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Series: Sunset Beach
Quite possibly the definitive Guilty Pleasure of daytime soaps, at least before it was unseated by the even loonier Passions (also, like Passions, SB started out fairly mundane before deleting sanity at a steady pace). Had a particularly large fandom in the United Kingdom during its heyday, a surprise considering it ran just shy of three seasons. Such was its popularity over there that petitions were sent to the UK broadcaster (Channel Five) begging them to have it uncancelled in America. Wobbly scenery, dodgy dialogue and woeful acting were abound.

The plot centers on southern-fried ingenue Meg, who, after discovering that her fiancé was cheating on her on their wedding day, packs her bags and leaves for California to meet a Handsome Stranger™ with whom she has been conversing via e-mail for months. At first, she finds Ben withdrawn and unsociable, which she later discovers is due to the accidental (sic) drowning of his first wife at sea. Meg finds a rival for Ben's affections in his childhood friend Annie Douglas, who joins forces with Meg's ex to split them up and share the spoils.

A second storyline revolves around high-powered attorney and token evil rich guy, Gregory Richards, who also owns the newspaper for which Meg now works. His wife Olivia (aka Joan Collins 2.0) is a secret drunk who is barely allowed out in public. Their daughter Caitlin is involved in a torrid love affair with Cole Deschanel, a con-artist whom Gregory despises and with whom Olivia slept with without realizing his connection to her daughter.

The third plotline follows the local lifeguard, Michael (later a sports physician), who is currently dating Vanessa, Meg's co-worker. Their relationship is threatened by Virginia, a schemer who defies soap convention by being both black and a single mom. The axis of Virginia's plot rests on Vanessa's estranged mother and an exotic, disfiguring disease which is passed down through her family.

Other notable characters include Olivia's friend Bette, dispenser of town gossip, sage advice, and Lucille Ball zingers; Ricardo, Ben's former brother-in-law won't rest until he's put away forever; Francesca, a bimbo who has seemingly been studying her whole life to become a chalk outline; a masked slasher with a fish hook; Ben's crazed identical twin brother and not-so-dead wife (whoops); and, uh... Casey! He's blond.

Tropes featured in the show:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: "Listen, Chief, I've mislaid my fiancée, so I need my job back so I can continue looking for her on the department's dime" And what a joke that the Chief is in such denial she would just continue to stack piles of paperwork on Ricardo's desk after he quits.
  • Adopt the Dog: Gabi's breakdown on the witness stand. Tim admitting he probably didn't deserve Meg in the first place. Annie roping the Richards kids into forgiving their mother.
  • Advertised Extra: Leigh Taylor-Young as Elaine, den mother to the Surf Central gang. At least Olivia gets to take the piss in style by pointing out that Elaine can't pour a mug of coffee without reciting The Ballad of Roberto Deschanel, which seems to have become her punchline and one character trait. She is later unmasked as Del's killer and sent away from Sunset Beach.
  • All Just a Dream: Parodied. In the series finale, following the double wedding of Meg and Ben & Michael and Vanessa, Meg wakes up back in Ludlow on the eve of her wedding to Tim. In a homage to The Wizard of Oz, she realizes that the past three years in Sunset Beach have been a dream, and that the characters in the show were actually her friends and family back home... only to wake up from THAT dream and reappear in bed with Ben. (Cue Rod Sterling/Patrick Duffy/Inception horn)
    • It was all worth it for the ladies' terrible southern accents, y'all.
  • Amoral Attorney: Gregory's stock and trade. Outside of hiring a few hitmen, his legal connections were mostly used to keep Olivia under his thumb. She can't leave without losing her children, her money, or being thrown into a sanitarium. Both parties have extramarital affairs under their belts, but Gregory controls the purse-strings and no litigator can hope to compete with him.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The final showdown with "Tobias Richards" (Just call him Santa Claus) at the Sunset Beach power plant, circa Winter '99. Derek Evans is also apprehended and killed by Ben during this period. The story finally wraps up with a Christmas wedding.
  • Archenemy: Cole/Gregory and Vanessa/Virginia.
    • Annie alternates between her competition with Meg and her feud with Olivia. The latter took precedence during the inheritance squabble. They later become frenemies and team up to bring down Tobias Richards a.k.a Gregory in disguise.
