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November 27, 2014

TV Squad Soap Report: Have I got a story for you...

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 26th 2008 11:03AM
TVS soapEveryone thinks they can write. No, really. If you talk to anyone who likes TV and movies, invariably you'll hear that they have a great story. Well, some do and some don't. In the soap business, just about every kind of story has been told.

A show like Passions, which has recently come to an end, told wild tales about witches and sorcery and dwarfs and demons.

General Hospital
has been firmly set in plots about mobsters in the manner of The Godfather, with Sonny Corinthos a latter day Michael Corleone.

As the World Turns, currently in its 52nd year, is rooted in traditional love stories and family conflicts, although you have to give them props for Luke and Noah, a frontline gay romance which is definitely a 21st century development.

Is there any kind of story that soap operas have not tried? Yes, there is. Comic book heroes. Don't laugh, it's not so outlandish. If you consider that the current line up of soaps include ghostly apparitions (All My Children, General Hospital), time travel (One Life to Live), mass poisonings (As the World Turns), gas attacks (Days of Our Lives) and near-miracle conception (The Bold & the Beautiful), among others. In other words, the soaps have and often do reach for the grand, cinematic or theatrical storyline. So, why not a hero like The Dark Knight or Iron Man?

Guiding Light actually did take a stab at creating a super hero in 2006 in a cross over with Marvel Comics, but it was only one episode. Harley Cooper, like a Spider-Man type heroine, had an accident and developed superpowers. The show was clever, but not groundbreaking and, to be honest, they never committed to the idea. After all, they only did a single, special episode! My idea is a hero like Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. The Batman.

I can really see this idea working -- and thriving -- on Days of Our Lives. Drake Hogestyn's character, John Black, would be the perfect candidate to become a Robin Hood/Bruce Wayne/Lone Ranger type of larger-than-life hero. He's super-wealthy and has had a history of being used and abused by Stefano, an evil-doer who's mind-control tactics have been sci-fi in nature. Well, since his most recent return to the scene (after he was believed to be dead) -- his memory was erased by Stefano's mad sidekick, Rolf, and John has been struggling to find what kind of man he is.

I envision John discovering that in his previous incarnations -- he once thought he was Roman Brady, then Forrest Alamain, then John Black, then a DiMera who goes by John Black...yeah, it's that complicated -- he was a very good man. He was noble and true and a classic hero.

When he reconnects to that part of his persona, he could determine that he must do right by the people of Salem. He can use his wealth to fund the creation of an alter-ego, a masked avenger, just like The Dark Knight. He can fight crime, do good, stand for truth, justice and the Salem way. He can maintain the facade of John Black by day, while being a super hero at night when needed.

I don't see any reason this concept can't work on a soap. It's an idea that's tried and true in other media, novels, comic books, radio, TV, movies and theater. Why not a soap? If not a Batman variation, what about connecting Days to Heroes. Jeff Zucker would love that!

By the way, Days of Our Lives is poised to make a big splash right now because Gary Tomlin's been hired as co-executive producer. Ed Scott, the former top guy at The Young & the Restless, is out. Gary Tomlin has a long legacy of work on the soaps, including being with Days in the early 1980's. He knows the kind show that Days is and always has been. He's a good choice.

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Steve Ungrey

Allison, puh-leez! The story regarding Harley was laughable and downright atrocious. It was like James Reilly had taken over Guiding Light for one day. I know you mean well, but if stories would go back to the meat and potatoes of what they used to be about -- LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS AND FRIENDSHIPS -- you might not stem the declining ratings, but you might slow things down a bit.

As it is, many of us don't recognize our shows anymore. And that's too bad.

What daytime also needs are new writers who aren't afraid to tell these stories. Look around at the soap sites. I think you'll find there's some really good "fan fiction" being told these days. :)

August 26 2008 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Steve Ungrey's comment
Allison Solow

Steve, I'm totally serious. You've seen the crazy plot tried on Days -- why not make John a Dark Knight? Or a Robin Hood? The Guiding Light didn't do a good job with the Marvel crossover, I agree. But they were trying to tip their toe in the water, not dive in and commit.

You're not wrong about love stories and strong family conflicts. If I were in charge, daytime would look more like 15 years ago!

August 26 2008 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ann B Martin

Actually Days of our lives had a story where Lexie and Abe's Bother had a story line where they played a dark knight crime fighting person, which is how Lexie went from a police officer to a Doctor.

August 26 2008 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

GH had an alien (Casey) in the 80s. Not the same, but a bit more out there than just ghosts and such.

The "mob" storylines are pretty laughable as it is, I'd be afraid to see how the writers would handle the subject of superpowers.

August 26 2008 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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