Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daytime Report Card

Some people consider daytime drama to be the dinosaur of television. It's certainly in grave danger of becoming extinct, that's for sure. In fact, the writing is on the wall: there won't be any daytime soaps in a few years. Are the people who write and produce these shows doing anything to stave off this inevitable demise? Are they being effective? We now know that letter-writing campaigns from viewers are a waste of time, energy and paper. The ball is squarely in the hands of the networks and owners of the various soaps - those that remain. So....how are they doing?

As The World Turns
Sorry, folks, but it's dead in the water, and it's not going out with a bang, but with a whimper.
I haven't been a regular viewer for a while but, for heaven's sake,  I do know these folks couldn't even bother to give the great Julianne Moore, who returned for one day as Frannie Hughes, more than one line. Really? I know there couldn't have been a full-fledged story line written for her but, surely, they could haven given her something more meaty. ATWT's phenomenal botch-up job with Moore's return made GL's use of Maureen Garrett's stint look like a wealth of riches.

All My Children
Dare I say it? After more than a year of talking about how utterly unwatchable AMC had become, it's looking like soapdom's last, best hope. In many ways the show is still a mess, but there are glimmers of hope. The show's farewell to Palmer Cortland was perfect, and that final scene with Dixie? Corny? Yes. Cheesy as all-out? Yes. Did I love it? Hell, yes. Someone at AMC is finally listening to what fans have been saying about history and legacy characters. Brooke's return to facilitate Adam Chandler's departure from Pine Valley was the very stuff we watch soaps for. (And, ridiculous as it seems, I take some credit for it...since I wrote a whole blog about how the only character who could bring some sense to the Adam/Annie situation would be Brooke.)

After serving as little more than wallpaper for over a year, Angie, Jesse, Tad and Erica have all been involved in key story lines, lately. And, yeah, Debbi Morgan is well into her 50s, but I can suspend disbelief and buy into the pregnancy story line because she doesn't look a day over 40, and it's so damned good to see one television's best actresses working, again. I'm also enjoying Vincent Irrizarry's David a whole lot more than I used to, and I've never been a huge V.I. fan. Whoever concocted the current story line for David is almost certainly an old-school Roger Thorpe fan, because the similarities are crystal clear. It's good material, and Irrizarry is more than up to it. Where they've failed, though, is in allowing us to like something - anything - about David. This is where history comes in. We loved Roger, even when he was at his worst, because we knew his history. He did awful things, but they made a certain kind of terrible sense to anyone who knew about Roger's roots, about his father, about how much he hated always being compared to Doctor Ed by the woman he loved. We don't have this with David. It makes no sense to me that he'd just up and buy Pine Valley hospital to - what? Get back at Angie and Frankie? Really? I don't buy it and I'm not feeling it. Like I said, Irrizarry is hitting it out of the park with this role, but he needs a little more meat to work with.

Recent Highlights:

Brooke and Erica scenes - Some things never get old.

Erica in the elevator with Greelee - The bitch is back.

Tad/Liza/Damon/Colby - history, history, history. I defy anyone who is old enough to remember Tad/Liza/Marion to not be drawn into this. It draws on history in the best way, and makes us actually care about two young legacy characters.

Recent Lowlights:

Anything having to do with Ryan Lavery - He's boring and dumb. Who cares?

Frankie and his annoying wife - Another story about how a career in modelling spells doom for a relationship? Really?

Jake and Amanda - Cheesy, and not in a good way. There's nothing to like or care about about either character.


Days of Our Lives
It's been many years since I was a regular viewer. The fact is, this show has been very bad for a very, very long time. Bad writing. Bad acting. Bad art direction. Bad music. Just plain, old bad in every way. I watched for the Alice Horton farewell, because Frances Reid's Alice was pretty much a key figure in my childhood. It was ok. I think AMC did a better job with their tribute to James Mitchell, but it was nice to see all the old footage. And that old footage was a reminder of how great this show once was. I also catch DOOL once in a while when I'm waiting for Y&R to begin on Soapnet. It's bad. Very, very bad. As annoying as I find Crystal Chappell post-Guiding Light, I have to be clear about one thing; the woman can act. Give her some decent material. I almost think she deserves a medal for just going to work every day. The show is THAT bad. What a ridiculous waste.

