Death In Daytime: (A Soap Opera Mystery 01)

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A colleague and I even interviewed the great gentleman and genius headwriter Henry Slesar circa in Manhattan. He had the biggest, fanciest Park Avenue apartment I ever saw. Sonny ALSO ordered his henchmen to murder ALL innocent bystanders who might be able to later provide eye-witness accounts of the slaughter! When you count up number of the victims of the OTHER serial killers or would that be mass murderers; I always get confused by the two — NONE of the other serial killers have managed to murder as many people as Sonny and Jason have murdered!

I too am tired of the whole TMK text message killer storyline. Where is the pay-off? First two core characters are killed, along with the most recast nanny in daytime history, and what happens. Poor Maxie has not only had her baby sister, but two policemen boyfriends murdered. And there are no clear suspects other than trying to pin it on Johnny Zacchara. Now rumors are that the busboy did it or Detective Harper, the day player, or Dull Diego who is supposed to be dead.

Does anyone care? We all know that Jason is going to be the one to figure it out, since the cops in Port Charles seem incapable of giving out a traffic ticket, thanks to Bob Guza who somewhere along the line went from being a talented headwriter, to a boring hack. And as you well know, Mr. Slesar is the only soap writer who wrote a mystery that nobody could figure out! Ho boy. We are in total agreement here, Ms. They started EON around the time the Madisons arrived in town.

I have fond memories of rushing home from school each afternoon to catch the latest episode and how it always left me wanting more.

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As much as I loved it, I think it spoiled me for other soap operas. It was that good. Slesar told such great, carefully crafted stories, with wonderful characters. I followed so closely that I got pretty good at figuring out whodunit before it was revealed. And he also was good at making the murder and the deaths matter, following through in showing the aftermath and repercussions. Stalwart characters who would have to be pushed beyond the brink to so much as slap somebody are considered major suspects.

Stable ish characters who were minorly insulted by the victim are considered major suspects. Minor, barely over-five characters are clearly brought in as nothing more than the culprit, sometimes after the murder has occurred. Few lasting repercussions of the murder. Erica was front and center, and I knew good and well that she was not the type to so much as risk breaking a nail to kill someone. When I saw Janet in the group, it was clear to me that shedunit. Case closed.

Who killed Dusty Donovan? Clean, classic, brief, over-and-out. Mediocre, but it violated none of the principles of decent murder mystery writing: a. A reasonable list of suspects. Everyone had a clear motive and opportunity. Authoritative follow-up. The police went right to work investigating, determined to uncover the truth about the murder. While a mediocre, short-term murder mystery is nothing to applaud, the story does accomplish a great deal for the show.

ATWT was not invested in telling a lengthy mystery story. What they did was use the murder mystery genre to take care of business, some of it behind-the-scenes the write-out of a popular character due to the loss of the actorGrayson McCouch and some of it very much the essence of what this show does best…presenting a strong variety of characters against a backdrop of heightened drama. This murder mystery opened provided several strong opportunities for the show: a. A chance to feature the often-underutilized core Hughes family.

On Soaps, Multiple Suspect Murder Mysteries are So-o-o Done!

An introduction to the new Chris Hughes and the kind of man he is. A re-introduction of Emily as the woman who never ever lets herself make the right decision about a man … and a reminder of her brief and mostly secret career as a hooker. This story both helped illustrated who the characters on the canvas are in a way that played to their strengths and weaknesses…while clarifying what makes their lives worth living.

The murder mystery melodrama was a means to this end. Good characters are offed for no apparent reason. Everything about this mystery is all-tease, no substance. Simply put. When SuperJason finally nails the killer and the explanation for the killings is finally concocted and presented hopefully in that order , the story will make no more sense than it made along the way. Six months and too many characters wasted…so far.

Marlena says: Well argued, pjs. Here here Marlena! GH is notorious for dragging those badboys out and for what!? A really crappy payoff! Give me a break! Enough of this murder mystery weekend-esq storyline! Lets get the romance back onscreen! Its time to bring the love back into daytime to take our troubles away…. It was fascinating riveting entertainment…at first.

All my favorites from nursery school — high school were being popped off. Every week it was getting harder and harder to guess who did it. This was, of course, before there were spoilers to wreck the surprise.

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Rachel seemed to go to jail and then seemed to turn up every now and then after. It had no bearing on any events in the months and years afterward as a good murder story would. Marlena says: Fabs, I have to agree with you that the Salem Serial Killers was probably the worst serial killer story ever. Such a monumental clunker that at the time I was thinking Days would be cancelled because it! Of course, I was on hiatus from being a critic at the time busy in grad school.

