Our Not Exactly Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
This actually WAS our latest Soap Opera Digest column once upon a time, but then things went haywire with issues going missing and scrambling to find the issue on newsstands and then getting distracted by who knows what. But we are both completists and eventually tracked the issue down and bring you the post below, and apologize for being tardy.
By Mallory Harlen
"Do you even know what a soap opera is supposed to be?"
I feel like I ask myself that question after every episode of ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL, with a heavy sigh and an eyeroll. And I've finally gotten my answer: ABC Daytime DOES know what a soap opera is supposed to be. Shocking twists! Unexpected exits! Boatloads of drama! I'm excited about upcoming episodes for the first time in a long time! There's just one small issue: All of these exciting fireworks are taking place completely behind the scenes.
The news that AMC would be relocating to Los Angeles led many (and by "many", I mean "me") to winder about the fate of beloved characters. The eternal pessimist in me thought we'd be in for a Pine Valley with no Adam, no Erica, no Jesse or Angie, all replaced by vapid newbies. Thankfully, the majority of the cast is sticking around, with a few notable exceptions. Beth Ehlers (Taylor), and Aiden Turner (Aidan) have both been let go after being wasted in recent months. Ehlers joining AMC brought the show a ton of publicity and that seems to be the extend of the effort AMC was willing to put into her character. They half-heartedly gave her a romance with Brot, and a flirtation with Tad that went nowhere. She did fare better than Turner, though, who...was he even on the show in 2009?
The biggest exit is, of course, Thorsten Kaye (Zach), who has become the show's leading man in recent years and is one half of its biggest couple. I'm more than a little leery of how they are planning to write him out. I have terrible visions of a(nother) messy breakup with Kendall, or a body bag, or, considering that this is AMC we're talking about, both.
GH often leaves me speechless (usually with rage or angst) and this week, it was speechless in a good way, as the show managed to pull off two of the most insane pieces of casting ever. First up: Jonathan Jackson's return as Lucky. (The only downside is that his return meant an untimely exit for Greg Vaughan, who was great in the role. Sadly, the writers didn't have any interest in writing for his version of Lucky.) GH in the late 90s was pretty much soap perfection, and Jackson's version of Lucky was a big part of that. I can't wait to see him with his old co-stars again, and am crossing my fingers for a revitalization of the Spencer family.
The show followed up that with the one casting choice guaranteed to earn them a ton of my goodwill: James Franco. He's extraordinarily talented and has held a prime spot on my "Can Do No Wrong" list since FREAKS AND GEEKS. The only way a soap could garner any more of my devotion would be to land Leonardo DiCaprio (hint, hint, Y&R!). Franco's admittedly bizarre casting (going from Sean Penn in Milkto Spinelli? That's...an interesting career move) has me guaranteed to tune in every day, so congratulations, GH! This is the most positive I've been about you in years!
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
I'm experiencing a very strange feeling lately, and I'm not sure I have the TV-viewing experience in recent years to cope with it. You see, I'm feeling optimistic about my soaps, DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GENERAL HOSPITAL. Seriously!
I have absolutely no idea how or why James Franco agreed to appear on the show, but he did, and I plan to pop some popcorn and watch the fun. It's impossible for his character to become a Sonny worshiper within just a few episodes, right? Wait, don't answer that.
And while I'm very sad to see Greg Vaughan go, having Jonathan Jackson back as Lucky Spencer is going to be, at the very least, interesting to watch. I'm skeptical of how the young-looking Jackson will look with ex-girlfriend Sam (Kelly Monaco) and as the allegedly older brother of Ethan and Lulu, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief if Jackson turns in amazing performances like he did as a teen. And if he also interacts with Anthony Geary's Luke in a way that makes me stop hating the elder Spencer, well, bonus points for the original Lucky!
My hope is that Greg Vaughan lands on DAYS. He would make a great Eric Brady, or maybe a new cop in town working under Bo. I'm not sure there are currently enough women in his age range to provide options for love interests, but if they give his character a couple of children, I could ignore his lack of a romance for a few months. I don't think there is a daytime actor who interacts more endearingly on-screen with kids.
A year ago I wouldn't have wished landing in Salem on anyone, but Vaughan would be coming to a DAYS that's getting quite good. I don't know how that happened, but whatever behind-the-scenes tinkering or voodoo magic accomplished it gets my sincere thanks. There are still problems, especially with the pace and chemistry of some of the romantic relationships, but overall there is a lot going on that keeps my interest on a daily basis, and I can't remember the last time I said that. The baby switch finally being revealed and EJ getting some of his shades of gray back is a good payoff after months of the same three conversations. Carly's return is making me happily nostalgic, and if I'm reading the tea leaves correctly and there is a Bo/Hope/Justin/Carly story brewing, that could restore my faith in soapy quadrangles. The prospect of more Kiriakis family shenanigans, especially with Justin back, makes me almost giddy, and Stefano and Kate's marriage is sure to bring some laughs (and some eyerolls at Stefano's accent and Kate's wardobe). I could get used to this optimism thing...