Archive for January 2011

Send in the Clowns

January 27, 2011

You forgot your top hat, Kate.

This woman is LITERALLY dressed as a ringmaster! Normally I’m all for a bit of frivolity in one’s sartorial choices, but last time the circus came to Salem, a man was mauled to death by a tiger, sooooo… maybe not the best choice here.

Island Rage

January 25, 2011

I’ve been busy lately, and thus I’ve been unable to catch my usual 4-5 episodes a week. Given how fun this show has been in the past year, that should make me sad… but then I catch a glimpse of THIS–

–and I am grateful to be missing episodes.

Seriously, this Vivian-and-Gus-on-the-island thing is insane. They’ve only been there for, like, two or three weeks in real time, and we’re already reaching Sami-and-EJ-arguing-over-the-kids levels of irritation. The writers seem to be having fun with all the reversals in the Victor/Vivian/et al. storyline, but at this point, it’s coming across way too Crazy! Wacky! Hijinks! for my taste. Plus, Vivian is much better in scenes with other characters. Put her toe-to-toe with Victor or Nicole or Kate, and you’ve got serious campy fun. Louise Sorel has also managed to make me feel really sorry for her over the past year. But that story with the sarcophagus provided more than my fill of “old lady spends weeks on end talking to herself and ad-libbing because she can’t remember her dialogue.” I cannot express how relieved I was when Brady showed up yesterday.

Plus, Vivian, don’t be so worried. You’re clearly on the same beach in Salem where Sami taught EJ about Chex Mix and Will flashed his impressive hooters last summer. Calm the hell down.

Elsewhere on the show, there are things that are not nearly as exhausting, such as:

– The fallout of baby Parker’s paternity. Chloe’s going off the deep end, everyone knows Caroline is a loon, Kate and Phillip had a serious talk about how she kept Lucas from knowing he was a Horton for years, and we got some lovely Maggie/Melanie scenes.
– The surprisingly good Bo/Hope prison story. Months of the Warden and Lee conspiring over some unknown plot left my expectations low, but I love that the climax has sent Bo and Hope on the run, gotten Stefano involved as the mastermind, and tied in the Jennifer/Ty Treadway Dr. Ben relationship  in a tolerable way. Even with the Bad Acting Olympics going on in those phone calls between the Warden and Dr. Ben, I’m excited to see what happens next!
– The most glorious sight I have ever seen, heading into the first commercial break of the day:


I was growing nervous that the historical Days of Our Lives/Wanchai Ferry partnership was a thing of the past, so it’s reassuring to know that it lives on. Now if only Stephanie would comfort her Grandma Caroline with a nice bag of frozen orange chicken…

Also, there’s been a shitload of casting news lately, so I’m working on a post addressing all of that. Coming soon!

I can’t even.

January 13, 2011

I promise that I have plenty to say about actual goings-on on this show, and I will get to those thoughts soon, and I also hate to beat a dead horse, but seriously:

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH KAYLA?!

Why did she choose to venture out of the house looking like the love child of Prince and Little Bo Peep? What is this?!

When Janet Jackson & Godzilla Hit Salem

January 11, 2011

It was so nice of Kayla to take time out from her stint on Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation tour to visit Salem for her daughter’s wedding.

Seriously, did this woman murder the
wardrobe person’s child?!

Unfortunately — all talk of epaulet-festooned, big-shouldered jackets aside — no one is happy to see you, girl. Your daughter ain’t happy to see you. Your Wanchai Ferry-shilling mama ain’t happy to see you. Carly and her immobile eyebrows definitely ain’t happy to see you.

(I’m actually quite happy to see her, but that’s partly because I love seeing old characters and partly because I haven’t switched a single paternity test lately. Oh, and because it means shit is about to get real.)

I just love that the first cliffhanger of the episode was a shot of Kayla stepping off a plane at Salem Airport. Dun dun dun. It’s like she’s Godzilla, and her family and friends are hordes of fleeing, terrified Japanese.

Anyway, Kayla shows up, Caroline has a complete episode at the pub pretending like she’s not horrified by the sight of her daughter, and Roman fails to notice that anything weird is going on. Stephanie and Nathan have headed to Baltimore to look for apartments, since he’s been offered a position at Johns Hopkins. Everyone else in this storyline has gathered at St. Luke’s for baby Parker’s christening.

And then Caroline decides to go there and pray for guidance. And Kayla, determined to be the absolute most annoying person in Salem, stalks her old, drunk ass there, and they get into an argument in the vestibule. Just as Melanie and Phillip open the doors into the church, Caroline yells (at Kayla), “Phillip is Parker’s real father!”

Oh, shit.

The reveal and the fallout from this were surprisingly great. I’ve sort of been going along with this storyline because it makes sense on paper, but it never quite locked in emotionally. The crazy dynamics among Daniel/Chloe/Carly/Melanie/Phillip are such a mess, in a good, soapy way — and they finally delivered on the promise with this revelation. Everyone stood around, absorbing one bit of shocking information after another. Chloe fell apart. Daniel decked Phillip. Carly’s role in it came out. Caroline had a stroke from the stress. And they’ve taken the time to play the right beats in the fallout. Everyone involved is sort of wandering around in a haze, trying to figure out where to go next. Melanie is lashing out, as that character should be, while Daniel is being as zen as he can be (and still blowing up at everyone who begs for his forgiveness). Even Chloe is so devastated that, after doing her hair and make-up to an 11, she couldn’t be bothered to put on a mini-dress and opted for a velour sweatsuit instead. Sweats! Her life really must be falling apart.

