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« This Hour Could Be Better Spent Doing Anything, Including Staring at a Wall | Main | These Are the Soapy Components of Our Lives »

March 05, 2008

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

In case you missed the March 4th issue of Soap Opera Digest (the reasoning behind missing out on a magazine prominently featuring Jason Thompson and Greg Vaughan on the cover and James Scott, shirtless, inside is foreign to both of us), our columns appear after the jump.  Becca wonders why Days of Our Lives has become so Marlena-centric at the same time that General Hospital is attempting to give some airtime to non-mob people; it's making her whole world topsy turvy, literally and figuratively.  Mallory praises the recent General Hospital writing (yes, you read that right) that gave us the newly heroic Lucky Spencer and criticizes the recent GH writing (ah, that's a familiar feeling) that took Lulu from, pardon the reference, a promising ingénue to Carly Part II.

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My Take
By Becca Thomas

As anyone who knows me even remotely well can attest, I am not great with balance.  I am one of the clumsiest individuals ever to occupy space on this planet.  It is a subject on which I should not criticize others.  But I won’t let a little something like that stop me.  Plus, what I’m most concerned with these days is balance of soaps’ storylines, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

DAYS OF OUR LIVES is not faring well in the balance department.  For whatever reason, despite it having been very well done and opening up lots of new storyline potential, the powers-that-be decided to undo John’s death.  John’s return has catapulted him and Marlena to the front burner.  Or perhaps to the only burner.  They seem to be on every single day.  Enough already!  I like Marlena just fine, and I’m always an advocate of giving shows’ veterans more airtime, but I don’t think there’s a single soap character that I want to see five times a week.  Even a shirtless EJ wouldn’t warrant that kind of attention!  Well, okay, that’s crazy talk, but really, there is virtually nobody who should be monopolizing airtime like that on a weekly basis.

And it’s not just that Marlena and John are on all the time, it’s that most of their scenes are repetitive – John is robotic and doesn’t remember anyone in his life, and Marlena is either telling people what to do or heading towards complete insanity herself (this time, without a satanic possession) while plotting the demise of DiMeras.  And she’s a heroine!  Homicidal “good” guys and a few characters who eat up the whole show – have the DAYS powers-that-be been watching a lot of GENERAL HOSPITAL lately?

I take that back, they probably haven’t been watching very recently, because GH has actually improved on that front of late.  A couple of months back in this column, Mallory pointed out that GH was critically in need of balance – that mobsters and the women who sleep (or used to sleep) with them continued to dominate the show.  Remarkably, lately characters other than Sonny and Jason and their womenfolk have been getting airtime!  And the show is much better for it.  I would love to see more of the Kate/Alexis/Diane friendship, Maxie coping with Georgie and Coop’s deaths, Robin’s pregnancy, Patrick’s growth (and shirtlessness), and really anything involving Ric, Mac, Scotty and Logan, Spencers, and Quartermaines.  I find that I even start to like Sonny and Jason again, when they’re not on every day, and when they’re not held up as the town heroes.  Hey, look at that, I’m saying something complimentary about the Port Charles mafia.  That is uncharacteristically balanced of me!

My Take, Too
By Mallory Harlen

We’re barely three months into 2008 and already, one of my soap wishes has been granted (If I had known it was that easy, I’d have wished for something truly monumental, like the return of Genie Francis or a promise from the GENERAL HOSPITAL brass to stop killing Quartermaines). I’ve found the characterization of Lucky Spencer to be puzzling for a very long time. He’s Luke and Laura’s son. He’s played by the charismatic (and gorgeous) Greg Vaughn, who has chemistry with most castmates he crosses paths with. And he’s a cop, which opens up tons of storyline possibilities, especially when one considers that Port Charles is a den of sin. But it seemed like the powers-that-be were unwilling to give him screen time or allow him to exist alongside Jason without bumbling, which seems like a waste.