The resolution was dopey at best! While Brooke should have explored her issues with men and her femininity. She was divine as psycho homemaker Pam and her dog Tiny was priceless! Calling Donna a HOgan was such a hoot. Even the revelation of Storm as the shooter was a complete and utter letdown. The usually dependable WIlliam Devry Storm did not deliver the dramatic flair for this scene probably because the script was so bad!

But there really was no point in the shooting. Stephen left town first for Storm, and then to find the missing Beth. Storm returned to LA without any rage therapy. Brooke is still vacillating between Ridge and Nick.

While Stephanie is still the cold, vindictive witch of L. There was no dramatic aftermath to the shooting. First, we saw the SLOW descent into desperation of a major character who had always had a dark edge, but became a full-on villain. Then a horrific shooting with promo videos of himself playing all around the body. And this was all over the course of a few years. But overall, I agree, Marlena — great assessment of the current state of poorly conceived soap mysteries.

I wish I was old enough to watch Edge of Night or had high speed to watch older episodes. When did foreshadowing become a bad thing… When is it a good thing that the perp comes out of nowhere see Lindsey on OLTL who we saw hanging out with Dorian when Spencer was killed. It is surprising when anyone pays for their crimes on a soap these days.

I hope it was a coincidence. If only The Edge of Night could be rewritten and redone and brought back to either daytime or nighttime so that we could bring back atmosphere superb twists and edge of your seat drama again!! Michael Fairman Soaps. Who is Marlena? January 28, by Marlena De Lacroix a.

By Marlena De Lacroix I have grown so tired of the soap opera convention known as the multiple-suspect murder mystery storyline. Comments Carl says:. January 28, at pm. Oakdalian says:. The show really had a lot going for it—Jon Lovitz was perfect in the role, and it was a completely fresh take on a career that few had ever put a comic spin on before.

Today, the character is probably remembered for his Simpsons crossover as much as anything, but for a few years The Critic was as funny as anything on TV. Stargate SG-1 Years: The Stargate movie was really a perfect choice to spin off into a sci-fi series because the Stargate itself is quite the piece of deus ex machina—it can transport people all over the galaxy to different planets, so there was always somewhere new and strange to visit, even over the course of 10 seasons and episodes.

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It received an absurd 83 Emmy nominations throughout its run, and each of the four main stars won an individual Emmy, making it one of only three sitcoms to achieve that feat. Saved by the Bell Years: The definitive high school sitcom of the early s, Saved by the Bell reflects the day-glo colors of the era perfectly. As a central character, Zack Morris is like a slightly preppier version of Ferris Bueller, a schemer and philanderer with no shortage of friends.

Slater or weirdo geek Screech Powers. One of the nice things about Saved by the Bell is that it felt like a truly ensemble comedy—everybody got their little moments to shine with regularity, except perhaps for Tiffani Amber Thiessen, who was mostly there to be the archetypal idea of hotness. Its fatalism was deep, dark and often hilarious, and one got the sense that few shows have ever actually captured the zeitgeist of their subjects more accurately. Running back to back with Murphy Brown for CBS during much of its run, it was thematically similar in its strong, opinionated female characters.

Lucy Lawless was the main reason why, a certifiable badass with an awesome, chakram-like weapon that seemed to delight in defying every known law of motion. Animaniacs Years: Animaniacs is unlike anything that came before or has really come again since, a series that truly blended sophomoric, silly humor with surprising wit and even some educational aspects.

Also remembered for giving birth to Pinky and the Brain as supporting characters, Animaniacs functioned as a sketch show of sorts, with segments that touched on the legacy of cartooning, reveled in slapstick violence or were simply absurd for the sake of absurd—it was hard to ever know what you were going to get. The songs are the undeniable highlight, startlingly brilliant in their conception and performed with deftness by all three voice actors.


You gotta love the dual references to The Twilight Zone and its film adaptation that Shatner and Lithgow share in this scene. Beverly Hills, Years: Between and its spin-off Melrose Place , the primetime soap opera exploded in a big way in the s. This one was about a family of Minnesota transplants arriving in Beverly Hills and the West Coast culture shock they especially the kids receive upon arriving in high school.

Rather, he was simply intended to be a one-time appearance as a nerdy kid who took Laura out on a date, but the reception was so strong that he quickly became a regular cast member. By the end of the second season, this pastiche of nerd tropes had become possibly the most popular and quoted character on all of primetime television, and Family Matters may as well have been renamed The Urkel Show.

