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Matt's Musings on Days of our Lives, 2008

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December 19, 2008
I'm pleased to say that I've genuinely enjoyed 'Days' lately. I'm not entirely sure why. Let's review what happened this week to see if there is a hint anywhere. The entire week was made up of relationships that mirror previous ones. Everything that happened seems to have an echo in what happened before, only some of the characters have been exchanged and none of the characters who had the experience previously, seem aware that they had it at all. One of the curious things is that, increasingly, all of these plots seem to happen in little worlds which scarcely intersect. Even when they overlap, they seem sealed from each other.

Lucas and Philip had a little tiff over the fact that they've both dated Chloe, something which they've largely forgotten about. To his credit, Philip never tried to marry her. Philip then spent the week leaping between the two women in his life: Melanie and Stephanie. Melanie, who is channelling early Chelsea, hit the jackpot this week when Nick handed all rights over his project to her. That means she can earn millions. She hung this over Philip's head. Melanie sneered and Philip barked, eventually firing Mel. She went straight to Victor, who seems to exist solely to berate his son, which he did, yet again. Philip quit and, five minutes later, asked for his job back. Meanwhile, Stephanie went to Max to remind him that they were broken up and she was interested in Philip. He already knew, but got angry anyway. Then Chelsea came, she teased him, they flirted, he gave the toy dog that Trent left him in his will to Theo. Is that an ominous sign? It seems obvious that Max and Chelsea are going to get back together, and not just because she's the reformed version of his sister (which is a little creepy). The fact that they are being placed in 'adult' situations, ie. with Theo, suggests that it will be a very different coupling from the last time around. So Uncle Max hooks up with another 'niece'. It would be nice if Chelsea met a guy who hasn't slept with most of her friends or family.

John has been going to Dr. Charlotte for therapy. He's been lazily re-enacting his early relationship with Marlena, which has also been slightly re-enacted with Marlena every time he gets a new personality. Charlotte wants to reunite the broken couple; that's her mission, which sound like the opposite of what she was saying a week and a half ago. They both seem happy, but confused by this. I can't figure out if this is the only purpose of the new character or what. Marlena was strangely curt to her and the black hole the character crawled out of could either mean that she has some dark secret to be revealed or she is just really badly written. Most of the time, I can't tell. She isn't supposed to stick around for long though, which is too bad, because I like her. Besides, Salem won't have a shrink when she's gone and it needs one.

Bo knocked his head and now is having visions. He's been hearing a screaming child and envisioning disaster. I think I'm glad that they might be bringing back more supernatural elements, but it's too early to tell.

Rafe and Sami managed to be less annoying this week. He was stabbed so he could take off his shirt more than usual. Now that the killer knows who he is, he keeps flirting with leaving but can't seem to tear himself away. She managed to pout less and then slipped and fell. Meanwhile, Nicole dumped Daniel as her doctor (she likely knew he'd try to feel her up and discover her secret) and ran to Dr. Baker to ask him to fake being her obstetrician. He was reluctant but agreed to do it for $750,000. Now she needs to figure out how to get it. To complicate things, Elvis is getting randy and keeps flashing his chest and pointing his flower at her.

If you look at the plots, they aren't any better than usual, but something has definitely changed with the show. There's a steadiness which has suddenly returned and there's a new level of comfort in the scenes which was missing for a long time. The characters even seem fresher, better articulated. That's all a bit impressionistic, but that's how it feels. Daniel continues to unravel exactly the way I always thought he would. Since day one, I had him pegged for a pervy doctor and he just keeps fuelling the fire with his lust for Chloe. She's clearly uncomfortable that he wants more than her bone marrow, but I think we all know where this is going. Meanwhile, his godfather, Victor, showed up, which is always welcome. He did the only thing they let him do anymore -- make Philip feel like an idiot because his libido gets in the way of business. He should probably tell Stephanie to stop her cleavage from getting in the way of business too. Like I've said of Philip before, Melanie seems to be acting on a different show than most of the other characters. Usually, that doesn't work, but at this point, she manages to be more entertaining than not. I thought she was laying it on thick to start with, but Molly Burnett has really hit her stride lately and they are loading her up with all of the good lines... I just wonder how long they can keep that up.

Anyway, now on to what happens next week. If you don't want to see anything even approaching a spoiler, please look away and have a happy holiday. Otherwise, Melanie will be enlisting Max to smuggle her into the Brady Christmas. Will the spirit of the season enter her soulless body, or will she be able to Scrooge the holiday for everyone? Luckily for Alice, she'll be skipping the festivities this year; Mel might have given her a heart attack. Doug and Julie will be around for the holidays, however, and will be reading the Christmas story at the hospital. Meanwhile, Chloe breaks an ornament Maggie gives her. Given the bizarre sense of causality on 'Days', who knows what might result from this? In another bit of holiday largesse, Victor will be giving the boot to Philip and Brady. And the killer isn't taking a break for the holidays. Now that he's given Rafe a taste of his talents, he's ready to spread the joy a little thicker and give Sami a bullet for Christmas.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Lines of the Week:

Melanie: 'Tis the season, bitch!

Nicole: (to EJ) You can't come in here looking like a chiseled God and expect me to fall at your feet. Especially when I'm not sure you have my best interests at heart. You don't trust me with seed money for our child's future.

Daniel: So, when you get out of here do you want to hang out? Maybe take in a movie? Thumb wrestling?

Nicole: It's about the baby. It is driving me crazy and that's why I'm acting irrationally.

Melanie: Pretty soon, Stephanie, you will be the ghost of Christmas past.

Melanie: Look at the way you dress. I think you should apply for a job at Hooters.

Stephanie: (to Melanie) How dare you talk to me like that! You were the one who was talking about having sex with Philip!
Philip: Yeah, but that never happened. I'd rather stick my hand in a garbage disposal.

 

December 5, 2008
Nicole has been doing her best to hide the fact that she lost the baby from EJ. Elvis realized something must be wrong and dragged her to the clinic to find out what it could be. Nicole promptly blackmailed the doctor and offered to pay off his debts if he would keep the truth from EJ. She went home with her fake belly on, worrying that Elvis will stop loving her. Things got even more complicated for her when Stefano decided he would fly in a specialist to look her over. Nicole was outraged. Elvis and Stefano interpreted this as meaning she was some sort of feminist (I guess, in a Camille Paglia sort of way, she is).

Sami dragged Rafe to the convent and they talked about nuns. She wanted to go to confessional but he forbade her and dragged her back to the safe house so he could subject her to some gratuitous shirtless time and Hilda with a Christmas tree. He left little blond alone with big blond once again so that he could dress up in a cable uniform and snoop around the DiMera mansion. Sami outcried Nicole this week.

Kate cried a lot this week as well, but considerably less than most of the other women on the show. Daniel tested her family and dug through the hospital databanks for someone who could donate their bone marrow to her. The procedure Daniel plans to use would be, of course, extra risky and cutting edge. Chloe turns up to be the only match. Kate forbids her to donate right after Lucas forbids her to tell his mother that they are engaged.

John finally met a doctor who he didn't freak out at. Marlena set him up with her old mentor, Dr. Taylor. She had no idea that he was actually dead and his daughter had taken over his practice. When John met Dr. Charlotte Taylor, he was impressed that she didn't want him to change. He smiled a lot, introduced the women and joyed in teasing Marlena, who was instantly jealous and annoyed. Not only is the new blond shrink looking after John, she thinks Marlena is a bad influence and she is moving her practice in right next door to hers.

