Archive for December 2016

Best & Worst of 2016

December 30, 2016

In my six years of writing this blog, I’ve now had to begin four of these year-end Best & Worst lists with the caveat that there was a writing turnover that took place in August/September, so it was sort of like grading two totally different shows. The shift from Josh Griffith’s version of Days to the Dena Higley/Ryan Quan incarnation has been less abrupt than some of the past changeovers — i.e., no serial killer or sharp “new direction” — but I find the present version of the show way, way more palatable than what was going on last winter and spring. Even with things that aren’t totally (or at all) working, it feels like Days again to me. That said, there’s so much stuff that was packed into this year, partly because Griffith started and dropped a whole slew of things that never paid off. I almost called this the “Best, Worst, & Other of 2016,” because there were a few instances in which “best” simply meant “least offensive option I could remember.” But with all that out of the way, here goes…

BEST RECAST: Vanessa Williams as Valerie Grant

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I can only think of three recasts that debuted this year: Jordi Vilasuso as Dario, who’s… fine even though the character has no point and was replacing an actor who held the role for six months years ago, and Marci Miller as Abigail, who’s doing pretty well with tough material and is also very new. So maybe this one goes to Vanessa Williams by default, but that’s selling her short. Valerie last appeared onscreen in 1982, and she was played by three actresses during her original run, so it isn’t as if Williams was taking over for a beloved performer who’s fresh in viewers’ minds. But from the moment she stepped into Abe’s hospital room, she’s come across as a refreshing, natural presence on the show. She’s definitely younger than the character should be, but not distractingly so, and I love that this gives both Abe and Julie stuff to do. In a year where I spent a whole lot of time wishing that things happening onscreen would go away and never be mentioned again, this is one case in which I’m actually eager to see more.

BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT: Vincent Irizarry as Deimos Kiriakis

Soap vet Vincent Irizarry, best known for popular runs on Guiding Light and All My Children, joined Days near the top of 2016 as Victor’s never-before-referenced younger brother, fresh off a 30-year prison stint and out for revenge. Within months, he had stolen Victor’s fortune and left Maggie paralyzed — and that’s on top of the fact that his quest to obtain the serum to cure Topit’s Syndrome (remember that?!) led to Bo’s death. Pretty good recipe for a new villain, right? Instead, the writing kept taking bizarre left turns, with everyone from Nicole to Brady to Victor making excuses for Deimos, while he simultaneously sort of felt bad for the things he’d done while also continuing to be a ruthless bastard. This sort of propping never makes a character more likable, so instead of creating a worthy successor to Stefano or old-school Victor, they’ve just created this darker version of Daniel, whom even the talented Irizarry can’t salvage. Days seems to want to have its cake and eat it, too, with this character, but instead they’re just winding up with that sad mess Paige threw on the floor at the saddest birthday party ever.

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My Eyes, My Eyes

December 28, 2016

Nicole. Dear.

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If you hadn’t put the nursing shirt on sideways, you wouldn’t have to use that bottle to feed baby Holly.

But for real: who dresses like that to go hold vigil over a comatose friend and care for her newborn? Was Ballistix all out of hooker dresses?

While we’re on the subject of visual offenses:

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I’ve been praying for them to redo Club TBD for years, but somehow, they made it worse. This should be red flag #1 for the authorities that Eduardo and Dario are only using the club as a front: no one would decorate a place like this and actually expect customers to spend time, let alone money, there. Look at this nightmare! Literally nothing in the above screenshot goes together. The two tables are mismatched, and not in the cute way. The studded leather sofa sits across from that patchwork-quilt-looking chair Shane’s sitting in. There’s a striped chair to Steve’s right. The wall behind Roman goes with nothing but those ugly upholstered chairs in the foreground. Is this a restaurant/nightclub/coffee shop, or just a storage space for shit they had to clear out of other sets?

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And don’t forget this random, backlit indigo wall lifted from a Jessica Simpson video from 2001, fronted by a bunch of urns! Sure makes me want a latte or a martini, depending on what time of day it is (just kidding, no one ever knows what time of day it is).

What Happened in Salem: Week of December 19th

December 26, 2016

Christmas brought the annual Horton ornament hanging, a.k.a. the one day to remember all the non-Daniel people they know who have died…

Chloe told Philip that she can’t return his feelings for her, what with being knocked up and only onscreen once every three weeks. A dejected Philip lashed out at Deimos for kidnapping him and at Victor for inexplicably taking Deimos’s side, and after quitting Titan, he said goodbye to Kate and left Salem. Nicole went to visit Chloe in Chicago, a place so close to Salem that you can drive there and back in a day but so far that it can be pounded with devastating snow while everyone in Salem walks around in light jackets. The two women were caught in a snowstorm and forced to seek refuge in an abandoned motel, probably because all the guests and employees realized that they just had to get 15 minutes away in order to avoid the snow altogether. Chloe went into labor, and Nicole helped her deliver a baby girl, but before Chloe could tell her the truth, she suffered a stroke.

Read the full recap to catch up on What Happened in Salem!

Yule Never Believe It

December 25, 2016

To the surprise of no one ever, I started sobbing the second these came onscreen:

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Every. Damn. Year.

I never tire of this tradition. Even in the worst of Days years, they tend to pull out some heart and soul for the Horton ornament hanging. This year’s, I thought, was pretty good — it’s so nice to see that living room full of people, and they’ve officially embraced Doug and Julie as the patriarch and matriarch of that family, which feels so right. They even showed a pretty wide swath of the ornaments this year. I thought it was bizarre that Lucas wasn’t there, especially since he couldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving with his family due to being passed out in a hotel room waiting for his runaway bride to wake up.

