Sunday, May 11, 2014

THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW: The Loud & The Furious

From 2010
I'm currently nearing the end of Disc 7 in the eight-disc THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW Complete Series collection. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, the series was a two-season wonder from producer Desi Arnaz that ran on NBC Sunday night between megahits WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY and BONANZA from 1967 through 1969.
THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW was a big, brassy sitcom built around sweet, lovable wisecracking actress Eve Arden and loud, abrasive musical-comedy performer Kaye Ballard. The two are cast as long-time neighbors: WASPy Eve Hubbard and ethnic Kaye Buell whose college student children (Eve's daughter Susie and Kaye's son Jerry) have decided to marry. The two moms are constantly competing with each other — and for attention of their lovelorn children. After the kids marry they move into the converted garage between the Hubbard and Buell houses, creating an additional reasons for friction between the Moms.
Eve and Kaye's henpecked husbands, the cantankerous lawyer Herb Hubbard (played by Herbert Rudley) and frugal TV writer Roger Buell (played by gay actor Roger C. Carmel in season one, replaced by gay actor Richard Deacon in season two), always get drawn into the ludicrous situations their wives create. The Lucy-like plots usually wind up with all four of the parents either covered in some kind of goop or performing a big musical number.
While some episodes border on unwatchable, there are several that stand out as great time capsules of the late 1960s when "the generation gap" seemed to be the trigger of so many comedic conflicts between television characters. One interesting episode features handsome game show panelist Scoey Mitchell as a lawyer who tries to rent the garage when Susie and Jerry plan on moving out. The girls are trying to be open minded about having an African-American tenant but wind up coming off as extremely prejudiced. It's an awkward situation and aside from a terrible watermelon joke, it's very well-played.
Jokes always seem to stem from situations involving Roger's cheapness, Kaye's Italian heritage, and Eve's penchant for redecorating. The Hubbards and Buells have a love-hate-love relationship and often end up arguing loudly about something ridiculous before each episode is over. Kaye and Eve can't help but interfere in almost every aspect of their kids' lives - a situation aggravated even further in season two when Susie gets pregnant.
Other recurring gags include Eve being referred to as "Mother Hubbard", the garage door in the kid's apartment opening to comedic effect, Kaye insisting that their grandchild will be a boy and Eve convinced it will be a girl (spoiler alert - Susie has twins!). All-in-all the show is quite entertaining. The live studio audience adds to the theatrical feeling and the performers always seem like they are giving it their all. A  special treat and curiosity on Disc 8 is the unsold Desi Arnaz pilot for THE CAROL CHANNING SHOW. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Another World 50th Anniversary: The Final Word

Tom Eplin as Jake McKinnon and the suspects in the "Who Shot Jake?" mystery storyline.
Pictured Left to Right: Cali Timmons as Paulina, a mystery woman as Marley Love, Carmen Duncan as Iris Wheeler, Anne Heche as Vicky Hudson and Anna Stuart as Donna Love. If only Judi Evans was already playing Paulina–then this would be a perfect shot.
Here's the cast from 1982. How many can YOU name?
Here's a candid shot from the 19th anniversary party (1983).Here's a 25th Anniversary ad from The Hollywood Reporter circa 1989.
And finally, from 20 years ago - as the cast celebrates 30 years with a retro-themed party. Thanks for humoring me and my obsession with the continuing story called ANOTHER WORLD.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Another World 50th Anniversary: The Romance Novels

Today is the 50th Anniversary of ANOTHER WORLD, that soap that I followed for most of it's 35 year run on NBC. Today I present several romance novels inspired by the series.
The first, Another World by Kate Lowe Kerrigan was published in 1978. With an amazing new logo and wonderful cover art, this novelization was successfuil enough to spawn a sequel.Published later that same year, Another World II picked up right from where the first ended. It went back to press with a new cover for it's second printing.
Classic.In 1986, a line of novels called Soaps & Serials was launched and Another World was included in the line-up. The 14-book series adapted storylines from 1967 to 1976. Each book had it's own subtitle.
When Felicia Gallant came to Bay City - she brought her history of being a romance novelist along with her. Among her fictional titles were the classics : The Bride of Bombay, Doctor's Desire, Ebony Heartbeat, Embers in the Snow, Fallen Females, Gardenias for Gwendolyn, Gone with the Dawn, The Heart That Heals, Into the Fire, The Lady and the Laborer, Lust in the Kremlin, The Manly Heart, Moonlight Desires, Paradise Delayed, Passion's Progress, Savage Love, Torrid Tundra Nights and White Snow in Hell.  In the real world, actress Linda Dano teamed with writer Rebecca Flanders to create Dreamweaver, a Harlequin Romance. A novel idea!

