Like many of you, I was saddened to read the news about Guiding Light getting cancelled. The show lasted 72 years, which is older than television itself! As a Passions fan, I certainly sympathize with all of the GL fans. Soaps are more than just TV shows. For many people they're the guilty pleasure that brings together friends, siblings, and parents for the sole purpose of dishing over the happenings of a fictional, yet fabulous, town somewhere, once upon a time.
So what went wrong? I've consulted with some of my fellow soap junkies over here at soapcentral.com and the over-all consensus is that GL started to go wrong when TPTB started breaking some of the very basic soap commandments. And at this terrible time, I would be stupid if I didn't notice that my own beloved Days of Our Lives has been haunted by cancellation whispers for a while. I also couldn't help but notice that this past week of shows sucked. Big time. And it's time that TPTB got their cumulative act together because if Days went off the air, I would be left with a huge hole in my life. I might actually be forced to do something productive like read a book or go to the gym. (GASP..the horror!) So, I decided to change up the column this week and make a list of "Do's and Don't's" as it pertained to last week's shows. Some of the things Days does very well. But, there are others that must be changed in order to keep me from being forced to abandon the butt print on my couch, which I've spent a great time crafting, thankyouverymuch.
1. DON'T cry wolf during sweeps- TONY, EJ, NICOLE, and STEFANO.
Days needs some major practice with this one. I saw the headlines when I checked out at the grocery store that said "Nicole's secret is out!" And like a moron I thought that we were going to get this baby-secret train moving on the way to Spillsville. Alas, that was not the case. Tony died. And Nicole's secret died with him- save for the letter "B" which he scribbled down and gave to his brain-trust of a brother. Oh joy.
Initially, that "B" meant "Blame Nicole". Stefano and EJ both took turns screaming at Nicole for backing Philip's account of what happened when Tony died. I'm not surprised that Nicole told the truth since the truth fit in so nicely with Nicole's plan. With one statement, she protected herself and Brady from any more blackmail attempts. Yeah, Stefano will be mad. But, Nicole's been able to completely manipulate EJ for the past few months, why wouldn't she think that she get him to take care of Stefano. She's had such a traumatic day. She's the mother of his child. She's SUPER Nicole!!
What I wonder is when she will realize that with this one move, she picked Brady over EJ? Contradicting Philip's statement would have stamped her ticket into the DiMera Circle of Trust and any attempt by Philip to say anything bad about Nicole would be perceived as nothing more than sour grapes for sending Philip up the river. Something tells me that if Philip didn't put Brady's arse on the line too, Nicole would have lied. I'm not sure if protecting Brady actually means Nicole is good or just has good taste in men. But, I'm glad that she told the truth because I'm so far away from giving Nicole any sympathy that she needs all the help she can get.
That's right. I didn't feel sorry for Nicole at all when EJ went all psycho on her for not following the DiMera Family Code. Actually, I enjoyed seeing EJ finally wake up and smell the schemes! Ok, I'm not foolish enough to think that EJ isn't going to go crawling back to Nicole. But for a brief second it was nice to see him finally call her bluff during the 78th round of her "I'm taking my baby and I'm going home" game. I'm sensing that the writers are starting to remember what us savvy viewers have known from the beginning- EJ is a gajillion, million, trazillion times more interesting when he's struggling between his DiMera side and his Banks side. And the dopey EJ we've gotten for the last five months wasn't struggling with anything accept achieving a higher rank of chump.
And that misfortune didn't affect just EJ. Stefano, villain extraordinaire, has been MIA since last summer's purple gas experiment. He's been wasting time playing a cuddly grand-pa-pa who has been giggling around the mansion. But now the crazy tyrant hell-bent on getting revenge on the world is back. Hurrah!!
2. DON'T forget the character's history- BO, CAROLINE, ROMAN, and WILL
When Days gets this one right, they get it all kinds of right. My hat is off to Dena for having Sami talk to Bo about the idea of hidden paternity. It's such a great nod to history since Caroline kept Bo's paternity a secret for decades. Bo surprised me by answering very honestly. Sure, Bo turned out ok in the end, but a lie is still a lie, no matter how well intentioned it may be. And lies leave lasting results.
