Sunset Beach (TV series)

Sunset Beach (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Sunset Beach

caption = An image from the second opening title sequence of "Sunset Beach" (introduced on August 4, 1997). [" [] ", "Episode 140". URL last accessed 2008-06-16]
genre = Soap opera
creator = Josh Griffith
Robert Guza, Jr.
Charles Pratt Jr.
starring = Series cast
theme_music_composer = Timothy Truman
opentheme =
country = USA
language = English
num_episodes = 755 [" [] ", "NBC". URL last accessed 2008-06-16.]
executive_producer = Gary Tomlin
location = NBC Studios
camera =
runtime = 60 mins.
network = NBC
picture_format =
first_aired = January 6, 1997
last_aired = December 31 1999
website =
imdb_id = 0118484
tv_com_id = 1213

"Sunset Beach" is an American short-running television soap opera, first broadcast in United States on NBC on January 6, 1997, and last aired on December 31 1999. The show followed the loves and lives of the people living in a fictional coastal city named "Sunset Beach", on the coast of California. Although there is a town in California called Sunset Beach, the show's beach scenes were shot on nearby Seal Beach. The show was co-produced by NBC and Spelling Television.

It aired in over 70 countries around the world, and was especially popular in Australia, Ukraine, South Africa, Ireland, United Kingdom, Norway, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Israel, Germany, Poland, Republic of Macedonia, Croatia, Russia, Romania, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Venezuela and Bulgaria.

"Sunset Beach" has won two Daytime Emmy Awards and was nominated 11 times for the same award. The show also receives 22 nominations for various other awards. [" [ Emmy Awards] " "NBC", URL last accessed 2008-06-16] "Sunset Beach" was released on DVD for the first time on 25 July 2008 by the German company Koch Media. The first 12 episodes were released on four DVDs (in German and English). [" [] " "DE", URL last accessed 2008-06-16]

Conception and development

"Sunset Beach" was created early in 1996, in an attempt to rebuild the NBC Daytime lineup and target the younger audience. It was the very first soap opera produced by Aaron Spelling, the chief of "Spelling Television". Jonathan Levin, one of the show's consulting producers, commented on the change that a new soap opera brings to the lineup, and the tough process of a viewer getting to know a new so
[ Levin comment] ]

In the process of making, Aaron Spelling liked the idea of naming the show "Never Say Goodbye", as suggested by Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone during a dinner with Spelling, but later tests proved that the viewers were more drawn to the title "Sunset Beach". At first, the show was given a one-year deal, with 255 episodes to produce.

Before getting cancelled, the show was renewed twice, but it failed to grab the show's audience. Through its short existence, "Sunset Beach" remained in the daytime ratings basement. However, during the "Shockwave" storyline of 1998 it received its best ratings and showed signs that it might move off the bottom. However, this proved to be a brief spike and was not sustained. [Nielsen Ratings, "Info on Nielsen Ratings"]

Cast and crew

, who exited in mid-1998.

The remaining 14 original characters stayed on the show until its end, and three of those characters were recast during the three year run. The first recast happened immediately after the show started airing. The role of Cole Deschanel was recast with Eddie Cibrian. In mid-1998, following contract disputes, Vanessa Dorman vacated the role of Cole's wife Caitlin, and Kam Heskin was cast instead of her. The final recast was a temporary one, when Susan Ward left to film a movie, Sydney Penny stepped in to replace her, with Ward later returning to play the character for the show's final few weeks. Shortly after the show premiered, Dominique Jennings, V.P. Oliver and Russell Curry joined the cast, but the first two were written off by March 1999, exactly two years after their introduction.

The exit of many characters opened the doors to the introduction of new ones. Carol Potter and John Martin, who had been recurring during the show's first year, were promoted to contract status, and the expansion of Meg's family also included the arrival of her sister Sara. The role was first played by then-unknown actress Lauren Woodland, but she was fired two weeks later, and replaced by Shawn Batten, who played the role for the remainder of the series. Aside from Meg's family, Ricardo also got his family expanded, including the introduction of his mother Carmen (played Margarita Cordova), brother Antonio (played by Nick Kiriazis) and the sudden reappearance of his sister Maria (played by Christina Chambers), Ben Evans' presumed dead wife.

The teen scene was revived in 1998, when Bette's daughter Emily (played by Cristi Harris) arrived in town and fell in love with Sean (played by Randy Spelling), prompting Amy (played by Krissy Carlson) and Brad (played by Michael Strickland) to intervene. The final teen cast was Leo Deschanel, Cole's brother (played by David Mathiessen). A long time legend A.J. Deschanel was also cast in the form of Gordon Thomson, and a villain named Francesca (played by Lisa Guerrero) was added to the cast in the middle of 1998.

In 1999, the show cast only three contract roles, the first two being in March, when Tracy Melchior and Chase Parker stunned the soap with their sudden arrival in town. The final role to be cast on the show was the one played by Sean Kanan in late August. Things changed at the end of the year, when fan favorite Eddie Cibrian left the show to pursue a career in primetime. Several other cast members, including a few original ones, considered leaving the show, but the show's cancellation came before they could make a decision.

