I make no secret of the fact that I like soap operas. When Livia and I were dating and then newly married, she got me started watching one called RYAN'S HOPE. Several of the actors who appeared on it went on to bigger (but not necessarily better) things. I also watched
for a good while, during its action/adventure phase which saw plotlines like a weather-controlling machine that would allow the resident bad guys to take over the world and a villain who was the reincarnation of Alexander the Great (or at least thought he was). This was also the period that spawned the whole Luke and Laura frenzy that culminated in their wedding. Along the way, although I never watched it on a regular basis, I saw enough bits and pieces of the recently departed ALL MY CHILDREN to know who most of the characters were. GENERAL HOSPITAL
My all-time favorite daytime soap opera, though, is one that might have held some appeal for some of you reading this: THE EDGE OF NIGHT. Other soaps were primarily doctor shows or lawyer shows. THE EDGE OF NIGHT, from beginning to end, was the mystery soap opera, the show where cops and district attorneys and crooks and murderers were the main characters, not supporting roles. That emphasis goes all the way back to its origins, when Proctor & Gamble tried to create a soap opera based on Erle Stanley Gardner's iconic Perry Mason, only to be unable to reach a deal. So they just created their own version, centered around attorney Mike Karr instead of Mason.
I don't know all the history of the series, but by the time I was watching it, mystery novelist and Edgar winner Henry Slesar had been hired at the head writer, and he continued in that job for many, many years, often writing almost every episode with assistance from only one or two staff writers. The plots tended to move a little faster than on most soaps, and there was nearly always an unsolved murder or two driving the action. And action there was, with a minimum of sitting around talking. The characters were almost always in motion. The cast expanded to bring in more doctor characters, but hospital scenes were more than balanced out by smoky, jazzy moments in the local watering hole, the Blue Moon Café, run by the somewhat shady Johnny Dallas. And if you were lucky, at the end of an episode you got the full-length version of the show's theme song, which had a definite noirish, wet-streets feel to it.
I watched THE EDGE OF NIGHT for about ten years and never failed to enjoy it. I didn't figure out many of Slesar's well-plotted mysteries, either. Then, fairly abruptly, the show reinvented itself. Slesar either quit or was let go, and was replaced as head writer by Lee Sheldon, who kept some of the cops vs. mobsters plots but opened up the scope and turned it into a globe-trotting series of international intrigue. The plots got more over-the-top, including an epic swordfight between the private eye who had become the hero of the series, Sky Whitney, and the bad guy who was going to, yes, take over the world with the help of some Rube Goldberg machine. It was all pretty silly, even by soap opera standards, but somehow it worked and I really enjoyed it.
Then, even though ABC was still broadcasting the show (it had started out on CBS), the local ABC affiliate stopped carrying it in order to schedule something else, I don't remember what it was. That bothered me, but the proverbial writing was already on the wall and ABC cancelled THE EDGE OF NIGHT entirely a few months later. It ended, appropriately enough, with the mysterious disappearance of several of the characters.
This was all a long time ago. You can still find a few clips from THE EDGE OF NIGHT on YouTube, but soaps don't translate well to DVDs so I doubt if we'll ever see more than that. You can tell from my comments and how much I recall about it that I was very fond of the series, and I hope a few of you remember it as well. I've been known to say somewhat facetiously that everything I know about plotting, I learned from soap operas and comic books. For good or bad, there's probably some truth to that.