Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Days of Our Lives: Why Should I Cry For You?

So.

Anything interesting happening on Days right now?  Yes and no.

Originally, this blog entry was going to be five hundreds words worth of me railing against the Alamainia storyline because, seriously, what the fuck?  All I’ll say about the Alamainia storyline is this – it’s embarrassing. So very embarrassing.  I actually have to try to watch the show around Alex’s work schedule so he doesn’t catch me watching it.  I’m actually ashamed of it.  It’s like being caught watching porn.  The storyline is just as ridiculous and just as badly acted as porn (though the egg would vibrate and be up someone's ass), so I’m not that far off in my comparison.  I’m enjoying it far less though, let me tell you. Not that I watch porn, or anything…but…um…
 
 Anyways, during a time when it’s crucial that soap numbers go up, which, of course, means attracting new viewers, perhaps a storyline that embodies everything people who don’t watch soaps offer up as a reasons why they don’t watch soaps was a magnificently shitty idea.  Whose shitty idea was it, though?  That’s what I’d like to know.

Actually, no.  Don’t tell me.  It’s just all so sad.

I decided to scrap the (much longer) rant when I found out MarDar had been fired and replaced with Gary Tomlin and Chris Whitesell.  For the few of you who don’t know, Gary Tomlin was formerly the show’s executive producer (along with Greg Meng).  He was fired and replaced by Noel Maxam, who was then fired and replaced by Lisa De Cazotte.  Chris Whitesell was the show’s co-head writer whose infamous partner in soap crimes was none other than soap butcherer Dena Higley.  Out of the pair of them, Chris Whitesell was the first to go.  Now that he’s back, I’m wondering if he was writing while Dena Higley tugged at a chain leash around his neck.

Okay.  Long story short – Gary Tomlin and Chris Whitesell are back, and Emmy award-winning writer Lorraine Broderick has been brought on as a breakdown writer.  The question here is – well…to be quite honest it was going to be “why”, but as I skim over what I’ve already written, the question has quickly been replaced by “What the fuck”.

The timing just seems really terrible to me.  MarDar are responsible for the only storyline getting attention outside of the soap media.  It’s well-written, decently-paced, and is being helmed by the stellar Chandler Massey, who is kicking much ass in it.  One storyline doesn’t usually make a show, but one storyline has been making this show since the reset, and this one’s it.  What this tells me is that the MarDar were more than capable of writing good stuff. 

Let’s face it – not all of it’s been bad, as evidenced by the brilliant EJ and Sami scenes back in November.  Sure – the circumstances surrounding those scenes were pretty contrived and clunky – but the individual scenes themselves were compelling and perfectly executed.  I don’t just mean the Ejami scenes.  You could tell that a lot of love went into the Kate/Sami, Rafe/Sami, EJ/Stefano, and Bo/Hope scenes aswell.  The characters were written in character, nods to history were peppered throughout, and the storyline as a whole wrapped its arms around so many people, involving almost the entire town.  Of course, it ended with the kid climbing out from under a table, but so much leading up to that horrible moment was good to watch.  MarDar had potential.  Glimpses of it were there on screen for us to see, and I think that’s what got people so frustrated.  We knew they were capable of making the show great.  What was stopping them?

Was NBC stopping them?  It’s so hard to say.  Marlene tweeted that she and Darrell weren’t able to tell the stories they wanted to tell due to NBC’s constant interference.  I get that.  It’s pretty hard to write when you know your head can drop into that basket at the foot of the guillotine any minute, but it’s even harder to write when your pen is going in one direction and someone’s tugging it in the other while you’re waiting for the blade to fall.

Were Jack and Jennifer going to be reunited after a lot of soul-searching (mostly from Jen, because, let’s face it, she was acting like a fucking twat for the longest time) and sweeping romantic gestures (not too sweeping – no segways or stargazing, please), instead of the eight-minute kiss and make-up we got last week?  Was the plan for Alamainia to go on as long as it has, or was it supposed to mercifully end weeks ago?

The Greg Meng interview with TV Guide sounds like, well, a huge crock of shit.  I couldn’t feel Meng’s heart beating in that there at all.  I honestly don’t think they have any idea what they’re doing behind the scenes.  If they do, it doesn’t look like they do, which I think is almost as bad, as viewers are less likely to save a drowning man when it seems like he jumped into the water himself, ornery, drunk and without a lifejacket.  Louise Sorel described the constant shifts backstage as “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. Whether that’s the case, or not (I’m going to give Days the benefit of the doubt), all this nonsense reeks of desperation.  If you’ve been enjoying the show as-is, the change worries you.  If you hate the show as-is, you think the show hasn’t been able to get it right for so long that there’s very little hope they’ll ever get it right.


I won’t pretend to know much about writing for a soap opera.  I can only offer advice as a viewer.  So here we go.