  • Archnemesis Dad: While Olivia tries, in her clueless way, to encourage her children to pursue their own course in life, Gregory spies on them and runs background checks on their dates. He keeps Olivia on a tight leash. When outsiders threaten the sanctity of his family, Gregory confines and constrains their movements and bribes/intimidates the interloper to leave. He is so controlling and paranoid that he instructs Tim the "chaffeur" to monitor his wife and daughter's movements and report back to him.
  • Asshole Victim: Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Annie is present at her own wake in Ben's bar. In true slattern fashion, her memorial photo is wearing a tiger print top.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Richards had a few moment like this. Gregory is still kicking himself for marrying a woman who turned out much different from the spirited girl he loved, though he still sees flashes of her sometimes. Olivia doesn't take offense to that, admitting that she was never all that bold and was smitten with Gregory's "fearlessness."
  • Awful Wedded Life: Gregory and Olivia. The marriage is a sham; a warped parody of Pygmalion with Gregory taking credit for lifting Olivia "out of the gutter" and dolling her up into a society woman. There is more than a touch of Eliza Doolittle to LAD's portrayal as the accumulated lies slowly bury her alive.
  • Ax-Crazy: Derek makes Jack Torrence look low-key in comparison.
  • Back for the Finale: Despite giving up the ghost, Dax Sherpard agreed to come back for Meg's dream sequence in Kansas. Cole was apprehended again by Scotland Yard but was sprung from jail in time for the finale.
  • Bad Samaritan: Wherever there's trouble, Annie turns up like a bad penny. Here, have a baby.
  • Badass Family: The Deschanels. Armando was the aristocratic founder of Sunset Beach and something of a legend between the sheets.
  • Bed Trick: Ben's evil twin seduces Meg by pretending to be Ben, essentially raping her. Even worse, he forces Ben to watch through a two-way mirror. This is a reversal of a plot that occurred in the show's first year, when Meg broke into Ben's house and dressed up as his dead wife Maria, and later had sex with him after he'd suffered a serious brain injury and believed he was with Maria. Although Meg knew Ben was delusional and believed she was Maria, she decided to go through with sex with him anyway. When Ben discovered weeks later that he had slept with Meg, he was not upset, only unhappy she was so upset he didn't realize they'd slept together.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Admittedly, by the series finale, Annie is disheartened and worn out from the villain biz.
    • When all's said and done, all Gregory wants is to keep his family together, which makes him one of the more tragic characters because he simply cannot see how the terrible things he does prevents that.
  • Betty and Veronica: For Ben, Meg was the Betty and interchangeably Annie/Maria were his Veronicas. For Meg, Ben was her Veronica and Tim was her Betty.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Richards family, as headed by their patriarch Gregory. Lampshaded in a Look Who's Talking exchange between Trey and the family mutt.
    "I hope my real dad's the one with the dimples."
    "Nobody knows who your father is, kid."
  • Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word : Gregory's 'campaign contribution' to a philandering politician in order to secure an alibi.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Mark, upon suffering death by fishhook.
  • Brainy Brunette: Meg Cummings in particular.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Vanessa's proofs on the money launderers, the Deschanel/Rosario jewels.
  • Broken Bird: Lesley-Anne Down. Quite possibly the most beautiful woman of the seventies (and a stiff contender in the eighties), and she still knew how to bring it. Olivia's continual emotional abuse and relapses into drink caused the actress to have nightmares.
  • Byronic Hero: Ben.
  • Cain and Abel: Ben and Derek.
  • California Doubling: There is an actual Sunset Beach, but they filmed it next door at Seal Beach. So they managed to set it in California and still get it wrong.
    • Any scene in "Ludlow, Kandas".
  • Calling the Old Man Out: About the most exciting thing to happen to Randy Spelling (Sean) over the course of the show was an assassin mistaking him for Cole and garroting him—not fatally, though. This was the final break with his father, who hired the hit.
  • The Cameo: J. Peterman himself, John O'Hurley, as the smarmy host of Wheel of Misfortune, a death panel dressed up as a quiz show (in Annie's dream).
    • In two other fantasies, Annie and her rogues gallery are invited on TV by Leeza Gibbons and, later, Jerry Springer. Waking up with a fright, Annie is greeted at the door by Jerry (for real) who introduces himself as a census-taker right before she decks him.
  • Captain Ersatz: Terror Island's slasher is a fairly shameless ripoff of Ghostface and Ben Willis.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Tim Truman.
  • Classically Trained Extra: Not for nothing does Lesley-Anne Down get top billing. She can convey more with a raised eyebrow than most actors can with pages of dialogue. Only Sarah Buxton can hold her own in scenes with her.
