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.
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.