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Friday, October 17, 2008

Swept Away

Swept Away
Current mood: impressed

Let's get this right out of the way - I think a lot of people in entertainment are a little too trigger-happy with the CGI. I loved the way it was incorporated into movies like The Matrix or Terminator 2, but sometimes they tend to go overboard and it removes all traces of humanity from a project (see: Speed Racer or the last Indy movie)

Which is why I was so surprised in May when the CGI used for Jesse and Angie's wedding on All My Children didn't take away from my enjoyment of those episodes, but added to it. I still remember Jesse's leap off of the roof onto the helicopter, and the way my heart leapt up with him.

So to be frank, I headed into yesterday's episode of All My Children with optimism. So far, Julie Carruthers has managed not to take away from the soul of the show with the computer generated images. And the set-up is solid. JR and Babe facing off with Adam at the Chandler mansion, with Erica stuck in the middle; Annie and Aidan trying to beat some much-needed sense into each other; Zendall locking themselves away at the beach house where they think they're safe and sound, cut off from the outside world; Opal crying doom and gloom before collapsing at the Comeback -- everything's falling apart, so it's definitely the perfect time for a tornado to hit Pine Valley!

It started small - with minor background images of rolling clouds in various sets. And I had high hopes. But then the clunker: Half the universe is flying around Ryan and Greenlee, and Ryan's saying "the heavens are celebrating that he and Greenlee are together" (Wonder if he would feel that way if a stop sign suddenly slammed into his head?) I fear we're heading into the soap opera cliche of "the world falling down around them, so there's nothing else to do but get naked". And I was a little bothered by Natalia thinking Jesse screaming "There's a tornado outside!" was some excuse that he didn't want to go see her mother. Gee, Natalia - do you think Jesse set up those air raid sirens outside in a grand scheme to procrastinate facing his past?

But enough venting - because on the flip side, the reveal of the Chandler Estate Stalker was really well-done (and any scene with Lucci and Canary is gold in my book). And the ongoing transitional moments (the bench, the windchimes) added much-needed suspense to the build-up. This is also one of those times when I can forgive two-page scenes, because you need that kind of fast pacing to build the momentum of the oncoming tragedy.

And then we get to Friday's episode… and if you believed ABC's marketing, all hell was going to break loose.

And they did not lie.

I'll admit it - this boy's got lots of testosterone, and I literally jumped up in awe when Zach's car got swept up in the twister, left the ground, and got slammed back down again. WOW! I don't know where they got the budget for this, but I've got to say, I am impressed. The JR/Babe wedding is a bit much, if you know what's down the line - but I'll forgive it because let's face it - a little bit of cheese used as foreshadowing is a classic soap device. And it certainly got me teared up a little. Across town, we went back to the Ryan/Greenlee lovefest -- and I know this couple has their fans, but I'll never understand this "walk down memory lane" that happens during natural disasters. It worked for DOOL's 25th anniversary in the cave-in, because a character had a concussion, and they were trying to keep them from falling asleep by reliving old memories. But sucking face when the town is literally being decimated around you? It's not THAT romantic. At least as far as I'm concerned.

Thank God for the return of the twisters, because the destruction of the Comeback was devastating, and Zach's rescue of Ian and Spike were just beautifully done. Whatever you think of the character of Krystal, Bobbie Eakes can break my heart with just a whimper. And JR's discovery of Babe - well, it's no secret that I wish the character had been written out when Alexa left the show. But the discovery of her shielding Little A, the little hand reaching out from the rubble? Just extremely well-executed, and really wonderfully acted. Amanda Baker and Jacob Young stepped up to the plate, and really delivered. And then, just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier, Thorsten Kaye, silhouetted against a terrifying night sky, finds a pregnant Bianca.

Congratulations, All My Children! The cast, the crew, the writers, the post-production guys - overall, you delivered a fantastic two episodes. Sure, I could have done with a little less of the sappiness (or at least wished it was done from a more frenetic place, as opposed to so "time-out-of-time") But I think you have two phenomenal shows that both look spectacular and felt like they came from the heart.

Can't ask for much more than that…

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daytime's Shift Into the Night - And Where It Could Go

So upon numerous plugs from soap columnists, fans, and colleagues alike, I finally decided to check out General Hospital: Night Shift. I recorded the entire marathon this past weekend on Soapnet, and right now, I'm only a few minutes away from the halfway point.

