Storms Within — A Theme (THE HANDYMAN’S STORM)

Some of you reading this will remember the CBS-TV soap opera The Secret Storm. It aired from 1954 through 1974 and was hugely popular for many years. It might have lasted longer than twenty years and two weeks, but CBS bought the show from American Home Products, tinkered with it, and killed it. This happens a lot. Substitute ABC for CBS and you have the same fate as my beloved All My Children. I will never understand why numbers people labor under the delusion they are also good at creative emotional endeavors. I went through the same thing as a radio music director, but I digress.

The basic concept of the The Secret Storm was simple, a probing look at the turmoil that bubbles within all of us. (Fun Fact: The original title was The Inner Storm, but since American Home Products planned to use the show to advertise a stomach calmative they changed the name. Good thinking, huh?) The show was pure melodrama, but melodrama that worked because it lived up to its name. I was just a kid and had no interest in daytime drama other than Dark Shadows during its era, so I can’t claim to have followed it. However, when I became fascinated with the concept of interlocking continuing stories (i.e. Soap Opera), I spent a lot of time reading what I could find about Storm, and with the advent of You Tube I’ve been able to see a few episodes. I love the concept — how the struggles we try to conceal play havoc with our reactions to situations, both mundane and earth-shaking. The Secret Storm may be fifty years in the past but the basic human experience of this (shared universal experience for you Lit majors) is timeless. Consider: when someone seems to overreact to something and your reaction is “Well, who pissed in your Froot Loops this morning?” You know? It makes you wonder what that person isn’t saying.

I had this concept tucked away in my mental story file for the time when our hero, Handyman Ed, would reach a point where the complications in his life would put him in a position in which he was reluctant to reveal what he was really thinking, what was really bothering him. The time came with the sixth installment of his story, The Handyman’s Storm. Ed and his partner Rick have a lot on their shared plate. When it all becomes rather overwhelming they are both left to wonder just how in the hell they got to where they are, and how best to handle the situation. And more importantly, how does their individual perspectives come in to play as they move forward as a couple? I’ll be honest here; originally I envisioned the pure melodrama of The Secret Storm and relished the idea of some hugely emotional, even shocking, scenes with our guys, but it didn’t turn out that way. As always, when it came time to hit the keyboard and tell their story the truth of it came through as opposed to the potboiler antics I had planned. Ed and Rick may be gay, and as such be susceptible to drama queen moments, but as it turned out the quiet respect they have for one another wouldn’t allow for over-the-top histrionics. It did however, lead to some communication failures, and, I think, a much more realistic story of conflicting secret storms. I’m very pleased with the result. I don’t know if it would make any but the most diehard fans “tune into tomorrow,” but I do believe I did justice by these two men so many readers have taken into their hearts.

The book should be available soon. Currently I’m kvelling over the cover Matt Cresswell is creating. Can’t wait for you all to see it! The Handyman’s Storm has a lot to offer in the way of storms, both meteorological and emotional; some quiet, some noisy, and a combination of both that makes for a barnburner of an ending. There’s more to come so by all means… tune in tomorrow.

I wanted to share a little of The Secret Storm with you. This episode, from 1966, features Jada Rowland as long suffering Amy Ames. Amy’s scene with Janet Hill (Bibi Besch) is the kind of classic confrontation The Secret Storm did very well. Oh, and it’s also a damn good catfight. Enjoy!

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