In recent weeks, though, Lucky’s been written with complexity and has driven storylines of his own. It’s brand new territory for him! His scenes with Liz, when they discussed the mistakes they’ve made, were tinged with regret and a sweetness that made me remember what a great couple they once were. He seethed with rage when he confronted Sam about putting his sons in danger. He was quietly devastated with Lulu when he told her hoped she got a taste of the epic love Luke and Laura shared that had eluded him. It was an emotional rollercoaster and Greg Vaughn has really done a fantastic job conveying Lucky’s pain and anger to the audience. It’s unfathomable to me that it’s taken so long for GH to utilize him as a leading man, but better late than never.

Unfortunately, the recent writing has not been kind at all to his sister. It’s getting to the point that I cringe whenever Lulu’s on screen, which seems to be always. I’m going to start needing aspirin to make it through the show. Between her involvement in the mob storylines and the multiple suitors she’s juggling, she’s been overexposed for a while now (Doubly frustrating when you remember that Lindze Letherman, ex-Georgie, was backburnered for months before being killed off, ostensibly because they had no storyline for her. Not that I’m bitter or anything). At the start of her time in Port Charles, Lulu was a complex, vulnerable and entertaining character. It seems like that sad, sarcastic girl with abandonment issues (trust me, it was more entertaining than it sounds) was a totally different character. Now, they’ve turned her into a shrill, obnoxious mafia apologist with no rooting value. And, you know, we already have one Carly; we don’t need her in miniature as well. I don’t think my ear drums would be able to handle it. Why saddle an actress as great as Julie Marie Berman with such an unlikeable character? I am at a loss as to why Logan, Johnny, Spinelli and any other male under the age of 30 on canvas give her the time of day, let alone actively pursue her. I’d think the constant self-righteousness and smirking would be a turnoff.

Comments

Thank you for speaking out for Lindze Letherman. Not that I'm still bitter, either. Oh wait, I totally am.

Amen to both of you..sadly I fear the balance and the utlization of Lucky has a truly heroic person was the result of Guza not doing the day to day writing so out the door it goes now.....

However I have been dying for some kind of published notice of this.....

I am curious as to how the powers that be at SOD feel about you two. I imagine you are very good for sales, hence they love you. But the producers and publicity departments at the shows must hate you and give your magazine editors alot of shit over your painfully accurate and deliciously entertaining commentary. Do the networks threaten to pull interviews or photoshoots? Or do they need the mag and it's publicity too much to cause trouble? SOD has never been known for it's critiquing. You ladies have made the publication worth reading/buying, and I hope your editors know that.

Shoot, what about that Just My Opinion column? She can be pretty honest as well.

The writers of soaps should pay attention to the fans, especially those who have such a visible platform such as SOD. We're their bread and butter!

I consistently have this daydream of strolling onto GH's studios and pronouncing grandly: Okay, put me in charge for one year, let me do whatever I want to, storywise, and WE WILL TAKE DOWN Y&R's RUN AS No. 1. YES, WE CAN.

I believe in my soul that I could totally do it too. *sad* Life hard. Want refund.

Vicki, please tell me you are NOT referring to that hack Carolyn Hinsey, and calling her "column" honest? This is the same person who mocked GH fans for being upset that Guza was characterizing Jax's rape as adultery. She is to the Powers that Be (Guza, Frons, PG, Corday et al) what GH's Carly is to Jason and Sonny: Capable of withering, biting commentary--except where it really matters.

Another stellar column ladies.

She's also the same person who thought Lucky should shut up about being mad about his wife cheating on him and should just "Shut up and stop whining about it. Get on your knees and thank her for putting up with you during your addiction and Maxie." She's a hack.

I am with Beth and Ande here, she is hack.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I like what Hinsey writes. Sometimes I find what she says to be just plain ignorant...but if she's being honest...

What I really want to know is: does Steve Burton get headaches from scowling so much?

I agree, Hinsey is a hack that I rarely agree with; not to mention, she seems to only want to watch CBS soaps and perhaps should only write for that channel.

GREAT SOD column Becca and Mallory! ^^

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