One of the things I used to complain about with Hogan was that he didn’t milk the suspense out of his own plot points. I remember Belle “dying” and then being revived in the middle of an episode, Bo being clued in even before Steve showed up on Tinda Lau that he couldn’t be trusted, and countless other examples. With the advent of Ed Scott, Hogan’s pacing, and consequently his suspense quotient, improved markedly (the episodes around Ford’s death come to mind), but overall his pacing was just too fast to truly stoke our anticipation.

(This is an issue I feel I have particular authority to comment on, as one of the reasons I choose to be spoiler-free is so secrets and reveals can surprise me, and I can experience the joy of anticipation and speculation.)

At first, it seemed like Higley was going to be an improvement in this regard. She certainly slowed things down, so there was at least the bare possibility of being teased. It was nice, for example, to be able to wonder who Ava was and what her connection was to Steve. And to be clear here, I’m not talking about complex things like character development, redemption stories, or slow-burn romances, but just the bare mechanics of plot suspense. Will Hope die or will Bo rescue her? What will Shawn do when he finds out he’s Claire’s father? etc.

But, sigh, Higley has turned out to be just as maddening as Hogan was, but in a different way. For one thing, she draws things out to the point of exasperation. This in itself is a forgivable sin, one shared by many soap writers, even truly great ones. What really aggravates me is that she doesn’t seem to know the difference between a good tease and a boring one. Let’s look at MadMathMax and the secret that Trent is his father. For weeks we saw Max react angrily to Trent but refuse to open up as to why that might be. This would seem on the surface to be exactly what I am looking for—a secret or mystery that we the viewers (and Stephanie and Nick) can wonder about and speculate about. And yeah, it got old when it went on for so long. But even putting that aside, this is an example of a secret that is a dramatic null, until it comes out. Basically, we wonder “What the hell is wrong with him?” until we find out.

Wouldn’t it have been more exciting for the character Max if we could have seen him discover that Trent was his father? Imagine him discovering some strange similarity, some telltale prop—I love meaningful props—that he tried to blow off as mere coincidence. But those coincidences would bring up painful memories of his mother and father, that could bring out those old scars (preferably in some more subtle way than the show has done thus far). As the evidence accumulated, it would gradually dawn on him, and us, what the truth was.

Of course, it would also have been nice if something else were going on at the same time. Higley’s bigger problem is that she also doesn’t use the time well—the time the suspense is building—to explore different facets of the situation and the characters involved. This can be lumped in with her overall problem with thinness and mediocrity that I talked about a few posts back. It would be nice if the revelation of the secret hinged on some important emotional stakes for Stephanie or Max or their relationship. Stephanie was eager to find out the secret, sure, but nothing changed for Max and Stephanie’s relationship when she finally did find out. She went from being supportive to being super-supportive, maybe. And nothing really changed for Max or for Trent, either, because they were already in the know.

I need hardly say that this plot is a virtual ripoff of the “Johnson family” storyline back in 1987 for Steve and Kayla. I don’t think Steve and Kayla’s stories are sacred, so that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that they are doing it so badly. (Poor Days, they can’t even rip themselves off without screwing it up). The “tease” that Adrienne was Steve’s sister went on for a long, long time. But at the same time, the show was also teasing us with flashbacks of Steve’s childhood and some traumatic event that happened then. The reveal unfolded slowly as little clues added to our knowledge, in order to string us along and keep us engaged. Also, since the Steve and Kayla love story was also developing, the show raised the stakes by making us worry about how this mysterious woman was going to disrupt Steve and Kayla’s relationship. The time before the reveal also helped us get to know Adrienne a little bit and start to care about her. This was particularly important because after awhile it was pretty obvious who Adrienne was. When it happened, the reveal wasn’t much of a surprise, but it was still satisfying because we were emotionally engaged.

We got none of that this time around. Stephanie has been reduced to a bland cheerleader, the always supportive girlfriend who never questions her decision. And while Max’s story should be meaty and interesting—and I think it’s meant to be—he comes across mostly as moody and self-pitying.

