I’m baaaaaaaack

Well, we made it.

My hatred of Dena Higley’s writing is of long standing — I actually was driven away from Days during her last stint in 2008, even before Steve and Kayla left the show in 2009. Looking back, however, her second run was positively Shakespearean compared to this stint.

How depressing.

My complaints about her writing are no doubt known to all of you. Event driven stories, thin, cartoonish characterization, lack of payoff, offscreen characters driving story, insufficient attention to character motivation, mix n match couplings … the list could go on and on. When I went on hiatus here three months ago, I HAD to stop watching every day, to avoid getting to the point where I hated everyone and everything in Salem and wanted to blow up the whole town. For instance, I used to like Chad, Abby, and Gabi, but I slowly grew to hate them all in the course of this wretched triangle.

But next week, every character and every story is getting a fresh start with me. I had glimmers of liking Chabby again during the Halo party. I liked Chad/Billy Flynn a lot for all of 2015 and 2016, so I don’t think it will take much to get me back in his camp. And I WANT to like Marci Miller. I was never a diehard Kate Mansi fan — I liked her when the writing was good in the fall of 2015, not so much before or after. So I think Marci and this version of Chabby could win me over too. Anyway, I’m going to give them a chance.

Of course my favorites have remained my favorites: Steve and Kayla, Eric and Nicole. Nicole has certainly tested my patience, but fast-forwarding has been my friend there. As soon as I hear the word “Daniel,” down goes the FF button. Does wonders for my peace of mind!

The show has been improving — slightly — over the last few weeks. I thought the Martin house party was mostly good, by Dena standards. I’ve been enjoying Eric and Nicole since then, too, and I hope we’ll get a little Ericole story before Ari leaves this fall. I’ll talk about them more in my next post.

But for now, let me focus on Steve and Kayla. I wish I could say that I have found redeeming moments in this Tripp story. I recognize that Lucas Adams is a decent actor, and Stephen and Mary Beth have certainly been giving it their all (as they always do), but I have found the whole thing to fairly wretched. Starting from the insertion of Ava YET AGAIN into their story, the lack of buildup to Tripp’s first appearance, the insta-bonding with Steve, then the insta-bonding with Ava’s ghost, the lack of a meaningful point of view for Kayla, Steve and Kayla’s general cluelessness, Jade’s role as wet dishrag/femme fatale … well, need I go on?

But even here — deep breath — I am going to try my hardest to wipe the slate clean and give Ron a chance to redeem it, and especially to redeem Tripp so I can stand the guy even a little bit.

I am mostly unexcited so far by the return of Anjelica in the form of Morgan Fairchild. (If it were Jane Elliot, I think I would feel differently. Just imagining her in these same scenes makes them 1000 x more interesting in my mind.) However, the story has not been terrible. It suffers from the usual lack of buildup, of course, but it has some points in its favor. First of all, it has given Steve and Kayla a chance to interact with characters other than Jade, Tripp, and Joey, which is a major plus. And second, it gave us those delightful scenes on Monday.

Even in the 80’s, Stephen and Mary Beth rarely got to do comedy, and it’s a shame, because Mary Beth is a natural comedienne. So scenes like these are a rare treat:

Some good lines here. My favorite was “Do I tell you how to remove a spleen?” Ha!

Mary Beth was giving off a major Lucille Ball vibe in these scenes, in her expression above and in this moment, when Anjelica mentioned smelling “cheap” perfume:

Adorable.

And then they finished it off with a cute, sexy scene at the end, when Kayla rushed them from their meal so they could go home and get it on:

This, to my mind, was a perfect episode arc for an established couple. A little plot, a little comedy, a little romance and sexiness. More please.

I’m not naive enough to think that the glory days of Days are ever coming back, but with Sheri on his side, I can’t help but be a little more hopeful about Ron than I would be with just any writing change. At any rate, I hope I’ll be able to watch my show without wanting to gouge out my eyeballs. So you can see I’m setting a high bar.

Welcome to Days, Ron!

Screencaps I ❤ SnK 

 

 

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On Hiatus

Hello everybody!

I think I am going to put this blog on hold, hopefully only for a few months. The show is depressingly bad, and I have no hope of it getting better until June. But the main reason is that I just got a huuuuuuuuge promotion at work. I was promoted to president of the nonprofit I work for (we say president, essentially the role is Executive Director). It’s a big jump for me and I want to be able to devote my full energies to it.