It all sounds very dramatic... well, amusing anyway. Somehow, most of it doesn't feel that way when I'm watching it. There has been some nice soap opera acting in the past two weeks. Kate, Melanie and Nicole have all cried with wonderful agility. Melanie's misery intrigues me the most, not because I enjoy the character (since I don't), but because it's more complicated and slightly less conventional. Terminal diseases and dead fetuses are sad things for sure, but that also makes them easy. Meanwhile, Sami's pointless whining is just a litmus test for the painful. If it weren't for the fact that the people she is interacting with are so deadpan, it would be unforgivable.

Melanie and Stephanie both spent much of the week trying to impress Philip. I keep having the feeling that Philip seems to be acting on a different TV show. Sometimes it even feels like I would much rather be watching whatever that other show is. He's not alone either. I could say the same for John, or Stefano, when they aren't shamefully wasting him, or even Daniel for that matter. One of the things about "Days" that strikes me is the remarkable discontinuity between the actors, not only because they are hedged into the same sets and repetitive plots, but into styles that don't seem to fit with each other. It's sort of like interior design in England, where everything seems to have been decorated by some monster with eyes on every side of its head but none of them are communicating the same information to the brain. Sometimes it just seems like the show's writers are each locked in different parts of the studio and forbidden to communicate. I don't think that's the case though, for if it were, it would likely be better, just be accident. The other day, Chrissi (the editor for Soaps.com) and I were forced to admit that one of the only interesting characters on the show right now is Daniel. He's interesting because he's such an enigma. We can't decide if the gravelly voiced doctor is just a terribly written character, or a terribly perverse one. The other characters seem imprisoned in some terribly repetitive routine, but he's strangely relaxed back about the whole thing.

Anyway, forgive my rambling... what follows is spoiler type information, so, if you do not wish to be spoiled, please avert your gaze. Next week, Stefano will be pushing EJ to make things official with Nicole. Whether this means marriage or a strictly legal arrangement, we'll have to wait and see. She will be making some arrangements of her own. She'll even be forced to drug Brady to take care of them. Melanie and Stephanie continue to vie for Philip's attentions, which could get dangerous for everyone involved. And, taking a break from Sami stabbing him in the back, Rafe gets stabbed in the literal sense.

Lines of the Week:
Sami: All of a sudden you're being human and I don't want to think of you like that! You have to keep acting like a jerk so I won't concentrate on Christmas.

Stefano: I thought caring for your unborn child would trump your hysterical feminism.

Hilda: You have a mind like a steel trap.

EJ: To talk technical: I am a guy. Father is a guy. We saw a problem and decided to fix it. When it comes to something like this guys are basically clueless. 

Kate: If it's not Dr. Good-News-Bad-News Jonas. 

Kate: That's kind of hideous.
Daniel: I know. It's garish and commercial. I'm going to get you in the Christmas spirit.
 

November 21, 2008
It was an eventful week on "Days of Our Lives," both onscreen and off. After last week's scandalous rumor that Jay Kenneth Johnson was being let go as Philip proved to be no more than a 'misunderstanding', we are still left with the disturbing news that John and Marlena will be leaving the cast. Although some have already suggested that this may just be a crude ploy to get some publicity for the show, we'll have to wait and see. So far it has managed to generate a great deal of negative press. It's debatable whether even bad press is good press in this instance.

Onscreen, things were dramatic too. The Trent murder plot reached its peak. Nick went berserk, took Melanie away with him and tried to convince her that they needed to get married to protect each other. Everyone he knew was searching town to rescue him from Melanie's infernal clutches. Bo and Hope finally pieced together that Nick was actually the dangerous one and managed to track him down. As the cops broke down Nick's door, Mel leaped off the balcony, only to be saved by Bo and Philip. Steph stood by and watched, not terribly impressed. Nick was promptly arrested and confessed. Kudos to Blake Berris for how he played his scenes. He managed to stay in character even when his character no longer was. His scenes with Maggie were sad and genuine. Too bad everything around them was something else altogether. Everyone blamed themselves for what Nick did. He was a nice boy, corrupted by the evil of Salemites. That's actually one of the more interesting things about the story. Usually, evil comes to town and is orchestrated by some foreign force; this time the town turned someone evil.

Meanwhile, one of Salem's other 'romances' has been flailing around almost as sadly as Nick and Melanie's. Nicole and EJ have already succeeded in becoming as boring as he was when he was 'with' Sami. That's what happens when he stops being sexually frustrated. I can forgive that, but what they've done to Nicole is appalling. She's become a simpering, neurotic mess, but there's reason to suspect that she will return to her darker side in the coming months... In the meantime, Elvis suddenly agreed to take over the reigns of the DiMera empire from his father. Will this really happen, and, better still, how will Tony feel about it? He might make a show of not caring, but it wasn't that long ago that he and EJ were banding together to try and steal the company. Now that Brady is in town, and part DiMera, will he want a piece of the pie like his father did? This fact hasn't really come up yet, so who knows, but it's an intriguing possibility. So far, Brady and Nicole have drifted around, being awkward with each other. Sexual tension is inevitable. Sami will be gone for awhile and EJ can't exist without being part of a triangle. Brady's been around for more than a week and I still don't know what to make of him. There's a certain blankness to the character right now. The first thing I noticed about him was the way he would sit there and do mocking imitations of people when they weren't around. He's done this a few times so far. I'm guessing this is supposed to signal some sort of sardonic depth to come out in the character, but it's just odd right now. A few other observations for the week: EJ has been blinking less and Melanie has been blinking more; apparently Kate finds David Bowie soothing (I guess she was listening to "Low"); Lucas was giddy and Sami continued to reduce her emotional complexity to alternating between whining and whining loudly.

Kate's chemo is actually going well, or maybe not. Daniel is somewhat contradictory about it. Maybe that's because, unconsciously, since he desires Kate, he wants her to be sick, though, as a doctor, he can't acknowledge that. The more I see of the character, the stranger I find him. I don't know if that's because he's just a strange and complex character, or if it's because he's badly written. Daniel's scene with Chloe this week made little sense. She already knows that he gets over-involved with his patients and she knows that he's involved with Kate. He had an almost identical conversation with Nicole before she and EJ got serious, as well as with Chelsea earlier than that, and with Kate even earlier on. The only thing their heart-to-heart revealed was how pathological the guy. Chloe's also in a bizarre position right now. She has feelings for Philip but is with Lucas. She obviously has something, at least hinted at, with Daniel as well. More worrying was that Lucas excitedly asked her to move in with him this week... in a huge new house he plans to buy. Less than a few months ago he was broke and fresh from prison. After only a few months, he's already sure that Chloe makes a great mother to his children. I suppose after watching Sami attempt to be a mother that might seem true, but what is wrong with this guy? Did those head injuries he received in prison do severe damage that we don't know about? There's no reason behind any of this; their relationship isn't even a sketch at this point, it's a doodle. I want it to end. Not because I want to see either of them with anyone else; I just can't stand to see them together.

