Ratings – sometimes it sucks to be right!

In the last blog entry, I noted that I fully expected the BnB to lose the ratings race to DAYS.  Here are the ratings for the week in question (and many thanks to the folks at SoapOperaNetwork – SON, for posting them):

Ratings for the week November 16-20, 2009
1. Y&R 3.5/12 (-.1/-.2)
2. DAYS 2.3/8 (+.1/+.3) ——–> (Last time in 2nd place: June 7-11, 2004)
2. B&B 2.3/8 (-.1/-.3)
4. GH 2.0/6 (-.1/-.2)
5. AMC 1.9/7 (-.1/-.1)
5. OLTL 1.9/7 (-.1/-.2)
7. ATWT 1.8/6 (same/-.2)

The problem for DAYS is that they’ve never been able to sustain dethroning the BnB for long, and I don’t see it happening this time, either.  The focus on Rafe, Gabby, and LH’s Arianna is a HUGE mistake – but who am I to say it?  Rafe as a solo character is  likable and worth the airtime.  Arianna and Rafe onscreen together brings back awful memories of the PASSIONS’ Lopez-Fitzgerald clan.  Adding Martsolf’s Brady Black only triples my pain (sorry, I was NEVER a Theresa and Ethan fan.  They made my skin crawl.)  By the time you add the snooze producing Gabby (who is awfully reminiscent of Paloma Lopez-Fitzgerald), I find myself bored silly!  I’m not even intrigued by the idea of Theresa/Arianna working with Roman to get rid Salem of its criminal element.  Kill off the Hernadez clan, other than Rafe and bring on a brother for him instead of the family he currently has on screen.

Hey, if  I must continue in committing soap heresy (as I’m sure Terror/Ethan fans will accuse me of), I have to admit that I’m not terribly interested in Vivian Alamain’s return.  L-O-V-I-N-G Louise Sorel, I’m disappointed that the writing for her has made the character of Vivian so quirky and annoying.  This Vivian is a caricature of Vivian 1.0 – who was always clever, conniving, and dangerous.   Vivian 1.0 would be thinking of ways to make a tough business move to establish herself as Salem’s lead power broker, instead of focusing on how to woo a cantankerous and verbally abusive curmudgeon like Victor.   As currently portrayed, I fully expect Disney to write a theme song to be played every time Vivian enters view and to watch small puppies tremor in fear in her presence – hey, those coats won’t make themselves, people!  Vivian 2.0  … 3.0?  4.0? is focused on gaining power by ‘merging’ with Victor Kirakis.  I hardly recognize Viv!

On a positive note, DAYS should be applauded for daring to focus on a quadrangle featuring an over 40 crowd, as well as its 40 something quad featuring Bo/Hope/Justin/Carly.  Kate and Stefano (a match made in hell) tangling with Victor and Vivian (another match made in hell); with Kate displaying  jealousy?  Nice, though a bit odd given Victor’s emotional and verbal abuse of Kate.  He hasn’t been quite as cruel to her as he has been to Nicole and Chloe, but still nasty enough that he’s given her enough reason to want to see him alone and lonely.   All is forgiven? I guess.  Despite their past behaviors and betrayals of one another, what makes this potential quad work is that each of the four characters (and their portrayers) are incredibly strong in their own right and only enhance this storyline.  The idea of Kate and Vivian along with Victor and Stefano locking horns is as good as it gets in daytime.  There will be blood, and the ‘fun’ part is not knowing whose blood will be spilled.  There are all equally capable of ripping the others in half.  I hope that the writers will respect the history of all four characters and leave them strong – most especially Vivian and Kate.  More than anything else, daytime needs strong women and these are two of the strongest, fiercest warriors in daytime – if not a bit psychotic, much like the men they’re involved with.

