Anna’s ashes

I know I haven’t posted for awhile, but I have actually been been able to find something to enjoy in each episode (well, usually). But, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — some of Dena’s ideas sound good on paper and have real potential, but the execution of them is usually slapdash and all surface level. I have to try hard to block out my brain when it starts whispering, wow, if they had done it this way this could be a really good story. Why aren’t they doing it this way?

But on that surface level, there are things to enjoy. The Prague scenes are a perfect example. It’s all plot, but it’s been fun to watch our guys running around, chasing clues and talking about the case. It’s bittersweet to hear all this talk about Stefano being alive when Joe Mascolo has just died — I’m hopeful that he will turn up in a scene or two that he filmed before he died. How amazing would that be?

Anna’s appearance added a welcome comic element to the Prague story. Carting around Tony’s ashes in what looks like a cocktail shaker, waving a gun around, speaking French to the Czech policeman, sparring with Marlena. I especially loved the interplay when Anna watched jealously as Carrie hugged Marlena and then Carrie and Anna sniped at each other.

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Christie Clark played the exasperated straight man perfectly to Leanne Hunley’s kooky screwball heroine. It was all so great that I was gobsmacked to realize that Carrie and Anna have hardly shared any scenes at all, and not since 1986!

So seeing Carrie and Anna was a major treat, but seeing Carrie and Austin gave me warm fuzzies too. Not because I ever shipped them (I missed their 90’s heyday), but because seeing Austin Peck standing there woodenly reminded me of 2005-6 when I was posting constantly on the Television Without Pity board. We called Austin the “Forehead of Thought” and made many, many jokes about his woodenness and his stupidity. Sigh. That board was so much fun.

Regarding the other stories, I’ve gotten to the point where I am FFing all of Hope’s prison scenes. I try not to FF in general, but these scenes are just painfully bad. I am still (with reservations) enjoying the Chad/Abby/Gabi scenes, but I’m starting to feel a familiar dread. Last time Dena was writing, she arranged the twenty- and thirty-somethings in complicated quads that featured endlessly revolving couplings and uncouplings. (Being a fan of the slow burn love story, it’s one of the things I dislike most about her writing.) What she’s setting up with Chad/Abby/Gabi/JJ/Lani/maybe Dario/maybe whoever — has the same feel to it. I think Chad and NuAbby have chemistry, as I mentioned in my last post. I really love their angsty scenes, and I thought their date scenes this week were great. I mean … look at them.

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But, but … I’d rather they were apart and longing for each other right now. I’m almost feeling the “longing for each other” story element with Chad and Gabi. If I set aside how silly it is that Chad and Gabi are using the L word after a few kisses and one makeout session, the supercouple scenario is more on their side: just as they are about to get together … the dead wife comes back from the grave! But, I don’t think they are endgame, so it’s all a bit weird.

Sigh. It’s like Bizarro world. Everything is backwards.

Next week, ERIC!!

Screencaps  Joanie

Merry Christmas

I enjoyed the Christmas episodes last week. The Horton ornament hanging always brings tears to my eyes. I read a post from Jason47 a few years ago about how delicate and precious these ornaments are in real life, packed away carefully by the props department each year, and only brought out for the filming itself. I got the impression that everyone, every actor, director, producer, and crew member holds their breath as they are hung on the tree, especially the ornaments for Tom, Alice, Mickey, Laura, etc … all the old ornaments that are older than some of the cast members!  After reading that I find the ornaments ceremony even more touching, if that’s possible!

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Steve and Kayla comedy hour on Friday.

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I loved how Stephen and Mary Beth played the scenes slightly cockeyed, like Steve and Kayla had already gotten into the eggnog. The banter with Roman about the fruitcake was cute, but it was nothing compared to Kayla’s “gift” for Steve that she’s been taking harmonica lessons, and her demonstration of her skills with “Jingle Bells.” Stephen’s deadpan response was perfect, when she told him enthusiastically that now she can play for him all the time.