    • Sam Behrens is no slouch; he studied with the top Shakespeare and method coaches in the country. Between a lack of rehearsal time and/or interest in playing a deadpan sociopath, he can come off as wooden. On other occasions, he is alarmingly on the money.
  • The Confidant: Bette has a horror story for any occasion. Her bad luck at romance trumps any heartache you might've had.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Meet Cole, the world's most virile man. He beds a mother and her daughter and, by miraculous coincidence, impregnates them both at the same time. Caitlin's baby dies in an accident, and Olivia is dosed with amnesia serum just after delivering Trey. Annie then hands Trey off to Caitlin in a complex adoption scheme.
  • Cool Aunt & Fun Personified: Bette.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Deep. For true horror, glimpse the gyrating extras in the background.
  • Cowboy Cop: Ricardo is much calmer once he resigns from the force!
  • Crying Wolf: The only witness to the killings on "Terror Island" is Tim, whose prior schemes have been exposed for all to see. His desperate, wild accusations of murder are dismissed as sour grapes.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Del and Annie Douglas. What's amazing is that he continues sharing his insight on things while shoveling coal in Hell.
  • Dead Man's Chest: Annie's friend Tim gets stuffed into a chest temporarily after being murdered, before finally being buried in cement.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Gregory Richards, the pit boss of South Central! In addition to his crooked development deals, the tycoon is in league with an "advocate for low-income housing" to launder money though his slums. This is revealed in an utterly hysterical reveal of Gregory spinning in his chair like Dr. Claw with a scotch glass in one hand , preparing to pass judgement on the terrified hoodlum.
  • Dirty Cop: Eddie. One minute he's sleeping with another man's wife, then assembling blackmail photos on same, threatening to make someone his prison bitch, lifting evidence from a murder scene, setting up a stalker nest in the basement of his co-worker's house, and closes the day by hiring an ex-con to abduct somebody. And then he's promoted to Detective for his service to the community.
  • Dream Sequence: Often provided by Annie, but a feature of the other characters as well. Sometimes these would segue into flashback scenes. About halfway through the show, the surreal scenes mostly disappear, however, as they stop fitting into the tone of many of the storylines.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Casey. He does get his girl in the finale, though.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Gregory's car gets wrecked in the earthquake, knocking his wife out. Gregory momentarily thinks she's died and goes to pieces. One of his rare Pet the Dog moments.
  • Easy Amnesia: Rae injecting an "amnesia drug" into a hitman after Casey subdues him; Annie's voodoo; Maria's boating accident.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Olivia is introduced at poolside in complete ennui. She idly points her diamond ring at an insect to see if it will fly away from the beam or sizzle to death. Gregory comes out and swats it with his Wall Street Journal. Their relationship in ovo.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Virginia's son needs a father, and Virginia needs a man like Michael. She won't let a little thing like Michael being off the market get in her way.
    • Gregory is an extremely moral-free man, but he does love his family, Olivia included. Unfortunately he can't express it in anything approaching a healthy way.
    • After Jude sells him up the river, he nearly slips through the police net a second time, but is talked down by Olivia who points out that he'd rather see his kids again, if it's from behind prison bars.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Cole's ex-lover and partner in crime, Francesca Vargas. She was not here to make friends. After assembling a blackmail file on virtually everyone in town, she meets her gruesome end: getting shot and then jumping out of a cake. (erm...) Her murder case is left open for months, though she continues to annoy in Annie's nightmares and the "Del's in Hell" dream sequences. The mystery was finally tidied up by revealing Gregory did it.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Eddie, Del, Derek.
  • Evil Redhead: Tropical Storm Annie, who is responsible for most of the trouble in the show. Despite this, she is generally portrayed sympathetically, as she is more petty and short-sighted than anything, and her plots, while stressful to the rest of the cast, are generally limited in the amount of harm they are designed to cause. Downright villainy is left to other characters, although she is often coerced into aiding them in some way.
    • The "bad" Cummings sister, Sara, is also red-haired. Her temperament is better described as "fiery".
  • Fair Cop: Ricardo, Paula, Eddie, the entire S.B.P.D, basically. They're later joined by Jude the undercover FBI agent.
  • Faking the Dead: Used liberally. It's a soap opera, people
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: The "Shockwave" storyline. After Olivia is pinned by some falling debris, both she and Annie are nearly crushed beneath a chandelier as the latter tries to pry her loose.
