March 28, 2002
For the past two weeks I
have looked at this blank page, written “Three words for you Greenlee –
‘Paint Your Wagon,’” then looked at the page some more and not had a clue
to write. I couldn’t come up with
another three words for anyone in ABC Daytime with the possible exception of
Jill Farren Phelps, Executive Producer of General Hospital.
Her first word rhymed with ‘duck,’ her second word was ‘you’ and
her third word identified her as potentially being able to bear purebred basset
hounds. For some reason, to borrow
Skye’s brilliant water to glass ratio analogy, my glass is dry and there’s
dust bunnies blowing around in it. What
I’m going to do is something my poor NonSoapy
Journal readers have to deal with all the time and my poor husband
frequently has to endure. I’m
going to just start yakking and see what comes out and where the plot takes us.
Poor Eric. My husband is a
saint to put up with my method of dealing with misplaced anger.
I’ll start crying and ranting over being out of Cream of Tartar or
something equally as monumental and he’ll weather 2-3 hours to find out that
I’m really sad about how my dad went crazy and ate himself to death.
It’s a weird crossed wire thing. So here goes...
So I’m ABC numb right now.
I’ve been watching GH and OLTL since they first came on the air and
just started with AMC back when David and Dixie were crawling around on the
floor and she was in her silkies waiting for Tad who was on his way home to
finish what he started. David
picked up the baton from the runner (so to speak) and was off. I started watching AMC because I was totally entranced by
Myrtle Fargate when she visited OLTL. Any
show that could have Myrtle on it was worth watching. I was not steered wrong and I’m so grateful to have added
an extra hour to the mindless things I do in a day. I would be all over Port Charles IF I could get PC, which I can’t thanks to the extreme
mismanagement of the AT&T Broadband Program Guru who decided that Sacramento
does not need to see either Port Charles OR SoapNet…ever.
>:< The stories are so
right up my alley and I’m miffed that I only get to hear about them from afar.
I want to look at Brian Gaskin…moving rather than in a still photo. I want to see Kevin and Lucy.
Picture me petulant. If I
could get SoapNet, I’d be in heave because my husband is gone often for work
and I tend to have the TV to myself after the kiddies are in bed.
PERFECT timing and way better than trying to catch the soaps while
wearing a suit of loud, angry monkeys, answering the phone and making a stab at
keeping the Department of Health from condemning my home.
Post 8pm is golden time and I’d love to spend it kicking back and
watching my soaps. Tape it? Sure!!
It’d save time and let me watch at night.
Unfortunately, VCR’s are about as disposable as napkins in this house
and I have a hard time keeping a functioning one around.
It’s a thought, however. Thanks!
Yikes. I’m channeling
The page is not so blank now. We’re
getting somewhere. AMC.
Great show. The players were
so easy to identify, even without the black and white hat code.
One could immediately assess, whether they were onscreen at the time or
had been benched for the rest of the season(s),
despite the likelihood of having won World Series’ in years before.
I’m sure Derreck once had a role other than the being the token black
and the Mac Scorpio of Pine Valley. One
can barely count the seldomly seen, chockfulla wisdom daddy of Simone as a player,
since he is onscreen even less than Derreck.
Judging from the AMC history book I have, Opal has had stories other than
kissing a delicious Hank Pellham bye bye, channeling Gillian and propping up
Erica while she cries. That, I’d
love to see. I’m even betting
Phoebe (I guess our resident Lila Quartermaine), Palmer, Stuart, Marian and Joe
Martin were once in more than one scene a month.
BENCHED, one and all. I hope
Tad brought his stadium seat because I have a feeling that with Dixie gone and
Leslie Coulson chained to a wall again, he’s about to get splinters in his
butt as well.
Although Liza is a beautiful
woman (I see her as Cybil Sheppard with improvements), I can’t picture her or
Brooke as the femme fatales that they are described as being in AMC history. I’m sure people who are newcomers to GH (previously
“my” show, but currently like an obnoxious relative that I have to tolerate
even though I can’t stand them) can’t imagine that Gramma Audrey was quite
the wily little minx when she first slunk her little stewardess self (yep, we
had stewardesses back then, not flight attendants, stewardesses) onto the
Seventh Floor Nurse’s Station where Jessie and Lucille reigned supreme. Now THERE were some strong female figures.
