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Soaps go back to the future (i.e., the 1980s)

This summer, soaps are taking a giant step back to the future (otherwise known as the halcyon heydays of the 1980s, when they were one of the most profitable genres on television, and scheduling college courses around showtimes was considered cool).

In March, Days of Our Lives announced the returns of Peter Reckell and Stephen Nichols, just in time for the show’s 50th anniversary.

Reckell’s Bo first burst onto the Salem scene in 1983 as a scruffy, motorcycle-riding rebel who promptly tangled, then fell in love (natch) with his “Fancy Face,” Hope, as played by Kristian Alfonso. The ridiculously popular onscreen pair eventually married. But first, they had to overcome such obstacles as Bo kidnapping Hope from her wedding to another man, and Hope needing to join an ice show so she and Bo could recover a magical, brain-tumor-healing prism once stolen by Communists—that ultimately ended up swallowed by an alligator in the Louisiana bayou. Don’t ask.

Both actors left the show in 1987, as Bo and Hope literally sailed off into the sunset with their son on the romantically named Fancy Face. But they would periodically return (though Reckell was replaced with actor Robert Kelker-Kelley from 1992 to 1995) for overlapping stretches of time.

Bo was last seen in 2012, when he once again sailed away, this time without his wife and young daughter (the grown son was off on adventures with his own true love by then). In 2014, Hope got word that Bo, onetime rebel without a cause-turned-cop-turned-secret agent, was working deep undercover in Europe, and it wasn’t certain when he’d be back. Around that time, Hope took up with Aiden, he of the deep, dark, secret past.

Stephen Nichols also joined DOOL in the 1980s—1985, to be precise—as a former merchant marine buddy of Bo’s. The two were tight, until a knife fight over a woman led to Bo putting his pal’s eye out (obviously, their mothers never warned them not to run with sharp objects). The character was originally only known as Patch. Because he, uh, wore a patch over the missing eye. Although he was initially a thug for hire (and even went so far as to terrorize Hope by tying her up and threatening to pour acid over her head), once Patch fell in love with Bo’s sister, Kayla (whom he’d also once terrorized), he not only reformed, but he got a real name: Steve (after the actor who’d managed to make a drug-pushing kidnapper so darn likable).

Patch died onscreen in 1990, though his coffin was mysteriously switched at the last minute. Lo and behold, a scant 16 years later, he was back, suffering from amnesia. He and Kayla reconciled, then broke up again when, like Bo, Steve also went undercover.

Meanwhile, hot on the heels of Genie Francis returning to General Hospital as Laura (though Anthony Geary is leaving as Luke, supposedly permanently this time, but, eh, he’s done it before), GH also announced a comeback for Emma Samms as Holly.

Francis, of course, made history as one half of daytime television’s most watched event ever, Luke and Laura’s wedding, in 1981. She’s been coming and going ever since, sometimes staying a few years, other times a few weeks.

Samms was brought to Port Charles in 1982 as a replacement for Francis, playing con artist Holly. She was initially hooked up with Luke, but ended up with his best friend, Robert. Her character was also killed off, then brought back to life to continue coming and going from the show. Her 21st-century series of appearances revealed that Holly had a son (a chip-off-the-block con artist) who initially claimed to be Robert’s, but then turned out to be Luke’s.

And therein lay the problem. The last few times Holly showed up, she was acting so out of character that fans dubbed her Pod Holly, finding no resemblance to the heroine she’d been in the 1980s. (Poisoning a town, then blackmailing the residents for a cure? Giving up a child? Having an affair with Luke while she was married to Robert—and he to Laura? None of it rang true.)

In addition, two other GH past fan favorites, AJ (Sean Kanan) and Duke (Ian Buchanan), were recently brought back from the dead, only to be unceremoniously killed off a few years later. Another 1980s icon, Anna (Finola Hughes), has been turned into a shadow of herself, as the former double-agent kickass badass (with amazing hair) appears to be falling apart after executing the man who’d murdered her beloved Duke, needing newcomer Sloan (Grayson McCouch) to hold her hand. And other body parts.

Yes, fans want to see their old favorites back on the shows that first made them famous. But they want to see the characters they loved, not some weird, warped versions used to rekindle nostalgia, plug in stray story points … then get killed off.

GH fans are already hopping mad over the treatment of AJ, Duke, and Anna, and they’re not holding out much hope for better from Holly and Laura.

DOOL hasn’t done as much slashing and burning of history, but it did bring back favorites Adrienne and Justin, only to break them apart. So what’s in store for Hope and Bo, or Steve and Kayla?

We’ll all have to tune in to find out.

And keep our fingers crossed.

How do you feel about characters returning and not acting like themselves? Tell us below—make your voice heard!

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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