Anyway, now to the spoilers. If you don't wish to be spoiled, avert your gaze. John will be defending Marlena against Sami's stalker. Sami will be getting more airtime. Unable to bear being trapped with Rafe, she runs off to hide out in a convent. I guess if Sami could be a boy, she could be a nun too. It's already being speculated that she'll give the baby up to the sisters. Meanwhile, Nicole will be having baby trouble of her own when her stomach pains get worse. All the while EJ will be off with his father conducting business. Will Brady come to Nicole's rescue, or will he be too busy making eyes at his ex-wife Chloe and making Lucas jealous? Although Lucas has always excelled at displaying his jealous and his joy of ranting, he'll be getting some stiff competition when Chelsea and Melanie battle it out to see which of them can actually get a new plot line.

Lines of the Week:

Bo: Did you hear what you just said? You just threw her under the bus.

Nick: I caused one person to die for Chelsea and now another one for you, Melanie. Whenever I try to do good people end up dead.

Daniel: I've always lacked humility but I need to learn I'm not a God.

Nicole: How many friends do you have?
John: Real or imaginary?

Stephanie: In order to deal with her you need mace and a net. Wherever they are, I'm sure Nick is in trouble.

 

November 7, 2008
Abe was elected mayor of Salem, thanks in part to the fact that he was running against a corpse who had never played any role in the city's activities until a little over a month ago, not that such facts are ever guarantees of political victory. He and Lexi worried that they could be in the crosshairs of the Marino murder investigation since she sort of, but not exactly, asked her father to get rid of him. Roman and Abe got a quasi-confession out of Stefano to this effect and promptly agreed to forget it since it might incriminate them. Abe instantly chose yet another Brady to be police commissioner. Bo's first order of business, beyond complaining about his tie, was to remind Abe that they have murders to solve. Will Bo change much in the job? He and Hope have become cold and, frankly, have seemed like jerks for the past couple of weeks. Is that just because they've actually been working, however unsuccessfully, instead of hanging around in the pub and eating donuts?

Nicole was arrested for Trent's murder and locked up. EJ has been slightly unhelpful since he has the nagging suspicion that she's guilty. Since she hates her jail cell, she complained her way into the medical ward where she was nearly pummelled by a woman named Candi. EJ rescued her at the last minute and took her back to her cell where he continued to suspect her and she began to be sure he just wanted to take their baby. Across town, Kate started getting chemo and Chelsea tried to reconcile... again. Philip got angry at Daniel, then supported him, then got angry, then supported him, then got angry again. Daniel, who seems to be the surgeon-general of nonchalant flirtations, made some more loving statements to Kate before leaving her alone for her excruciating therapy. He went over to the gym to work out and began flirting with Chloe, feeling up her muscles and telling her that he's 'developing a taste for her'. I know he flirts with everyone, sometimes he even seems to flirt with Philip (it's the artificial leg), but it wasn't until he found out that Chloe almost died from leukemia that he really seemed to get hot for her. Is this a coincidence? Either Daniel has a thing for lusting after Philip's family members and lovers, or he really has this fetish for morbidity. He's Daytime's first surfer-goth.

And what's up with Philip? He 'sees himself' in Melanie, he says, and he has naughty daydreams about her, all the while he acts jealous about Chloe and claimed, only a few weeks ago, that he had deep feelings for her. Then he lent his shoulder to Stephanie to cry on and was his usual flirty, and slightly snide, self with her. I know he's supposed to be a player, but it's just weird to have peg-leg run all over town to make passes at different women. Capping it, however, was when they had the most bizarre shot of him graphically biting an apple that spontaneously appeared in front of Melanie's face.

"Days" has been somewhat more incoherent than usual (example: Max maniacally defending his sister and then, spontaneously turning around and saying she's really no good, not to mention what's happened to Nicole over the past few weeks and what's happened to Nick), which has never bothered me, but it's rarely been as incoherent as it's been lately. Or, I guess I should say, it's never been incoherent in quite the same way. Usually, the plots are full of holes and the characters jump through them. Now, the characters are full of holes and the plots disappear in them. I know I'm not alone when I say that frequently, over the past few weeks, the characters seem almost unrecognizable as their former selves and their relationship make even less sense than ever. It's normal for past events to be treated as irrelevant or, at best, mythical. In a recent interview I read with James Scott, he said that the people at the show actually recommended he remain ignorant of character and show history as a matter of practice. This would seem to hold across the board. A certain degree of amnesia is necessary. I can accept constantly re-writing a character. EJ can be nine or twenty nine or fifty nine years old, he can have nine wives or have raped Sami nine times or never, because character history really doesn't matter. There are no facts on "Days of Our Lives" and characters don't do anything out of experience, they do it out of personae which are created in a vacuum and then dropped onto the set. That's why some people think soaps are badly written, but I don't, I find it charming. The thing that bothers me about what's been going on lately is that it's all plot and almost no personae.

It's not all bad of course. I've been pleasantly surprised by Galen Gering's performance as Rafe. You really have to see an actor in more than one role to appreciate whether or not they can actually act. Unfortunately all he's done is play blinking contests with Sami (I guess she couldn't really play with EJ). I'm looking forward to him interacting with someone other than Sami. Despite some superficial resemblance, there's little of the lumbering and, let's face it, quite dumb detective he played on "Passions." It just makes me that more excited to see what Eric Martsolf will do with Brady. By the way, spoilers from here on... Brady will be returning next Thursday. It will be just as John actually returns to get involved in the storylines again. He'll be searching around for the man who took a shot at Sami. Does he want to give him pointers, or is he trying to capture him to impress Marlena? Across town, Lucas and Philip aren't thrilled with how Kate's chemo is going and have their doubts about Daniel renewed. Lexi continues to renew her doubts about her maternal capacities when she finds that Theo seems to prefer Chelsea's company. Meanwhile, Nick will try to go on the run and will ask Melanie to go with him. Their plan hits a dead end when he vanishes. Perhaps not coincidentally, Bo and Hope will be arresting their latest suspect in Trent's murder.

Line of the Week:

Mel: I have plenty of friends.
Philip: Aside from Nick, who are they? The mail man?


October 24, 2008
As usual, Sami spent most of the week weeping. Crying about whether she should shield her children from the DiMeras; wailing about not being understood; tearfully refusing to go into the witness protection program because she couldn't bring her children; and whimpering about being alone and in danger. She also scowled and screamed for good measure to the point that she resembled a demoniacally possessed jack o'lantern. Where did this week's horror's start? Salem's mayor was shot dead on Stefano's doorstep and Sami just happened to be nearby, witnessing the slightly less horrific sight of Elvis and knocked-up Nicole canoodling on the sofa at the time. She came face to face with the shooter and now the shooter wants her dead. She ran indoors and interrupted the intimate moment between EJ and Nicole to tell them about it. Nicole thought she was full of blarney... until she tripped over the corpse in the doorway. It's nice to know that 'Days' hasn't lost its dark sense of humor. The show really was funny this week, if not entirely fun. 

I know John is strange, but this week he was actually bizarre. It's like he's turning into a very eccentric child before our eyes. Watching him react to Nicole's abdominal pains like she was going into labor was almost sweet. He spent the rest of the week either threatening Stefano or acting like a naughty boy who was sucking up to his mother to get a puppy. Marlena wasn't entirely convinced by the wide unblinking eyes routine and is still filing for divorce.

