Bottoms Up

Here’s a selfie I took while watching the Basic Black fashion show.

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After the year we’ve had, it’s sort of fitting that that’s the last shot of Days of Our Lives for 2015, no?

Obviously there’s a lot to come, and I like that they’re going into 2016 with some compelling stuff (at least in the short term), but boy, was that driving montage at the end contrived. Where was Jennifer driving at 1 a.m.? Did Brady really have to turn back to pick up that nameplate instead of just texting Theresa to grab it? Why in the hell would Daniel send Nicole a video message when he saw her 20 minutes ago and would be seeing her soon? Generally minor quibbles, and I appreciate that they built up a little suspense, but it was all cracking me up.

And then there was this:

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 5.00.52 PM

It’s blatantly obvious where Eric’s drinking is headed, given the ending of Thursday’s show, but the whole thing is falling pretty flat for me. It’s rough to see him in this shape, but so little attention has been paid to him or to his drinking that it doesn’t even seem real. Aside from Thanksgiving, when he was basically just standing around in the background (and where we didn’t see him drinking to excess), his only other appearances have been when he was fucked up at the bicentennial and then two scenes where he was absolutely sloshed at the Basic Black party. We have no real idea why he’s drinking: is it because of the loss of his faith? His lack of direction after leaving the priesthood and not becoming BB’s photographer? The way things turned out with Serena? Despondence over Nicole marrying Daniel? We can guess until Marlena’s cow-print blazer comes home, but they haven’t brought any of it onscreen — he didn’t even have a single scene with his family members at the party that might’ve illuminated this descent! Didn’t Marlena or Belle notice that he barely left the bar and was barely able to stand up? For a legacy character who was one of the male leads during the spring and summer, it’s a jarring shift, and I think it undermines what could’ve been a powerful tale.

Not to mention that it’s sort of a cartoonish version of a drunk-driving/alcoholism story. Alcoholics don’t (necessarily) ruin their lives because they get behind the wheel and cause a devastating accident; it’s a disease that chips away at someone’s life — through making the person irresponsible, unreliable, volatile — until he or she hits rock bottom, and we haven’t seen Eric blow any professional opportunities or personal relationships because of his drinking. And it’s borderline-irresponsible to imply that drunk-driving accidents only happen because someone gets absolutely obliterated and then gets behind the wheel. Yeah, that happens, and it’s horrifying, but I would imagine it’s even more common for someone to have a drink or two too many, drink some water or coffee, think they’re okay, and then cause an accident because their reaction time is too slow or they misjudge a move on the road. Having Eric unable to stand up, let alone keep his eyes open, while he’s blasting cheesy license-free rock music and sticking his head out the window was sort of ridiculous.

Okay, off my soapbox now. We’ll see how this all shakes out, but my general guess would be “not very well.” Whether that pertains solely to the characters’ lives or also to our viewing experiences remains to be seen.

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30 Comments on “Bottoms Up”

  1. Robbiemac420 Says:

    I thought the scene set-up was going to be Daniel and Brady who would be Eric’s victims, but I guess not. I’m wondering the same thing….where was Jen going at that hour? To the DiMera mansion looking for Abby? Can’t wait for the Friday cliffhanger!

  2. Shea Says:

    You are spot on….my first thought was why didn’t they at least give us a scene of Brady and Eric interacting at the party? I mean I would imagine that Brady would have gotten “preachy” and they would have had an argument of sorts but we could have had Brady call him out for drinking too much at events we never saw on camera and maybe it would seem a little more authentic. The way it was he had practically his entire family at this party and the only people we saw him interact with were Nicole and Daniel. All I can say is WTF?

    If we had just had a few more glimpses of these characters along the way I think it would feel more organic. We needed to see more of what Eric has been up to since the Bicentennial but in reality Salem’s only had about 7 days since then, right? Hell, even if they had just had Belle, Brady, Roman or Marlena (characters who have been on screen) somehow mention the fact that they are concerned about how much time he is spending alone or something.

    There are so many things I am enjoying about this show but they REALLY need to figure out how to balance storylines and they need to find ways to incorporate more of the “fringe” characters who don’t necessarily have their own storylines into the stories they have. It is a soap and I accept the fact that some scenes and storylines are going to be contrived but the last couple of days have been a bit much.

