Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
In case you missed our most recent Soap Opera Digest column (which, um, both of us did. We blame the flurry of activity that comes with the holiday season and our troubled memories), it appears after the jump. This month, we try our hat at consulting and give the powers-that-be at All My Children, Days of Our Lives and General Hospital our suggestions for what should happen in the New Year. Since we generously gave them advice last year and were roundly ignored, we aren't expecting much (and, indeed, some of our hopes have already been shot down, according to spoilers), but we figure a little optimism never hurt.
By Mallory Harlen
With the beginning of a new year comes a fresh start, and I can't think of two soaps that need a fresh start more than AMC and GH. After a 2008 that was equal parts offensive, silly and, worst of all, boring, both should would benefit from some change. Ever helpful, I have a few suggestions for the AMC and GH powers-that-be; no need to thank me, writers, it's my pleasure.
First and foremost, AMC needs to realize that the pairing of Ryan and Greenlee just does not work. The characters are at their most self-righteous and obnoxious when they are together, and their saccharine declarations of love are exactly what the fast-forward button is made for. The only good thing to come out of this ill-fated love story is Annie's lunacy, which is amazing. Melissa Claire Egan has been delightful as Annie has become progressively unhinged, and while I hate that they literally drove Annie crazy in order to facilitate a Greenlee/Ryan romance, the results are so amusing that I can't help but be entertained. Hear that, writers? Insanity is more compelling than your so-called star couple.
The show has already decided to rectify one of last year's wrongs and bring Josh Madden back into town, which is great news. Now the writers just need to give him a storyline. He's Erica Kane's son, and yet he spent months hanging around like a glorified extra before getting saddled with an out-of-left field story that turned him into an embezzler. That's wrong in so many ways.
GH needs to do a massive personality overhaul on some of Port Charles's residents this year. Carly, a grown woman, mother and wife half a dozen times over, has been acting like a petulant child following her breakup with Jax, to the degree that even Cameron Webber would call her immature. Shouldn't losing Michael have led to some sort of epiphany? The kind of epiphany that says, "I now know how fragile life really is. Hey, maybe I don't actually need to pout and scream and scheme like a middle schooler all the time?" Maxie, too, needs a change, and to stop being a mob apologist. The writers have sufficiently driven home the fact that Jason is the greatest person/hired killer to ever exist; I don't need a formerly snarky and amusing character to remind me of that whenever she's on-screen. And giving Matt Hunter a personality of any sort would be nice. It's crazy that they brought Jason Cook onto the show, tied him into the Drake family and considered that character development. The show could also stand to use more of their talented cast. On any other show, Nancy Lee Grahn could be the leading lady, but GH trots Alexis out randomly and seems completely opposed to giving her a story of her own. Mac hasn't had a real story since the '90s, and I am becoming increasingly convinced that I hallucinated the existence of the Quartermaine family. You have an awesome group of actors, GH! Why don't you use more than four of them?
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
I love January. A new year and a fresh start! Well, except when it comes to my soaps: there's little new and fresh to celebrate about DAYS and GH. I checked my January 2008 column to see what optimistic thoughts I'd had at this time last year, and how many of my wishes had come true. Suffice it to say, my wishful thinking did not bear fruit in 2008. I can only hope that 2009 thinks a little more carefully before stomping all over my soap-loving heart.
When it comes to DAYS, there’s little for me to say other than that I hope it is less terrible in 2009. Because truly, this show is circling the drain. There is no rhyme or reason to which characters get front-burner storylines, the writers do not appear to watch their own show on a day-to-day basis (or have very short memories), the pace is absolutely glacial, and there seems to be no long-term direction. I think the New Year’s resolution of the people behind the scenes at DAYS should be to watch some episodes from the mid- to late-80s. In fact, at this point I would even be fine with re-enacting those exact scripts. Change some names, ditch the shoulder pads, grow the bangs a bit and bam, you’ve got yourselves a soap!
Just as it did a year ago, GENERAL HOSPITAL still needs to end its glorification of violence and deification of men who treat women horribly. Speaking of which, just as I did 12 months ago, I still think Jason is ripe to be “re-Quartermained.” Steve Burton should have the opportunity to do something other than blink, shoot stuff, and hilariously react to Spinelli’s weirdness. Jason regaining his old memories and at least attempting to leave the mob could be a fantastically soapy dramatic twist, involving virtually the entire canvas since Jason basically knows everyone. Something good may as well come from the writers’ insistence on having Jason or Sonny at the center of every single plotline for the last decade.
But in this dream world of mine, in which Jason is interesting and non-homicidal again, I hope there’s better balance among the rest of the cast. Patrick and Robin are soapy goodness and need to be onscreen more than once a week. The Quartermaines’ living room should make an appearance more frequently than do the gross montages of mobsters shooting stuff set to romantic music. And the police officers and medical professionals should have airtime as something other than stumbling blocks for the criminals.
The only soap-related way in which 2009 is totally different from 2008 is that I eagerly anticipate the next season of GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT. A new writing team led by Sri Rao turned around that show faster than Jason kills a mobster in a warehouse. More new and fresh ideas in 2009, please! Viewers are entitled to at least a few of those after suffering through 2008.