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« Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun | Main | Vintage Suds: The Robin's Diary Book Club »

January 08, 2009

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.

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My Take
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.

Comments

Optimism is always a good thing. Sadly with these shows..it is often deluded and misplaced. I know..I suffer from the same thing.

Well said. And I second Mallory's take on Nancy Lee Grahn.

I agree with what you said Mallory as well regarding Nancy Lee Grahn :)
Nancy is an awesome actress and i wish so much she would have more airtime on GH and be given great storylines. I would love to see her character Alexis interact more with her daughters Molly and Kristina.

I too would like to see more of Patrick/Robin
less of the mob and more of the family things--Soaps are supposed to be Love, Romance and Family. NOT MOB MOB MOB.
I enjoyed Nightshift and I also hope that it is given a 3 season. The writer last year really did a wonderful job--I would watch this every night of the week and forget about the daytime Mob wars.

Great columns, Mallory and Becca. I agree with all your GH suggestions though they are unlikely happen. Yet I still have hope that Frons will force Guza to give Jason Cook more airtime and more importantly get Matt and Maxie together.

Great columns again. You hit the nail on several heads - too bad TPTB at ABC still won't get a clue. I've lost all hope for GH.

Nancy Lee Grahn has been a favorite of mine for so long, and I've just lost hope that she will have a storyline.

Anyway, you all are great! Maybe one day they'll actually listen.

Hear, hear on what the two of you think of all three of these disasters that I once called soaps. I guess Night Shift was too awesome for it's own good, cause I read that Soapnet isn't looking to do a season 3 now. But, I bet if it had sucked they would have already renewed the damn thing! Brian Frons sucks!

ITA! V. much agree on Jason's potential, and on Nancy Lee Grahn being given a bigger s/l! On any other show she would be a leading lady .. damn right!!

Having Robin and Patrick involved in a central storyline in 2009 would be wonderful. Nancy Lee Grahn, Tyler Christopher, Jason Cook, Jane Elliot, all deserve more than bit parts here and there. Lets make 2009 the year that Sonny disappears. Just give us 6 months. Thats all I ask.

Yes, please, on re-Quartermaining Jason. I miss the real Jason. I promise I will tune in every day to watch it. Bring back the real Jason!

Days Of Our Lives - Where shall I begin? I've been watching since I was 6 years old (1968). Over the last few years, (many different writers) the storylines have been humdrum and drawn out too long. Yes, I am very upset that they have taken off Marlena and John. They bring love, romance, and humor onto the show, which is needed. Someone had the nerve to say that they are self-righteous, well if that is the case, then all of them on the show do that. To cut costs you should be cutting stars that make us fast forward everyday, such as Kate, Nicole, Melanie, Stefano, and Philip.
Kate's storyline with cancer was so disappointing (though she has never been able to act), no one undergoing chemotherapy looks that good (makeup on, hair done up, not pale and weak). That is just one example of her poor performance.
Nicole (was glad she was off the show and disappointed when they brought her back) has never been able to act with one exception, when she lost her baby (short lasting as it was - no one mourns that little). Oh, and by the way, who wants to see her daily - talk about too much air time. That is a lot of fast forwarding.
Melanie, wow, what poor performances daily. I do not understand what Days seen in her. She is so whinny and if I was to use her, I would use her as a 12 or 13 year old - or even younger. Grow up Melanie. Oh, and just because Titan has bought this project from her - does not mean she gets an office at Titan and that she gets all this say so over employees. That does not happen in the real world.
Stefano, I do like Stefano and he can act, but since bringing him back (except the short storyline at the beginning of him coming back) he has had no real storyline - talk about high paid waste.
Philip, sometimes he a joy to watch, but a lot of the times it is a waste. When he wanted to leave - or Days was going to cut him - they should have just cut him - no real storyline.
Where is Patch and Kayla? They seem to win the Poll Call week after week, but they are not even on the show. What is up with that? Makes me think that is rigged. I have always enjoyed Patch and Kayla, especially Patch - need more with him.
Bo and Hope are usually very entertaining, haven't seen much of them lately either. What happened to Mickey? They finally bring in someone to play him, and he airs a few times and then nothing - Days haven't said that he is gone or not. Why does EJ get all of the cases - Mickey should have been defending Nick not EJ.
Max is an awesome actor and he gets weak scenes. Please put Max and Stephanie back together again.
There is alot they can do with storylines - more real life stuff - and can do well with, but none of the writers are or have been getting the job done for many years now. I unfortunately continue to watch, but continue to fast forward way to much of a show that I never use to do.


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