Nothing goes well for Santa Barbara anymore !

 By Paul Wallace, CinÚ TÚlÚ Revue, 1990

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In the United States, after the first alarm and in spite of many changes introduced by John Conboy, the new producer, the audience of the show does not cease falling. In France, the fall also appears (but to a lesser extent) and the channel TF1 already thinks of replacing the star-show. Patrice Lelay and Etienne Mougeotte asked Jean Mazarin, alias Emmanuel Errer, a great specialist in detective novels, to think about project of police drama which should impassion televiewers during a hundred hours. The changing would be planned for the end of the year 1991. The actors of Santa Barbara also prepare, carefully, their reconversion. Their decisions are not made to reassure their fans. A Martinez appeared on cinema, at the sides of Meryl Streep, in She-Devil , and currently, he plays in a TV movie. Marcy Walker, as for her, aspired to become the star of a new TV show, Bar Girls. Last August, she even had a presentiment of her departure from the soap. Finally, considering the failure of Bar Girls, Eden stayed in Santa Barbara. But the fact remains that discomfort continues within the team and Marcy Walker had besides very hard words for the new direction of the show.

At the same time the owners of Santa Barbara complicate the intrigue and sow incomprehension in the spirit of the public. Eden and Cruz, the couple-star, love and break according to the mood of the writers. A few months ago, Lane Davies (Mason) left the show. Terry Lester, who immediately replaced him in the new American episodes, is already himself isolated to leave his place to Gordon Thomson... How to be credible ? How to still make believe in the character of C.C. Capwell who is already at his fifth actor, just like Kelly who also took the features of several different actresses ? All the American gossip-writers affirm it : the death of Santa Barbara is close !

It is Marcy Walker who revealed, first, the faintness which currently reigns within the team of Santa Barbara. Last August, she planned to leave the show and had held severe remarks towards the new producer, John Conboy. "In the United States, Santa Barbara is already not what it was any more. John Conboy is now here for eight months. In eight months, one can already give an opinion on the accomplished work. What I deplore, it is that instead of developing the existing characters and towards who the public is attached and who it likes, he creates new couples from nothing ! Each time somebody retakes a show in hand, instead of improving the material that it has, one would say that it goes from its honor to add, to bring something of new and personnel. Today, Robin Mattson can estimate happy herself if she still works two days per week ! She would deserve better than to be the wife and the partner of Keith Timmons. Judith (McConnell) and Jed (Allan) wait for years that their characters are developed. But the way is not reassuring if we think of the public which will suddenly be found with two or three new couples that it does not know. There, it can take down...

The blond Marcy Walker had invested herself in the shooting of the pilot of a new show Bar Girls. She found a lot of hope in this show and saw there the occasion to escape from her role which she now plays for six years. She had clearly announced that if this episode functioned near to the public, she would have to make a choice between Bar Girls and Santa Barbara. Unfortunately for Marcy Walker, Bar Girls was a failure and the producers decided not to continue the project. The sweet Eden thus returned in Santa Barbara.

On his side, A Martinez declared to who wanted to hear him that he would not continue without Marcy Walker. Even if the actor resigned a contract for two years, he takes more and more distance with his character of Cruz. Last year, he had played during his holidays a movie with Meryl Streep, She-Devil. Currently, A Martinez shoots, at the same time as Santa Barbara, a TV movie, Not of this World. "I play a police officer who assists the inhabitants from a city in Missouri who are the targets of dangerous aliens. At my sides, there is the beautiful Lisa Hartman (Knots Landing), an exceptional actress and a superb woman." A Martinez, him too, thus prepares a gate to go out. He however regrets that the things occur like this. Santa Barbara brought everything to him : money, glory, popularity, but also the necessary maturity to found a family. "The role of Cruz enabled me to better know myself and to feel me better in my adult skin. Before, and despite of all the roles I had already played, I was a kid, I had too childish reactions in front of the things of life. Santa Barbara made me evolve to more maturity, serenity and equilibrium."

But everybody recognize it : the Santa Barbara of today does not have anything in common with the one there are six years ago. C.C. Capwell already changed five times of head, Kelly three times, Gina twice, and Mason will soon know a third actor. Lane Davies left Santa Barbara at the end of the season 1989, replaced by Terry Lester. This last one will soon leave his place to Gordon Thomson, ex-Adam Carrington in Dynasty. All these changes of actor, of course, are not made to clarify the situation in the spirit of the televiewers. Moreover than lately, the writers multiplied the intrigues which do not seem very credible : drug traffic, hostages crisis, man hunting, premonitory dreams, guardian angels, supernatural powers. The writers did not move back in front of nothing. Cruz will even finish in a harem, in Arabia !

These last madnesses undoubtedly definitively killed the show. In the United States, the audience considerably goes down. After having occupied, for a long time, the head of the surveys, Santa Barbara is today in penultimate position in the classification of the soaps. The Young and the Restless, a soap appeared for the first time on the American television in March 1973, does more than the double of its audience and is classified first one. Even The Bold and the Beautiful precedes Santa Barbara.

To try to save the little which remains to them, the producers launched their last trump in the fight : a surprise-wedding. Kelly Capwell, interpreted today by Carrington Garland, gets married for the third time. Conscious that Santa Barbara brought them more than happiness, the actors of the show are ready to everything to make the show going out of the dead end where it is. "We all want to save our show which made our glory", they affirm. "We owe everything to Santa Barbara and we will fight until the last day."

The French televiewers have also a role to play : if the show finds its strength of yore on the Old Continent, perhaps the producers will re-examine their judgement. On the other side of Atlantic, the television specialists are always very sensitive to the echo of the European public, because a success is synonymous of additional sale. But will the television channels, which pay the TV shows very expensive, leave them the time for it ?