SUPER COUPLES

I don’t buy that you can’t have super couples anymore.  Here’s the thing about super couples that I’ve learned over the years – after the epic coming together story, you need to be able to write a few epic staying together stories.  I understand that, to keep things interesting, couples need to be shaken up, but I always liked knowing that, no matter what, Jack and Jennifer were always going to end up back in each other’s arms because they belonged together.  I took comfort in the fact that Brady, come hell or high water, would drop everything to help Nicole when she became yet another victim of her own stupidity and/or EJ.  Adrienne and Justin would divorce, but I always knew they’d get back together, because they just had to.  They were soul mates.  I don’t get that feeling about any of the couples on Days right now.  Instead there’s a huge feeling of dread that, no matter how many times it’s happened and hasn’t worked, EJ is going to be thrown back into another mess of a storyline with Nicole.  That ain’t no super couple, guys.  When people are rolling their eyes and hissing “not again” instead of sighing with relief because all is right with the world again, you’ve got yourself a problem.

On that note…


EJ AND SAMI

Fer fuck’s sake, guys!  What the hell is the hold-up?  These two have been planets orbiting each other for over half a decade now.  They’re fun to watch, they boil each other’s blood, and they constantly look as though they want to climb each other like trees and rip each other’s bark off.  Seriously, what is going on behind the scenes that I can’t get one single wedding out of these two where EJ doesn’t get shot and Sami isn’t outed as a drag king.  You’ve been dangling this carrot for far too long, PTB.  You’ve tried everything else.  What have you got to lose?  It won’t be your balls, that’s for sure, because evidently you don’t have them if it’s been over five years and you’re still afraid to write a love story for these two.  Stop wasting the chemistry here.  Let it happen already.


WEAVE. DON’T PATCH.

Listen, I’m a fan of Ian Buchanan (as you all know), but cutting out his face and pasting it over Stefano’s in that portrait hanging in the DiMansion ain’t the way to go about introducing a new character onto the show.  It didn’t work when you switched the background of Brady’s phone from Nicole to Madison before we had a chance to blink, either.  Haven’t you learned by now that people don’t like having the history of characters they love, histories that they’ve watched play out, changed to accommodate people they don’t know and have no emotional ties to?  I want Ian to work out as much as anybody, but I don’t want it done at the expense of Stefano and Kate’s romance – one bright spot during a very dark period on the show.  I don’t want Brady suddenly wanting to go all Cheaper by the Dozen with Madison when one fly in the Bricole ointment was that Nicole wanted children and Brady didn’t.  None of this is endearing either new character to me.  Really, did Cameron need to be Lexie’s half-brother to enter the canvas?  Are you only allowed in Salem if you’re related to someone by blood?  Cameron could easily have been a doctor who transferred from wherever-the-hell.  An interesting backstory is all a new character should need.  Salem is supposed to be a town, not the Free Masons.


LEARN FROM Y&R’S MISTAKES

The only soap on TV worse than Days right now is Y&R, for a number of reasons.  Plot-point writing and a bloated cast has that show not knowing its ass from its elbow these days.  With a few exceptions, Y&R has an incredibly talented cast who are doing the best with what they’ve got.  They could be phoning it in, but they aren’t.  Despite struggling against impossible odds – implausible, cringe-worthy storylines written by a head writer who couldn’t write a haiku that you can’t really fire because she’s related to the guy who owns the show - you can tell that the cast is putting their heart and soul into making the show bearable for us.  I love them for that, but it isn’t enough.  It wasn’t enough for Days, either, back when Cordiglay was hammering nails into their coffin faster than an Alamainia scene flies across my TV screen when I’m fast-forwarding it.

Chris Whitesell was writing for Y&R, so one can only hope that he’ll bring what he’s learned, and not what he’s done, over to Days.


DO SOME FUCKING RESEARCH

Seriously, do some damn research.  Matt Ashford has been let go.  People love Jack.  The people who didn’t never had a chance to see Jack strut his dramatic stuff.  People have issues with Daniel.  People have issues with Rafe.  People did not have issues with Jack besides wanting to see more of him, and wanting to see his talents utilized, just as people had issues with Crystal Chappell’s talents being underutilized. 

Listen to what people are saying.  Don’t keep characters on simply because they pad an age bracket.  Don’t just keep actors on because they’re good company or because they make you laugh.  That’s what Facebook and coffee dates are for.  You keep and nurture the good actors because they’re the ones who can sell shit on a stick when that’s all you’ve got to offer.

Now, I’m cutting this entry short so that I can cry into a cup of tea, beat my breast, and curse the powers that be for taking Jack from me yet again (as of this writing, Carrie, Austin and Madison are also on their way out of Salem), and for being fuckwits all around.  More cuts are coming, so I’m going to sit here with baited breath and pray that there are a few early Christmas gift firings somewhere in there (not that there’s any guarantee I’ll still be watching the show when those happen).  

Lisa Rinna, I’m looking at you.

14 comments:

  1. Preach it Digs! Days need to get their act together, grab their balls back and make the right changes instead of more of the same. It's re-damn-diculous!

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  2. Great blog Diggy!

    You've outlined many of the major problems with Days. At the core of all of this, one big problem is that they THINK that they know Days and their audience when they don't understand either Days or its contemporary audience. They also think that they can tell viewers what they're supposed to like. It just doesn't work that way and it's been their downfall.

