Soapnet/The Holidays/The Death of Daytime

You’ve read a million death of daytime articles already, I’m sure.  They’re painful both because of the sheer number of them and the truth they’ve imparted about why daytime has continued to fall apart.  Most of them weren’t written by the venerable soap press.  The soap press continued to cheer on the inane and asinine storyline telling as ‘innovative’ and ‘original’.   No holding a mirror to the naked emperor for the soap press, no sirree.  Now that it’s been revealed that Soapnet goes off the air in 2012, fans, it seems, have given up hope that the rest of daytime  can be saved, and with good reason, but more on that later.

The one network that was supposed to be fully dedicated to soaps gave up on the genre long ago as it cut back the daytime schedule and boasted about its acquisition of primetime shows.  Now?  Soaps will be replaced with more preschool friendly  programming.   Symbolic, don’t you think?  The juvenile writing plaguing daytime over the last several years has worked wonders in driving away much of the adult audience but did little to attract the ever elusive 12 to 17 year olds TIIC of daytime couldn’t wait to bring on board – the same 12 to 17 year olds who didn’t give a damn about daytime.  Now Disney can give the kids what they really want.

Unfortunately for daytime viewers, the network’s effort to stem to tide of revenue loss may have actually contributed to hastening the death of daytime.   When the writing was bad on your favorite soap, you still had other choices.  You could move on to something else – but that was before the network hacks decided that it was easier to systematically kill off daytime serials than support them and take them back to basics.   When my once favorite  Bold and Beautiful drove me absolutely nuts (as it does now with the whining non-“Forrester” women CONSTANTLY attacking the Logan women), I could always find another soap to watch that didn’t drive me batty.  Now? The writing is so horrendous across the board and there are so few soaps, there is no where to go but cable and watching ‘primetime in the daytime’.  (Which is oddly enough what Soapnet was trying to do, unsuccessfully).  By killing off  ‘lineups’, TPTB of daytime gave fans fewer and fewer reasons to tune in.   Ah, but there were/are other problems:

1 – The soaperatti (on and off screen) is incestuous and keeps claiming that it’s such a ‘specialty’ field that no one outside of daytime can understand it — that’s because they’re so “speshul”, doncha know?  And have I mentioned t they’re special?  Somehow primetime and cable are surviving with infusing new blood and new ideas.  Daytime only, it seems, needs specialists  (because they’re special) and yet those specialists  (who are special) still can’t figure out how to hang on to an audience.   As a result, the same few burned out writers and executive producers are shifted from show to show. You can’t get away from them, as they keep trying to shove the same tired ideas at what they think is a ‘new’ audience every time they ‘quantum leap’ from show to show.

Daytimers typically watch multiple shows, so if you didn’t like a mother and daughter sleeping with the same man and beating each other up on one show, you sure as hell weren’t  going to root for the hack writer and producers to bring that storyline to another show you’re watching. When there were more soaps (and more writers) there were also more ideas. and more places to escape to within the genre.  That’s gone and the soaperatti have nothing left but false self-praise and  careers on a downward slide. Does anyone know if any of the currently unemployed daytime writers have found work on any successful projects?  I’d love to know, dear readers.  I can’t think of any, and  I can’t imagine there are producers out there lining up to grab any of the ‘elite’ in daytime.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I just don’t know where they are.  Who’d want to submit an e-portfolio of the worst of daytime as evidence of what you’re capable of offering?

2 – While probably not a popular opinion, I also think a huge problem in daytime is that TIIC are have extended the ideology of the “super special” to hiring actors. The ‘newer’  daytime actors have been  treated as ‘speshul’ too. Instead of relying on tried and true and highly skilled vets, daytime PTB decided that a small group of select newbies were the future of genre. I won’t name names, but I think we can all list at least a half dozen actors who are shifted from show to show along with tired/burned out writers and executive producers.

The problem is that the pretty but pointless actors aren’t skilled enough to add new dimensions to their characters from show to show.  The actors’  mannerisms and inflections are the same.  On top of the same tired storylines, fans were cursed with the same actors, sporting new character names, but providing nothing that differentiated them.  The ‘look’ of each show may differ, but the ‘content’ and ‘feel’ of all soaps is similar. thanks to the small cohort of shifting writers, producers, and actors.  ABC and CBS could blend what’s left of their lineups and I don’t know that fans would notice the difference.  ABC could offer “All My Children born at General Hospital embracing our One Life To Live” and CBS could offer the “Bold and Beautifully Young and Restless”.  NBC, would of course, give us the “Days of Our Lives”.  It’s all they have left to give having killed off so many daytime shows, already.