And of course, there were these outfits:

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Look at that red patch! I laughed out loud at Ari’s line, “I didn’t know Santa Claus was a pirate!” It was all so, so much fun.

And surprisingly, I was really blown away by the Chabby scenes. I haven’t been as down on Abby’s return as some people have. I certainly can’t say it’s been well written — Abby’s been all over the place and none of her “plans” about staying dead — such as they were — really made any sense. But I like it when things are stretched out and they make us wait, because that’s something that they don’t do enough anymore. The anticipation of Chad finally seeing Abby was heightened through the long wait, and it was nice to see that pay off in a big way (payoffs — remember those?).

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I particularly liked Chad’s mixture of emotions, part elation that she was back, part fury that she ever left. That carried through nicely through today’s episode, when he defended Gabi after Abby lashed out at her. but also seemed close to taking her in his arms a couple of times. I’m gratified to see that Billy and Marci seem to have a more intense, emotional chemistry, which contrasts nicely with the friendly, bantery chemistry he has with Camila. I’m leery of how this triangle will play out, but so far, so good.

I would say overall Thursday and Friday were a perfect pair of Christmas episodes. A wonderful blend of family bonding, humor, angst, and heartbreak. I can’t remember a pair of episodes I’ve enjoyed more. Today’s show wasn’t quite as good — too much Hope and the teens, which are the weaker stories — but it was great to see Charles Shaughnessy back, this time with the vets.

And how poignant was it to hear him say, considering Joe’s recent death, that Stefano might be alive? If only, if only. 😥

Screencaps Joanie and LizK

Christmas cheer

Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit. Maybe it’s that Steve and Kayla are happy, and I’m looking forward to Greg’s return. Maybe I’m just beaten down at this point. Whatever it is, I don’t think the show is any better, but I’ve been enjoying it more.

Depth, consistency, characterization, slow burn romance … we’ll never get these things with Dena, but occasionally she will hit on a soap plot that has a interlocking geometry to it that is satisfying. The first babyswitch story was like that, and this new one is starting to shape up and cohere a little bit.

I always wanted to like the story, because it’s the one that Eric will probably be involved in, and I’m still hoping Eric will somehow turn out to be the father.  But I also appreciate how much the show is focusing on Chloe and Nicole’s friendship. Female friendships aren’t often the focus on soaps, so this is refreshing.

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Some of the dialogue today was genuinely cute and clever, like when Chloe said ruefully she hoped this time she could have her baby in a hospital, and when Nicole reassured her that she’s done this before, delivering Grace is what started her on her fabulous babyswitching career.

I actually teared up a little when Nicole held her baby. I’m delighted that the baby is a girl, and I’m even more delighted that Nicole didn’t name the baby Danielle, or Danipalooza, or whatever.

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Now that I feel more (cautiously) hopeful that Deimos and Nicole aren’t going to be the rooting couple, I’ve even been enjoying Deimos again. His blase attitude with Brady regarding Phillip was kind of amusing: “yeah, I kidnapped Phillip and drugged him, what?” I could get on board with this characterization of Deimos: he genuinely cares for (some) people, but if you’re not one of those people, he’ll squash you like a bug if it helps him reach his goals.

Still, it’s annoying that no one calls him on it for more than a minute or two, so I really enjoyed Phillip’s parting rant, which also included Victor (another character who never gets called on anything).

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Phillip’s sendoff was actually good. It was a little abrupt, but his scenes with Chloe, the Kiriakises, and Kate actually hit some emotional beats. I really liked John Paul Lavoisier. I love Jay Kenneth Johnson, but John Paul fit well in the role. I can’t figure out why they got rid of him just when they finally got him away from Belle and gave him something more interesting to do. (And yet we keep Dario and Deimos …) I suspect the departure of Jen Lilley had something to do with it — Brady is at loose ends now, and I think they might try pairing him with Chloe. But they definitely left the door wide open for Phillip’s return, and if Jay Kenneth Johnson isn’t interested, I would welcome John Paul back with open arms.

