Daytime Traditions I Miss

Guiding Light:  The Bauer 4th of July celebrations.   There was always some secret on the verge of being told to the Bauer and friends crowd – which was typically all of Springfield.  There were always two characters trying to avoid making eye contact so that no ohine would know they’d been together. Someone hiding behind the covered trellises hiding from or spying on someone in the crowd.  There was the salacious part of the 4th celebrations, but even MORE than that, there were the Bauers and the people who loved them.  Springfield seemed peaceful, and lovingly ‘normal’, despite the secrets, if only for a day.  Fans still miss Maureen, but to have Papa “Doc” Ed, Michelle, Rick, and their respective spouses and children back for this one last July 4th celebration would be wonderful.

As The World Turns:  The Memorial Day picnics.  See ‘Bauer 4th of July’ celebration and read Lynn Liccardo’s treatment of the topic by clicking HERE

The Bold and the Beautiful:  I miss the rival fashion shows.  Forrester had a show and Spectra countered. Spectra held a show and Forrester countered.  Now?  There’s JackieM’s (whose success is in large part due to stolen designs from Forrester) and ????….NOTHING.  Rather than a lot of scandalous pseudo-incestuous lovin’ and some great fun thanks to fashion showdowns, we’re stuck with just a lot of pseudo incestuous lovin’.

General Hospital:  The Nurses Ball.  Given the way the ball started -with Stone’s death and Robin revealing her HIV status, what a wonderful tribute it would be to those who are living with AIDS/HIV to have Robin come back as MC as a symbol of someone with the disease living an enriched life.  Hope is NOT lost!  Robin was a teen when she contracted the disease.  Today, she’s a physician, a loving mother and wife, and a pillar of her community. 

     I also loved that in the past, the cast came together and the actors we loved were allowed to step out of the comfort zone of the characters they played to give us just a bit of themselves, as well.  (Shallow alert:  WHAT could top the Lucy Coe costume changes as entertainment? Terrific.)

Days of Our Lives:  Sean and Caroline, Marlena and John.  I don’t care what the holiday/event is, something seems to be ‘missing’ with DOOL.   As long as Sean and Caroline/Marlena and John are gone, it’s not the real DAYS.

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DAYS – post John and Marlena

Somehow I thought the first non-John and Marlena day would be different. Nope, nothing.  Nothing’s changed – the sets are the same; the dialogue is the same; characters are still lying, cheating, and scheming; the sun still shines in Salem; Stefano is still an evil bastard; Sami is still “real” pregnant; Nicole is still fake pregnant… and yet everything’s changed. 

I had a love – hate relationship with John and Marlena, even though they were the heart of the show (along with Bo and Hope, Patch and Kayla, and other core families).   Their  love storyline had it all: romance, realism, surrealism, making up, breaking up, making up again – it was all there.  I hated the possession storyline.  Roman Brady becoming John Black didn’t thrill me either.  Drake Hogestyn’s  ‘John’ was first a Brady, then a man with no identity, an Alamain, and finally a Dimera.  Fans needed to wear a  neckbrace to keep up with the changes in John’s backstory as those changes went whizzing  by.  None of the worst of the John and Marlena storylines, however, came close to outweighing what was good about them. They are and always will be legendary.

It’s possible that DAYS will find the ‘new’ John and Marlena, on the cheap, but will it matter?  The ‘new’ and presumably cheaper John and Marlena won’t be able to provide the show the one thing fans are unwavering in wanting – a link to history.  Their relationship ended the era of the Roman-Marlena relationship that it intially gave rebirth to.  They introduced new legacy characters (including Belle Black, whose relationship with Shawn Brady was legendary in it’s own way).  They helped keep tradition, being part of the Brady-Horton clan. For decades, their marriage was at times as real as anyone else’s.  How do you replace that?  How do you appropriately celebrate their relationship with the fans (and their onscreen  relationship with one another) if you’re foolish enough to think you can replace them?  The uber genius minds at Serial Drama addressed the cheesy send off the couple,  barely, received from Corday and crew.  

Sad, huh?  I wouldn’t be surprised if we later find out TPTB didn’t want to spend the cash paying staff writers to write a more fitting goodbye for the couple.  Four words for you: monkeys, typewriters, locked room.  Makes sense to me!

