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This syndicated soap (which tried to push the current boundaries for nudity on television, especially when it comes to males) was test-marketed for 13 weeks in selected cities, including Boston and Atlanta. The combining of the original plotline with 90's sensibilities, along with warping a few relationships (Helen Lawson, who in the movie and novel was a huge Broadway star for whom Jennifer North appeared as a showgirl is now Jennifer's mother and a movie star!) New World basically cancelled the project before it was aired, but those original 13 weeks were adult soap opera at it's most interesting. Of special note is that I believe this soap was the first portrayal of a functioning and healthy gay relationship between two men. Ahead of it's time, I hope this show doesn't disappear into oblivion.
Not very good in terms of acting or story but VERY adult and frank. It aired here in Boston at 11:30 at night for only a few months. I was REALLY surprised at some scenes--especially the extensive male nudity. There was one shot where a guy got out of bed totally nude and casually walked out of the room...and the camera never looked away. From what I remember, there was no frontal but just showing the guys butts was surprising for TV. I wouldn't mind seeing a DVD release of this. If they can do "The Dukes of Hazard" they can do this! The previous poster mentioned a positive gay relationship in this. I honestly don't remember that but that's just one more reason this should be available.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This syndicated late-night soap opera aired for 13 weeks (Mon-Fri) in
select cities across the U.S. in 1994. Based loosely on the trash/camp
film and the best-selling novel by Jacqueline Susann, it lasted 65
half-hour episodes before being canceled.
Set in L.A., "Valley of the Dolls" took a sleazy look at Hollywood through the eyes of three beautiful rising starlets, and an aging actress who's star was fading fast.
Innocent Anne Welles (Sharon Case, Young & Restless) arrived in L.A. from Wisconsin and eventually befriended and became roommates with Neely O'Hara(Melissa De Sousa, The $treet), a tough singer/dancer/actress powerhouse from the Bronx, and spoiled rich girl Jennifer North (Colleen Morris, Vinnie & Bobby). Jennifer was the daughter of legendary actress Helen Lawson (played so over the top by Oscar nominated Sally Kirkland, it would make your head spin), and forever resented living in her mother's shadow.
When Anne arrived in L.A., she fell in love with Tim Burke (Kevin Spirtas, Days of our Lives) who had just been promoted to entertainment agent at a large talent agency. He got her a job in the mail room there, and a romance developed between them, until she discovered him having sex with another woman. Anne was quickly promoted in the talent agency, and became involved with Allen Cooper (John O'Hurley, Seinfeld), a mysterious businessman. As with Tim, a frigid Anne could not be intimate with Allen. Allen convinced Anne to go away with him to Santa Barbara for the weekend. On the trip, when Anne again pulled away from him, Allen raped her. The rape triggered a dark secret from her childhood when she was molested by a close family friend.
Neely O'Hara was a tough, but penniless recovering alcoholic and singer/actress/dancer. She paid the bills by working as a waitress/stripper while trying to make it big. She befriended a fellow Bronx native Ray Ariaz (Kamar De Los Reyes, One Life To Live) and fell in love with hotshot producer Seth Stein, who promised to make her a star. Seth often referred to a firey Neely as the next Latino Madonna! Jennifer North returned to L.A. after catching her race car star fiancée Jean Claude in a threesome with two women in his hotel shower. Upon returning, Jennifer moved in with her mother, legendary actress Helen Lawson. When Jean Claude showed up in L.A. to beg Jennifer to take him back, he ended up in bed with her mother Helen. A distraught Jenn became so crazed upon catching them, she drove her car right into the living room of her mother's mansion! The man that Jenn really loved was real estate agent Peter D'Allesio. Peter was also a recovering alcoholic, who attended AA meetings with Neely. Peter just also happened to be Jenn's psychiatrist sister Caitlin North's (Lisa Howard, Days of Our Lives) ex-husband. Though Caitlin had remarried with a dentist named Rick, she and Peter were still secretly having an affair. When Caitlin ended their affair to save her marriage, Peter was free to be with Jenn. However, Jenn's life was threatened after she became involved with a sleazy lingerie photographer who owed money to some dangerous drug dealers. When Peter came to Jenn's rescue, he was shot.
Aging legendary actress Helen Lawson almost resumed an affair with her remarried ex-husband Gordon, when she wasn't busy bedding her own daughter's fiancée. While trying to revive her career, she also became involved in a heated affair with a much younger sexy Latin lover.
Mitch Henry (Milton Selzer, General Hospital), who was Helen's agent, ran the same talent agency that both Anne and Tim worked at. Mitch was involved in a long-term relationship with his gay lover Dennis Ulander (David Stratton). Dolls was one of the first TV soaps to deal openly with homosexuality in an honest and realistic manner. Dennis, a young artist, was crushed when all his paintings were destroyed when his and Mitch's home went up in flames in the Malibu wildfires. When he was gay-bashed outside a nightclub, Dennis's painting hand was injured so badly, that doctors informed him he would never paint again.
Dolls pushed many envelopes in both the amount of skin it showed and it's adult language. There was tons of male nudity, including an accidental erection in the first episode that the censors missed. Given it's late-night time slot, it was free to deal with story lines far too hot for daytime soaps.
Like a bad movie, that's so bad it's good, Dolls was a deliciously guilty pleasure that was worth staying up late for.
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