Classic Soaps The City

Carrie Fairchild

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What are your thoughts and memories of this show? I never saw Loving (although it was aired in Ireland on Sky) but I was attracted to The City because of Morgan Fairchild. I'd seen bits and pieces of it before but I've now finally managed to watch the first week of episodes and have gotten an idea of the thrust of the premise. And I've mixed feelings. In terms of appearance, the show looks great. There's lots of location shooting around New York which is such a change from the typically set bound soaps of the time. The editing is fast and the scenes are short, which again is a change from the usual snails pace of some of its 90's counterparts. The cast are mostly great and there's a lot of familiar soap faces floating around. On the downside, not much happened in the first week in regard to a solid storyline emerging. I understand time needs to be taken to establish characters but it reminded me of a producer's criticism of British flop Eldorado where she said there was no storyline, just a series of unconnected incidents. There were a lot of incidents in the first week of The City but closing out the week, the only storylines rearing their heads were a couple of potential romances, the bar owner butting heads with local mobsters over who'd collect his garbage and the hint of a shared past between Sydney and Nick. Was there a lot of carryover in terms of storylines from Loving? I didn't realise until I read up on it that 10 characters crossed over. I found the fifth episode kind of funny where they wheeled out a few random celebrities to add some glamour to Sydney's party including Marilyn McCoo and Robin from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
 

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The promise of using New York City exteriors was one of the selling points of The City (I mean, look at the name), and I have to give credit to ABC for splashing out a lot of money to get that done. Sunset Beach over at NBC also made that a part of the publicity when it was launched; they set aside a day or two every two weeks to send their actors out to do location work at beaches, hotels, seaside restaurants and the like. But like Sunset, the location stuff was quickly curtailed as one of the first efforts at cutting expenses. This was when location work was much more expensive and required two or three times as many crew members to travel along. By the time Guiding Light attempted their exterior-heavy production model ten years later, there were tech advances that made it much, much cheaper and less dependent on dozens of crew members and facilities.

I recall that ABC splashed out so much money on the "Sydney's penthouse" set that after the show no longer needed it (maybe after the show was cancelled?), it became the set for their then-new morning chat show, The View for several years.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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The promise of using New York City exteriors was one of the selling points of The City (I mean, look at the name), and I have to give credit to ABC for splashing out a lot of money to get that done. Sunset Beach over at NBC also made that a part of the publicity when it was launched; they set aside a day or two every two weeks to send their actors out to do location work at beaches, hotels, seaside restaurants and the like. But like Sunset, the location stuff was quickly curtailed as one of the first efforts at cutting expenses. This was when location work was much more expensive and required two or three times as many crew members to travel along. By the time Guiding Light attempted their exterior-heavy production model ten years later, there were tech advances that made it much, much cheaper and less dependent on dozens of crew members and facilities.

I recall that ABC splashed out so much money on the "Sydney's penthouse" set that after the show no longer needed it (maybe after the show was cancelled?), it became the set for their then-new morning chat show, The View for several years.
The location filming really set them apart. I remember Sunset Beach and The Bold and the Beautiful airing together here and the contrast was a bit jarring. SB reminded me of the sunny Australian soaps we were used to watching with a mix of studio and beach filming whereas B&B was like a slightly more glamorous version of the claustrophobic, bargain basement studio based daytime soaps of the 70's like The Cedar Tree. Then again, I think we'd the bar set rather high here for what we thought of as a US daytime soap considering Knots Landing aired on the daytime schedule for so long.
 

tommie

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It's one of the few daytime soaps that aired here - I presume because of the popularity of shows like Melrose Place it was bought. I remember loving it, especially Glamour Queen Morgan (it might've been my first proper encounter with her?) and was really disappointed when it ended.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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It's one of the few daytime soaps that aired here - I presume because of the popularity of shows like Melrose Place it was bought. I remember loving it, especially Glamour Queen Morgan (it might've been my first proper encounter with her?) and was really disappointed when it ended.
I'm kind of surprised that Sky One didn't pick it up here. Being a new soap, it would have been a perfect way to finally try and get viewers here into a US daytime soap in real time from the beginning, instead of trying to get them on board mid storyline when a show had been on air for years (which had been the case with the bulk of the other US soaps that Sky aired in the 90's).
 