On Monday, the first John and Marlena free day, the first day we knew they wouldn’t walk on set again, I wondered how the summary writers would describe their last day… behold:

John recovers his memories, but may remain nothing but a physical vegetable from the neck down. Marlena decides that cannot happen. Time being of the essence, Marlena takes charge and decides to go with John to Europe for treatment. John and Marlena share heartfelt goodbyes with Brady, Roman, and Kayla. Even Stefano shows up, and is upset when he is given the cold shoulder. Before leaving, John and Marlena are married once again in an emotional impromptu ceremony.

Let’s hope the summary writers are interns and not staff writers, or we’re doomed!  I thought about how symbolic their last onscreen days were and  wondered if the writers weren’t Freudian slipping all over their own manuscript.   John’s ‘physical vegetable’ state is symbolic of the writers’ own.  He is unable to move and is in need of rehab, as they have bee unable to move DAYS away from the ratings dive it’s been in for years – oh yes, I  also think there’s a strong need for rehab in the writers room.  Might I suggest a creative writing workshop?  Or two?  Or three?  Or…?  Once strong, virile, able to withstand any attack, John was weakened and in need of life support.  Uh huh.. .CHECK!  Ditto on the show.  John remembered when he woke up from his ordeal.  He remembered the glorious times that he shared with Marlena.

That’s where the analogy breaks down a bit.  I have a hard time believing that TPTB can remember how important their history was and still let them go.

As with John and Marlena leaving everything behind, their social support network, the family members who would embrace and love them; the writers and TPTB are leaving behind its offscreen family:  Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn, and the viewers who are now experiencing a gaping hole in what was once a strong family network.   For as much as I love most of the Days’ cast, there are at least a half dozen actors/characters I would get rid of before I got rid of John and Marlena. 

 I’m convinced that what’s helped keep the Young and the Restless and The Bold and The Beautiful at the top of the soap genre for nearly two decades is the commitment both serials have shown to their veterans.  Those of us who watch know that those shows ‘feel’ the same in many ways, today,  as the day we started watching them (though the YnR, I think, is risking its status as it continues to add so many newbies – I’m still impressed at the slower integration of newbies by the YnR than by shows like Days Of Our Lives).

Daytime is not drawing in the younger, “hipper” viewers daytime execs and advertisers seem to crave.  It’s time for them to face reality and work with what they have.  To do so would mean to stop killing off and getting rid of veteran characters who have name and face recognition in favor of the pretty-but-pointless.  Stop assuming that we want the ‘new’ John and Marlena, when love or hate them, we’re not done with the John and Marlena we already have.

There’s seemingly no hope for saving soaps.  To get rid of long loved characters at this stage of the game seems senseless.  If you must send off fan favorites to make room for more muck and dread, give our beloveds the proper send off they deserve so that we can think of them fondly, and lovingly, and have fewer negative feelings about the fan loss you’ve engineered. 

It would be nice to see them back on screen, soon.  Whether or not that happens, Thank you, Diedre Hall for giving life to Marlena Evans.  Thank you, Drake Hogestyn, for giving life to John Black  OH! And for the occasional shirtless scene.  I’m still shallow!  I hope to see both again, soon, if not on Days, somewhere in daytime or primetime.  What a loss to the genre they helped keep profitable for so many years.

Birds of a feather

Whether or not it’s real or my imagination, I’m in love with the way daytime writers are finally living up to their promise to bring family dramas back to the forefront.  Those fabulous Dimera boys (DOOL) are giving me heart palpitations!  Tony and EJ’s conflict was reaching classic biblical proportions, until Stefano came home and laid down the law – as it should be.  Days writers should never let him leave!  Did anyone get chills when John (Hank) DiMera-Black walked by poor shaking and trembling Phillip Kiriakis and warned him that it was ‘game on’.  John declared  war on Phillip and Stefano.  What, big daddy?  No hugs for Uncle Stefano? 

Love that. How could anyone forget this exchange exemplifying DiMera on DiMera conflict from earlier this year:

Guiding Light took the high road and gave us an unconventional look at family.  Jeffrey and Reva’s non-wedding wedding brought together some of her family (with phone calls from and to those who couldn’t be there), the Cooper Clan, Remy, Lillian Raines – and thank you writers, for remembering our Lillian, and Mallet.  As much as I hate the outdoor scenes this show is all too fond of using, I loved the non-wedding wedding party coming together.  It was one of the few moments of sheer bliss this show has given us recently.

