The Doctors are In

Bill and I watched the movie Fences the other night. Fences is one of the movies nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. It is also one of the movies nominated by the Screen Actors’ Guild for best ensemble cast, which is SAG’s version of best picture. So it’s quite predictable that you would want to slit your wrist after watching it. It’s Hollywood, after all.

I didn’t like the movie very much, though Bill enjoyed it more than I. That’s because Bill’s way smarter than I would ever hope to be, and so he appreciates art. I appreciate art, but only if it’s art that is drawn by one of my grandkids.

Fences had a very weird style, and watching it was almost like watching a play. There were basically two sets: one outside of the home in which the characters played by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis lived, and the other in the kitchen of the house. It was, in fact, originally a play written by the famed playwright August Wilson. Though Wilson died in 2005, he wrote the screenplay before he died, (I am Queen of the Obvious) and it has been sitting, oh, I don’t know exactly where, since then, apparently awaiting the arrival of someone willing to make it into a movie. Denzel Washington was the man.

Though I didn’t care much for the movie, I will tell you that IN MY LIFE, I’ve never seen performances like those of both Washington and Davis. Oh. Em. Gee. They were both amazing. And because of the style of the movie (basically all dialogue and no action), the actors had to memorize about ten million lines. It’s almost worth seeing the movie just to see their performances. Almost.

I love Denzel Washington. I always have, ever since he was one of the characters way back in the eighties in a television program called St. Elsewhere. I loved that show. I think, for reasons I will never understand, I really like medical programs. I’m currently a big fan of CBS’s Code Black, except when they have patients die of bowel obstructions, as they did recently. But, whatever. I was glued to NBC every Tuesday at 9 o’clock, after tucking Court into bed. I liked all of the characters, but I remember thinking that Denzel Washington was a great actor and oh-so-handsome. “He will go far,” I said to myself, because I was the only one in the room. Court might have tiptoed out of his room to see to whom I was talking.

Since I’m writing a rambling post about nothing in particular, I will remind you that George Clooney also got his start in a medical television program called ER. He played the yummy-looking Dr. Ross in this drama about a hospital located in Chicago. ER was on NBC in the mid- to late-90s. I think it was more popular and more critically well-received than St. Elsewhere. But because it was a medical show, I watched every program, front and center. But this time when I said, “George Clooney is going to go far,” Bill was there with me, saving me from becoming a crazy-talk-to-yourself-about-medical-television-programs nutcase.

And since I seem to be talking about famous movie actors who got their start on television, I feel compelled to remind everyone that Meg Ryan, Marissa Tomei, and Julianne Moore all got their start in a soap opera to which I was addicted as a young woman called As the World Turns. I have to admit that I have no recollection of Marissa Tomei or Julianne Moore. They might have been involved after I stopped watching. But I vividly recall Meg Ryan playing the role of Betsy Stewart….


And then there was this…..


Two things: Despite all of the time I have spent with doctors over the past few years, I have never had a single doctor that looked like that.

Also, I knew Meg Ryan was going to go far.

This post linked to Grammy’s Grid.

The Edge…..of Night

Erica Kane: Oh, this isn’t my friend; this is my ex-husband.
Adam Chandler: One of many. I’m third from the end – at least, I think so; I haven’t seen Erica for a couple of days. – from All My Children

Jen called me a while back and told me this story: She had just gotten home from a trip and had unpacked all of her things. She set her prescription medications on her dresser and left the room. When she returned she noticed all of the pill bottles and said out loud, “My heavens, it looks like Valley of the Dolls.”

And the reason she called to tell me this story? Because she had no idea what Valley of the Dolls meant. She just knew our mom said it whenever talking about prescription meds. I explained Valley of the Dolls to her and we had a good laugh.

She went on to tell me that whenever there was drama going on in her or someone else’s life, Mom would say, “It’s like Peyton Place around here.” I also had to explain Peyton Place to Jen, being on the younger side of Baby Boomerism.

But the conversation got me to thinking about soap operas, something I haven’t watched in probably 35 or 40 years.  But I assure you I didn’t stop watching them because I’m an intelligent snob. Nope, far from it. I loved soap operas. I just got busy with my own life (which eventually became a soap opera of sorts in and of itself).

Come on, Baby Boomers. You remember them. You watched them. I know you did.

250px-SteveBetsyWedI have vivid memories of my mother watching her “soaps.”  She was loyal to the CBS soap operas – Love of Life, Search for Tomorrow, The Secret Storm, As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and The Guiding Light. Wow. I can still picture some of the people on those programs. Nancy and Bob Hughes. Vanessa Dale (called Van). Bruce Sterling. Betsy Clark. Steve Andropaulos. And do you remember who played the adorable Betsy Clark? None other than Meg Ryan, who went on to become MEG RYAN. But she was so adorable in her character that I will never forget her in that role. And that wedding was one to behold.

As it happens, by the way, there are a surprising number of famous people who got their first break on soap operas — Demi Moore and Brad Pitt, to name a couple.

I don’t ever remember Mom sitting down and watching her soaps in the afternoon. As a working mother of four kids, she had way too much to do. She would have them on as she cleaned the house or vacuumed the carpet or ironed her clothes.

There was a point when Bec enjoyed watching soap operas. I’m not certain if she actually liked watching the sensational dramas as much as she liked having a common interest with Mom from whom she lived very far away in Alabama.

I remember that when Bec and Terry moved to Germany, Mom got her a subscription to Soap Opera Digest so that she could stay current with what was going on in Oakdale and all of the other little towns where so much happened every week. I’m pretty sure that despite Mom’s best efforts, not one issue of Soap Opera Digest ever made it to Bec’s home in Germany.

And let me just say that if you miss a few months of a soap opera, you can miss a lot. Heck, some of those people were married eight or nine times. All My Children’s infamous Erica Kane, played by Susan Lucci, was married something like 13 or 14 times. I think it depended on whether or not you counted the man to whom she was married twice as one or two marriages. Life is very confusing on soap operas.

Though I occasionally run across a soap opera as I’m looking for something to watch in the afternoon, I think for the most part they ran out of steam in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. Now they have been replaced by reality television. Housewives of Timbuktu.

But I still remember the deep-voiced narrator saying Stay tuned for The Edge……of Night.