The warning signs of impending doom have been sounded for years by fans who’ve wanted nothing more than to save the genre.  Unfortunately, it fell on hubristic and intentionally tone deaf ears.  How tone deaf have TIIC been?   Memorial Day would have been a keen opportunity for TIIC to remind soap fans that daytime is still around and  that there’s potential to return to the formula that made the genre work.  What did TPTB of GH offer?

Link that with THIS gem that oringally aired a week after the above clip:

On a day when we honor our war dead, and others who have valiantly served and protected this country, we were ‘treated’ to a repeat of an episode in which the soap world is proven to be turned upside down.  Jason and Spinelli bleat on and on about how heartless cold and unfeeling OFFICER Dante  Falconeri is to turn in his brother for killing a woman.  Dante, of course, has no honor.  Dante is an evil person.  He’s too dense to understand why the mob covered up a woman’s death.  It’s Dante’s fault for not understanding why what would have been a simple self-defense charge, which would have been cleared had  Michael first told the truth, ended up with Michael looking guilty of murder, a cover up, and obstruction.

WHAT?  You would be suspicious of a claim of self-defense if the people involved ‘disposed of’ the body, burned down the cabin where it happened – on a rainy night, no less – to get rid of evidence, and then lied on the stand and to the police for months at a time?  I hear ya’!  It’s just that TIIC don’t hear you.  On a day when many of us are remembering our loved one who gave their lives – GH’s braintrust wants you to watch the mob squad talk about murdering police officers and activating the crooked cops on their payroll to protect the mob heir apparent.  Spinelli has to tell Jason that Dante’s death, officer or not, would have grave impact (no pun intended) on those who love him, and those who serve with him.  Color me stunned, and sickened, and tired, just tired of this dreck.

What could TIIC aired instead, to woo fans back?

Or even this:

But no… black is white, up is down…and we’re tuning out.  Anyone know what’s planned for Disney Junior? My nieces and nephews visit me in the summer. I guess we’ll have something to watch together in 2012.

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Defending My Maxelli love

I’m stunned (STUNNED I TELL YA’) when I read that there are fans who don’t like Maxelli (Maxie and Spinelli).  I’m not so shocked about fans not liking Spinelli, alone, I think he’s been too closely linked to the mob boys and they breed contempt in many a GH fan.  Winifred would never have lasted for the same reason – being too closely linked to Sonny and Jason. (Honestly, how could the writers have believed that fans would applaud a character who begins as an honest federal agent, but begins viewing her own government as “the evil” enemy because of  a fascination with Spinelli that also made her prey to Sonny’s magical impregnating dimples, or Jason’s icy-but-honest–except-when-he’s-taking-a-life blank stares?  I pretty much wanted her dead about a day after she arrived – figuratively speaking, of course.

What makes Maxelli so worthwhile as a couple is that they are the unexpected.  GH writers have lost their ability to tell the unexpected storyline and I can only believe that Maxelli works by not by design, but by accident.  I can only imagine that the positive fan response to Maxelli caught TPTB offguard or they would still be pushing a Maxie and Johnny.   Matt and Maxi wouldn’t work for the same reason – too predictable.  QUICK, which GH storyline below did you NOT see coming:

  • Carly’s pregnancy with Jax is high risk.  Can the man just have a child?  Sonny’s impregnated half the town, mothers living or dead.
  • Kristina is a terror, and Alexis is clueless.  It’s been so long since the writers have allowed Alexis to have a clue.
  • Michael is a sociopath in the making and wants to follow in Sonny and Jason’s footsteps.  Yeah, yeah, Sonny’s comeuppance for taking advantage of vulnerable Jason… how about jail time as comeuppance, and not the innocence of the Quartermaine heir? 
  • Jason has been involved in a shoot out.  Anyone keeping track of how many shootouts he’s been in?  Aren’t we averaging at least two a year onscreen?
  • Sonny is seemingly torn between two women (though he’d never seem to give Olivia much of a second thought before, now that she’s with Johnny Sonny is jealous.  Maybe the unexpected is that there aren’t THREE women fighting over him? 
  • Nik is as dumb as a post and has fallen in love at the drop of a hat.  He doesn’t realize that Remily is running a game.  I remember a time when Nik wasn’t as dumb as a post.  <sigh>  We need more Nik-Alexis scenes in which they keep each other clued in to the lives around them.  Nik has ignored Alexis’ warnings, DeadEm’s warnings, etc, etc, etc… Nik should start to realize that it’s only because of Alexis, and originally Helena, that he managed to not be taken for every penny he’s worth.
  • Ethan and Remily are connected.  Two cons who show up in PC at about the same time it Traci was the only truly suspicious one?  Two ‘long losts’?  What’s happened to the smart characters?  What’s happened to writers who respected smart viewers?

