Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Very Belated Best and Worst

So once again my mask has slipped and hiding behind it is a huge, disorganized mess.  This was supposed to be up a couple of weeks ago when everyone else who was on the ball was posting their best and worst of 2012 lists.  Of course with holidays, and neck injuries and whatnot, our lists were delayed.  I take full responsibility for the fumble.  

Hey, wait a second... "Our"?  What "our"?  Who's "our"?  

"Our" is me and my guest-blogger, Dido, who is the woman behind the first half of this blog's "Best and Worst of 2012" list.  And, boy-howdy, did she ever go above and beyond the call of soapy, bloggy duty. My end of things will be up soon, but for now, and without further ado...



Disasters have long been a soap staple. The formula is simple: gather a bunch of both beloved and hated characters together in a single or multiple places and create a life and death situation that forces foes to become allies (at least temporarily), allows heroes to play hero, villains to redeem themselves, friends to become lovers, etc. Who can forget the infamous “Cruise of Deception” in 1990, which accomplished so much of the above and more? When Days was faced with a two-week pre-emption during the airing of the Olympics this summer, they decided to use this soap staple, along with that of the cliffhanger, to entice viewers to return after the break . . . and it didn’t just work, it worked well - better than anything since the week of Ejami “grief-sex” in November of the previous year.

There are many reasons that this storyline worked so well. First and most basic is that it was different; it represented a departure for Days in its recent history, since Days hadn’t done a disaster event of this magnitude since the mid-2000s. Second, something blew up - who doesn’t like a good explosion on their soap every now and then? Third, several characters, both beloved and otherwise (yes, I’m looking straight at you, Gabi), were placed in harrowing situations as a massive explosion rocked Salem. Tunnels collapsed, debris fell on Salemites who were gathered for a fundraiser, an elevator halted, and Sami dangled off a catwalk, just as the show closed out for the two-week break, with the question of who would live and who would die. The only way to find out was to watch in two weeks . . . or read casting news and spoilers. Really, who could resist returning to watch Marlena get hit in the face with that dinner plate again or for a week free of the suffocating, smug presence of Rafe Hernandez? Let’s not forget that the Daysaster also rid of us of the scourge of Madison James.

This never gets old.

Of course, this storyline was far from perfect. I still don’t quite understand what happened to Lucas and Roman, who were standing below EJ and Sami at the warehouse before the explosion happened. It’s like a giant chasm opened in the floor, swallowed them, and spit them back out in the Horton Town Square. Actually, now that I think about it, it was just fine with me since it was nice to see Ejami get some alone time together, even if it was in a harrowing, life-or-death situation. 

Rafe was absent for two weeks?
No wonder Salem was interesting!

Also, I wasn’t too happy that Andrew died as a result of his injuries in the explosion - couldn’t it have taken Gabi instead? In fact, I’d have traded most of the younger set just to keep Andrew. Lastly, the loss of Jack Deveraux, yet again, just because an incoming/returning writing regime was too lazy to write for such a complex character and that character would get in the way of their plans to reunite their pet couple, Dannifer, was a crying shame.


In the fall of 2011, we were told that we were going to love Brady’s “hot” new pairing with Madison and that “sparks were going to fly” at their first meeting. It just goes to show that Days learned nothing from their previous blunders in the couple department. Instead of sparks, their first meeting was artificial, awkward, and ridiculous. It didn’t get any better from there as Madison completely consumed Brady as a character - outside of her, he had next to nothing to do in Salem. It was much like Brady existed in a bubble.

Finally, after nine months filled with numerous tacky sex scenes, a tacky, classless, massage-parlor-style romp at Quinn’s spa, a cheesy segway-riding montage in the Horton Town Square, and far too many sappy, juvenile bonding sessions, the Daysaster finally freed Brady of that albatross hanging around his neck. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see an explosion kill a fictional soap character in my life.

Did I forget to say "Woohoo, Madison is gone"?