I’ll admit it (though I hate to) that for as much as I’ve enjoyed Reva and Jeffrey, part of me longed for the classic Jeva ending.  Reva would get the news that her cancer had NOT returned.  She’s at the altar, looking into Jeffrey’s eyes when his face morphs into Josh’s.  She calls him Joshua.  What happens next?   As long as the road leads to Jeva, I don’t care (yup, I’m back on board – I “get it”  that Josh is in pain realizing that the last time Reva fought cancer, he walked out on her and walked away with her sister.  Now he has to suffer knowing that she might be ill and as much as he wants to be there for her THIS time, he can’t).

Does Jeffrey realize he’s swimming upstream trying to keep Jeva apart and lets her go?

Does she go of her own accord, leaving Jeffrey at the altar?

I’ll take either, but I much prefer scenario 1.  Jeffrey has been too good to Reva for me to enjoy watching her break his heart.

Oddly enough, ATWT and AMC are the two soaps that seem to be less family focused than at any time in the past, and less family focused than any other soap on air.  AMC’s Fusion takeover?  Who freakin’ cares?  It’s an abomination that the writers have THE MAN, himself, Adam Chandler involved.  Babe is about 5 years past her ‘sell by’ date and any storyline that causes Adam to focus on Babe, Kendall, Greenlee, Annie, Amanda, and anything else to do with “Fusion” is a crime against viewers.

While ATWT and AMC are focusing more on individual characters and couples, rather than families, The Bold and The Beautiful has taken the family drama to the opposite direction.  BnB families are cannablizing one another and themselves.  The Logans have fallen apart as Brooke learns that her sister Katie has slept with her daughter’s recent husband shortly before they married and is now pregnant by him. 

Sister Donna Logan is sleeping with another man while her husband has remained comatose for just a few weeks.  For those unfamiliar with the show, her husband is her mother’s college sweetheart and twice her mother’s fiance.  He is also her older sister, Brooke’s, ex husband.  Whlie almost any other woman would feel shame that she’s betrayed her husband, Donna has spent more time reveling in the attention she’s received from her smokin’ hot new lover than thinking of how she’s betraying a man who was willing to give up everything for her.  Of course, that just opens the door for the Forrester family to get a little medieval on Donna once they catch her in the act.

The ‘Ballsy Move Award’ goes to the BnB writers.  I’m sure that most of you who are fans remember that Stephanie was out of her home mere WEEKS when Eric walked into their bedroom and found Donna naked in his bed.  Rather than throw her out, he went to bed with her that night, and woke up ‘in love’ with her the next morning.  Sure.  That’s real love there pal.  Guess where Donna and Owen are making out?  That’s RIGHT, in Stephanie and Eric’s marital bed.  I can’t explain how much I loved that moment.  Stephanie was at Eric’s side when he woke up from his coma, Donna was in his and Stephanie’s bed with another man. 

Will Donna’s actions spur on a new war between the Logans and the Forresters?  What happens to Bridget Logan Forrester – product of BOTH families?  She’s been betrayed by Katie (to some degree with Donna’s encouragement) though she still loves her mother and grandparents. 

For the first time in a long time, I’m actually looking forward to what comes next in the wacky lives of these two families.

If loving effed up characters is wrong

…I don’t wanna be right.  There are some characters so crazy and/or so outrageous that I can’t help loving them. Of course, I wonder about that dark dark place my imagination retires to if I find such a sense of affinity with these characters, but EH!

I’d worry about it more – if I had the time. Right now, I’m too busy watching:

1. Days Of Our Lives. Thank YOU ‘John Black’… I mean it. NuBlack has kept me strangely fascinated. I literally stare at the guy when he’s on screen. I’m waiting for the punchline, for his portrayer to step out of character and scream ‘GOTCHA’!!! I couldn’t figure out why that raspy whispery whacked out voice he uses these days is so familiar. I’ve finally figured it out. Fans of the Jim Carrey film, ‘Me, Myself, and Irene’ REJOICE! “Hank” has made his way to daytime TV:

As much as I love the ‘pre-memory- loss’ John Black, post-memory- loss John Black is funny and I don’t care whether he means to be or not. I can’t say that I’ll miss him when he goes, but I will continue to get a good chuckle out of him while he’s around.

