There would be great futility in recounting the many plots that do not withstand scrutiny. It has also been said even by the most ardent supporters that ratings are lower than ever and it looks like they are not about to skyrocket anytime soon. It is a diagnosis by the way that can be applied across the board in Network TV Land. Even the biggest boat in this sea, The Young & the Restless, is not the giant it once was.
Still the viewers that remain are the most loyal, because it is an ocean navigated by actors in a character driven world. Those who continue to watch watch because the acting rises above the material.
This web log tends to focus on two ABC-TV shows; from that experience it is more than safe to say that the actors therein are among the very talented. There are very few exceptions that prove that rule.
There are characters and their portrayers that are forever memorable, most notably Susan Lucci's Erica Kane, but there are also Ilene Kristen's Delia, Ruth Warrick's Phoebe, Elizabeth Hubbard's Lucinda, Tony Geary's Luke.
All My Children once again has made lemonade out of the unlikely plots of Dixie's return and the replanting of an embryo that was to be aborted. The young Jacob Young once again proves his mettle amid the likes of Michael E Knight, Cady McCLain, David Canary et al. The evil Dr Madden's imminent demise resulting from his baby stealing ways has involved the acting chops of many. Finally the great talents of Julia Barr are once again on display.
Alec Musser's brief comedic turn as the conniving Del Henry declaring how great it would be to exploit Dixie's return, "... book deals ..." And while walking away, "... rewrites." It was classic AMC.
One Life to Live has played the multiple personality card again and again. Still it's a device that seems to work and bring out the best within the best. Bree Williamson, Forbes March, Kamar de los Reyes et al. are poised to enter the memorable annals of Soap Opera history.
Guiding Light walked away with most of the acting honours at the recent Daytime Emmy's and watching Ellen Wheeler standing to applaud her crew was a reminder that this is a show -- the Emmy's and all the shows together -- that belongs to actors. Wheeler, who is now the Executive Producer of Guiding Light, has two Emmy's of her own one of which was awarded for her portrayal of Cindy a heterosexual woman who dies after losing a struggle against AIDS.
It is important to point out that for all the skittishness attributed to the powers that currently be in daytime drama these shows have had powerful stories about AIDS and homosexuality. Mary Fickett's anti-war speech when her character learned of her son's death in VietNam earned her an Emmy. While the storytelling these days does leave much to be desired it has always been the actors, the fan favourites and otherwise that keep this one time huge moneymaker going.
Of course there are always those that don't need to act to get our attention, but it is easy to remember Ellen Wheeler's performance as Cindy, Jessica Tuck as Megan, Judith Light as Karen, Ryan Philippe as Billy, Gerald Anthony as Marco Dane, Julianne Moore, Kin Shriner among many others.
It should be pointed out that General Hospital has the only HIV+ major character anywhere on television now that QAF is off the air. Robin Scorpio's positive status has recently come to the forefront in a dramatic way now that she has a romantic interest. Kimberly McCullough plays the young doctor in a very positive -- double entendre intended -- way.
It's only a Soap Opera, but it's got some powerful characters going on with some powerful acting to back it up.