Once Madison retired to that big segway in the sky, the possibilities for Brady were endless. Of course, we had to deal with him mourning for Madison for several months, but it was bearable and, actually appropriate, especially when compared to Jennifer’s five minutes of mourning of Jack, with whom she’d had a 20+ year relationship, before she moved on to Daniel. I’m sure that some would argue that Brady did not remain emancipated for long since he fell under Kristen Blake-DiMera’s spell over the past month and she appears to be using him for her own purposes. 

It's not clear what Kristen has planned for Brady, but
Bristen is already a million times hotter than Bradison.

Certainly this storyline could put Brady in chains again, but so far it’s been one of the few interesting things on Days over the past few months.


From the moment that Will turned up at EJ’s door in January, filled with false bravado and the intention to blackmail EJ into giving him the means to get out of town (and away from his mother), I was hooked. EJ calmly listened to Will’s threats and then quickly versed Will on the dangers of blackmailing a DiMera, countering Will’s threat to expose EJ’s tryst on the DiMansion sofa with Sami by revealing the he knew that it was Will who shot him in the back in 2007. Will literally looked like he was going to crap in his pants as EJ turned the tables on him and told him, “You need to be taught a lesson for what you just did. . .”

"Welcome to your worst nightmare, William. I own you."

This master/slave relationship quickly evolved into a mentor/student relationship as Will realized that working for EJ had a perk besides the apartment, car, and job - it annoyed his mother beyond reason that he found it perfectly acceptable to work for EJ DiMera. Game on.

Under EJ’s tutelage, Will learned many useful skills, of both the legitimate and illegitimate ilk, growing from boy to man. All the while, James Scott and Chandler Massey played off each other magnificently, even lending their scenes a slightly homoerotic undertone at times. They were a pleasure to watch and detracted from some of the less enjoyable elements of the show.

Simultaneously, Will was discovering and accepting his sexuality. It made for a potent combination when Will started acting like a boy with a big crush around EJ - anxious to please and gazing at him with stars in his eyes.

"Hello, crush. . ."

Of course, like any good relationship, there were a few bumps along the way. EJ and Will had a falling out when EJ found out that Stefano had coerced Will into making sure that the betrayed marital partners found out about Ejami’s encounter on the Dimansion couch. EJ promptly stripped Will of his job and its perks - the apartment and fancy sports car. However, their relationship shifted again when Will was arrested for Stefano’s murder. EJ stood by him with a little bit of a price attached and Will ended up working for EJ again, without all the perks, but greatly enjoying the job and being around his number one crush.

Will’s burgeoning friendship and growing respect for EJ didn’t preclude turning the tables on EJ to wrestle back some power in their relationship. With great relish, Will blackmailed EJ with Alice’s letter, indicating that EJ was not Stefano’s biological son. It was such a delicious role reversal when Will told EJ, “I own you,” and demanded that EJ reinstate all of his perks again.

In a delicious role-reversal, Will repeated EJ's words
of six months before - "I own you."

Their relationship, however, had evolved far beyond the master/slave dynamic it had been six months before. It had become a genuine friendship and Will became one of EJ’s staunchest supporters and an important confidante when EJ was set-up and then arrested for his father’s murder.

Alas, the EJ and Will awesomeness was destined to end. A new team of writers had a different path planned for Will and so EJ and Will “broke up” in late August. A decision that I still think was a HUGE mistake because EJ lost that badly-needed confidante, Will lost his delicious grayness, and the audience lost out on watching this engaging and dynamic relationship unfold onscreen. A big boo to Tomsell.


Re-establishing EJ's relationship with his children.

Eileen Davidson's return as Kristen Blake-DiMera

Andrew (Caleb Hunt) and Agent Spencer (Greg Ellis)
Gone, but not forgotten

Daniel and Nicole (pre-Tomlin)

Scenes around Lexie's death - brilliant work from Renee Jones,
James Reynolds, Joe Mascolo, James Scott, and many others.