  • False Rape Accusation: When Ricardo backs out of their one-night stand, Gabi blows the proverbial whistle and drags his name through the mud for months.
  • Feuding Families: The overarching plot of SB seems to be a clash between the Deschanels, who founded Sunset Beach, and the Richards, who have spread like a cancer and corrupted it. The unwitting heir, Cole, rides into town and is chosen by destiny to take it back. A.J. and Gregory both hold stock in the Liberty Corporation, which owns much of the beach, and each side is looking to oust the other.
  • Fish out of Water: Meg on arrival at Sunset Beach.
  • Foot Dragging Divorcee: Mostly enforced. Maria's quack therapist tells her that the best way to regain her memories is to move in with Ben. A convenient tumble down a staircase rekindled her love. When that doesn't take, Ben and Maria's full-grown love child, Benjy, comes out of the woodwork. Maria is twice duped by Derek into thinking he's Ben, and it also comes out that Benjy is Derek's son. With nothing left to tie her down, Maria accepts custody of Benjy and finally moves out (in her own time, of course.)
  • Flash Back: Used frequently to avoid Continuity Lockout. It's rare for an episode to not flash back at least once: Tim's vendetta is propelled by Mark's final words to him; young Olivia unwittingly becomes an accessory to kidnapping, thus providing a motive for Del's murder; Annie's convoluted plot to steal Trey and erase Olivia's memories needs some backstory. The list goes on.
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Micheal's heroic rescue of Vanessa coincides with the arrival of Jamal "Jo-Ho" Muhammad, a friend from the old neighborhood. Little does he suspect what Jo-Jo is using him to get close to Vanessa and her roommate, his battered wife.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: The mother of all embarrassments as a Surprise Party catches Olivia in mid-tipple.
    Annie: For she's a joll-y good fell-ow... ♪
  • Freudian Excuse: Rich Daddy Douglas is about as warm and comforting as a walk-in fridge. For this reason, Annie is inexorably drawn to powerful, well-connected men. The cast takes it for granted that she's a gold digger when that's not the whole truth.
  • Gilligan Cut: Any time a character has a flashback, to the point of being a Running Gag.
  • Girl Next Door: Meg, Ben's love interest.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: When we first meet Vanessa, she's being targeted by gangsters for her exposé on a public housing project in South Central, which is a front for money launderers.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Anne, when deliberating over an offer to hawk the Rosario jewels. Predictably, "Angel" Annie is a sleepy chain-smoker who barely puts up a fight.
  • Good Counterpart: A.J. is the suave silver fox to Gregory's possessive sugar daddy. No wonder Gregory hates him.
    • Meg is this to ex-fiancee Tim: a corn-spun tourist who finds work with a handsome millionaire after an embarrassing accident at the pier. Tim follows suit by getting rear-ended by a drunk Olivia in traffic, then leveraging his injury to go work for Gregory as his chauffeur cum informant.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: The global pomade industry is kept in business by Gregory's scalp.
  • Good Parents: Mrs. Cummings
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Poor Tim never could figure out who's side on he's on. He meets his maker shortly after discovering that he's been working for Derek by mistake.
  • Hello, Attorney!: In a rarity for daytime TV (and his character), we actually get to see Gregory's legal prowess in action during Ricardo's rape trial.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Annie, to everyone except Ben.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Annie. Everyone wanted a piece of her in-show, except for the one guy she actually wanted to notice her.
  • His Name Is...: Once Tim realizes he's been had by Derek, he makes for Surf Central to warn Meg, but it intercepted and brutally killed. Same goes for Mark.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Casey, a Herculean swimmer, has to con women into dating him. See also Sara Cummings.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In California? Well, contrary to popular opinion, you can't induce amnesia with cocaine alone, so Annie must consult a local witch doctor to make some potions: an amnesia serum, a love potion, and finally an intoxicant. Another repeat customer, Virginia, requests a salve which mimics a grotesque skin disorder. Even Gregory darkens the poor woman's door at one point.
  • Hospital Hottie : Rae.
  • Hot Men At Work: Everyone, but the lifeguards are impossibly ripped.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Even Sam Behrens looks slightly dazed and in disbelief at what he's come to: hanging around a power plant in a fat suit and pretending to be a long-lost uncle to steal his own house back. At least he can take solace in being smarter than anyone else in the show, since nobody sees past his terrible disguise.
