Monday on The Bold & the Beautiful, Steffy lamented to Wyatt, “Honestly, I just really want a summer of fun and romance and love and adventure.”
Wouldn’t we all, Steffy? Wouldn’t we all?
While, initially, soap-operas were created to sell products (and to entertain – in that order) housewives and stay-at-home moms year-round, by the early 1980s, they’d become summertime must-see-TV for kids home from school and college.
It all began with General Hospital’s Luke and Laura on the run in 1980. She was married to a nice, young lawyer (yes, latter-day fans, Scotty used to be the nice one), he was presumed dead after escaping his own marriage to the mob, they had a stolen book of clues, there was a left-handed boy, and a hit-man dressed in drag, and farmers, and a blanket between their beds and you really had to be there, because it was glorious.
The following summer, no longer married (not even to each other), Luke and Laura embarked on an even grander adventure, stowing away on a luxury yacht to an island where an evil mastermind was planning to freeze the world using synthetic diamond dust (Mikkos Cassadine tried to warn us about global warming, but did anyone listen?). This time, there was a dashing, Australian super-spy (a.k.a. Robert Scorpio, known to most fans now as Robin’s dad… or Emma’s grandfather), a spoiled movie star, Days of Our Lives Tony DiMera under another name, the original Baltar from the original Battlestar: Galactica, tropical fevers, and a very, very obvious password to stopping the doomsday machine that all of us at home were yelling the entire hour it took Luke to figure it out. It was even better than the previous year’s caper.
With the explosive success of GH’s summer adventure, other shows quickly followed suit. DOOL had Bo and Hope fighting communism… on ice (details, here), and Kimberly and Shane dealing with drug-dealers in Florida (must see video of the cast in full Miami Vice mode, complete with Phil Collins soundtrack, here). All My Children’s Jenny and Jesse fled to New York City, and even the more traditional soaps ventured outside of small-town America. On As the World Turns, Tom and Margo, after battling South American rushing rapids and snake bites, found themselves in a castle booby-trapped with explosive, poison darts in themed rooms referencing Alice in Wonderland, among other literary classics. Their torturer was a drug-dealing, evil dwarf. For the record, the entire storyline kicked off with a little girl putting on the wrong hatband.
Meanwhile, over on Search for Tomorrow, Travis and Liza faced danger in Hong Kong, where evil people of indeterminate agenda (possibly more drug dealers) were intent on stealing Liza’s jade necklace, for equally indeterminate reasons. The only thing known for certain was that this was SFT’s big summer, adventure storyline. To drive the point home, they made sure that Travis sported a blond perm identical to Luke’s on GH.
Clearly, summer was the time when soap-opera producers were intent on hooking young viewers, who might then grow into lifelong fans (this was back when soaps weren’t being cancelled right and left, so you really could watch one show from cradle to grave).
And to go behind the scenes with some of soaps' best summer - and year round - storylines, check out Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments. Response was so terrific to me making the book FREE to borrow on Amazon, that I've decided to extend the freebie for another month. Don't miss getting your copy, today, here!