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Stunts in Day Time Television Soap Operas

Actresses with there Stunt Doubles on “Days of Our lives”

A soap opera, sometimes called “soap” for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers, as sponsors and producers. These early radio series were broadcast in weekday daytime slots, usually five days a week, when most listeners would be housewives; thus the shows were aimed at and consumed by a predominantly female audience.

Soap operas became a staple of daytime television in the United States in the early 1950s. Along with game shows, reruns of situation comedies, and talk shows, the soap opera was traditionally a fixture in the American broadcast networks’ daytime schedules. Christina S. Beck argues the significance of soap operas are based on viewers’ co-constructing narratives to show how both traditional and online soaps help negotiated the lived experience of people.
Many long-running US soap operas established particular environments for their stories. The Doctors and General Hospital, in the beginning, told stories almost exclusively from inside the confines of a hospital. As the World Turns dealt heavily with Chris Hughes’ law practice and the travails of his wife Nancy who, tired of being “the loyal housewife” in the 1970s, became one of the first older women on the American serials to become a working woman. Guiding Light dealt with Bert Bauer (Charita Bauer) and her alcoholic husband Bill, and their endless marital troubles. When Bert’s status shifted to caring mother and town matriarch, her children’s marital troubles were showcased. Search for Tomorrow mostly told its story through the eyes of Joanne Gardner (Mary Stuart). Even when stories revolved around other characters, Joanne was frequently a key player in their story lines. Days of our Lives initially focused on Dr. Tom Horton and his steadfast wife Alice. The show later branched out to focus more on their five children. The Edge of Night featured as its central character Mike Karr, a police detective (later an attorney), and largely dealt with organized crime. The Young and the Restless first focused on two families, the prosperous Brooks Family with four daughters, and the working class Foster family of a single working mother with three children. Its story lines explored realistic problems including cancer, mental illness, poverty and infidelity.

While these soap have been airing for may years that have also made great stride on making there dramatic sense look as good as scripted prime time TV shows.  This is done by using highly qualified stunt coordinators in the business.  Because an average soap shoots an episode a day it takes a skilled stunt coordinator to effectively design and supervise action scenes.  There is not a lot of time to set up the stunt so production relies on the Stunt Coordinator and his or her team of stunt performers to come in to set prepared to do the stunt quickly and safe.  It is rare if a stunt performed will be able to do a second take due to the time constraints’ the production team and director have.

In 2011 the Academy of Art and Sciences of Television gave  day time Emmy to Tim Davison for Stunt Coordinating General Hospital.  In 2012 Stunt Coordinator Tim Davison is nominated for a second time for General Hospital along with Stunt Coordinator Terry James for Days of our Lives.  Terry James was nominated for two Emmy’s last year for Days of our Lives and Young and the Restless.  Terry is the longest running stunt coordinator for any day time television show  supervising all aspect of the Stunts for Young and the Restless for the past 25 years.



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