Another World 50th Anniversary: TV Guide Ads

Over its 35 years on NBC, ANOTHER WORLD was occasionally promoted by the network. Here is a collection of TV Guide print advertisements that appeared during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Passion Never Ends was NBC's tagline for its daytime line-up back in the early 80s. Of the 4 soaps featured in these ads, only one, DAYS OF OUR LIVES is still airing on the network. In fact, DAYS is the last soap standing on the peacock network. AW's heroine Rachel Cory (Victoria Wyndham) is trapped! She is married to powerful publishing magnate Mac Cory - but pregnant with the child of sexy con-man Mitch Blake (William Gray Espy)!
Apparently things have gone from bad to worse for Rachel as now Mitch has been shot - and she could now be charged with his murder. Spoiler: He didn't die, he just left the show and came back years to be reunited with his teen-age son Matt. Notice Mac Cory's daughter Iris Wheeler (Beverly McKinsey) in the ad for her short-lived spin-off series TEXAS.
Bask in our Afterglow. THE DOCTORS and TEXAS are now gone - replaced by SEARCH FOR TOMORROW (transplanted from CBS) and the early reality show called FANTASY (hosted by the odd trio of Peter Marshall, Leslie Uggams and Glen Scarpelli!). ANOTHER WORLD was deep into the love triangle between Mac Cory's son Sandy (Chris Rich), his wife Blaine Ewing (Laura Malone) and the brilliantly conniving Cecile DePoulignac (Nancy Frangione). It was around this time that Cecile hired Alma Rudder (the chilling Elizabeth Franz), a crazed mountain woman to kidnap and poison Blaine AND to dress up as a giant Raggedy Ann doll and torment poor Blaine. It was pure genius!
Cecile's best friend Donna Love (Anna Stuart) didn't like the fact that her brother Peter (John Hutton) was going to marry the very common Sally Frame (Mary Page Keller), so Donna employed Cecile to break up the romance between them. It worked. :)
Ah, Cecile strikes again! Have I mentioned how she is my all-time favorite AW character? Followed closely by Donna Love. Nancy Frangione and Anna Stuart were incredible whenever they shared screen time. It was always a bitchfest royale!
Here's an odd ad for an Engagement Calendar that also promoted a bizarre storyline involving a killer named "Ross" who did in a bunch of minor characters. Pictured: Donna Love, Catlin Ewing (Thomas Ian Grffith), Kathleen McKinnon (Julie Osburn), Sally Frame, Cecile DePoulignac, Ross (Robert Phalen), Cass Winthrop (Stephen Schnetzer) and Nurse Emily Benson (Alexandra Neil). By the way, I think this was around the time Cecile became the Queen of Tanquir.Sally Frame, who was dumped by Peter Love eventually fell in love with Catlin Ewing. The two became a super-couple and were well on their way to the altar. Unfortunately Catlin's dead wife Brittany Peterson decided to show up. Played by EDGE OF NIGHT's Sharon Gabet - Brittany was left deaf mute after a boating accident. Gabet's performance was amazing.

Catlin was torn between Sally and Brittany. He eventually chose Sally and Brittany ended up with Peter Love! (see above). Unfortunately Peter (now played by Marcus Smythe) evolved into a villain in the tradition of his father Reginald (John Considine) and ended up on the wrong side of Brittany's shotgun.
Fanny Grady aka romance novelist Felicia Gallant (Linda Dano) married Brittany's rescuer Zane Lindquist (Patrick Tovatt) in a lavish ceremony attended by Liberace!
Evil mastermind Carl Hutchins (Charles Keating), ex-husband of Donna Love returned to Bay City to settle and old score with Mac Cory. Along the way he terrorized the hot young lovers Jake McKinnon (Tom Eplin as Kathleen's cousin), Marley Love (Ellen Wheeler as Donna's "sister"), Nancy McGowan (Jane Cameron as Rachel's sister) and Chris Chapin (Don Scardino).
As a result of Carl's machinations, a jar of poisoned dust travelled throughout Bay City killing off some minor characters.

The Sin Stalker came to Bay City and killed off a bunch of beloved minor characters like Maisie the waitress and glamorous architect Quinn Harding (Petronia Paley). Crystal Gayle managed to survive though - and got to perform the new theme song.
One will be betrayed. One will disappear, One will die. Jake and Marley broke up thanks to Marley's twin Victoria; Catlin became a widower when Sally (now played by ALL MY CHILDREN transplant Taylor Miller) was killed by Carl Hutchins; Kathleen disappeared and Cass set to to find her. Carl Hutchins eventually tried to kill her too.

