Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
We hope that you all managed to read the 1/8 Issue of Soap Opera Digest. We were asked what we'd like to see on our shows in the 2008 and we had no trouble coming up with suggestions for the powers-that-be (shocking, isn't it?). Becca describes what she'd like to see this year on Days of Our Lives and General Hospital and Mallory shares her thoughts on what she hopes will happen on All My Children and General Hospital.
By Becca Thomas
2008 has big shoes to fill, because 2007 was a banner soap year for me. It brought me this fabulous column and marked my 20th year watching soaps. (My mother will read the last part of that sentence and either 1) have heart attack, or 2) have a good laugh remembering when she had to install an actual lock on the TV to try to keep me from watching NBC’s late-80s ANOTHER WORLD/SANTA BARBARA/DAYS lineup. And yes, I picked the lock with a nail file – never let it be said that soaps’ sleuthing storylines aren’t educational.) Anyway, as I enter my third decade of soap-viewing, I have high hopes for my shows.
I would love for this to be the year that GENERAL HOSPITAL’s showrunners remember that core families are supposed to drive a soap, and that mobsters aren’t acceptable moral compasses. It should go without saying that re-centering the show around families means they have to stop killing off members of those clans. I think half the people featured in GH’s opening credit’s group scene are dead now! I say we institute a year-long ban on killing Quartermaines and/or anyone who has been on the show since the days when the divine Anthony Geary had that truly unfortunate perm.
And hey, what if in 2008 Jason finally at least attempted to leave the mob? I think the GH writers underestimate how much drama they could mine from Jason trying to transition back to a regular life after deciding that killing people for a living is perhaps not the best career choice, especially for a new dad. I just can’t sit through another year of GH trying to convince me to feel sorry for an unrepentant hitman’s romantic woes. And maybe if they moved him out of the mob, Jason could interact with people other than Sonny and Carly. It seems like those three account for at least 75% of the airtime in a given week, and it’s exhausting even if you do enjoy the actors’ performances. Hopefully 2008 brings some variety in that respect.
DAYS has some overexposed characters, too. Take Sami, for example. I think Allison Sweeney is great, but I wouldn’t be disappointed to see Sami onscreen a bit less. She’s really the only character in town in her generation, the one between the sorority girls and their moms, so she ends up involved in too many stories. On the guys’ side, DAYS doesn’t have a hired killer with an alleged heart of gold, but they do have a redemption-of-EJ arc underway that seems promising. (Of course, the storyline has involved James Scott being shirtless, so it’s entirely possible my judgment is clouded.) The DAYS powers-that-be need to develop younger leading men beyond Scott, though – maybe pair them up with new contemporaries of Sami. Salem needs couples in the 20s- and early-30s-range that viewers can root for. Here’s hoping that in 2008, DAYS really focuses on the younger set and gets them into some chemistry-filled pairings, because right now the best couples are the same ones I was picking that lock to watch in the 80s.
My Take, Too
By Mallory Harlen
As much as I love recounting the ups and downs (usually downs) of the year that was, I’m equally fond of the fresh start that the new year brings. And the soap world is in dire need of a fresh start after the dismal year that was 2007. In an effort to be helpful, I have some suggestions for the powers-that-be. I know that they don’t actually owe me, a hypercritical naysayer, anything, but come on: I sat through The Satin Slayer storyline and the entirety of GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT; hearing me out is the least they could do.
ALL MY CHILDREN could benefit from some good cheer, starting with Zach and Kendall. I know that they say a happy soap couple is only meant for the back burner, but the rapid fire succession of obstacles thrown at the pair is downright comical: a serial killer, critically ill sons AND being trapped in a bomb shelter? That’s a parody of a soap. I’d also like to see the show revitalize the younger set. Colby is practically a dayplayer and I can’t even remember the last time Sean was on. They’d be a welcome respite from Greenlee’s whining and the umpteenth breakup of Jack and Erica. I do love the fact that AMC has been showcasing Amanda more and more. Chrishell Strause is beautiful, funny and charismatic. I’d love to see her continue to play a big role in 2008 and interact with more of the canvas. And foolishly optimistic though it may be, I really want the Lavery brothers to have a spectacular comeuppance in 2008. Or, failing that, have at least one character question why Ryan and Jonathan are allowed to bend the town’s laws and already lax moral code whenever they see fit, while judging everybody else for doing the same. Just one character! I don’t ask for too much.
GENERAL HOSPITAL is in critical need of balance. If a story doesn’t feature Sonny, Jason and Carly, it winds up poorly written and underdeveloped, which isn’t fair to a crop of characters with tons of entertainment potential. Instead of Sonny ordering hits or Carly being appallingly self-centered and shrewish, I want to see Patrick and Robin make their way back to each other and work through their issues (hopefully Patrick can get Robin to explain how her case of baby rabies erupted so quickly and why on earth she thought Spinelli was an appropriate choice to father her child). I want to see Lucky grow as a character in his own right and not just be a dimwitted foil for Jason. He’s Luke and Laura’s son! He shouldn’t be the town simpleton. And speaking of children of awesome characters: will 2008 be the year that the writers fix the mess that they made of Sam McCall? She’s practically irredeemable, but she’s not a lost cause yet. If she spends some time bonding with Alexis (and maybe finding out who her father is) and lets go of her obsession with Jason and Liz, it’s possible that she could become a likeable character again.