Screencaps Joanie

Double D

Sorry for my long silence. I was in Chicago for work, and it took me awhile to catch up. I actually like watching a bunch of shows in a row — I have an excuse to fast-forward.

Oh, man, that’s sad, isn’t it?

Here’s another thing that’s sad:  Steve and Kayla have had one love scene in two years, but Deimos and Nicole are having a “bed-in”:

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As close as I’m getting to posting a picture of Nicole and Deimos in bed together.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how Eric is going to factor into this. Is he just going to be a wrinkle on the path to true love that is Nicole and Deimos? I thought that Deimos was going to be written as more of a villain, and that doesn’t seem to be the case. Everyone is falling over themselves to make excuses for him, he’s supposedly helping Hope because he feels “bad” about killing Bo (ugh, don’t even get me started), and his snooping around about Chloe’s baby is being presented semi-sympathetically, because he’s doing it for Nicole’s sake.

Oh, and then Daniel swooped in from heaven above to bestow his blessing on Deimos. It’s bad enough that Deimos is the new Daniel, but now the two of them are double teaming us. I keep thinking it can’t get worse, but Dena always manages to plumb new depths.

On a brighter note, even though Steve and Kayla don’t have a story going on right now, Days is being generous with adorable scenes like this:

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I loved the banter about how many times they’ve gotten married, and the album and invitation were perfect:

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A stethoscope in the form of a heart, wearing a patch. Insanely cute. ❤

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Good work, props department. Looking forward to Valentine’s Day!

Screenshots Joanie and Luckynthestrong

Not another one

Someone sure loves baby stories, doesn’t she?

I really hope that Jade is lying about the baby, or there is some other twist so that Joey doesn’t end up a father before his twentieth birthday. I like James Lastovic but Joey has been written as such a dim bulb. If there was some career he was preparing for, something he was dreaming of doing, and this baby was forcing him to give up that dream, I might be able to muster up more interest. But he’s going to college (under protest), living at home, and not working. Steve is proud of him for “stepping up” but how is he stepping up? Offering Jade a place to live in a place he’s not paying for?

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There’s also the fact that he’s a murderer. I could maybe forgive that, but I can never forgive this hair:

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I will take the ring to Mordor, only I do not know the way.

Also, Jade’s smugness, and her taunting, about the baby at Thanksgiving drained any sympathy I had for the character (and I did have some). If she’s going to treat her baby like a meal ticket, why should I see it any differently? Grrr. Someone help me out here.

I am theoretically intrigued by this Abby/Chad/Gabi triangle — I like all three characters. So far, though, the best thing about it is the homophonic couple names. Chabby vs. Chabi! They sound so alike? How can we choose?? Abby’s talk about staying dead had me shouting at the TV, “What about your son??” Also, the fact that her own brother is with Gabi should put a dent in her certainty that Chad has “moved on.”

On Friday, though, they addressed the Thomas issue a little by having Abby freak out at her inability to comfort him, which added fuel to the idea that Thomas might be better off without her too.

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In general, Abby’s hysteria on Friday made her decision to stay in hiding a lot more understandable. I liked that Jennifer mentioned her pill addiction and Chad’s doubt about her ability to take care of Thomas. (Though she left out the whole custody battle — I’d like to see Abby’s reaction to that!) And I was surprisingly moved by Jennifer’s sense of betrayal that Laura kept Abby hidden from her. In general, I’ve been enjoying the Deveraux/Horton family interactions. Let’s hope the love triangle gets a little more interesting.

As for Adrienne’s big decision, again the execution of the story leaves a lot to be desired. I loved Justin’s big entrance (even without the necessary buildup) because it was soapy, and Adrienne’s collapse was fun to watch for the same reason, but the writing is so thin in between these events that it is hard to care. “I love them both,” she says. But what does she see in Lucas? What does she see in Justin? What are the stakes? Three times she has been interrupted right before she announces who she has “chosen,” and sadly this is all the suspense we have been given. Again the pleasure is coming from the family/friend interactions. Wally Kurth and Bryan Datillo have obviously been having a lot of fun with their juvenile sparring. And then there’s Steve throwing shade at Justin:

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What a look! I love Steve in protective older brother mode.

