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TV Squad Soap Report: Inspired storytelling?

by Allison Waldman, posted May 20th 2008 2:03PM
TVS Soap ReportSoap operas thrive on drama and they're not above borrowing from other sources. You could say it happens all the time, because it does. Of course, you can also go by that old Hollywood axiom that there are really only seven stories and they're told over and over again in a variety of new and different ways. Be that as it may, a look at some soap stories going on now will remind you of some other media.

For instance, on All My Children, you might look at Erica Kane's incarceration for insider trading (or whatever she was supposed to have done that was criminal) and think it's reminiscent of the Martha Stewart case. After all, like Martha, Erica is host of a TV show and an entrepreneur of the highest order. But the part of Erica's story that made me giggle was when she was on the run from prison with fellow con Carmen. Being handcuffed together was right out of The 39 Steps (the Hitchcock movie and now on Broadway) and The Defiant Ones, but the two women from different worlds clicking was more like Ugly Betty. Remember, last season when Claire Meade escaped from prison chained to a tough girl named Yoga? Think the AMC writers were taking notes?


Speaking of Ugly Betty, the Mode magazine setting is truly inspiring the soaps. On The Young and the Restless, half a dozen characters are collaborating to bring Restless Style, a new high fashion magazine, to life. Of course, only in a soap would Genoa City, Wisconsin, be the setting for such an enterprise. What fashionista wouldn't take cues from cheeseheads in the Badger State?

At least Restless Style has a staff of a dozen or more. The General Hospital fashion magazine start-up, Crimson, is being created by Kate Howard, two interns, and Jax's bankroll. The GH version is a complete homage/rip-off of The Devil Wears Prada. Kate, who used to be nice and seemingly easy-going in her role as editor in chief of Coutore, is suddenly a Miranda Priestly -- Meryl Streep's character in the movie -- ordering her underlings around relentlessly. My favorite moment occurred when Kate demanded that they secure a celebrity for the cover, giving them a list of stars to call. Yes, folks, that's how editors do it. There's a master list of stars, from Anne Hathaway (the other star of Devil Wears Prada) to Zasu Pitts and all it takes is a call or two.

I have yet to figure out what movie, TV or play has inspired the heart transplant stories on Guiding Light and The Bold and the Beautiful. The closest I can figure is Untamed Heart, but that involved a baboon heart. On GL, there was some build up. They explained Olivia's illness and her need for a transplant; she was prepared to die and put her house in order. The way in which she received a compatible heart, when Gus died suddenly in a motorcycle accident while on his way to see her, was twisted.

It was also reminiscent of the classic General Hospital heart transplant story; when young Maxie received her cousin B.J.'s heart when she died in a school bus accident. That story, which was really well done and completely unexpected, has continued to resonate over the years on GH, although recently the writers have forgotten it, or so it seems. Maxie -- who's one of the interns on Kate's fashion mag -- put on a designer dress with a plunging neckline that showed most of her chest. There was no sign of her heart transplant scar. Oops.

Over at B&B, the transplant story was a shocker in a few ways. Katie was shot at point blank range by accident and her heart was destroyed. She had to have a transplant to survive. Her brother, Storm, felt responsible for the gun going off. To make sure his sister lived, he killed himself (by shooting himself in the head with the same gun) and giving her his heart. It was a dramatic -- hell, melodramatic -- turn. And unlike the GH Maxie/B.J. story, there was nothing truly touching about Storm's sacrifice because it involved suicide. Since then, the shocks have kept on coming. Katie isn't happy about having Storm's heart and even went so far as to tell her family at Storm's memorial that she's scarred for life -- then showed everyone her wound to prove it!

There will be more movie/TV show inspired stories in daytime, and as long as they're done well, it's all right with me. For example, on One Life to Live, Viki's dropping out of Llanview and becoming a waitress at the Bonjour Cafe in Paris, Texas, was oh-so-similar to the movie Waitress (which was sweet) that I think they were using the same aprons and menus. But it worked. The characters that Viki met were interesting, the story developed and included others from Llanview, like Marcie and Todd. In every way, OLTL made the Waitress spin work beautifully. So, you see, it can be done and done right.

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Katie

This is slightly off-topic, but what ARE the so-called seven stories that are told over and over? I've heard the axiom before with no further detail, and Google is failing to turn up a result

May 20 2008 at 8:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

"The way in which she received a compatible heart, when Gus died suddenly in a motorcycle accident while on his way to see her, was twisted."

This is similar to one of the best episodes of "Cupid", "Heart of the Matter".

May 20 2008 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

As for Maxie, she said that she went to a plastic surgeon to have her scar removed so people would stop staring at her.

May 20 2008 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carissa

This is heart transplant number two in recent years on Guiding Light. Rick Bauer has Prince Richard's heart, as well.

I believe they have incredible surgeons in Springfield, because I cannot think of one side effect of the surgery he has had. I am betting Olivia's will follow suit. ;-)

May 20 2008 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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