They would have eaten Alexis for breakfast with a side of buttered
Kristina. I still can’t imagine
Viki cheating on Clint with Roy Thinnes (Sloan Carpenter and, in a bit of ABC
trivia, the lying, cheating, on and off husband of the aforementioned Jessie
Brewer – dun dun DUNNN!), but I saw it unfold with my own little eyeballs!!
I guess the lesson is to not judge a book by its jacket.
I miss my old soaps.
Don’t get me wrong, now, I’m not going to wallow in the past and cry
into my beer about the way things used to be because in many ways, the way they
used to be sucked out loud. We’ve
had to endure some pretty lameass years, both recent and long past.
I’m under no delusion that it always used to be great.
The sets were cheesy and the dialogue was sinfully bad.
I can see that when I’ve watched tapes people have sent me from SoapNet
with old weddings and such on them. I
was stricken by all the cardboard that the actors had to pretend was real.
It was like watching a production of “Our Town.”
There were a couple of things that were guaranteed back then, though, and
I’m making “back then” a sliding scale that begins and ends somewhere *in
the past,* definitely before any year that began with a 2 and journeying
backward to any episode filmed in color.
When the soaps were in black and white, they were different.
There was an urgency and intensity to them that only comes with a camera
rolling on a live staff. It was
interesting, but it wasn’t my bag. You
could (sometimes literally) hear the organ playing in the background and the
oh-so-extreme music to carry us into every commercial, coupled with the Official
Joey Tribiani “Sniff a Fart” look of intense concentration.
The soaps had the quality of that episode of The Twilight Zone where
everyone looks like a duck except for Ellie Mae Clampett, who has unsuccessfully
tried (again) to have plastic surgery and must now be shipped off to a
“special place” for people who look like Ellie Mae Clampett.
“Eye of the Beholder” was the name of it and I am NOT a nerd for
knowing that. I’m not, I’m
NOT!! Then, soaps always, always
involved a hospital as center of operations. It was so on OLTL as well.
Llanview General was a busy little bee hive full of Jim Craig (*sigh*)
and, what the complete hell was that good looking black guy’s name who stole
Carla from Ed Hall?? Wait.
Getting it. Somebody Scott.
Man, it’s going to bother me now.
JACK SCOTT! (Great Scott!!) That was him. Mark
Toland (the mucho sessy Tommy Lee Jones – rrowwwlll) was a hot intern who
cheated on poor Julie with none other than a young doctor named Dorian Cramer,
one day to be Dorian Lord. Wild
stuff. Dr Larry was THE hot
commodity and warmed the cockles of our little hearts (and tingled our naughty
bits). We wuved him.
There were so many cutting
edge things that went on back then (read the above definition of “back
then.”) Those were the days when we actually had “issues” and
they were all aired on the soaps, much to the incredible mortification of moms
across the nation (theyyyy loved it, don’t let their indignant shock convince
you otherwise). Carla Gray (interesting name
considering what comes next) was a light-skinned black woman who was passing as
white, a VERY, VERY big deal back then. Imagine
OUR surprise when the mom from “Good Times” (“DynoMITE!!”) called her,
“Clara” (ok, so she has another name) and “her daughter” (??!!)
Dun dun DUNNNNN!!! Between Viki and Cathy Craig, we had mental health issues all
nailed down and wrapped up in a neat package marked “Do not open until
YOU’RE CRAZIER THAN A BEDBUG!” Women
(gasp!!) had children out of wedlock or else, passed them off as someone
else’s child until a drama-laden much later date.
Rape was a prime issue, not just Marty Seybrooke and Laura Spencer rape,
but Phil Brewer (the actor later to be Sloan Carpenter, as well has in the Oscar
Diva "A Beautiful Mind," who was not, to my knowledge, a
rapist) who opened the door to discussion of intermarital rape AND also managed
to rape Diana Maynard/Taylor a couple of times. He was one bad stretch of road was Phil Brewer.
Julie Siegal MOVED IN WITH Mark Toland (the one who philandered with
Dorian to be Lord) before they were married which causes eyebrows to raise so
high that bouffants were displaced across the nation.
