TELEVISION: SOAP OPERAS: THE OLD AND THE DESPERATE

CHALLENGED BY TALK SHOWS AND THE REAL-LIFE DRAMA OF O.J., DAYTIME SERIALS STRUGGLE TO RECOUP THEIR RATINGS

Thrice kidnapped and once kept drugged on a remote island for five years, Dr. Marlena Evans has suffered her share of improbable bad luck over her long soap- opera career. These days, though, her troubles have become increasingly unmanageable. Since last winter the virtuous psychiatrist, portrayed by Deidre Hall, on nbc's Days of Our Lives, has been possessed not by run-of-the-mill lust but rather by the devil himself. With eyes that turn a yield-sign yellow and a voice that sinks deep and demonic, Dr. Evans has misbehaved all over the fictional town of Salem. So far, she has burned down a...

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