DOOL – Anatomy of Sudden Soap Death/All soap ratings

I’m sure you’ve seen these if you’re following daytime:

(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Ratings for the Week of July 19 – 23, 2010

HH
1. Y&R 3.4/11 (same/-.2) <- ties low rating (Last time: July 12-16, 2010)
2. B&B 2.3/7 (+.1/ -.1)
3. AMC 1.9/6 (+.1/same)
3. GH 1.9/6 (+.1/-.1)
5. OLTL 1.8/6 (+.1/same)
5. DAYS 1.8/5 (same/same) <- ties low rating (Last time: July 12-16, 2010)
7. ATWT 1.6/5 (same/-.1) <- ties low rating (Last time: July 12-16, 2010)

Short Analysis?  Three major problems led to DAYS’ undoing after its unprecedented ratings’ climb:

1.  No happy couples.  Rafe and Sami were leading the way in happy couples who knew how to work their way through tough times and give fans a big emotional payoff at the end of their troubles.  They were the last of the happy couples to go.  Everyone else was cheating, lying, or returning to relationhips that had long played out.   Sadly, they writers capped the ‘unhappily separate’ couples’ meme with Mickey Horton’s death.  This show is all sadness and misery.  If daytime is supposed to be about romance, someone forgot to remind the DAYs writers.  Newlywed Phillip cheats on his wife.  His wife is longing for another man.  Daniel, who cheated with Chloe when she was with Lucas, is unaware that Chloe has cheated on him.  Hope is losing her mind because Bo is bedding another of his ex’s – as he is prone to do.  It’s all maddening.

2.  No payoff for long term storylines.  Not only did EJ Dimera kidnap his own daughter, torment her mother, and leave dozens of Salemites devastated by the believed death of Sydney – including his own children, he got away with it.  The writers expected fans to sit back and watch the storyline, which culminated and Anna’s near death, and Nicole’s imprisonment, devolve into nothing but EJ’s proclamation of love and (let’s face it, horniness) for the woman he’d already sexually violated.  No happy couples, a rapist hot for the woman he raped.  Crimimal behavior ignored.

Writers were too quick to believe the fans who said that as long as Ejami (Sami and her rapist) were on screen together, they would watch and cheer them on, if it was only for a week, or weeks, or a few months.  There are more fans who are opposed to a rape victim being in a relationship with her rapist.  That shouldn’t be news to anyone, but apparently it is.

3.  Too many new characters no one gives a damn about while vets languish on the backburner.  Do I care that Stefano Dimera has yet another long lost child?  Sure as hell don’t.  What I’m wondering is how one man can have that much unprotected sex, that many long lost children and not have an STD.  Were any of his children planned and born in the context of a loving marriage?  I don’t care who Chad is, and I care less about his mother.  Arianna and Gabrielle can hit the bricks.   They can take all the relatively new characters with them, save Rafe – he’s the one bright spot for this hackneyed show.  I’d sell them all for  Lucas’ return and for Lucas to not only STOP being an apologist for the DiMeras, but to work with his mother to take the Dimera wealth and to bring Victor to his knees.

I could imagine a newly (temporarily) impoverished Victor wooing Maggie and figuring out who he is without his wealth.  I can’t see Maggie, after loving a man like Mickey all of her adult life, falling for Victor as he currently is.  By the time he regains his wealth, Maggie could help make him a better man.  He’d no longer be an ally for Stefano, but a foe, one who works to undo the damage Stefano – who rebuilds his wealth, does to others. It would be the ultimate daytime battle of good vs. evil.

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DAYS: Mickey Horton/EJ DiMera, emphasis on DiMera

Before discussing the EJ issue, I’d like to them to say:

Good bye, Mickey Horton

(and I hope John Clarke is happy with Mickey’s send off).

Suzanne Rogers, you help to give the show it’s heart.  I hope you’ll stay with us for whatever time is left for the daytime serial.

Thank you, Days writers, for the decades of love and compassion you allowed Mickey and Maggie to bring to screen and share with the rest of us.

Click HERE for a link to a Mickey Horton Tribute site.

On to EJ DiMera, Emphasis on DiMera

Anyone reading this blog for longer than a week knows that I pretty much despise EJ DiMera.  He’s among the lowest form of soap life around, in my book.  Having said that, I LOVE the twist in the kidnapping story.  So EJ was Anna’s accomplice?  It just make sense, even if I didn’t see it coming!  Very clever DAYS writers.  So many writers claim they’re writing mysteries that will shock and amaze fans.   You actually pulled it off.   There’s a lot of good potentially coming out of this storyline.  There are also some problems with EJ’s actions beyond the fact that he’s a kidnapper.  Let me  start with the things that concern me before I tell you what I love about this plot.