During its entire run, "Sunset Beach" was executive produced by Gary Tomlin. However, the head writing history was much different. Robert Guza, Jr. was the first head writer (and also a co-creator), but he exited the show in October 1997, when an Meg Bennett, who had been serving as Associate Head Writer was promoted to Head Writing status. Four months after being the sole head writer, Meg got a co-head writer in the form of Christopher Whitesell. During the summer of 1998, Meg was fired and replaced by Margaret DePriest, who stayed with the show until its cancellation.



quotation|When the moon rises early, just as the Santa Ana winds kicks up out of nowhere, and the sun is just dropping out of sight, whoever you meet at the far side of the pier, is who you're destined to be with.|Elaine Stevens "(the legend of Sunset Beach)"cite news| title=In the very first episode, the legend of "Sunset Beach" is introduced, and symbolizes the very first "Sunset Beach" supercouple, Meg and Ben|publisher=""|accessdate=2008-06-16|url= Legend of SuBe] The first year of the show revolved around Meg's pursuit of Ben (including her briefly breaking into his house, stealing a journal she found there and dressing up in his late wife's clothes), who was initially not interested in her, and the gradual development of a romance between them. A side plot showed the antagonistic relationship between Meg and Annie Douglas, Ben's longtime best friend. Meg hated Annie for being close to Ben and wanted to cut her out of his life; Annie hated Meg out of jealousy for her developing romance with Ben. Their problems reached a head with a physical fight in a hot tub. Meg's ex-fiancé Tim Truman followed her to Sunset Beach to win her back, and ended up becoming Annie's ally and almost love interest. Once Meg and Annie had overcome their differences, Meg soon had a new problem when she began to suspect Ben was a murderer, although this plot line was developed to lead up to the Terror Island storyline. After the Terror Island/Derek storyline (see below) none of the things raised were ever mentioned again.

Meg and Ben became one of the show's first couples, along with reformed jewel thief Cole Deschanel and local heiress Caitlin Richards. Cole slept with and impregnated both Caitlin and Caitlin's unhappily married, alcoholic mother Olivia. Olivia and her fiendish husband, Gregory, planned to steal Caitlin's baby and pass it off as Olivia's (telling Caitlin her baby had died), in order to break up Caitlin's relationship with Cole, who her parents disapproved of because of his criminal past. Caitlin lost the child in a car accident when she found out about her parents' horrible plan, and planned to fake the rest of her pregnancy and adopt a baby to pass off as her own, as she was worried her inability to have children (caused by the accident) would cause problems in her marriage to Cole. She enlisted Annie -- secretly trying to break up Olivia and Gregory, due to a term in her father's will stating she would only get her inheritance if she wed Gregory (her father's way of breaking up his marriage to Olivia, who he had been having an affair with). Annie drugged Olivia and stole her baby, telling her the baby had been stillborn. Caitlin unknowingly raised her baby half-brother (who was also her stepson, having been fathered by her husband), until a grief-stricken Olivia discovered the truth. Olivia was eventually reunited with her son.

When the show began it was the only soap on the air featuring Asian American characters, though they were written off before the end of the first year. The show also had daytime television's only African American villainess, Virginia Harrison, who plotted and schemed to break up lifeguard Michael Bourne and reporter Vanessa Hart so she could have Michael for herself.

Outrageous storylines


The show was known for other outrageous storylines, such "Terror Island" [ [ Terror Island] , "Welcome to Terror Island"] in which several of the show's main characters were stranded on an island with a masked serial killer intent on killing them, especially Meg. A handful of characters were killed by the maniac, mostly minor characters introduced as serial killer-fodder, but also one lead character, young runaway made good Mark Wolper. In his dying moments Mark pulled off the killer's mask and audiences were stunned to see Ben's face behind it. As it turned out, Ben had an evil twin, Derek, who plagued Ben and Meg's lives off and on for the rest of the run of the show. Derek was killed after being shot in a struggle with Ben during the show's final weeks, following a long storyline where Derek kidnapped and impersonated his twin for months, sleeping with Ben's wife Maria (having previously also slept with Meg).

Maria Torres Evans, who had wed Ben when she was still a teenager and he was barely in his twenties, had disappeared and been presumed drowned after a boating accident that took place some years prior to the start of the show. Ben was haunted by the terrible secret that he had caught her in bed with Derek (it was later revealed that Derek -- who had impersonated Ben to Maria, who was unaware Ben had a twin -- had not slept with Maria, as she had stabbed him with scissors when he tried to rape her). Ben's guilt and grief over Maria caused a shadow over his relationship with Meg from the beginning, which worsened when an amnesiac Maria came back from the dead at Ben and Meg's October 1998 wedding. Ben and Maria grew closer while he helped her to regain her memory, and once she did, Ben flip flopped between the two women for much of the rest of the show's run. During the show's last year a strange woman, Tess, turned up on his doorstep with a son she claimed was Ben and Maria's. After a positive paternity test they raised the child, Benjy, together, causing even more problems for Meg, who left Ben and briefly started dating her sister's boyfriend, Casey. Derek (who was also wrongfully presumed dead) returned to kidnap Ben again, and it was revealed he and Tess were Benjy's parents.