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  3. Preach, preach, preach!! Thats how i feel too!

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  4. Superb blog. I don't have anything much to add except sniff! Going to cry in a corner & watch what we have left of the good stuff because you know that the shitty stuff will make a comeback after the Olympics.

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  5. Great job, Diggy!

    I wish this was required reading for DOOL, NBC, and Sony.

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  6. MA has been let go and Jennifer's staying?

    Kill Jennifer off and keep Jack!

    I'm afraid for DAYS, very afraid.

    How stupid do you have to be to keep rehiring people you've just fired?

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  7. Well that sums it up. What fucking moron fires Matt Ashford and keeps Galen Gering?

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  8. OMG Lisa RINNA I am looking at YOU! you had me at hello DIGGY!!!! damn straight that one better be on the list. I have my own list-two people in particular but I also think karma ...so no names on those but we all hate hate hate them, just call me Susan.

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  9. My sentiments exactly! I love your blog and I am with you about MA; boiling water as I type. Why is it the fans actually have a better grip on what makes a show work than the people who have been working in said industry for a lifetime? The world may never know.

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  10. Perfect blog post, darling! They are morons indeed at Days. The poor actors! Too many suits with their heads up their asses, it sounds like to me. But what can you expect from an industry (and this genre, in particular) that is motivated by fear. Too much running around trying to cover their butts instead of working to make an enjoyable show. Looks like they MIGHT be going with EJami finally...but it will probably be too late. It will be rushed and smack of desperation. And it sounds like EJami will happen in a place that we won't even recognize as Salem. Sad.

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  11. People at DR are dropping a tweet bomb tomorrow April 12 starting at 4:30 est using the hashtag #DaysAngryViewer let the powers that be know how you feel, such a shame this blog isn't tweet length ;)

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  12. Yup. I was once on the EJami train with you, but I just can't get as passionate about that as I am about Jack and Jennifer, and the show has gotten me to stop caring enough to keep up with it if Jack goes. I've loved Jack and Jennifer since I was in grade school, squeeing with my BFF when Jack told Jennifer to "hop on his engine." I cannot believe the way the show crucified Jack and Jennifer and failed to utilize the obvious JnJ angst potential (compounded by Jack's PTSD---such a yummy disorder for Jack to have, and the show used it so little). And I cannot fathom what was so difficult about dressing Jack in a suit! I hoped (I figured in vain, but hey, hope springs eternal) that the new writers would get a clue and tell the oh-so-obvious Jack and Jennifer story. But nope. He gets the boot. And to further rub salt in the wound, apparently Jack will be leaving without Jennifer. I tell you, if Matthew Ashford's Jack is tossed while the show keeps soulless characters like Daniel and Rafe . . . it needs to be canceled.

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  13. You always make me laugh, Dig. Yes, take Lisa please!!!

    You touched on so many good points, that they should be looking at. Writers, Actors, how to pace and super couples are not dead. Why would a super couple be dead? That's all Days was based on, it's what kept us going all those years, knowing that even if times were rough they would find their way back! It's the cement in the Soap Formula.

    That being said, what you said about EJami is how I feel about Brady and Nicole. I have been a crazy Bricole supporter for 11 yrs, you hear me NBC 11 yrs!!! Of cheating, lying, other women, other men, lame plots, lame couples (talking to you EHole) and still I hold on. Then they throw us a few months of bliss, and it's off on another ride of the "you don't exist" train. Why can't we have a couple that steams together through two cast changes, great banter, heated stares, and romance up the wazoo? Why do I have to endure cheesy Broe couples, or humping Badison couples to get back to the true romance? I don't want to watch a show that panders to a small audience for couples not worthy to hold a candle in the presence of mine!

    They fire, they hire, they mix and match. But they don't do any research!!! People have been watching this show for over 40 yrs! Play to it, don't talk down to fans like they could not recite the history of a character, like their grandmother's phone number. WRITE FOR FANS as if they had brains. I am so sick of watching something, and they cannot even clue into the chars history, which I am sure the actor knows by heart but they don't ask them.
    How hard is it to do research?

    Sometimes, it's mind boggling we put up with this shit, and the show is still on air. With the poor writing, the recycled SL and actors, the intrusive actors, the lack of background addressed, the useless plots and couples, the shitty sets, I could go on and on. My point being, they say "listen to fans" and we scream what we want...but no one listens. I guess they meant, "listen to fans unless they say something you don't like." OY!

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  14. Love this blog! Great post. Hope you have a chance to do another one soon, because I'm dying to know what you think about that detour the writers took in making Abigail a crazy, delusional stalker for a while. I was sorta into it because it suddenly made Abigail more interesting, but (so far) it hasn't added up to much, and now it looks like they're in a holding pattern. The storyline just sort of...ended, with a pfft instead of a bang. Another nugget of potential squandered. Good Christ, I just wish whatever's causing such instability behind the scenes would settle down, because it really is too much to ask to expect to keep viewers when the storylines and characters lurch around like a drunk chick in high heels.

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