The big concerns (EJ/Ejami fans, you may want to skip this):

EJ  threatened poor Faye Walker (Nicole’s mother).

He manhandled Ari Hernandez (Rafe’s sister).  He far to abusive with women.  Only a coward behaves with women the way he does.

He’s fought with Rafe.

He accused Sami of being a bad mother.

He framed Kate and his father for kidnapping.

He had Nicole physically harmed and then jailed for something she didn’t do.

He raised hell with the Salem PD and anyone else who would listen.

All of the above would be classic deflection and brilliant scheming AND make me  fall completely in love with the villain responsible for such evil machinations if it weren’t for one small factor.  EJ was merely victimizing Sami all over again!  How many times  does this man get to victimize her before the writers have her finally cut ties with him?  Isn’t it time to conduct new DNA tests and sever the blood ties Sami’s children currently have with EJ?  Shouldn’t Johnny be Lucas’ child?  The writers could certainly find a way to make Sydney ANYONE but EJ’s kid.  Geez, folks!  Nothing good comes from keeping Sami in the same room with EJ for longer than a minute.  She’s trapped by circumstance.  She shares children with a loon who manipulates her and hurts her repeatedly, for his own amusement.  EJ is sadly sadistic.

So what’s the outcome?  He forces Sami to marry him (or rather has Anna do it) before Sydney can be returned?   He gets her into bed, again?  Has he ever been able to do that without a weapon or without manipulating her?  Is he going to torment Sami until she snaps and then he takes custody of all of her children?  He sets Rafe up to be murdered when Rafe tries to recover Sydney? EJ swoops in to save Sydney in order to impress Sami?  It’s possible that his series of actions are all about undermining Rafe as a partner, as much as they are about punishing Sami, or manipulating her into relying on him.

I don’t want to see them together as a couple – she’s still the woman he raped.  The fact that the writers tried to bury her rape and have her ‘get over it’ to try to force the audience into buying this lackluster couple bears no weight with me.   In fact, the kidnapping storyline strengthens my resolve that Sami should NEVER be with him – their relationship has never been based on anything other than her victimization.  Ej enjoys Sami’s pain far  too much.  It’s too late to undo the damage done in forcing Sami and EJ together.

What I like

This storyline is a shot in the arm to the long drawn out kidnapping fiasco.  Without Ari Zuker’s (Nicole’s) participation in this storyline, it had become little more than an expensively produced sleeping pill… until now!

I’m actually curious about what happens next. It would be great if the writers allowed Sami to be the person to put the pieces of Sydney’s kidnapping together.   I’d love for her to get Sydney back and recognize the scent of EJ’s cologne on the child’s toys and clothing.  Maybe she remembers the sound of a toy in the background during a call from EJ.   She could then set a trap for him, one that leads to his arrest and punishment (whatever that means on this show).  Let it be the beginning of Sami cleansing herself of the hell EJ’s brought into her life.   For all of EJ’s anger at Nicole, his  actions are far worse than hers in my book.  Nicole gave him the chance to know the child Sami planned to give away (still wrong).  EJ has taken a child Sami held in her arms, one she loves, just to torment her.  He is one heartless bastard (which in daytime can be a good thing;  where good = interesting).

We know that most soap characters will never do jail time no matter how heinous the crime  unless the actors portraying them need release time or are leaving their shows for good.  I’m guessing that this storyline was designed to lead to a huge custody battle between Sami and EJ, rather than EJ wearing a matching orange jumper with Nicole.  His desperation to save his rights as a father could lead him to him rely on his father’s help, despite the fact that he may not want to. Will the reunited DiMera men lead a brand new reign of terror in Salem?  That leaves Kate in a pretty strange predicament.  Either Kate would join them – or she would at least allow them to believe she was joining them and secretly work against them if Phillip – through Stephanie, decided to help Sami.  In a war of any kind against the DiMeras,  I could see Victor supporting Phillip  and joining ‘Team Sami”.  He wouldn’t join them because he cares – that’s not who our Victor is.  He’d do it to help get the upper hand on the DiMeras in business by keeping them distracted in the courtroom.  The  Kiriakis-DiMera feud could continue for generations, but don’t worry soap fans.  DAYS will last long enough for you to watch it all unfold.  With  SORASing, great great grandchildren on both sides will be joining the Kiriakis and DiMera matriarchs and patriarchs, in heading into the fray by next Spring!

Too much?  You could be right, and if you are, the writers’ focus could (and should) just as easily be in reconstituting the Brady clan.  A custody battle would be a perfect opportunity to bring the Bradys back together and strengthen the family bond.   Sami has been too passive for far too long when it comes to EJ.  It’s time to unleash the real Sami Brady and watch her lead her family in protecting her children.  Watch out, EJ!  Sami shot the last man who violated her, right in his zipper.  You could be next, and you’re a repeat offender!

EJ vs. JS

While I have no love for EJ, James Scott is a powerful actor who brings so much to DAYS.  I wish the writers would hang up their ratings killing  ‘EJami’ obsession and let this character flourish without the baggage of that storyline.  They can never undo what’s happened between Sami and Ej, so why not let EJ feel true remorse and move on with his life?

His rivalry with Phillip was fun, before it became muderous.  Revive the rivalry.  Let these sons of privilege have a (somewhat) honest but brutal corporate battle.  Doesn’t Victor have a niece who wants to come to town and help run the family business?  EJ is too easily use to being around women he can dominate – he gets that from his father.  What happens if he meets a woman who isn’t afraid of him, who doesn’t think he’s ‘just dreamy’, and who’s capable of serving his backside on a silver platter?  When he’s truly realized the horrors of his past actions with women and is finally redeemed and ready to move forward,  he and Victor’s niece could be a part of a modern Romeo and Juliet storyline – minus the tragedy.  I’d like to see JS transform EJ into a truly viable romantic lead at some point in the future,  though  I’d love for EJ’s life to be about more than the women in it and what he does to them.  Scott  has the ability to play a far more complex character than he’s been allowed to play.  As a DAYS fan, I feel cheated that he’s limited to the role he’s currently playing.

For one brief shining moment…

I felt as if a daytime writer actually walked through an entire scene and wrote dialogue that not only made sense, but anticipated an audience member’s reaction to what had just taken place. DAYS’ is slowly developing a great friendship (if not real relationship) between Sami Brady and Rafe Hernandez, one that extends beyond her role as a protected witness, his as her protector:

In a more recent episode, Rafe learns that ‘Hilda’ (referenced at the beginning of the above clip) had recently visited Sami and was found murdered shortly after the visit. He also finds out that Sami left protective custody one afternoon while he was sleeping. His furious and exaggerated response was to tell her that between Hilda’s visit and her leaving the safe house she’d just signed her own death warrant, and that she probably led the killer back to their location. Oh yeah… good times.

The dialogue, and the emotion, was almost cartoonishly heavy, for daytime. My first response was, ‘geez, what a way to make her feel safe, Agent 99 (“Get Smart” fans will get the reference). Sure enough, it was Sami’s vocalized response too! She asked Rafe if he learned to talk to a witness that way at The Academy. She let him know that he’d frightened her and turned what she thought of as an innocent excursion into a nightmarish moment.

His response to her fear was what you would expect and hope for; less cartoonish, more responsive to her needs and an attempt to communicate his concern for her in a way that made it clear how he really felt about her (at least in a way that the audience understood even if she didn’t get it). Color me stunned.

It says a lot about how much small things matter, like dialogue that hits you where you live, that’s reflective of what you’re thinking as a viewer. It’s gratifying to watch a show and hear characters utter dialogue that express what you’re thinking and feeling. Rafe and Sami often seem to have a style of banter that’s familiar to fans who’ve watched old school romantic films and miss what feels like ‘true’ romance – a connection that’s emotional, and sometimes cognitive, more than it’s physical. It’s evident in the way partners talk with one another.

It’s that level of interaction,the give and take between partners, that’s missing in great romantic relationships in daytime. ABC’s Robin and Patrick (GH) have it. So do Maxie and Spinell (GH). Dorian and David (OLTL). You get it to some degree with ex partmers Carly and Jack (ATWT – when he’s not ripping into her and treating her like a child). DAYS’ own Jack and Jennifer were masters of the verbal give-and-take. Very few current daytime couples, outside those listed above, have the level of connection through dialogue that even comes close to the magic of old school romantic wit (or even sheer romanticism) like that of Hepburn-Tracy or even Hepburn and Grant:

I saw that in Sami and Rafe, and I liked it. I like that theirs is a relationship/friendship built on something other than an immediate physical attraction. The writers are giving them time to really get to know one another. It’s a nice change of pace.

As much as I loved the Film Noir scenes DAYS aired late last year, I wish Rafe Hernandez had been around then, or that the writers had saved the scenes until now. This storyline was made for Noir.