    • Robbiemac420 Says:

      You are spot on too, Shea, especially about the balancing of storylines and what is happening in the lives of the once “main” characters who have turned into “fringe” characters. I mean just because they don’t appear daily or even weekly (which, as you pointed out, is only hours or days in soap-time), doesn’t mean we don’t still wonder about them.

      Speaking of wondering, I was just wondering a few days ago what had happened to Eric. I knew he was leaving (thanks to our fearless leader mykleraus), and I thought maybe I had missed his departure. Nice to see he is still in town (at least for now) along with all the other screwed-up Salemites!

      • mykleraus Says:

        I can’t remember another period in which backburnered characters disappeared for months on end the way they have since these writers took over. We’re seeing Eric with the same frequency as someone like Maxine, and there are others who are in that boat or were until very recently — Justin, Adrienne, Eve, Lucas, Nicole, Kate, Daniel. It’s very strange how top-heavy the show has been in focusing on Hope, Steve/Kayla, and Abigail/Chad, though things do seem to be shifting now.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I didn’t even think of the Brady/Eric thing, but you’re so right. That’s a natural interaction. Why didn’t Nicole say something to Brady about how drunk Eric was? The lack of balance is really bugging me. There’s this whole C-group of characters who only pop up when they’re absolutely needed for some story move, and I don’t like it.

  3. Dylan Says:

    I don’t think anyone, sober or drunk, even knows how to drive! The last time anyone was in a car was when Nicole drove Kristen off the road two years ago, and that resulted in a car accident too!

    Anyway, this was very contrived. When did Eric suddenly become a drunk? And why didn’t he just take Nicole’s advice and get a cab or have one of his many family members present at the party drive him home? So stupid. When the setup (or lack thereof) is this bad it’s hard to take the resulting story seriously without rolling my eyes. I guess this is just a way of getting rid of multiple actors who were leaving, but ugh.

    • Dylan Says:

      Anyone in Salem, I mean

    • mykleraus Says:

      For real. Any time we see someone behind the wheel, you know an accident is imminent. You’ll never see the inside of a car otherwise.

      I didn’t exactly get why Eric decided to drive. They could have motivated it through an argument with a family member or something, or a way to prove that he’s fine, but he seems pretty aware of how wasted he is.

  4. marypickford Says:

    This is an excellent post. I was going to complain about the same thing about Eric’s drinking. They had a scene months back where he talked about how every decision he made was wrong and he was going to stop thinking and start drinking. But it’s not really enough and certainly doesn’t count as a “story” at all. You know I love Eric so it kills me to see him pushed aside like this and seemingly used as mostly a plot point.

    I know GV said he was excited at what he got to play for his exit so I hope the story will be good. But sometimes what actors like is not what we like, as fans of the character. Sigh. We’ll see.

    • mykleraus Says:

      You’re right — it isn’t a story. It’s just something being plonked into the show to fuel a dramatic event. They’ve planted seeds for the drinking, but not in a substantial-enough way.

      I do think the fallout of this will be interesting, and I bet he’ll have some meaty stuff as a result, but it’s disappointing that they haven’t let him play the actual lead-up.

      • Shea Says:

        The more I think about it the more I think it comes down to budget…they are spending more money on sets and production value. This means they are less likely to have actors who have been backburnered appear in episodes where they have less to do even if it means we are missing beats that propel and set up story. As I have said before, some of this could be covered with better writing. You can have characters mention things that happen off camera that would fill in a few of these lapses and it would help. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s better than what they are doing.

      • mykleraus Says:

        That could be. I’m wondering where in the world they’re getting the money for the production costs and to have all these bodies floating around.

        And you’re right — they aren’t even keeping stuff alive offscreen, which isn’t difficult.

      • Denise Says:

        This is one of my biggest pet peeves about soap writing. The ridiculous “set up” for a plot point that seems to come out of left field. GV is certainly a strong enough actor to have played the set-up for this. We’ve seem him drunk a couple of times, and we know he’s had a shitty year, but we haven’t really seen any of his inner struggle play out at all! Maybe I’m just being a poop because I really like GV and wish he were staying around, but it seems to me they’re just throwing in the drinking to set up the big accident. Why couldn’t he have just been upset, had a fight with someone, distracted while driving, reading a text from Sami and taken his eyes off the road? Hell, it’s Winter, the cars could have slid on ice, etc. Eric could have been guilt-ridden and gone off to find his faith again, etc., without making him a drunk driver. He has to be going to jail, right? I hate that. It seems like such a cop-out. Sometimes accidents just happen with tragic results. To me, that would have been more interesting to play out.

