Did you know that Victor was able to get Chelsea off the hook “just like that”?

Just like that! Amazing!

There has been a lot doom and gloom on message boards about Higley, and I have no reason to doubt that she is awful. But I will say this: some of the ideas I’m seeing, at the story idea level, aren’t bad. In fact, some I would say are actually good. Unlike many, I think John (and therefore Belle, Brady, and Claire) being DiMeras is not a bad idea. It makes sense, it ties in with the summer story. And having a son kill his mother would probably appeal to Stefano. (I don’t believe that Stefano didn’t know, that it was “fate” that brought John and Colleen together! I refuse!)

Bo having a mysterious soapy illness isn’t earth-shattering (didn’t he have some equally mysterious illness in the early 90’s?), but it gives Bo and Hope a story and brought Steve, Kayla, Bo, and Hope into scenes together—always a good thing.

I love seeing Victor again, I love the idea of Victor having something over Crawford Decker (still love that guy) or making some kind of devil’s bargain with him.

And naturally, I love Phillip giving up on his obsession about Belle.

But here’s the thing: the dialogue has been awful. Not campy bad, just flat and banal. It doesn’t sound like real people talking. There are no layers. It forces me ask myself disturbing questions, as I’m watching, things like “Why am I wasting my time with this crap?”

A few high(low)lights:

Kayla: [Stephanie’s] in the clear! Isn’t that great?

Steve: Baby! For real?

Bo: For real!

Billie (after Victor offers her a job): Thank you, Victor. Thank you so much.

Victor: Well, I think I’m getting the better end of the bargain.

Kate: Oh, I know you are.

Billie: Spoken like a true mother.

Chelsea: And as far as grandfathers go, you’re okay.

Belle to Shawn: [Claire’s] safe. So, kick back, close your eyes, shut your brain off for a while.

(Okay, so that last one is funny—I imagine Shawn’s response to be: “I’m way ahead of you.”)

It’s just … dull. Most of the actors are doing their best, striving for naturalness, attempting to add nuances with their expressions and line-readings. But it’s an uphill battle. The only actors who seem to be having a ball are Drake and Dierdre.

I did enjoy Victor calling Stefano “a demented son of a bitch” in that calm, collected tone of his.

Under Hogan—as I’ve mentioned before—even though the story ideas were no better (arguably, worse), and his execution of those stories was often truly appalling (though I think the higher-ups were sometimes to blame for that), the dialogue was usually engaging, realistic, and layered, and there were moments of sly humor and literary references. lascuba sometimes referred to Hogan as “JER with better dialogue” and I think a case can be made that that’s true. Under Hogan, the disturbing questions only crept up on you after several weeks of watching, as the dropped story threads accumulated, and the odd pacing and zigzagginess started to make you wonder who was steering this ship.

I often wondered what the last year would have been like without Hogan’s dialogue writers. We may be about to find out, because now they are gone.

Just like that.


10 thoughts on “Clunkers

  1. I generally agree with you that the dialogue has been pretty ordinary at best and downright awful at times lately. But, I have to say I kind of got a kick out of the “just like that” line(s). I kind of like the idea that nobody really wants to know what Victor has that can make it all go away “just like that.” And, having everybody have pretty much the same response was, I thought, kind of cool. Plus, it relieves the writers of having to come up with some plausible reason why Victor could make Crawford back down. So, that one was okay with me.

    But the rest? Not so much.

  2. I still got a huge laugh when Victor stated Colleen suffered from a messianic complex after he literally snapped his fingers and Chelsea was off the hook. He snapped them again and Crawford freaking apologized to her. Then he snapped them later and Billie was moving to London!

    But dialogue is pretty bad. And the pacing is getting on my nerves. We’re back to monthdays.

  3. esp, I didn’t mind not knowing what Victor did, and like you I liked how everyone was saying “I don’t want to know.”

    But the repetitiveness of using the exact same words each time did annoy me.

    The pacing has slowed waaay down. Hogan would rush his payoffs and plot points so that there was no time for suspense to build. Now it’s getting dangerously close to the opposite, artificial suspense.

    I also did not appreciate the return of dialogue like Shawn’s, “I just KNOW Steve and Kayla have BAD NEWS, I have a BAD FEELING.” Dramatic fade. Duh, we get it.

