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Monday, 25 February 2008 07:41

Soaps - For Girls Only?

Are all these daily dramas of any appeal to men? ...

 

In the beginning, man created soap operas … a cheap and cheerful way to hook housewives into a continuing serial, a format that would give washing powder manufacturers the chance to constantly harangue such poor defenceless creatures of the 1950s into submission. Almost brainwashed, these women would go out shopping and subconsciously pick up the brand whose money had been put into their favourite fix of escapism.

To this day, it's interesting to note that it's only women who get transfixed into the plotlines of soaps and actually believe they are watching real slices of life (I should note that not all women are like this - just the chattering majority, it would seem). Us gents, however, see jobbing actors in a piece of fluff designed to fill space between the news and the next big sit-com. Men were never really a target market of these shows - we don't buy the right stuff for the advertisers concerned, so we were never pandered to by the formats.

Only, this seemed to change at some point in the 1990s. Exactly when is a little more difficult. It was definitely post-Kylie. In fact, it may well have been the success of Australian Soaps that made British Production Companies rethink their strategy. Suddenly, us blokes were being courted to stick with Sud Arias due to the high Babe quotient suddenly injected into these tired programmes. And there we are, us guys, who have better things to do with our telly viewing hours, suddenly paying a passing interest to the soaps just because of the female eye candy being paraded in front of us.

Aren't we just shameful? You can tell we're not interested in the shows or their paper-thin repetitive plots. Why? Well, we're more likely to know the actresses by their real names than their character names. If a market researcher asks us who we'd like to go on a date with, it's the real artist, not the fictitious woman, that we plump for. The soap opera is unable to suspend our disbelief - we'd rather talk actresses than made up hairdressers, café assistants or barmaids.

Meanwhile, pity those poor unfortunate women hooked into their thrice weekly doses of made-up life, so valuable these days as neighbours no longer gossip over the back fence - there must be some reality construct to take this activity's place. They shake fists at the actors who play the villains when they're down their local Tesco's, they give stern advice to the less-than-chaste women who they cannot realise are thespians, not harlots or lesbians.

Us guys don't buy into these soaps. Give us action, adventure, and some well-crafted and unusual storytelling that's as far removed from reality as possible. We all live real life to the max, and would prefer others not to do so for us! Problem is, it seems there aren't enough like-minded women to go around!

 

Friday, 22 February 2008 07:45

For The People

William Shatner fighting for law and order ...

 

US - 1965 - 13 episodes (60 mins) - B&W

Having followed his first television appearance in the 1956 Goodyear Television Playhouse episode All Summer Long with numerous guest roles, including The Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, For the People brought William Shatner his first starring vehicle, prior to taking the role of James T. Kirk in Star Trek.

Created by producer Herbert Brodkin, the series evolved from the legal drama The Defenders starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father and son lawyers, which had started life as a two-part Studio One drama in 1957 with Shatner in the role of the younger Kenneth Preston opposite Ralph Bellamy.

As a no-nonsense New York Assistant District Attorney, Shatner's David Koster finds himself up against not just the criminal underclass but also his superiors who found his single-minded dedication for justice abrasive. Only his immediate boss, Bureau Chief Anthony Celese, played by Howard Da Silva who was returning to regular work after being blacklisted in the 1950s, admires Koster’s zeal and offers sage advice, while Lonny Chapma'’s Detective Malloy helps seek out the criminals to prosecute. In private Koster's life was just as tumultuous, married to a string-quartet viola player whose priorities often conflicted with his own.

Although short lived, the series employed one of the first story-line cross-overs between different series as an episode of Brodkin's The Nurses, which followed the lives of two nurses working in a large New York hospital, concluded five days later in the fourth episode of For the People. Several episodes have recently turned up at Festivals around the world.

 

REGULAR CAST
William Shatner as David Koster
Howard Da Silva as Anthony Celese
Lonny Chapman as Frank Malloy
Jessica Walter as Phyllis Koster

 

 

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