Will's coming out story



Speaking of disasters . . . the first half of 2012 contained a doozy. . .

At first, the idea that the matriarch of Salem, Alice Horton, had been keeping some deep, dark secrets from her family was somewhat intriguing. It raised all sorts of questions and suggested that Alice wasn’t as squeaky-clean as everyone believed. Could she have been hiding a torrid affair? A secret love-child? A criminal past? Or was it simply Alice’s coveted doughnut recipe? Long-lost, buried secrets are the stuff that good soapy drama and storyline arcs are built on. However, despite all it’s potential, this story quickly strayed into the mundane, convoluted, and downright ridiculous.

So, how could something with so much potential go so wrong? The trail started with an accidentally discovered safety deposit box key, which led to a safety deposit box, which led to endless scenes of Hope fretting about whether she should open the box with Stefano, which led to two envelopes, which led to a John/Hope marriage certificate, which led to Alamania, which led to an egg, which led to a coin . . . Well, you get the picture of what a convoluted mess this storyline became.

(Click on image to view larger version)

By the time John and Hope arrived in Alamania (yes, there’s apparently a direct flight from Salem to Alamania) to annul their heretofore unknown marriage (thanks a lot stupid envelope in safety deposit box), I literally wanted to scream in agony. Wait, I think I did. In a return to camp, worthy of JER, Princess Gina, complete with instant blond streak in her hair, and Pawn John were resurrected so that Stefano could get his hands on some ridiculous egg that the pair had stolen during their days as partners in thieving.

Of course, since Salem newspapers are readily available in Alamania (huh?) and John has such a deep connection with Marlena, the evil Stefano’s latest attempt at mind control was foiled. John and Hope fooled Stefano into believing he’d gotten what he’d wanted while they got the hell of out dodge with the coveted gold coin. This wasn’t the end of the story with the gold coin, which would continue to torment us until the conclusion of the Daysaster.

One of my hugest problems beyond the convoluted and ridiculous nature of this storyline was that MarDar essentially reduced Stefano to a mustache-twirling villain, sucking out the humanity that had been added to the character as he’d mellowed and become part of the regular Salem canvas after his return in 2008. Also, they had to dull Stefano’s intellect so that the “good guys” (it’s a relative term in Salem) could fool him and emerge triumphant. Yeah, whatever. Big fail.

A special note to Days: If you can’t take us to another country in any sort of believable way, with decent sets, etc., please don’t bother. Just keep the action in Salem.


From the get-go, the signs were all present that this was going to be painful to watch, but fun to mock. It could have been a good story - after all, it involves Stefano - but it quickly got caught in the quagmire of cliche and ridiculous that seems to afflict so many of Days’ grand projects.

The set-up was, in many ways, reminiscent of classic soap. Stefano systematically pissed off half the town, including members of his own family, so there was a large pool of potential suspects with motive. Marlena and John - long-standing grudges and he tried to blow them up the month before. Bo and Hope - again, long-standing grudge and the instinct to “save” the town from any more of Stefano’s cartoonish super-villainy. Will - Stefano blackmailed him into making sure that Rafe found about EJ and Sami’s spectacular coming together in the DiMansion living room, causing him to lose all the wonderful privileges that EJ had afforded him. Kate - For some reason, that I still can’t quite divine, Stefano set Kate up to cheat on him and then promptly stripped her off all her worldly possessions, tossed her out of the Dimansion, and served her with divorce papers. EJ - Stefano disowned and undermined him when a rather flimsy piece of evidence revealed that EJ was not Stefano’s biological son. Abe - It was revealed that Stefano was indirectly responsible for causing the brain tumour that was about to kill Lexie.