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It had a relatively short run on ABC, so maybe they didn't properly market it to overseas television. Or maybe those overseas programmers wanted to buy a soap with a much longer run and didn't buy what ABC was selling. Morgan Fairchild left after a year, and though I love Jane Elliot and consider her to be daytime royalty, most non-Americans don't know who she is. When JE was brought in to fill the void, it might have meant a lot to American fans but did not help sell the show overseas much at all.
 

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tommie

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It had a relatively short run on ABC, so maybe they didn't properly market it to overseas television. Or maybe those overseas programmers wanted to buy a soap with a much longer run and didn't buy what ABC was selling. Morgan Fairchild left after a year, and though I love Jane Elliot and consider her to be daytime royalty, most non-Americans don't know who she is. When JE was brought in to fill the void, it might have meant a lot to American fans but did not help sell the show overseas much at all.
Eh, The Bold & The Beautiful, Santa Barbara and Sunset Beach were pretty much sold internationally on day one because they didn't have the baggage of an enormous run (weirdly enough I know a channel did buy the rights to Passions, but for some reason they just left it on the shelf until I assume their rights ran out and then no channel ended up optioning it, probably because of the time passed). If anything, The City might've been hindered by the fact that it had too many ties to a previous show (Loving) - while B&B was officially a spin-off from Y&R it never felt like you had to watch Y&R to get the story. The City on the other hand had 10 characters transfer from Loving...

DAYS seems like the only real long-running soap that's been successfully sold overseas in the long run (they've tried with Y&R several times here, but it's never been able to garner and audience and has been pulled several times after shorter runs), but I suspect that has a lot to do with Corday being so pro-active in selling it.
 
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Carrie Fairchild

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It had a relatively short run on ABC, so maybe they didn't properly market it to overseas television. Or maybe those overseas programmers wanted to buy a soap with a much longer run and didn't buy what ABC was selling. Morgan Fairchild left after a year, and though I love Jane Elliot and consider her to be daytime royalty, most non-Americans don't know who she is. When JE was brought in to fill the void, it might have meant a lot to American fans but did not help sell the show overseas much at all.
Eh, The Bold & The Beautiful, Santa Barbara and Sunset Beach were pretty much sold internationally on day one because they didn't have the baggage of an enormous run (weirdly enough I know a channel did buy the rights to Passions, but for some reason they just left it on the shelf until I assume their rights ran out and then no channel ended up optioning it, probably because of the time passed). If anything, The City might've been hindered by the fact that it had too many ties to a previous show (Loving) - while B&B was officially a spin-off from Y&R it never felt like you had to watch Y&R to get the story. The City on the other hand had 10 characters transfer from Loving...

DAYS seems like the only real long-running soap that's been successfully sold overseas in the long run (they've tried with Y&R several times here, but it's never been able to garner and audience and has been pulled several times after shorter runs), but I suspect that has a lot to do with Corday being so pro-active in selling it.
In Ireland & the UK, I think Sunset Beach and Santa Barbara were the only two US daytime soaps to start airing from the beginning (Ryan's Hope might have on Irish TV too but I don't know & I'm not sure where Sky picked up B&B). Sunset was presumably bought because of it being an Aaron Spelling production and Santa Barbara was during the 80's so I'm guessing they wanted a Dallas in daytime. Sky had aired Loving on Sky One and Sky Soap, so I would've imagined they'd have been interested in The City for one of those channels, particularly Sky One as it was the home of similar soaps like Pacific Drive and Central Park West at the time. I'd kind of similar thoughts about Port Charles as we're more inclined towards airing half hour soaps here. But as you said, it could be down to how much they marketed the show overseas.
 

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while B&B was officially a spin-off from Y&R it never felt like you had to watch Y&R to get the story.
B&B was not a spin-off of Y&R. Though developed by the same production team and filmed on the same lot, Bill Bell developed B&B to be its own show. He did not transfer any Y&R characters to B&B to kick it off; it wasn't until after the show was well established that they began having crossovers. That makes the two shows operate in the same fictional universe, though.

