I was going to start this entry with “What the hell is going on with Days?” but ended up changing my mind about opening with a rhetorical question.
The truth is that we know what the hell’s going on. The show is suffering from a massive pacing problem and, evidently, a mid-life crisis. It lost momentum after November sweeps, and it’s uncertain whether or not this is the beginning of a pattern where we’re stuck with meandering episode after episode until the next sweeps period.
I figure I’ll stick to just one issue this entry. It’s Sunday morning, after all. I’ll try to take up less time than it took Daniel to pack up his lifesaver necklace and board wax, and bid his family adieu.
There are too many damn people on this show.
Not that we’re ever meant to pay any attention to what Ken Corday says, but when Nadia Bjorlin, Crystal Chappell, and Louise Sorel were given their walking papers, and the reset was announced, we were told that the cuts were made because the cast was just too large. We were told that approximately six characters were going to be asked that they not let the door hit their asses on the way out (Quinn and – thank Christ – Taylor were included on this list). The show would now focus on fifteen characters.
Around that same time, it was announced that John, Marlena, Jack, Carrie, and Austin would be returning to Salem. A new character, Madison, was being introduced as Brady’s new thang, and former pimp Quinn, realizing later than the rest of us that Taylor was a cloying, self-righteous twat, dumped her ass somewhere in Europe and was coming back to Salem to open, of all things, a spa.
Shortly after we were led to believe that the cast of characters was being streamlined, it quickly started to balloon again at an alarming rate. Ian Buchanan was hired on. Kayla came back to town (though one wonders if she’s already been swallowed up by the same Brady Pub bar beast that ate Caroline). Then came announcements that Billie, Lucas, and (a recast) Celeste will be returning. Apparently Nadia Bjorlin is about to sign back on for another stint, too. In the meantime, Doug and Julie get pulled out of storage and shtickied for holiday appearances, and Justin and Adrienne fell out of a tree last week just long enough to tell Will how much they love their son.
Everyone has their favourites. Obviously I’m a huge Jack fan, so when it was announced that he was returning, I was thrilled. But here’s the thing – no one behind the scenes seems to know what to do with him, or how to write for him. If you’re going to bring Jack back, bring him back. You can’t just (figuratively, for a change) bring a character back from the dead and apply a couple of paddles to him as needed. A character like Jack can’t be brought back and used as a speed bump on the road to Dannifer. The point of bringing back a much-loved character, I’d imagine, is to bring back that character’s fans, while also changing an unfamiliar landscape back into something we recognize again one face at a time. Why you’d bring back a classic character just to use him as little more than a romantic splinter is completely beyond me.
Of all the returning vets, the only characters who have been given the royal treatment are the queen and crown prince of Days, John and Marlena. Front-burner storyline? Yes. Unshakeable marriage? Check. Romance coming out the wazoo? Well, it’s definitely coming out of something. I don’t know what the hell the point is of having a mayoral election because Marlena is already running the whole damn town. She’s won over just about every Salemite with her fortune cookie wisdom, so, of course, the fastest way to turn anyone into a pariah on Days is to have them thumb their nose at Her Majesty. I'm looking at you, Sami.
Outside of John and Marlena, though, no one is safe. Fans of Carrie and Austin got screwed over faster than those ice cubes melted into Carrie’s heaving bosom a few episodes back. Kayla, whose presence in Salem is pretty damn pointless without Patch to begin with, has gotten less scenes than Patti “gay men are incapable of monogamy” Stanger got over the course of her two separate guest appearances.
How is it that, with all these characters wandering around Horton Town Square, I’m still seeing Melanie almost every damn day? That question is probably going to get its own entry. How sad is that?
It could be just me, but the whole show feels rather soulless right now, despite all the historical references, flashbacks, and returning characters. I’m a sentimental gal, so I should be eating all this up with a spoon. Here's the thing, though – I’m one of those people that would rather eat a spoonful of sour cream than a bowl of the fat-free stuff. Right now I feel like I’m being fed the fat-free stuff, and may not see the real thing again until next sweeps.
To beat the metaphor to death, I’m afraid I might lose my appetite completely before March.