Archive for January 2017

‘Chips Ahoy

January 20, 2017

I have a perhaps-controversial opinion.

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No, it isn’t that I think Club TBD looks okay. It’s still awful on every count.

My controversial (?) opinion is this: I think this microchip storyline is pretty good.

Wait, wait. Hold the tomatoes. I have some caveats — primarily, that I think this storyline is very solid on paper. If you were to describe this story to a longtime Days fan without giving away that Dena Higley were writing the show, I bet that viewer would say it sounds like exactly what Days needs right now. Think about it: the DiMeras and the Kiriakises are both privy to revolutionary technology that could earn either family millions. A scrappy, third family rises up to get involved and take that technology. All this is the backdrop for a number of personal and relationship stories. Chad and Abigail are trying to get their marriage back on solid ground, while she’s harboring self-doubt and he’s resisting the feelings he developed for Gabi. Abigail has a newfound friendship with Dario, her husband’s wild-card competitor. JJ is desperate to win Gabi back but has been tasked with investigating her father and brother, and wild-card Lani is… there. Sonny and Chad’s friendship is threatened as they step up to represent their respective families. Kate’s burgeoning relationship with Eduardo is complicated by his family having stolen and smuggled the microchips. Deimos is willing to play dirty, which again tests his and Nicole’s relationship and strengthens Chloe’s resolve to keep Holly away from him, even if it means hurting Nicole.

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See? That’s a pretty strong umbrella storyline. In execution, though, it’s a bit like a house made out of popsicle sticks and Scotch tape (or, you know, the typical Days set). The microchip stuff arose out of nowhere. Chad and Gabi’s “love” was completely rushed. Sonny as a business-minded Kiriakis feels forced. It makes no sense why anyone trusts Deimos. Chloe is the damn voice of common sense with regards to Deimos, and somehow her motivation for keeping that child from Nicole still feels thin.

But there’s something there. Maybe the scripts need to be digging deeper. Maybe it’s that the setups were rushed into place, and we just need to buy into those in order to buy the story. But I will say that it’s generating a lot of scenes and dynamics that I’m enjoying, and this sort of far-reaching storytelling works so well for this incarnation of the show. So I suppose I’m willing to go along for the ride right now, based upon the potential of the whole thing and the engaging scenes that pop up along the way.

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New Things to Complain About!

January 18, 2017

What a Tuesday in Salem!

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Kayla and Steve are going to pay the rent on an apartment that Joey and his almost-babymama, White Jade, are going to share with three other college kids! How could this possibly go awry?

They did a nice job converting the old Sami/Rafe apartment into a new set, and I definitely don’t mind having something else to look at, but this plan is objectively horrible, yeah? I get that Kayla and Steve are good people who don’t want to cast Jade out into the wind, but let me get this straight: Joey hopes that by sharing a living space with Jade and having her be dependent upon his family, he’ll be able to faze her out of his life? Ooooookay. College is not looking promising for someone.

As for White Jade herself:

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The actress seemed to fit right in on her first day, but what was the point of this recast? I feel like their story wrapped up pretty naturally thanks to the miscarriage, and they could’ve brought this girl in as Joy Wesley (I know, Joey/Joy is problematic name-wise) and had her connected to other people on canvas and without the weird baggage of a character who never totally made sense to begin with.

Meanwhile, Hope was awfully fortunate that her nephew-by-marriage was the person who just happened to find her conked out in the woods.

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Greg Vaughan’s harder look for this return is kind of jarring (even though I’d been prepared by photos), but he’s still embodying that soulfulness Eric had when he was a priest, albeit tempered by the weight of the mistakes he’s made. I’m eager to see what they have planned for him. I’m guessing he was granted early release from prison and planned to hide out from society, but it seems really weird that his father, who is the Police Commissioner, would’ve had no clue about this. Although for all we know, Roman could’ve actually mentioned it onscreen and we just couldn’t understand what the hell he was carrying on about.

Over in Prague, a city composed entirely of three rooms and an alleyway, everyone’s just about had it with Anna.

