Thursday, May 25, 2006

Soaps in Perspective

A recent interview with actress Kelly Monaco provided an interesting view of the unique perspective enjoyed by television daytime dramas (“Soap Operas”, to the uninitiated).

Miss Monaco said she hoped her win in last summer’s “Dancing with the Stars” reality show would provide more interest in daytime dramas. (Her “day” job is playing con woman Sam McCall on “General Hospital”.) She expressed that desire after noting that daytime television has “kind of fallen off a bit ... ever since the O.J. Simpson trial.”

Honey, that trial was ten years ago. And you’re just now noticing it?

Kelly’s confusion can be excused, considering she has spent the last six years in the fantasy world of the tube. Such is how things move on soap operas. They broadcast five hours a week with hundreds of pages of dialog in each show. But the plot moves at glacial speed. And that’s being generous.

I admit that when I was fresh from college and teaching in public school, I got hooked on “The Young and the Restless”. Since I generally had the summers off with little to do, I got involved in the lives of Lorie, Leslie, Lance, and Lucas as they bounced their affections amongst each other. It was a harmless diversion. And the neat thing was that I could occasionally skip an episode and never miss anything.

Being a school teacher, I had a week off during Christmas. What had happened while I was gone? Not much. Usually by Tuesday, I had filled in all the gaps. I swear that sometimes I would leave Lorie and Lance in the middle of a discussion in late August and they were just wrapping up their little chat in December.

We usually had a snow day or two in January and February. That let me keep up with things. When June rolled around, I was back at it. Except now it was Lorie & Lance and Leslie & Lucas instead of Lorie & Lucas and Leslie & Lance. You get the idea.

A few days ago, I had to get my car repaired. While waiting in the “customer service” room at the dealership, the television was tuned to — you guessed it — “Y&R”. (It is now hip to identify soaps by their initials. I dunno, I guess it saves electrons in cyberspace or something.)

Well, the four L’s are now gone. But wait. I recognize ... could it be? Yes! Victor and Nikki. Gosh, I hadn’t seen them in years. They were rather minor characters during the LoorieLancyLukeyLeslie era of the show. But, yeah, I remember them.

Turns out they’ve been there all this time. Gosh, 25 years or so. I think during that time they’ve each been married seven or eight times. To each other a couple of times. But they keep plodding along in one of the most-coveted gigs in the entire acting industry.

In the episode I watched, they were carrying on a discussion that I think they started last October. It had something to do with somebody’s baby who had amnesia and who looked a lot like the character that they had killed off a couple of seasons ago during a contract dispute. Victor said something profound. The camera zoomed in on a close-up of Nikki’s face to capture her reaction shot for, oh, about twenty seconds. It must have been a slow dialog day.

Then they went to a disposable diaper commercial followed by a tile cleaner commercial and another for some woman’s product that I didn’t fully understand.

Then I heard the announcement that my car was ready.

I think I’ll catch up with them at my next oil change to see if Nikki’s face is unfrozen.

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