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.

Nobody Does It Better: Look and Learn

It’s not often that I actually praise a soap in its entirety.  OLTL is good, and I enjoy more of the show than I dislike of it… but it’s not GREAT.  Which soap is, in my opinion?  Hands down,  Days of Our Lives has to be the best overall soap in daytime!  It’s such a great soap that the things I hate about it are the things you’re SUPPOSED to hate about a soap or about the show’s characters.   What makes DAYS such a great soap?  Two words:  consistency and BALANCE!

What can drive you crazy about some soaps (YnR, BnB, and GH) is that they lack balance.  On the Bell soaps especially, the soap winds blow in only one direction.  Either most characters are happy, or they’re all miserable.  Bell soaps are tragic drama… minus the drama.  Can you think of a week in which BnB spoilers didn’t suggests that a ‘couple would be torn apart’?  Can you think of  a week, on the BnB especially, in which characters weren’t uttering dialogue that is deeply inconsistent from the week before?  How does Thorne Forrester shift from being tired of always being thought of as a last place loser in his family, to applauding having his ex-sister-in-law/former fiancee becoming a quarter owner in his FAMILY’S company?  The YnR?  Between the cancer storyline, the switched identities, Ashley having yet another breakdown, and the dead-for-live baby swap, watching the YnR could counteract the strongest prescribed anti-depressant.  GH?  There’s hope for the show… just very little of it.  GH may as well have been taped in a dark studio, with night vision cameras.   Given how heavy the show is, the change in lighting couldn’t possibly hurt.  For these three soaps, it’s the same stuff, different day.

One Life to Live,  All My Children and As The World Turns are shows that have balance, but lack consistency.  The storylines change too quickly and by the time you become use to the direction of a storyline, it changes gear – in some  cases that’s a good thing.  I don’t know how many more months of Dorian knuckling under to Mitch Lawrence’s demands I could stand.  Another week of JPL’s ‘Rex’ trying to emote as a ‘troubled and angry’ man and I really would have needed stitches from laughing.  What was the point of introducing Allison Perkins?  On ATWT, the ‘spare tissue’ pregnancy Janet suggested and was then shot down almost immediately?  EH!  (and who doesn’t already know that Janet will end up pregnant, anyway?)  There’s a lot going on with the three shows above, but it’s almost as if the writers are overwhelmed and aren’t keeping track of who said what, and when.

While DAYS held on far too long to the ‘Sydnapping’ storyline, overall, the fact that the show has been consistent and balanced allowed fans, like myself, who were tired of the storyline to focus on something else.  Knowing, last month, that the storyline would continue a while longer, I began tuning it out and focusing on other big onscreen news.  I don’t know what it is about ‘Daniel’ and ‘Melanie’, but I think it’s sheer genius to pair them together as father and daughter (and yes, I’ve been reminded that she once flirted with him when neither knew they were related).  Something about his presence in her life finishes Mel’s character profile out nicely.  She’s been two characters in one during her tenure at DAYS. There is the manipulating and selfish Mel, and then there is the vulnerable and melancholy Mel.  In some ways he softens Mel, but she does the same for him.  Shawn Christian (as Daniel) hit his stride perfectly in the hospital visitation  scenes, after finding out that Melanie was his child.  His eyes were soft and a bit weepy, his tone of voice was relaxed, and it was easy to believe that he was in awe of the young woman in front of him, one he’d only recently found carried his genes in her DNA.  That he was the doctor who operated on her and saved her life made the scene all the more meaningful.  Melanie  looked vulnerable and frail and in need of someone to protect her.  He looked ready for the job. Priceless.

And if it must be mentioned…

The kidnapping storyline is done, sorta’.  Anna will finally wise up and realize that EJ is capable of using and abusing anyone, until he no longer needs them, and she’s included in that number.  When he’s done with you, you’re on  your own.  Too bad for EJ  (but great for fans) that Anna isn’t a willing victim.  For those of you who don’t know (spoiler alert, stop reading here… I warned ya’!), it’s Anna who will make sure that Nicole is freed of all charges and allowed to resume her life in Salem.  Ej, you schmuck!  You had it coming.  So the question is, with Nicole’s return, how does EJ get busted for the kidnapping of his infant daughter?

1.  Rafe, hottie hot hot, to the rescue?  Rafe figures it all out and makes sure Sami knows what a low life EJ is?  Sami tends to forget that fact of life when she allows EJ to play on her desperation.