Its fans are not incorrect. This writing team has done nearly the impossible in six short hours:

1) They've made me care about Jagger Cates again. When I first heard Sabato, Jr was on his way back, I didn't really understand why. Jagger served a great purpose in the nineties, in the story with Karen and Brenda (and later with Stone). But I just didn't understand what role he would play this time around. I couldn't have been more wrong. His relationship with his newly-discovered autistic son, his slow journey to acceptance that isn't mired in plot devices (THIS is how you tell an autism story!), his talks with Robin about both Stones (AND his reaction to Karen's death... on another soap, Port Charles!) all ring true and with authenticity.

2) And speaking of Karen, can we talk about HISTORY?! Because GH:NS sure is. And it's not being whacked over my head either. When the time is right in the scene, a reference is made to a General Hospital long since gone. Whether it's Robin and Robert's long-tortured relationship, or the death of Epiphany's son, it warms my heart. And while I'm talking about heart-warming...

3) WOW, did this show get GH back on track in terms of humor and friendships. The scenes in the stairwells (possibly the most boring set any of us writers ever have to write in, believe me...) are so full of rich characterizations, little tidbits into these characters private lives, quippy one-liners that don't sound like they're ripped from last night's canned-laughter sitcoms. Even if they're not solely focused on the plot, it makes me want to know more about who these people really are, and that rarely happens anymore on soap operas.

4) I haven't seen Tristan Rogers this strong, or this focused on his work, since the Eighties. You can just tell these actors are eating it up with a spoon.

5) NO EXPOSITION! I don't have to sit through scene after scene after scene of two characters talking about who they are to each other, or what happened on the last episode. Could it be? A show that actually TRUSTS its audience to know what's going on? And yes, I know this is primetime, and daytime has five hours a week to fill -- but instead of filling it with explanations of what happened in last week's air shows, why not fill it with those characters moments I talked about earlier that make us fall in LOVE with these characters!

6) It's proving to me you can take cheap soap opera sets, actors who are already overworked on their other show, and STILL produce a quality product. It's all about the writing, folks... if that's there, the actors will dive in head-first, and it doesn't matter how small your budget is.

7) There are day players who make me care about their one-episode subplot within seconds. And they're not cast with models, either. Why do we continue to cast non-actors in these roles on daytime soaps? It's insulting, and pulls us out of the moment. GH:NS, while providing the occasional shirtless man, or scantily-clad woman, never relies on the "buff" to get you to watch. It relies on your heart.

Yes, I know GH:NS has been compared to a poor man's Grey's Anatomy, but let's face facts -- Grey's Anatomy is actually a rich man's Port Charles (or at least PC's original premise). I'm really glad I gave it a chance - it's been revelatory. Ground-breaking, steeped in history, respectful, intelligent, tightly plotted -- I'm really glad I gave it a shot this season. This show definitely has a fan in me.

I have to wonder if maybe we all aren't better off exploring this option. Would you watch a 13-week prime-time Another World reunion on Soapnet? How about a 13-week Ryan's Hope re-imagining? Or 13 weeks of A Martinez and Marcy Walker in one final adventure?! Maybe this is where we, daytime fans, writers, and producers alike, need to go, because this little marathon is pretty inspiring.

My wheels are already turning...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

James E. Reilly - 1948-2008

There are many legends in daytime history -- Irna Phillips, Agnes Nixon, Bill Bell, Douglas Marland, to name only a few.

But in my mind, there is only one myth - and that is James Reilly.

To many, he was a complete mystery. A head writer who worked his way up at various soaps through the years. From the stories I've heard through the years, he (like any of us who work behind the scenes) had those who loved working with him, and those who didn't. In fact, before 1992, I'm not sure Jim Reilly the "Man" was any more or less important than any of the rest of us.

But 1992 changed everything.

It isn't even necessary to write the kind of obituary that details his successes or failures because they are so well-known and well-documented in the soap community. Ask one person, and he's the man who saved Days of Our Lives; ask another, and he's the man who destroyed daytime. And yet no matter who you ask, very few people actually knew this man. The words "Jim Reilly" became at once a target, a bullseye, and a symbol of a genre savior, all at the same time, as impossible as that sounds. His tale of demonic possession will forever be discussed, dissected and analyzed in daytime history books, and his Secret Room saga still resonates to this day. (Just ask anyone in Llanview.) His return to Days of Our Lives in 2004 with the Salem Serial Killer heralded a storyline just as impressive... as it was monumentally panned in its third act in Melaswen. His work process only hinted at in various interviews over the years, he was known as a recluse - almost the anti-Bill Bell, in the sense that he never knew his actors, or collaborated with them. He never wanted his knowledge of their personal lives to interfere or distract from the tales he was crafting. He brought a new approach to storytelling in daytime that was both innovative and detrimental, brilliant and flawed, beloved and loathed.