One quibble, though: why isn’t Melanie mad at Daniel? He knew Phillip had an affair and didn’t tell her. That’s not much different from what Carly did, and this lie involved Melanie’s own husband! I’d be okay with her irrationally clinging to Daniel just because she has no one else, but this has to be addressed.

Oh, and another… not a quibble, but something I noticed. Chloe took time out of packing her things to gaze longingly at this photo of her, Daniel, and Parker in happier times:

Based upon what they’re wearing, these “happier times” were the morning of Parker’s christening. Everything came out at the christening. So at some point later that day, Chloe had those photos developed/printed and took the time to place one in a frame? Seems like something that’d be high on one’s priority list in such a situation.

Then they made us wait for the last piece of it: Nathan finding out about Stephanie’s deceit. The actual confrontation between them was fantastic. Mark Hapka and Shelley Hennig stepped up their game as Nathan chewed her out, Stephanie cried and pleaded, and then, when she realized she was losing him, she turned it around and blamed his obsession with Melanie for setting the whole mess in motion. I love that absolutely no one in this is blameless. I do wish that they’d let this happen at their wedding, though, or at least with a bunch of other people present. It felt so weak to just have it be the two of them in their apartment. This is, like, Soap Rule #32: When a desperate bride’s lies are exposed and she’s on her knees weeping and begging her man not to leave, the whole town needs to be there watching awkwardly. Kristen Blake, anyone?

It Ap-Piers We Have a Holiday to Celebrate

January 5, 2011

It was so nice of the city of Salem to throw a New Year’s Eve party for 12 extras on the pier. They even sprang for seven balloons and a banner!

(Actually, I was impressed that they had a banner made at all. I think that says more about my standards than it does about the quality of this bash, though.)

I enjoyed when Brady marveled to Nicole, “They went all out this year, didn’t they?” If this is going all out, I’d hate to see what last year’s party looked like. What were they doing, shooting the guests?

EJ then deemed it appropriate to interrupt a party full of strangers to announce his engagement to Nicole. I get that he wants to stick it to Sami (and I certainly applaud Nicole for throwing that champagne on her), but come on. None of these strangely mute partygoers give a crap. Why didn’t anyone yell at him to shut up? Oh, I guess because they would have to be paid more if they spoke.

Also, let me get this straight: Sami was alarmed to learn that her grandmother had a stroke, so she raced to the hospital, checked in on her, and then… got gussied up and attended a New Year’s Eve party? She might no longer be a villainess, but she remains a grade-A moron.

Then again, if your ill grandmother was this woman, you might opt to go to a party, too:

Does this woman look like a drunken ventriloquist’s dummy, or does this woman look like a drunken ventriloquist’s dummy? Yikes.

Best & Worst of 2010

January 1, 2011

Something weird happened when I sat down to write this post. I started writing down categories, and when I looked at my list, I realized that I had a ton of Bests and almost no Worsts. That isn’t to say there weren’t things that were downright awful on Days this year, because, come on, it’s Days. But 2010 was, by and large, a very enjoyable year.

There have been plenty of years where I’d have been all, “The best thing about this character was that she died” or “The best part about this story was that it let me catch up on my naps.” But in 2010, there was some genuinely good stuff to choose from! Luckily, there was also a great deal to mock or at which I could make the following face: o_O

So here goes.

BEST COUPLE: Kate & Stefano

I am still in disbelief at how well this worked. I think the only people more surprised were the writers, who set up this marriage as an alternative to prison for Kate and then, suddenly, transitioned it into a real, loving relationship. Giving Stefano a wife not only made the DiMeras feel like a full family, but it added a much-needed dimension to Stefano’s character after years of being a total cartoon. I’m a little concerned that, now that he’s thrown her out, they’re going to abandon a pairing that could be a goldmine for years.

BEST NON-COUPLE: Maggie & Victor

We all thought that, if the show were ever to pair cranky Victor with one of the nice older women of Salem, it would be Caroline Brady, the mother of his son. And making a widow of Maggie by killing off Mickey was mostly a concession to the viewers’ sanity, since it was becoming increasingly difficult to believe that Mickey was “in the kitchen” for, like, the entirety of the family Christmas celebration or a loved one’s wedding. But as soon as they put Maggie and Victor in scenes together, it was evident that they had something worthwhile on their hands. Never did I think I’d see Maggie Horton in an engaging, frontburner love story again (especially after that hideous triangle in which she, Mickey, and Bonnie accidentally had a fourgy with a dog), but there you have it. I can’t wait to see how this develops in 2011.

