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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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:

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.

 

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

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