People learned about hysterectomies and hepatitis and San Joaquin Fever
and aplastic anemia and all kinds of ailments because soaps were hospital fare. (In some instances, people learned that you could conceive a
child if you had a hysterectomy, provided the writers forgot this little fact.
Believe me, today’s writers in no way corner the market on sloppy
writing. The very hot Jim Craig
ultimately went away to a medical convention and just *never returned.*
The actor, Nat Polen, developed cancer and died and neither his death, nor that
of the character, was ever addressed. He
just wasn’t there any more and his wife, Anna, never seemed to notice. I’ve heard some little chap named Bobby suffered the same
fate on AMC.)
So back then, we actually
had issues that were cutting edge and very, very cosmopolitan.
Viki gets breast cancer now. OK.
Breast cancer we know. Same
with Monica’s breast cancer on GH. It’s
as though there are no unfamiliar paths we are trodding any more.
So the Scoobies get some doped up Pepsi from pre-Zander at a rave.
BFD. Soaps used to take us
to a world previously unknown and teach us things.
Now, we know it all and there are very few stones unturned.
Speaking of stones, Stone and Cindy got AIDS and we LEARNED about AIDS.
We found out about treatment options and the Nurses Ball was born and we
learned what was myth and what was real. I
think that is the last time we were taught anything on a soap.
Another thing you could
depend on back then was a pattern to soaps.
There would be a wicked, nail biting cliff hanger on Friday without
fail, a come down on Monday (moderate resolution), something tantalizing,
but not overly so on Wednesday (the bridge) and then back to the cliff on Friday
again. No one ever, ever died on
Tuesday. Even with spoilers (which
yes, have destroyed a lot of the flavor of soaps, as well as the rapid
availability of info on who’s coming and who’s going), we don’t have much
of an element of surprise. I mean,
who couldn’t know that Lucky and BJ were going to die?
There was a month of montage material collected just before, so you knew
the hand of Death had its knotty fingers right around their little throats.
When Lesley slid off that road and had her fatal accident (which would
later be rewritten to be Helena’s fault), we were agog!!
Here was a heavy hitting, major player (oh, yes she was back then!) who
was DEAD!! Of course, it had to do with Denise Alexander having a
contract dispute with ABC, but we would not have known that in a million years
because “The Net” was what carried away people like Cathy Craig and Viki
Lord back then! It definitely was
not imagined that we could ever go to a box on a desk, push on a little hump
with two buttons and find out what would happen on the show in two weeks.
To our mind, this stuff was filmed/taped/written/conceived a second
before we saw it. When that stinky
bum rolled over in that alley and looked up at the camera, we all dropped
whatever we were carrying at that moment and started jumping up and down
screaming, “OH MY GOD, IT’S JOE RILEY!!!”
The element of surprise was not only common, but was a real
surprise…not “oh, the boots following Sonny are freakin’ MIKE, fer cryin’
out loud.” In that world, the
boots would have belonged to Deke!!
Yes, back in the olden days
there were plenty of differences. Women
were beautiful and slim, but back then, slim equated to “no breasts” rather
than having the unlikely by nature “boobs on a stick” (“boobs on a
stick” is ©2001, Chris Simons, “In a Lather,” Eye On Soaps) look of
“See? Isn’t it fortunate for us
all that every single fat cell on my body just happened to waft north to my
boobies?? Ain’t life GRAND?”
Another thing that was
different was that the lives of the characters and the personalities of the
characters were really, really easy to relate to back then.
They were a lot more like us and we could feel their pain a lot more
easily than with the current cast of characters. They
were like us, but put in weird circumstances and still responded like us, just
like us with higher octane. They at
least did what we would consider doing in the same situation rather than the
outlandishly stupid, irrational, Lord, what is in this person’s head moves we
see now. "I know!
I’ll strap myself to a wheel in an abandoned funhouse after I beat the
shit out of myself and film it. THEN
she’ll confess!!" I would never
have thought of that in a million years. “I
know!! I’ll leave my beloved
daughters with my overworked husband and traipse around the world with THIS guy
for a year because hey, it’s fun AND exciting and I’m sick of the smell of
You know what changed it
all? I’ll tell you in four words, “Dallas,” “Dynasty,”
“Falcon Crest.” Suddenly, there
were no poor people to be found anywhere in ABC Daytime and if they were poor,
they didn’t stay that way for long. It
was more to illustrate that yes, the writers are aware that not everyone has a
ready cash flow from a sometimes unseen source, but hey, we want to show you
that rich doesn’t mean happy (although those who say that money can’t buy
happiness haven’t watched me shop when in a positive cash flow situation).