There is no subtlety, and very few layers, to Max’s struggle. Perhaps another actor could bring a little more ambiguity to his feelings about his father, and make more of the few good lines Max has been given. I liked when Max said that the reason he was so secretive about his math genius is because he doesn’t want to be like his father (a motivation! Thanks, Days, better late than never!). I also liked Monday’s show when he remembered his mother and talked about how Trent let him go into foster care after she died. And I loved his comment that he has been trying hard for years to feel like a “real” Brady, though I would have loved it even more if it had been followed up with something like this:

Stephanie: And did it work? Do you feel like a real Brady?
Max: Would I be dating you if I did?

And Roscoe Burn’s Trent is delightfully sleazy—he is the one bright spot in this storyline for me.

Now we’ve got a similar situation with Kate, who has done a 180 in her feelings for Daniel as a potential mate for Chelsea. This is either a rewrite, or Kate has discovered something about Daniel, or she’s in secret insta-love with him, or I missed something because—ahem—I fast-forwarded Kate’s surgery scenes, which was when her attitude toward Daniel changed. In any case, so far it seems to be, just like Max’s secret, the kind of mystery with no emotional stakes. I look forward to a ho-hum revelation that changes exactly nothing.


35 thoughts on “Suspense

  1. AHA! You fast forwarded Kate’s surgery! Hee, yes, that was when (at least Dan) they got a little interest. I think you might get a clue tomorrow.

    Sigh, Max, Trent, Stephanie and even Nick. The whole thing is a great big “What would have been better” story. I think my biggest issue with Trent is Max’s father…is that Max took all of 2 seconds to spot Trent Robbins chatting it up with Nick and know immediately who this man is. The show doesn’t come out and say how old Max was when his father left him, since they really haven’t SORASed his character but it’s so annoying since they do state he was “very young”. At the very least let Max meet Trent, think he seems familiar, not putting two and two together until Nick takes him to the lecture where he hears Trent speak at long intervals and possibly laughing or using his voice to throw loud booms across the room to “awaken” something in max to remember this man from his childhood. Talk about angst as Nick and Stephanie sat listening to Trent speak, we could have zoomed in Max having (real) flashbacks and suffering as he starts to relive possibly a bad childhood experience. When they realize something is wrong and question him, Max who either doubts himself or is possibly afraid, tries to shake it off.

    No instead we get moodymax who really came out looking like a jerk and borderline abusive (to Stephanie) in that moment.

    As for the comparing to Steve/Kayla, yes at TWoP we’ve gone to realize they are making Max and Stephanie into some sort of Steve/Kayla redux. Given I’m not a Stax fan at all, and quite bitter that TPTB chose to invest in Stax as the young couple to support instead of Chick, especially since I said several months ago that Stax would never work as a long term pairing, the characters are too much alike and the actors are not strong enough to sustain bad writing.

  2. Great post. I even think I did a thread on SC once about Hogan’s pacing. I hated it.

    Higley’s bigger problem is that she also doesn’t use the time well

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. JER, for his excruciatingly slow pacing, never had this issue. He milked every second, and in part because of that, he was able to tell stories in a much deeper and more meaningul way than Higley can.

    I’m a huge fan of showing all of the “little moments” that happen in the characters’ lives. JER used to do that. He’d show them getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. J&M are who I’m most familiar with, and during the mid-90’s when they were pining away for each other, JER would show how each had invaded the other’s thoughts every second of the day. Higley often rushes things, and because of that, she has to rely on dialogue (if she even does that) to fill the viewers in on what the characters might be upset about.

    I think in the end it comes down to “show us, don’t tell us”, and if a writer doesn’t use time well, then he/she doesn’t have the opportunity to show the viewers what they need to see.