Aaaaaand … how great was this scene:

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Awwww.

Screencaps Joanie

Nouveau Deveraux

Technically, that should be “nouvelle,” but that didn’t rhyme.

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(Look at that picture of Jack! Jack, who I met last weekend!!!)

I was quite favorably impressed with Marci Miller as the new Abby. I thought her scenes with Jen were very good. She connected very naturally with Jen and they gave off a nice mother/daughter vibe. She also really sold the whole “I faked my death so you could all move on” thing — not the easiest sell for one of your first scenes. And, family resemblance isn’t everything (see Brady, Ciara), but Marci’s striking resemblance to Melissa Reeves is a nice bonus.

She’s also got the “blink and let one tear fall down your cheek” thing down pat — always a good skill for a soap actress!

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The big test will be seeing her with Chad.  They seem to be banking a lot on nuChabby, based on the general buzz, the frequent behind-the-scenes photos, and the constant cutesy tweeting between Billy and Marci. I worried that it was all being built up too much, because for me anyway, I won’t automatically ship a couple I like if there’s a recast — quite the opposite, actually.  Now, I’m not a Chabby shipper per se — I like them, but I was open to seeing Chad paired with someone else. I didn’t want to see Billy Flynn wasted just because Kate Mansi left the show. At any rate, I’m excited to see how it plays out.

Seeing Steve and Adrienne together is always something special, and this was a particularly good scene:

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I loved the banter about “the blues” being her “something blue” and Steve saying he was the “something old” and Adrienne cracking up and saying “at least you didn’t say me!” Such a cute sibilng vibe to these scenes.

At the (pitifully attended) wedding itself, the highlight for me was Steve and Kayla making googoo eyes at each other:

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I was on board for Justin’s big entrance, because it’s so soapy, but this is the kind of thing that calls for more than a couple of scenes (not even episodes) of preparation. I heard there was a cut scene where Adrienne was talking about the wedding and accidentally said Justin’s name instead of Lucas. That seems like a scene we should have seen, don’t you think? And a better writer would also have made more of Sonny being torn between encouraging his father to interrupt the wedding and the fact that he’s Lucas’s best man, his former father-in-law, and Lucas has endured so much loss in his life recently (as has Sonny). But instead it was just “Oh, by the way, Dad, you should totes interrupt the wedding.

Then there was Theresa’s exit this week. I actually have been drawn into this little arc against my will.

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I was so annoyed at the whole Mateo retcon, and I still don’t believe in a million years that Shane and Kim would help Theresa leave her son and go off with a dangerous man, no matter how powerful he was. But, I must admit it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a decent “I have to pretend to be a horrible person” storyline (a story which can be good soapy angst if done well), and this one actually gave Jen Lilley and Eric Martsolf some surprisingly good material to work with. I haven’t liked Thrady that much since Theresa’s redemption. But they had an interesting dynamic when Theresa was bad and Brady was a drug addict, and the angst they got to play this week reminded me of when I liked them.

And, I’m glad they gave a little hint that Shane might have another plan in mind, and he’s not letting Theresa go off with Mateo after all, in his last scene on Friday.

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Now can we get some scenes with Kim and Shane with Kayla and the rest of the cast, pretty please?

Screencaps Joanie

Second Day of Days

I spent the second day of my weekend in LA with my family doing tourist stuff, but then it was time for an evening with Stephen and Mary Beth! The event was a performance and fundraiser for a nonprofit group called One World Stage & Screen, which provides classes, coaching, and mentorship for young actors.

Mama P and I got there just in time to go into the theater. The performance was a short two-actor play called Annapurna, by Sharr White. I wasn’t familiar with it, but I did some googling and found that it has been performed all over, including a run in LA starring Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman.

