Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
Apologies for our lateness in bringing you our column in the August 10th issue of Soap Opera Digest. It's just that SOD is so small and it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of the...um, let's just say "many" instead of giving an actual, embarrassing number. It sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of the many, larger magazines we subscribe to. This issue wound up inside Marie Claire! Anyway, read on for our thoughts on General Hospital and Days of Our Lives. --Mal and Bec.
By Mallory Harlen
GENERAL HOSPITAL's cast is one of the best in all of daytime, and my respect for all of the actors grows every day because I am so impressed that they manage to film their scenes without breaking the fourth wall and apologizing to the audience or holding up little "Help me!" signs. Can I be blunt? The show is a mess.
2010 has been a wretched year for Sonny Corinthos: In a move that was a poor knockoff of a much better story, he wound up injuring his daughter with a car bomb intended for his rival. He also participated in a cover-up that directly led to his teenage son being sent to prison and, you might remember, shot another of his sons in the chest. One of those stories could have been compelling, but THREE of them? That crossed the line from "soapy" into "this kind of off-the-wall ridiculousness is why people make fun of soap operas." And it's not like we got anything like character growth or introspection out of these various traumas: no, Sonny is still the same angry blowhard we all know and abhor, just with new messes of his own making to rant about on-screen every day, every week, every month.
I've been watching Patrick and Robin's storyline from three different perspectives: as a fan of the pairing; as a longtime fan of the soap genre who understands that, like improbably named characters and evil twins, infidelity storylines are part of soaps; and as a soap critic. No matter what perspective I'm watching from, the end result is always me watching while cringing. Having Patrick cheat with Lisa was terrible soap on all levels. Patrick's arc from self-centered playboy to (uh, temporarily) devoted husband and father was great to watch. Why erase all of that by having him hook up with his ex-girlfriend while his wife was off saving the world? And if that was really the only story you could come up with for Patrick and Robin (which I find hard to believe--they are young, hot doctors. ER and GREY'S ANATOMY have told decades' worth of stories based on that premise), why not give Lisa a character trait or two? It was absurd watching Patrick torpedo his life for a bland girl with zero personality. And to do it while Robin was working on AIDS research just makes Patrick seem like the second-worst person in Port Charles (Sonny, as ever, is No. 1).
The advertising department was thrilled that Jonathan Jackson returned to the role of Lucky last fall and heavily promoted it; the writing department seems substantially less excited. After a few great weeks of downward spiraling and angry confrontations about Elizabeth and Nikolas's affair, Lucky has faded into the woodwork with a few scattered scenes at the PCPD or with his siblings. And Jackson is, of course, great in these scenes, however small they might be. But my question is, Luke and Laura's son, played by a multiple-Emmy-winning actor, who has sparks (of the romantic, platonic and adversarial sorts) with every scene partner he has. So why does he not have a story of his own? I know it would conflict with Sonny's pain and Jason's heroics, but please, GH. Throw us a bone.
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
DAYS OF OUR LIVES has, overall, been quite good lately. While some storylines are dragging (really, isn't it time for Nighttime Hope to take a permanent nap?), and some characters need fine-tuning, most of the plots are watchable enough that tuning in every day is fun. But that doesn't stop me from complaining--what are you, new?
Amazingly, DAYS is still getting mileage out of the Nicole/EJ/Sami baby-swap storyline, which began more than a year-and-a-half ago. This is impressive, particularly considering the origins of the story were rooted in a tired cliche. However, Sami as the victim has run its course; she needs an edge again. Sami without scheming is like dessert without chocolate.
Daniel/Chloe/Philip is a triangle I hope isn't still going on 18 months from now. A fairly standard-issue Who's the Daddy? story is fine for now, but I've never figured out what I was supposed to like about Chloe, and the writers didn't build up Chloe and Daniel sufficiently as a couple for me to care whether they break up. And I still don't buy the age-inappropriate Philip and Melanie as a couple, so their breakup would actually be a welcome development as far as I'm concerned. I will give the show this: Daniel is much more interesting as a father and husband (and cuckold--a word I have desperately been wanting to resurrect and use as part of soap criticism for years) than as the creepy, older, surfer-talking doctor pursuing near-teenagers.
Nathan and Stephanie are pretty but dull, and Stephanie's recent plot to get pregnant without consulting Nathan made me want to punch things. What is it about DAYS that it can't give its 20-something women anything to do other than get impregnated? I know it sounds crazy, but they could instead have careers and be, you know, interesting. Then again, Salem's 30-something women have a similar problem (what is Sami's job, exactly?). That a show targeted at women doesn't put more effort into making its female characters well-rounded is bizarre.
Speaking of completely puzzling. Justin and Adrienne came back to do what, exactly? I was a big fan of the couple back in the day, but unless their kids are coming to Salem to help out the teen or early-20s scene, or a Hope/Justin romance 1) happens and 2) is at least 10 times more interesting than their "flirting", these returns have not been well-written at all.
Finally, and most importantly, we must discuss the most pressing issue on DAYS right now: the lack of haircuts by two of Salem's hottest men, EJ and Philip. The discussion may occur in the form of a question: WHY?