Marland Monday: The Clunker Storyline

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons
5 min readOct 4, 2021

Welcome to Marland Monday!

Douglas Marland with brown hair grinning, looks like he is wearing a suit.
Douglas Marland

Hmmm, nothing is happening today, right? I mean, nothing unusual…
oh yeah, Facebook is down. Everyone panic!

a group of schoolchildren running from the evil birds
Don’t panic! We will survive without Facebook!

Yes, it’s odd. The majority of my audience is from Facebook. So I have no idea if anyone will read this essay or not. But no one better knew like Mr. Marland that the show must go on. So on with the show!

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck dressed up in coat and tie, wearing hats.
Bugs and Daffy: On with the show this is it.

The past couple of months I’ve been looking back at Douglas Marland, one of my favorite writers. Today I’m going to be a little daring. I’m critquing a storyline Mr. Marland wrote.

Yes, I am critquing something one of my favorite writers wrote. Usually I tend to be very protective of my favorite writers, kind of like Simpsons’ Homer was with Jackie Onassis when John (John Waters) critques her getting a crossword puzzle wrong. “Hey her husband was killed!” Homer snaps. I’m the same way with my fave writers. Hands off them; they’re doing the best they can. But sometimes we need to look at something and try to see what went wrong. Case in point: the Carolyn Crawford mystery.

Special annoucement: while critquing this storyline, I’ll be mentioning actors by name, In no way am I critquing them. All of them were great. This storyline? Not so much.

Okay, back to the essay.

Rex Smith has brown hair and wearing a suit and tie.
Poor Darryl (Rex Smith) the cheater husband

Carolyn Crawford (Leslie Denniston) was an heiress to a family fortune. She was married to Darryl Crawford (Rex Smith, known for Solid Gold and Pirates of Penzance) Darryl was old high school friends with Margo (Ellen Dolan) Carolyn was paralyzed, but she and Darryl wanted a child. Little did she know that Darryl was already a father; he had an affair with Barbara Ryan (Colleen Zenk) which resulted in her having a baby girl named Jennifer Louise (Yeah, I love love love the name. Won’t lie. Wish it could be Kathleen, but ah well) However, after confessing to husband Hal Munson (Benjamin Hendricksen) they decided to raise the baby as Hal’s. Darryl and Carolyn decided to hire a surrogate Dana to come live with them and she would have a baby. Things looked good: Dana got pregnant, Then on April 15th 1991, Carolyn was found murdered.

Carolyn Crawford wearing a white blouse and black pants. She’s in a wheelchair.

Here’s the deal: we didn’t really know Carolyn Crawford. She seemed like a nice woman, and I was glad to see Leslie Denniston working (She was married to Don Hastings who played Dr. Bob and was Maeve on Guiding Light for a couple of years) and man, it was sad she died, but we didn’t know her that well as a character to feel anything else. She didn’t have a line of people that hated her enough to kill her. She was a nice boring woman. In a soap opera, nice and boring doesn’t make a good mystery.

But here’s the thing: the mystery storyline went on and on. I can’t even remember key details, and I can remember storylines so well I can quote dialogue. But this one? I watched it in its entirity and I can’t remember. I do remember Darryl married Frannie (Mary Ellen Stuart) who happened to be Barbara’s sister. I remember Darryl and Frannie did some lovely dancing on a beach. I know Darryl and Barbara thought about telling Frannie several times. I know there was a trial and millionaire Gavin Kruger was convicted of it. But I can’t remember the motive. I also know when Dana had the baby, it was named Carolyn Dana, Carrie for short. I know there was some type of confrontation on a gondula with Frannie and Darryl. But for the life of me, I can’t remember if Gavin Kruger or Darryl really committed the murder. That’s how slow and boring the storyline was. It…was…just…dull.

I’ve read on several blogs/forums that the murderer was supposed to be Darryl, but Rex Smith was so likable as the cheating Darryl that Marland changed his mind. I can understand; I always liked liked Rex Smith on Solid Gold and he did an amazing cover of “Seperate Ways” with Laura Brannigan.

Sing it Laura and Rex!

But here’s the deal: Marland didn’t have a backup plan on what to do next. That’s the thing with writers-we always need backup plans. Take today: I went to Twitter to check in with friends and see how they’re doing without Facebook. I had a backup plan. With writing you always to figure out something else if something doesn’t work out. You always need something up your sleeve to to either trick the reader/viewer or give them an ending they’ll always remember. The last thing you want to do is let them think “Meh.”

I want to believe Marland was planning on giving us a better storyline to make up for what happened. Two months after the story wrapped up, he died. I know for sure he would’ve had something grand to show, something wonderful. That’s the thing about writers: sometimes we fall. But we get up as gracefully as possible and start all over again. Maybe that’s one of the saddest things about Douglas Marland dying so suddenly: He didn’t have a chance to tell another good story.

Tune in next week, everyone (hopefully)