I don’t officially start until the end of April, but I’m busy making plans and getting a team in place so we can hit the ground running. Once things settle down a bit I hope to be able to pick this blog back up again, which ideally will be right around the time Ron, Sheri, and Ryan’s stuff starts airing.

I haven’t watched the show at all this week, but I will probably start again next week and I’ll still be around on Twitter. Hope to see you there!

Much love,

marypickford

 

I Do

Well, that was a pretty damn amazing little interlude, wasn’t it?

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Stephen called it “a bubble of love” and it really was. This wedding showed that you don’t have to have a big budget to have a beautiful wedding. Some people complained about the fact that the guests were standing, but I think it was better. Chairs can make a small wedding look even smaller, like the Chabby wedding (where there were actually EMPTY chairs). I’ve seen small weddings like this is real life too, where everyone stands.

I can certainly quibble about people who weren’t there, but I thought they did a good job bringing in most of the people of the current cast who should be there. Having Shane, Carrie, and Austin there was a nice treat, since they are only back for a short time. And I really appreciated that Hope came back in time for it. I’ve been frustrated with the fact that Days has turned into the Hope show for the last few years (Dena said once in an interview that she was on “Team Hope” — what headwriter talks like that?? — and believe me, it shows), but Hope was such an important part of Steve and Kayla’s early love story. She needed to be there.  (I also liked that she pulled Roman aside to tell him Eric was the one who took care of her.)

Of course, I loved, loved, loved having Stephanie there:

johnson-family-photo

It wasn’t just seeing Stephanie again, it was that Shelley Hennig wanted to come back for Stephen and Mary Beth. It just made the whole thing more meaningful.

Her scene with Joey in the part was adorable. They did a good job connecting as siblings, teasing each other and saying “ew!” at the idea of their parents having sex. I actually enjoyed James Lastovic again! Another reason for Stephanie to come back for good!

So many great little moments: Steve catching the bouquet, Stephanie tearing up during the ceremony, Joey telling Steve to “man up.” I loved Steve calling everyone to dance, and watching the all the couples together. I wanted “The Rose” or “When Your Heart Comes Out Tonight” but I was glad they got a song.

But, I have to say my favorite part was the vows. This is no surprise, since Stephen and Mary Beth apparently wrote them themselves. It showed. I loved Kayla’s reference to how the first time they got married, she thought she knew everything. I don’t know if that’s 100% true of when they got married, but it’s very, very true of their early story. Kayla was very, very sure they belonged together (she had to be to be keep at it through all the obstacles he threw at her) and didn’t quite get what a painful journey it was going to be. I loved that we saw that journey — from certainty to doubt, but then taking the plunge again anyway knowing the risks.

For Steve, I loved the line “You chipped and chipped away at that armor and you started to show me the best parts of myself. Parts I didn’t even know were there.” One thing that sometimes irks me is when people say Kayla “reformed” Steve or “saved” him. She didn’t; she just revealed to him who he really was. It’s a fine distinction but I think an important one.

I was going to go on from here to complaining about the rest of the show, but I’ll save that for next time. Instead, I’ll leave you with this:

skwedding

Sigh. So beautiful.

Screencaps LizK  and NBC

 

 

Glimmers

I swear, this show gives me whiplash. Every week or so, along will come an episode that zips along in an enjoyable fashion, and I think “You know what, these stories are fun. Maybe I’m too hard on Dena.” And then … another episode, same characters, some stories, and it’s back to watching paint dry. Badly.

At any rate, the last few weeks, I have found glimmers to enjoy. The premise to the Orwell story is dumb, but it has provided a framework for some interesting interactions. The writing for Jennifer has been better than it has in years, getting her back to her investigative reporter roots. And, while Drew’s return is the most baffling return since … Hattie, his scenes with Jennifer have been tons of fun.  I’ve also enjoyed Gabi and Abby teaming up, though the supposed triangle with Chad/Abby/Gabi has mostly been underwhelming. Note to Days, it’s not romantic to show Chad “working on his marriage” like it’s a chore. The show is clearly setting up for something to happen with Chabi during this kidnapping, and it just makes Chad look fickle. At the moment I’m not rooting for either Chabi or Chabby — which I often find is the case with Dena’s “romances.”

In Prague, since Anna, Carrie, and Austin’s departure, we’ve had all the excitement that sitting around in the lobby can provide. Whew! But, this masquerade has at least given us some awesome eye candy:

stevekaylamasquerade2

And Marlena throwing shade at Rafe as he fretted about the plan was comedy gold. I also liked the Paul/Sonny scenes — Sonny was adorable with all his spy talk — but I’m waiting for the show to actually give them some kind of conflict, some journey to be together. They are starting to remind me of how JJ/Gabi started — promising chemistry but no story.