However, the problem with this set-up was that, yet again this year, Stefano had to be written as a mustache-twirling villain with mediocre intelligence to establish that all these people wanted to kill him. First, with EJ. The audience was expected to believe that Stefano would disown EJ, his prized son, over nothing more than a letter. No DNA test. Nothing. We were also expected to believe that EJ would allow him to do that without demanding confirmation via a DNA test. Sorry, completely unbelievable. Even the dullest citizen of Salem would get a DNA test to confirm or discredit such a claim. Second, the entire Alamania and exploding safehouse mess that established the motives of John, Marlena, Bo, Hope, and even Will placed Stefano back into the mustache-twirling villain role which he had long since outgrown. Abe’s motive harkened back to a storyline in which it was never completely clear how much Stefano had to do with Lexie’s time in the tunnels under Salem. Pretty weak.

Flash forward to the crime itself. Using a tried-and-true soap formula, each suspect visited Stefano on the rainy night of his demise, separately and without bumping into each other along the way, to threaten and/or attempt to kill him, but find, at the last moment, that they couldn’t go through with it. Of course, Days would never let it end there, so that we’d all be left wondering. In a sequence of farcical scenes, worthy of every bit of mockery available, most of the suspects subsequently returned to the DiMera mansion to traipse through the living room and curiously pick up a gun which Abe had conveniently left behind. WHAT. Surely, not every citizen of Salem, especially EJ, who had worn gloves on his previous visit, was so stupid as to leave their fingerprints on a convenient weapon that was lying around? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes. Also, once again, the DiMeras showed that they still haven’t learned to lock the doors. Worst crime family ever.

(Click on image to view larger version)

The aftermath and investigation of the murder was just as farcical. Although there was a long list of suspects, the laser focus of Salem’s “finest” was squarely on EJ. In short order, it became clear to audience and anyone with half a brain that EJ was being set-up. Of course, since Rafael and the Salem PD lack even half a brain and they like to use the police department for personal business, the flimsiest of evidence led to EJ’s arrest, forcing EJ to go on the run to prove his innocence. In the end, it took the reappearance of an alive-and-well Stefano to convince the SPD of EJ’s innocence and set him free . . . well, while still trying to go after him for jumping bail.

By the way, Stefano's not even dead . . .

Now the storyline wasn’t all bad. James Scott, as EJ, and Renee Jones, as Lexie, had some wonderful scenes as they mourned their father’s death. Also, we got some wonderful, and sexy, Ejami scenes as Ejami teamed up to prove EJ’s innocence and they went on-the-run together. The scenes at the mansion and at the police station, when EJ oozed sex appeal all over Sami, are amongst my favourites of all time.


After his inauspicious crash through a cake at Horton Town Square in September 2011, all signs pointed to a continuation of the trend set by previous writing regimes of portraying Jack as a buffoon to sell an adolescent love triangle with Daniel and Jennifer. What better way to sell Daniel as the new love of Jennifer’s life than to pit the respectable, responsible, even if somewhat skeevy, doctor against the lovable, but irresponsible man who had supposedly “abandoned” his family to pursue a news story in Afghanistan.

It didn’t get much better from there. Once TPTB at Days realized that the Dan/Jen/Jack triangle was a spectacular failure (i.e., the overwhelming majority of the audience wasn’t rooting for Dan to triumph) they dismantled it. After that, Jack simmered away on the backburner, making the occasional appearance in an “old-fart” sweater and as a supporting character, until his fatal crash to the bottom of the elevator shaft at the Daysaster.

Along the way, Jack and Jennifer reunited and got remarried - all offscreen, of course - in a pitiful attempt to placate fans. It actually accomplished quite the opposite, outraging and insulting fans more than anything. Matthew Ashford’s work in Jack’s final scenes, heroically saving his daughter Abigail, was outstanding, but Jack’s death was still an ignominious end to a disgraceful run. For shame, Days.