2.  Nicole is redeemed, to a degree, by joining forces with Brady and they bring the news to Sami and Rafe?  Sorry Arianne Hernandez, with Nicole’s return, I’m hoping your DAYS are numbered… Phillip will probably be free soon – give him a call.

3.  A dark horse candidate emerges.  Stefano learns from Anna – who is by now hiding out in a bunker and out of Dimera reach, about EJ’s dastardly plan.  He realizes that his son was willing to hurt him in among the worst ways possible and decides to deal with EJ his own way…by throwing him to the wolves!

I’m partial to the third option.  I’d love to see Stefano strip Ej of his money and power.  DAYS’ writers have been relatively creative in their storytelling.  What could they do with a powerless EJ, who no longer has the ability to manipulate and/or offend the women of Salem?  The writers could continue to move EJ on to the next storyline but in the end  what good would it do if Ej isn’t completely deconstructed and rebuilt?  He’s currently an (evil) freakshow!  What would life look like from the other side, a man without resources at the mercy of the power brokers?  Nothing could give him greater insight into what his negative influence has been over others  than having him fend for himself against the next ‘Ej Dimera’.  His deconstruction could also lead him to find real love for the first time, a woman he doesn’t have to force to have sex with him.

Other DAYS questions:

Can Chloe and Daniel survive his strong-willed adult daughter?  Chloe isn’t too much older than Melanie and she may not think his penchant for younger women is so cute now that she can’t date him (and excuse me… EWWWW!)   At some point, Melanie will most likely forgive Carly for allowing Lawrence to give her away and leave her at the mercy of her adoptive father.  When she does, will she want to see her parents together and fulfill a childhood fantasy of having a mother and father who love her and are part of a complete and  loving family?

Will the writers break up Phillip and Melanie for Nathan and Melanie, or will Melanie begin to realize that she does love Phillip.  I’m on Team Nathan, but I do think it would be a more interesting storyline to have Phillip be a ‘good guy’ who genuinely loves Mel and wants to save his marriage to her without resorting to going to his ‘dark place’ to make it happen.  The best triangles keep you rooting for everyone involved.

With Hope defending Bo and asserting that he is (professionally) an ethical man, will Bo begin to realize that he may be professionally ethical but that he’s lacking personally?  For most of their adult lives, Hope has been defending their marriage against each of Bo’s new ‘great loves’ and any children that are born or resurface as a result.    He has yet to have to do the same because she has centered her life around him.  Is there some point in his life when he realizes that he’s taken more from his marriage than he’s ever given to Hope?

I could do this all day with Days of Our Lives.  Each storyline offered is one that poetnitally generates an entirely new group of storylines.  Days writers thank you for the use of both veterans balanced against the introduction of newbies.  My only criticism… Abe… Lexie… MORE please!   DAYS is the only show consistently posting large gains in viewership over the year before.  Daytime writers… watch… learn… emulate!

Good Times, Happy Times…

From The Bold and The Beautiful:

What makes JOWEN work? Daytime has finally gotten it right.  While older men have been seducing and romancing younger women for decades, soaps have treated older women involved with younger men as desperate and emotionally weak women who cling to men who could never really love them.  Older women have served as bedmates and bank accounts to their younger lovers and little else (AMC’s Marian and Tad, ATWT’s Lucinda and Craig, for example).  Jackie Marone is a woman who is vivacious, seductive, and powerful.  She’s also in charge of her emotions and her bank account.  Owen is with her because he loves her, not because she pays for him.  I was most proud of the moment when Jackie realized that not even for Owen was she willing to attempt to become a mother again.  She was well on her way to becoming a grandmother and expected Owen to be the man he said he was when he married her – not someone who’d suddenly developed a passion for parenting.  She held firm to her desire to enjoy life and be the woman she’d always wanted to be and Owen realized that loving her was his only real passion.