Carly was poor as a church mouse but kissed Audrey and Monica’s ass and
got right into a physical therapists job before she started leaping from man to
man to support her (and that job went away pretty fast after she landed – on
– Tony). Sophia was poor, but
then she was a rich cop in no time. Carlotta
was poor but proud and then blood money from Carlo Hesser bought Mammy a café
and she didn’t have to pick up after Dorian Lord any more.
Mia was poor, but now has a good job at the hospital and is sister to the
richest woman in Pine Valley (unless Liza’s tumor has managed to give away all
their money). Kendall was poor, but
managed to score a room with the finest man in Pine Valley and can go through
his pants for money (or, I’m sure we’ll soon find, whatever) when she’s
short of cash, not to mention the FBI financed daddy-of-PantsMan. Zander and Juan were both broke when they came to town and
were soon carrying a Sonny Corinthos Diner’s Card and all their expenses were
met. Poor is only a stepping stone
to financial freedom in the soaps now.
Don’t know about AMC, but
OLTL and GH used to actually have black actors who played black characters
(except for Carla’s five minutes of being white) who were involved in major
storylines and were shown onscreen several times a week!!
Brian and Claudia Phillips even predated The Wards (which was a wonderful
matriarchal family that is desperately needed in PC).
Now it’s as though the soaps added bleach to the wash. OK, sure, so there's RJ, Hank on the
fringe, Keri and Gia, but c'mon, that's a recent fluke. I did
happen to get a look at Adrian Sword (who I’d seen as Taggert after and before
Real Andrews) and Noah…thinking, thinking, Keefer and was thinking that
perhaps AMC had also had black characters that were interesting and exciting (I
could definitely be interested and excited watching those two even with the
sound down – as I watch Ty Treadway much of the time, I mean, who cares what
he’s saying?? Sorry Tread.
I mean, he could be giving me the winning numbers for the California Lotto
or reading from the phone book for all I care).
Yep, there were definitely
good things that went on *back then,* but we put up with our lion’s share of
Swords of Malkuth and Who’s Matthew’s Father and Lassa Fevers and other dud
stories. There were definitely
times when couples were loved or hated and it sometimes seemed like nothing good would
every happen on the show again. Cycles,
So the only thing I can
think of to say about what’s happening now, lord help me, I’ll do better
next column, is this:
On AMC, I have trouble
seeing Jackson as handsome love god as a lot of people do.
I don’t know if it’s a matter of personal preference or lack of his
history except in print or what, but I know part of it stems from his current position
as lap dog for Erica. I have little
respect for men who are lap dogs or women who have lap dogs.
It’s not lap dog envy, although I’m sure they are most handy.
It’s the whole bat-the-false-eyelashes and get what you want, pant at a
woman’s feet dynamic that weirds me out.
If those nasty little kids
break ONE THING in Wyndeweird while they are playing house in a historical
monument, I’m personally coming through the TV to kick their bratty little
asses. Basketball, indeed.
I think it would really
spice up GH if we could have a good ol’ “Who Killed Kristina” mystery.
That Joseph Sorrel thing just left me wanting more and if anyone needed
killin’ it’s her. No one has
needs killing like that since Katherine the Pod Person first walked across that
courtroom (after Helena brought her back from the dead) and then proceeded to
inseminate herself with young Nikki’s little fishes.
Ew. Angel is close, but she
was more like a tragic train wreck you just had to watch.
That’s all for me, folks. Pray my Muse has the same miraculous recovery from Dead that half of Port Charles and all of the Spencer clan except LuLu have had.
March 7, 2002
I will confess that I have been quite
skillfully avoiding the writing of this column.
I’ve been writing it most unsuccessfully in my head for over a week now
and every time I sit down to put it to paper (Paper?
Pixel? Whatever), something
unavoidable would come up that would keep even a letter of the work from taking
shape. There is, as my mom would
say, an on top reason and an underneath reason.
