All My Children courtesy ABC
The 100-day Writers Guild walkout crippled most of showbiz, but all the daytime soaps stayed in production and most of them stayed in the pink - no drastic ratings slides, no horrible creative collapses. In fact, some shows are in better shape because of the strike.
Free of head writer Hogan Sheffer,
Days of our Lives
has regained its heart and emotional chutzpah. The reunion of Grandpa Shawn (Frank Parker) and his long-lost dying sister Colleen (Shirley Jones) left me blubbering like a fool; the subsequent plane crash where Shawn sacrificed his life for his loved ones was harrowing and poignant. It's been a long time since
made us care this much.
Young and the Restless
has quickly and vastly improved without exec producer/head writer Lynn Marie Latham, a wildly destructive force who fired many of the show's great longtime staffers and filled the writing team with cronies (including her husband and son). CBS will not bring her back. Best. Decision. Ever.
All My Children
now seems sharper and smarter than it was before the strike, which is weird since head writers Barbara Esensten and James Harmon Brown only left the show briefly. I love their big insider-trading plot, which has Erica Kane going to jail à la Martha Stewart. It's a good thing.
One Life to Live
, the scab material has been messy and lifeless. No worries. Head writer Ron Carlivati is back, and my spies tell me he's furiously reworking the damage done by the interim scribes. As for
? These days the show is dark, violent and depressing as hell- in other words, no change whatsoever. Two other soaps also kept the status quo:
The Bold and the Beautiful
(still twisted and sick) and
(still pretty darn dull).
As the World Turns
, now airing scripts written by its exec producer Chris Goutman, has shown surprising ratings strength during the strike. And its Luke and Noah romance plot has somehow pissed off both gays and the anti-gay American Family Association. Now that's an accomplishment. -