Donna Love (now played by Philece Sampler, who was an amazing Renee DiMera on DAYS) was swept away again by her former stable boy Michael Hudson (Kale Brown)-but an affair with his Viet Nam vet brother John (David Forsyth) put an end to their happiness.

Another serial killer tormented Bay City. I'm not sure if this was Dr. Alan Glaser or Dr. Fax Newman, in fact Dr. Bailey Thompson and Dr. Taylor Benson were also twisted. One raped Sharlene Frame (Anna Holbrook) when she was a child, the other tried to kill her with an exploding boat. Bay City had its share of crazed doctors.

Yay! Cecile's back! The producers would convince Nancy to come back to the show every few years to spice things up- and it always worked. Especially when teamed with Cass Wintrop.
The show celebrated it's 25th Anniversary in style with a week-long reunion party that brought many much-loved characters from the Matthews and Frame family trees. This ad featured hot young super-couple Sam Fowler (Mitch Blake's younger brother, played by Robert Kelker-Kelly) and Amanda Cory (Rachel's daughter, played by Sandra Ferguson).
Two two "hosted" 2 special episodes that examined the changing rules of romance and sex in the 1990s.I'm not sure if this ad in in the right order, but whatever. Here we have Michael Hudson and Donna Love (notice Philece's head on Anna Stuart's body); Lisa Grady (Felicia's neice, played by Joanna Going) and Jamie Frame (Rachel's son, now played by ALL MY CHILDREN vet Larry Lau); and Cheryl McKinnon (Kathleen's baby sister played by Kristen Marie) and my favorite AW hunk ever Scott LaSalle (the son of Reginald Love, played by Hank Cheyne).
The final ad for ANOTHER WORLD - Jake McKinnon is determined to win back Paulina Cory (Mac Cory's daughter, played by the stunning and talented Judi Evans) from Ian Rain (Julian McMahon in his pre-NIP/TUCK days).

Another World 50th Anniversary: Opening Titles

Debuting on May 4, 1964 - the daytime soap ran for 35 years before the network brass finally decided to ax it. If  the show was still on, it would be celebrating it's 50th anniversary on Monday. To mark this occasion, I will be devoting my blog to my memories of ANOTHER WORLD.

I was less than a  month old when AW premiered, but I think I remember my mom and grandmother watching the show from the very first black & white episode.

When I was old enough to understand what a TV was, I think I was mesmerized by the updated color opening titles. The interlocking circles in various shades of purple and blue was both pretty and comforting. Here, see for yourself:
This opening and theme song were a constant during the 1970s when AW was at its peak of popularity. They were replaced in 1981 by an odd science-fiction inspired opening that lasted throughout most of the 80s.
A new theme song sang by country music diva and AW fan Crystal Gayle and Broadway star Gary Morris debuted in 1987 along with flashy new graphics featuring cast members. It was updated occasionally as new actors joined the show and others left. 
The final opening from 1996 was bold attempt to make AW look like the primetime hit, ER.
I have watched other soaps over the years (mostly on NBC), but somehow no matter how bad AW got (and boy, did it get pretty bad) – I never gave up on it. I guess it was part of my life for so long that it kinda had a life of it's own. There are some days when I wonder whatever happened to the folks of Bay City, characters who felt like family to me. Then I remember, it was just a TV show with actors who got paid to perform scripts written by a team of writers...and then I get sad.

Another World 50th Anniversary: Damsels & Divas

ANOTHER WORLD had its share of strong women characters over the years. Of the hundreds that lived in Bay City over the years, I've chosen some of my favorites. Special thanks to the Another World Home Page for "lending" me many of the images.
Here's a cast photo of all the talented ladies from 1984.Robin Strasser, now known as Dorian on ONE LIFE TO LIVE created the character of Rachel Davis in 1967. Initially was a scheming vixen who's main goal was to cause misery in other people's lives.After Stasser left, Victoria Wyndham assumed the role in 1972. Here is Rachel with her mother Ada Hobson (the great Constance Ford) and her sister Nancy McGowan (Jane Cameron). Wyndham's Rachel mellowed out after she was romanced by Mac Cory. Liz Matthews (played here by Irene Dailey) was the meddlesome de facto matriach of the Matthews family (after Mary Matthews was written out).
Rachel and Mac's daughter Amanda was played as an adult by Sandra Ferguson, Christine Tucci (my personal favorite) and Laura Moss.
Some outstanding performance from the late 60s and early 70s included Beverly Benberthy as Pat Matthews, Susan Sullivan as Lenore Moore and Toni Kalem as Angie Perrini Frame.
Jacqueline Courtney was the definitive Alice Matthews Frame. Other actresses played the role, but Jacquie always embodied Alice to me.