  3. I agree with everything you said and had to add what I’ve noticed lately. It seems like Higley or her minions are trolling the message boards and looking at people’s complaints and then addressing them. No mention of Chan’s age difference? Ok, let’s have a whole 4th of July party staged about that very thing. Max is treating Stephanie like crap? Ok, we’ll have him tell Caroline that he feels bad about that. It drives me wild.

    Yes, the Max story could have been far more interesting if it went the way you said. By the time they did the Trent reveal, I was so sick of Max’s moodiness that it fell flat anyway. Now I just want the summer of Max wrapped up so we can move on to something better.

  4. Yes, the Max story could have been far more interesting if it went the way you said. By the time they did the Trent reveal, I was so sick of Max’s moodiness that it fell flat anyway. Now I just want the summer of Max wrapped up so we can move on to something better.

    And that’s the biggest problem with Higley’s way of “building suspense.” Because it’s more about repetition than building towards anything, by the time the reveal happens, nobody cares. I think MP’s idea would have made the story much better. But, even if Max did know, I think the story could have worked if they had allowed him a more varied and subtle response with perhaps Max being interested in getting to know Trent and then being rejected by him yet again (or something).

    And it wasn’t just weeks of Max being mad without anybody knowing why, it was the weeks before that where he was suddenly a genius and a jerk about that. They basically made the guy completely unlikeable for about two months and then expect that it all gets taken care of by the “big reveal.” The reality is that they’ve just made people decide not to care about the storyline before it ever really gets going. Well done.

    As for the comparison to S&K’s history, I don’t mind it. As badly written as this may be, Max’s history is real. They aren’t retconning what happened to make it fit the S&K outline, so I’m okay with the basic comparisons. Like MP, my problem is simply that they are doing it badly. And, as seems to be par for the course, refusing to allow the female part of the pairing her own POV about anything.

  5. I can just picture your scenario (Max recognizes Trent at the lecture), Tripp. Now that would be a good soapy moment.

    I had a creative writing teacher once who said that if you have a really meaty plot point, don’t hold it in, use it. If it’s really good, it will lead to even more interesting things. Higley and co. acted like they were afraid to ruin the surprise, so it was all just a bunch of “WTF, Max?” moments, and didn’t add anything to the story until the reveal. I’m a little more engaged now that the secret is out, because at least there is a little more going on.

    Now, on a soap I’m all for holding things in for awhile so we can anticipate the reveal. But that’s the key—anticipation. To use the “Adrienne is Steve’s sister” example again, for awhile the show kept the secret from the audience so we didn’t know what was going on (and used the time in other ways, like I mentioned). But after WE found out, we got to anticipate and root for Kayla to find out. And that was a very nice, satisfying reveal on its own.

    I can’t share your enthusiasm for JER, Ellie, but I do agree with your point about showing, not telling. That goes along with what we were talking about awhile back, that you can show us what characters are thinking and feeling through flashbacks, voiceovers, music montages, reaction shots, and showing characters alone. Right now, for instance, it would be nice to show Sami alone so we have any idea what she’s feeling about Lucas and EJ.

  6. Oh, God Mary, this is my fault, I’m sorry. I was worried when I linked to you…

    Terry, behave. Those comments aren’t welcome from my blog (as you know I delete them) as I’m sure Mary will do the same.

  7. Oh no, it’s not a JER friendly zone here, lol? Would love to discuss his writing with all of you sometime. MP, I’m curious, have you ever done a post about him? I’d love to read it if you have. 🙂

    One “legacy” I think JER left, though (whether you view it as a positive or a negative) is that he got Days viewers used to his approach to pacing. Meaning, I would venture to say that most Days viewers almost expect pacing to be on the slower side. In 2007, where Hogan came almost right on the heels of JER, viewers were thrown by the quick pacing and imo couldn’t adjust that well. I’d even go so far as to say that the Days actors have an easier time with the JER-style pacing. If I were giving advice to a new Days head writer (which I hope we’ll have someday soon, lol), I’d tell them to slow down the pacing, especially at the start. I think it fits much better with all elements of Days as a show.

