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Monday, January 5, 2009

Great Marland's Ghost! - Part Two (The Clem Years)

So now we're on to the Walsh girls, and Marland's original plan for them. This is the second of three long stories in the document. It starts on Page 57, and picks up dead in the middle of World War Three: Lucinda Walsh vs. John Dixon. Lucinda's won over his hospital board seat, and John vows to destroy her.

From the get-go, there's a whole Armageddon feel to this show-down. Lucinda has taken what she wants, and John is a man who is about to embark on an incredible emotional journey, to ransack everything close to Lucinda's heart.

What's striking to me from the very beginning about this long story is how little happens, event wise. The story ends on Page 112. That's 45 pages - and it's all pretty much spent in emotion, both introverted and extroverted. Who manipulates who over dinner, who then turns around and stabs someone in the back the next morning... this cat-and-mouse that starts close to home, and eventually infests (and poisons) every relationship around John and Lucinda. But there's no party, no wedding, no funeral, no plane crash, no "event", no natural disaster. It's a very personal story about lies and secrets and grudges.

I honestly don't know how it would ever get approved today.

John realizes to get to Lucinda, he must break Sierra, and begins harassing her at the hospital... until he learns there's a rumor she's Lucinda's biological daughter. Now he's interested, and he starts building a friendship with Sierra. Lyla plays the role of John's conscience (considering her son, Craig, is involved with Sierra), but John only cares about ruining Lucinda and shoves Lyla aside.

Lucinda, meanwhile, wants Craig and Sierra destroyed.

And what follows, is thirty pages of Lucinda very subtly trying to destroy Craig and Sierra, unaware John is lying to get closer to Sierra (to destroy Lucinda). So in gloating how she's accomplishing her own needs, Lucinda is inadvertently sending Sierra into John's arms... along with the secret that Sierra is her biological daughter, which will destroy the Walsh family. And as everyone knows, it completely obliterates the Walsh girls - and it's all over retribution for a hospital board seat.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. At this point, Lucinda thinks she's the only one playing cards, and thinks she's totally in the driver's seat, unaware what John is doing with Sierra.

I've been avoiding literally typing out sections, because I don't know at what point P&G will step in. But just read a paragraph like this, and you'll see what I mean:

While she's enjoying the fruits of her manipulative labors, however, Lucinda is still unaware of another problem that's festering under her own roof. The closer she's drawn to Sierra and the happier she is as a result of this, the more her younger daughter, Lily, feels displaced in her mother's affections, and the more jealous Lily becomes toward Sierra, the harder she works at hiding these feelings. There are times when Lucinda senses this new resolve in Lily and questions her about it, but Lily becomes more adept at imitating her mother's natural talent for duplicity and deftly lies her way out of it, insisting that nothing is wrong at all.

Just beautiful. That's not even a real scene Marland's laid out - it's subtext for about a week's worth of episodes!

The entire long story is written in this kind of prose. It isn't building to an event like the Doug Cummings reveal (a fantastic story, but definitely a more plot-driven story than this one - and not in a bad way). The entire chapter of the document is written in these wonderful run-on sentences of emotion and jealousy and doubt and love and insecurity and deception. It's the growth and decline of feelings, as opposed to actions people take.

Don't get me wrong, there are moments of plot in here. Dusty's in a hit-and-run (long-time fans will remember where this is heading), John and Lucinda are individually playing mind games with Craig and Sierra, Shannon and Lyla are floating around, each contributing their own smaller chapters to the Dixon v. Walsh saga.

And Lily's behavior starts getting more and more wild. And into this, in the middle of Page 80, enters Clem Holden.

He is "quiet" and "sullen in manner" (is he now? :-)), and...

...we can tell from his attitude that Lily holds some sort of fascination for him, but from his expressions and his terse, brief verbal exchanges, which Lily teases him about constantly), we should wonder what this fascination is based on and when (if ever) he'll share it with Lily and our audience. Think of Clem as the very young James Dean - quiet, uncomfortable with language, but always with a burning need of some kind reflected in his eyes and sullen good looks."