The myth of Jim Reilly will forever be discussed and analyzed by soap fans all over the world… and yet so few of us knew the "man". And never will.

Jim Reilly has passed away, and with him, goes so many questions, so much praise, and so many disturbed soap fans who waited to see what wonders he gave birth to next, what new twisted visions spun out of his future endeavors.

I wish I knew this man personally. I wish I was one of the rare few who were close to him - who understood his process - who learned from his innate talent. Somewhere over the last twenty years, Jim Reilly stopped being a man in the daytime world, was never allowed to be a "legend"… but remained this singular myth. He was synonymous with a writing style that proved itself impossible to be ambivalent towards. He incited emotion and (if you'll forgive the pun) passion in as many of his fans as he did his critics.

Say what you will about Jim Reilly, he most definitely will never be forgotten. I will miss this reclusive, uncannily creative talent - the man who changed daytime forever. And at this horribly tragic, sudden, sad time, I hope everybody mourns the loss of this powerful influence to the daytime industry, and sends their prayers and respects to his family, friends, and legions of fans everywhere.

The man may be gone, but his myth will always live on…

Monday, October 13, 2008

Viewing Habits of a Soap Writer

"Do these writers even watch their own show?!"

I read that a lot on message boards. It comes up all the time, for all eight soaps. It's a good question to ask, as there are times when it certainly seems like we don't. Truth is, most of us do. I don't know if we always watch it with the same magnifying glass day-after-day-after-day as we should - but I know most of us TRY to. (If we don't, it's not out of laziness or regret -- it's more about life getting in the way, and hours upon hours of episodes pile up on the DVR, and... what can I say? Sacrifices have to be made.)

But this morning I found myself watching hours and hours of daytime television, and wondering why I still do this. Well, the honest first answer is: I enjoy it. I do. Mock all you want, but I find it interesting, even when it's being completely ridiculous. The second answer, though, is that it's such a barometer as to what daytime audience is left out there, who they're made up of, and what it is they want (or don't want) in their television shows during the day.

You ask if we even watch daytime television? I can't answer for everybody, but here's what I watch - and how and when I watch it...


Unless I just got back from vacation, and there are too many episodes for me to catch up on, I always watch every episode of the soap I'm working for - sometimes two or three times if there's something really interesting. This should go without saying, but watching dynamics between actors, the scene and act tags that work (and those that don't) and the way production has restructured your episode (if they have at all) is so necessary to grow and become a better writer.

I also try to watch the other shows on the same network that I work for. When I was at ATWT, I watched the whole CBS line-up, and when I was at OLTL, I watched the whole ABC line-up. Why? Well, to be honest, the other shows tend to come up in meetings. Sometimes in casual conversation, other times in relevance to what you've written in your breakdown. Also, the networks aren't too happy with coincidental similarities in two shows at the same time. And that does happen a lot. Once, on OLTL, Nash was going to "kidnap" Jessica and being her onto a boat to woo her... at the same time Zach was doing the same thing to Kendall on AMC. Total coincidence, but we had to change it because nobody wants to watch the same scene on two different soaps in the same week. You'd be surprised how often this happens. So I like to pay attention to the other soaps on the network I'm writing for so I don't end up writing something on OLTL that GH aired three weeks ago.

I also like to keep track of the soaps that air on other networks the same time the soap I'm working for airing. At this point, I'm already watching 3-4 soaps daily, so I can't really watch five hours a week of the competing shows too. So I keep up on daily recaps, and try to watch two-three days a week. Why? Because they're my competition, and I want to know what stories they're writing for their audience - and what story they're NOT writing for their audience, so I can try and fill that void in the show I'm working for. Sometimes this gets me into trouble (I'm very close to both ATWT and OLTL, and many of their employees to this day, yet they compete in most markets. Yikes!) but the truth is, most of the people I've worked with can separate business and personal (I said "most", not "all"), and they know if we're at a bar, and I ask how things are going, I'm genuinely asking and not digging for dirt. I'm not that kind of guy, believe me.

But what about when I'm not working?

I've been really blessed in that up until November, 2007, the longest I ever went without work was about six weeks. This is the first time I've been unemployed for an extended period of time, something many of my fellow soap writers have experienced once or twice before in their careers. So what am I watching now? And how often?

