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« 8 Simple Rules For Writing A Horrible Soap Opera Episode | Main | The Day's Dumbest Dialogue »

November 19, 2008

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

After the jump, our column that appeared in the November 11th issue of Soap Opera Digest. This month, Mallory asks "Where is the love?" on All My Children and General Hospital, and gets that terrible Black Eyed Peas song stuck in her head, while Becca looks for an excuse to go back to summer camp to get out of watching the slow and repetitive and slow and repetitive Days of Our Lives and General Hospital.

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My Take
By Mallory Harlen

Soap operas are routinely mocked by the nonsoap-watching public for their overdramatic reaction shots, bringing people back from the dead and steamy love scenes between star-crossed lovers. I think we can all agree that the last accusation is completely baseless, because daytime these days is practically romance deficient.

It says a lot about GENERAL HOSPITAL that the show’s alleged premier couple, Sonny and Kate, have been torn apart for a second time this year following Kate getting shot because of her closeness to Sonny. It says things like “baffling” and “ludicrous”, amongst other, less family magazine-friendly phrases. Kate is far too promising a character to be stuck in the rut that all of Sonny’s love interests fall into: getting put second behind the mob, being lied to and/or cheated on and getting shot. Sonny hasn’t been worth that aggravation since before Stone died. I know that couples have to experience some form of angst, but the GH writers should be made aware that angst always doesn’t need to involve a hail of bullets.  Less violent, but equally problematic, is the push to pair Nadine and Nikolas.  Ignoring the fact that we already saw Nikolas and a squeaky-clean good girl fall in love, I have a hard time buying that Nikolas would have the patience to deal with Nadine, let alone embark on a relationship with her. I am having a hard time with Nadine in general, actually: I think the writers are going for “cute and naïve” but wound up in “painfully stupid” territory. Surely there has to be a better romantic partner for the young, handsome prince.

ALL MY CHILDREN at least tries to write romances, but the show seems to have just given up on writing new stories and is working off of old scripts. How many times have we seen the “noble guy falls for a hooker with a heart of gold” story? Too many, and neither Frankie nor Randi are interesting enough to bring anything new to it. Petey and Colby embarking on the tried and true “Children of rivals fall for each other” track is saved solely by Daniel Kennedy (Petey), who is charming, and funny and probably the most amusing character on canvas.  But even those tropes are less painful to watch than another interminable round of “Keep Kendall and Zach unhappy, since happy means boring”. AMC writers, here is a piece of friendly advice: happy isn’t boring. Years worth of contrived turmoil to make sure a couple isn’t happy for even two consecutive episodes? That’s boring. Kendall and Zach have dealt with serial killers, dying children, infidelity, being trapped in bomb shelters and now the forced drama of Zach being the father of Bianca’s baby. Keeping them apart with over-the-top obstacles isn’t making me hope that they find their way back to each other—it’s making me wonder what else could possibly happen to these two.
ABC Daytime may have staked its reputation years ago as the place for “Love in the afternoon”, but it is sorely lacking on that front in 2008.

My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas

I started watching DAYS OF OUR LIVES when I was in the sixth grade, and my father was appalled.  He didn’t like TV in general, but soap operas?  Oh dear, no.  His biggest complaint – other than that I should instead be riding my bike or reading – was how slowly the shows moved.  When I was 14, I was distressed at having to go to summer camp for three weeks because of all that I would miss, and he thought that was hilarious:  “You could be gone for ten years and come back and the same stories would be on.”  I thought this was outrageous parental disregard for something of the utmost importance in my life.  There was so much happening!  I would miss everything!  (Ah, the drama of being a teenager.)

But as of right now, as a regular viewer of DAYS and GENERAL HOSPITAL, I must say, my dad was right. Nothing is happening on my shows.  Well, that’s not fair.  There are a few things happening, it’s just they are the exact things that have happened before, and for the most part they were boring the first time and not less so on the second (or 15th) go-around.