Here is Sally Frame (Mary Page Keller) with her mom Alice from the early 1980s.
Sally Frame was played over the years by Cathy Greene, Jennifer Runyon, Dawn Benz (not pictured), Mary Page Keller and finally by Taylor Miller. Sally's death was one of the most awful choices the producers of AW ever made.
Kyra Sedgwick, Janna Leigh and Faith Ford all played Sally's cousin (and Liz's granddaughter) Julia Shearer. Another needless murder victim.
Some of the Frame women: evil Janice (Christine Jones), kooky Gwen (Dorothy Lyman) and sweet Emma (Elizabeth Ashley).
Sharlene Frame (Emmy-winner Anna Holbrook) had a few different personalities.
I always though Anna would play a great Martha Stewart.

Sharlene's daughter Josie Watts (via Russ Matthews) went from teen model to police officer. Played by Alexandra Wilson, Amy Carlson and her lookalike Nadine Stenovitch.

Psychic Frankie Frame (Alice Barrett) was a fan favorite whose savage murder at the hands of Dr. Fax Newman led many viewers to abandon the show in protest.

Mac Cory spoiled daughter Iris (Beverly McKinsey) took over the role of resident villainess when Rachel became the heroine of the show.

Iris returned from a stint in TEXAS played by Carmen Duncan. After years of paying for her sins, Iris was unceremoniously saddled with an attempted murder charge - for trying to kill Carl Hutchins–who had killed so many characters himself! Iris was put away and sadly never heard from again.

Mac's other daughter Paulina came to town after his death. When Cali Timmins left the show, the character went from second-class villain to much-loved leading lady as portrayed by the wonderful Judi Evans.

Over the years many talented African-American actresses rounded out the cast. Petronia Paley's Quinn Harding and Jackee's Lily Mason were wonderful together. Michelle Hurd's Dana Kramer was a long-running supporting character. Etta Mae Burrell (Elain R. Graham) and her feisty daughter Toni (Rhonda Ross) were powerful additions to the cast in the last years of the show.

Kathleen McKinnon (Julie Osburn) won Cass Winthrop's heart and her family became a cornerstone of the AW universe during the 1980s.
MJ McKinnon (Sally Spencer), Mary McKinnon (the fabulous Denise Alexander) and Cheryl McKinnon (Kristen Marie) rounded out the family.
Cass Winthrop's sister Stacey was played by Terry Davis and then Hilary Edson.
Some of the great domestics over the years: Louise Goddard (Anne Meacham), Vivian Gorrow (Gretchen Oehler), the insane Alma Rudder (Elizabeth Franz) and the beloved Bridget Connell (Barbara Berjer). Bridget also fell victim to evil Dr. Fax Newman.

Linda Dano's Felicia Gallant swept in Bay City in 1983, becoming an instant fan favorite and epitomizing what a soap diva should be.
Felicia's long-lost daughter Lorna Devon showed up in 1991, first played by Alicia Coppola, and then by Faye Dunaway lookalike Robin Christopher. Both actresses shined in the role.Countess Elena DePoulignac (Christina Pickles, Maeve McGuire) was a classy supporting character...and the mother of...Cecile DePoulignac! Susan Keith created the role, but Nancy Frangione's outstanding performance made Cecile the most delicious villainess in the show's history.Cecile's spoiled brat daughter Maggie Cory was played by Robyn Griggs, Jodi O'Keefe and finally Lisa Brenner.Anna Stuart's Donna Love started out as a one-note snob, but grew into an amazingly complex character.
Philece Sampler took over the role in 1987, but luckily Anna was convinced to return in 1989. Nothing against Philece, but Anna embodied the role.
Donna's sister Nicole was played by Kim Morgan Greene, Laurie Landry and Anne Howard. Nicole went from coke-snorting supermodel to cabaret singer to Jason Frame-murdering clothing designer! She also killed villainous Jason Frame.

Donna's sister Marley, who turned out to be her daughter, was played by Ellen Wheeler, Anne Heche, Jensen Buchanan and then Ellen Wheeler again.
Marley's evil twin Victoria was played by the same three actresses (plus not-pictured Rhonda Lewin and Cynthia Watros). By the time Jensen took over the role, Vicky was now a heroine. When Marley returned played by Ellen Wheeler (they were no longer identical twins due to a disfiguring accident-which didn't explain their different heights), Marley was now the evil twin.
A few other baddies but goodies were Dr. Taylor Benson (Christine Andreas), Lila Roberts (Lisa Peluso) and Cindy Brooke Harrison (Kim Rhodes).

Two special treats were Victoria Wyndham's insane over-the-top dual role of Justine Duvalier...
and Stephen Schnetzer as Cass Winthrop as "Crystal Lake".