Someone else's hair was standing on end as well this week. Daniel spent most of his appearance on Wednesday with his hair frazzled up in a bizarre display. Unlike his mother, Philip wasn't impressed to see the doctor wandering around his backyard soaking and shirtless. After punching him in the jaw and ranting at him with the film noire attitude he had left over from Nicole's fantasy scene, he finally agreed to back off and stay out of his mother's love life. Daniel seemed to be showing his true colors though. He really has a thing for dying women. I don't want to analyze it, it's sort of obvious, but I think Chelsea had a lucky escape getting away from someone that pathological. Kate later showed up at the hospital with the trunks Daniel left behind at the pool (yeah, I really want someone who can't remember to take their clothes when they leave to perform surgery on me). Chelsea came to try and apologize but, seeing them together, reneged and wished she'd never have to see Kate again. Daniel then told them the latest results: Kate has metastatic carcinoma.

Philip, for his part, seems to be getting involved with someone who may actually be the most pathological person in Salem: Melanie. Since he's already rich and she has no money, she tried to bed him to get him not to go to the cops with what he knows. They undid some buttons but Philip couldn't go any further than that. Lusting after brain dead zombie women is one thing, but he draws the line when it comes to killers. He went to Bo with what he knew. Bo was not happy that he waited so long to tell him. For his part, Bo spent most of the week looking at people like they were morons. Which segues into the next topic.

Stephanie and Max broke up. I'm sure some people out there care but I'm not one of them. Max is just plain disturbing lately and Stephanie needs some time alone to regroup and get her feistiness back. I guess that's what happens when you stop being a redhead. For a guy who is supposed to be a genius, Max is acting incredibly stupid. That other genius, Nick, seems to have become equally stupid recently. Rumors are that he's the one that offed Trent while hopped up on pain killers. Poor Trent, or I should say, poor Roscoe Born. Just like when he was murdered on "Y&R", he gets dragged back as a hallucination. Although I normally hate this sort of thing, I'll forgive them since it's nearly Halloween and since watching him bad mouth Melanie is always somewhat entertaining. I'm sorry to her fans, if she has any, but the girl is just a brat. I'll give her credit though, Salem has plenty of brats and she can already stand apart. There's a greater desperation to her, a refined brattiness, a sort of brat chic. There was another curious moment between a father and daughter this week as well. Lexi attempted to confront Stefano about Marino's murder. He was offended by the suggestion that he was involved and then acted very sweet and gentle. It was an unusually tender moment.

Warning! If you don't wish to be spoiled, avert your gaze now. Next week, after offers of sex and her lack of cash fail to convince Philip that she's not the bad seed, Melanie decides it would be a merry idea to skip town before she gets arrested. Nick seems happy to go along. Maybe a little too happy... they may breathe a sigh of relief by the end of the week when Nicole gets arrested for Trent's murder. Even if this clears Caroline, this won't keep all the pressure off of Max. He and Steph will continue to gloomily grumble about their failed relationship. To compound things, Trent's will is read to Max and Mel. Did they inherit his debts, a fortune, a gloomy house in New Orleans, the newest solar car, his talent for dispensing insults, the porn home movies he made with Nicole, or something unexpected? Meanwhile, Sami will be stuck in the witness protection program while the shooter looms large. Who will protect the protectors from Sami though? It appears as though that's what agent Rafael (aka Galen Gering) may be doing. Back in town, Kate will tell her children about her cancer and Daniel will try and tempt Chelsea to forgive them.

Lines of the week:

Kate: If I'm not dying, I want you. If I am dying, I want you. I want to make love to you.

Stephanie: I'm not going to cry.
Max: What is there to cry about?
Bo: Let me see... maybe that she's in love with an idiot?

Lucas: What if you came back with a baby? What are you going to tell people? "Look what I found at a yard sale!"

Philip: What? If sex doesn't work, you segue to tears?

Chelsea: There's stupid and then there's Chelsea stupid.
 

ctober 10, 2008
The week went by quick. Or maybe it just felt that was because I drowsed through a lot of it. It was another week where little really happened. Unlike most of the weeks when nothing much happens, it wasn't bogged down with a lot of flashbacks. Instead, it was mostly fresh not-happening happening. But even with all that not-happening, a few things went on. Caroline is out of jail and back working at the pub. Max's room was searched, his bloody shirt was found and he was taken in for questioning. He hoped that he would be arrested and get his mom off the hook, but his hopes were dashed when the DA actually bought his story. Other suspects continue to be mentioned. Even Melanie tried expanding Bo's list. She seemed to have more ideas about this than he does. Bo and Roman paced around wondering how they could get their mom off and refused to seriously consider any of their family members suspects. They may go through the motions to indicate otherwise, but it's pretty clear that they are going about the whole thing with bias. So why was the mayor so impressed with the Brady way of handling things? Because trying to look like they are doing the right things has them exactly where he wants them and he's ready to pop up at any moment and mirror their hypocrisy.    

Meanwhile, Abe and Lexi brought Theo to the park. They left him with the babysitter so they could go and talk about his mayoral campaign. Mayor Marino popped up again, this time to threaten to expose the skeletons in their closet. Lexi gave him the voodoo stare (where's her mother anyway?). They returned to the park right after Theo had run off. They freaked out and expected the worst. It turned out more monstrous than they could imagine: Little Theo ran off to the arms of Chelsea. But really, they should worry. There's another killer on the loose in Salem and he'll start popping up soon. Of course, this person may have offed Trent, rather arbitrarily or deliberately, and will begin offing more people as time plods on. Murders on Days are always a tricky thing since people so often return from the dead, but what's interesting to watch about them is the way they often cast an unflattering eye on so many of the characters.

Speaking of which, it was nice to see Trent in a flashback berating his little witch of a daughter. She brandished a knife a lot and then, after snapping out of her flashback, tried hiding her departed father's wallet in arch-enemy Stephanie's purse. She even roped Philip over to her cause, imploring him to help her and batting her eyelashes with frivolity. Since Philip seems sexually frustrated at the moment, he's trying to act gallant, unlike when he has regular sex and acts nonchalant. He offered to dig around for her and she spilled her purse on him so now he knows that she had her father's wallet. Mel is sort of settling into the grooves of Salem pretty well. Although she seems to be lingering on jumping into a rehash of one previous plot or another, maybe she'll leap into something new. Maybe she and Philip can hook up. Poor Philip, but he and Melanie do share a similar twinkle in their eyes and smirk with equal bravado. Philly seems slightly interested and then there could a strange romantic polygon: Chloe-Philip-Melanie-Nick, and maybe a few other people thrown in. I'm guessing it will be square though.

Nicole had a spazz at EJ. She needed a big commitment from him and tried to forbid him to see Sami. Even she realized this was quite a leap, after all, he and Nicole have never even had a real date, just talked about having them. Both characters were written strangely this week. He seemed cold and distant, highly distracted by something which seemed totally unrelated to what was happening. She was needy and corny, sort of like Sami, but Sami is rarely corny. She's usually too highly strung and Nicole is usually too drunk. Unlike most soap characters, they actually become less maudlin under those conditions. Whether this strange way of writing them makes them complex or incoherent is anyone's guess. Maybe it's all hormones (but what's EJ's excuse?). Sami discovered that Nicole is having EJ's baby. Like EJ, she had to wait and hear her blurt it out to him after telling half the cast. All of the puking that Nicole and Sami did around pub apparently didn't tip her off. Why hasn't Sami been sick before by the way? Didn't she get knocked up first. Nicole's been leaving puddles all around the pub for weeks.

