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Weird (soap opera) science

Looks like the Days of Our Lives coma we described last week is about to come to an end for John, as Kristen’s miracle cure is promising to have him up, around, and eyebrow-raising in no time. And just what exactly is in her magical elixir, which none of the doctors at Salem Hospital have ever seen before but Kristen swears will totes work? Oh, you know, chemicals … vitamins … minerals … a little eye of newt, perhaps?

When it comes to soap opera science, the details are very often fuzzy, while the results are … unprecedented, to say the least. (Maybe they hesitate to reveal the complete ingredient list for fear people will start whipping up batches of coma cures in their bathtubs?)

Meanwhile, over on General Hospital, Freeze Tag is the name of the game, as the heretofore-presumed dead are brought back to life thanks to a vague process, developed by Robin, that involves freezing and unfreezing via a complicated formula. Once again, we don’t know what exactly is inside those test tubes she stared at so meaningfully for months. My money is on diamond dust. If it was good enough, back in the early 1980s, to power a weather machine constructed to frost over the entire world (Mikos Cassadine was proclaimed a villain for his efforts, but don’t you wish he were around now to give global warming a bit of a shove in the other direction?), then it’s good enough for Mikos’ brother, Victor, to use on their not quite dearly departed family members, and everybody’s favorite brain-damaged hitman hero, Jason.

But if you think that’s soap opera science at its weirdest, then you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Soaps’ tenuous grasp on the world of physical sciences may range from those near divine diamonds with the power of Lazarus, to the more banal BeLieF formula on The Bold & the Beautiful that keeps haute couture from wrinkling. But it’s in the fields of medicine and applied biology where soap writers really let their imaginations run wild.

Apart from comas with a recovery rate far above that of the real world, viewers have also been witness to things like One Life to Live‘s oh-so-rare blood type G. (It’s how Tina realized she was CJ’s mother; we wonder if Tina’s brother, Todd, inherited her indeed very rare—as in nonexistent—blood type.)

When As the World Turns’ Holden got hit on the head during a mugging and lost his memory, then-head writer Douglas Marland stressed over and over that Holden was not experiencing amnesia, but that he had suffered a permanent, physical injury to his left and right temporal lobes. As a result, it would be physiologically impossible for him to ever get his memory back.


Eventually (under a new head writer), Holden got his memory back. (Brain tissue regenerates, right?)

On Guiding Light, we had Clone Reva. Hot on the heels of Dolly the Cloned Sheep came the soap clone, Dolly. She gestated in a few days, then proceeded to age at an accelerated pace, with a longish stopover in the rebellious adolescent phase, and the “I want to sleep with Reva’s (or is that my) husband” phase, prior to dying in the real Reva’s arms. It says something about viewers’ willing suspension of disbelief—when it comes to soapy, scientific flights of fancy—that the big question fans had was not so much how the clone was created, but how she managed to learn everything it took the real Reva a lifetime to learn (from walking to talking to seducing all the male members of the Lewis family) in the time most newborns are still focusing on toilet training.

Maybe Dolly the Clone could have avoided her premature death if she’d been a character on another soap, The Doctors (coming to Retro TV in reruns this September 29). As the show was preparing to go off the air on December 31, 1982, viewers learned that hot-to-trot Adrienne was really her own 60-something mother, who was impersonating the vivacious younger woman thanks to an anti-aging serum that she was tragically running out of. (The philosophically inclined might want to look at the entire storyline as a metaphor for the more traditional Doctors failing to ape the then more popular, youth-oriented General Hospital, and thus being “killed off” the airwaves.)

But no Misfit of Soap Science could ever match Vincent on Passions. A hermaphrodite who could apparently warp at will from looking male to looking female, he also managed to get pregnant. By his father.

Now do you see why soaps don’t want you trying any of their weird science at home?

Got a favorite daytime drama scientific oddity? Make sure you leave a comment and tell us!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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