Get Outta My Dreams

*NOTE: This is an elaboration on a post I made at the TWoP Forums earlier today. I just can’t stop thinking about it!

So John and Marlena have this mystical connection, see? And even though he’s in a coma and his doctor keeps saying he’s brain dead, he can “talk” (actually, grunt) to Marlena in her mind, and turn himself into the wind and brush through her hair and make her shiver with delight. And yesterday (2/7) he pulled himself out of his body and stood there talking (grunting) trying to figure out how to communicate with Marlena. “In yooooouuuurr dreeeeeeaaams …” he decided, and then we got the beginning of a dream with Marlena in a white dress and about 3 tons of Vaseline smeared over the camera lens (and, shudderingly, standing in what looked like the same set as the hotel where Steve got his memory back), while the wind blew, lightning flashed, and John rattled at the door and groaned out Marlena’s name.

Got that so far?

While all this surely has some appeal on the level of ludricrous camp, it also pisses me off. Is this something they came up with in the writer’s room because “women love this Somewhere in Time shit”? Or are they trying to be campy and over the top? Or are they playing some kind of double game, giving the cynical Gen Xers something to guffaw at while giving the clueless J/M fans something to swoon over?

I don’t like it, and I’m trying to figure out why. I enjoy watching a campy movie like Mommie Dearest and laughing and cringing at the same time. And I enjoy the ludicrous amnesia/baby stealing/return from the dead aspect of soaps. It’s so fun to explicate the convoluted plots for the uninitiated. I enjoy, for example, the fact that babies exist on soaps only for the suffering they inspire: Who’s the Daddy storylines, switched paternity test results, kidnappings, and custody battles. (Poor Andrew Donovan swept in all four categories.) After which they disappear until they’re teenagers, and then the whole thing starts for the next generation. These things are fun.

But here’s the difference: a soap should take itself seriously, otherwise the house of cards collapses. The plots are ridiculous, but the characters shouldn’t be.

Dream sequences are nothing new for soaps. I remember several from Steve and Kayla days, which were played repeatedly when Steve and Kayla were on the outs, showing the characters’ desire for each other, and giving viewers a taste of them together. (Even at 15 I found them cheesy, but they worked in the context of the story.) There was even an out of body experience similar (shudder, shudder) to John’s, where an angel that looked just like the regular Steve (only with two eyes) talked to Steve about Kayla and his life.

The past 15 years have wrought major damage to the characters on the show. JER’s version of Days flattened and coarsened everyone. And he loved over the top campiness with a love that knows no bounds. So when Hogan is tempted to do something over the top like a comatose husband coming to talk to his wife in her dreams, he should tread verrrryyy carefully. A light touch is needed. Instead of making it explicit that John really is communicating with Marlena, leave it open to interpretation. Then cynical jerks like me can believe it’s all a dream, and the twuwuv camp can believe their connection transcends all.

Hogan’s other storyline misstep was also coma-related: the kiss of life that Steve bestowed on Kayla after she’d been flatlining for forty minutes. What is it about the hospital that brings out the worst in Hogan? We have doomsaying doctors (Hogan’s doctors offer no hope, they’re always telling people to “prepare themselves”), amorphous diseases with no name, and cures that can only be found through twuwuv or the internet. Bad Hogan! No more comas for you!

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