Marlena still wants to go through with the divorce since 'real' John is still nowhere to be found. I guess she'll never get the disc back. Part of me imagines they're using the information on it to write the scripts for the show. Oh, and Nick got berated for drunk driving and Daniel was frustrated by Kate because she didn't want to die in a hospital bed. I guess he won't let her foil his plan that easily because next week he's going to take her to bed and check out more than just her vitals. Will the good doctor be both kinky and health conscious and ask her to wear an oxygen mask while they do the deed? Meanwhile, Nick and Melanie will be sharing a kiss. Does she actually have feelings for him or is this some extraordinarily complex plan she's launching? John finally signs the divorce papers but this more than likely is far from the finish line. Other couples in town will prove equally problematic. Nicole and EJ aren't being brought together exactly as she had hoped. He accuses her of exploiting her pregnancy for gain. Out in the land without indoor plumbing, Sami will be leaping into Lucas digs. How will Chloe feel about sharing the love shack? And the aforementioned murderer will be poking around and making his presence felt.

Lines of the week:

Nicole (to Sami): Take a load off and I do mean a load. Are you gaining weight or just hormonal?

Nicole (after being sick): What happened to you?
Sami (after also being sick): Your perfume made me nauseous.

John: I need a friend. Do I seem like a person who isn't capable of normal emotion?
 

September 26, 2008
This week, Nicole reminded us that Salem smells like dead fish and garbage. Honestly, it never really occurred to me how much Salem must stink. Between the fishing, the dead bodies, the almost non-existent street maintenance, and the green beer vomit that comes from the Brady pub, it's got to be unpleasant. With ambiance like that, no wonder she keeps vomiting in bushes all over town. Is she just sick at the thought of losing all that money? Bo and Hope finally pushed her secret out and exposed her marriage with Trent to Victor. He found it extraordinarily funny. It's been a long time since he was grinning that smugly. I like Nicole, but it was still nice to see. Although she keeps blaming Caroline's chowder on her condition, everyone watching assumes by now that she is pregnant. Even she seems to assume it, despite the fact that she can't get pregnant. But after last week's decision to have a day long fantasy flashback, any decision TPTB make can only look reasonable in comparison. On the whole, it was not a terribly eventful week. Instead, it was a week about preparing for something to happen.

John began hallucinating while Anna talked to him. He had a seizure and was taken to the hospital. Marlena and Kayla stared at x-rays of his brain and didn't know what to think. Rolf broke the news to Stefano that John will soon die, or his brain will explode, or something along those lines. Stefano doesn't seem to care much about John anymore. I don't know if I should be optimistic about this change. I'll try. But my guess is that we are going to get a replay of the pawn plot with someone else. Maybe with Brady when he comes back, but more on that later.

Lexi gave up her job as Chief of Staff so she could spend more time with Theo and then went to see her father and gave the typical DiMera child rant that they've been giving since the 80's. Stefano seemed a bit bored. She went home and discovered that Abe has finally perked up his backbone and quit his job so that he can go after Stefano beyond the confines of the law. I guess that's why he may be running for Mayor in the next election. Much of the rest of the week involved people trying to avoid getting Abe's job. Fearing the devious Mayor would put a DiMera crony in his old seat, Abe tried to convince Roman. He didn't want it. Then he tried to convince Bo. He didn't want it. Then they tried to convince Hope. She didn't want it. Then they tried to convince Bo again. Why didn't they want it? Because they were afraid of paperwork, afraid they'd actually have to obey the law and Hope was afraid she wouldn't be able to spend time with the daughter who she never spends time with in the first place.

But the week concluded on a more somber note. The death of Trent, which has been hinted at for weeks, finally came. Now don't get me wrong, Trent was a nasty bastard, but that's what I liked about him. And he wasn't nasty in a convoluted DiMera sort of way, but in the more down-to-earth way that only a sleazy physicist is allowed to be. I don't particularly care who killed him, though the show has gone to great lengths to spread the pool of possible killers as widely as possible. They've also gone out of their way to make him unlikable, throwing away any credibility the story originally had. There was more complexity to the character originally, and hints that they could have actually ingrained him into people's lives more, maybe even made him slightly pitiable. That would have been at least marginally daring. But the cheap exposure of him as an abuser, when Nicole seemed to hint at so much more, was pathetic and exploitational. If you're going to do sleaze, go all the way. And if you're going to have flashbacks, why couldn't they have flashed back to Trent and Nicole's seedy life together. I do care, however, that Trent is dead. For one thing, he is yet another in a long line of dead end plots which have been shabbily built up and abruptly dropped. For another, and more importantly, I actually enjoyed the character. That was mostly due to Roscoe Born, one of the most hard working and talented actors to ever grace Daytime. Every sentence he spit out was coaxed full of acerbic venom and a wonderfully raw, anguished undertone which few actors in the genre ever successfully muster. Like most good soap villains, and even when they are being written at their most cartoonish, he can fill up a single scene with more depth than most 'heroic' characters do in a whole career. To top it off, the people he was battling, namely his 'reject', 'loser', offspring, are genuinely boring characters. Every character the guy sneered at was less intriguing than his grimace. Just watching him tear into Max and giggle when he threatened him was a joy.

Next week, the whole whodunit plot will get under way. Caroline is locked up looking guilty, Max and Melanie bumble around looking guilty, and everyone else runs around looking guilty since they usually are guilty of something. Morgan is continuing on her long goodbye. She'll catch Philip with his lips on Chloe. Is the diva missing the lips of young Kiriakis, or just weighing her options now that she knows being a mommy isn't for her? Meanwhile, Nicole has spit up enough that she realizes she must be with child and Kate spits up more blood.

In more exciting news, the official word came down today that Galen Gering and Eric Martsolf, best known as Luis and Ethan from Passions, will be coming to Salem. Gering will be an FBI agent and Eric will be Brady Black. More than a few already suspect that Brady will be returning to become Stefano's new pawn. This could be good, or it could just feel like retreading, we'll see. At any rate, he already has plenty of experience playing a mindless man who is endlessly bossed around. I'll admit that I'm thrilled to see them both coming back to Daytime, this may even slightly ease the pain I still feel from Passions withdrawal, but I worry that this could be another sign of the erratic plotting the show has been suffering from. One after another, they just drop characters and subplots in and let them quickly evaporate, re-tooling things as they go without any sense of direction. There's something very random about the way the show has been working. Maybe it's always been that way but the distractions now are fewer and the seams show more. At least Martsolf's role will already be ingrained in the show's history so that could anchor things. Now, if only they could bring Ben Masters in...

Lines of the Week:

Daniel: You are coughing up blood, which is the sign of a serious illness!

Kate: It was two people reaching out for a little warmth.
Chelsea: It sounds really touching.

Daniel: Don't worry. The board knows Eleanor is just a constipated busybody with too much time on her hands.

Stefano: How could my children be so stupid?

