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

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

Full time job

I was home from work today so I actually got to see the show live.

First, the good:

STEVE AND ADRIENNE WERE ON SCREEN TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME AND THEY EXCHANGED DIALOGUE

Of course, it’s a bit sad that it has been more than a year and this was the first scene they were in together (other than a half second interaction). But this really was nice. It almost seemed like the scriptwriter might have been having fun with the fact that they hadn’t shared a scene, when Adrienne came up and said he looked like her brother. I loved how she knocked on his head and told him he needed to get over the idea that therapy is only for the weak. And the way she lit a fire under him to win Kayla back. I also loved the hug. I have always loved how she hugs him, just throwing herself in his arms.

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Of course I have to point out Steve’s comment about them “acting like we’re 9” because actually they didn’t meet until they were adults. But aaaah, I’m in too good a mood about it, I’ll let it slide.

It was also nice to hear Steve talk to someone else (other than Joey and Kayla) so we could hear what he’s thinking. It was a bit vague but he referenced his freakout about the session and said he didn’t know exactly why he reacted that way. (I’m not sure if there is going to be anything specific there — I’m kind of thinking not.) Then, for the same reason, it was especially nice to hear Kayla’s point of view, with Marlena, because it was clear that she’s not vindictively lashing out Steve, she genuinely feels like their relationship is impossible (at the moment). Marlena’s reaction, that things will work out and “sooner than you think” would be ludicrous for a real therapist but is par for the course with soap therapist. But it makes me worry that Steve and Kayla’s reunion, after months of going nowhere, is going to be rushed and happen too quickly.

“Loving Steve Johnson is a full-time job” was a great line — and very true, as those of us who watch clips, blog, or tweet incessantly about him can attest. 🙂

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The conversation in the park was really good, especially Kayla’s line about not wanting him to change who he is. That was a gesture toward what I wanted — for them each to realize something in order to find their way back together. I thought the conversation in the hospital, with Steve talking about having a breakthrough by filling out a form, was pretty weak, though Mary Beth saved it by staring at him during this speech with a “Really, Steve?” expression on her face.

In other storylines, I am ridiculously excited to see Clyde again, and actually squealed at Orpheus’s appearance, which I didn’t know was happening today.

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I don’t know where this is going, but I’m happy to have these two on my screen again. Lucas and Adrienne moving into the mansion to look after Thomas makes about as much sense as anything else in this storyline – maybe we’ll get to see them more often, which would be nice. I was disappointed that Laura’s news about Abigail didn’t amount to anything more than “Abby was misdiagnosed and her medication probably made it worse” — especially since I remember Abby’s diagnosis actually was PTSD, wasn’t it? But “the pills made me do it” is classic Dena, so … shrug. I kind of enjoyed seeing Billy Flynn interacting with someone other than Jen and Ciara, so that was nice.

All in all, a decent episode with a few great moments. With the way things have been going, I call that a win.

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Hey, not bad

I wanted to do a post on today’s show because I thought it was actually decent.

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I’ve been rolling my eyes for weeks at Hope’s willingness to get back together with Aiden when HIS SON RAPED HER DAUGHTER, but today was a decent payoff for that frustration. My frustration was partly with the show, and not just with Hope. I thought they were genuinely trying to sell us Haiden, round 2. An idea I find so nauseating it is making Rope look good — seriously.

(And all this happening while Rafe lay tied up with the timer ticking down was fairly suspenseful, though I think they could have stretched it out even more. Like Hope goes to his house to cry on his shoulder, but his mother tells her triumphantly that Rafe is done with her and is with Blanca. So Hope goes home, discouraged … as the clock ticks down.)

I liked that Aiden’s fudging on when he was actually replaced with the double came back to bite him. It was such a weaselly lie — he already spilled he was working for the Dimeras and was hired to kill her, but he couldn’t resist holding back that one extra fact.

But why was Roman so eager to excuse Hope for giving Aiden another chance? Why was everyone? One of my pet peeves with modern Days is how other characters on the show are so willing to excuse a supposed “good” character’s actions. You know, people don’t have to agree on things.

But I should be careful what I wish for, because when Days does disagreement it sometimes turns out like Chad and Jennifer today.

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I thought the scenes themselves were great, honestly. Billy Flynn and Missy Reeves did really well and had a really nice rhythm going. Their recriminations they were hurling at each other were nicely specific — I liked that Jen said she was wary of him from the beginning, because she was, though saying Ben only went crazy because of Chad was stretching things a bit far. And I liked how he brought up her pill popping and said she was just doing this because she was going crazy about her daughter.

But. It all came out of freaking nowhere. We needed to see Jennifer seeing something specific to set her off, to make the danger to Thomas seem urgent. And we needed a longer buildup of simmering frustration, more distrust between the two of them, before this final crack up.

Well, one takes what one can get, these days.

 

Doubt

Great couple of episodes for Steve and Kayla!

At first I was upset that the charges against him were just going to go away. But I suspect the ISA’s “favor” to him will come with strings attached, so it’s really just a turn in the story rather than the story being dropped. And it was really what led to the crisis with Kayla.

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I loved the irony of that, that it was Steve getting out of trouble unscathed that brought things to a head. As she told Roman today, Kayla was ready to stand by Steve through the trial and everything that followed. But the fact that everything was dropped, and especially Steve’s reaction to that — that “it couldn’t have worked out any better” — was what really sent her over the edge.

This all works really well as a continuation of their conflict from last fall. They made it clear back then that Kayla was taking a leap of faith to be with Steve again, and he hadn’t necessarily earned his way back. So it would make sense that the issues that were unresolved then, would come back to haunt them now. It broke my heart when she said to him that she loved him and always would, that that wasn’t what this was about. I really appreciated that Kayla told Roman she didn’t enjoy breaking up with Steve — it showed she isn’t doing this out of anger.

I thought the Tina character was clunky, and way too convenient. But I kind of liked double Steve, serving as the voice of what Kayla’s worries, and showing Steve has taken her words to heart.

Overall, this is all a certainly a decently organic conflict for them, and who they are as characters. We remember the Steve we knew back in the 80’s, the tomcat who told her “I got nine lives, baby.” And it fits that Kayla as a grown-up professional, with a son who desperately needs help, would be risk-averse and keenly aware of her responsibilities. I do regret one thing, however. Back then, Steve kept telling her that they were too different to work as a couple, and one of the things he meant was just this difference — he lived on the edge, she was the middle class princess who wanted a settled life. One thing that became clear as their love story unfolded is that Steve wasn’t as drawn to danger as much as he pretended, and Kayla wasn’t as enamored of the settled life as he assumed of course she would be. So I do regret that their current dilemma is more of a stereotype of the bad boy/good girl difference than their original story was, which turned many of those stereotypes on their heads.

I thought the Abby/Chad/Ben scenes today were excellent.

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Kate Mansi is doing such a great job showing Abby losing her sanity, and yet not wanting to admit it. I like how she isn’t overplaying the “I’m fine, I’m fine” (too many actors do, to signal they’re not fine, but sometimes that makes it hard for us to believe the other characters don’t pick up on it). The moment when she saw Ben and was able to make him disappear was a perfect lead in to when the real Ben appeared. I love this twist — she’s having visions of him, AND he’s really there. It’s like that old joke:  just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.