Interesting story about Passions. My guess is that after they acquired the rights, someone actually watched an episode of it and realized there was no way they could air that hot pile of garbage on their channel and still keep their jobs. So they put it on the shelf and 'forgot about it' until the licensing ran out. Speaking of Bill Bell, I will never forget when a CNN reporter asked Bell if he had seen Passions, and what he thought of it. He looked kind of stricken, and after a pause he said "I don't think it would be constructive for me to comment on it." Which, to me was like "Oh, BURN!"

I read somewhere that Y&R aired in primetime in Bermuda, and that it's like Dallas/Dynasty levels of popular.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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Interesting story about Passions. My guess is that after they acquired the rights, someone actually watched an episode of it and realized there was no way they could air that hot pile of garbage on their channel and still keep their jobs. So they put it on the shelf and 'forgot about it' until the licensing ran out. Speaking of Bill Bell, I will never forget when a CNN reporter asked Bell if he had seen Passions, and what he thought of it. He looked kind of stricken, and after a pause he said "I don't think it would be constructive for me to comment on it." Which, to me was like "Oh, BURN!"
I still think that Passions would've worked as a Sunset Beach replacement in Ireland and the UK. Viewers watched SB knowing that the tongue was planted firmly in cheek for most of it and would've likely looked at Passions in the same way. Instead, Channel 5 picked up Days of Our Lives which only lasted a year I think.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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I've watched what's available of the second week of episodes and this show is a snoozefest. Which is a shame because there's a vibrancy to the locations and the way it's shot and there's a good cast but they haven't much to work with. There isn't much drama so far, which is a basic requirement for a soap.
 

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I watched some episodes when it aired in Sweden. I mostly remember Laura Wright as Ally. I liked her best.
I also remember Sydney, Jocelyn, Angie, Tess, Tony, Nick & Danny. And the penthouse and Ally's apartment.
I don't remember many storylines though.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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I watched some episodes when it aired in Sweden. I mostly remember Laura Wright as Ally. I liked her best.
I also remember Sydney, Jocelyn, Angie, Tess, Tony, Nick & Danny. And the penthouse and Ally's apartment.
I don't remember many storylines though.
From what I've watched so far, the main plot involves Richard (who I believe crossed over from Loving) giving the lease of a building to a motley crew of Loving survivors who've decided to up sticks to New York after being terrorised by a serial killer. The building is in fact owned by his media mogul mother Sydney Chase, who lives on the top floor and wants them all out. I think the issue is that there's been a certain amount of carryover of storylines from Loving, which as a new viewer, I'm not really invested in.
 

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From what I've watched so far, the main plot involves Richard (who I believe crossed over from Loving) giving the lease of a building to a motley crew of Loving survivors who've decided to up sticks to New York after being terrorised by a serial killer. The building is in fact owned by his media mogul mother Sydney Chase, who lives on the top floor and wants them all out. I think the issue is that there's been a certain amount of carryover of storylines from Loving, which as a new viewer, I'm not really invested in.
I watched a few clips on YT tonight, and then Googled a bit. It seems Loving added some characters the same year it ended and many of those crossed over to The City. It's as if they somehow knew Loving was ending and decided to introduce some new characters they knew would be lead characters on The City.
 

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I'm sure they knew. The serial killer story had Gwyneth Alden killing off most of her family and other 'friends' over several months, and that story was devised in the wake of the decision to cancel Loving and morph it into The City. So they knew where they would end up probably six to eight months ahead of time, giving them time to bring in new characters while bumping off the old ones.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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Some interesting bits here in this brief article about the beginnings of The City

https://variety.com/1995/tv/features/abc-soaps-up-the-city-in-loving-memory-99123964/

The president of ABC Daytime said it would take 18 months to see if the revamp worked. Alas, it only lasted 16 months. Also, it mentions that Fremantle were shopping the show around for international distribution, evidently with limited success.

Here's an interview with Morgan Fairchild from the similarly short-lived George & Alana talk show. Her bit starts at 14:50 and she discusses why she returned to daytime and addresses the rumours of her diva behaviour on the set of The City.

 
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