Half of Trent's lines! Particularly when he told Max that he could drink all of the green beer in the world and still wouldn't be a Brady.
 

September 12, 2008
I almost felt bad for EJ this week. 'Bad' isn't the word, I felt his pain, I guess would be more accurate. And what is his pain: Only the most excruciating thing in Salem -- Sami. EJ and the two blonde women in his life kicked each other around for a good part of Wednesday's show. It was entertaining. His eyes almost burst out of his head because he is so fed up with it. Nicole painted him as a drama queen and Sami annoyed him so much he seemed ready to burst into tears. He even started calling himself Allie's daddy; even Sami started saying that she was 'our' baby, but she quickly stopped that when he refused to fix her problems for her. After the cursory pouting, Sami decided to ignore a court order and ran off to the wilderness, well, the Horton cabin, to give a teddy bear to her daughter. She was shocked to find Allie alone (Chloe had slipped a few feet away to wash her hair) and started to go into panic mode. EJ tracked her down and tried to calm her but Lucas and Chloe caught her there and so did the police. After Sami ran out of Salem, Nicole had called them to suggest that someone was kidnapping baby Allie. Nicole (a.k.a Misty Circle, and what kind of porn name is 'Misty Circle' anyway? It sounds like a Celtic girl band) spent the rest of the week being unusually perky for her sober self, dispensing insults and talking about her renewed self-respect.

Meanwhile, back in Salem, where people usually shower in the co-ed locker room at the hospital, Lucas' brother Philip was trying to get things back on track with Morgan since her father came back and then promptly left for prison. They shared a sweet kiss but, I fear, it will all be for naught now that Kristen Renton will be departing from her role. I didn't care for Morgan at first, but she grew on me a bit. For months, however, the writers seemed confused about how to use her and they wasted her with some bland pouting and completely asinine fantasy sequences about Philip. I mean, really, that frequently repeated dance sequence? I know nuns who are more naughty and still manage to remain chaste. She probably still plays with her My Little Ponies. Does this departure mean that Philip will be putting all of his energy back into the business? Perhaps that's what Victor's little business talk with him this week was in preparation for. Or perhaps he will take Tony and EJ's offer to join them in an all out war on John. Once they take him out, Stefano will be next. At least, that's the 'plan'. But Tony really doesn't have much of a plan. He just keeps changing his suits and bumbling around the mansion with Anna, chewing on his words. Perhaps, in moving the brothers in with their father, they are slowly transforming the boys into the adolescents that we never got to see them as.

And how is the war going? EJ says, "It's not a bloody laugh riot!" But it sort of is. While eavesdropping on his father, and this seems to be the extent of Tony and EJ's ability to be underhanded these days, Tony heard Stefano propose marriage to Kate. Of course, if Kate married Stefano, that would make her EJ's new mother-in law. How would he feel about having his former conference table romance as his mom? Better yet, how would Sami feel having Kate at the mansion. They seem to have taken a page out of the Bold and the Beautiful's playbook. I don't know if this should be exciting or just, I don't know, kind of gross. Mind you, I like Kate and she's in an awkward position right now. She's at loose ends. After the horribly handled Daniel affair, she seems to be coming down with some sort of disease, which is not new territory for her and which is why this is so disappointing. Other people have been feeling sick as well. Nicole was ill, some may suggest pregnant as was Chloe, though she put her nausea down to traveling by boat. I'm trying not to think about this. The last thing this show needs right now is more children.

Over in France, we finally learned some more about Melanie and her father. Trent, who we know is a gambling addict (yes, heavy irony: Trent the math whiz can't work the numbers), asked his daughter, who is practically bankrupting him to pay for booze and clothes, to have  a drink with a man in exchange for erasing his debt. She wasn't pleased. It wasn't a drink that was expected of course. Melanie seemed more insulted by the fact that she was doing this to pay off his debts (which are, in fact, largely hers) than anything else. Dispensing her 'attentions' on men is essentially how she's been paying most of her bills lately. Max didn't see it that way, of course, even though everyone else figured it out. Max the math genius tallied up the situation and decided that the only way to solve his problems was to kill his father. Anyway, back to the 'plot'. He ran off to rescue his sister (how he found her was not explained) and Nick was shot in the fracas. She went to the hospital and pouted at him before offering him a kiss. Chelsea stood around being green eyed. Melanie suddenly decided she would go back to Salem after all. Back home, a jealous John punched out Trent in the pub while he was on a dysfunctional date with Marlena. John's really lost it over the past few weeks and, frankly, it's making less sense now than anything they've ever done with the character. John is just becoming a sort of Bermuda triangle where storylines float to and vanish: Paul, Ava and now Trent.

Next week, things get nastier for Trent and his brood in preparation what has been hyped as the big fall whodunit. Theo continues to melt down and so does his father. Abe throws a fit and chucks his badge away. This could have something to do with the Mayor sticking his head into police business. Marlena tells Sami to grow up. She eats mushrooms to make her grow. No, I'm kidding, Sami wouldn't do anything that rational.

Lines of the Week:
EJ: I was not put on this planet to fix your problems, Samantha. Nor you, Nicole, so just leave me out of it. I've got my own problems to deal with!

Phillip: Do you like the idea of 'us'?

Marlena: Im not giving up. I'm letting you go.

EJ: I can't help but be attracted to you. It's a matter of biology.

Nicole (watching EJami): I want to change the channel.

Chelsea: Why can't things just be simple and good?

Nicole: (to Trent) If you need money talk to the shrink inside. Maybe she'll pay you to be a lab rat.

Tony: If you need help, just scream.


August 29, 2008
Strangely enough, with the Olympics over and last week's hallucinations now a thing of the past, getting back to Days regular storylines was somehow unrefreshing. Maybe that's because the almost pointless, though pleasurable, meandering of last week had fewer flashbacks and likely will rarely be flashed back to in the future. One of the things that made Nicole's film noir fantasy sweet was that we would never have to go through it again... and again. It's not as "green" as the current Bo plot, which is so filled with recycled flashbacks, he must have shaved in a bid to further clarify what was past and what present. With the concentration on the hospital set over, the plot lines are now spread all over the globe and just as discontinuous as before. Suddenly, it appears as though Bo's tabloid outing was practically planned. He didn't actually destroy evidence, only a copy of the evidence to flush John out. Paul conveniently escaped from John's dungeon and is running around in the shadows. Roman, once again agrees to do what the Salem PD does best - bend the rules. Proving once again that even the mob have higher ethical standards than the cops.

And speaking of questionable ethics.... Chelsea and Daniel were delayed from consummating their relationship at an "inopportune" time, although it gave them enough time for a gratuitous shirtless scene from the good doctor. Now, thanks to a thoughtless text message from Kate, the truth about them is out. The expected Chelsea eruption followed, although with less of the customary flailing; I suppose she's matured. He and Kate apologized profusely. Chelsea whimpered; everyone is miserable. After what happened between Nick and Billie, I feel bad for Chelsea; the poor girl must be getting a complex. Please let her go crazy and start abducting things... there's nothing else Days does so well. Meanwhile, Daniel has grown on me... a bit, but more in the way a room deodorizer or elevator music does than an interesting character. Maybe it was all that talk of surfing, or the slight gravel in his voice, but when he's on screen I feel like I'm listening to one of those white noise/sound of the sea tapes. Things were played a little thick when he was introduced, but he's settled more now and would look good in a relationship with Lexi, or even Kate for that matter. But this relationship mess wasn't the only one dwelt upon this week.