If I was a  DAYS writer/producer thinking about how to keep the ratings rock rolling up hill instead of down, there would be more focus on both quadrangles and even exploit the overlapping relationships between the two quads;  I’d kick up the Brady and Nicole storyline until Zuker goes on maternity leave.  Brady would actually be on the run with Nicole, trying to get her to return to Salem but all the while knowing that he is willing to betray his family to be with her;  I’d realize how much more interesting Stefano is without EJ and yes, Virginia, if there really is a Santa Claus – EJ would be history; Rafe’s family would also be gone;  I’d avoid making Maggie the collector of lost souls – her relationship with Melanie worked because it was unique.  With Mia it’s just old hat and a little tired.  Why not a role reversal with Maggie having relationship problems and Melanie serving as her sounding board?;    and finally,  I’d think about what it would need to happen to make Abe and Lexi and frontburner and interesting couple.  The writers need to do more to challenge themselves on what to do with the Carvers to enhance the show’s diversity in a way that’s meaningful.  Too much of what happens with the Carvers feels like an afterthought.

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Now that the BnB is off my playlist…

wait?  Have I made that threat before?  To take the BnB off my playlist?  I have? Well, OK, I MEAN it this time.  I might, possibly, tune in for the big moments (checking in on the ‘special” days).  I’m still waiting to see how Bridget and Nick play out and if Jack is their child.  Outside of that?  Regular viewership is just not in the cards for me.   I’ve got no use for this show.   It’s taken me 22 years and a lot of lumps, but I get it. (I know… 22 years?  I hear ya’.   Imagine the soapfan shame I’m feeling right now!).  I’ve come to the conclusion that  BnB writers will screw you over rather than entertain you EVERY time – that’s my soapfan story and I’m sticking to it.

What am I watching more of now?  DAYS, of course.  Who knows how much longer that will last because if I’m being perfectly honest, most of daytime is giving me dry heaves.  It’s all ‘too much’:  Too many of the same plots we’ve been watching for decades.  Too many dropped storylines.  Too much focus on teen storylines to win over younger viewers who gave up on the genre years ago… about the time the writers started forcing teen storylines on the audience as frontburner storylines.  Too many love triangles.  Too many back from the dead characters.  Too many nausea-inducing characters being held up as paragons of virtue.

So why DAYS?

1.  Because I can FF a good part of it (and yeah, I’m talking about you EJ, Sami, Sami and EJ).

2.  You’ve gotta sometimes love a show that makes no apologies for what it is and that lets it all ‘hang out’.  There are times when you just need a low down dirty act so vile that you can’t deny what it is, and yet somehow it’s so entertaining that you can’t turn away – not that you want to.

As for  Days of Our Lives, James Reilly is gone – may he Rest In Peace, but someoene backstage still has a wicked WICKED sense of humor and has just written a plot that would have made the man proud.. . Kate, injecting an apple with poison and giving it to Snow White Chloe?  C’mon!  That’s just too precious.   No, DAYS fans, you were NOT lucky enough to have Kate succeed and have Lucas/Daniel/Maggie/a gloating Kate find Chloe in a lump on the floor.

There’s always the next time.  Is the third time the charm?

What’s working in daytime

Mac Scorpio, real man!

Thank you GH writers.  I’ve been jonesing for Mac Scorpio scenes (at least, Mac scenes that didn’t treat him like a bumbling buffoon unable to control mob life in Port Chuckles).  Not only did fans get to see Mac in the best possible light, the writers threw in all sorts of goodies, for veteran viewers:

– Mac and Robin’s connection is undeniably PERFECT.  The relationship Robin has with ‘Uncle Mac’ is as special as the one she has with her parents.  Mac gets her, he understands her in a way that it’s not clear that either Anna or Robert do – which makes sense as he’s been her surrogate father for so many years.  I love that he shows up at the right time and knows what she needs without  her having to say much to him.  The looks between the two characters carried their own dialogue.

– I’ve been calling for the writers to return the Scorpios to prominence – not that they listen to me, folks, but I try!  I’ve wanted Anna and Robert to be there for Robin, as well.  Maybe they will never be there for her, given the writers’ current priorities, but I will give them credit for realizing how much Mac matters.