I don’t just like/love Maxelli, I NEED them.  Otherwise, GH is just more of the same crap, different year.  Maxelli is not.  This is another GH couple in which the weaknesses of one character is compensated for  by the strengths of the other (GH’s Scrubs being the other).  Spinelli is probably the most life-experience challenged character GH has ever created.   He’s clueless about anything without a mother board or internet connection

[at the wedding of Lucky Spencer and Elizabeth Webber, March 23, 2007]
Priest: Why do you think these two should not be joined?
[Seeing that Lulu is about to object to the marriage, Spinelli quickly jumps in.]
Spinelli [stumbling] : Marriage is out-dated. It’s a primitive remnant of a pre-computer age. Y’know, like, ‘With this ring until death do us part’? I mean, they’re arcane, archaic phrases with no real meaning. I mean, are they internet-compatible? I mean, y’know you could still be using dial-up, and she could be a high-speed chick. Are their servers in-synch??
Lesley Webber: Who are you?
Lulu Spencer [reluctantly] : He’s my boyfriend.
Spinelli [plesantly surprised] : Really?
Lucky Spencer: Grandma, what’d you put in the punch?

 

Doesn't this picture just say it all? The only thing missing is Sonny's halo and the rest of the angels bowing before him. - All images are courtesy of ABC Daytime

He trusts far too easily and is prey to his fantasies about the lives of others; which then makes sense of his over-the-top hero worship of the likes of Sonny and Jason.   He identifies with them and their cohorts in the way a child identifies with outlandish childhood creatures, images from mythology… c’mon Carly ‘the Valkyrie’?  Stone Cold?  The Blonde one?  Unhinged one?  Sir?  His nicknames for Port Chuckles citizens reads like a comic book.

What Maxie gives to Spinelli is the benefit of her edginess.  She’s jaded and as such she helps Spinelli see the world through more skeptical eyes.  Maxie’s job isn’t to remove his innocent wonder, it’s to allow him to continue to express it, and to learn how to protect himself against the world.  Spinelli’s role is to make the world a less threatening place for Maxie.  She doesn’t have to plot and scheme to protect herself from those ‘out to get her’.  Spinelli allows Maxie to take a step down from her delusions and fears.  He makes her happy without asking her to ‘prove’ her joy through sex, or complete adoration.  That makes him different from any other man she’s known.  He just wants her to be who she is without the fear and anxiety dragging her down.

What about GH’s other couples?

While I’m not happy that SCRUBS is wasted on Matt Hunter, who I have ZERO interest in, their current storyline makes a hell of a lot more sense and is far easier to watch than the PPD storyline.  Oddly enough, the writers are allowing GH’s gold standard couple to become involved in storylines that require INTELLECT… In the case of “The Death of the Mayor’s Mistress”, two highly educated people who care about something other than what happens to the lollipop mob?  Count me IN!  This feels like ‘old GH’, with a good bit of intrigue and possible danger.  The Scrubs are splitting their time between home with Emma, work at GH, and solving this case to protect Matt.   The writers totally screwed the audience on the PPD storyline.  This is a nice start in making it up to fans.  It’s the storyline they should have told after the Scrubs honeymoon, a storyline that continued to play off their wit, charm, intellect, and sexiness as a couple.

Johnny and Olivia?  So far, there’s no depth, but that’s not what the couple is about.  They’re a guilty pleasure and I accept them as such.

Diane and Max?  Ditto. 

Carly and Jax?  Some days I believe that the writers intend for them to make it.  Other times it feels as if the writers intend for Jax to be Sonny’s ‘placeholder’.  I’m dying to see more scenes of this couple that don’t including Michael, Sonny, or Jason, and not even the mention of them.  When the hell will Jax get back to being a corporate raider with his new partner, his wife.

Rebecca and Nik?  I can’t tune them out fast enough.  I’m waiting for technology that allows you to not only skip commercials, but skip scenes featuring specific characters.  In my world, it’s as if they never existed.   My world is a happy place.