  • The Hyena: Del Douglas is still hamming it up in Hades, thanks to a delightfully over-the-top performance by John Reilly.
  • Ice Queen: Rae.
    • Elaine was badly burned in a relationship with Cole's father, A.J., and came away with a distaste for all men. She is open in her lack of regard for her daughter's fiancee, Ricardo.
  • If I Can't Have You: At one point, Olivia asks Gregory directly why he keeps stonewalling a divorce if he detests her so much. The conclusion she reaches is that Gregory views her as part of his capital and can't stomach the idea of somebody else taking it. He doesn't deny this.
  • Imagine Spot: Annie has a runaway imagination. A good thing, too, since she's only ever victorious in her own head. There are dozens of Annie Dreams, but the two constants are as follows: Lesley Anne-Down gets to forget everything she's ever learned about good acting, and Sam Behrens is stuck in a stupid outfit.
    • Another is Olivia's infidelity/drunkenness being amplified to outlandish levels.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Tim is, without a doubt, the most ineffectual adversary this show produced. He's catapulted into an anti-hero or everyman role in the wake of Terror Island, doggedly trying to bring Ben to justice. Annie grudgingly reformed over time, too.
  • It's a Small Net After All: Really faulty email service they had back in the 90's, where anyone anywhere could use someone else's username without a password.
  • Joker Jury: This was lampooned twice. Annie dreamt she was on an episode of Jerry Springer alongside her enemies, each of whom are portrayed as sleazily as possible (devil horns, red mink coats, pencil mustaches etc.), but are adored by the audience. In another, Annie was a contestant on Wheel of Misfortune, with the three podiums belonging to suspects in her rival Francesca's murder. Francesca, the resident Vanna White, presents her "prize" which consists of a lethal injection.
  • Karma Houdini: Elaine caught onto the fact that Del had stolen her infant son, Cole, and declared him dead. She killed him in revenge. When prison doors began to, creakily, open, Gregory got her off and she fled SB with little fanfare.
    • Annie is more pitiable than anything, but she manages to talk her way out of an astounding amount of trouble; despite causing the majority of the problems on the show, she never gets punished aside from being mistrusted.
    • By most standards, Annie hopped aboard the Moral Event Horizon Express by ripping Trey out of his mother's womb and telling everyone he died. It's arguably the worst crime committed by anyone on the show, short of fishhook murder. Here it's shrugged off as, 'stuff happens'.
    • Gabi falsely accuses Ricardo of rape after they have consensual sex (and already, we've waded into questionable territory), sows discord between him and her sister Paula, and escapes justice by revealing it was just misplaced childhood abuse. Ricardo and Paula are still splitsville, so Laura Harring leaves the show while Gabi sticks around to the end...before leaping from Ricardo's arms into his brother's bed, causing Ricardo to suffer a stroke and almost die. A similar outcome happened with Sami Brady and her disappearing sister over on Days.
  • Lady Drunk: Olivia.
  • Latin Lover: Take your pick; there's Cole the professional burglar, Ricardo the policeman and his brother Antonio the priest.
  • Lesser Star: Casey is buff and...dependable. That's about the size of it.
  • Living Lie Detector: What makes Gregory such a frightening husband and an intimidating antagonist. He cross-examines everybody, deflecting lies and taking people apart without any real effort.
    • Played for drama in the ending, when Olivia unmasks "Tobias" and has a rush of mixed emotions about his faked death. Gregory asks if she missed him, and looks on with stunned amazement when she truthfully answers yes.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Virgina. Sara and Gabi were afflicted for a little while.
  • Love Redeems: Annie is more or less neutered by Jude, a bit of rough who reads her like a book. She had it in her to be the replacement Big Bad, but had a sudden change of heart after getting Olivia black-out drunk (it wasn't funny anymore), and did her best to undo it all. With Jude's guidance, she repairs the broken Richards home (just in time for a double wedding) and even buries the hatchet with Olivia—for an afternoon, anyway.
  • Love Triangle: Several as part of the running side-plots.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Derek and Tess for Benjy, Elaine for Cole.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Ben dresses like a Disco Dracula at times.
  • Masochism Tango: On some warped level, Gregory and Olivia deserve each other. Even after a series of affairs, breakups, hasty reconciliations, an FBI sting and Gregory getting sent to the big house, they end up pretty much where they began: with each other.