On DAYS, honestly, it is difficult to discern what’s going on, but it all seems familiar and molasses-paced.  The object of EJ’s affection changes every other scene.  Phillip randomly declares that he’s in love with Chloe. Sami has 87 different conversations and dreams about the fact that she’s going to have a DiMera baby (something that is drained of its drama by the fact that, hello, she already has one).  People have lots of conversations about Trent Robbins’s murder, none of which are remotely interesting, probably because the writers didn’t give Trent any layers when he was alive so viewers don’t care that he’s dead.

A week goes by without a single notable thing happening.  The dialogue is certainly better than the dark years of high camp and stupid, over-the-top tales, but is there a rule that you can’t have decent dialogue that actually makes sense in the larger context of a storyline and involves the forward movement of at least one plot?  And while I’m questioning rules, who instituted the one that has James Scott and Jay Kenneth Johnson constantly wearing shirts?

My accusing GH of being repetitive has itself become repetitive, but really, if the show doesn’t give me anything new, I don’t see why I should have to come up with a fresh complaint.  And GH’s redundancy comes in the form of gratuitous violence and mobster-worship, which makes it even worse than DAYS.  The show’s inability to make the Jason and Elizabeth pairing engaging – despite a ton of character history and actors’ chemistry that is off the charts – combined with reusing the exact mob storylines from six months ago are two of the latest signs that the behind-the-scenes team is officially out of ideas.

I guess basically, what I’m saying is, can someone please send me to camp for a few weeks so I can get out of watching these boring shows?  I know I won’t have missed anything when I come back.

Comments

I'm still about 40 episodes behind on Days, who the hell is Trent Robbins?

Exactly Ande. A murder mystery revolved around somebody nobody knows.

You girls totally rock! I love the blog! And Becca, so true .. nothing new is EVER on GH. And Malory ... Nadine is a complete lunatic and painfully stupid. I think Coffee does the best she can with what she is given, so i commend her for that, otherwise Nadine is so irritating

ande, please spare yourself and do not catch up. Those are precious hours of your life you'll never get back that you could instead spend with your friends and family...or organizing your canned goods...or cleaning your bathroom repeatedly.

Preach. It. Ladies! Do you guys get fanmail at the magazine? If you do, do other people -- you know, not us obviously brilliant blog fans (natch) of yours but people who just read the magazine --seem to agree as well? Or do mostly get a lot of OMG U H8TRS! JASON AND SONNY R SO DREEMY AND HOT! MOBS ARE AWSUM!!`!1!1!! ?

P.S. If the answer is the latter, please to lie to me. I don't think my soul can bear it otherwise.

"My accusing GH of being repetitive has itself become repetitive, but really, if the show doesn’t give me anything new, I don’t see why I should have to come up with a fresh complaint."

A-men! They are actually being paid to be original, in theory, so if they cannot be bothered to even try a little then you have no reason to either. The only problem I have found with this is that sometimes I manage to bore even myself by complaining about the same thing over and over. I usually break that one by starting on a cycle of ranting about how they never give me anything new to rant about. Tis a vicious cycle.

Michaela, I actually have no idea if SOD ever gets mail in response to our columns. Maybe it's all of the "haters!11!!" variety, so our editor has never told us about it!

Word,so much word.I'd like to add my opinion. Please forgive me,I might rant.

What will it take for Guza to be fired?

I cannot speak for all fans,but I am sick to death of the mob storylines. It is dull,dull,and did I say,dull? The misoygny is disgusting,especially because the audience is primarily women. I don't want to see women begging men,doing anything for a man,worshipping a man like he's Jesus and unable to function without a man.Kate got a cap bust in her TWICE yet she's wants Sonny SO much. Liz,a devoted mom,a character who has been shown to have NO dealings or patience with the mob(See Zander,Ric,Jason the first time round)is now like,totally cool with risking her kids safety and her life,just to be near Jason.Cause he is Jesus. Sam carried on over Jason like she would die without him. I love Jason/Sam but that was too much for me. My darling Alexis lost her mind over a damned sociopath,not caring that he was,you know,completely deranged. Carly is Sonny's do girl for life,despite having a wonderful husband in Jax. The men just sit back and soak up all theis adoration.

