A Reader's View
An Early Christmas Gift: Claire Labine's and Felicia Minei Behr's returns to daytime prove that dreams do come true.
Soap Opera Weekly, August 29, 2000
Christina Kennedy from Newport News, VA
Pinch me. Surely, I'm dreaming, or has Christmas already arrived? Daytime Emmy-winning soap scribe Claire Labine has been appointed head writer of Guiding Light, and dynamic, get-the-job-done soap producer Felicia Minei Behr is now working for ABC Daytime. These appointments disprove the assumption by many disenchanted viewers that networks and soap producers no longer care about the serial genre. If anybody can pump some much-needed energy into soap operas, Labine and Behr can.
Because of Labine's superb writing, Where the Heart Is is fondly remembered by veteran soap viewers. She also talked Love of Life down from the ledge after a near-fatal fall off the daytime balcony. And who could forget her greatest creation, Ryan's Hope? RH captured the heart of a family; the show was about home. We all wish we had a mother as warm, loving and full of wisdom as Maeve Ryan. The Ryan children squabbled, and Mary's closeness to her brother Frank was special and still lives in my memory.
Labine knows how to write family. And family life has fallen by the wayside on today's serials. Who knows what Labine has planned for Springfield? I hope she explores family in year 2000, and returns Ed to the canvas. [I hope that] next summer he's in the backyard, wearing his favorite apron, flipping burgers, hosting a Bauer barbeque. And wouldn't it be wonderful if Meta returns, offering maternal warmth and advice to those who need it? Harley could certainly use someone to talk to. And, if Meta comes back, it'd be great if she had a romance of her own.
Labine is a vet at penning serials, and her voice is still dewy-fresh and unique. I fondly remember Zena Brown on RH complaining about experiencing discrimination for being black. And Maeve told her how the Irish suffered: They couldn't attend their own churches and schools. Many people whined about One Life to Live during Labine's stint. No, it wasn't OLTL at its prime, but I loved the lighthearted moments of Nora and Bo trying to improve their eating habits. And Wendy, the transvestite mixologist, was certainly an unusual character. I found the show sparkling and engaging.
What soap producers fail to realize is that not all fans live for kidnappings and murders. Many find them boring. Some of us want to see different situations and characters who come across as actual people rather than characters. Labine delivers.
Before Behr arrived at As the World Turns, the show was unwatchable. But the talented producer upgraded the sets and the pace, and gave viewers a reason to visit Oakdale. Under Behr and gifted head writer Lorraine Broderick, ATWT was honest. Truthful. Real. The stories were timely, and the respectable ratings showed the audience was ready for them. However, I didn't like Behr treating the veterans like a lace tablecloth only used on special occasions.
Behr also did exemplary work on RH and All My Children, so she just may have the prescription to make ABC once again a dominant force in the daytime industry.
[I included the part about Behr - though I am not exactly a fan - for the sake of completeness. And, she was once Ryan's Hope's executive producer, so I suppose her portion of the letter is not entirely off-topic.]
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