  • Mauve Shirt: Mark Wolper, one of the male twenty-somethings, had a brief fling with Caitlin that didn't take off. That was the end of the line: He was selected to die on the island cruise. As a consolation prize, Mark continues to feature in the many, many flashbacks of him mouthing the name of his killer.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Par for the course in a soap opera.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Much trading back and forth of Trey Deschanel, conceived by Cole and Olivia and declared dead upon delivery. Actually, Annie stole the baby and handed it off to Caitlin, who miscarried after a car accident and didn't tell anyone. Caitlin was unaware of Trey's parentage and let Cole think that they were having a son together. (Making this something of a zig-zag; Gregory believes he lost a son when he didn't, and Cole correctly assumes Trey is his, but is kept in the dark about his other dead child. Also inverted in that it wasn't Caitlin's baby but Olivia's.) Even after Gregory catches on to what happened, he still believes that Trey is his. What a mess.
  • Money Fetish: Del shagging a married woman, in her husband's bed, on top of—get this—cursed pirate gold. Talk about bad karma.
  • Morality Chain: Bette knows about the Douglas' apathy toward her niece. When shaming them doesn't work, she takes Annie to task for her behavior. Bette is the biggest thing standing between Annie and Olivia straight-up killing each other.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Casey is almost always seen shirtless or, if he is wearing a shirt, it will be completely unbuttoned.
    • Most every male. Special mention goes to Cole Deschanel as played by Eddie Cibrian.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Olivia.
  • No-One Could Have Survived That: Derek is harder to kill than a cockroach.
    • After repeated attempts to give Cole his dirt nap fail, Gregory takes matters into his own fists. He gets walloped off a lifeguard tower and into the Pacific for his trouble. Now a wanted man, he lets everyone assume he died on the rocks so he can worm his way back into the Richards house.
  • Not So Different: Annie grumbles something to this effect to Meg before her wedding. Then she walks over to the next room and says the same to Olivia.
    • She and Olivia started out from the same state of play: as nurses. Olivia was the one who stole Cole from his bassinet and handed him off to Del Douglas; Annie took Trey fresh from the womb and handed him off to Caitlin. Annie home-wrecks her way into the Richard house; Olivia slept with Annie's father. Annie openly covets Olivia's fortune; Olivia seems to smugly anticipate her rival descending into loneliness and drink just as she did. Neither one is entirely good or bad, and they make a decent tag team during the rare instances when they stop trying to throttle each other.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive & Out with a Bang: Bette suggests getting in touch with her ex-husband, "Big Al" Kennedy Esq., for help after Annie is charged with murder. The couple celebrates their reunion in a hot tub, but Bette proves too much woman for Big Al to handle, and he dies before Annie's court date. When confronted, Bette pretends that the bobbing, begoggled carcass next to her is still alive.
  • Off to See the Wizard: "Dorothy" is the pseudonym used by Meg on her dating profile. No points for guessing her home state.
    • "Wicked Witch" Olivia being melted by vodka.
    • Meg's ending is a kiss to the MGM movie. See "All Just a Dream".
  • Off The Wagon: Was Olivia ever on it? The demon vodka is her real enemy.
    • She seemingly kicks the bottle after escaping her doomed marriage, but relapses courtesy of a Voodoo potion to make her crave booze all the time.
  • Out of Focus: Vanessa-Michael and Meg-Ben comprise two of the show's three power couples; Meg was even the show's purported star. Both took a backseat to other concerns in Season Three. Michael's story basically wrapped once the men in white came for Virgina, and he and Vanessa had a sloppy Second-Act Breakup. Ben was cleared of killing his (not actually dead) wife, but none of that mattered once he was saddled with a family didn't even know about. (Not helping matters was Meg's temporary recasting with another actress, as Susan Ward had left to shoot a movie.) They do, however, get a final bow at the end when Derek resurfaces to do more mischief.
  • Pair the Spares: Annie ultimately ends up with Jude. In the final episode, Maria meets a new man her psychic mother predicted would be her true love. Bette, who probably deserved to be paired off most of all, ended the series in a courtship with...Casey! No, not really; A.J. escorted her to the Evans-Bourne nuptials, suggesting a future for them. Sara and Casey were the only ones left in the room, so they paired up.
  • Police Are Useless: Ricardo is a hilariously inept detective. This is somewhat justified considering that he received his detective's badge in the first episode, and is still somewhat rash and inexperienced. The rest of the clown shoes S.B.P.D. has no excuse.
  • Posthumous Character: Del / Francesca. These scenes may or not be a figment in Annie's imagination, as we watch Del greet Francesca upon her arrival in Hell.