The focus on dull couples astounds me. Liz/Jason,Johnny/LuLu,Jax/Carly,the f-ing horror that be Sonny/Carly,Skatebored,the list goes on. Nikolas and Nadine cause me to go into enraged fits of uncontrollable cursing. Cody and Lainey have it. Jason and Sam have it. Nikolas and Claudia have it. Johnny and Maxie have it.Instead of writing for these couples and focusing on them,tptb insist on driving me to drink with epic couple suckitude.All these dull couples creates a black hole of suck. Everytime Liason says danger,I take a drink. I am drunk by the second commercial break.

Then there is the insistent focus on unappealing female characters. Olivia aka a fake ass Lois,the shrieking witch aka LuLu and the insufferable Carly,who should have been killed off when SB left. Nadine is a complete and utter ninny. NONE of these women are appealing. None. All this focus on new characters like Diane,a cheap version of Alexis,who is STILL on the show.NLG is one hell of an actress. The magnificent Jane Elliott put on the backburner for the likes of Olivia,another worshipper of the Bensonhurt Hobbit aka Sonny. I could watch JE and NLG reinact the phonebook and enjoy it. They are that good.I think there is some ageism going on at GH.WTF?

Maxie is awesome yet they saddle her with that geek,Spinelli. Why,soap gods,why? A friends,they are great. As a couple,please pass me a drink to help me endure.

Guza seems to think that all female viewers just wuuuuv the Bensonhurt Hobbit and Jason Morgan. Hell no,I don't. You have the yummy Patrick,the deliciously dirty Ric,the oh so suave Jax,and the unholy hotness that is Lucky Spencer! Bring Jagger and Leo on from NS and the hotness is complete.
Why no focus on Lucky Spencer? He should be the man all the ladies want,not a murdering hitman. The child of Luke and Laura should be the center of the show. Lucky is uberhot. GV is a gift for the eyes to behold!Just the sight of him can alleviate all the couples suckitude for me. When Lucky is around Cam/Jake,my ovaries flutter. If Guza would stop his homoerotic worship of Jason and actually write Lucky properly,he would SO rock.But we can't have his precious Jason being outshined,so he writes Lucky as an idiot.

Why is Jax in love with a faithless harpy like Carly? Why does he have to keep getting Sonny's sloppy leftovers? He is much better than that. Why not give him a brand new love interest,one who doesn't worship the golden penis of the Bensonhurst Hobbit?

I have been watching GH a long time but unless they change the writing regime and get people who can actually write,they are going downhill with no way back up.

I get Nadine's lack of appeal, but I kind of like her. She's unique and she's one of the few non-mob related characters brought on GH in years that they write for occasionally. Granted what they write isn't spectacular, but I have to appreciate the effort because the alternative would be a third Zacchara sibling. Plus, CC does a decent job with what she gets.

As for the rest, I totally agree. I'll stop bitching about GH when they actually give me a reason to stop bitching.

You ladies rock. I have to say I love Kate but I'm ready for her to dump Sonny's sorry butt and move on. He and his endless harem's don't interest me.

Nadine - stupid. I don't care if she is a non mob character. Why it is only the mob chicks get the kickass stuff. And I do find it ludicrous that Nikolas Cassadine would have the tolerance for this idiocy. Add another good girl for Nik = boring. I have waited for a long time for Nikolas to develop some taste in women and again disappointing. Nadine and Spinelli = perfect. I can then FF through both of them. Hook up Maxie with Nik. Interesting, hot, and exciting.

I just want to know when you are going to dedicate a column to the train wreck that is Melanie - who is now apparently the star of Days. WTF??? She makes me want to scratch my eyes out and hit my head against things. She's not a character that I "love to hate." She is the new Willow (I never thought I could say such a thing...).

Ugh.

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