  8. I don’t know, Ellie. I agree Sheffer’s lightning quick pacing went too far the other way, but nothing could induce me to enjoy JER’s cold molasses in winter pacing. I still remember that night that wouldn’t end in June/July 2006, where we spent DAYS at either A) a party where Sami was waffling over telling Austin the truth about something I don’t even remember what it was while EJ gave her varying degrees of good/bad/manipulative advice or B) a bar in Cincinnati where Steve “Nick Stockton” Johnson waffled about whether or not to go back to the wife he didn’t remember or stay in Cincy with a barfly. And that wasn’t even close to the worst month/day that JER ever wrote.

    Surely there’s a much happier medium.

  9. Paula, I 100% agree there is a happy medium. lol my friends and I joke that the poor actresses would have to wear the same dress for like a month. It was definitely laughable at times. I think the entire November sweeps of 98 was literally one day’s time. If the stories don’t progress at all, the viewers get bored and tune out. I’m glad you made that point – when I watch JER’s stuff on DVD, I tend to forget that what I’m watching on the screen took six weeks to play out.

    Interestingly, I was actually thinking of JER in the 90’s when I wrote those posts. In my mind, it’s like two different people. I did not like JER’s 04-06 stint on Days much at all. But I do think the writers on Days used JER’s pacing as a model even after he left in 97.

    If I had to choose one, I’d still choose JER’s pacing over Higley’s. Even though viewers who did get bored with JER, they tuned in each day *just in case* they missed something. Higley doesn’t have that going for her at all.

  10. But, I don’t think that’s because Higley’s pacing is bad, or worse the JER’s anyway. It’s because Higely slows things down by repetition. If she used that time a to flesh things out instead of just repeating them, it would be much better.

    I have limited familiarity with JER’s writing because I was not watching the show for most of it. But, my limited introduction to it in the summer of 2006 was more than enough for me. I’ll never forget the three weeks MBE spent in the fugly pink dress the day of Frankie and Jen’s wedding. Of the outrageous number of false reveals (“OMG, it’s you!!) that were just plain irritating.

    I agree that Hogan’s pacing was too quick in many ways and, as a result, a lot of important reactions and emotional beats got missed. But, I’d still be hard pressed to pick JER’s pacing over Hogan’s. The monthdays would drive me insane. And, as Paula said, there really HAS to be a happy medium somewhere.

  11. Yeah, I think the important thing is to use the time well. I didn’t see 90’s JER, so I can only say that based on what I saw (last 8 months of his second run, plus little bits and pieces before that), he didn’t use the time well either. He teased us a lot with false reveals, but after awhile that just became annoying to me.

    But, to be fair, I have heard that 90’s JER was better. It sounds like his pacing was also slow, but that maybe he used to time better. And I have also heard that he had a way with a dramatic reveal. Drawing out the suspense can often be forgiven if they give you a big bang at the end.

    I remember the first solid week of Days I watched in November 05 had Marlena in her penthouse in a white bathrobe for the week, and Belle in her apartment with her PPD (though baby Claire wasn’t in evidence), also in a white bathrobe all week. I so wanted them to get dressed!

  12. Ohhhh, you guys haven’t seen 90’s JER? 😦 It was really like a different person than “00’s JER”. Ok, I didn’t realize when I wrote about JER that all of you would automatically think of 04-06. I hated JER’s writing from 04-06 for the most part, lol. The SSK story started out ok but ended terribly, and everything just went downhill from there. But even the best parts of SSK pale in comparison imo to his writing in the 90’s.

    So, yes, his pacing in the 90’s was still “JER-ish”, but much closer to the happy medium that Paula’s talking about.

    And about Higley and repetition – I think sometimes it’s almost like she isn’t sure where she’s going with a story, so she sort of “stalls” it until she figures it out. That’s how it comes across to me, anyway. JER’s 90’s stories were so well thought out, that even the flashbacks (and he did use them extensively) contributed to the forward movement of the story. Higley’s flashbacks just seem to be ‘filler’ that stops the action for a while.