I’m surprised, however, that Julie didn’t have some shady comment about how Valerie brought her own Christmas globes to the party.

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A cleavage window wouldn’t have been my first choice for Christmas at the home of people I hadn’t seen for 30 years, but hey, you do you, girl. On the plus side, Salemites have a long tradition of dressing like high-class hookers for formal events, so she’ll fit right in if/when she decides to stick around!

Meanwhile, Maggie decided to honor a departed loved one with her Christmas outfit this year.

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I never knew she was such a huge fan of Prince, but his death clearly hit her hard.

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Look at those sleeves! (I’m also 99% sure this is not the first time I’ve covered a female Salemite dressing just like Prince.) And sorry for that traumatizing screenshot of Daniel’s ornament, but it was the best view I could get of Maggie’s sleeves. I will say, though, that as much of a blight as Daniel was on the viewers, this is the first Christmas since his passing, so it felt appropriate for Maggie, Jennifer, and JJ to have that little moment of remembrance for him. They all loved him, for whatever insane reason, so it was the right thing to do. Kind of like making yourself throw up when you’re really hungover.

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I continue to be incredibly distracted by that couch. It’s not even a year since Ciara was raped on that very couch, and she’s sitting on it like it’s no big deal. So gross. I thought they might actually address Chase’s ornament — like having it break, or someone choosing to throw it away — but I suspect this writing regime is trying to minimize that entire “storyline.” Anyway, replace the damn couch, please.

I was also (surprisingly?) moved by the sight of Nicole holding a child that is, finally, biologically hers.

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The logistics of the birth were completely ridiculous: why was that motel abandoned? How was Chicago buried under snow but Salem, which is within easy driving distance, was totally fine? This whole story feels rhythmically off — maybe because they’re writing around Nadia Bjorlin’s maternity leave, or because Deimos is being written as the hero — but the core of it works, and I love that Brady is involved. And having Nicole be the one to name the baby is both touching and means they won’t have to do some awkward renaming once the truth comes out. Color me stunned that no one even suggested Danielle as a name, but hey, Christmas miracles do happen.

Actress Departing

December 21, 2016

Talk about a Christmas miracle.

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The Revolving Door Continues

December 20, 2016

Possibly (probably) unpopular opinion: I’m kind of going to miss John Paul Lavoisier as Philip.

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His tics could be distracting at times, but I thought he really settled into the role in the last few months, especially after they wrapped up that horrible “Phelle vs. Shelle” retread triangle and moved him into Chloe’s orbit — and got him a haircut. He was at a disadvantage from the get-go, both because he was taking over from a beloved performer (almost certainly unpopular opinion: I often thought Jay Kenneth Johnson was phoning it in from 2009-11, and he’s the one who chose to leave, so I’m not holding it against the show that they brought the character back four years later with a new actor) and because they saddled him with a terrible rerun of a story that was terrible the first time around. And in his final two days, he was the only damn person besides Chloe making any sense whatsoever regarding Deimos. I could’ve watched another week of Philip just marching around town, telling people they’re insane for even considering trusting that maniac.

Oh, and look what we get in his place.

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My first thought when she popped up: oh yeah, this was once a character. Second thought: well, she is very pretty. Third thought: guess she’s the mystery woman JJ slept with! I guess that tracks, since she was inexplicably a nympho before she “left town” (disappeared and literally wasn’t mentioned until a month ago), and at least it’s better than her just sitting around scowling about the rest of the Salem PD’s lack of ethics. I actually like her when she’s around Abe and Theo, and it’s nice to see an actual contingent of black characters with some material to play, so maybe she’ll be able to redeem herself from being one of the most useless insta-relatives ever introduced on this show. Maybe.

Meanwhile, this was disturbingly intimate.

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Andre is a little too involved in all this, and Abigail is definitely still off her rocker if she’s letting him hold her like that. I’m also just tired of watching this woman huff and puff all over town. Marci Miller is generally doing well with being thrown into an important frontburner role, but the panic attack stuff was not her best work, and I just want to shake Abigail and tell her to knock it off. “My husband thinks I’m dead, so he’s moving on with another woman, which he wouldn’t be doing if he knew I were alive, but because he’s doing it, I can’t tell him I’m alive!” I get that she’s scared and insecure, but if I have to watch her leave Jennifer’s house to go see Chad once more, only to be unable to do it and then spend hours hanging around in public places, I’m going to need some of those pills Jen picked up for her, too.

What Happened in Salem: Week of December 12th

December 17, 2016

Hope’s still in prison, Abigail’s still pretending she’s dead, Ciara still can’t act…

Chad, understanding that there’s nothing the non-speaking background residents of Salem love more than to gawk at a memorial to a dead Horton, debuted a statue he commissioned in Abigail’s honor, to be displayed right beside the hottest park bench in town. Abigail snuck out of the house to go see him, then freaked out when she saw the statue and retreated. While bustling undisguised through a town full of people who know her, she had the good fortune to run into only Dario, who again reminded her that she’s nuts for planning to hide out in the damn attic forever instead of just telling her husband she’s alive. Jennifer bought her a whole new wardrobe so that she could get gussied up to go reveal herself to Chad.

Check out the full recap to catch up on What Happened in Salem this week!