Truth be told, I try to keep up on all eight soaps when I'm not working for one reason and one reason alone -- at any point, my agent may call me and say "_______ is interested in you, and want you to start in two weeks. Are you up on the show?" And if the answer is "no", chances are you'll be in for a lot of sleepless nights in your first few weeks.

But watching 40 hours of daytime television a week is a tall order for anybody. So here's my rundown of what I'm watching right now.

ALL MY CHILDREN - I've always tried to watch two or three episodes of AMC a week, but with the addition of Chuck Pratt to the team, I'm trying to watch more. It's always interesting when a new head writer takes over, but especially so here. I've never met Pratt, but when I first heard he would be the new head writer of AMC, it seemed like an odd match to me after watching his GH for so long. So I'm fascinated and intrigued to see what he does with it.

AS THE WORLD TURNS - A cast and crew I've long considered my second family, I try and keep up on three to four episodes of ATWT a week. It just feels like home to me in so many ways, and I have an affection for those characters that I haven't had since I was a kid and watching AW and Days every day faithfully. Even when I'm not thrilled with what I'm seeing, I still feel an attachment to them, and it's hard for me to turn away, even when it's in a down swing.

BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL - I'll be honest - I've never really been interested in the fashion world. So B&B was never high on my list - and it has nothing to do with the acting or writing, it's just a world I never really understood or had any interest in pursuing. (Ask the Beau - he'll tell ya! :-)) When the Storm's Gift story started, I watched four days a week because it seemed like a real character piece, but lately, sad to say, I only catch one or two episodes a week.

DAYS OF OUR LIVES - Oh, my Days. I won't feed you some B.S. line... I'll be honest here. Days is the show I grew up on, but I still have a hard time watching it more than a day a week. I follow what's going on, but as immature and unprofessional as it may sound, I'm only human, and the Days firings still leave a horrible taste in my mouth. The show could be firing on all cylinders, but everything about my last dealings with Days feels way too personal, and it's hard for me to watch it and not relive the strike. I'm sure over time that will pass, but for now, it's still kind of an open wound. Sorry, DAYS and Days fans... I'm still holding out hope I can turn on Days one day and just enjoy it as I used to.

GENERAL HOSPITAL - I watch GH about three days a week, more so during Sweeps. I don't particularly enjoy a lot of the mob stuff, but GH still remains an important show on daytime, and a vital institution in the eyes of its fans. I also find myself studying their dialogue intently, as I feel they have one of the strongest script writing teams in daytime. I also find there's a lot less exposition in their words, and I really appreciate that.

GUIDING LIGHT - Actually, I end up watching GL usually two days a week. Whether you like what they're doing or not, I try to go into with an open mind. I find some of what they're doing structurally in each episode to be interesting, but I find a lot of their transitions a little too jarring. But it's this kind of "weighing the pros and cons" viewing that I think will help me wherever I end up next - studying what's working and what isn't, and why.

ONE LIFE TO LIVE - I still watch OLTL three to four days a week, mainly because I'm still incredibly undecided as to where I stand on the changes. Never have I seen a show that can be so polarizing within each episode. I also have tremendous respect for that writing team, and always have. So even when I don't like a story decision, I still find it interesting to see how those people are telling the stories, as opposed to the stories they're specifically telling - if that makes sense.

YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS - I try to watch Y&R four to five days a week, only because I think you're crazy if you're a soap writer who DOESN'T watch the Number One rated soap opera on television to understand what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong. And if we're really being honest, I have a soft spot in my heart for their new co-head writer. :-) But come on - this is the cream of the daytime crop. To not pay attention to what they're doing is foolish, especially in this age when all shows are trying to hold on to their viewers, and Y&R seems to be doing a better job of that over the years than most soaps. Even when they were at their "worst", they were still beating everyone ele in the households by a landslide. A writer can learn a lot from a show like that.

So how do I watch these shows I don't work on? First and foremost, as a fan. If you're not a fan of the genre, I'm sorry - you shouldn't be working in it. But secondly, and almost as importantly, I watch each scene and wonder if I would have done anything differently, and why. Then, once the show's over, the message-board-lurking begins. Now I know you shouldn't take every fan's post to heart because people have a lot of different opinions out there. But if a hundred people are saying the same thing... and I thought differently? Then maybe I don't have the right hand on the pulse of the viewing public and I need to understand where they're coming from. Because the last thing I want to be is the kind of writer who plows on with something that isn't working just because it's what I want. Looking at something from all angles is what makes soap writing so interesting - because the heroes think of themselves as flawed, and the villains usually think they have good reason to do the things they do.