Later in 2012, veteran actor Peter Reckell was set to depart the show after he and Days couldn’t come to terms on a new contract - i.e., Days was unwilling to put forth the money to keep PR - meaning that Bo would have to leave Salem somehow . . . or would he? The set-up was there, even if it didn’t make a lick of sense and it contained an unfunny parallel with the real world situation between Days and PR. It seemed that budget cuts at the SPD would force some cops out of a job if they didn’t make a pay cut. Obviously, irony was not lost on the writers. However, as a storyline, it certainly didn’t ring true. Why would one of the most senior officers in the department have to take a pay cut before those below him? Why would the SPD simultaneously promote (presumably with a corresponding pay raise) Rafe, who’d only been with them for less than two years, had already been fired once for his unethical behaviour, hadn’t solved any cases, and had achieved the distinction of arresting the wrong man for a murder that never happened? Um . . . yeah. Bo replaced by Rafe? It certainly looks that way and, in hindsight, this process had been progressing since Rafe poked his eyebrows into town. Unfortunately for Days, Rafe’s unethical douchebaggery makes him a poor-replacement for the adventurous, often rebellious, good guy that was Bo. Fail, Days. Fail.

Over the next couple of months, it became apparent that Bo’s mother, Caroline, was suffering from dementia. Naturally, barkeep/doctor Kayla found a miracle treatment in California, but who was going to drop everything to take her there? Well, since Bo had already effectively been replaced by Rafe at his work, what was to stop him? Nothing. Thus, in a storyline that was really all about Caroline’s dementia, Peter Reckell made his ignominious departure from Salem as her escort to a clinic in California. What a disrespectful way to send off a nearly 30-year veteran actor and beloved character.

In true Days fashion, the insult to the actor, character, and fans didn’t end there. Bo returned to Salem as the invisible man - talked about, but never seen or heard from. It was likely penned this way in case Reckell changes his mind and decides to come back to the show, but even if Bo were dead, the door would still be open, since death stops no one from coming back in Salem. I suppose that this “invisible man” status all saves the writers from going to the trouble of having to pen a story for Hope and a new love interest - a tough sell for sure, especially since Hope hasn’t had any truly successful pairings outside of Bo. The question is whether Bo will remain invisible in 2013 or if something will remove the character offscreen?  Perhaps, over time, the other characters will just stop talking about him like he’s in town. Who knows? In any case, Bo’s exit from the canvas was still shameful.

What made Jack and Bo’s exits even more insulting? Melanie Jonas, who had only been in Salem for 4 years got a big sendoff in a storyline focussed on her. Fail.


Multiple muggings used as plot devices: Sami saves her own purse,
leaving Rafe to break her fall for a "close moment". Meanwhile, was
Kristen's mugging a means of getting closer to Brady, or a means of
getting his shirt off?  My bet is on the latter.

See here for more about Rafe, Rafe, and Rafe.

The destruction of State

Tomlin's Flashback Bonanza
(No visuals for the flashbacks. We've seen them far too many times already)

Returns that fell flat:  Lucas and Billie

So that concludes the first half of this blog's very first "Best and Worst of..." list, wrapped up with a bow by my guest blogger, Dido.  Be sure to show her some love in the comments section.  As for my sloppy, slovenly self, Dido's raised the bar, so I really have to get my ass in gear and finish up the second half of this list.


  1. Brava! Brava!

    I can't disagree with anything.

    When will we be graced with the second half?

  2. Oh WOW! Again, I just had THE BEST TIME reading this blog!! You are both so brilliant and as Scribbled Pink, I just can’t wait for Part 2.
    I particularly like that in this time of endless unasked-for triangles, (and oh so unimaginative flashbacks!) you were still inspired enough to point some very good moments of 2012. We had almost forgotten there had been amazing stories and most of all, marvelous acting skills displayed for our pleasure (bravo to James, Renee, Chandler, Alison, Joe, Arianne and cute little twin boys!)!
    Today, I look like a pretzel as I’m crossing fingers, toes and whatever else I can wishing 2013 will be a year with much more Best than Worst... I’m pretty confident even though I have muscle cramps everywhere!!
    Hoping the weeks/months to come are inspirational to you bloggers, as it will give us the delightful opportunity to read your funny and thoughtful insights over and over again.
    Happy new DAYS!