      • Robbiemac420 Says:

        I agree with you for the most part. However, I don’t think Eric is going to jail. I think Salem is ready for yet another funeral, and it ain’t gonna be Jennifer!

      • mykleraus Says:

        If they kill Eric, I’m going to be furious. It’s almost as short-sighted as killing Will, and having him die without Sami around would be atrocious.

      • mykleraus Says:

        I’m willing to see how it plays out, but yeah, it feels cheap. I still don’t get why they 86d Eric/Nicole and are writing GV out, but they could’ve at least written a story about it. It feels like they wanted to get rid of some people and decided to make this an “issue story” with the drunk driving instead of just an accident, but they barely set it up at all.

      • Denise Says:

        Oh I hope not! Can they really kill off another legacy character so soon after killing Will? Maybe so, sigh…I wish they’d leave the door open though. Maybe instead of a double wedding, they will have a double funeral for Daniel and Eric. Ugh.

        I’m both dreading and sort of looking forward to the fall-out from this, if that makes sense! I’m curious to see where they take this. Especially now that they’ve thrown Jen into the mix as well.

      • mykleraus Says:

        I wouldn’t put anything past them, but it would be a really stupid, depressing move. At least sending him to prison would provide the opportunity for an interesting reset in a few years.

  5. marypickford Says:

    I think GV said in an interview that Eric is NOT dying, and he’ll be around for a few more months. I’m guessing jail, but it takes a few months to all shake out? That’s my theory. He also seemed excited about the story, as I said above. His exact words were that this was his greatest contribution to the show as an actor. However, that doesn’t mean WE will like it. I’m afraid the character of Eric will be trashed with this. Nicole will hate him, he’ll go to jail – ugh! But I’m just guessing. Maybe it will be better than that.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I feel like he said that the door is open for Eric’s story to continue down the road, which implies prison to me, too.

    • Robbiemac420 Says:

      I hadn’t heard this…I hope you’re right. I know Daniel is looking for an exit…do you think Jen’s scream is about what she’s seeing, instead of what she’s experiencing? But does she know what Brady’s car looks like? Hmmmm….

  6. Dan Says:

    I don’t mind the show taking some weakly written story threads to deliver a more powerful event with greater implications than the story that came before it. What upsets me more is when a show pulls what it has with Abigail / Chad / Ben.

    I am assuming Higley purposely backburnered Eric knoiwng that Vaughn’s contract was up and that he was openly complaining to the press about his story. Higley rarely invests in something or someone on their way out. She’ll give them story fragments which will either bloom into an actual story or fade out and lead to an exit. The perfect example of this was the Chelsea / Max reunion in late 2008/ early 2009 there was some interaction, some hints of a romantic reunion, hints that Stephanie wouldn’t forgive Chelsea if she went after him, but Melvin split Similarly, since we didn’t know whether DB would stay or go they brought on Arianna for him, but then DB quit and Arianna became for EM.

    If the fallout is good and has some long term impact, I’ll forgive the sloppy build.

    Also, in terms of addiction stories, I think we know that DAYS isn’t telling some socially relevent story about the dangers of drinking and driving. If this had simply been Joey who had a drink and then drove, I wouldn’t be as impressed. The addiction aspect could be played into who Eric will become and also into what is going to happen. How will a town full of addicts deal with their ignorance of Eric’s downfall?

    When Brady fell off the wagon two years ago, it was pretty boring because there never was that big moment. For a show that has missed big moments in the last couple of years, I’m not going to complain about falling back on a staple as long as the fall out is good.

    With that said, I admire people for wanting, and demanding, better storytelling, but I’m just glad Eric isn’t possessed by Satan, or is he???

    • mykleraus Says:

      That’s a good point about the pattern of backburnering. I guess what I’m finding weird is that they’ve clearly been setting it up that Eric has been drinking heavily, but no one has really commented on it besides Nicole, and that’s only because she saw him at the party. I do like that there’s actually something dramatic coming of this besides him snapping at some people and wandering around the park, but it feels like it’s supposed to be more than “Eric got fucked up at a party and drove” because of the (scant) setup.

  7. Jayme Says:

    Jen’s face DEAD.


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