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« Fathers of the Year and Mediocre Kids | Main | History Repeating Itself »

September 29, 2010

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

In case you missed the September 28th issue of Soap Opera Digest, read on. This month, Becca picks apart the storyline problems Days of Our Lives and General Hospital have been having, while Mallory remains nervous about the big returns of Brenda Barrett and Kendall Hart Slater to their respective shows. 


My Take
By Becca Thomas

I have repeatedly extolled the virtues of a slow-burn storyline – particularly if it involves total opposites who fall for each other against all odds, because who doesn’t love that? – but there is slow burn, and then there is how-has-this-tiny-flame-not-extinguished-itself-by-now-and-if-it’s-still-going-is-it-because-of-a-gas-leak-and-is-that-what-has-affected-the-writers’-brains-burn. The latter is, unfortunately, par for the course lately on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

I haven’t whined, at least not on a prolonged or detailed basis, about DAYS in a while, because it’s been pretty good. There’s been good cast interaction, including decent use of veterans, the daily dialogue has been pretty strong, and unlike GENERAL HOSPITAL, DAYS doesn’t make my shoe-throwing hand twitch. But over the last couple of months, all that goodness has come to a near halt as the pace of stories has become slow even by soap standards, which as any longtime viewer knows allow for even the simplest thing to drag out over months.

I had to catch up on several weeks’ worth of DAYS recently, and seeing that many episodes in a couple of sittings really drove home how little has been happening. I realize I am prone to shallow fashion critiques (at one point a couple of years back at least six months went by with me criticizing Carly on GENERAL HOSPITAL for nothing but her parade of hideous and ill-fitting tops, and there were certainly more substantive things I could have focused on, because it’s Carly for Pete’s sake), but this is a comment about clothes that is not shallow: Characters should not be wearing the same outfit for an entire week’s worth of episodes, let alone more. And this has happened a lot lately on DAYS. (On my more characteristically shallow note, some of the ensembles have been truly unfortunate, which of course makes the underlying writing offense that much more serious. Sami was recently in a color-blocked Lycra dress and cardigan for five days. I went through several bottles of wine just trying to relax my retinas.)

I’m hopeful that DAYS will speed things up, now that several key reveals – the paternity of Chloe’s baby, EJ’s involvement in Sydney’s kidnapping and Nicole’s role in covering it up, Hope’s reign of nocturnal criminal terror – have happened or are about to. Unlike other shows, DAYS doesn’t require a complete storyline overhaul, just a bit of caffeine to move things along. Okay, a LOT of caffeine. Maybe something stronger.

I had to catch up on several weeks’ worth of GENERAL HOSPITAL at the same time as I did DAYS, and I could make similar pacing complaints about the goings-on in Port Charles, though not nearly to the same degree as on DAYS. However, before I get to how slowly things pass by, I get hung up on things like spectacularly unbalanced storyline distribution among the cast and the stupidity of about 80% of those plots (ones I wish would speed up for the sake of them being over, as opposed to unfolding at an enjoyable pace for the sake of quality). Perhaps once GH addresses little itty-bitty things like these, I can move on to worrying about for how many episodes I see the same outfits.

My Take, Too
By Mallory Harlen

ALL MY CHILDREN and GH packed more excitement into one week in August than they had all summer by bringing Kendall Hart Slater and Brenda Barrett, two of my favorite soap characters of all time, back to their respective towns. I should be thrilled or, at the very least, cautiously optimistic, but all I feel is dread. Why is that? Oh, right, I know why: It’s because I’ve seen both of these shows before and know that Kendall and Brenda will be on the receiving end of character destruction before Halloween.

There are a boatload of stories that AMC could craft for Kendall. A Fusion story could be good. Watching Kendall and Bianca work to repair their relationship after the violation of trust that was Zach fathering Gabrielle would be even better. Actually, any story not involving Greenlee, Ryan and Greenlee and Ryan’s great love would be my story of choice for Kendall so naturally, I recoiled in horror when Kendall’s very first line upon her return was a breathless declaration of Ryan’s awesomeness. Memo to the AMC writers: If the only way to generate rooting interest in your couple is to throw a heavy dose of character assassination at any romantic obstacles in their way (David’s turn from newly rehabilitated scamp to mustache-twirling evildoer and Annie’s descent into crazy come to mind) and have a popular character trumpet that they are made for each other, well… I think that means that the couple doesn’t work. And the only thing the Ryan/ Greenlee pairing works is my nerves. So please, save us all a lot of angst and self-medication and let Kendall have some quality Kane time. Don’t waste her awesomeness on being a cheerleader for the world’s most loathsome couple.

I think the only person more excited by Brenda’s return is Maurice Benard (Sonny), who has to be looking forward to the possibility of a rekindled Sonny/Brenda romance.(Actually, it’s more of a foregone conclusion than a possibility, no?) GH loves nothing more than redoing stories from decades past. And I can’t really blame him since his pairings of late have veered from the offensive (Claudia) to the…well, offensive sums up his flirtation with Olivia, too, on account of the whole “He shot their unarmed son on the chest thing” (Why am I more upset about this than Olivia?). Even though I spent middle school completely obsessed with Brenda and Jax, I can see why the show would want to revisit Sonny/Brenda, but—and this is a big BUT—if they go that route, Sonny needs to earn it. The last thing Brenda needs to be saddled with is the self-pitying, sociopathic Sonny we’ve been stuck with for the past few years. Let’s see him thoroughly rehabilitated, less prone to violent fits of rage and then we can talk. Until then, let’s hold off on a romance for Brenda and instead let’s see her bonding with Robin and her pals at the Quartermaine mansion. Well, the two or three Quartermaines that are still left on the show, that is…


I've been wondering about this issue for some time too. You have done a good job telling about what you think on it

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