Friday, May 30, 2014

What I Learned From...The Ones That Didn't Make It (Soaps Blog Hop)

I'm not one of those writers that suffers from Writer's Block. My philosophy is that it's better to write something that you have to change later than to stare at a blank page. But here's the catch: you have to change it. Your first draft might have the beginnings of a fascinating story, but you have to develop it. If not, well...read on.

Passions

While many soaps included supernatural elements in their stories on occasion, Passions went all the way from the beginning, including a witch who brought a doll to life and a family with magical powers. It also included an obsessive teenager who mooned over a local celebrity and a number of deep, dark secrets.

Ethan & Theresa
Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald and Ethan Crane, just one of the early reasons to tune in to the show
For a while, this worked, in no small part due to the chemistry between rich girl Sheridan Crane and hard working Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald (similarities to Eden and Cruz of Santa Barbara are not coincidental) and Luis' sister Theresa and Sherida's nephew Ethan. The campiness and humor also kept a number of fans glued to the screen. But Passions was that rare daytime show that went too far: mocking the elderly and disabled, making a joke of the murderous and, bizarrely, a father who unwittingly impregnated his hermaphroditic child (that is not a typo). Mean-spirited racist characters were just one more element that could have used some relief. By the time it was canceled, many were wondering what had taken the networks so long.

The lesson: don't push the envelope so far it falls off the table.

Loving

The pilot of this show started off with great promise: Lloyd Bridges played patriarch Johnny Forbes who shared a dark past with a madam played by Geraldine Page. By the end of the show, both characters were dead, but married Roger Forbes had just fallen in love with journalist Merrill Vochek. The tension between the two carried over when the show began in earnest the next day, and as we got to know his wife Ann Alden and their children Jack and Lorna, plus Merrill's fiance Doug Donovan, we knew it was only a matter of time before they would begin an affair that would ruin many lives.

Bryan Cranston Talks Hayden Panettiere Connections On LIVE!
Before Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was the nice guy who took years to finally find the right woman
It was all great drama- but within two years Roger Forbes had died in a plane crash and Merrill had moved onto greener pastures. The show shifted focus to other members of the Alden family and added new characters, none of which were as well-fleshed out or tethered to existing characters as well as they could have been.

The show changed storylines so quickly that it, with a few exceptions, it was difficult to get a hold of who was a character worth investing in and who wasn't. The skill of the actors became essential in drawing that distinction, but the talent of the cast was wildly uneven.

The show morphed from Loving to The City after the majority of the cast was killed off by a character who had a psychotic break. However, The City had the same trouble maintaining a consistent narrative and the show was canceled within three years.

The lesson: every story needs to be about something.