  • Precious Puppy: Spike, the Jack Russell Terrier. He's even included in the titles.
    • He was originally a stray doggie, but was adopted by Olivia after she railroaded his original owner, Tiffany, out of town. Later, Spike is caught nomming on Olivia's pregnancy test kit and leads her on a merry chase through the house, a prank he later ascribes to revenge. Yes, not only are the dogs in Sunset Beach up to no good, they have voice-overs as well.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Virginia in the title sequence (second version).
  • Red Herring: Annie and Olivia for Del's shooting. Not that Annie helps her case by publicly shouting, "I'll kill him" or "I'm way past upset — I'm postal".
    • Ben Evans is teased as a lady-killer for quite some time. It turns out that Maria really did vanish and suffer amnesia after Derek staged her death. This greatly hurt Ben's image, but he was never arrested or charged. Adding to Ben's problems, his crazy twin is running around California and framing him for more murders.
  • Reformed Criminal: Cole Deschanel aka "Cole St. John" used to swindle loose, rich women out of their jewels, but he's fed up with that life and wants to settle down with Caitlin. Unfortunately for him, he opts for one last roll in the hay with a loose rich woman...
  • Replacement Love Interest: Meg thought she was this for Maria.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: Played straight with Caitlin's "pregnancy."
  • Really Gets Around: Olivia cheats on Gregory with three men (at least) in a single month, and twice in his own bed.
  • Rich Bitch: Annie after marrying Gregory for money. The Richards are milder examples. Annie always imagined Olivia/Cailtin as being much more base than they were.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Mark, repeatedly.
  • Runaway Bride: After witnessing Tim cheating with her maid of honor, Meg says nothing, waits until just before the nuptials.... and steals His Royal Douche's convertible.
  • Salt and Pepper: Casey and Micheal, lifeguards on patrol.
  • Serial Spouse: Bette, a whopping seven times. She's always on the lookout for the next Mr. Wrong.
    • For what it's worth, Husband No. 4 drowned in a hot-tub. When Meg and Annie began pelting each other with vases, the urn containing his ashes was a casualty.
  • Sexy Priest: For a priest, Antonio gets pretty busy. Not many archdioceses can claim one of their people slept with his brother's girl and accidentally taped it.
  • Shirtless Scene: It wouldn't be Sunset Beach without it.
  • Shout-Out: Casey bluffs an assassin by claiming to be a bag man for Jeff Spicoli, Sunset Beach's most feared crime boss!
    • Bette's grisly homage to Weekend at Bernie's
    • The scenes with Elaine, Bette and Olivia wearing hoods and standing around in a cemetery are a cute nod to Macbeth (three witches) and The Witches of Eastwick (blonde, brunette, redhead).
    • The black & white TV fantasy. Annie, wearing a flower-patterned dress and a bun, desperately humps Gregory's leg while begging him to love her. Annie eventually tosses the script away in disgust, storms off-set and tears her dress off, causing the world to revert to color. This is probably a nod to Pleasantville.
    • Spike wishing he could trade in the Richards for the Camdens (an irony in light of Stephen Collins' sex crime allegations)
    • Sara's fantasy is a direct lift from the opening to Friends. All of the characters are credited as themselves, apart from Sara, who is "Pitiful Loser."
  • Sickbed Slaying: Attempted by Derek Evans as Tim is in convalescence.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Olivia is pretty scary when she's loaded, though few people ever see that side of her. Stone-cold sober, though, she's even more dangerous as she chokes Annie into near-unconsciousness, decides it's not worth the bother of an insanity plea, and proceeds to take her apart with the efficiency of Queen Cersei. Annie admitted on a few occasions that despite all appearances to the contrary, Olivia is the toughest bitch she's ever known.
  • Slave to PR: The Richards family, or at least Gregory, take great pains to pose as pillars of the community.
  • Sleazy Politician: Congressman Jack Blair works very hard to get "the women's vote".
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: A lapsed Catholic, Gregory goes a little nuts after his Olivia supposedly miscarries. He tears apart the nursery in his house, and the last item he grabs is the crucifix on the wall. He points it skyward and declares that from this day on, he's going to be even more evil than before.
  • Smug Snake: Eddie.
  • Soap Within a Show: Another dream sequence, again starring Annie, pays homage to the olden days of soaps and is aptly titled Search For Dignity. The cast are all sporting vintage 50's garb and hair.