Plus, there are so many lessons to learn from watching other shows. I remember I worked on a soap that was about to do a boxing storyline - and the second I heard it, I went back and thought about all the boxing storylines I'd ever seen done on other soap operas (There were three of them) And then I thought about how many of them are considered successes in hind sight by each show's fans. (Answer: None of them) So it wasn't really a big surprise to me when the boxing story I had to write wasn't exactly a smashing success.

I've been called a fanboy by some people I've worked with... and occasionally, if I reference a previous similar story from another soap in a writing room, I get a few dirty looks. But I honestly don't understand how you do this job unless you know what else is out there. Fashion designers focus on their styles, their choices, their inspirations - but they also know that they need to keep an eye out on what their competitors are doing, and whether they're succeeding or not. I'll never understand why some soap writers don't feel that way about their industry.

I'm all for a singular vision from a head writer, and I fully support the idea that you can't please everyone all the time, so sometimes you just have to stick to your gut instinct as a writer. BUT... If you don't know what's working and what's failing on other shows, how can you learn not to repeat the mistakes of others before you?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Another Great Loss to the Soap World

According to Superposter's site, Eileen Herlie passed away today.

I am sitting here in total stun - first from Irene Dailey's passing, and now this incredible loss. Myrtle Fargate has been such an important part of the All My Children canvas for so many years now. Even in her later years, Myrtle's appearances were always warm, welcoming, and with the same fire in her eyes as she had twenty-five years ago.

The soap world has lost so many greats this year, but this one has really left me stunned, especially since I've been gearing myself up to face the tears and tragedy that will likely take place during next week's Pine Valley tornado. I can honestly say, my potential enjoyment of those episodes is tainted, knowing Myrtle has left the Kane Women, and our television screens, forever.

She will be sorely missed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What I Did on my Summer-Slash-Fall Vacation Across the USA (CHARACTERS WANTED!)

Just when you thought it was safe to venture into the blog-o-sphere...

Guess who's back?!

What a crazy few weeks. First up, there was Austin, Texas - where I participated in an annual music festival that is easily one of my all-time favorites - the Austin City Limits Music Festival. One hundred and thirty different bands from Gospel, Folk, R&B, Pop, Rock, the Jamband world... pretty much every genre over eight stages and three days. All the money goes back to the city of Austin, the food court there contains booths from all the local restaurants (no cheap flimsy burgers here), it's about the most well-organized and cleanest music festival I've ever been to, and the average age of the concertgoer is someone in their thirties, so you avoid all of those "kids-who-just-want-to-run-around-all-weekend-messed-up" crowd. This year, the head-liners were Beck, Robert Plant, David Byrne, Alison Krauss, Erykah Badu, Gnarls Barclay and the Foo Fighters. A great time was had by all!!

And in the middle of this, at 4:04 on Saturday (right around the time Erykah Badu began the second half of her set), I turned thirty-three. A *huge* thank you to everyone who wrote me on my birthday. You guys are just amazing - it was a fantastic birthday. Low-key, with the Beau and our good friends, good food, good music - just a great vibe, and early to bed for the final day of the festival. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Then it was off to Orlando - to check out Halloween at Universal Studios. My best friend knows somebody who does a lot of the art department work for these stunning haunted houses, so we got an "in" with the park, and I got to experience all the fun this million-dollar park alteration has in October (and believe me, what they do to this park is really spectacular -- I highly recommend it). And for those of you who are "Buffy" fans out there, there's a great haunted house devoted to the "Gentlemen" from "Hush" (the only Buffy episode, I believe, that ever got Joss Whedon a Writing Emmy nom, and deservedly so... ironic since there's almost no dialogue in the episode).

Then it was off to see my parents' new house... except maybe not. Turns out their car wasn't picked up from Connecticut in time to arrive in Florida to get me back to the airport. And a one-hour cab ride would really hurt everyone's wallets. But they were cool with it (since most of the house wasn't even set up yet), and to be honest, it was such a crazy couple of weeks, I was glad to have the last two days to lounge around in Brooklyn and recover from all the traveling and running around.

In the midst of all of this, the job hunt continued - from script rewrites to wrestling (!!!) but nothing with my name on it. Which is either God's way of saying She's not done with me in daytime yet, or the perfect job outside of daytime is just around the corner, and She is saving me for that one. (Although a sign would be helpful, Lovely Lady Upstairs!) And I've been away from soaps for two weeks, so I came home to a full Tivo, and three issues of SOD and SOW each that I need to catch up on. So I'm a little rusty with my Soap-Talk these days.

