Nelson Aspen is one of Entertainment's most charming on-air personalities in TV, radio, print and on-line. For three seasons, he was the Hollywood Producer/Reporter for TV Guide Television and frequent guest star on everything from celebrity news and talk shows to sitcoms and travel programs. He's contributed to a vast array of outlets, from news magazines EXTRA, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD and INSIDE EDITION to his own how-to series "NEW with NELSON!" Currently, he's juggling regular correspondent duties for the #1 morning shows of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, as well as a fifth consecutive season on Ireland's AFTERNOON SHOW...bringing the latest in entertainment and pop culture to millions of viewers around the world, every morning!
A Day Off with the Soaps
By Nelson Aspen
I'm proud to say that after a quarter-century of working in and around Daytime Television, I keep a pretty up-to-date account of the goings on with all the shows. Unfortunately, as they dwindle in number, that gets easier and easier. With SoapNet and YouTube, as well as sites like this one, I can keep abreast of comings and goings, what's hot and what's not, etc. But if you're old enough to remember life before the internet or even VCRs, the only way a person could keep up on everything was to have the occasional sick day and channel surf with a remote control in hand and a stack of thick, glossy Daytime magazines beside you.
Today (Friday, April 30), I had a day like that. Only I wasn't sick, I just happened to have off from work and got sucked in to one show after the other. I must say, I was encouraged! Lately I haven't held out much hope for the state of daytime television, creatively or commercially. Maybe it's only because of Sweeps, but I was thoroughly compelled by wayyy more than I expected. I was so pleasantly surprised I wanted to jot down some thoughts in case the savvy readers of welovesoaps would like to weigh in, since I acknowledge that I am comparatively a casual observer.
Y&R. Anyone who's ever admired the show is dismayed by the plot-driven absurdities that dominate this once great serial drama. But the earnest commitment made by the talented cast of veteran favorites made even the Sarah/Patty silliness of the lame "Strangers on a Train" storyline somewhat enjoyable. As much as I rolled my eyes at the inane premise of having Daisy drugging Daniel while he conveniently stepped out of the room to get her tissues (when she had no tears in her eyes... Has the props budget been so scaled back that they couldn't provide that one-note little actresses with some glycerin?!), I was interested for the entire hour. Christian LeBlanc, Michelle Stafford, Stacy Haiduk and the new "Little D" especially drew me in. Y&R was always one of those shows that you could count on to slowly and methodically tell its stories. You could miss a WEEK and still catch up. But now in their wham-bam desire to move at lightning speed, it's tough to keep up. Hey, if you have 5 hours a week to spin a yarn, why not take your time and do it write? (oops, that's a Freudian typo!)
B&B. Missed it. That is to say, I did some household chores. I never "miss" B&B when I don't see it. As brilliant as Susan Flannery is, I find the show tough to watch. It always seems like I'm trapped at a talent showcase at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. And if you've ever been to a talent showcase at the Beverly Hills Playhouse (which I have), you'd know what I mean. Lots of pretty youngsters and very little talent.
AMC. I missed it today, but have been keeping up on SoapNet. Palmer's memorial was really a trip down memory lane (Cady McClain's last line moved me to tears) and I'm somewhat encouraged by the way the new writing team is trying to incorporate the show's rich history into the current revamp. Honoring that may be the only way to keep it afloat...after all, "The Past is Prologue."
One o'clock was the crisis hour. ATWT, DOOL and OLTL opposite each other. Lots of channel surfing.
ATWT. Great to see Craig versus Lucinda. Their brief, explosive scenes were the only interesting moments for me. Why do I think the actors must have re-written and re-directed it themselves? It was like a completely different show from everything else: revolving around kids I didn't care about or the tired old merry-go-round of Carly/Jack and Lily/Holden. Yawn. If that's what The World revolves around, no wonder it's been ordered to Stop Turning. Incidentally, I did LOVE the two days of Bob & Kim's wedding anniversary...even if the plot device of their not being legally wed was contrived. Like many readers stated here, it just made the youth-driven storylines seem to further pale in comparison.
DOOL. The cast is just as pretty as B&B's but with talent galore and the benefit of solid dialogue. When Sami told Caroline that the Bradys go to church a lot and pray "to forgive those who trespass against us"...but they never do, I wanted to cheer! Alison Sweeney delivered it pitch-perfect and Peggy McCay's reaction was equally powerful. Even the often over-the-top Stefano seemed in command without camp. I worked with EP Gary Tomlin a thousand years ago when he brilliantly executed the "Sunny's Date Rape" storyline on SFT. It looks to me like he's still got the touch. This is a show that knows how to introduce the younger generation with respect to the older ones. It made me want to keep watching.
OLTL. This is the show I watch the least, even though I spent many months of my life working on it in the 1980s and still feel great affection for the Lords and Buchanans. Everything with Cole, Marty, Todd, Tea, Starr, Kelly, Blair & Dorian roped me in today. The LOOK of the show is the best I've seen in recent memory...OLTL has always seemed to be challenged by lousy lighting. Bo & Matthew's scenes were sweet without being sappy. But the makeup staff needs to remember that an actor's hand should match the color of his face. I didn't notice how orange the poor kid's face was until he held up his lily white hand. I'll be back to Llanview more often.
GH. Pretty much my favorite show these days. I hate that the "Mob" has dominated Port Charles for so many years. I still contend that a show called "General Hospital" should really revolve around the hospital and not a bunch of liars and killers who never pay for their crimes. Was there ever a better liar than GL's Nola Reardon? But she was called out, punished and ultimately redeemed. I keep waiting for that kind of redemption to hit the Corinthos clan. Today, though heavy on the requisite courtroom testimony/exposition, was expertly played by all the cast and encouraged me that we might finally be purged of the daytime version of "The Godfather." The new Michael is growing on me and I think if the story could just get off the mobster path, we could see Sonny segue into more of an Alan Spaulding than a Don Corleone. GH does a great job with its couples of all ages...I love Tracy/Luke and Dante/Lulu especially. I think their supporting cast of recurring Day players is also the best in daytime.
These reflections may not be revelations to you, WLS readers, who may keep up more devotedly with these shows than I do. But it was a very special and entertaining afternoon for me...the way I remember a day of watching soaps USED to be. Thanks for letting me share my two-cents...and if you're going to comment, please be nice! I'm a huge fan and friend of Daytime, after all....just like you :)