The look of love and gratitude in Robin’s face said it all, but I loved hearing her tell him what a wonderful man he is.  Mac hasn’t raised biological children of his own, but he’s been more of a father than almost any other man on this show.  I don’t think there’s any other character on this show who has served as a surrogate father to so many children, and accepted the job without bitterness and with taking the charge so seriously.  Mac has never walked away from his girls.  Nothing and no one could drive him away.  All three (Georgie, Maxie, and Robin) were left to him by parents who eventually deserted them for different reasons at different times.  He was there, and that’s all that matters.

– The writers tugged at the heartstrings by bringing up Georgie during those scenes, as well.  That Mac mentioned his lost daughter, a child he’d raised from her earliest days in life, was bittersweet.  That it was because he got to love her and raise her that he was able to help Robin in her time of need was a lovely thread that pulled this family together.  We rarely see Mac so we don’t have to think as much about his grief as we would if he was on screen every day.  I like being able to believe that Mac will get to heal by being able to continue to care for his girls, and now gets to add Emma to the list.

With  broken heart he keeps giving back makes him an ideal man.  Daytime writers have a tendency to make grief-striken characters withdraw from life, or make sick and ridiculous choices shortly after a death occurs (sleeping with someone they shouldn’t and becoming a parent, for instance).  Mac’s grief makes him embrace the children he’s raised even more.  He gives back, without question, and without judgment.  Why can’t we have more MEN like Mac in daytime?

The Guiding Light is shining a little brighter!

I can’t help it!  I still think GL is one of the most aesthetically displeasing shows in daytime, but it just doesn’t matter as much right now!  The writers have done the unthinkable.  They’ve surprised me by making the love of Shayne’s life Edmund’s daughter.  Where the hell did that come from?  The Royal family of San Cristobel is already connected to the Lewis family through Jon Randall, but this?  It’s even better.  There’s something about Edmund and Shayne’s connection over Lara that makes me hope it’s genuine and not just another ploy by Prince Eddie. The connection humanizes Edmund. He’s always been more than a one dimensional villain and the writing for his return has been perfect, so far.  I’ve loved Edmund’s wicked ways in the past – even if I couldn’t bring myself to root for his success.  This storyline has me simply loving Edmund!

The chemistry between Reva and Dinah? Worth it’s weight in gold! I love the potential MIL – DIL fights between them.  Dinah, as Reva’s daughter-in-law?  KARMA, baby!  More likely than not, even if it happens, it’s probably the case that Lara lives – daytime writers NEVER devote that much energy to a dead character we’ve never met, unless they plan to bring them back.

Remy and Christina? Cuter and cuter by the day. They feel like a ‘real’ couple.  I love that she tries to get him to see the best in himself, and that he does the same for her. Finally a couple building each other up instead of tearing each other down.  I hate being this happy about a couple.  It’s always a matter of time before writers ruin good characters and couples in order to ‘add passion and drama’ to their relationship.  What happens next?  A heartbroken Alan tricks Christina into sleeping with him?  She becomes pregnant?  Alan then owns her?  Remy cheats with Lizzie?  Remy and Christina find out they’re related?  I guess we can cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now?  I’m full-tilt giddy and will keep enjoying them!

Mallet and Marina and the baby-crazies? Not feeling it. My only fear is that Dinah is pregnant with Grady’s child and M&M end up raising it through private adoption because they can’t adopt otherwise.  When Grady goes, let’s make sure ALL of Grady goes.  Leave no spawn behind.   (Ok, one more   criticism about their storyline: How silly is it that Mallet would dispose of his ‘hit man gear’ in a Springfield-Peapack pond?  It’s not like the briefcase will be swept down stream and out to the ocean!  It’s a freakin’ pond in PEAPACK (Springfield)

The voice of an angel and pretty as a picture!

So imagine my surprise when Maggie Horton (played by the incomparable Suzanne Rogers) ripped dear Chloe a new one!  What irony!  Sami Brady loved Lucas for all he was worth and mama Kate made it her mission to destroy Sami.  She would have rather have dated her son HERSELF before letting Sami near him.  For Chloe, Kate opened her home, her family, and her heart and Chloe not only cheated on Lucas (who at this point may as well be renamed ‘Lucas the lovable loser’), but she betrayed Kate in the process.  Oh dear! 

