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Pendulum Shift — Vets at the Forefront?

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  • soapsarecool
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    #428394

    Hey Daytime Derby-ites, so the latest news about Wally Kurth getting offered a contract at DOOL re-affirmed to me that The Powers That Be of soapdom have really shown over the last few years that they have learned (the hard way) that what fans want is veterans, legacy characters and a good use of history.  You guys remember throughout most of the late 90s and the 2000s when vets in most of our shows were being shown the door while we were force-fed crappy new characters and young models with no acting experience.  Exec producers and writers at the time foolishly believed that getting younger faces on our screens was the key to ratings success.  They failed miserably, and I think to a great extent this attitude really had a hand in the demise of some of our long-running shows.

    Over the last few years, we have a GH regime that resuscitated the Nurses Ball, brought back Lucy, Duke, Bobbie, Lucas and others, and delved into the show’s history for plot points and secrets.  On Days, who would have thought in the mid-2000s that it would be a good idea to start a love triangle between Lucas, Adrienne and Justin?!  And now Patch and Bo are coming back!  Have soap writers learned their lessons?  Or is it just wishful thinking…

    Interestingly, I have always thought that Y&R was historically the best show at showcasing veterans (Nikki, Victor, Katherine, Jack have always been the stars of that show) and yet now even though we still get our healthy dose of the vets (and even getting Christine back), there is an overdose of newbies that I don’t care about at all: Avery, Dylan, Joe, Hilary, Stitch…

    Anyway, random thoughts on a Monday, but curious what you guys think. 

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    tennisfreak
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    #428396

    I think a healthy mix is what is best. After all a world of soaps focusing on vets becomes a catch 22 because one only becomes a vet by getting an opportunity in the first place. It broke my heart when GH dismantled the Quartermaines slice by slice (can we all just take a second and recall that John Ingle was off the show when Anna Lee died and how awesome it would have been to see his performance that would have required me to crush two boxes of Kleenex?). However I recognize that change is growth. I think we need more of an approach that is gradual and not roughly akin to the scientific hypothesis of punctuated equilibrium.

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    EmmyLoser
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    #428397

    Yes, I think you’re exactly right, tennisfreak.  It’s true, soapsarecool, that there does seem to be, at the very least, the acknowledgement that fans want to see veterans, and DAYS, GH and Y&R have all been making efforts the last few years, I think, to either accommodate that or at least appear to be accommodating that.  (B&B is its own separate beast, so with stuff like this, it’s kind of hard to compare to the other shows.)  In some cases, I think the writers and EPs feel like they need to mollify the fans by having some vets thrown in somewhere while at the same time doing what they otherwise think is best for drawing in new viewers with “exciting” new faces and characters.

    I do think the healthy mix is necessary.  Sometimes we as fans are very fond of characters, and very accustomed to characters, who have really outlived their usefulness on the show.  At some point, it is time to move on from some of these other characters or transition them into new niches.  There are other characters who are just an endless well of possibilities and could be deserving lots of screentime for decades.  Bringing in new blood is good, because a show full of characters who have all been on the show for 15 years or longer starts to get stale.  There have to be young people, and I would think that shows would know by now that the best way of infusing new characters is through family.  It is much easier to care about the adult child of a character you already love than a rando love interest who just shows up one day.  But I also feel audiences have become incredibly impatient, which creates a little bit of lose-lose situation sometimes.  The show can’t take time to properly build and develop a character because the fans don’t want to wait six months for this person to matter, but if the show has that character immediately involved in a big storyline, the audience loses interest as soon as the action dies down because there’s nothing to make the character really exist on his or her own. 

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #428398

    Balanced shows are the best. Judi Evans is an interesting case in point: backburnered for years on Days, in 2015 she’s been delivering amazing Emmy-worthy performances with a storyline that is exciting for us viewers.

    I agree with EmmyLoser, taking things slowly works better, if it’s possible. And having that newbie interact with veterans is a really smart thing to do.

    I find it frustrating when my favorites are trotted out and given nothing worthwhile to do; on the other hand, actors can’t soap hop the way they used to, so I am glad they are still on occasionally. I love it when Heather Webber pops up to wreak some havoc on GH! I love that Kayla is still on the show – with the return of Patch, perhaps she will get some story?? I wish Gloria would pop up more on Y&R (just a few examples of many).

    I think life has gotten faster and so viewers are more impatient. Days had a major storyline that lasted 7 years in the late 60’s/early 70’s! (Mickey/Laura/Bill who’s the daddy story).

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    robbalto
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    #428399

    Excellent points from everyone regarding the use of vets in daytime! To sum up the main points:

    1. Vets are important, but shows need a healthy mix of generations in order to move forward.

    2. Vets need to be featured as changing and evolving characters. Trying to “return a character to his/her roots” does not work if it means a 50-year-old suddenly behaves the way he/she did at age 20. Days is very good at featuring vets in a way that reflects growth and maturity. Lucas, Marlena, and Adrienne in particular come to mind. By contrast, GH tends to play the vets as caricatures, hyperfocusing on a particular character trait or historical event; Lucy and Heather come to mind. Y&R falls somewhere in the middle. Characters such as Nikki and Paul evolve, while others such as Victor and Jack stay pretty much the same. I remember when Y&R brought back Jaime Lyn Bauer. I was so excited. She was pretty much the show’s primary lead for almost a decade. But they played her like she was 25 in a totally unbelievable story. It was disappointing. That said, I will admittedly take the vets any way I can get them.

    3. Newbies need to be integrated gradually, working with vets and tied to core families. Quirky actors who can really act tend to work better than generic model types. 

    Great topic, with excellent insights from all of you! 

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