What does JOWEN helps me forget? Pretty much all of the rest of the BnB – emasculated Forrester males genuflecting before their bitter ex-wives, the  Forrester family penchant for pimping their young (my 20 something kid can’t come home with spare change in his pocket without explaining where it came from – Steffy brings home a multimillioin dollar company that no one else could win back and everyone celebrates?).  Jowen helps me forget the inconsistency in writing – Stephanie Forrester is now a ‘heroine’ for ‘saving’ the company she gleefully helped Bill Spencer destroy?  JOWEN helps me forget the new lie that the Logans have ‘ruined’ FC when even Steffy bragged about how the company made money hand over fist thanks to the ‘Royalty’ collection beating out the JM’s ‘Indulge’ line.  JOWEN even helps me forget that the writers have been trying to find a place to force Sarah Brown’s “Sandy/Aggie” (Saggie) to fit and are undoing months/years of great work in the process.  In the end, even if Nick doesn’t end up with Sags – everything will have been undone for no reason at all.

From General Hopsital:

What makes Mac and Alexis work? Despite Alexis’ lapse of sanity leading her to sleep with Sonny Corinthos, both Mac and Alexis have both maintained their integrity in the long term.  There’s something so likable about both characters that the combined effect of their presence pushes my happy meter off the charts!  The writers have picked up on whatever the genuine quality is that John J. York and Nancy Lee Grahn lend to their lovelorn, law and order loving characters.  Scenes with Mac and Alexis tend to be a mixture of being sweet and funny.  While the couple doesn’t get nearly the screen time they deserve, they make you grateful for the screen time they’ve been given.  If the writers ever figure out that we need less of the doom and gloom, and more of the ‘heeeeyyyyyy’, this show could be on to something HUGE.  I’m most looking forward to the possiblity of Mac and Alexis bringing their families together -and opening the Scorpio home once again. Kristina and Molly would have a father/stepfather they could respect.  Kristina, especially, shows promise of joining Robin in being the future of soap heroines on a show that desperately needs them.  To have the Scorpio-Drake-Davis clans coming together could just give us the ‘balance’ this show has been lacking.

What does the Mac and Alexis pairing make me forget? Other than Scrubs, Maxelli, and the powerhouse acting of JJ’s Lucky and RH’s Liz… pretty much everything else… the soapgods have been good to me.

From the Days of Our Lives:

What makes Rafe and Sami work? What DOESN’T work about this couple?  I’ve been cautiously optimistic about Rafe and Sami.  I’m an old Lumi fan.  No one knows like a Lumi fan how Sami is capable of throwing real love away for the horror of a relationship with a man like EJ.   Rafe is one of the few men in Sami’s life (Lucas included) who actually loves her and wants nothing in return.  The writers have sold me on the idea that Rafe is the man who would love Sami even if she didn’t love him in return, and would never stop fighting for what’s in her best interest. With a man like EJ, loving her if she didn’t love him in return would mean forcing himself on her.  With a man like Rafe?  It means loving her from afar, protecting her at all costs, and laying his life on the line because the thought of a world without her in it is something he just couldn’t bear. I’m SOLD!  Count me in as a ‘SAFE’ fan!

AS IF that’s all DAYS had to offer:

What makes the Phillip/Melanie/Nathan triangle work? Each potential pairing impacts me as a viewer in different ways.  Why does Phillip even deserve a second chance?  If you made it to 7:40 into the video, you’d hear Phillip say, as part of his vows, that if she’d said that he was going to marry her about a year ago, he would have told her she was crazy… BINGO!  That’s the Phillip I’ve hated while Mel loved him.  That’s the man who always thought he was too good for her and that she was nothing more than a consolation prize whenever he lost ‘the good girl’ (Stephanie).  Mel, in return, admits to loving him from the beginning.  Despite the lopsided relationship they share, this is a couple with HEAT!  They are moths to a flame, and it’s hard not to watch when they’re together.  Mel and Nathan on the other hand?  What a delicious redux of Mel and Nicky.  This time, the smart and ‘geeky’ guy should win.  Melanie and Nathan remind me a great deal of Sami and Rafe.  Nathan is a man who knows Melanie at her core, and loves who she is – warts and all.  This triangle works because it seems possible for Melanie to be happy with either.  In the end, I have to give the edge to Nathan.   I tend to root for the good guy, and heaven knows that in soapdom, the good guy is always the underdog.

What do  Sami and Rafe as well as this triangle help me forget? Bo and Carly.  Carly’s incessant whining.  Hope being destroyed to try to force Bo and Carly. Carly and Daniel (See where this is going?)  That’s about it, though… everything else about DAYS simply ROCKS!

One Life to Live

While I’m generally not a fan of rap, something about Snoop is AMAZING and I love to see most of the cast together enjoying themselves and allowing us to enjoy them, the show, and this performance.

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.

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.

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.