The on top reason is that for every column I write, I try to come up with
some kind of angle, even if it’s just a theme of talking freehand about the
shows. I could not find an angle.
There was no handle on the column with which to pick it up.
It kept slipping out of my hands. I’d
think I had something and down it would tumble again, usually hitting me on the
foot. The underneath reason was
because I am, overall, numbingly bored with the shows.
AMC causes me to stir awake from time to time (I did a Vanessa Cortland
– adoing! – wide awake when Maggie woke up to find Auntie Creature Feature
standing over her today!), but overall, it’s been a snoozefest for me and
I’m not really feeling inspired to talk about anything. Then it hit me. I
realized that I should do what I do best: tell
people what to do. I noticed
a trend of people on the shows who seem aimless and lost, so I am here to rescue
them from themselves. Imagine, if
you will, a very large book called simply, “The Book.”
(You cybernuts may use a database *if* you have too, but a big, arcane
book on an ornate bookstand is much more intriguing in my opinion)
The Book has the name of every soap character currently in existence and
after their name, some little something that they really need to know, a seed if
you will, that can grow into a complimentary flower of success.
For your consideration, a few entries from The Book:
(yeah, after the fact, I know) She was wearing a big, bulky coat and
Vanessa tied the ropes over the big bulky coat.
Honey, just slip your arms out of the coat and you’ll be free.
Watch more old movies (ironically).
Never, ever, ever divulge your dastardly deeds to your victim until they
are totally dead. Otherwise, they are called “witnesses.”
Either speak with Stefan Cassadine about “Overcoming the Oedipal” or
speak with Bo Buchanan about “Overcoming Being the Most Gullible Human on the
Planet.” Regardless, get fixed or
One day = dead dad who was an abusive drug peddler and dead mom who was a
nutcase. Next day = dead mom who
was a nutcase and live dad who is a really cool FBI agent who’ll take a bullet
for you. Take THAT to your
father-son picnic and stop whining, you ungrateful, hateful little brat.
Find Leslie Coulson fast or you are going to be Dr Joe with no Ruth (and
no Dr) in nothing flat. You have no story line now that Dixie is gone and David is a
hero for saving her life, so you’d better pay attention to the flashing “red
alert” sign over your agent’s door.
Self medicate immediately with ample Quaaludes or you are going to need
your research to treat the giant Type A Personality cardiac concert that is
going to be playing to a standing room only audience in your chest.
Lord, dude, settle down!!
Find out quickly why you are being written as a dumb broad on this show
and kill the perpetrator. Force the
remaining writers to watch old GH footage of when you were cool.
Stop picking splinters out of your ass and get off the fence.
You’re tying up 50% of the available men in Pine Valley.
Have Ryan fetch you your fancy suit and start making up with Erica
immediately. You’ll save us all a
ton of time and many macho bullshit scenes.
Anything that could be written here would just seem too, too harsh, so
I’ll just say to get a magazine, go to the bathroom and wait until we call
Focus. Think, honey.
Really think. Didn’t he
seem to enjoy flaunting that affair with Simone and bitching you out a leeetle
Invite Stuart and Marian over for a long dinner so we can see them.
Get new clothes. Immediately.
Don’t let the smoke roll out of your ears when Ryan asks you what you
want with that horndog look. It’s
not that tough of a question.
The words you were looking for are, “Of course, you’re right, Erica.
I don’t know what I was thinking.
We’ve both been under a great deal of stress and I absolutely had no
right to bad mouth Your Daughter, Bianca. I
do so apologize.”
See if maybe you can work the words, “My Daughter, Bianca,” into a
sentence a few more times.
Tell Adrian he needs to come home.
Put a little ass into planning that wedding and bring the date up because
there are just waaaay too many screw ups on the horizon.
I recommend eloping.
Tell Dimitri to come home and sadly tell us of Alex’s unfortunate
skiing vs tree limb decapitation, but HEY!
Meet Duke Lavery!
Take the money. Pride doesn’t pay rent.
Someone with your qualifications
would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or
Don’t back talk your mama. See
Appendix 14 of “The Book” for an illustrated instruction manual on removing
that cob from up your butt.
Seek help. If you get any
dumber, you’ll run into walls.
You’re being blackmailed by the town liar.
Are you an idiot? Stand on
your own recognizance (or sit).