But that doesn't mean I don't have something to say, dear friends...

In my travels, I was exposed to all sorts of people I don't have access to in New York City. And it got me thinking - what has happened to the soap archetypes? It seems these days, if you're a guy on a soap? You're either an A) doctor, lawyer, cop or businessman, who is either B) the strong, brooding, sullen type, or the wise-cracking, sarcastic, omniscient type. And if you're a soap teen? Forget about it. You're either A) angry and tortured with a great chest, or B) rich and angry and tortured with a great chest. And the girls don't fare too well either. Unless you're a comedic character, you're pretty much either the soap heroine, or you're the bitchy vixen (who will inevitably be sanitized and turned into Choice A)

Where are all the characters? And I'm not talking about comedic characters relegated to the sidelines. I'm talking about all the different kinds of people who exist out there in the world, and why they aren't represented in leading man/leading lady status? Where's the rugged outdoorsman, rough around the edges, who is more comfortable in the wild, camping and fishing and listening to country music, while not villified as a "country hick"? (And why isn't he the one romancing the spoiled-brat rich heroine?) Where's the prankster... the man who covers up the pain in the his past with jokes and flippant remarks (Calling all Jack Devereaux's!)? Where's the lovable geek, with a passion for all things comic booky, but still has that Seth Cohen-lovabillity that women find adorable? (Too bad Adam Munson/Hughes turned into a date-rapist, huh?) Where are the small-business owners, struggling to save their Mom-and-Pop shop? (And no, I'm not talking about characters rotating who owns the local nightclub/coffeeshop, depending on which characters need a change of scenery, like Crimson Lights on Y&R or Metro on ATWT).

Why is the "popular" guy in high school always the one who ends up being a rapist? Where is the girl who rebels against her conservative parents by going a little punk, or a little Goth? Heck, where are the Alex P. Keatons - the kids who rebel against their liberal parents by being ultra-conservative?! (Thank God for Langston on OLTL, and River on Y&R - two characters who break the soap opera mold)

There are so many different kinds of characters out there in the universe - so many worlds not represented on soaps. Maybe part of the reason teens never really take off with older viewers is because they're so one-note. Besides Langston on OLTL (who started off as just a talk-to with very little future on the show, and only got more interesting once they cast a good actress), teens are either male or female... and that's about it. One of the most interesting and life-changing phases we go through, adolescence is relegated only to various Romeo and Juliet scenarios on soaps. And that's so old and tiresome, the soap audience immediately lashes out at these teen newbies. Why? Not because they're taking over the show... but because they're taking over the show with stories they've seen done a hundred times! You can't tell me star-crossed lovers is the only interesting story to tell with two sixteen year olds. I can think of ten more off the top of my head.

There's a reason why characters like Langston and Henry Coleman are so popular with fans. Because they're a breath of fresh air. If only the lifeforce writers latch on to so easily in these characters could be transferred to our vets, the shows would be in much better shape. Imagine if Bo and Hope on Days, or Zach and Kendall on AMC or Holden and Lily on ATWT or Jason and whomever his soulmate is this week, were built up with such gusto, and given that same spark of life? Imagine how attracted we'd be to them as heroes and heroines if their personalities were delved into in the same way. If they were seen just as unique and individual as their C-story counterparts?

There are so many different kinds of people out there in America - so many more archetypes still unexplored in the daytime canvas. It's time to explore those possibilities. Because police officers are more than just brooders or perfect heroes. And doctors are more than just brooders or perfect heroes. And businessmen are more than just brooders or villains... or perfect heroes. Family drama in primetime stopped relying on these stereotypes a long time ago. When will daytime do the same?

I wonder if maybe the majority of us who aren't writing from our homes in other parts of the country are so surrounded by the urban hyper-reality of New York City and Los Angeles, that we've lost touch with what's going on in the rest of the world? It's no secret that many NYC'ers and LA'ers have a different view of life than someone in, say, Ohio or Tennessee or Texas or Florida. And I'm not talking about the whole blue state/red state thing. This isn't a measure of politics, just a measure of being in touch with who your audience is... or who the audience is that you don't have yet. I sometimes wonder if we don't rely on the same-old-same-old because we're so entrenched in our city lives, in the lifestyle of the big coastal cities, we've lost touch with the kinds of people that are out there. The kinds of people we want to enthrall in the ongoing dramas surrounding the human condition.

There are so many wonderful, vibrant, exciting characters out there. Why aren't they represented in here?