One Life To Live
OLTL is sometimes so freaking good, only to become so fucking bad. Right now, it's in a slump. What are the writers thinking about? A month ago I was singing the praises of OLTL for giving us Ford: a young guy who is gorgeous to look at, morally bankrupt, and 100% selfish. Llanview needed Ford, and I was really enjoying him. So, what do they do? They turn around and turn Ford first into a guy who really, really cares about Langston and about his brother. (Ok...so you've ignored him for years, even though you knew he was living in a terrible situation, but now that he's in town, you're suddenly Big Brother of the year? Huh?) Worse, still, Ford is now a VICTIM! Poor, little Ford is being victimized by Eli. YAWN!!! Where AMC has neglected to give us a reason to think of David as an antihero (as opposed to a plain, old villain), OLTL is going overboard with trying to softsoap Ford and spoon-feed us a sob story about his past. The whole Inez thing? Spare me.

Another epic failure: the youth storyline. Back in the day, Guiding Light had the four musketeers. We liked them. They were cute. We cared about them. We really wanted Phillip and Beth to end up together. The fact that GL returned to this, so many years later, and wrapped up by pairing off Beth and Phillip, Rick and Mindy speaks volums about just how invested viewers were in these characters as a unit. The chemistry just isn't there for Marco, Langston, Cole and Starr. I don't care. I didn't care that Langston was unfaithful. I didn't care when Marco finally left town. I don't care that Cole is leaving the show. I don't care about Starr, at all. I just don't care.

Recent Lowlights:
David Vickers/Dorian Lord - That crap is enough to make me cringe.

Twin sisters, both preggers - Puh-leeze.

John Mcbain - That corny-ass, breathy voice....the nostril-flair method of acting...it's all crap.

Jessica Leccia - Wow. Seriously? Are you really that bad an actor when Crystal Chappell isn't in the room? Ouch.

Nora and Bo - The dumbest soap wedding of the year, and it took about two weeks to get through it.

Rex and Gigi - Just shut up.

Recent Highlights:

Tea, Tea, and more Tea.

Todd taking Cole aside and explaining to him that, no, he's not a softer, more gentle Todd, AT ALL.

Young and the Restless


The only thing I can say is...what in the world are they thinking?

5 comments:

Deep Dish said...

Hey, Lana, I enjoyed reading your opinions of the current soaps - but what about "The Bold & the Beautiful" and "General Hospital"? I assume you must not watch either of them. I haven't watched my personal favorite, "The Young and the Restless", in awhile, but I must confess that I enjoyed all of Adam's and Patti's shenanigans last year. Over-the-top, yes, but still fun to watch.

Dayplayerdish said...

Great to the point blog Lana! Like Deep Dish, would love to hear your thoughts on Y&R and B&B. You hit the nail on OLTL and DOOL.

Snapper said...

Deep and Daily - I usually LOVE Y&R and can't singitspraises enough. There was some awesome stuff last year...which i've talked about on this blog in the past. The last six months or so, though? I'm not sure what's going on. Just...dumb. I hope it starts to turn around, soon. Right now, there's just nothing good to say, which make me sad.

I don't watch B&B or GH. I just can't stomach either show, really. I'll catch GH on the rare occasion, but not on any regular basis.

Maybe I need to write a blow-by-blow of why Y&R...BLOWS. At least for now. (And it's not because there aren't good actors and good writers affiliated with it!)

Deep Dish said...

I would love to read your in-depth report on "The Young and the Restless" - write it! :)

Snapper said...

I'll do it!