"Oh my Gosh... that's not what I want," Marlena said after 'android' John professed that he may have feelings for her... if he can only figure out what the feelings are. It may have just been me, but for some reason, I laughed aloud when Marlena uttered that rejection. After their entire Frankenstein love story, you would think that attempting to abort its future would at least merit a little blasphemy. Instead, she made gestures to getting back with Roman. He almost blushed and brought up their past romance, which was nice since it was as much of a part of her as John has been. John kept trying to take her home. She backed him off. He went away to sulk and then came searching the next day, tearing around town to find her. She showed up at work, which is unusual, and John tracked her down. They had sex in the office, one of the perks of being your own boss. But I find this new shift in John's character completely unbelievable and really, sort of depressing. He claims the gas did something to his brain, or whatever is left of one.

Meanwhile, across the ocean... the France story is slowly winding down. I have mixed feelings about this. I enjoy it when Days goes on the road. Contact with real places clarifies a lot about what "reality" Salem is part of. Melanie is growing on me a bit (so long as she isn't turned into another Chelsea), and certainly more than her brother and his female companion. Somehow Max and Stephanie seem to have gotten more tan while sitting in their jail cell. He's also managed to acquire more chemistry with any woman who walks by than he has with Steph. Seeing spoiled little rich girl Tiffany plant one on him bordered on the cute. Anyway, Max and Steph got out thanks to a little help from Nick who prodded Melanie to get them released. She obviously has a thing for his wallet, though Nick's fortune is still largely theoretical at the moment. But what was intriguing in this plot this week, was when we saw Trent actually bickering with someone on the phone about keeping his children apart. It's unclear why he wants this, and even less clear why anyone else should care, but Trent seems desperate, otherwise he wouldn't have roped Steve Johnson PI into this.

The DiMeras are finally moving back into a potentially interesting plot. With Tony preparing to battle John and, perhaps his father, I have a feeling of optimism. Everyone is moving back into the mansion, slowly but surely. Maybe that's why Lucas is so eager to leave with Allie. Even Mickey thinks he might have a shot. Sami might not have his criminal record, but its hard to imagine you could even convince a jury in Salem that she is a fit mother.

Next week we can look forward to Tony trying to move the family in a new direction; Victor and Stefano going in an old direction; City Hall proving to be as corrupt as Salem PD; Abe telling Daniel to stay away from Lexi and Nicole and John teaming up to go after Trent when he starts to make a play for Marlena.

Lines of the Week:

John: If it's the cigars, I'll go outside to smoke.

John: Thoughts in your brain... bold new concept.

John: I've been doing some thinking myself and, when the gas hit, I realized I care about you.
 

August 15, 2008
To start with: Days was fun this week. I haven't said that for awhile, but the show was actually consistently enjoyable. Most of the credit for this belongs to the DiMeras - all four of them. Virtually the entire week has been concentrated in the hospital. Surprisingly, the show is usually its most effective when it is at its most reductive; when it limits the sights and cast. It wasn't always like that and it's hardly a healthy situation for a series with a broad ensemble, but for the past year or so, less tends to be more.    

There was a good reason for things to be so concentrated this time. Everyone was locked on the unlucky seventh floor of the hospital. While they began to freak out, things were complicated by the mysterious, hallucinogenic vapors Stefano released. He stalked around the halls gloating and threatening revenge. I know, it's all cheesy and ludicrously over the top. Even the writers seem to know it; After all, isn't that why they have characters saying they feel like they are in some cheap slasher film? However, I prefer this cheesiness to last week's wedding. Mind you, the flashback to Bo's mullet were probably more frightening that this week really was, but I digress... It's DOOL. If I didn't think everyone involved knows how silly it is, I don't think I could laugh without feeling mean.

It's nice to have Stefano back. I can already take issue with certain details, but I'm going to reserve judgment and just enjoy him, hoping that he isn't turned into a caricature of his former self (which is what they did the last time they brought him back). Already, since he's woken up, the dialog has become quicker and more amusing and I'm optimistic this will continue. His repartee with his family members was enjoyable all around. I'd like to see his relationship with Tony and their past fleshed out a great deal more. I felt a bit cheated last time around. But I'm really looking forward to he and John battling it out, because it shouldn't be like any of the previous times this has happened.

Ejami fans may have gotten a boost when Sami admitted she has more than the occasional carnal itch for EJ. He kept probing until, finally, her admission about her admission was more telling than what she admitted: "You were on the floor and I thought I had killed you and a lot of things came into play. Anything is possible. I'm sorry I can't promise you more than that." Is that complicated? or idiotic and meaningless? With Sami and EJ, it's always hard to tell and the whole thing may have just been the byproduct of the gas they were huffing. But, as I've argued in the past and as Tony explained months ago, EJ's feelings for Sami are predicated on his love for his father and she is merely a vessel for this expression. Stefano fleshed this out a bit this week when he, or Sami's hallucination of him, began gushing about breeding the future of the family. Sami is ideal for this of course, because she is Marlena's daughter and EJ's pursuit of Sami is only a continuation of Stefano's pursuit of Marlena. What does Stefano's return mean for them, just as they were falling apart? I don't know, but watching Sami and EJ's relationship continue is a greater torture than anything else Stefano could come up with. Poor Nicole. No wonder she has to run off to a completely random and convoluted fantasy sequence next week.

The other thing the week brought out once again was the fact that Marlena is, in many respects, a double to her enemy. Not only is John basically a pawn to both of them and who both of them have used and manipulated for decades, but they are moral equivalents, something which they point to with endless irony. They are also doubled in their children and their children mirror one another. That's where whatever attraction exists among any of them has come from. Attraction via narcissism when manic; repulsion stemming from self-hatred when depressive. They each re-double their vows to put each other through Hell, or profess their other feelings, which are essentially euphemisms for the same thing. I can't help but not feel sorry for any of them. None of them are victims and none of them have any redeeming qualities -- some of them just have more class than others.

Next week, we can look forward to a much-hyped black and white fantasy from Nicole, in which she and the other young Salemites will couple and uncouple in some vintage clothing while looking smashing in some high contrast photography. But there will also be some plot movement: Nicole will be pushing EJ about his feelings for her and she'll be getting far more active in her pursuit of the blinking lawyer. We'll get to watch her team up with Chloe to make Sami's life a living hell, which, in DOOL logic, must mean they really like her. Marlena's dead twin returns to give her sister some advice. Since the living people in her life have such a shoddy relationship with reality, this might not actually be a bad thing. And the battle among the DiMeras will go into full force while each of them takes a side - and even two sides at once - in a bid to outdo each other.

Lines of the Week:
Philip (to Nicole): If EJ can accept Sami, you shouldn't have a problem.

Stefano (to John): I can reboot you and your metamorphosis will be complete.

John: Are you functional?

John: I was Stefano's personal lab rat.

Sami: As soon as they find out what Stefano did to my mother, I hope John kills him.
 