Ask Jessica to read what her entry to you.
Don’t get confused or overtaxed trying to read.
Talk about Luna. A Lot. Entertain
the idea of embracing dementia. You’d
be good at it and it’s ever so interesting.
Talk TO Luna a lot. She’s
the best thing that ever happened to you and the only time you were ever
interesting. Live in the past.
Bring your son and grandsons home (except that Kevin and Joey are Nathan
Fillian and Kevin Stapleton again) and rebuild the Buchanan clan to its former
Do you still have a job? Stop
mooching off Viki’s millions and be a man.
Are you EVER at Crossroads any more?
Are you a doctor? Just
don’t ever, ever get on a motorcycle again.
Leave that for the real men on the show (Hank and Bo).
Walk, don’t run, to the nearest exit.
Cry into your beer and find your real self again.
I suggest liberal amounts of rock and roll oldies, dancing, pizza and Bo.
That is the only time you were fun.
Have Dr Larry remove the self-righteous chip that JFP implanted.
SPEAKING of which, Mr Tomlin, we should be working much harder to REMOVE
everything that JFP did to our show, NOT at bringing back people she added who
were later summarily dismissed! NO
ONE should show up on OLTL for even a second until Dorian is back and in full
bloom IN the form of Robin Strasser and no other!!
Tell SAM about the man on the wheel!!
He’s in your house!!
Tell Blair that you found out the whole Nellie story was a set up, that
Jack *IS* your real son and that you just learned David Vickers and Paloma were
in cahoots, stole your baby and brought Nellie into the scam to sell him to you!
Arrange to have all three killed and you’re home free!
Eyes open. *sniff*sniff*
Get Ben to talk to his mob contacts and help Allison and Roxie disappear.
If you can’t handle it, channel in Jean Randolph and let her do the
Kiss and make up. Otherwise – no story.
I know you need to get laid, but Rae?
She’s going to GH. Go find Jacara Principle or your wife Sheila and bring them
back to Llanview. A little
color never hurt a town, you know.
NO more blondes. You just aren’t any good at them.
Honey, I’m going to give you two words that will change your world like
no amount of Dr Rae’s therapy ever would, “Pfft” and “Whatever.”
Say them with a wave of your hand and watch all tension and
revenge-driven madness disappear. Summarily
dismiss your oppressors and throw yourself into your ugly sculpting.
You make good money. Get
your own place like a grownup, for Godsake.
Rock Lindsay’s world and change her religion.
Birds of a feather can make a really nice nest.
Run really fast and see if you can turn your body all the way around on
that wheel. That would be cool to
Find a new man and constantly harangue Jessica about your “sloppy
Wear a raincoat, buddy. She’s
a Fertile Gertie.
Take a cold shower, honey or else knock one out with him and be done with
it. He’s a whole bunch of what
you don’t want in your already screwed up world.
You’ve got more baggage than TWA and you’re thinking of taking up
with a bi-polar mobster with a Madonna-whore complex?
I’d suggest putting all of your energy into seducing the hell out of
Jax. Normal is as normal does,
honey. Fake it til you can make it.
Three words for ya: Bring
Back Jason. He’ll get you right back with Carly, help with the business
and be your right hand man (oh, don’t want to go into any latent stuff – ew)
Three words for ya: Tour
Three words for you: Jason
Three words for you: I Did
Three words for you: Katherine
Died Here (twice! – OK, that’s 4)
Three words for you: Go Get
Help. (what is she? Lassie
instead of Lasha?)
Three words for you: You Got
Three words for you: Go Nail
Three words for you: Hartz
Three words for you: Lose
Three words for you: I Do,
Three words for you: Watch
Three words for you: Rich
Three words for you: Katrina
Three words for you: Where
Three words for you: Don’t
Do Sisters. It’s icky. Fantasy:
Ned and Kristina are making out like mad.
He runs his hand under her shirt, up her back and feel the knob that
sucks her hair back into her head for a short hair-do (Only women who are 30 or
older will get this – it’s a Crissy Doll joke, so don’t hurt yourself if
you’re a young’un), screams like a girl and throws her out the window where
she lands on Zander. They happily
scamper away to frolic under the stars and say dumb things to each other off
Three words for you: Look
And that’s all I got to say about that!