So, Mama Pickford’s gone home. We closed out TomSell’s last full week together. Josh Griffith and Dena Higley material starts this week.
I’ve been waiting for this for so long, I feel like I should throw a Grand Opening party, a welcome to the 50th anniversary! But, this blog post will have to do.
25th anniversary cast photo – credit Jason47
I’ve been trying to keep my expectations at a realistic level, and will continue to do so. But for now, I’d like to daydream a little about what I want to see on my show.
- Slow-burn love stories – Let’s start with the big one. One of the reasons I am leery about Higley as headwriter is that she created exactly zero couples that I shipped during her last stint. There was plenty of coupling and uncoupling, don’t get me wrong. But everything happened so fast that it felt mechanical. Chloe is with Phillip, then Lucas, then Daniel. Nicole is with EJ, then Rafe, then Brady. Some of these pairings “worked” in the sense that the actors had chemistry and sold it. But none were the type of romance that I like – the slow burn. Give me some time to get invested in a couple. Keep them out of bed for awhile, but tease us with close calls along the way. And then boom! the big payoff.
- Remember the plot is just the framework. – I love a good soapy plot, especially an intricate one involving lots of characters. But, too often the plot becomes the point, and the show forgets that what we really care about is how the characters react within it. How are their relationships affected? Does this connect with anything from their past? Does it make them see someone in a new light, good or bad? This is why we watch, to see people react within the craziness of the plot. Look at Chad and Abby. A WTD story and a faked paternity test? YAWN. But we care because the show is making it a love story.
- Family – I loved the scenes in the hospital this week, when all the Bradys on the canvas stopped by to see Caroline. Family scenes often take characters out of their usual circle and give us different perspectives. I don’t even like Theresa much, but I adored the scenes of her with Eve this week. That’s a sisterly relationship that could be explored further (and I loved their snark!). Eric and Brady, and Jennifer with Abby and JJ were wonderful. But I want more, more!
- Friends – Similarly, let’s not forget that characters can be friends! Nicole and Jennifer, and Marlena and Kate, had scenes this week. Theresa and Anne are fun. Why not give us more? When was the last time we saw Adrienne and Kayla together? And men and women can be friends too! When Eric had three scenes with Jennifer over the past few weeks, I saw people were freaking out they were going to be paired off. Why? Because men and women are never platonic friends anymore. Remember Steve and Hope’s friendship? Jack and Isabella? If Theresa and Brady continue to have as much chemistry as I’ve seen so far (none), why not make them uneasy friends and co-parents instead?
- Let our heroes be heroes – or heroines, of course. I don’t need my good guys to always be good. In fact, let them make mistakes. But show me a reason for the mistake, and also show them paying for their mistake. One of the quickest ways to create a hated character is to have someone act like a lech, a cheater, a schemer, a judgmental ass … and have NO ONE on the show call them on it. And if someone is a “good guy,” give us a chance to see them – at least sometimes – doing something truly good. Rescuing someone, being kind, facing down temptation, going out of their way to help someone, or forgive someone. Also, the bad guys can have their moments too. Show us a reason for their bad behavior, so we can see they’re human. And just like the good guys, they have to pay for their mistakes, they have to suffer a little.
- Just say no to endless triangles and quads. – This is a personal pet peeve, which is related to my desire for slow-burn love stories. I think soaps rely on triangles way too much, and I think they like the neverending plot opportunities of stringing two fanbases along. But when neither couple is endgame, it leaves the actors at sea. Especially the one in the middle. Who should they be casting longing looks at? Also, triangles that drag on forever tend to make everyone look bad. The one in the middle seems wishy-washy and unfair. The two on either side seem like doormats or endless schemers. But if you can show which person is the “true love” and also give us an understandable reason to pick the “wrong” person, you can still get a lot of plot mileage out of the story without pissing everybody off.
- Mechanics – Another pet subject of mine. Is a story not working? A couple not clicking with fans? Don’t just abruptly drop it. Don’t rewrite history and try to pretend something didn’t happen. Especially if it’s been a painful story filled with suffering, you must give us a payoff, a hash-it-out scene, ideally more than one. See what you can salvage from the old plot as you ease into the new. Abruptly dropping stories, and giving us no payoff or fallout, erodes the trust and investment we have in the show.
- Nods to history – Scriptwriters, want to make the message boards light up? Refer to something that happened years ago that relates to something that is happening now. Longtime viewers (and Days bloggers!) live for that stuff. A reference to a character off the canvas is also always welcome. Just be careful to make it vague enough not to interfere with a future return!
More specifically, my wants are simple. Give me a nice umbrella story for the 50th, with lots of cast mixing. Show Steve wooing Kayla. Reunite Ericole and Chabby after some angsty longing. Give me some new characters and couples to root for. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Don’t answer that. 🙂