Merry Chrismakwanzukkah. It’s the time of the year when soap characters visit Christmas tree lots, have holiday themed weddings that would doom them to a lifetime of combined anniversary/Christmas presents if their marriages lasted, and give each other elaborate, expensive gifts. If I were Santa Claus, these are the gifts that I would give each soap.
“All My Children” and “One Life To Live” – A New Home
No soap cancellations have been as prolonged, unjust, or agonizing for fans as those of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live.” First they were canceled by ABC, then saved and canceled again by Prospect Park. The shows that suffered a Thanksgiving Tragedy deserve a Chrismukkah miracle. Surely there must be some obscure cable channel looking to build its audience, or deep-pocketed online video streaming service who needs to rebuild customer goodwill after a recent public relations debacle whose name rhymes with Petflix that will be able to find a way to profitably produce the shows.
“General Hospital” – Time to Succeed
For most of 2011, the writing on “General Hospital” was so weak that fans grumbled that if ABC had to cancel a soap, it should have been GH. Santa, in the Grinch-like form of former ABC Daytime President Brian Frons, already gifted the show with what it needs to improve: current OLTL executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati. Unfortunately, with Katie Couric’s new talk show scheduled to debut on ABC stations in September 2012, the show needs a miracle to survive. Not only do GH’s ratings need to significantly improve, but the new weight loss/makeover hybrid “The Revolution” needs to be an epic failure.
“Days of Our Lives” – A New Costume Designer
The rebooted “Days of Our Lives” is still finding its footing. There is one storyline that is keeping me riveted: the aftermath of Sami (Alison Sweeney) and E.J’s (James Scott) grief related one-night stand. The others, while reasonably well-written, are less compelling. I trust that eventually all of the plots will become more gripping. That’s why I would like to give DOOL the gift of something that could make an overnight improvement in the show: a better wardrobe. Yes, the show is on a tight budget, but that does not mean that all of the characters need to look like they bought their clothes on the clearance rack at Ross. It was the giant flower sweater that Madison (Sarah Brown) wore earlier this week that made me snap. This is a character who is supposed to work in the beauty business. She should be fashion forward, not dressed like the mom on “The Middle.” Sami, the show’s leading lady, regularly looks like a slob. That may be realistic for a mother of so many kids, but soaps are supposed to have an element of aspirational escapism. DOOL has a gorgeous cast. In 2012, they should be as stylish as the characters on every other soap.
“The Young & the Restless” – A Return To Character-Driven Storytelling
“The Young & the Restless” had been America’s number one soap for 23 years straight. It rose to the top on the basis of character driven storytelling. The population of Genoa City was clearly defined. Victor (Eric Braeden) was a ruthless business man, and controlling in his personal life, but he was not a heartless thug. Sharon (Sharon Case) made decisions that hurt her marriage because she was impulsive and insecure, but Nick (Josh Morrow) was her one true love and vice versa. When a character crossed the line into true evil, they would either end up dead or in prison for a very long time, even if meant taking a popular character like Michael (Christian Leblanc) off the canvas for years. Those days are long gone. Victor now keeps a daughter from seeing his child while she is battling cancer. Adam (Michael Muhney) not only is unpunished for numerous felonies, but he gets the love of Sharon, the woman whose baby he kidnapped and let think she was dead. Nick hops from woman to woman. It’s time for the ghost of Christmas past to pay a visit to the G.C. and remind TPTB of what makes Y&R great.
“The Bold & the Beautiful” – No More Off-Camera Break Ups
There are times when soap writers realize that a relationship is not working or that the overall story would be better served by breaking up a couple. That is when it’s time to create a story arc about the dissolution of the relationship. They can be engrossing and heartwrenching. However, “The Bold & the Beautiful” has gotten into the habit of skipping those steps. Jackie (Leslie Anne Down) and Owen (Brandon Beemer) grew apart off-camera. He fell in love with Bridget (Ashley Jones), also off-camera. The audience was surprised to learn that Donna (Jennifer Gareis) and Justin’s (Aaron Spears) marriage had been over for a while. Pam’s (Alley Mills) obsessive love for Steve (Patrick Duffy) also ended while nobody was watching. Surely a few of the discussions of Hope’s (Kim Matula) virginity could have been cut to make room for these important events. In 2012, B&B needs to give all of its characters and relationships the gift of screentime.
Brad Bell Buys Chicago Sun Times
The Bell family has a soft spot for all forms of endangered media. “The Bold & the Beautiful” executive producer Brad Bell, who owns the show along with the rest of the Bell family, just bought a stake in The Chicago Sun-Time, a renowned newspaper that, like many print publications, is in dire financial straits. A group of investors, all of whom have ties to the city of Chicago bought the newspaper. The Bell family’s roots are in Chicago. His father, “The Young & the Restless” and B&B creator Bill Bell Senior lived there for years, writing “The Young & the Restless” far from the show’s Los Angeles production facility. His mother Lee Phillip Bell hosted a Chicago based talk show, and has been described as the Oprah Winfrey of her generation. The consortium that purchased the paper plans to focus on transitioning it to an on-line news source. According to the Sun-Times blog, “To accomplish the deal, the investors created a new company with the pun-laden name Wrapports LLC. [New CEO Tim] Knight said the name refers to a mix of old media — the “wrapping” of a newspaper — with the rapport promised by new technology. He said the company will buy other ventures or launch its own tech startups.” Hey, a daytime executive producer buying a stake in a tech firm? Could Bell be plotting a Plan B for B&B in case CBS decides to cancel it?