Deep Soap: Genre Bending

by | October 21, 2009 at 9:28 AM | Deep Soap

Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso (NBC)

Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso (NBC)

30 Rock of Our Lives

Tina Fey is picking up Jeff Zucker’s slack.  Days of Our Lives’ Peter Reckell recently revealed that he and Kristian Alfonso have taped a guest appearance on 30 Rock.   It is unclear whether they are playing themselves, Hope and Bo, or new characters.  I think it is great that DOOL is getting some primetime exposure on NBC’s most critically acclaimed show.  In the 90s, Friends did a multi-episode arc about Joey joining the cast of DOOL that is still remembered fondly.  DOOL was at the height of its James Reilly era popularity, Friends was a key ingredient in NBC’s must-see Thursday night.  It was the rare instance of corporate synergy that actually made creative sense.

Watch the latest episode of 30 Rock here

I am confident that 30 Rock will come up with something that is every bit as funny.  The show’s season premiere took aim at The Jay Leno Show.  Maybe it will do something equally pointed about NBC’s desire to get rid of all its soap operas.  Fey and crew might even point out that DOOL is doing almost as well as some of NBC’s DOA new primetime shows.  It is far more likely that there will just be a bit about Reckell and Alfonso gueststarring on The Girly Show with plenty of soap jokes and a little bit of Liz Lemon reliving her college years as a Hope and Bo fangirl. You just know she was watching soaps in her dorm’s common room.  Now that DOOL is embarking on its 90s revival with the return of Carly and Vivian, it is fitting that it also revisits NBC’s Thursday night.

Koo Koo Ka Choo, Mrs. DiMera

Speaking of DOOL,  we have now established that when the chips are down, Nicole reverts to form. Coming on to two different guys for purely strategic reasons in the space of a single episode merits a slow clap.  Despite her thousands of sins, I was shocked that she attempted to seduce the teenage Chad in a scene that was simultaneously stomach churning and darkly comic. Instead of taking her up on her offer, he recognized her as a former porn star when she uttered the immortal line, “I am scared that you might be too much man for me.”  This makes Chad the only teenage boy who ever paid attention to the dialogue in a porn movie.   After enduring the humiliation of being negged by a high school student, Nicole moved on to her long suffering confidante, Brady.  Though for months he listened to her claims that she was madly in love with EJ, she expected him to jump at the chance to run away with her.  Nicole’s shamelessness came as a relief to me.   For the past few months it seems like DOOL has been attempting to make the audience sympathize with Nicole despite the fact that she has committed a few dozen felonies in pursuit of her goal.  She is far more entertaining as a love to hate character.  I look forward to seeing what depths she will sink to next.

So Five Minutes Ago

I get nervous when soaps attempt hipness.  I applaud the intention.  The genre needs to figure out a way to recapture a semblance of its 80s cool.   But the results are usually just a little bit off.   The Young & The Restless’s Nick should not wear a hipster cardigan.  It’s Nick, the small town jock who married his high school sweetheart and has never, ever, been remotely trendy.  You just know he has Nickelback and Led Zeppelin on his Ipod.  Suddenly this week he’s dressing like Joseph Gordon Levitt in (500) Days of Summer.  He looked more Mr. Rogers than Williamsburg.  Daniel the loft dwelling artist is about the only Y&R man who will not look ridiculous in vaguely “alternative” clothes. Nick belongs in suits, khakis and sports team jerseys.

General Hospital introduced what I assume will turn out to be its James Franco storyline with Monday’s non-sequitur ending.  GH has managed to hang on some of its cool reputation from the Luke and Laura days.  So they seem to be going out of their way to be”edgy.”  The camera panned to: a loft filled with the standard issue Serial Killer paraphernalia: newspapers on the wall! A mysterious graffiti tag!  The Gary Jules version of Mad World as background music!  Remember how six months ago everyone started listening to it again because of Adam Lambert?  And even your friends who would not get caught dead watching Idol admitted he was good? And now you’re all sick of the song? While Lambert is the perfect fit for GH with his dual fanbases of soccer Moms and gay men, the overall effect was fifteen minutes out of date.

I had hoped GH is doing something more interesting with its big time authentically hip movie star than making him a serial killer. My fantasies about what character would consitute ”Jason’s worst nightmare” included a doctor who could restore his Jason Quartermaine memories, a brilliant FBI agent and a gun control activist. But it looks like GH decided to go for the obvious: murderer.  That’s about the last thing Port Charles needs, but I am trying to stay optimistic.  Maybe he will kill Rebecca and Ethan.  Given his indie cred, pergaps Franco should be a serial killer who wears a hoodie and listens to MGMT.