In fact, I vividly remember people mistakenly referring to the show as Urkel. Rugrats Years: I have absolutely no idea how this show managed to soldier on for 13 years through various specials and movies, but I can confirm that in the early s, there were few things my grade school self enjoyed more than a big block of Rugrats on Nickelodeon. The adventures of Tommy, Chuckie and the rest were dependent on some spectacular voice acting and a unique, instantly recognizable animation style full of comically exaggerated, bizarrely shaped characters.

Scott Bakula plays Dr. Likewise, the body-jumping mechanic meant any number of guest stars could appear and Dr. Sam could go anywhere—he even leaps into the body of a chimpanzee in one episode. Rather, DS9 was an advanced but static outpost where emissaries of various alien races came to congregate, trade and conduct business.

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  6. The show featured the first and still only black commander-in-chief as lead protagonist and was noted for the diversity of its alien cast and their well-defined characters. It was never quite as popular as Next Generation , but that was a tough assignment to follow. However, ratings recovered as her hair grew back in, and Russell won herself a Golden Globe. Still, it was a rather close shave. Like a nightmarish Ralph Steadman drawing come to life, it flew in like a bomb on Nickelodeon , completely unlike anything else they were airing at the time. Its frightening imagery, harsh language, toilet humor and out-of-nowhere sexual innuendo sent parents into fits, but its influence was equally pervasive.

    All one needs, as it turns out, is a bunch of drunk, stupid young people making poor decisions to stay on the air for 29 seasons. Huge props also to Christine Cavanaugh, who provided the nasal, unexplainably accented voice of Dexter, which made him sound like a miniature, histrionic Peter Lorre. Of course, he ultimately had the last laugh as the fish-out-of-water story of Fresh Prince became popular immediately and survives in syndication to this day. Everyone wins. Murphy Brown Years: With quite a lot more backbone than most sitcoms, Murphy Brown was patently unafraid to wade into the current cultural and political discourse and take sides.

    For a sitcom to take such an overt stance was practically unthinkable, but Murphy Brown was a program committed to its ideals as well as entertainment. Mad About You was the kind of show you watched alongside your clucking spouse, pointing out how many of the same idiosyncrasies you shared—exactly how it was depicted on Seinfeld , by the way. Helen Hunt in particular really grew into her character over time, going on an unbroken streak of Emmy wins from It could have been an interesting format, but it proved unpopular, and the storylines gradually changed to reflect the more prominent soap operas of its days.

    Taking place in the small town of Rome, Wis. The show went through seven different mayors over the course of four seasons—they essentially had the lifespans of Spinal Tap drummers. Methods of demise included shooting, decapitation and spontaneous human combustion.

    It stayed relevant when it could by writing episodes structured around court cases that had just been in the headlines, and the characters built such legacies that they became ripe for parody. Unfortunately, it went up directly against ER in its first season timeslot and lost in the ratings pretty handily. It remained a moderately successful show for CBS in other timeslots while Christine Lahti and Peter Berg settled in as series regulars and fan favorites.

    The show featured some of the best-developed characters of any sitcom, especially owing to the trademark narration by Daniel Stern, which examined all the events with the knowledge of age. The Wonder Years was filled with those kinds of revelations. Law Years: L. Deftly combining drama and comedy, often within the same episode, it made a star of Corbin Bernson in particular as the womanizing divorce attorney, Arnie Becker.

    But really, everyone on this show was either womanizing or—maninizing? It could also be very topical at times, though, most notably in when a series of episodes tackled the ongoing race riots centered around the beating of Rodney King. Name one other popular, long-running sitcom where the protagonists—people we at least like , if not agree with—are staunch conservative, mildly redneck individuals. Protestors mobilized, awards were doled out in rapid succession, and the depiction of coming out of the closet on TV was never the same again.

    Northern Exposure Years: Charmingly eccentric, Northern Exposure was a classic fish-out-of-water story about a young, New York Jewish doctor transplanted to the small town of Cicely, Alaska, where the moose roamed free. One might almost say the show was a small-town comedy-drama with a hint of, say, Fargo in it. Fox, of course, was as charming as he was always capable of being.

    Mystery Science Theater Years: This might be the most clever, best-written comedy program of the decade. With a framing device about a man shot into space and forced to endure terrible films, the show made the best of its limited resources by employing great voice acting and even better writing to mock nearly of the worst films ever made.