While the writers have done a miserable job of honoring its veteran characters and actors, I think it was masterful for Maggie to be the person who confronts Chloe.   Maggie has always been a staunch (non pathological) defender of her family, but she’s not sainted.  Newer fans may not have understood the significance of Maggie’s shameful glance downward when Chloe asked her if she’d ever made a mistake, but veteran viewers got it. Two words:  Neil Curtis.  Maggie not only cheated on her husband, but it was her daugther who caught them in bed together (makes you think of Sami catching Marlena and John, doesn’t it?  Marlena.  John.  Sigh.).

Suzanne Rogers brought the HEAT to confrontation scenes and I enjoyed every minute.  More please!

Damn you Tea!

I DO have integrity, you know?  I just keep blowing it to hell, cheering you on.  Don’t ask me why, but as much as Todd deserves to be punished, I love watching Tea in action.  I still can’t figure out why she’s been working so hard to keep Todd out of prison even going as far as claiming to be Lee Halpern/Janet Ketring’s murderer.  It’s worth staying tuned in to find out!  The minute I saw LH/JK on the floor I thought, ‘Ugh, not again!  Will Todd now go on trial for yet another murder he didn’t commit?”  It never dawned on me that Tea would take the fall for this.  At most I thought she might claim to be with Todd as they walked through the door and found Lee’s body.

So what happens next?  Will Todd lose his hammer once Tea is found out and it turns out that Wes killed LH/JK?  Surely she’ll be disbarred, though hopefully not.  If Wes is the killer, is this the beginning of a killing spree now that he’s flipped?  Is Marty at risk?  Maybe as I continue to tune in, I’ll also get to figure out why Antonio brings out a heavy accent in Tea… and only Antonio… What’s that about?  I hope it continues for as long as he’s around because I love it (it’s a bit like Bess’ alter producing black glasses).

Add to the bag of fun OLTL has become:  Marty commenting that she always trusts the wrong person, and then not picking up on the fact that she should be more careful about trusting Wes?  Fantastic.  There are the matching mother-Son addictions.  Marty swills alcohol like a warrior (uh, more like Wes) and Cole is popping pills.  Marty is too caught up in her own pain to see that something is wrong with her son?  Fine, but when this is over, if she goes back to being a therapist, THAT would be a tragedy.  It’s hard for me to understand Marty sympathizing with Wes, but leaving Cole in the dark, on his own to deal with her back-from-the-dead act, his child’s death, her rejection, and Todd not being forced to pay for any of his crimes… but she can be there for Wes… got it.

Natalie and Jess raining hellfire on one another?  THANK YOU, writers.  Lovin’ it.  Does Nat seriously want to cause Jess to release Tess again?  Eh, it probably won’t happen, but  I almost wish it would.  I think it’s curious that Nat has become another completely self-absorbed person who can’t put herself in someone else’s shoes.  She’s also chosen not to acknowledge her own shady past , a time when she used, lied, and manipulated everyone she could – and she didn’t have an alternate personality to blame her actions on!  I love seeing flashes of a fighting Jessica everytime Nat uses Jess’ children as pawns – shame on Natalie.  It also sucked that given Jared’s involvement in Nash’s death that Natalie would shove her engagement ring in Jessica’s face.  I guess Tess’ attempt to kill them makes Natalie believe they’re ‘even’.  Go figure.

Love Triangles – When Grandma/Grandpa goes wild!

Remember this:

Bad Day?  Your mother sleeps with the man you love.

Worse Day?  Your GRANDMOTHER sleeps with the man you love (Chelsea Brady, Days of Our Lives).  It sucks to have a hot grandmother, doesn’t it:?  Kate Roberts has never been the type to sit home and bake cookies.

Just be glad that… he didn’t sleep with your great-grandmother.  Dude, you just can’t live something like THAT down.

In the never ending quest to shock daytime viewers, daytime writers are riding the rails, folks!  It began with The Bold and The Beautiful.  The writers had originally planned for Eric Forrester to fall for Caitlin Ramirez,  the young woman his 16 year old had a crush on (btw, the grandson gained two years FAST, in the time the writers started planning the storyline).  We saw the lead in, Caitlin fawning over Eric’s talent as a designer – Eric, being flattered by the young girl.