  • Spoiled Brat: Annie is marvelously immature for her age. She always wants what she can't have, talks to herself when alone (this is lampshaded), and can't go five seconds without fantasizing about some Wile E. Coyote scheme to get her out of jams. Note that she is not a brainless beauty; she's well-bred and can apply herself to most anything (like nursing, or flying planes), but her personality froze at age 2 and never developed.
  • Spot the Imposter: Derek eventually locks his brother up with the intention of stealing his house, his girl, his nightclub and his riches. Fortunately, he still has a telltale scar on his shin from the Terror Island attacks.
  • Stalker Shrine: Derek's lair. At first, it appears to belong to Ben. When the genuine article turns up, he is startled by the Polaroids of him and Meg hanging all over the place.
  • Stupid Crooks: It's a close contest who's more incompetent. Olivia, in a rush to dispose of evidence before the police canvas her house, opens a drawer too quickly and sends a cascade of bullets rolling across the floor; or Annie, who drops her .38 in the middle of crowded lobby when someone calls our her name.
  • Surfer Dude: Casey, the lifeguard. His occupation is mostly an excuse for him going shirtless a lot of the time.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Ricardo.
  • Take It to the Bridge: The alarming tendency of characters to fall off the pier. Meg lampshades it in the finale.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Ben, just Ben.
  • Toilet Seat Divorce: Paula's soliloquy to Ricardo about "I love you yet we cannot be together" as if they are in some Greek tragedy, not just a squabble about whose apartment to live in.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Mark, unfortunately. Worse yet, he dies while staring into the eyes of his supposed mentor.
  • Twerp Sweating: Caitlin is dating a high-class crook of the kind Gregory usually represents in court. Ironic.
    • Olivia is no less menacing: bribing Sean's girlfriend to leave town, and later bitch-slapping his third girlfriend, Amy, after having too much to drink.
  • Unexplained Accent: Sunset Beach's Britons, Ben and Olivia (who oddly don't share any screentime). Somewhat lampshaded by Annie, who accuses Olivia of talking in a "fake British accent" to sound posh and make everyone forget about her low-rent origins!
  • The Vamp: Tess. She's actually in league with Derek, sent to double Tim with lurid promises of breaking Ben and Meg up. Tim smells a rat and follows her to a rendezvous with Derek, whereupon he's ensnared and killed.
  • Villainous BSOD: Once the jig is up, Virgina slips into catatonia and is carted off to the bin.
  • Villainous Incest: Gregory shares a quasi-incestuous relationship with Caitlin, because of course he does.
    • In absolute fairness, a similar vibe is felt between Olivia and her favorite, Sean, as she works him over before a police interrogation.
  • Wedding Day: The show closes with Vanessa's and Meg's wedding.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: One senses that Greg considers Ben Evans the son he shoud've had.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: "Nurse Jones". If you need an indicator of where SB threw its hands in the air and became a celebration of camp, this is a good place to start.
    • Gregory impersonates his own tweedy, hitherto unknown uncle in order to divvy up his estate. Basically, he swaps out his necktie for a bowtie, applies a beard and putty nose, and stammers in an English...Sicilian...whatever that is, accent. Nobody thinks twice about this.
  • Yandere: Had a memorable example in the character of Virginia. She was so obsessed with winning the heart of her longtime close friend Michael, that she first tried to set up his current girlfriend Vanessa with her doctor to make it look as though they were cheating, then when that didn't work tried to impregnate Vanessa with the doctor's sperm via a turkey-baster and when that didn't work went to a voodoo specialist to give Vanessa a fictional illness called "Martin's Syndrome".
  • Younger and Hipper: The mid-season retool. The show was already skewing toward a slightly younger audience, but the central plot—a rich guy's murder being pinned on his pearl-clutching mistress—was not sort of fresh concept Aaron Spelling was looking for. A more attractive corpse arrived in the form of Francesca, and the Richards clan became satellites to Cole and his entourage. The intro sequence was jazzed up to be less adult, and the stories became slightly more outrageous.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Tim with Meg's maid of honor (classy!); Meg with her anonymous friend "S.B."; Ricardo with Gabi; Olivia with Del, A.J, Cole and—apparently—Officer Eddie. Busy, busy girl.

Suddenly SusanCreator/NBCSupertrain
Suddenly SusanSeries of the 1990sSuper Force
SoapSoap OperaThe Young and the Restless

alternative title(s): Sunset Beach
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