Back in 1986, when the earth was still cooling and I had far more hair, I started reading Soap Opera Digest. There was no “It’s Only My Opinion” at the time, and critical analysis was sporadic if it happened at all.
Every once in a while, you’d see a great hard-hitting article about some aspect of the soap business. There were writers like Michael Logan who offered expert opinions about what was happening on the shows in the then-biweekly Digest.
When Soap Opera Weekly launched in 1989, I was immediately hooked. Compared to the fluff of SOD, Weekly was so much more interesting. More to the point, it treated soap journalism as a real thing to be respected, not a joke bought and paid for by the studios.
I would especially look forward to reading Critical Condition, the weekly article by writer Marlena DeLacroix. Marlena’s column was a beacon in those pre-Internet days. She often voiced what the audience was thinking but that the offical “party line” at the shows could never say.
A few of her columns from that time have always stuck in my mind. None more so than an appreciation of As The World Turns when Douglas Marland wrote it, when she compared (and rightly so) ATWT to repertory theater.
When Weekly changed directions in 2001, it tried several other critical voices. But none were as effective as Marlena’s voice, and until recently the magazine has not had a weekly critical analysis column. But let there be no mistake: Critical Condition was the first weekly critical column, and Marlena wrote content for that column for 11 years. What an achievement!
The Marland/ATWT column was the first thing I mentioned when I learned that she’d resurfaced online in late 2006 at JackMyers.com. We struck up a correspondence and I was a frequent commenter in her JackMyers blog posts.
I was floored when she asked me to be a contributing writer to the new site she was launching. That site is celebrating its first anniversary this month, and I’m very proud to be a part of its history.
In a time where the genre seems to be imploding and people are more entertained by backstage gossip than onscreen story, Marlena remains an important voice in the soap blogosphere.
And that, my friends, is NOT only my opinion!