Fans cried foul, and to the writers credit, they dropped the storyline.  It’s more likely the case that the actor cried foul and had more influence than the fans.  Either way, it died a quick death and daytime was all the better for it.

Days of Our Lives picked up the grandchild-grandparent relationship and ran with it.  Chelsea lost her hot Doc Daniel, to Grandma Kate.  It was a stunning reversal of daytime fortune in which mature women are typically dumped for younger vixens.  Still, it was a little creepy that a grandmother and granddaughter were competing for the same lover.

As The World Turns is taking the storyline one step further.  They’ve thrown a marriage into the mix – and this time, Grandma is ill, having lost the will to live because of the return of the breast cancer she thought she’d beaten the first time around!

At this time, it appears that Brian will share a kiss with a drunk and vulnerable Luke on the same night that he (Brian) marries Lucinda to give her the will to live.  Pssst… writers… seriously… WHAT?  What’s the point of that?  Throwing in Lucy’s cancer only adds fuel to the fire of a child/grandchild betraying a parent/grandparent.  That’s just one step too far.   Without Lucy’s illness, it would be one more storyline in a chain of storylines in which a child has betrayed a parent, intentionally or not.

There’s some precedent for a betrayal by a child (in this case grandchild) being forgiven – with the relationship moving forward successfully.  I’m not aware of any that have survived the betrayal of a ill loved one. There was GL’s Holly (mom)/Blake (daughter)/Ross (shared lover). Blake ended up married to Ross and they eventually had a family. Blake and Ross became one of the show’s supercouples. Holly wasn’t ill, of course.  Just angry.

Why couldn’t the writers simply create a love triangle that focuses on Luke and Noah, without the drama of an ill loved one?   I wrote this earlier, as well:

This kid is as rich as creases. He could fund his own gay film series and end up throwing enough cash around to have the university administration kissing his toes trying to get a small portion of his fortune.  Gimme more, writers, gimme more.

What would happen if Luke suddenly started behaving like the mogul he is?  What if his Lucinda gene (yeah, yeah, no biological tie) kicked in?  How would Noah react to the ‘new’ Luke?  What would happen if another young man from a powerful family came along and tried to woo Luke away from Noah? Noah, the kind and loving, up against an rich and devious snot how has images of merged fortunes dancing in his head?  Ruh roh!

Instead, we get a relationship that’s almost doomed to fail, and writers who’ll have an audience to ‘blame’ instead of a lack of foresight into how an audience would react to Brian and Luke’s kiss.  My hope is that Luke  (or Noah) destroys Brian for betraying Lucinda, the one person who’s loved him unconditionally.

IF Luke becomes so disgusted by this guy that he can’t stand the sight of him, and if Brian harassing Luke leads to Noah and Luke growing stronger, I could easily understand the value of the storyline. Maybe this is the thing that helps Nuke realize how much they really love one another and to move them to the next stage of their relationship.  Otherwise, I don’t know what will happen with the Luke and Brian.

There’s a tiny part of me that sees it as an act of cowardice, that it’s almost as if the writers want it to fail and would love to have the audience to blame for it, if ‘Lion’  (the name given to a possible Brian-Luke relationship) is rejected. I just don’t know what would make the writers believe this storyline would work.  If you have any idea, let me know.

The thing I’m MOST afraid of?  That this will become the new hot trend in daytime.  What’s next?  GL’s Daisy decides to kill two birds with one stone and go after Josh to pay back her mother AND grandmother (both of them having been involved with Josh before).  Oh, it could happen, soap fans, it could happen.

Bad Day – Worse Day – Just Be Glad That…

Bad Day?  Your mother wants you to call her new boyfriend ‘uncle’ (Liberty Ciccone, As The World Turns).

Worse Day?  He really IS your uncle.

Just be glad that… he’s your father’s brother and not your mother’s brother!

Bad Day?  Your mother sleeps with the man you love.