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Not me, though! I’ve seen some comments from people who are upset that none of the other characters seem to be taking her mental illness seriously, but frankly, I’m just glad there’s some energy to this. Austin’s exasperation with her has been hilarious, and they’re balancing it out with Carrie telling him not to call her mom crazy. (Though could Carrie please shoot back once with, “At least she’s not trying to kill you, which is what I’ve had to deal with with your mother for two decades!”) Anna’s question about how Carrie could possibly have fallen for Rafe — who’s at his most unbearable right now — was delightful, too.

I do have to say, though, that while I’m enjoying the scenes, it all feels a little bit like a fakeout. We follow some regular characters to Prague to solve this Stefano mystery, and it turns into this dog-leg focusing mostly on Anna, Carrie, and Austin. It’s similar to shoehorning Hattie and Eric into Hope’s story, or having Laura pop up randomly in the Abigail story, or even the way Shane and Kim were the ones to bring Theresa the news about Mateo. It’s like they realize the stories are thin, so they wave a shiny thing (“Someone you used to like!”) in front of us to keep our attention. I mean, there are worse things, but it does feel a bit like a trick meant to prevent us from noticing that there’s very little actual story going on.

What Happened in Salem: Week of January 9th

January 17, 2017

Chloe woke up, Hope got tossed in the trash, and Microchip Mania heated up…

Chad and Abigail reconnected during a romantic night of dinner and dancing in an Ashley Furniture clearance outlet— oh wait, that was Club TBD. JJ displayed the incompetence necessary for a lifelong career with the Salem PD when he blabbed to Gabi that Eduardo and Dario are under investigation for shady activities pertaining to the club, which Gabi insisted was impossible even though she’d actually just overheard her father and brother discussing such matters. Dario confronted a nonplussed Andre about the missing hard drive, and when Eduardo accused Kate, the multiple-time-attempted-murderess was so offended that he’d think her of capable of theft that she dumped him.

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

You Might Be a Salemite If…

January 14, 2017

Remember in the 90s when Jeff Foxworthy made a weird, brief cultural phenomenon of that whole “You Might Be a Redneck If…” thing? Well… how about “You might be a redneck if your accidental prostitute ex-wife offers to carry a child for your former porn star, convicted kidnapper fiancée”?

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Daniel Jonas, you are a redneck!

BTW, do you love how they did Chloe’s hair like that in the newly shot flashbacks, so she’d look ten months younger than the present-day scenes? You can’t fool us into thinking those scenes really took place in the fall of 2015, Days! We all know Nicole’s hair looked like hot flaming shit back then!

Speaking of Chloe’s styling…

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I know she’s supposed to look tired and, well, like someone who gave birth and had a stroke and went into a coma and just woke up and escaped from the hospital, but oh my god, is it refreshing to see her with a relatively plain face. Nadia Bjorlin is stunning. Does Chloe always need to be buried under a metric ton of makeup and eyelashes just to grab coffee with a frenemy?

Sofa King Stupid

January 13, 2017

Welp, looks like the Horton Town Square finally got a Restoration Hardware!

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I can’t blame Maggie for wanting new furniture that literally everyone in Salem hasn’t had sex on, but can she perhaps donate the old one to Jennifer so that she can finally toss out the sofa Ciara was raped on? With our luck, though, the former Kiriakis couch will probably be tossed into the visual dumpster fire that is Club TBD.

I’ve made my feelings on Deimos as a character and on his relationship with Nicole well known (short version: HATE), so I can only pray that this engagement is setting up a wedding that will get blown to hell. No one is ever this happy in Salem without it blowing up in their faces! And look — Brady’s having chest pains. Presumably the ghost of Daniel is not pleased over this engagement, in case anyone forgot that Brady has Daniel’s heart. Leave it to Days to make me annoyed about actual continuity!

Subtle Prague-ress

January 12, 2017

If you travel to downtown Europe and don’t run into another (former) Salemite within the first 24 hours, did you really travel to downtown Europe at all?

