Deep Soap: Will Pyramid Replace ‘As The World Turns?’

Trent Dawson stars as Henry Coleman on As The World Turns (CBS)

Trent Dawson stars as Henry Coleman on As The World Turns (CBS)

The World Turns Into A Pyramid

Soap fans will once again see their beloved daytime drama replaced with a bargain basement game show. CBS has ordered a pilot for a new version of the game show ‘Pyramid’ as a potential replacement for ‘As The World Turns.’ Pyramid was also a contender to replace ‘Guiding Light.’   According to Reuters, CBS will probably order at least one more game show pilot before making a decision.  ‘Guiding Light’s replacement, ‘Let’s Make A Deal,’ averages more total viewers than the soap but performs worse among the all important younger demographics that determine ad rates. CBS has obviously decided that a lower cost show is worth the sacrifice.   ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ is notable for its low production values. The show used to tape in Las Vegas in part because that way it could use some non-union crews.  It recently moved to Hollywood.  This version of ‘Pyramid’ will probably be similarly bargain basement.  It is unfortunate that CBS is not even trying to create something with the potential to be interesting or innovative, like a new twist on the talk show or even a reality series with soap qualities.  It’s one more sign that the Tiffany network has no interest in the daypart.

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Double Trouble

New rule: a soap may only use a storyline once at any given time. In fact, a soap should institute a three to six month window between telling two similar storylines. ‘The Young & The Restless’: you can only tell one doppleganger storyline at a time.  “Mama Bear” cannot look like Lauren at the same time that Patty is pretending to be Emily.  It’s overkill.  It’s monotonous. It’s one too many lookalike psychopaths.

One Life To Live‘: you cannot do multiple paternity storylines at once.  Either Todd can get a long lost daughter named Dani, or three different men can think they’re Sierra Rose’s father or Rex and Schuyler can have been switched as babies. All of these stories should not be happening simultaneously.

Every soap has a well it likes to dip into again and again. For Y&R, in recent years, it has been doubles.  In the 1990s, Kay’s (Jeanne Cooper’s) diner waitress double Marge was introduced. Marge made a triumphant in 2008.  In 2006, Sheila disguised herself as Phyllis (though we may be about to learn that was not really Sheila.)  When Will Bardwell (Ted Shackleford) died, his long lost twin brother Jeff came to town.  After John (Jerry Douglas) died,look alike con artist Allstair showed up.  Then came Patty’s doppleganger Emily (Stacy Haiduk) and now “Mama Bear” bears an uncanny resemblance to Lauren (Tracey Bregman).  For a show that has always been realistic,by soap standards,this conceit that plastic surgery can make two unrelated people look not just similar but identical, is extra annoying. As anyone who ever watched MTV’s ‘I Want A Famous Face’ knows, it is not really possible.  Since everyone in town is well aware of all the doubles, it seems like they should all be aware that they are a possibility in Genoa City and start behaving accordingly.  Every time anyone says something that seems out of character, they should be dragged to the doctor’s office for a DNA exam.

‘One Life To Live’ has a similar weakness for baby switching.It’s been a part of the show’s DNA since Jenny Wolek and Katrina Karr’s babies were switched in the early 1980s. The reveal that Natalie (Melissa Archer) and Jessica (Bree Williamson) were twins — and that Natalie was a Buchanan forever altered OLTL’s canvas.   OLTL also played a role in the saga of baby Miranda on ‘All My Children.’  Adding Rex (John Paul Lavoisier) to the list makes it even more ridiculous.  At this point, nobody on the show should be certain who their parents are.

I could register similar complaints about ‘Days of Our Lives’ penchant for kidnappings and ‘General Hospital’s fondness for mob related deaths.  The more a show uses the same plot, the less power it has. Every soap has a rich history that can generate dozens of  interesting storylines. It’s a shame that, whether it is due to a desire to replicate a storyline that was a hit in the past, network pressures, a fear of trying something new, or a failure of imagination, shows keep recycling the same plot devices.

Teen Romance

I am conflicted about Langston’s  (Brittany Underwood) storyline on ‘One Life To Live.’  It is poorly told.  I have no idea why Langston is drawn to the smarmy Ford instead of the sweet Marko (Jason Tam).  Yes (David Gregory) Ford has abs to rival Cameron Mathison’s. But Marko is no slouch in that area. It’s also been established that Langston and Marko have a great sex life,or what passes for one in high school.   Despite Langston’s claims that Marko is planning her whole life for her, we have never seen him be anything but supportive of Langston’s goals and ambitions.   Ford has not been given any redeeming qualities.  He is the sort of predatory sleaze who seems like he spends his spare time on Pick Up Artist message boards. It’s disheartening to see a Cramer woman taken in by a guy who is so obviously slime. Dorian should have taught her better.

Yet, there is the germ of a realistic story.   Langston is way too young to be in a committed relationship, much less living with her boyfriend.  High school and college should be a time when people date a lot of people and figure out who they are.  It’s natural to outgrow a relationship or realize somebody is not right for you.  Langston’s best friends Starr (Kristen Alderson) and Cole (Brandon Buddy) were forced to make a lifetime commitment to each other when they had a baby.  Teenage years are all about intense friendships and hanging out in groups.  Starr’s concern that if Langston broke up with Marko it would ruin the dynamics of their clique rang true.  Teenage girls do find older guys to be sophisticated and mature, and often are drawn to them. I just wish that the show had taken the time to properly develop Langston’s frustration with her relationship and explain who Ford is and why Langston finds him so appealing.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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