  13. Yeah, I’m afraid most of us (at least the regulars on this blog) missed out on JER’s first run. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it but I honestly can’t say anything jumped out at me too much (except the cheestastic special effects during parts of the Possession storyline). So, it’s probably not too fair to judge JER’s entire body of work just from the stuff at the very end of the second run.

    But, I don’t think that you have to drag things out to hit necessary beats and reactions. For example, one of the major parts of the S&K story was the period between Steve breaking up with Kayla (aka “shore leave”) and Steve rescuing Kayla from being poisoned and S&K reuniting. That entire portion of the storyline lasted about 3 months. Yet, every emotional beat and reaction was hit and played perfectly and there were mini-storylines playing out underneath it. There are other examples, of course, but to me that’s perfect pacing.

    In any case, I agree that Higely’s repetition seems to be a case of stalling while TPTB judge which way the wind is blowing on a particular storyline. Which, in turn, brings up a whole other problem with the current writing on Days.

  14. I just wish they’d realize that the emotional beats are really what we watch for. That was definitely a Hogan trait, and unfortunately, Higley’s not doing much better.

    I was so disappointed that all we got for our pain during the BSC!Steve months of torture was one day of deprogramming. Just one day. I didn’t need to see it every single day, but couldn’t they have given us at least three or four days of slowly building recovery?

    What about fallout from the kidney thing with John? Why did Kayla learn about Benjy’s death off-screen and never get the chance to share in the mourning? Why didn’t we see a love scene when Bo and Hope finally reunited after almost getting divorced? What about Steve and Kayla dealing with their daughter’s rape, given their own historical experiences? Why has it taken three months to get fallout for Kayla finding Steve in bed with Ava?

    And those are just the questions from the storylines I watched most closely. I’m sure every fan of almost every character on this show could have similar questions.

    This is a show with a lot of history to mine. A lot of the characters on canvas now were on canvas 20 years ago. Their children are now important players in the show. But the writers seem to ignore all of that history, the opportunities for telling a deeper, more satisfying story, in favor of flashbacks and repetition. Why? I just don’t understand how it can be more satisfying to a writer to put in a flashback than to put in some meaty exploration of the emotions behind the characters’ actions.

  15. When I think of JER style pacing, I think of Jack and Jennifer over the cliff in Melaswen. Jack and Jennifer reunite three times, only each time it’s revealed to be a fantasy. Jack rescues Jennifer — and it’s another fantasy. Jennifer slips and falls — and lands on a convenient ledge. Jack ends up on the ledge too, which spends several days crumbling beneath them. And there are more of those false reveals that Paula was mentioning. Some of those elements are probably good, but he didn’t know how to use them judiciously. Poor Jennifer should not have been stuck over that cliff for a week.

    I have to admit that I was one of those viewers that left in the months after JER left the first time, though. But it felt more like breaking free than anything else at that point, because the show was markedly better in some ways under SSM. I was just tired of it.

  16. Paula, agree about emotional beats. Those are all very good questions you’ve asked!

    And I feel like sending you all a set of Aremid DVDs!! JER was so good (in the 90’s, at least) of weaving an intricate storyline and showing all of the emotional beats. (Though I don’t fault you for not watching – I have pretty much no idea what happened from 87-91, when Deidre wasn’t on.)
    This is the link to a writeup about Aremid. If you read it, you’ll get a flavor for what type of storyteller (in the 90’s, lol) JER was. And this was only a 4 or 5 month storyline, but it was part of a two-year story arc involving all of the characters.

  17. It sounds like Aremid was quite the umbrella storyline. I think I might kill for a true umbrella storyline again. Not just a storyline that throws everybody into scenes, but one that actually uses the storyline as a way of tying many different storylines together. Unfortunately nobody seems to know how to do that anymore.