2. Is it wrong to root for the bitch goddesses of daytime? I so, why does it feel so good? I love the YnR’s Chloe! Not since the golden era of Sheila Carter has a sociopath made daytime worth watching again. I’m actually tuning in to the YnR, lately, because of her! By ‘tuning in to the YnR’, I mean watching on the days I know Chloe will be on. The look on Lily’s face, when she found out that Cane wasn’t excluded as the father of Chloe’s child made the lie almost worth the excruciating pain I feel whenever Lily is on. It’s not just that Chloe lies with such ease, it’s that she enjoys it so much and that she’s not repetant. Gotta’ love a manipulating schemer who torments the town’s priss and doesn’t lose a night’s sleep over it. I consider Chloe the writers’ gift, to me… ok, maybe not just to ME, but sometimes it feels like such a gift.

3. One Life to Live – Tess Brennan. Still lovin’ OLTL but the writers really have to get on the stick with the Tess story. Tess is the ‘Amped’ version of the YnR’s Chloe. Faking a baby’s daddy (as Chloe has done), taking a life, making French Toast…MEH… it’s all the same for Miss Tess. The problem is that with the heavy focus on Mendorra, the creepy faux friendship with Marty and Todd, Bo/Rex’s time travel, and the painstakingly boring teen pregnancy storyline with Starr and Cole, and there won’t be much of charismatic Tess’ storyline to care about. The writers have made the mistake, in my opinion, of waiting too long to tie this storyline together.

They’ve become bored with Tess it seems, as evidenced by the carelessness of the plot. It’s almost incomprehensible that the good townfolk of Llanview haven’t figured things out, yet. I liked Tess the first time around, the one who was too clever to leave so many easily deciphered clues. Tess’ revenge now feels like ‘filler’, to cover the down time in the above-mentioned storylines. Then again, maybe it’s the feeling the writers want us to have – to move beyond the revenge storyline and to have us root for Jess’ return so that she can ‘forgive’ Nat and Jared and all will become one big happy family. Great, but where’s the fun in that? For those of us who’ve missed Tess, I’ve got three words for the writers: Ain’t.Gonna.Happen. We want DRAMA… and for whatever reason, the writers have been coming up short on getting it to us.

4. Guiding Light – Alan “I see dead people’ Spaulding. While I first thought Alan’s visions were fake, and that he was using Gus’ memory to manipulate those around him, I suddenly like the idea that Alan believes in his visions. Even more? how incredibly self-serving is it that Alan believes that Gus is guiding him to pimp the wealthy women of Springfield into helping him reclaim his company? Did anyone else cringe when Alan threatened Bill Lewis with his league of wealthy women believers? EGADS!

Sure, Gus – who wanted as little to do with Alan as possible, now wants Alan to take his ‘visions’ and use them to return to power at Spaulding Enterprises (Maximus my arse). Nah, Gus wouldn’t mind that Alan used his memory to keep himself out of prison. No siree. It wouldn’t have bothered Gus at all that Alan manipulated a teen-aged girl who is as dumb as a box of hair into lying on the witness stand. Nope! Alan is such a miserable bastard. Thank the soapgods that he’s BACK.

Warm, fuzzy, platitude spewing Alan was giving me hives.
5. All My Children – Adam Chandler. In almost ANY battle between Tad Martin and any other soul, it’s Tad all the way for me. That is, except when it comes to Adam. I despise the Carey women, sometimes I love to hate them, but mostly, I cannot tolerate them. And yet Adam Chandler, the resident heartless, soulless psychotic goon that he is, makes me like Krystal. There’s something about them, when they’re together, that makes me want to cheer them on.

I’d believed, when they first got together, that Krystal would take Adam for all he was worth and end up with half of his fortune. Instead the writers ruined what could have been an incredibly hot villainous couple and turned Crystal into Tad’s fawning stepford wife. With Adam, Krystal is always on that border between fun and exciting, and terribly naughty. I’ve always said that I’d never forgive Adam every time he crossed the line: having Dixie institutionalized, his treatment of Stuart, the way he’s driven his children away, his manipulation of JR, secretly impregnating Liza, and making me enjoy Krystal scenes. I forgive him every time. Now he has me rooting AGAINST Tad and hoping Krystal leaves him to be with Adam again. OY!