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Thanks Liz for the photo!

It was a “dramatic reading” rather than a staged play, meaning Stephen and Mary Beth had their scripts throughout, and there were no props. Here is the plot: Emma (Mary Beth) comes to visit her poet ex-husband Ulysses (Stephen). She finds him living in poverty and squalor and dying of emphysema. Over the course of the play, we learn that Emma left Ulysses 20 years before, suddenly, in the middle of the night, taking their 5 year old son with her. She has just now left her second husband, a “nice” guy who has just beat her up, partly because she couldn’t get over Ulysses. We learn that Ulysses was a heavy drinker all through their marriage and afterwards (but has now given it up). The son, now 25, has just discovered that Ulysses was writing to him over the 20 years and plans to come see him. That’s why Emma is here. She also heard that he was dying, and wants to “see him out,” as she says. By the end of the play, we hear what drove her away that night 20 years ago, and we see that their bond has not broken in spite of it all.

The play was a good choice for Stephen and Mary Beth. Ulysses is dying, bitter, concealing old hurts, but still has a raffish charm. Emma is bitter too, blaming him for the past, and yet still drawn to him in spite of herself. I enjoyed the play on its own merits, and it was thrilling to see Stephen and Mary Beth live, working their magic, playing off of one another. However, my mind also drifted several times to Steve and Kayla, since there were some interesting parallels. First, since I feel that Kayla’s point of view gets short shrift these days, it was nice to see both of these characters able to express their hurt and bitterness. When Emma talked about being married to her “nice” second husband and how there were always three in the bed, made me think of Kayla’s marriage to Jack, and the way he snapped too. All in all, it was a Steve and Kayla story if Steve were a little less redeemable and Kayla a little more bitter.

It also made me think of how Steve and Kayla might have turned out if Steve had succeeded in pushing her away permanently, and they met again 20 years later. How would their lives have turned out? Would Kayla marry and have a (long-term) loveless marriage, and Steve slide into despair and self-destruction? I found that very intriguing to imagine as I watched this story unfold.

After the play, there was a reception. On the way there I saw Kate Mansi, on her way out. Later I also saw Christopher Sean. There were rumors that James Lastovic was going to be there, but I never saw him. At the reception we chatted with friends, including Erica and Lysie from Daytime Royalty, who pumped me for information on Greg’s event the day before. Then Erica discreetly pointed out that Matt Ashford was standing right behind me, talking to Mary Beth’s family. Like all actors, Matt looks super skinny in person, and he was wearing a suit jacket and pants with a t-shirt, and had a bulky fanny pack around his waist. It was a … unique look.

I was super excited to be so close to Matt, but I didn’t want to be an annoying intrusive fan and interrupt his conversation. Mama P had no such compunction, and she went over and grabbed him and said she wanted a picture of him with her daughter. (Thanks, Mama P!) Matt said, “Oh, why don’t we step over here?” and before I knew it I was on the red carpet with Matt and ten or more people were taking our picture.

Matt, trying to make small talk, asked me how I enjoyed the performance and I stammered something and said, “I’m sorry, I’m a little starstruck.” He laughed and put his arm around me and my mom took this picture. What a sweetheart!

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Afterwards I jumping up and down with excitement and everyone was teasing me about it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk to or take a picture with Stephen and Mary Beth at the event (you could pay extra for a photo, and we didn’t spring for it). But I do have to say one of my most thrilling moments was right after I stepped away from Matt. Stephen spotted him and came up to give Matt a big hug. Seeing the Johnson brothers hugging might have been the highlight of the whole trip. I only wish I had been quick enough to take a picture.

The next day we were on the plane home. How soon til the next Day of Days??

EDIT: Jess, who was taking pictures for DR, just tweeted a few more pictures of Matt and Mama P and me. How did I not notice that Matt is wearing a James Joyce Ulysses shirt? Did he do that in honor of Stephen’s character? And just the fact that he owns a t-shirt for a classic novel seems so … Jack. Awesome.