Another outrageous storyline was the earthquake/tsunami [ [ Shockwave] , "Shockwave Storyline"] story, in which Sunset Beach was struck by a massive earthquake, trapping many characters - most of them each other's rival - together in life and death situations. While half the cast battled the disaster on land, the rest of the cast was on a pleasure cruise aboard a ship that was overturned - a la "The Poseidon Adventure" - by a tsunami created by the earthquake. This storyline was nearly a carbon copy of "The Poseidon Adventure".

The tsunami storyline proved so popular that two weeks' worth of episodes were compiled and turned into an hour-long show that was included on NBC's lineup for one night in August 1998. The show took a supernatural turn for a while with some cursed jewels, stolen from a religious icon, that turned those who'd touched them into shriveled mummies. The story culminated on Christmas Eve with the return of the jewels to the Madonna just in time to prevent the deaths of several key characters.

The show also featured two murder mysteries in its run, the murder of Annie's father Del Douglas (by Cole's mother, Elaine Stevens - Del had kidnapped Cole as a baby and convinced Elaine the child was dead), and the murder of seductress Francesca Vargas, who just about everyone in town wanted dead. The surprise twist in the Who Shot Francesca storyline was that it was main character Gregory Richards.


The show was canceled just before the third anniversary of its original air date. Most of the main characters were given happy endings. [ [ Final Episode Recap] ] Ben and Meg and Michael and Vanessa married in a double wedding. Casey and Sara got engaged, Cole and Caitlin were happy in their marriage, and Olivia was happily raising her children alone. Maria gave Ben a divorce so he could marry Meg and met a new man, Ross English. Maria also adopted Benjy, the little boy she had regarded as her own, and she and Ben planned to raise him together. The 'baddies' all got their just deserts. Derek was accidentally shot and killed by Ben, his accomplice Tess went to jail, as did Gregory Richards. Tim Truman, who though not a villain spent most of the three years causing problems for Ben and Meg, was murdered by Derek. Virginia remained languishing in a mental hospital, while reformed bad girl Annie also got a happy ending, finding love with relatively new character Jude.

In a twist ending, Meg appeared to wake up in Kansas and realize that the entire three years in "Sunset Beach" had been a dream - and the characters from the show were actually her friends and family in Kansas (an obvious reference to "The Wizard of Oz"). However, at the last minute, Meg woke up in Sunset Beach and was in bed with Ben, the day after their wedding. Probably this was poking fun at how many writers use the sloppy ending of, "It was all a dream" to bring a story to a close, as was done in stories such as "Alice in Wonderland".

References and casting

atire and pop culture references


Fantasies involving the character Annie Douglas Richards [ [ Annie's fantasy world] , "The fantasies of Annie Douglas"] included take offs of "The Leeza Gibbons Show", "The Jerry Springer Show" (titled "Murderer of the Day"), guest starring the talk show hosts. Annie fantasized about being a superhero, had a play of the movie "The Wizard of Oz", a play on "Wheel of Fortune", she even had her own imaginary soap opera titled "The Search for Dignity". Plus, the character of Annie was usually the one to deliver funny quotes. [Annie's quotes, "Annie Douglas quotes"]

What made "Sunset Beach" truly innovative was its satirizing of itself and the soap opera genre. Advice was sometimes given to characters by the show's dog [ [ Spike's profile] ] and on one occasion, by God himself [ [ God speaks to Antonio] ] . One of the show's lighthearted traits would be to incorporate pop-up trivia occasionally, taking a cue from the VH1 show. A few of the characters were also known for breaking the fourth wall, most notably Bette Katzenkazrahi and Vanessa Hart who were involved in a one-day special episode where they both had a dream of resolving the complicated storylines of "Sunset Beach".

tunt casting guest appearances

The show went in for stunt casting guest appearances - Jerry Springer played talk show host Jerry Feller, Marla Maples played socialite Barbara Birch, Judge Wapner played himself - and featured a ripped from the headline story about a Washington intern, Meg's sister Sara Cummings (Shawn Batten), who'd had an affair with a married politician. Her affair was exposed by her supposed friend - Melinda Fall, a take off on Linda Tripp. Sara went on to develop a relationship with local lifeguard Casey Mitchum, and their relationship and her sibling rivalry with her sister (who at one point started an affair with Casey) made up the bulk of Sara's storylines, although she was also famous for her TV show-inspired fantasy sequences, which included spoofs of the opening titles for Friends and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Other notable guest appearances include Finola Hughes as Cole's ex-fiancé Helena, Christopher Darden as Les Gordon, John O'Hurley as the Host of "Wheel of Misfortune", Kim Alexis as a Hotel Maid, Jack Wagner as a thief Jacques Dumont and Barbara Mandrell as Casey's ill mother Alex Mitchum.

External links

*imdb title|id=0118484|title=Sunset Beach


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