As for the other big story, the baby Holly saga — I haven’t been as down on this story as so many people have, but I have to admit the last couple of weeks have been pretty bad. Chloe’s reservations about Deimos were certainly well-founded, but now it seems clear she was only using him as a convenient excuse. Which is fine, and in fact it should make the story better, but it doesn’t. It all feels slapped together for the sake of the plot.”Shit, we’re running out of reasons for Chloe to keep Holly from Nicole, come up with another one, quick!”

The only bright spot (for me, anyway) is Nicole finally getting a clue about Deimos. I know she hasn’t broken up with him yet, but that seems to be where the story is going. In his eagerness to prove he’s the man for her, he rushes out and does something stupid and violent (to the judge, to Chloe) and it ends up rebounding on Nicole. I hope that will inspire a little self-reflection on her part as to how she could be so wrong about him, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

At the moment it’s looking like I might not be getting my Ericole, since they seem to be busy setting up Brady and Nicole (and possibly Eric and Jennifer) instead. For now, I’m just trying to enjoy Eric’s return and take it as it comes. Eric’s scenes with Jennifer were surprisingly bittersweet, especially the moment when she called herself his friend. Greg Vaughan did so well conveying how touched Eric was by that, showing how isolated he has been. This was another bittersweet moment, from today:

ericpicture

I’m ready for him to have scenes with people other than Hope. I’m curious what will bring him back to Salem, if he’ll come back with Hope when she is cleared or if it’s something else. I was intrigued to find out that these Hope/Eric scenes were probably originally planned for a new character – a casting call went out for a former doctor who lived off the grid, who would be interacting with Hope. It will be interesting to see if we can pinpoint when the main story for Eric kicks in.

Screencaps Forever_SAFE

Big big news

Dena Higley is OUT …

I’ve actually heard people many times toss around Ron Carlivati’s name as a possible Days headwriter. He wrote for both OLTL and for GH. He wrote the GH 50th and apparently is credited with saving the show. Apparently he has a campy style, which I don’t mind as long as it’s not over the top. Those of you who know him from GH or OLTL, please chime in in the comments!

What I’m more excited about is that Sheri Anderson is being brought on as a creative consultant. (Ryan Quan will also stay on, with the same title.) Sheri was headwriter or co-headwriter from 1982-1986. It’s truly mind-boggling the mark she left on the show in that time. She created the supercouple formula and the characters of Bo and Hope, Shane and Kim, Steve and (recast) Kayla, John Black as Roman Brady, Victor Kiriakis.  I mean, she wrote the Stockholm storyline — need I say more?

She also worked as a co-headwriter with John E. Reilly, famous for the devil possession storyline. I wasn’t watching then and have no desire to see it, really, but I have been assured by people whose opinion I respect that the stories were campy and over the top, but they were well structured and one flowed into another. That makes sense to me, because that’s one thing that Sheri was very, very good at in the 1980’s.

So, I know it will never be 1986 again. But I have hopes that the stories will be better structured, that character will count more, and we’ll be able to root for some romances.

I am guessing too that this change was forced by NBC, and that renewal was contingent upon it. By the same token, I think we’ll see that cast cuts will likely be coming. But for now … celebrate!

Deimonic

When I first started going to message boards in 2006, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me who this “Shelle” person was. I’m embarrassed to say how long it took for the light bulb to go off. When it finally did, I initially thought the whole concept of couple names was overly cutesy and an affront to proper grammar. But, I have since completely reversed my position. Some couple names sound truly lovely (Lumi, Ericole) and the ones that don’t (Bope, EJami) still save a few keystrokes. It’s also fun when fans of a couple will go with one name (Danicole) and non-fans another (Dicole). So it has been with Nicole and Deimos. Neimos is what I see on Twitter as the neutral-to-positive name for this couple, and non-fans have kicked around Nicodeimos and (in a stroke of genius) Deimonic.

I haven’t made a secret of my dislike for this pairing, and as far as I can tell they haven’t caught fire with other fans either. And as Deimos keeps ramping up the villainy and with Eric back on the canvas, I think Deimonic is not long for this world.