I love Jon Hensley, the family man, that I worked with at ATWT, and I adore his wife, Kelley. But come on - tell me you don't read that Holden description and not immediately think "Smoldering". That burning between Jon and Martha all those years ago is palpable, even in these words on a page, long before Jon was even cast.

But this next part blew me away. The first half is more of that subtext crafting he did earlier, and the second part... the parenthetical... completely changed my view of Marland's Lily. Check this out...

Lily treats Clem like her personal servant and he never voices a complaint, but Dusty gently reproaches her for it, saying he hates to see anyone act so superior to someone who happens to be working for them. Lily shrugs this off, feeling that Clem is too insensitive to be bothered by her attitude; in fact she gets the feeling he enjoys the implied put-down in her attitude toward him. He's like one of the horses he cares for so; the more tightly you rein them, the more they know who's boss. We see Clem's silent reaction to overhearing Lily's haughty, superior assessment of him and know she's very wrong. (NOTE: I feel we have the possibility to develop a fascinating, incipient young bitch in the character of Lily and one who can supply us with plenty of dramatic fireworks in the years ahead when the characters in her age group move front and center in story focus. Believing she's Lucinda's natural daughter and therefore the "Princess" in line to inherit Lucinda's "throne" and all that goes with it, positions her perfectly to be groomed for the snobbish, arrogant, conniving "Bitch Goddess" every daytime series needs to keep their story kettle boiling. I would therefore suggest taking this direction with Lily now and carefully lay in the foundations for the years ahead.)

There's so much to start with here. First of all, the entire psycho-sexual construct of Lily and Holden's initial "romance" was completely Lily's sexual awakening tied to feelings of power, and I absolutely remember Martha, in her youth, playing that with Jon, the obedient-but-slightly-ironically-so farmhand. Then, you have Marland's plan for the character of Lily - a moment that initially made me gasp when I first read it, but the more I thought about it, the more so much made sense. In fact, look at Lily's reactions all throughout her early years, the Dusty/Holden/Derek years. There's a self-entitled agenda there... a demanding of un-earned respect from everybody. Then look at Heather Rattray as Lily, and the harder edge the character took, even in the writing. In fact, Lily didn't revert to the helpless damsel in distress until much later, in the late Nineties. And lastly, the fact that Marland referred to her, Dusty and Holden, as being front and center, and the focus of story YEARS from now? I suggest you turn on a soap opera... any soap opera... during the summer months. You'll see who the focus is on. Many soaps aren't waiting years anymore.

Later, as the story progresses, we build to Holden and Lily's first love-making during a snowstorm. And it's a doozy, my friends. It nearly stopped my heart when reading it.

Clem in his typical non-verbal style doesn't move but as his fingers linger on her naked shoulder, Lily seizes a riding crop (all due apologies to both Lady Chatterly and her lover) and lashes out at him, still screaming out her orders to the young man she considers her "personal slave". Even the sharp sting from the riding crop across his face doesn't bring a distinguishable reactions from Clem, but he forces it from Lily's grip then pulls her to him and into an embrace so passionate, that even the furious, confused Lily is forced to respond as it continues. He seduces her with a combination of love, passion and near brutality that leaves Lily breathless, excited and more than content to lie in his strong young arms when their mutual passions are spent. At this moment in time, the roles of master and slave are irrevocably reversed.

Holy cow. Talk about love in the afternoon.

The story goes on, Lily torn between Dusty and Holden, Sierra torn between an arrested Craig (who hit Dusty) and John, John torn between his revenge plot against Lucinda and his growing true feelings for Sierra, Lucinda torn between two daughters, all the while the secret of Sierra's maternity looming over them.

At one point, Marland takes a break to talk about Clem and his purpose.

