I never once thought about the importance of pacing on soaps until I started watching Days again two years ago. Under JER, all you need to know about his pacing is that it gave rise to the word “monthday” on TWoP. I remember the first week I started watching, Marlena was in her penthouse in a white bathrobe all week long, with notRoman I (Wayne Northrup), notRoman II (Drake Hogestyn), and really notRoman (Josh Taylor) assembled around her. Each episode ended with Dee saying, with that small, smug half-smile of hers: “Now I know the man with whom I am going to spend my life.” Freeze frame on the three men. End credits.
I still shudder to think about it. People like to joke about Hope’s year-long pregnancy with Ciara. Since Bo is the baby’s father, and Bo and Hope were estranged starting with Zack’s death in early January 2006, the baby must have been conceived in late December 2005. Since Ciara was born in December of 2006, that makes for a twelve-month gestation. However, in June of 2006, when Hope first exhibited her classic pregnancy-signaling faint, she couldn’t have been more than three months along (not on that skeletal frame!). Hogan’s decision to make the baby born in December, in that case, makes perfect sense. It is Hope’s uncertainty about the paternity of the baby that doesn’t make sense. In “real” time there would have been a full three months between sleeping with Bo and sleeping with Patrick.
Blame the monthday.
When Hogan started as headwriter, it was like a whirlwind came through Salem. Suddenly, things were happening, big things. It was a Wednesday, I believe, where the big reveal happened that Sami was the one who blackmailed Lexie into telling Carrie that any babies she had with Austin would be deformed (I can never find a non-convoluted way to write that). After JER, I was so excited! I felt I couldn’t miss a day! This was the life!
But then the doubts started to creep in. Last summer, halfway through an episode, Lucas—who was in the hospital for some reason or other—tried to get out of bed and found he couldn’t walk. Two minutes later, he was fine. Huh? Is this a soap or what? Tease me a little, why don’t you?
If JER drew out the suspense so long that by the time the payoff happened I didn’t care anymore, Hogan had a way of rushing the big reveal to the point where I didn’t have time to care in the first place. Add to this his tendency to skip crucial reaction and aftermath scenes, and you have a ship that is careering madly toward … nothing much. (To be fair, under Ed Scott, Hogan’s pacing improved immensely.)
Say Sami is in trouble and she calls Roman for help. Under JER Roman would tell seven people that Sami had called him and how he hoped nothing was wrong (cut to Sami lying nearly dead on the floor), and have ten flashbacks to the phone call on the way over there. Under Hogan we’d see the phone call and Roman would use one of the Salem wormholes to show up in the next frame. We might not even see his arrival at all! He would just suddenly be there and everything would be taken care of.
Can’t we find a happy medium?
Under Higley, the jury is still out. She’s certainly closer to JER than to Hogan. I am rather enjoying being teased with the little appearances of the mysterious woman who upsets Steve so much. I did NOT, however, enjoy the artificial suspense around Bo’s cancer two weeks ago, when Kayla was a doctor cut from Lexie’s cloth: full of vague, dire pronouncements, so we didn’t even know who was sick, let alone what he was sick with or how serious it was. (It was a relief when they mentioned an actual disease this week. I thought we might be in Jack Deveraux territory).
This week we had a plane take all week to crash, which I think is acceptable. Though it makes it rather more painful when we have to listen to the same dialogue loops: “No, you take the oxygen!” “No, you!” “I should go up and help Steve and John.” “No, stay with me.” “Okay, but I’ll go up if I have to!” The best part was John standing over the unconscious Steve with that oxygen mask in his hand—though I didn’t like poor Steve going up to the cockpit to help and immediately passing out. Some hero! I was truly in suspense wondering if John would save Steve’s life or not. (I am actually enjoying John being an asshole, does that make me a bad person?)
And I have to point out that Steve’s bandana is just about the cutest thing ever: