Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bubbling over: key ingredients of a US daytime soap

'Smell the fart' acting

This technique was first explained by Joey Tribbiani, the jobbing actor played by Matt LeBlanc on Friends.

When Joey forgot his lines while playing the part of Dr Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives, he would act as though someone had just farted and would thus end up looking thoughtful and pensive.

Incidentally, fans have campaigned to have the doctor appear on Days of Our Lives.

Famous actors going back to their roots

Julianne Moore, who started her career on As the World Turns, rather touchingly agreed to return for an episode in 2009.

Meanwhile, James Franco (Spider-Man, 127 Hours) has appeared as a baddie on General Hospital -- although there have been rumours that this might be all be part of some high-falutin', meta-textual art project, the big eejit.

Some actors who later become famous

A lot of talented actors have appeared on soaps (they're essentially the FÁS of the US acting world).

Demi Moore played Jackie Templeton on General Hospital, Kevin Bacon was teen boozer TJ Werner on Guiding Light, and Tommy Lee Jones played a murderer, adulterer and blackmailer called Dr Mark Toland on One Life to Live.

Strange Interludes

Soaps went from 15-minute radio slots to 30-minute television dramas to hour-long extravaganzas. To fill the extra time As the World Turns creator Irma Philips penned scenes where characters would look thoughtfully out the window as a tape of their thoughts played. Cast and crew called these 'strange interludes'.

Product Placement

In the 1940s, James Thurber wrote an essay on soaps in which he recounted some dubious product-placement ("I am happy to meet you, Mrs Nelson, and where in the world did you get that orchid clip?").

Only last year Days of Our Lives featured a sequence in which two characters extolled the virtues of Cheerios for three minutes.

Crazy Plots

Secret affairs and love-children are so common that Hogan Sheffer, former head writer on As the World Turns, said his biggest problem was avoiding accidental incest.

Sometimes, however, they really went for broke -- like on Days of Our Lives when Janet threw her twin Natalie down a well and assumed her identity, or when Marlena spent a summer possessed by the devil . . . or when Timmy, the doll on Passions, was turned into a real boy by a statue of an angel (this really happened).

Irish Independent

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