    As for JER, I must say that my feelings about him are impacted not only by what I watched in 2006, but also by Passions. While I never watched Passions, I’ve read summaries. I realize that it’s outrageousness was part of the point, but I guess I resent the damage done to the industry because of it. Somewhere along the line, shock value became more important than good storytelling and that, in my opinion, is the one blow the soap industry has never recovered from.

  18. It sounds like Aremid was quite the umbrella storyline.
    It really was.

    I think I might kill for a true umbrella storyline again. Not just a storyline that throws everybody into scenes, but one that actually uses the storyline as a way of tying many different storylines together. Unfortunately nobody seems to know how to do that anymore.
    Agree completely. Did you see the interview with Higley where she referred to the blackout as an “umbrella storyline”? Give me a break.

    About Passions – I’ve never watched it, but I have read summaries and heard about it, and it seems like that was the worst elements of JER’s writing, all taken to an extreme. It’s almost like JER started to veer off-course when Passions began, and he moved further and further off, even including his Days 04-06 stint. Perhaps a co-head writer (like Sheri in 93) would have balanced him out well.

  19. I was watching during the 90s. I remember bits and pieces of all of it–Bo and Billie, the return of Hope, Princess Gina, John, Marlena, Kristen and Susan, Faux Jack and Faux Jen, etc. I just didn’t get to watch it every day because Satan!Marlena had driven me away. So I only caught the show now and then when I was at my mom’s when she was watching her tape for the day. I did read Early Edition (RIP) fairly regularly to keep up.

    I have memories of a lot of stuff from the nineties–Nicole/Eric, Greta, Tanner and Molly, Belle’s birth, Carrie and the acid, Sami and her shenanigans, the Lucas/Sami wars over Will, Kate and Victor, Vivian and Ivan, etc. But if you asked me to tell you a storyline, I’d be hard put to do it.

    I guess I really need to go track down some of those clips. Does Eternal Soulmates have the Aremid clips?

  20. Yeah, the blackout is an Event, not an umbrella storyline. We already know that Dena can write Events, she just can’t write anything that comes out of those events. I freely admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the plane crash in February, aside from minor things that bugged. But, there was really now follow through from it. Events should be the springboard for the next round of storylines, but it really wasn’t.

    And the blackout wasn’t even really much of an event, although EJ/Nicole in the elevator was kind of fun.

    Anyway, back on topic, the gold standard for umbrella storylines for me will always be Stockholm. It brought so many characters into play and depending on who you focused on at any one time, it was as much about any one couple as the other. And it all tied together beautifully. Sigh. The good old days.

  21. Eternal soulmates has some J&M Aremid clips, but I wish I knew a source for Aremid day-by-day as a whole. It was such an intricately woven storyline that I’m not sure the clips do it justice. I don’t think anyone has posted it on YouTube yet.

    The eternal soulmates clips start here

    at “John calls confused with Tony’s Behavior”, and continue into 1996

    and end with, “Marlena wakes to John at her bedside.”

  22. esp13, completely agree with your entire post. I enjoyed the plane crash for what it was, but it was only an event.

    And Stockholm is the gold standard, no question. (Though imo Aremid is second, lol.)

  23. It’s funny because I was really happy with the plane crash in part because it was an event and Days hadn’t had one for a really long time (that I could remember anyway). And events are soap staples. But, of course, nothing really came out of it.

    I’d love it if SoapNet (or somebody) replayed the entire Stockholm storyline someday. I have the S&K clips from that storyline, of course. And they do include some of the other stuff, but not too much. It would be fun to rewatch the full episodes and get the different perspectives of all the fanbases. It was truly good soap.

    But even after Stockholm there were good umbrella storylines. The S&K OTR/disc storyline included almost everybody on the canvas and introduced new characters in a fairly compelling way. The Marina storyline sucked from an S&K fan perspective but it was used to bring Jack and Jennifer together, introduce Isabella, and start the RoJohn/Isabella romance and then led nicely into the Cruise of Deception, another good umbrella storyline.

