Deep Soap: Better And Worse

by | August 12, 2009 at 9:22 AM | Deep Soap

One Stop Soap Shop

Fancast is now streaming Days of Our Lives.  We now have every single soap opera available on-line in one convenient place.  While I am not advocating spending your entire workday catching up on daytime television, it is now possible.

A(TWT) For Effort

Someone got a wake up call on As The World Turns.  As sooner as CBS executive Nina Tassler admitted to the Television Critics Association that the network was considering canceling the show, it became entertaining.  Making Henry the long lost son of James Stenbeck is borderline inspired.  It creates a host of complications for numerous characters.  Suddenly, Henry has a claim to the Stenbeck fortune as well as serious family angst.  The increasingly irritating Paul now has a likable, funny foil.  Trent Dawson and Roger Howarth will deliver what I am sure will be hilarious scenes of the brothers feuding and bonding.  Barbara versus Audrey has the potential to be an epic soap female rivalry.  Lynn Herring has served notice that she is more than just stunt casting from her first scene on the show.  Her feisty, dysfunctional, cold blooded yet chipper mother is a fascinating piece of work.  Though she and General Hospital’s Lisa LoCicero are probably getting together to commiserate over playing the mothers of sons that were born the same decade that they were, her performance sells the relationship.

Suddenly, ATWT has snappy dialogue and storylines that seem like they will last more than a week.  Emily locking Barbara in a car was a lot of fun.  Angry, uncommunicative Faith may be daytime’s most realistic teen.  The show is capitalizing on both Paolo Seganti and Noelle Beck’s Lily chemistry and its own history with Damian and Lily’s attraction.  Though the mental hospital set bore a suspicious resemblance to a hallway full of dressing rooms, and sure did not look as luxurious as the dialogue claimed it was, it was an effective use of a location. I would much rather see scenes in buildings than people wandering around fields.

This is not to say that the show is perfect.  Casey and Allison are still a chemistry free snore.  The promising Luke/Noah/Mason triangle has turned out to be as dull as all of the other Nuke storylines.  Meg continues to be the most boring frontburner character in daytime.  But it seems like TPTB have awakened from their stupor and realized both that they are in danger of losing their jobs, and that they do have a chance of saving them.  The show seems to be veering away from its ill-conceived foray into short term arcs and cliffhanger free storylines.  Executive Producer Christopher Goutman is no longer giving interviews claiming that viewers are not interested in watching five days a week. There are two paths available to ATWT: one is the sad fate of its sister show Guiding Light which innovated itself right out of existence.  The other is that of Days of Our Lives which, facing the same sort of pressure eventually went back to the storytelling style that worked for the show in the past and saved itself.  Let us hope that ATWT is able to pull off a similar death defying feat.

Contingency Plan

I think All My Children’s writers have already moved to California.   The show is playing as though it were scripted by the proverbial 1000 monkeys on 100 typewriters.  Tuesday’s episode was the most illogical, implausible ever.  The audience was asked to believe that Zach built a panic room in his house which Kendall never noticed, that Zach found or somehow created Kendall’s doppleganger — because it’s not like Alicia Minshew’s ultra-thin figure, perfect ringlets, and bright blue eyes are in any way unusual — and persuaded her to possibly spend the rest of her life in prison in exchange for a sum of money that she might not ever be able to spend.  Did Zach have all this set up just in case Kendall ever was wrongly convicted of a crime?  Did he find Kendall 2.0 by placing an ad in the etc. section of Craigslist? Zach’s explanation that the Kendall Klone knew she would only be in prison until the real killer was brought to justice is equally improbable.  This individual must be incredibly naive about the justice system.  Didn’t she see that Oprah episode featuring the guy who spent over a decade in prison because he made a false confession?  Who would be willing to give up her life to go to prison?  A homeless person?  A mental patient?  A robot? A daytime production office staffer who could no longer make ends meet thanks to salary cuts?  If the prison term is only going to last a few months why go through all the trouble of hiring the double? Is Jesse completely corrupt now? This story was obviously not plotted out in advance.  It would not surprise me if, when it’s all over, we learn that Stuart is actually alive and living with David’s evil nurse.  (Remember that dangling plot point?  I am not sure if anyone on the show does.)  Rumor is Minshew and Thorsten Kaye are two of the AMC stars who are reluctant to move to Los Angeles.  I doubt this recent plot twist is much encouragement to stay with the show.