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, again: Suzanne Rogers is breaking my heart!

I am mesmerized by this storyline.  The death of Mickey Horton is one of the most well crafted storylines I’ve seen any soap offer in some time – at least as it relates to a character’s death.  Some death scenes are gimmicky (as with Ann Douglas dying on a bed on the beach with her daughters at her side, on the Bold and the Beautiful).  Some are not worth mentioning – but when you kill off major characters, they deserve to be remembered well, and you know who you are you guilty soapgods!!!!

Just when you think that Suzanne Rogers has touched on every form and level of grief possible, she amazes you and hits yet another pitch perfect note:

I’ve been drained watching DAYS this week (uh, these last few days – it hasn’t been a week yet).  I almost feel guilty, as if I’m peeking in, uninvited, on a family’s private moment of pain.   Ms.  Roger’s gives Mickey’s death such realism that I can hardly believe that it’s possible for her to lose an Emmy, in any category she chooses to be nominated in.   This last set of episodes are good enough for DAYS to be considered the coming year’s ‘Best Drama’, in my book.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to hand out the Emmys.  Damn!

Despite the brilliance of her work this moment has to be bittersweet for Ms. Rogers.  John Clarke was her acting partner for decades prior to his retirement in 2004.  While Mickey returned, as portrayed by several notable and laudable actors – including General Hospital’s John Ingle, it was never the same.  No one was ever  able to replace Mickey, as the fans knew and loved him.  It had to have been one hell of a task for  Ms.  Rogers to first have to say good bye to  her long time friend, on set, and to then have to voice Maggie saying  good bye to her long time love, on screen.  She’s risen to the challenge admirably!

Watching Maggie’s scenes with Lucas was especially heartbreaking since Bryan Dattilo will soon vacate the role of Lucas Roberts.  Lucas is a Horton, by birth, and given Mickey’s death and Alice’s absence, it  would be redemptive of the writers to allow DAYS fans to watch Maggie, Hope, and Lucas rebuild the Horton clan.  Lucas Roberts Horton.  It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  Without Lucas and the others, it feels like the death of an era.  Given the loss of two soaps in one year, I’d love for daytime’s  soapgods to give us MORE of our core families and core characters on the remaining daytime serials.  Soap fans, I think, need the consistency.  If the old adage is true, let’s hope that ‘every good-bye ain’t gone’, and that Lucas (portrayed by Dattilo) will return soon!  Aunt Maggie needs him!

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.

DAYS: Chock full of surprises…

Maggie and Melanie… It’s no secret that I’m a Melanie Layton/Molly Burnett fan.  MB brings back some of the best moments of daytime for me.  I think of her portrayal of Melanie as a cross between Lynn Herring’s wicked bad girl Lucy Coe and Jackie Zeman’s vulnerable bad girl Bobbie Spencer.  There’s something fun and light-hearted about MB’s approach to ‘Melanie’ and having removed the dead weight of big brother ‘Max’ makes her even more fun to watch.

As  a BnB viewer… yeah, yeah, it’s back on my playlist, I’m use to a very typical, but sadly misogynistic relationship between older women and younger women in daytime.  Older women in daytime, despite their own questionable histories, become renewed virgins and unreproachable paragons of virtue.  Stephanie Forrester (who in her youth slept with two men in a matter of weeks, lied about it, and passed one man’s child off as another’s) routinely  refers to young women she dislikes as ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’ even if they have a SINGLE partner – men they’re married to or dating.  She gives a ‘pass’ to younger women she likes and whose histories may be equally questionable to if not worse than her own.

On each soap you can name a woman who should be a mentor to women of the younger generation and who, instead, belittles and demeans them.  Not our Maggie.  Maggie knows what it means to be unfaithful to a good man who loves you and to find yourself caught up in a major scandal.  Of course, there were no sex tapes to be distributed on the internet as evidence in her time, but that’s neither here nor there.  Maggie embraced Melanie earlier  on and continues to embrace her.