WORST COUPLE: Phillip & Melanie

Let’s say you’re a 30ish scion of an ethically challenged business dynasty, and your father has recently put you in charge of the family’s legitimate business. You’ve already been divorced, as your wife was in love with another man and passed his kid off as yours for a while. Then you found out you had another kid, and you made a play for custody but ultimately gave him up for adoption. Would your most appealing mate be a college-aged nursing student who’s clearly in love with someone else?

I get that this relationship works for the story, but not for a second do I buy Phillip and Melanie as being in love. I’m actually pretty grossed out by the sight of them together. I hope that, now that the truth about him fathering Chloe’s baby is out, we can move on from this ill-advised marriage.

MOST ANNOYING WORD: “Sydney”

In a year in which half the cast spent three months saying “sarcophagus” in every scene, it’s quite a feat that I’m more annoyed by the mere utterance of a child’s name. But they did it. Sami and Rafe and EJ and Nicole did nothing but talk about Sydney all damn year. I can’t anymore. I just can’t.

In the words of Taylor from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: “ENOUGH!”

BEST CHARACTER: Nicole

I should probably hate a character who stole the lead heroine’s baby and passed it off as her own, framed an innocent woman for a violent crime spree, ruined her best friend’s baby shower, and generally makes some of the stupidest decisions on the planet. And yet, I spent all year rooting for Nicole to pull it together. I give equal credit to the writers and to Arianne Zuker for managing to make this character endearing while not shying away from the fact that she’s a rude, drunken idiot and her own worst enemy.

WORST CHARACTER: Dr. Ty Treadway—er, Ben Walters

Wasn’t it strange how, one day, this new doctor was just in every scene at the hospital? If he weren’t played by a recognizable soap actor, I’d have thought he was someone who won a walk-on role. I feel like someone at Days wanted to give Ty Treadway a job, so they just slapped him in the hospital to see if it would work. Guess what? It hasn’t! He feels so crammed in there and out of place. I’m moderately intrigued by his connection to the Warden and her organ-trafficking scheme (I love that this show allows me to type things like that), and if he’s going to be a short-term villainous type, I could get on board with it. But if I’m supposed to care about this dude or want him with Jennifer—not gonna happen.

BEST SCENE: Wanchai Ferry Product Placement

I know a lot of people resent the product placement on this show, but I have come to love it. It’s never anywhere close to subtle—it would be more subtle if someone just drove a truck through the scene with a gigantic logo and an announcer’s voice blaring—and it’s amazing trying to watch the actors keep straight faces. I was actually fast-forwarding on the day this one aired, but as soon as I saw Caroline come out from behind the bar cradling a red bag in the most conspicuous, unnatural way possible, I had to stop. And my life is better for it.

The WTF factor is off the charts with this one. Why is she serving frozen Chinese food in an Irish pub? Is the clam chowder THAT BAD? Why don’t Sami and Rafe think this is weird? Why does Caroline presume that frozen Chinese food will make Sami feel better after she just shot a man in the head? And most importantly, why can’t this happen every day?!

BEST WEDDING: Victor & Vivian

Nowhere are the budget cuts on this show more apparent than at the weddings. (See: rich-ass Phillip Kiriakis gets married in his father’s living room; Daniel & Chloe have “the wedding of their dreams” in the “park” with eight people in attendance and some ribbon thrown over some potted plants.) But this backyard bonanza of a wedding was perfect, from all of the groom’s ex-wives circling up for a photo, to miserable Victor needing a drink to get through the ceremony and then “yada yada”-ing his vows. It was a nice reminder that Days can do intentional comedy when it tries.

WORST STORY: Chad is Stefano’s Son

Perhaps “story” is a misnomer. More like “series of scenes in which people talked to themselves about A SECRET and then there was a birth certificate made in MS Paint and then some kid spent two months walking around the docks with bad hair and visiting the DiMera mansion and then he and Stefano had one conversation about being related.” There were so, so many interesting angles to play with this setup, but it’s like they forgot about the story halfway through and then remembered they had to wrap it up somehow. I hope they can move on this coming year, but let’s just pretend this whole setup never happened.

BEST STORY I DIDN’T WANT TO SEE: Alice’s Death & Memorial

You guys. I cried the day I found out about Frances Reid’s death. I know it sounds stupid to anyone who doesn’t have a long attachment to this show, but Alice Horton has always been there. She was like another, fictional grandma to me. She was the backbone of this show.

I hoped they would do both the character and actress justice with Alice’s on-screen memorial, but they exceeded my expectations tenfold. We got visits from characters we haven’t seen in years and years (Marie! Laura! Mike!). They went to the trouble of recasting Bill Horton just for this short arc. And not only did we get to see these characters, but just about all of them were given scenes of substance—not just about Alice, but with one another and their loved ones. Carrie interacted with Mike and mended fences with Sami. Shane and Kimberly got back together. Kayla and Melissa reconnected over the fact that their kids were dating. And we got to spend two weeks reminiscing about Alice and this show’s long, memorable history. It was like a love letter to the fans and to Frances Reid herself.

MOST AGE-APPROPRIATE STREAK OF BLUE
IN ONE’S HAIR: Kate Roberts-DiMera

Yes, this happened.