  3. Right on the mark...Who knows what tptb has in store for the fans this year...if they keep writing all this good stuff I'm going to have to stop watching. Great take on 2012. Thumbs Up!

  4. Excellent post!!! Spot on!!
    Of course I loved all things EJAMI and EJILL in 2012:)
    Not everything was enjoyable under MarDar (Bradison, Ejole baby, Alamania, EJ/Stefano paternity), but I enjoyed the show a lot more than what we've seen since Tomlin took over. One of MarDar's issues was that the pacing was too slow for some stories and there were a lot of repeated conversations. But they did a better job of acknowledging character history, giving us some soapy family conflicts (ie Sami/Will), several characters were given great material where they could showcase emotions ( & great acting), and even though not perfectly executed, the stories with Alice's secrets and Stefano's shooting at least gave us some mystery. We also got to see some consistent storylines (mostly) and fresh dynamics (hello EJILL). I also liked Daniel and Nicole when they first got together, came to enjoy Carrie and Rafe, and I might be in the minority, but I also liked Kate and Ian (but I do miss STATE). Other stories I enjoyed that weren't mentioned- Cray Abby/Austin, Mayor campaign (mainly b/c we saw scheming side of EJ, EJILL, more of Abe, & I could tolerate Jennifer), Sami's corporate espionage, and of course Kristen's return. Wasn't a big fan of the Gabi stalker stuff, but it was watchable & loved Andrew!
    I just haven't enjoyed much since Tomlin came back- Safe, Dannifer, EJ/Sami/Rafe triangle, plot points, instant romances, bad attempts at angst, vanilla characters, Melanie and Bo's exit stories, most characters being used to either approve or disapprove of duos, out of character writing, the WABI baby story, and propping of Dan, Rafe, & Gabi. I may be young, but I grew up watching Days, watched a lot of the show from early 90s and some 80s on youtube, and so I prefer to see more of the vets & less of Tomlin creations.
    But I am hopeful that some good EJAMI stuff will be coming and of course very happy to know we're going to get more EJILL! I want EJ, Sami, & Will to all be grey.

    Fingers crossed that we see some good drama, romance, mystery, and good soap on Days in 2013. Keeping my expectations low though if Tomlin stays!

    Again, awesome blog and hope to see more great insights from Team "Double D" :)

  5. Wow. I don't know what to say because you said it all!
    Honestly, this is the best, "best and worst of Days" article I've read!

  6. Were Hope and John actually ever divorced? And what was the end of the coin story? I must have fallen asleep during that!

  7. For worst when you talked about The Madison/Brady lame romance you forgot Ej and Nicole ridiculous pairing the first half of 2012 : it was so dumb and corny, all these cheesy sex-scenes with these 'tickle me tickle me' vibe and fake laughs..puke worthy, with no chemistry to redeem it a bit, just totally ruined the Mayor story to me and made me stop watching the soap for a while..ewwww
    And for best i would have talked about the complex, layered based on story Sami/Will/Marlena dynamic : that was character-driven soapy writing.

  8. Great post!!! Agree, agree, on everything except on one point...I do enjoy Lucas being back in Salem. However, to qualify this comment let me say I enjoy him in a platonic relationship with Sami. It's just too bad Days' didn't originally cast Bryan as a brother for Sami because I really think the actors have good chemistry, just not remantic chemistry. Also, and I know a lot of people will loudly disagree with me, I enjoy Bryan Dattilo's acting talent on the show.

    My favorite part of your post is Marlena getting the dinner plate in the face! hahahahahaha!!!!!!! You are so right...that just never gets old!

  9. Does anyone like Rafe or Daniel? I guess they're just cheaper acting help than Bo & Jack. Speaking of which: more Stefano please!!

  10. Right on, my friend. I will never love this show the way I once did after what they did to my beloved Jack this time around. And I mean landing him in a cake and dressing him in those sweaters maybe even more than I mean literally giving him the shaft.