Archive for the ‘Salem Style’ category

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.

Pop Quiz, Hotshot

December 14, 2010

Your husband kicks you out of his home for various and sundry betrayals. Do you:

a) retreat in order to formulate a plan to convince him you are trustworthy and win him back?

b) accept defeat and try to move on with your life (which theoretically should not be too hard, since you have been married like 6 times before and also were homeless for a while)?

c) put on no fewer than 28 strands of your finest Mardi Gras beads before resuming your pleas for him to forgive you?

If you are Salem’s resident prostitute-turned-business mogul*, Kate Roberts-Dimera, the answer is clearly c.

This woman is just– I can’t even.

*Thank goodness Nicole is currently a reporter and Billie is out of town, or you might not have known who I was talking about.

Sometimes Days Can Be Educational

November 10, 2010

I freely admit that I watch this show to relax. I certainly don’t expect anything illuminating to come from my dirty little habit. This week, however, the show surprised me by serving up some truly enlightening lessons.

LESSON #1: Nicole loves carrot cake.

Look, I enjoyed the interplay between Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) and Arianne Zuker (Nicole). It was fun to see two characters who rarely interact suddenly have so much to say to one another. But one thing about those scenes was absolutely fucking ridiculous. Nicole cracked because Maggie offered her carrot cake?!

This woman has been married to, like, three incredibly wealthy men. She’s living in the damn Kiriakis mansion. She can’t have Henderson fetch her a piece of carrot cake? If only Sami had known about this earlier, that whole Sydney storyline could’ve been concluded a lot faster:

Kate also could’ve saved herself $5 million back when Lucas needed a wife…

LESSON #2: Rafe is a robot.

His only emotion is “Sami.” That’s it. This dude is a parody of a romantic hero. “You shot some guy in the head at point-blank range? No sweat.” “Oh, you got my sister killed? Let me make you breakfast in bed.” Is there anything Sami can do to make him angry?! Used to be that she would walk in a room and everyone — her parents included — would go fleeing in terror.

As for Arianna, she never fully worked as a character. Her relationship with Brady was “nice” but didn’t do much to define or progress either character. I definitely never bought her as some hood chola who was slinging crack and cutting bitches and all that. I mean, Ari was less hood than this mess:


And yet, her death totally worked for me. They were wise to spotlight the grief of the people who should be affected–Melanie, Brady, Gabby (the new actress really stepped it up for this arc), even EJ–rather than trying to manipulate us into being sad that Ari is gone. Hell, she got a more fitting and effective sendoff than a lot of beloved long-term characters. Remember when the Salem Serial Killer was running around, and the most anyone could be bothered to do was throw a triple funeral for Abe, Jack, and Maggie in between checking their haunted PDAs?

I’ve gotta ask, though: with this whole hit-and-run thing going on, why has no one asked if Chelsea is back in town? We all know her driving record…

LESSON #3: Kayla can’t dress herself. Still.

I don’t know how Kayla was in the 80s (I’m guessing full of shoulder pads), but when she came back in 2006, she was pretty much always dressed like some combination of Stevie Nicks and Paula Poundstone. And on this latest return, her outfits evoke what might result if Miss Frizzle got drunk and drove the Magic School Bus into Kate Roberts’s closet.

Nevertheless, it’s lovely to see her, especially involved in her daughter’s and brother’s storylines.

Now for some unabashedly positive stuff:

– Loved the way Shelley Hennig played the moment when Nathan got down on one knee. You could see that Stephanie could not believe this was actually happening, that someone was saying these words to her and she would never have to worry about finding a man again. Too bad none of this is consistent with the character’s history pre-Phillip-breakup, but they’ve finally given her a somewhat interesting arc, and you can tell Hennig is enjoying having something to play other than “pretty young woman.”

– Kate finding Vivian was terrific. Those two play off each other so well. I’m glad they haven’t just forgotten that history because it isn’t the primary storyline.

– Weird that they randomly used Kinsey so much this week, but it’s good to see her. This teen scene has never really gelled, but I like the idea of a few tertiary teens. Where’s T, though? That kid is funny. And he sort of seems like someone’s horny little brother who might be up for a covert handjob in the basement after everyone else has gone to sleep. Just sayin’.