And, another round of kudos goes in the writers' direction for having Caroline step into the whole adoption argument. Yes, she and Shawn adopted Max and Frankie at a time when they certainly were well past their kid raising years. Yet, they made it work. So, don't count Sami out just yet.
But, the applause ends there. I'm a little sad that while Roman was objecting to Grace's adoption that no one though to let him bring up the number of children that he, himself, has forgotten about. I would have jumped off my afore-mentioned, butt-indented couch and cheered had Roman uttered a sentence like, "Listen kid, you really get yourself into a jam when you start having too many children. I mean, look at me… I don't even talk about Cassie and what's-his-nuts anymore since I'm so dadgum busy trying to keep up with you, Carrie, and Eric! "
And finally, there was Will's argument that he felt abandoned his whole life. Is he serious?!?! Does he not realize that Sami, Lucas, and Kate spent the latter half of the 90's at each others' throats over who got custody of the little brat? I'm not saying they weren't complete knuckleheads during the process. But Will was the prize hog at that town fair, so to say that people abandoned him is bogus. I suggest he go have a chat with Melanie, Nicole, Austin, Billie, Max, or Chloe about what it actually feels like to be abandoned or mistreated by your parents.
3. Don't string too many WTF moments together at once- MIA, WILL, and DANIEL
This is just a sign of lazy writing. I realize that the writers' goal was to get Mia to hold Grace. But to do so they had to break my head three times in a row. First, Will and Mia were at Sami's home because Salem High allows students to have two back-to-back free periods. Second, Sami left a two month old baby in the care of her teenage son and a complete stranger. Third, a newborn was the only chaperone for a frustrated teenage boy and a very pretty teenage girl. I would be willing to look past any one of those things, but not when they're stacked on top of each other. Sorry. Even I have standards.
In other "crazy coincidence" news, Chloe's oncologist transferred his cancer surviving, bone marrow donating patient to a new doctor without notifying Chloe. Of course, that new doctor was Daniel- a surgeon. And yes, she must allow Daniel to treat her because the next best doc (according to Daniel) is over 100 miles away. Oh well. At least Chloe and Daniel get to reenact their "first date" - hospital gown and all- with Blue Cross/Blue Shield picking up the tab.
4. DON'T let schemers get off too easy- GRACE
Days has been doing pretty well with this one. When a character screws up, at least one other character points it out. Lucas, Roman, EJ, and Will all made good points to Sami about picking the worst time ever to adopt a baby. It is. She has no job, no help, and three other kids that need her attention as well. All of those points are so true and I'm glad that they got their objections out there. Yes, their argument is complete moot since the only solution is for Sami return Grace to the orphanage (which I'm pretty sure she can still do since she has her receipt and it's been less than 30 days) and no one really expects Sami to do that. But it made viewers feel better to see Sami called out for her scheme. It's called karma, Sami. You've got a tab as long as anyone in Salem and eventually you're going to have to suffer. That time is now.
5. DO treat your vets with respect- TONY and ANNA
I'm not saying that vets should never be let go. Schtick happens. Sometimes hard choices have to be made to keep the budget monster happy. I get that. BUT if vets have to be written off the show, do it with some class. These bull cocky storylines where beloved vets leave town in the middle of the night, disappear into thin air, or appear for a blow-off cameo has got to stop. Not many characters reach "vet" status unless they are portrayed by crazy talented actors who can win fans over with heavy material. In my humble opinion, no actor proves that better than Thaao Phenglis. It's odd because everything about Thaao- the accent, the good looks, the Cheshire grin- is way over the top. Yet he comes across as genuine even if he is a playing a sword fighting clown. So when a show is blessed with a talent like this, the writers should have thrown every ounce of storyline material at the guy.
In retrospect, Tony's dramatic fall last Friday should have been the last time we saw him because the first two days of this week consisted of infuriatingly stupid scenes where Tony was given a pencil and then a pen (that was out of ink) to write a message to EJ and Lexie. Apparently there wasn't an Etch-a-Sketch available at the hospital. And, even though EJ could spend all of Tuesday in the room with Tony, Hope couldn't get clearance to question the victim because he couldn't speak. Riiight. As my partner Tony pointed out to me, "How many times have we seen blink once for no and twice for yes on TV!? It would have been bloody easy to ask … 'Tony, did Philip push you?' One blink. Done." I share my partner's frustration.
