Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
By Mallory Harlen
During many dark days, when watching and entire episode of ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL was physically painful (that sounds like a melodramatic thing to say, but I swear that those shows caused some killer headaches), I said to myself, "At least I have Zach/Kendall and Patrick/Robin. They could never disappoint me."
I suppose it's my fault for putting that out into the universe, because the writers seized upon that like a dare. "You'd think that, wouldn't you? But you'd be so very wrong." It's gotten so bad that I involuntarily shudder when I see either of those couples mentioned in the episode description on my DVR.
Zach and Kendall imploding, again, after some random, ridiculous threat to their marriage is worse this time than it usually is, and since I've spilled a lot of ink complaining about how bad it usually is, this is saying something. Zach, put off by the fact that his wife wasn't her usual self after coming out of a coma during which Zach fathered a child with her sister, and killed her brother, seemed to resent being in the same room as Kendall. Kendall, for her part, fell headfirst into one of her Ryan obsessions and became a curly-haired bundle of neuroses and desperate declarations of love. Throw in Zach and Liza's sleazy dalliance and you have a recipe for viewers tuning out. Charles Pratt seems to have an understanding of some Pine Valley residents--his writing for Adam and Erica is truly inspired and, unlike his predecessors, he's giving Aidan actual storylines, which is nice to see, but his writing for Zach and Kendall is bizarre. Why he decided that these hugely popular characters just weren't cutting it and needed to be rewritten is completely beyond me.
Robin and Patrick spent so much of their courtship on the back burner that one assumes that giving them a major storyline replete with marriage and baby would be great. And it would have been great, if the writers hadn't decided to send them to Very Special Episode hell. The postpartum depression story went on for weeks, and those weeks seemed endless. The writers tried their hardest to be far to Patrick and Robin and paint them both sympathetically, but in their attempt to even the playing field between them, the writers made them absurdly unlikable. Patrick's attitude toward working mothers wouldn't be out of place on MAD MEN and Robin shrilly refused to get help or take medication. GH used to be so good at special issue storylines, but it was obvious that they couldn't even be bothered to do a simple Google search on PPD because Robin's symptoms and actions seemed completely unlike any case of PPD I've ever heard of. I'm hoping that Robin's intervention and her ensuing treatment puts an end to this once and for all, and that the Scorpio-Drakes go back to being a charming, happy couple, even if it means they need to move back to the back burner.
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
I have been in a bit of a rut in which I can find little nice to say about DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GENERAL HOSPITAL. In my defense, the shows have been pretty terrible of late. But in the midst of my moping, it turns out that I had overlooked two pretty significant character rehabilitations.
Less than two years ago, I thought Sam McCall was one of the worst characters in the history of GH. (Disclaimer: I was not watching during Casey the Alien's era, though I don't concede outright that an extraterrestrial would be worse than the 2007 version of Sam.) I had long let the fact that Kelly Monaco seems awesome cloud my judgment about how horrible Sam was. That ended the day viewers learned that Sam allowed Jake to be kidnapped by a crazy woman. I was already on the edge after she slept with her mother's husband, which probably wasn't even the sleaziest thing she did that week. Plus, on at least one occasion, she was sporting a beehive. Basically, the character had no redeemable personality traits.
So how did Sam relocate from my "hate" list to "love" list? Well, she started dating Lucky, which increased the amount of time the gorgeous Greg Vaughan spent on my screen. Plus, she got snarky with the usually unassailable Jason, made friends with Elizabeth and...Let me get right down to it. My love for Sam really blossomed when she recently dropped this wisdom: "I just don't understand why Sonny can't keep it in his pants for, like, five seconds. He spends five minutes around somebody and he impregnates, like, everybody. I don't get it." Between this type of spot-on, long-overdue candor and opening a PI agency that might actually take some focus off the mob, Sam is my new favorite Port Charles resident.
There must be something about bad girls named Samantha, because Sami Brady on DAYS has also been appearing on my "love" list lately. Late last year, on an almost-daily basis, I wanted to reach through my screen and strangle Sami, who spent her time screeching at whatever male came within her orbit and acting like getting pregnant by EJ was something remotely new or interesting. It's a good thing Alison Sweeney is so likable and has fantastic hair because I might not have made it through these rough times. But thankfully I did, because now I'm being rewarded with the Sami/Rafe relationship. Galen Gering's Rafe character is a breath of fresh (by which I mean "not related to the Bradys or Hortons") air, and Gering is sexy and charming in the role. He and Sweeney have great chemistry, and Rafe has absolutely made Sami tolerable--maybe even lovable!--again. I can't remember the last time she shrieked, she has genuine conversations that involve something other than the DiMeras, and she is part of the first truly good, romantic buildup on DAYS in as long as I can remember. Now if she can just find a way to run Melanie out of town and make Nicole fun again, we might be in BFF territory.