This has been a week full of the soap equivalent of the filibuster. The quest for a big Friday cliffhanger or a story that lasts throughout a sweeps period sometimes leaves soaps with episodes where the story does not advance at all.
‘Days of Our Lives‘ has been an exercise in treading water for the past month. Weeks ago, Brady (Eric Marstolf) locked Vivian in the sarcophagus she intended to use to imprison Maggie (Suzanne Rogers). It was amusing to watch him taunt her for a couple episodes. But the same scenario played out for weeks and weeks with no forward movement. When Nicole (Arianne Zucker) learned what Brady had done, she agreed not to do anything about it. When her manservant Gus found out, he was unable to free her. Now Victor (John Aniston) has figured out what happened and decided to leave her in the casket for now, although presumably he will blackmail her into divorcing him or otherwise making his life more pleasant, before freeing her. In other words, nothing has happened despite the storyline airing nearly every day.
The same holds true for the Rafe/Sami/E.J. storyline. After Sami (Alison Sweeney) shot E.J. (James Scott), he was in a coma for weeks while Sami had monotonous flashbacks about the incident. The seeming plotpoint of her having power of attorney over him was irrelevant since he woke up. When he pretended to have amnesia, I thought the show was going to pull out the classic soap plot of having Sami pretend to be married to him for months for the sake of his “recovery,” while they fell in love with each other for real. Instead, he soon came clean, and he and Sami resumed hating each other and plotting revenge, just as they have so many times before. Between E.J.’s shooting, and Arianna (Lindsay Hartley) getting tape of Sami confessing to the crime, a tape which she did not manage to show anyone else before getting mowed down by a car on Thursday was a series of false alarms. Because DOOL does not favor meaty, character developing conversations, this makes for a boring show.
Watch Arianna’s Accident:
‘One Life To Live‘ has more artfully stalled the show all week. Dani (Kelly Missal) and Tea (Florencia Lozano) reunited at the end of last Friday’s episode. As the show is obviously determined to stretch out the Eli Controls Everyone and Everything storyline until November sweeps begin, the mother and daughter are still locked up in the same place they were last week. Todd (Trevor St. John) still has not discovered that Tea is alive. Starr (Kristen Alderson) is still being held hostage by Hannah (Meghan Fahey), though only the Ford brothers seem to have realized it. Though it seems like plenty is happening, since the police are investigating, and everyone is either worried about their loved ones or trying to escape, there has been no actual forward movement. This, despite the dialogue and breakdown writers admirable attempts to disguise the fact that nothing is happening, makes for dull viewing.
In contrast, the scenes earlier in the week, when Dorian (Robin Strasser) vowed to help Vicki (Erika Slezak) battle the scourge of Echo were awesome. Nothing was really happening, but seeing these two women set aside their differences to work together against a common enemy had actual character development, as well as some fun 1980s flashbacks. Daytime has both the luxury and curse of an infinite number of hours to fill. I wish that writers would use more character development scenes and less monotonous repetition.
Another Life Lesson from Soaps
Thursday’s ‘One Life To Live’ taught me that if someone buys an expensive gift for a close friend who has helped him through numerous tough times, he is a huge jerk. Newly Evil Matthew (Eddie Alderson) has done numerous mean things: shoving Nate during a basketball game, forcing him to serve him at the country club.
Buying Destiny (Shenell Edmonds) a top of the line MP3 player for her birthday struck me as thoughtful. It was slightly rude of him to encourage Destiny to open his gift after he found out that Darren bought her the cheap knock off version, but Darren just said he wanted her to have “the Pulse” (an awesome product that surely advertises on “MyFace”), but it’s not as though Matthew had any idea that Darren was going to get her something similar.
This was Destiny’s killjoy of a father’s response: “Matthew, that’s very generous, but Destiny can’t accept such an expensive gift.” Why not? He is a Buchanan. He can more than afford it. Or as Matthew put it, “Don’t worry about it. I just got a big bonus from my uncle. You heard I’m working for him at B.E., Right? So don’t worry–there’s plenty more where that came from.” If the heir to a vast fortune ever bought me a birthday present, I hope it wouldn’t come from Wal-Mart. OLTL — preaching the message that being generous to your friends is shady.