And, while Anna's last scene was great, it was too little, too late. I can just hear TPTB now, "Sorry Anna, you didn't get to be by your husband's side when he died and viewers were robbed of a parting dose of your effortless comedic charm, but guess what! You get to slap Stefano. Only, BTW,we're also going to use you as a scapegoat to not have an actual funeral for Tony since we're going to say that you skipped town with Tony's ashes. LYLAS!" Like I said. No respect.
6. DO pick the right characters to drive storylines (and then balance them with even better ones.) PHILIP, STEPHANIE and VICTOR; CHLOE, LUCAS, DANIEL, and KATE
For the most part, Days does a great job with this one. Characters like Nicole, Sami, Philip, Bo, and EJ are excellent choices to drive storylines because the actors are universally popular and the characters have a diverse good/bad background. And if those storylines are seasoned with strong flavors like Stefano, Kate, Victor, Melanie, and Hope, the storylines get all the more awesome.
While I haven't always agreed with what Philip does, at least he makes a plan and puts it into motion. That alone makes him a prime candidate to carry a storyline. Truth be told, Philip's been a loser in life. As my oh-so-smart partner pointed out last week, Philip is an ex-Marine who has seen battle so fierce that his LEG and HIS FACE were BLOWN off. And while daddy's money could save his leg and his face, all the kings men couldn't bring Belle and Claire back together with him. Sure, Philip has money, but what else does he really have? Can he accept Victor's unique brand of support? Will he ever find a good love match? I am not sure, but I know I want to watch Jay Johnson take Philip through the journey of finding true love- both for himself and with a lady.
Speaking of women that Philip has slept with, Chloe is still torn between Lucas and Daniel. In this case, a love triangle was not what the doctor ordered. (hehe) Chloe and Daniel are hot, but pretty putrid together. Chloe and Lucas are comfortable, yet kinda dull together. There's no overwhelming couple to root for. So, it took one of those hot, spicy supporting character to mix this bunch up. Kate is absolutely saving this story. Not only is she great to watch, but she allows Chloe to be the clueless ditz that she actually is, Daniel to be the conflicted hero that he thinks he is, and Lucas to be da man! that he desperately wants to be. While I wasn't too keen on watching Kate try to kill Chloe, I am a little bit impressed that she's going to frame Daniel for it. (just a guess) She's learning how to forge his signature. She has her sights set on a secure drug that one surely must sign out to move. And, she knows that Daniel would be seen as a lover scorned. Then only problem is that I still think Chloe is pregnant. I know she said she wasn't, but I don't believe her. Do you?
7. DO mix up the sets
This week someone remembered that the Brady Pub isn't the only place to have a business meeting! Woot! Will, Mia, Bo, and Sami all showed up at the Java Café. Stephanie got the best looking apartment I've ever seen a college kid have. And, Sami put out some chic pillows and got the boxes out of the way to spruce up the ol' Penthouse. Having new sets to play with makes me happy. Dialogue can get repetitive and we all know that storylines don't always bring us the great revelations that we hoped for (see #1), but if we have something new to look at, it keeps us interested. Nice job, Days!
8. DO remember to use humor- DR. BAKER
Dr. Baker is sure to bring some trouble to Salem. But, I hope he also graces us with his endearing brand of dry wit. I love watching Baker give those crazy looks to Nicole. John Callahan has really grown on me and I can't wait to see him interact with more of the Days cast. I'd be thrilled if he gets some quality screen time with Bryan Dattilo. Since I'm still convinced that Chloe is pregnant, it seems entirely possible that Lucas would meet the new pediatrician/ OBGYN in Salem, right? And, this meeting would do wonders for Lucas as well. Lucas, or more so Bryan Dattilo, can be very funny. But too often the show confuses letting him be funny with making him play the fool.
