Crescent Bay is a nighttime hour-long serial broadcast in the NAL, the FK, Louisianne and elsewhere. Since its premeire in 1977 it has proven extremely popular, changing with the times and proving to be a starting point for several successful acting, writing and directing careers.
Crescent Bay is a small city somewhere in the north-east of the NAL. Clues as to its exact location are contradictory, since it would appear to be equadistant between Philadelphia, New Amsterdam and New Francy. The series follows the trials and tribulations of several families in Crescent Bay, as well as the conflict between and within same.
Initially, the series focussed on the Hallenger and Blount families, who were among the wealthiest in the city and had a rivalry. Two sisters--Marie and Lise--from the Duchenes (a middle class family) each married into the other two, which gave the series a dynamic about three families. In general, that dynamic has been followed throughout, although over time the Duchenes faded to be replaced by the Woldbergs, a divided clan whose members became deeply entwined with the Hallengers and Blounts.
Critics have pointed out that at any given time, certain plot elements (fans call them "archetypes") are always present on the show:
- A pair of star-crossed lovers facing some kind of severe obstacles to their union. Over time the obstacles evolved from rivalry between parents to severe differences in socio-economic backgrounds, to religious differences, disapproval over same-sex couplings, mental health problems, etc.
- Two or more business rivals engaged in some kind of bitter feud. At first this was the heads of the Hallenger and Blount families, but over time the rivalries have become increasingly complex. Once the feuding persons were two sides of a multiple personality. Another time, the rivals--a man and a woman--were sublimating an extreme attraction they held for each other.
- One or more divorced couple, either in the process of ending their marriage, reconciling, or (often) some combination of the two.
- Some kind of mystery to be solved. Again, this took many forms. The hunt for a murderer was one of the early plots, while an actual search for buried treasure was another. Forged documents, old historical connections, the birth family of an adopted child, even a secret room found in an old mansion were all used at one time or another.
Certain characters have proven extremely popular and on-going with the series. They include:
- Sylvia Hallenger who has been married nine times in the course of the program. She is in many ways the ultimate blonde femme fatale but with a curiously innocent streak. Relations between her and her children (three daughters and one son) have been an emotional roller coaster.
- Raoul Woldberg is in many ways the supreme villain of the piece, a ruthless businessman who literally cannot be trusted to tell you the time of day, but with charisma and charm to the Nth degree. He and Sylvia were married once but he continues to doubt the pedigree of their daughter because of an affair Sylvia had with Raoul's brother.
- Emily Woldberg is Raoul's niece, a plucky innocent always in search of love and willing to try to do the right thing. Since her introduction, she has been kidnapped, framed for crimes she didn't commit, brainwashed, had a nervous breakdown, joined a convent, run for Mayor, acquired then defeated an addiction to drugs, hosted a daytime talk show, exposed corrupt politicians, gone undercover in a brothel, had a heart transplant, donated a kidney, rescued from a burning building, accidently caused prison riot, and gave birth to triplets she gave up for adoption.
- Alice Blount is the latest of these break-thru characters, a brilliant young woman with an eye for detail who exposed a plot to assassinate Raoul Woldberg when she was a reporter for her school newspaper at age sixteen. Physically, she is slightly clumsy and accident prone. Her continuing heartache is a lack of romance in her life, although in the 2005-06 season it has become clear that her female roommate in freshman college is in love with her.
By any standard, Crescent Bay is a hit. Fan Clubs began popping during its very first season. Conventions, sometimes attended by actors and staff from the series, take place several times every year. Attempts to copy the success of the show have been constant, with varying degrees of success.
At the same time, the show has had its share of critics. The Alliance for Public Decency has been quick to call the program a "flagrant example of decadance masquerading as entertainment" while Deputy Hannah Coultier actually proposed in Parliament it be taken off the air as a matter of public health.
In truth, the ratings of the show, while still very good, have never returned to the "high point" of the late 1980s when the show ran a complicated storyline involving an ancient statue that seemed to have a strange effect on any who possessed it.