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 

 

 

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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

Welcome back, Eric

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“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:

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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:

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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.

 

Bye Bye Baby

I was totally caught off guard when Jade had a miscarriage — it’s not where I thought the story was going.

I thought the miscarriage scenes themselves were quite good. Stephen and Mary Beth were excellent as always, and I thought James Lastovic did well also.

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The actress who plays Jade is hit-or-miss, but she was effective in those scenes, mourning the loss of her child and alternating turning to Joey for comfort and lashing out at him because he didn’t want the child in the first place.

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From the beginning, the only thing that was working for me this story was how it was affecting Steve and Kayla, and thinking about them being grandparents. All the other supercouples have at least one grandkid, now it was going to be Steve and Kayla’s turn! But it did nothing for me regarding Joey or Jade.

Let’s think of how this story has evolved so far:

  1. Joey decides to break up with Jade
  2. After we haven’t seen her for weeks, Jade suddenly turns up and tells him she’s pregnant. She holds it over his head like a sword, plays the victim.
  3. Joey says he’ll drop out of college, get a job, support her. His friends and family are wary and suspicious.
  4. Jade smirks and taunts everyone at Thanksgiving about her pregnancy
  5. Her dad throws her out of the house. Joey, Steve, Kayla ask her to move in
  6. Suddenly she softens, is glad to be part of a family, helps out at the pub, talks lovingly about her baby

This isn’t a unbelievable trajectory, that someone could change because of prospective motherhood, and from the kindness Joey, Steve, and Kayla showed her. But the way it played out there was no explanation for the change, or even much of an acknowledgment that there was a change.

As for Joey, I said before that this baby story would have been so much better if we saw him giving up something that actually mattered to him. If he had been in school pursuing his dream of being a doctor, or something (anything!), and he had to give that up, that would have been much sharper and more effective. As it was, he was giving up … nothing. He was living at home, going to school because his parents thought it was a good idea. Who cares if he loses that?

So, given all this, I am a little more intrigued by this story now that Jade has lost the baby. Maybe it will force Joey to evaluate his life, think about what he wants to do, and pursue it. And, even though I would be happy never to hear the name Ava ever again, I actually kind of appreciate his paranoia that losing this baby was punishment for killing Ava, because it makes the story more specific to Joey himself. I still wish from the bottom of my heart that this plot point hadn’t happened (at least not the way it played out — if he killed her in self defense, that would be different), but since it did, I’d rather they show ramifications from it.

I really have no idea how this is going to play out. As I said above, I hope it makes Joey step up and decide what he wants to do with his life. He could turn dark from this, but I kind of don’t see that happening. We already had angry Joey, so I hope we see grown-up Joey now (also, Joey with a haircut!) As for Jade, I could see her also deciding to turn her life around, but if anyone turns to the dark side, it will probably be her. I could see her lashing out at Joey, as she already has for not really wanting to baby, and also at his parents for the same reason. Her dad has already thrown her out, if she rejects Joey and his family too, it could get bad for her …

… just in time for a certain other angry teen to hit town?

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

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