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Lovin' The Afternoon

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We didn’t give a flying fig about soaps — and then we heard that All My Children’s Bianca (Eden Riegel) was a…lesbian! With postholiday blahs settling in, EW happily returns to a land of amnesiacs, cuckolds, and harsh lighting. Here, a guiding light to four must-see sudsers, rated on a one-to-four bubble scale.

— Nicholas Fonseca

ALL MY CHILDREN (ABC)

The concept: 7th Heaven x Peyton Place2 Reason to watch: The saga of socialite Erica Kane (Susan Lucci, right with Riegel) and her just-out teen daughter, Bianca. Look Ma, no boys!

Fast-forward alert: The coma-inducing story of Ryan Lavery’s declining dotcom.

Emmy-worthy dialogue: ”You can’t own my life, Edmund…. You can’t take my power because you are nothing but a stable boy!”

Bubbles: [3 1/2]

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (CBS)

The concept: (Dynasty[divided by]Models, Inc.) + Melrose Place

Reason to watch: The half-hour running time is perfect for the gym. Plus, it’s the only soap with zaftig, redheaded fashionista Sally Spectra (Darlene Conley).

Fast-forward alert: Scenes with teeth-clenching drunk Deacon (Sean Kanan).

Emmy-worthy dialogue: ”Come on, let the bad girl out…. Come on, baby, let her out!”

Bubbles: [2 1/2]

PASSIONS (NBC)

The concept: Dark Shadows x Bewitched[divided by]The Gong Show

Reason to watch: Four words: Timmy the talking doll (Josh Ryan Evans). And we loved the recent buried-alive plot with Sheridan Crane (McKenzie Westmore). So what if Days of Our Lives did it in 1993?

Fast-forward alert: The never-ending Luis/Theresa/Ethan tale, which stereotypes Hispanic men as full of machismo.

Emmy-worthy dialogue: ”I want to leave you with something…. Your sister Theresa is Ethan Crane’s mistress!”

Bubbles: [4]

PORT CHARLES (ABC)

The concept: Third Watch + (St. Elsewhere x General Hospital)

Reason to watch: Finite, 12-week story arcs don’t tax the attention span.

Fast-forward alert: Dr. Kevin Collins’ (Jon Lindstrom) constant blubbering over his wife’s presumed death is starting to make us cry.

Emmy-worthy dialogue: ”He’s a monster, Eve; he’s a walking nightmare. And once upon a time, I thought I’d killed him.”

Bubbles: [2]

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