    Likewise, the thing that makes it so impressive and so rewatchable today is the timelessness of most of the jokes about filmmaking, along with the diversity in joke backgrounds. Show as not only an influence but a major influence. Most of the individual sketches are likewise timeless, not bound to pop culture or whatever was in the news. This hipster parody is about 20 years old, and it still seems like something that came out last week on Portlandia. Beavis and Butt-head Years: Certainly, there could be no South Park without Beavis and Butt-head , the show that redefined what you could get away with in the realm of animation.

    Nevertheless, Beavis and Butt-head always had the ability to be oddly astute at times, especially when the boys would deconstruct MTV music videos with an unexplainably expanded vocabulary. Home Improvement Years: This is the quintessentially dumb, cheesy but somehow entertaining sitcom of the s. No one has ever described Home Improvement as a smart or cleverly written show, but we all watched it at some point. The characterizations are super broad—Tim Allen as the grunting but luckless alpha male handy man, his wife Jill the constant stick-in-the-mud and three young boys full of trouble and mischief.

    Other comedians and well-known actors appeared as guests, playing exaggerated or satirical versions of themselves, toying with audience expectations.

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    The fact that it was on a premium network was essential, allowing a much deeper and more realistic depiction of the horrors of incarceration in the United States. There were plenty of other people doing great things on In Living Color , though, from all the significant musical acts Tupac Shakur, Mary J. Blige, Public Enemy to the dance team, which featured a young, unknown Jennifer Lopez. Law , except it likely had more genuine heart than either of those shows. The Practice succeeded because it truly liked to dive into the motivations of its characters as they attempted to operate their exceedingly busy and challenging Boston law firm.

    It was the exact sort of background that so often would have been given to a man in a sitcom, and it made everything seem so much more genuine. Ratings declined sharply, but during its first few seasons, Grace Under Fire was something refreshingly different. Batman: The Animated Series Years: Put simply, this is easily the best animated superhero series of all time—nothing else even enters the discussion.

    It looked absolutely gorgeous, evoking a whole new aesthetic for the Gotham universe that merged art deco and gothic architecture into a macabre whole. The voice acting was on an entirely different level, to the point that the portrayals of both Batman Kevin Conroy and The Joker Mark Hamill have become the absolute defining sounds of each character in all animation since.

    Hamill alone would make this the best Batman series—his Joker is gleefully maniacal, quite different from the psychotic aspect of say, Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. This Joker is truly about the joke , and nobody has done a better maniacal Joker laugh than Hamill—ever. Kids in the Hall Years: Probably even weirder overall than Mr. Truly committed to the absurd, it relied much less on the formats of bigger shows such as SNL , with its celebrity impersonations and direct pop culture parodies.

    Instead, the show was all about its bizarre characters and just the general freedom of seemingly being able to do whatever it wanted on a weekly basis. It goes without saying that plenty of the sketches totally misfire, but the creativity and often disturbing nature of their best work gave the show a very unique atmosphere.

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    Knowing it was coming from Matt Groening , perhaps people expected a futuristic version of The Simpsons , but Futurama is fundamentally different in quite a few aspects. Although it was similar in its satirical lampooning of modern or futuristic daily life and media, it was also capable of being surprisingly—even shockingly—emotional at times.

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    Roseanne Years: A show like Married…with Children was blue-collar funny, but Roseanne was the show with blue-collar heart. The concept of a two-parent household with both parents working was unique enough in the world of sitcoms, but even with both Roseanne and Dan both working full-time jobs, this show was a portrait of a family just struggling and scraping to get by, all while keeping their good humor and basic decency intact. And audiences responded in a huge way, making it one of the biggest hits on TV for episodes.

    High school had never been caricatured with such scathing negativity—this show dredged up memories that most teens of the s would probably have preferred to keep buried down in the depths of their subconscious. The show could make the most minuscule moments seem so momentous and use a small trait to infuse such deep humanity in its characters. Just watch hopeless geek Bill Haverchuck slouch through the house before having his day picked up by a Gary Shandling stand-up set.

    The final years of Cheers were when all these characters got to shine, especially Rhea Perlman as Carla and Kelsey Grammer, who joined the cast full-time before spinning off into Frasier. The finale episode received mixed reactions at the time, but nostalgia has pushed it into favorable territory, especially given the happy endings that most characters receive. This show was a playground for character actors to run wild, such as Stephen Root as station owner Jimmy James and Phil Hartman in one of his best and final roles before his shocking murder.

    One gets the sense that it could have gone over better had it been more squarely in the hands of its creators, but in its first season, ABC insisted the show be a comedy first and foremost.