I know a lot of people find it difficult to root for Eric to get together with the current version of Nicole, and I get it, I really do. It gives even me pause to imagine her going from loving Daniel, to Deimos, to back in love with Eric without a pause. I’m not bothered by the mere fact that she’s been with two different men, because Nicole has always had a past, and they’ve more or less established Nicole as a character who always wants to be with someone. It’s part of what I enjoy, the contrast between seen-it-all Nicole and priestly Eric, who seems virginal in comparison.

But what’s been missing the past year is the desperate edge that made her “looking for love in all the wrong places” sympathetic. And here I put the blame squarely on the day to day writing. They keep telling us she and Daniel had this once in a lifetime love, but I’ll never believe it. Even if I did believe it, it doesn’t fit her character to have her going on and on like Hope talking about Bo.* Talking about drawing strength from his love even in death, “what would Daniel do?” etc.

The emphasis through all of this should have been on Nicole’s certainty (after Daniel’s death) she could never find love without it all going wrong. (Even better if they made it clear that she wanted marriage and a family more than she wanted Daniel as a person, but that might be too much to hope for.) But, that just makes her more desperate to have love of any kind. That would create a feeling that she has to latch onto anyone who shows an interest. She’ll never have a great love, but she still can’t stand being alone. If a lifetime jailbird with questionable morals is the only option, she’ll take it.

So, I might have to pretend in my head that this is what happened, because I adored the Eric scenes from yesterday that indicated he was still in love with Nicole. There’s nothing I like more than a tortured man hopelessly longing for someone he thinks he can never have.

ericbrooding

And if the story had played out as I illustrated above … she moved on, but not happily; he never moved on … it would preserve the contrast of their two characters that I love so much.

And, of course we had some lovely, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Steve and Kayla scenes yesterday too. I was a little distracted by the fact that Stephen didn’t act at all like he was in pain from his bullet wound. He was moving his arm freely and not wincing at all. Such is the healing power of Kayla!

stevekaylakissshoulder

I loved that Steve mentioned that the most romantic thing to him was that she jumped on a plane and flew across the ocean to nurse him back to health “just like Stockholm.” Sigh. And with Sheri back, in six months it will be just like Stockholm again.**

*Actually Hope never talks about Bo.

**Please don’t expect this.

Screencaps Joanie

 

Welcome back, Eric

ericback

“It’s me, Eric.”

He’s here, he’s finally here!

A few weeks ago, when it was revealed that Eric’s entrance involved Hope, a rumor went around that they were going to be paired off. I didn’t really believe it, but really, can you count anything out on this show?

So imagine my relief when Hope referred to Eric as her nephew today. Do you think the scriptwriter wanted to reassure us because s/he knows how Days usually works? That if you rescue someone, you are fated to be romantically involved with that person?

Anyway, now that I don’t have to worry about an aunt/nephew hookup, I think this could be a good reintroduction for Eric. Saving Hope’s life gives him a hero moment right off the bat. More importantly, Hope killed someone, and went to prison, just as Eric did. I really loved their wry exchange, when she said “I thought you were in prison,” and he replied, “I thought you were too.” She might be the best, or really the only, person who can help him right now, because she feels guilty for what she did, but has still accepted the help of her family and friends (ALL of her family and ALL of her friends …).  She is in a unique position to reassure Eric that he shouldn’t hide himself away, that he can be forgiven too.

I also loved that Eric referred to his time as a priest in the Congo. One thing I really, really want to see is that Days is aware of what made Eric such a unique character. He had a gentleness about him that was different than the cops and spies and big business dealers on the rest of the show. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cops and spies, but he brought a very different male energy to the show and I don’t want to lose that. He’s not a standard-issue tough guy. That said, I know he is in a different place now because of his experiences in jail, and I expect him to be darker and I welcome it. Today, Greg played his lines with a quiet intensity, suggesting strong emotions roiling beneath the surface. I’m intrigued to see where this goes. But I do hope we’ll that sweetness and gentleness again … someday.

In other news, Anna continues to be a highlight for me in the Prague adventure. They gave her the best lines: “I only have one gun.” “Do you have any cashews?” Ha! But what really made it all work were Austin and Carrie’s reactions to her, like this exchange of looks after Carrie realized she was giving her mother advice on how to shoot people:

carrieaustinanna

It was fun seeing Steve ranting and raving at Marlena today, too; it reminded me of old school Steve, always flying off the handle.  And then when he got shot, and Kayla decided to go off to Prague to make sure he was all right … well, I know we all remember this:

Steve shot in Stockholm

Sigh. I’d love to think it’s an intentional callback by the writers, but it’s delightful either way.

All in all, an excellent episode. Good job, Days.