    Alamania, Aremid, and I’m sure there are others. But, I can’t think of one good umbrella storyline in the last 2 years. Heck, I can’t think of anything that actually resembled an umbrella storyline in the last two years.

    And judging by the fact that Dena doesn’t seem to know what an umbrella storyline is, I’m not hopeful for the future.

    And now I’ve officially veered completely off-topic. But, then again, MP’s kind of used to that by now.

  24. Paula, I replied to you but it says “awaiting moderation”. Not sure what I did wrong, lol.

    Esp13, that’s such a good idea about Soapnet! Wish they’d do that. And imo was the last true ‘umbrella storyline’ that involved everyone. I guess SSK did in theory, but that was more that everyone else played a supporting role to the lead characters. Not exactly the same.

  25. I think the reason umbrella storylines might be a thing of the past is that you have to plan the stories months in advance, and you have to stick to that plan. I just think TPTB, for whatever reason, don’t do that anymore. I think the idea is to “respond to what the fans want,” maybe, but it seems to just lead to stories that go nowhere.

    JER, love him or hate him, did bring up the ratings to the extent that TPTB left him alone, I think.

    At any rate, I totally agree with you all that I’m dying for a big umbrella story, and I have about .00000000000000001% expectation that one will occur.

    Ellie, when you put in more than one link, I have to approve the comment, since so many spam comments are filled with links. But don’t be shy about posting links. I’ll approve it, of course!

  26. >I don’t think anyone has posted it on YouTube yet.

    classicdaysof80s does have big pieces of it, pretty much day by day. I know she has the J/M parts and the B/H parts — not so sure about the Jennifer/Peter/Jack side of things.

    I think Benjy’s death is the biggest missed opportunity for an umbrella story since I’ve been watching again. Should have had major, major implications for S/K, Stephanie, EJ (and Sami and Lucas by extension), Tony, Stefano, and could have involved all of the cops as well. Also Philip through the Pocket story which was going on at the time IIRC, and additional ripples from that direction. A lot of the pieces were there, but the momentum just didn’t keep rolling after a certain point. John’s death was similar.

  27. Thanks Iska for the YouTube info. I’ll check it out!

    MP, agree, JER did bring up the ratings. But regarding planning ahead for an umbrella storyline (which I agree is absolutely necessary) – I would put that more in the category of the writer’s talent, rather than any producer’s interference. I personally don’t think Higley has the talent or vision to plan an entire story arc that far in advance.

  28. I wonder how much budgetary concerns factor into being unable to plan an umbrella storyline–seems like they have smaller writing staffs these days, plus the vets are expensive and significant screen time for them would cost more, wouldn’t it?

    Also, with the uncertainty over the renewal of Days, plus actors’ contracts coming up at different times, and with the general state of soaps right now, I don’t know how much more of a difference another writer would make. The quality of the day to day work would perhaps be better (depending on who got hired), dialogue could improve, the storylines we do have could come to logical conclusions–but I just don’t think we’ll ever see the days of the umbrella story again. Shoot, they can only afford about three sets; that’s one of the worst things about watching these days, that it’s actually sad to see how cheap everything looks.

  29. The show does look cheap, and it depresses me too. I remember when they gave Shelle that ludicrous Bope-lite sendoff, all it did was make me remember Bo and Hope sailing away on a REAL boat, using real exterior shots. Shelle is a pale, very pale imitation of Bope anyway, and that sendoff just highlighted the difference between Days then and Days now.

  30. The only time the lack of sets really bothers me is when very important conversations have to take place in public. Stephanie’s rape reveal to her parents is the most egregious (to her mom in the ladies room at Chez Rouge, to her dad at the pub). But there have certainly been others.

    And, it got particularly ridiculous when the Salem PD were looking at evidence in John’s hit and run accident AT THE PUB.

    I do understand the budget concerns, but those are the times it really, really bugs.

  31. Yeah, I remember those scenes, esp. I also remember an episode that seemed to take place almost entirely in the hospital corridors. Looking at those gray walls for almost the full 40 minutes was very sad.

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