This week’s online of the week revolves around a favorite daytime classic show of mine, Ryan’s Hope, the soap opera which revolved around an Irish-Catholic family from Riverside in New York City that ran on ABC from 1975-89.
It’s amazing how well written this show was, at least at this point in the run. Right now SOAPnet is airing shows from January 1979. The writing makes sense, even if I don’t like a particular storyline as much as another, I don’t hate it so much that I skip an entire episode to avoid it like with another certain soap *cough* As The World Turns *cough*. It's so worth setting a tape every day at 5 am to see it.
Something else I’ve noticed, from the point of the show’s beginning, I hated character Delia Reid Ryan Coleridge. I mean, hated. I mean, so whiny, so pathetic, so manipulative. Even co-creator Claire Labine referred to her as a manipulative bitch in 1976. I felt this way all the way through towards the mid-1978 episodes, where Delia finally gets the help she needs and starts to behave like a mature adult. Even with a few relapses here or there, when she found out the hard way that she wasn’t fit to raise her son Little John, I actually said “aww,” a word that I NEVER thought that I would ever say to her on this show. Ever. She was just way too horrible for me to do this in the past. Pushing former husband Frank Ryan down the stairs on the first episode and nearly killing him, and after realizing what she had done, told no one about it at all. Getting pregnant on purpose and faking a miscarriage so she can marry Pat Ryan. Faking blindness. But then, the show took a character I hated and made her evolve into someone that I actually enjoy seeing. I don’t know if it’ll last long, but the point is that the character made a turn around at least briefly and it wasn’t forced. We saw her mature when she was seeing a doctor. She started taking care of herself. Even though she never worked but relied on investments in commodities, It felt really, really natural.
There’s also the good family drama… “family drama” being based on central families on the show. Of course, the Ryans, and then there’s the Coleridges, and the Reids. We have the standard soap storylines of cheating, kidnapping, etc., but it’s handled so brilliantly that it comes off as very original.
The clip featured is of Kate Mulgrew singing the song “Memory Book,” which reflects on her character Mary Ryan’s relationship with Jack Fenelli. While the show had very strong writing, one thing I have noticed is that the recasts did become common ground and could be rather frequent. And I think that the Mary Ryan character is one of the ones that suffered the most with the recast factor. To many people including myself, there is only one true Mary Ryan… and she was played by Kate Mulgrew. The occasional unfavorable recast aside, Ryan’s Hope has really become a favorite of mine relatively quickly, and it’s definitely one show that many heads of current soaps should look at every once in a while to see how well a soap can truly be.