She’s not concerned that Melanie isn’t good enough for her grandson.  She’s concerned that Melanie doesn’t realize her own value and will end up being hurt by a man unworthy of her love – with Phllip Kiriakis being exactly the sort of trouble Maggie described to Melanie… oh how I thought I’d lose my lunch during his speech about knowing a woman who accepts him for who he is and who isn’t out to change him… Let’s face it, there’s a lot about Phillip that REQUIRES changing.  Now that he’s moving in on Melanie like a heat seeking missile, both Maggie and Nate have their work cut out for them, stopping Melanie from becoming her own worst enemy and giving in to Phillip.  Phillip will no doubt continue to toy with Melanie’s feelings while bouncing back between her and Stephanie.  Let’s hope that Melanie will take Maggie’s counsel to heart.   I love the relationship that’s developed between the inexperienced but headstrong Melanie, and her generous and loving mentor.  Who’d a thunk it?  Women don’t actually hate each other!

Brady/Nicole/EJ. How amazing are Brady and Nicole on screen together?  EM’s use of subtle cues to lead us to realize that there’s still something very real between the pair makes every scene worth watching.  I keep waiting for the next ‘cue’.    While Nicole was crying and begging Brady to be the good friend she’s needed, to help her keep the daughter and husband she loves more than her own life – I thought it was Brady who would collapse into Nicole’s arms.   He seemed to feel every bit of her pain.  Notice how he held her just a little too long as she thanked him for saving her family?   Brady would do anything for Nicole.  When it comes to this woman, clearly his heart allows him to betray his head as long as she needs him.

The big shocker was having EJ tape Nicole’s conversations and learn about the miscarriage through her.  I was prepared for Kate’s move into the mansion to be the catalyst for having Nicole and EJ’s marriage destroyed by Kate…Kate would overhear Nicole and Mia, blackmail Nicole, EJ would catch them.. that’ s par for the course in daytime, but not this time.  Nicole’s own need to confess all to Brady and to keep him involved in her whacked out plan to save her marriage did her in.  Oh the irony!

I would love for EJ, for ONCE, to be a real man –  THAT would be  a welcomed surprise.  I would love for him to love Nicole and Sydney as he should, as much as they love him… but he won’t.  He’s not capable of it.  H won’t care that Nicole, as misguided as her actions were, took Sydney in to protect him, to stop his heart from breaking as hers had.  He won’t care that she wanted to prevent him from losing a child he knew nothing about to complete strangers – given Sami’s  original plan to have Grace adopted.  Sooner or later EJ will try to make his way back to his rape victim, Sami, I’m sure.  He’ll tell her it’s a miracle that their child is alive and that they belong together as a family.  Nicole, the woman who truly loved him, will be devastated – but hopefully not for too long.  Brady is much hotter… and he’s not a in love with the idea of victimizing the woman he claimes to ‘love’ and raising a family with her.

Stefano/Kate... I’ll say it once and then I’ll avoid ever saying it again if I can help it because it creeps me out…I like them together.  I didn’t think I would, especially since Kate was blackmailed into marrying Stefano.  Then again, it’s not like she’s had much luck in love!

Daniel was a lying cheat.  Victor ws just freakin’ cruel. A relationship with Roman could never work because Kate could never stop hating Sami (who might have ended up in that hospital bed instead of Chloe, under different circumstances), and nothing else has panned out.  What does she have to lose at this point?  Neither Kate nor Stefano make apologies for who they are and I like that about them, to some degree.  Stefano has been a part of so many quirky, unrealistic, and embarrassing supernatural storylines that I’d lost the ability to think of him as a romantic lead… I’m starting to see that it’s possible that they could be a real couple, and  I can only imagine the fresh hell they’ll unleash in Salem… as a matter of fact,  I’m looking forward to it… the added bonus of the tension between Kate and EJ and Kate and Alexandra?  PRICELESS!

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.