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How nice to see LeAnn Hunley and Anna again! And while I love them both, I have to say that her acting seems a bit, er, rusty. Not that I blame her — this shooting schedule must be more like doing theatre than television, really — but I do hope she settles in, because it’s distracting. I’ve also seen people commenting that they don’t like that Anna is being played as “wacky” or out of her gourd, but honestly, Anna’s sort of always been that kind of heightened character. Her grief over Tony, and her blame toward Stefano, is legitimate, and I much prefer her coming in with some real energy over all the bland “Hi, I’m going to ring your doorbell in the opening act and waltz into your home and just kind of be around for two days.”

And then Carrie! And the Austin who’s even less believable as a forensic accountant than the last one!

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Would you believe this is the first time Christie Clark’s Carrie has been onscreen with Anna since her first month — as a child — in 1986?! Aside from that, they’ve never been on the show at the same time. I loved that they actually backfilled their entire mother/daughter relationship for us through dialogue, with Carrie being frustrated that she’s always had to take the parental role with her own mother. Also surprisingly great: Austin rolling his eyes when Carrie mentioned Rafe’s name.

I’m finding this Prague stuff fun, and of course inserting familiar but surprising faces adds a layer of interest to it, a la Hattie turning up in prison with Hope. But I’m thinking about what it would take for this entire thing to really pop. Some of it is that this is obligatory — we’re long past the point at which Stefano turning up alive would ever be a shocker, as are the characters — but I think part of it is also that this is just plot. I’m no expert on the Stockholm story of the 80s, for example, but I believe it was actually about a hell of a lot more than Orpheus’s revenge and Britta’s tattoo or whatever. Those things were all vessels for the real character stories to play out: Kayla seeing another side of Steve, Steve allowing himself to trust Kayla, Bo processing what it meant to be a Kiriakis, etc. (I could be 100% wrong on those specific dynamics, but you know what I mean.) I wish they’d loaded some more character stuff into this arc. Like what if they’d made more of Paul’s reluctance to be with Sonny because of Will, but Marlena had caught them in a close moment right before the group left for Prague, so it was tense between them, and this whole thing was the vehicle for both Paul and Marlena to accept that Will is gone and Paul staying away from Sonny won’t bring him back. That kind of thing.

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Meanwhile, Jennifer’s scenes with Thomas were absolutely pointless and plot-free, but in the absolute best way. They could seriously spend one episode a week having her or Hope or Julie tell old Horton stories, and I’d watch without blinking the entire hour. Even at its worst, Days has maintained that core and that sense of its roots better than most of the major soaps, and I think that’s how it’s managed to stick around for so damn long. There’s always that center to go back to. Also, props to Melissa Reeves for managing to look amazing in spite of that confusing mesh vest with sweatshirt sleeves and Puritan blouse getup. She’s a beautiful woman who tends to be very susceptible to whatever fuckery the wardrobe, hair, and makeup departments inflict upon her, but this time, she managed to maintain her sense from the neck up, so much so that I didn’t notice her horrible outfit until halfway through the episode.

But let’s talk about how Jennifer told Thomas that Hope is “going through a bit of a rough time right now.” Is that what we’re calling being imprisoned for murder? Sign this kid up for therapy right now — and not with his batshit crazy great-grandmother Laura! — because if that’s how this family tiptoes around serious issues, he’s gonna need it.

What Happened in Salem: Week of January 2nd

January 8, 2017

While everyone ran around clucking about Stefano being alive…

After Kayla, Steve, Joey, and Jade spent days on end crowing about how happy they were and how well everything was working out, Salem Karma struck in the form of a miscarriage for Jade. Joey was bereft and wondered if it was cosmic punishment for having murdered Ava, and he even considered turning himself in. Steve and Kayla tried to dissuade him by pointing to his aunt Hope, and they made him consider whether he really wants to be stuck in prison being terrorized by “This Is How We Do It” singer Montell Jordan and that dude who got plastic surgery to impersonate Rafe.

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