Worse Day?  Your GRANDMOTHER sleeps with the man you love (Chelsea Brady, Days of Our Lives).  It sucks to have a hot grandmother, doesn’t it:?  Kate Roberts has never been the type to sit home and bake cookies.

Just be glad that… he didn’t sleep with your great-grandmother.  Dude, you just can’t live something like THAT down.

Bad Day?  Your favorite daytime soap goes dark.  A show that was once filled with love, romance, and laughter is now a show about death and destruction.  I’ve never forgiven General Hospital writers for killing Justice Ward and stuffing his body in the trunk of a car.. Justice FREAKIN’ WARD… a Quartermaine heir!  Fargin sons of bastiges!  ICEHOLES!

Worse Day?  Not only does your beloved show cling to the dark side, featuring an endless “murderous mobsters with hearts of gold” storyline, they begin casting actors who are renowned for playing mobsters in film and primetime.  Sopranos onscreen capo Vicent Pastore (Big P), welcome to the show.  Just know that we don’t fault YOU! 

Just be glad that…  the dipwads in charge didn’t cast Pee Wee Herman as the new mob boss.  GH’s lollipop mob already lacks credibility.  Danny Vermin was more believable as a mobster. They don’t deal drugs, they don’t push prostitution (any more), they don’t take protection money… Good luck, Vinnie P.  You may have just lost YOUR mob character cred!

Bad Day?  You find out your psychotic sister, Pam Douglas, hasn’t been taking her meds in more than three months (Stephanie Forrester, BnB).  She decides to ‘protect’ and help you by tying your rival to a chair, smearing her with honey, and enticing a bear to attack the ‘hot tamale’ now married to your husband…

Worse Day?  She fails.

Just be glad that… oh hell, there IS no silver lining here!  She FAILED!

Bad Day? AMC’s Erica Kane has a bit of a fit when she finds out that her protege has spent the night with a man she still deeply loves.  It prompts a battle between her inner angel and inner devil.  The inner devil wins.

Worse Day?  No one notices, Erica’s inner devil almost ALWAYS wins.

Just be glad that… Erica doesn’t have a twin!

Bad Day?  Your husband’s tragic and violent death triggers your alter personality to take over and cause you to turn into a raving lunatic who develops an evil plan for revenge (Tess/Jessica Nash, OLTL).

Worse Day?  No one notices the change in behavior.

Just be glad that… well, I was going to say ‘see Erica Kane’, but Jessica IS a twin.  Just be glad that she hasn’t been widely exposed, yet.  Tess is such a great bad girl and Jessica will be home, soon enough.

Bad Day?  You risk your own life to rescue an ex-husband who likes to periodically remind you that you were once a stripper.  He tops it by telling you you’d be nothing without him. (Nikki Newman, Young and the Restless).

Worse Day?  When you find him, he’s such a bastard, you forget why you wanted to rescue him in the first place.

Just be glad that… you’re not the recently deceased ‘Mrs. Great Man, herself’ he’s grieving for.  What’s that?  Oh, I know that the recently deceased ‘Mrs. Great Man, herself’ has a name, but she’s married to ‘The Great Man, himself’, so whatever HER name was just isn’t important.  Don’t beleive me?  Just ask Victor!

Bad Day?  Your sister-in-law poisons you and no one figures out it was poison until much later (BnB, Eric Forrester).

Worse Day?  She nearly took you out by adding an overdose of potassium to the lemon bars she bakes for you.

Just be glad that… your name is not Dixie Martin and that AMC writers aren’t penning this storyline.  Dixie was killed by posioned peanut butter pancakes! It’s rough out there in soap land, no wonder they’re all so skinny.  Daytime characters need food tasters.

Bad Day? You pay a man to ‘scare off’ a woman you hate.  You save her just as he’s about to sexually assault her – you save her because you’ve just found out that she’s your daughter. (Olivia Spencer, Guiding Light).  He later kills your friend’s daughter and eventually escapes prosecution.

Worse Day?    You offer to pay him to sleep with you because you’re lonely.  Oh yeah – they roll that way on Guiding Light, these days! 

Just be glad that… you’re not watching.  I’ve seen the ratings, you’re not!