My intention with Clem's introduction (along with using his presence to great advantage in Lily's story) was to introduce a struggling, lower income family of Holdens as a much needed contrast to the upper middle class family units that now dominate the tapestry of ATWT. Since we must assume that the more rural areas that surround Oakdale would certainly include farms and their farmers (and since to my knowledge there's no such family existing on other daytime dramas), I feel the contribution such a family might make to the overall canvas of our series, would be invaluable. In my final notes you will see the list of existing characters I would suggest writing out and my reasons for their exodus. This would afford us the opportunity (and budget) to bring in the Holdens and the added richness to existing storylines I see them contributing strongly to. I don't suggest we suddenly flood the screen with several new characters, but rather introduce them as needed, always keeping other family members and close friends alive off screen as possible antagonists or protagonists for future story complications. In looking carefully at the Hughes family unit, Lisa, Brian, Barbara, certainly Lucinda and her brood, there seems to be no representation of the "have nots" in our society who want the comfort and financial ease that is represented by our more affluent, successful characters. Clem of course is one of those "have nots" who can make a dramatic and sexy contribution to the Lily/Dusty storyline, but I feel the gradual introduction of other members of the Holden clan are necessary in time to allow us to understand Clem better by learning more of his background. I urge your consideration of this point, believing it would add realism to the series and broaden its audience appeal.)

Again, there's so much here, I don't know where to start. In one paragraph, Marland talks about his thoughts on new characters, the pace they should be introduced at, warns of them hogging up air time, the importance of realism and lower-income families struggling to appeal to the audience, and looking for a new audience with the type of family not seen on daytime before. There's his "how not to wreck a show" rules, pretty much summed up in one paragraph.

In the end, the secret about Sierra being Lucinda's daughter explodes at John and Sierra's wedding (okay, there's another event... there are a couple, I admit it).

Marland sums up by talking about Clem torn between his feelings for Lily, and the way he leads her on to show the power he has over her, even though he's in the position of no power, financially. (He was a bit of a scoundrel back then, wasn't he, that Clem?) Marland ponders the idea of Lily getting pregnant "a year from now".

He concludes, and I do as well, with these words... and his final words made me literally giggle.

We still have the bombshell that Lily is not Lucinda's natural child left to explode, and what better time than after Clem has done the "right thing" by marrying Lily and now has his foot planted firmly in the door to the family mansion, to let Lily (and Clem in time) learn that she's not Lucinda's child at all and that indeed Sierra is the only real flesh and blood daughter and heir to the fortune.

By this time we'd know some of the other Holdens and it would be nice if it were Clem's mother who had known Lily's real mother (who should of course reappear on the scene)

Imagine. Clem's mother knowing Lily's biological mother.

Oh, the places Oakdale viewers were about to go...

Last up - Barbara, Brian, Paul, Shannon, Tom, Margo, Lisa, Bob and Greta Aldrin. And some final thoughts...


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting these! These are simply priceless, and they are a joy to read!

Patrick Erwin said...

There are, simply, no words.

Scott N said...

That was as great as the first one. I always loved the Sierra/Craig/Lucinda triangle, so it was a joy seeing how complex that seemingly simple story really was from the time Marland designed it. And I couldn't help but recall Lily's fantasizing about Holden as I read about the beginnings of Lily and "Clem." The best part was the piece where Marland talked about bringing in the Holden family and integrating them as an opposite to the Hughes and Walsh clans.

The part about "Clem's mother knowing Lily's bio mom" was classic; I'd love to know at what point Marland decided that Lily's biological mom was Holden's sister (albeit adopted, of course).

We Love Soaps said...

Just brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing this.

It's a fascinating to read knowing how it all played out.

bl said...

I ended up running late today as I was reading this because I totally lost track of time. Thank you again.

Michael Khan said...

Scott N: "I'd love to know at what point Marland decided that Lily's biological mom was Holden's sister (albeit adopted, of course)."

I would, too! I know the story goes that Marland decided to make Iva Emma's adopted daughter when the chemistry between Jon Hensley and Martha Byrne was too palpable, but...wait a sec...if Holden and Lily allegedly weren't supposed to be a couple, then how do you explain Marland's long story? Now, I'm really confused, lol.

zarathelawyer said...

This is great! I am not even at ATWT viewer, but it's so interesting to read how these things developed.

Angie said...

It's wonderful to see how much attention to detail, character, and motivation was paid in these long stories. And actually seeing the words that Marland wrote is incredible.

Thank you for sharing these with us.