9. DO give us a legitimate couple to root for. MAX, CHELSEA, and MELANIE
Currently, it seems that a couple has two choices- be happy or be on screen. Right now the "happy couple" is supposed to be Max and Chelsea. But, they only had one scene last week and it consisted of witnessing Melanie grow a heart (still no word on the brain). Oh, that, and they talked about the previously happy couple, Philip and Stephanie. As a matter of fact, you probably spent longer reading this section than you did watching Max and Chelsea last week. Boo.
10. DO have all-cast scenes- SAMI and RAFE
Viewers love it when the entire gang gets together, if for no other reason than we can remember who's still on the show. So, can someone explain to me why Sami had to get Grace baptized before she introduced Grace to the rest of the Brady bunch? Sami is connected to so many people in Salem that if she would have waited four days to baptize Grace, she could have invited Roman, Caroline, Will, Johnny, Ali, Bo, Hope, Ciara, Chelsea, Max, Stephanie, Philip, Lucas, Chloe, EJ, Nicole, AND Rafe.
But instead it was just Sami and Rafe- a theme that I'm getting entirely fed up with. Their chemistry is fine and they look great together. But heaven forbid they share a scene with anyone else! Sami and Rafe have some sort of force field around them that if they are in the scene together, and another character walks up to them, one of them must leave the scene immediately, else humanity will explode. Until I see them simultaneously interact with someone over the age of three I'm having a really hard time deciding if I can root for this couple.
But considering all this time they have alone, perhaps Sami should do something other than kiss Rafe. I know, I know, hear me out. Considering the situation that she's in with EJ right now, would it not behoove Sami to find out a little bit more about Rafe before she goes making him Grace's Godfather and naming Grace after the dude? Say, like, who his father is and whether or not he comes from a bad family? Hmm?
Bo asked Roman to stay away from Hope and Roman blindly agreed. I actually like this. The Bradys are well known for demanding immediate answers and explanations. I like that Roman didn't ask questions and just gave his brother the benefit of the doubt on this one.
To date, the two most convincing pieces of parenting when it comes to Will came from Rafe and Chloe. Rafe correctly told Will not to be so selfish and Chloe properly told Will that his parents don't need to be together to love him. They both got their point across before Will had a chance to end the conversation with a hissy fit. Sami and Lucas should start taking notes from their counterparts.
Does Nicole really have a reason to hate Bope? She got arrested in Trent's case because there was evidence that put her at the crime scene and she lied to the cops for weeks before. Plus, Bope actually kept investigating the crime after Nicole was arrested and eventually cleared her.
I'm pretty sure that hat Sami was wearing was supposed to be a hot pink Chicago Bears hat. But on my TV it looks like a red Cincinnati Reds hat. And, I don't even follow hockey.
I saw Ali and Johnny together!!
Stefano's goodbye to Tony. It was an awesome scene; not only because Joe Mascolo knocked it out of the park, but because Stefano was verging on becoming a comical caricature of a villain and this scene humanized him. It's much easier to watch a villain descend to the depths of vengeance when we've witnessed the grief that drove him to it. So if Stefano spends the rest of his days trying to take down the Kiriakises, at least we know why he feels the way he does.
Personally, I think it's pretty insulting to the majority of kids who are generally nice and respectful to dub Will a "typical teenager". But, for argument's sake, let's say that Will is a typical teen. That doesn't automatically make him fun and entertaining to watch! I wouldn't want to watch a typical root canal! Truth be told, I've had menstrual cramps I've enjoyed more than I enjoy Will. I don't care that Sami was lying to him. He isn't mature enough to handle the truth. And, this is something that parents do with every kid. My parents didn't go into the details of why we had to move to another state when my dad's company went bankrupt and they couldn't afford our house any more. Does that mean that my parents were bad parents? No. It means that I was a kid and parents don't tell their kids every thing. I'm changing the saying. From now on, where there's a Will, there's a scooper waiting to slap him.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Lucas (to Grace): "When you get a little older, I'll explain to you how we're related. It might take a while."
So there you have it! What will Dr. Baker bring to Salem? Will Nicole and EJ actually make it down the aisle? And, will you read Tony's column on Monday or do I need to send Stefano after you? You better! He's the only Tony that we have left!!