  4. I’m torn over the Victor thing. I love to see him, love him snapping his fingers and fixing it, but I’m still a bit annoyed about the lack of consequences in the whole thing. Of course I didn’t want the girls to wind up jailed for this thing, but part of what was so good about the sorority story was that everyone was paying attention to the damn consequences and it was driving everyone. Then, snap, gone.

    I have no problem with the Black-Brady-DiMera connection either. It’s something that’s been hinted around and about and really flagged for a very long time.

    The pacing thing could just be a ‘this is not the permanent staff working’ thing rather than Higley-specific, I hope. Though this show doesn’t exactly have a great reputation when it comes to that.

    I’ll be on the look out for the clunkers though.

  5. Aw, a shout out! *g*

    Yeah, the dialogue has been really bad lately. But, like esp I can easily accept the “just like that” talk, because it’s Victor.

    I just hope that the dialogue problems are a result of the strike and will be fixed when we get regular script writers back, even though there’s a good chance that Higley will remain as HW.

  6. I hope that we’ll see some more decent dialogue when the strike is over, too. A few of Hogan’s scriptwriters weren’t fired, and we’ll see who Higley hires.

    zara, I have two problems with Victor doing what he did. One is that it undercuts the awesome moment in the police station when Stephanie stood up to Crawford and pointed out that Ford’s name would be dragged through the mud at the trial. And the second is what you say: I don’t want the consequences to go away for the girls. I liked the Morgan/Chelsea scenes yesterday for that reason. Being kicked out of a sorority is a pretty minor consequence, but it’s better than nothing.

    And I hold out hope that Crawford will still have something up his sleeve. I still love him!

  7. That’s a great observation that the problems with Sheffer’s writing snuck up on you after a few weeks. Sometimes it seemed like we were off to a terrific storyline and then. . . nothing. For example, to take my favorite character, I still do not understand why Philip just gave up his son, “just like that.” I mean, there were actually storyline-related reasons that could have worked–losing a legal battle on the grounds that he had signed away his rights would have been great, but they offered virtually no explanation. (And with the current S & K pregnancy storyline, would a callback to remembering Pocket be out of place?)

    Or, to take another Philip example, why did we have him ruminating about other women discovering his physical problems and rejecting him, unbelievable as that may be, setting up the idea that he was just clutching on to Belle as the only woman who he knew for sure would not reject him because of his leg–and then that didn’t go anywhere either. Instead we got Philip obsessing over Belle for no apparent reason at all.

    I won’t even start with how I hated virtually everything Sheffer did with EJ, Sami and Lucas. I hated a lot of what Sheffer did, actually; storyline wise and couple wise, he did very little that I would have done were I charge, with the exception that he did write well for Bo and Hope.

    However, it is true that the dialogue was better. I’ll (probably) miss that. And the thing I will DEFINITELY miss about Sheffer is that he didn’t write much for John and Marlena. . . .

  8. Paxton, you point to some glaring flaws under Hogan (and storyline directions I, too, disagreed with).

    For many of the early storylines where the payoff fell flat, notably BSC Steve, I thought Hogan was rushing to wrap up an unpopular storyline. But the Pocket story (though not particularly popular on TWoP) was fairly well-received, and there was absolutely no reason for it to end as abruptly as it did.

    And squandering the awesome beginning to the DiMera summer storyline I say was a crime, in fact I feel it personally as a crime against me. The early scenes at the DiMansion were so awesome with Stefano the aging patriarch worried about his legacy, and Tony and EJ jockeying for power. Who was Stefano’s rightful heir? The man who gave up his life to devote himself to the vendetta, or the man who was bred as a pawn? I also loved Steve as a double agent, he was so great trading barbs with all of them.

    The (downward) turning point for me in the DiMera story was Tony turning out to be Andre. It undercut everything that went before.

    And I agree that Hogan’s handling of Sami, EJ, and Lucas has been particularly bad.

    But so this isn’t just a rant, I’ll give Hogan major props for what he did with Chelsea’s character.

  9. Hee! Well, I know you’re not the only one, Christine. I never actually saw Mardevil but I did see some of the SSK storyline.

    I’m more familiar with what JER is like when he’s not doing one of his really big plots, and his storytelling mechanics are pretty weak. Hogan’s weren’t great either, but his dialogue was soooo much better.

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