The New ‘Days of Our Lives’ Is Indeed Improved

by | October 5, 2011 at 2:40 PM | Deep Soap

Brand New Days

Days of Our Lives” 2.0 is starting to work for me. Now that the sentimentality and the exposition of the first few days of the reboot are over, the storylines that were introduced are meaty and suspenseful. I liked that the Horton Square gala had three shocking, storyline launching moments: E.J. (James Scott) announcing his mayoral candidacy, Jack (Matt Ashford) falling face first into a cake, and John’s (Drake Hogestyn) arrest for embezzlement that packed a punch without involving any violence.

E.J. for mayor is just plain fun. This is what the character should be: a smart, sexy villain. His twist on the “I have a dream” speech was hilarious. I appreciate that the show took the time on Tuesday to articulate why a millionaire would want to be mayor of a small town. He views it as both a stepping stone to a national office and a way of rehabilitating the DiMera’s family image. Remember, E.J. was born in the United States, so he could become president. Obama, watch out.

John being arrested for embezzling Salem’s pension funds is a topical storyline that has not been done in daytime. I’m sure he will ultimately turn out to be innocent — and hope the explanation is something more original than the DiMeras setting him up — but I like seeing the character who has been at the center of so many ludicrous plots in a grounded, realistic umbrella storyline.

It’s a retcon that Jack was held hostage in Afghanistan while working on a story, but I’ll go with it because it gives him a sympathetic reason for abandoning his family. It is a dangerous region for journalists, so why not? Making the Jack and Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) relationship fresh again is one of the new headwriters’ toughest tasks. The moment when she mocked his ridiculous beard reminded me of how much fun they used to be.

For the first time since the end of the Sydney/Grace baby switch storyline, I am finding myself looking forward to watching DOOL. It’s amazing what a difference a week of good writing can make.

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Marriage of Contrivance

I can deal with soap storylines based on improbable events: returns from the dead, split personalities, children who age a decade overnight. What drives me insane is characters who behave in a way contradictory to everything we know about human behavior. I am speaking of course of “The Bold & the Beautiful’s” Two Girls: One Ring plot. For those who spent last week sitting shiva for “All My Children,” here’s a brief summation. Liam (Scott Clifton) proposes to his girlfriend Hope (Kristian Alfonso) who has decided she wants to not only wait until she’s married to have sex but become the public posterchild for abstinence. In what is undoubtedly the most preposterous aspect of this storyline, Hope’s virginity is a key reason why her line of clothing is so successful. Apparently, Hope for the Future is being marketed as the perfect clothing for conservative teenage girls to wear with their purity rings.

Meanwhile, Steffy (Jacqueline Wood) keeps rubbing up against Liam, telling him that she is willing to have sex with him whenever he wants.Liam’s father Bill (Don Diamont), who previously cheated on his wife with Steffy, is convinced that his son can only be happily married to a woman who is both skanky and obsessive. So he asks Steffy– his former mistress — to break up Liam and Hope’s engagement.  Hope first agrees to move up her wedding then changes her mind. Liam mopes around his bachelor party, drowning his sexual frustration in booze. Bill tells Steffy to give him a ride home. She puts the moves on the guy, and they start to make out in the car. Hope abruptly changes her mind and decides she wants to have sex with Liam right away. Instead of telling him, she lets herself into his house and waits. When she sees him kissing Steffy instead of knocking on the car window to get them to stop, telling Liam he used his bachelor party get out of jail free card, and sending Steffy on her way, Hope left her engagement ring in Liam’s house, then called him up and told him she no longer wanted to marry him without giving him any explanation. No wonder the dude decided to get some rebound action with Steffy. I am willing to accept all of this foolishness. Soap characters are frequently incapable of having basic conversations with the people they profess to love. But then B&B took a trip to crazytown when Liam decided that, hey, since he was no longer engaged to Hope he might as well just pop the question to Steffy. She accepted his proposal. Then the next morning Hope woke up and decided she acted rashly, was due to various contrivances unable to have a conversation with Liam. So instead she had a, “Hands off the man I just unceremoniously dumped” chat with Steffy.

So, I am supposed to believe that Liam, a good looking guy in his early twenties who already faced the prospect of unplanned early parenthood earlier this year, is so desperate to get married and settle down that he will marry any available female. Who is he, Charlotte from “Sex & the City?” Neither of the two women seem to mind that they are seemingly interchangeable to Liam. He is a prize to be won. If he were replaced by a bag of money, Hope and Steffy’s battle would make a lot more sense. This is clearly supposed to be the Generation Y version of the Brooke/Ridge/Taylor triangle. Steffy and Hope are Brooke and Taylor’s daughters, after all. But why keep the “man is too fickle and easily manipulated to be worth the trouble” aspect of the story? While Ridge has always been nothing but hair and cheekbones, Liam was previously smart, funny and charming. Now he is someone that I no longer find appealing. It’s time for B&B to find something more interesting to do with its talented young actors.

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