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October 7, 2015

TV Squad Soap Report: Evil abounds

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 3rd 2008 10:03AM
TVS logo soapIt was big news in the world of daytime when Joseph Mascolo exited Days of Our Lives a few months ago. After all, Mascolo's Stefano Dimera was hailed as the number one villain of all time in daytime by Soap Opera Digest.

His return to Days was supposed to be long-term, but it didn't work out that way. In a surprising, some would say typical, soap way, the phoenix will rise again. Stefano Dimera, in the form of Joseph Mascolo, is coming back to Days of Our Lives. His reign of terror will commence once more -- in early August. Meanwhile, the other big time evil-doer on the show, Victor Kiriakis, will become more moderate and good by comparison.

Evil on the soaps is, well, a necessary evil. You can't have characters who are happy and blissful all the time. You need the selfish, the greedy, the vengeful, all those evil types to keep the stories interesting.

But not all evil is the same. As I thought about Stefano's return, it occurred to me that I'm glad he's back. He makes things happen in Salem, even though many of my favorites are vexed by his constant desire to destroy the Bradys. You can understand that the Bradys take it personally.

However, Stefano's brand of evil is so over the top, so outre, that it's the stuff of fantasy. He's like Goldfinger or Dr. No, or all those other Bond villains who had plans to take over the world. That kind of evil is less threatening than the kind grounded in reality.

Dastardly Dorian
On One Life to Live, villainess in Dorian Lord has done many dastardly things. She's just orchestrated a corporate takeover of Buchanan Enterprises, screwing up Clint and Bo and all the other Buchanans who invested their hearts and souls in Asa's company. But amid the corporate machinations, Dorian did something that I think ranks right up there with true evil. She broke up Viki's romance with Charlie by drugging him and locking him in her bedroom.

Then, to destroy him in Viki's eyes -- more so than just revealing that he was lying about being Rex's father and was helping Jared lie to the family about being Asa's long-lost son -- Dorian poured booze down Charlie's throat. She gave an alcoholic liquor, pushing him off the wagon. That was mean and, in my book, real-life evil.

Fulton was in fear
In her heyday as Lisa on As the World Turns, Eileen Fulton was so reviled for her character's evil that she needed security. When I interviewed Eileen, she told me a funny story about those days. "Lisa had just married Bob; she was awful, running around with Bruce. Anyway, I was standing in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and this woman in a pink Chanel suit came up to me and I thought, 'Oh, my first autograph!' I opened my bag to get my beautiful new Tiffany pen to sign her a autograph and she said, 'Oh, I hate you!' Then she bopped me; knocked my pen in the gutter. Everybody stood and looked at me like, 'You horrible sneaky little devil!' They let that woman just walk away!"

Stephanie's scheming
Some characters manage to balance their evil-doing with convoluted rationalization, so they can remain popular even when they're doing the most heinous things. On The Bold and the Beautiful, Stephanie was responsible for instigating a man -- a stranger -- to go after Brooke and he raped her. She was responsible for serving Brooke up, telling the guy that she was easy, where he could find the key to her home, how to force the issue. It was an unspeakable crime, truly evil. Brooke survived and is scarred for life, but Stephanie's never really been held accountable.

Retribution for Tammy
It's taken a year, but it looks like Guiding Light is finally going to Alan pay for his evil-doing. He hired a low-life named Grady to run down -- and kill -- Jonathan. Tammy saved Jonathan by pushing him out of the way, and she died. Grady has now confessed and implicated Alan, and Alan knows that he put an evil plan into motion that cost a young woman her life. He's ready to pay for his sins.

A soap sub-genre
Evil has actually been the central theme of a few soaps over the years. The greatest example was Dark Shadows, a gothic soap opera that had all kinds of dark evils, like vampires, werewolves, ghosts and monsters. Port Charles, which began as a spin-off of General Hospital, turned into a horror soap with sympathetic vampires and demons. Passions, the current DirecTV drama, and former NBC soap, is a cavalcade of the bizarro evils of James Reilly's vivid imagination.

General evil
In the history of soaps, one of the biggest names to ever appear in daytime was Elizabeth Taylor, playing -- naturally -- a villainess of epic proportions, Helena Cassadine, on General Hospital. More recently, Constance Towers has taken on Helena and gone nose to nose with Tony Geary's Luke. It would be great to see her back again, but the current Port Charles evil is all mob-oriented.

Not Sonny -- never Sonny. He's the good mob boss. Bruce Weitz as Anthony Zacchara is Mr. Evil. He's also crazy. Evil and crazy is a combination that does play as real and frightening. When Zacchara threatened to drown D.A. Alexis Davis' daughter while she was at day camp was horrendous to me -- and very evil. In fact, too close to real evil for my taste. Like Dorian with the bottle of gin.

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David Kreizman has no idea how to write the character of Alan Spaulding. Christopher Bernau's Alan was truely evil. But GL's number one villian will always be Roger Thorpe.

I must also add daytime's most evil duo, Brenda Dickson's Jill vs. Katherine Chancellor on Y&R. I could watch them go at each other all day.

July 04 2008 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about James Stenbeck from "As The World Turns"? His level of evildoing is right up there with Helena Cassadine and Stefano Dimera. He's always been one of my favorite soap opera villans.


July 03 2008 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What, no Roger Thorpe? GL's Roger was the #1 Soap Evildoer.... what were the SOD people thinking?

July 03 2008 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

The thing with Passions is that it never really was evil. Campy, yes, and they always SAID they were evil, but they weren't, so you could like them. Dark Shadows, for the time, was pretty darn creepy. Yet, Barnabas Collins, though a vampire, wasn't evil. He didn't WANT to be bad. The evil one on that show was Angelique. She scared the bejeebers out of me. I had nightmares about her because she was a bad, bad person.

July 03 2008 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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