleasing the audience?  You have to put your own personal likes and dislikes aside and develop the characters that the audience wants to see.
  • Talk to everyone, writers and actors especially. There may be something in a character’s history that will work beautifully for you, and who would know better than the actors? There may be something in a character’s history that will work beautifully for you and who would know better than the actor who has been playing the role?
  • Don’t change a core character. You can certainly give them edges they didn’t have before, or give them a logical reason to change their behavior. But when the audience says, “He would never do that,” then you have failed.
  • Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character.  Tie them in to existing characters. Don’t shove them down the viewer’s throats.
  • If you feel staff changes are in order, look within the organization first. P&G (Procter and Gamble) does a lot of promoting from within. Almost all or our producers worked their way up from staff positions, and that means they know the show.
  • Don’t fire anyone for six months. I feel very deeply that you should look at the show’s canvas before you do anything.
  • Good soap opera is good storytelling. It’s very simple.

Well, fellow Days Of Our Live and all soap fans, let us not be silent! The Save Our Soaps movement is about speaking up and letting The Powers That Be know how we feel and what we want. Post to Days’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/daysofourlives/?fref=ts) and Tweet them (https://twitter.com/nbcdays). Scroll down on its official “About” page on NBC’s website to find the names of head honchos at DOOL to send messages to (http://www.nbc.com/days-of-our-lives/about) (if you have trouble finding them on Facebook or Twitter, comment here, and we’ll help you out!).

Here’s to 50 more years of sands through the hourglass!

By Akbi Khan

Edited by Akbi Khan

Why Soaps Are Important and Should Be Saved PIII: Soaps are a Folk Culture

rp_IMG_0340-225x300.jpgSoap fans, and the larger soap community–from actors, to crew, to really anyone allied with the production and consumption of soaps– constitute a folk culture, and that is another argument for their preservation. One of the many important activities engaged in by anthropologists today is the recording and conservation of world cultures. This work is especially valuable at a time when globalization further erases distinct aspects of world cultures and homogenizes us all every day.

One type of endangered world culture is the folk one. The shared characteristics and behaviors of soap fans, whatever particular soap/s they ally themselves with, undeniably and indefatigably constitute a folk culture, defined by mass media analyst Trevor J. Blank as “the unifying expressive components of everyday life as enacted by localized, tradition-bound groups” (Blank 1), Members of folk cultures would not be who they are without membership in their folk culture, whether that may be, say what came about in the slave quarters of early American plantations or what formed around the secretly gay bars of the 1940’s and 50’s. Pioneering analyst of televisual culture, John Fiske, identifies four characteristics of folk culture, which Williams then attaches to soaps in her successful laying out of their worth: folk culture defines and identifies membership in a group; is transmitted informally (often orally), therefore eschews sharp distinctions between “transmitters and receivers;” “operates” apart from traditional cultural edifices, for example religious ones, but “can interact with and traverse them;” and has no standard version or template, as it is part of a process partaken in by members as they live out their lives. Williams quotes Fiske as saying “watching and talking about television” very often accomplish all four of these tasks (201).

Soap fandom, in particular, fulfills all these characteristics. Soap fans’ love of soaps makes them a distinct “other” in the larger cultures in which they live. Soap fandom passes on between generations and individual fans in a highly informal manner, often through viewing of soaps together without an explicit marking between viewers of the passing on. The distinction between “transmitters” and “receivers” of soap fandom is not of great consequence, in that when one has “received” a love of soaps via transmitting by a current fan, it matters little that the transmitter performed the transmitting as opposed to the receiver having performed it. Certainly soap fandom exists separately from other “cultural edifices”: there are soap magazines, websites, fan clubs, fan weekends at Hollywood studios, online forums, and on and on. These exist alongside many non-soap cultural phenomena, as do the fans who participate in them. And soap fandom has no precedent nor seeks to model any sort of cultural construction or participation: it simply occurs organically because of the circumstances of being a soap fan.

By Akbi Khan

Edited by Akbi Khan

Monday Blog; December 21st, 2015: Your Most-Wanted Soap Reunion

soapy christmasThe holidays, as we hear so often on soaps, are said to be about people coming together, forgiveness, healing.

During the rest of the year on soaps, we get the drama we love. We see so much breaking of bonds between people, anger, trauma. Then the holidays come, and the characters really do make a point of reaching out to estranged loved ones, mending fences, righting wrongs.

So this holiday season, what relationship would you like to see put back together on your favorite soap? Is it a romantic one? A business partnership? Part or all of a family? Something else?

Let us know in a comment below!

And from all of us here at LTAS: Merry Christmas and Joyous Holidays to our readers, all soap fans, and the whole soap community!

JBy Akbi Khan

Edited by Akbi Khan