August 1, 2008
Philip was shot. He tossed himself in front of Morgan when one of Ava's goons tried to level a shot at her. I guess this proves he's noble, or perhaps just that he has a talent for being shot or mangled by weaponry. If much more of the poor guy's flesh gets shot away, he will be on the road to becoming a bionic man. Maybe he can hire Rolf to help him out with that... That would likely be more entertaining than watching Morgan's perpetual weeping. I know she misses her father and loves Philip, but it's reached the point that it has just become maudlin. I had some hopes for the Philip-Morgan pairing. They're both cute and there's something tender between them, certainly something more sincere than in their relationships with anyone else. This is boring though and as far as passion goes, her expressions of affection are more reminiscent of a little girl longing for her missing My Little Pony than an adult romance. Hospital-bedside-romance is an even more overused situation than trapped-in-the-elevator-sex and nowhere near as fun.

The southern belle might be crying over something else soon however.... Want to read more? Catch the rest of Matt's Musings at SOF's new blog spot!

July 18, 2008
This week was a bit of a mixed bag. I actually have to scratch my head a little to remember everything that happened. That may be because I'm getting old, or maybe it's because there are always so many flashbacks. While there is still no grand summer plot in sight, at least there has been some movement in a possibly worthwhile direction. This week we saw the glimmering return of the old EJ. Although he's always hovered somewhere beneath the surface, he finally seems ready to come back as what he was to begin with: A real DiMera. I hope that pie in the face finally settled things for him.

What everyone seemed to acknowledge this week was the problem of Sami. After the dysfunctional pair repeated their usual argument, EJ went a step further, saying, "This environment is not conducive to the raising of a child. It's not the life I want for my son." Sami's eyes boggled. She's already fought hard and dirty to be a virtually absent mother of a dysfunctional child once, she can do it again. EJ continued his analysis: "I know you love him as much as you hate me. I think your hatred for me will eventually lead to resentment toward Johnny." He was actually right: She is an unfit mother and shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children or even the immature men in her life for that matter. And then he repeated how irrational she is (and she is) and she repeated her threats against him. Hopefully this will end it, but I don't have much hope. Anyway, after leaving Sami, the pawn in his love affair with his father, behind, EJ promptly ran to Uncle John so he can play son to him.

That said, Marlena and Roman also mused on the problem of Sami. Roman, wisely, said she would be better off without the two men in her life. Marlena, manically as always, had other things on her mind. Perhaps she is still projecting her own failed relationships with men on her daughter. She said as much herself, even suggesting that Sami's problems were all her fault. So why can't she learn from her own daughter's mistakes since she certainly never learns from her own. After this moment of clarity, the doctor abruptly started travelling down the Frankenstein route again and is recruiting, or blackmailing, poor Rolf back into his old profession so she can John's brain back.

The big secret haunting Ms. Roberts came out this week: Kate and the doctor had a bit of a fling, if it amounted to that much. They were "there" for each other, but there wasn't much "there" anywhere to be seen. Why this wasn't actually given the plot time it merited is beyond me. Seeing him and Kate is certainly less boring that he and Chelsea. But it's a rather disappointing and humdrum. I know Kate seems to sleep with everyone, but if they were going to do this, couldn't they have put it in their distant pasts or even taken the sleazy route and had the doctor two time Chelsea with her grandmother.

Max ran off to France to search for his sister. Steph pouted, told her dad to stop being over-protective, donned a beret and ran after him. Trent found out and is miffed. On the train in France, a paparazzo cornered Max and snapped his shot. Apparently, he's still a star over there... or maybe there's more to it than that. The most exciting thing in this plot was the little map they keep showing with Max traveling over it. That's cute. Why can't they do that all the time?

Morgan finally found out what Paul left behind: A package full of cash with a "generic" letter. She and Philip waited in line at the post office for most of an episode only to be greeted by a lazy postal work played by crazy Norma from "Passions".  She was reluctant, but searched around and got it for them. I'm hesitant to be so descriptive about this, but this is about as much tension as they put into the show these days. Before Philip and Morgan could open it, Bo and Abe caught them and took the package to the station. They looked in and found the money, only Bo had enough police skill to actually look through the entire package. He soon discovered a tape recording of Philip threatening Paul. It wasn't long before Victor and Kate found out about it. Victor guilted his son into giving it up and now it's in Kate's possession.

Now we can look forward to: Someone flatlining; Max being blackmailed; Lucas and Chloe continuing to cuddle; Nicole revealing more than her body to EJ; and a bunch of confessions.

Lines of the Week:
Ava: John and I kept things PG-13.
Nicole: What is the point of foreplay if you're not gonna play? I don't get it.

Roman: Remember, you're doing this for Allie.
Lucas: I just hope the next time she sees me it isn't at my funeral.

Steve: They love each other and Stephanie just wants to be there with him on his journey. It's not like they are going to Somalia or taking up cave diving, right?

EJ: So you can start your life with Lucas?
Sami: He's the love of my life.
EJ: He's also in prison.
 

June 20, 2008
Chloe outsmarted Lucas this week. She figured out that he managed to sneak away without anyone noticing. Lucas has been relatively quiet this week outside of his newfound bond with the former opera singer. One would almost assume that prison taught Lucas a few tricks about how to be conniving, if it wasn't for the fact that Chloe is a step ahead of him. I suppose this proves that Sami is even dumber than both of them. After all, she still has feelings for EJ, a man so vapid he makes Nicole look deep. This is the secret of the Nicole and EJ pairing, perhaps the most exciting pairing for EJ since he was bedding Kate. When Nicole looks into EJ, she sees the void staring back at her and this allows her a depth that she doesn't know with anyone else. As soon as she starts looking into EJ's face, that darkness wells up. She's struggling with drunkenness and a lascivious past; he struggles through the ambiance of idiocy that he thrives in. It was a pleasant surprise to see her get his shirt off and then send him packing, refusing to be a cheap distraction for him.

The mystery of EJ was finally unlocked this week by his brother. Tony proved himself to be the cleverest shrink in Salem when he unpacked EJ's skull. The real reason that Elvis is so obsessed with Samantha, he explained over a martini, is because of his love for Stefano. It's a detail which has often been forgotten: The whole Ejami thing is part of Stefano's last plot to destroy the Brady's and, far from their relationship reconciling the two families, it ended up destroying them. After all, the Brady's are more disparate, desperate and aimless now than they've ever been. Nothing much is binding them together. What binds EJ to Sami is his love of his father and his loathing of himself for being a failure to his father. If Ejami is really a love story, it's the love story of EJ and Stefano and the child they perversely created together. Sami is just a tool that conjures EJ's nostalgic fantasy for a time with his father that he never really knew. That's what the Santo-Colleen malarky was really about.

John and Marlena have decided to begin again...again. Watching the plots for these characters is starting to feel like watching EJ talk, it's just twitches and stuttering with an occasional quip to distract from the mess. It's not that there's something incoherent about it, on the contrary, it's too coherent. It's as coherent as a brick wall. But what really annoys me, more superficially perhaps, is that this means the John-Ava story will go nowhere. It's a shame, because they have more actual chemistry than he's had with Marlena in years. There was a palpable pleasure in their scenes which had nothing to do with the infusion of nostalgia or tragicomedy that fills his scenes with Marlena. He reached out to Ava this week and she brought her mob knowledge and power to work as they abducted and intimated Paul. They brought an enjoyable balance to the scene, part malice, part charm. After all of the talk of beginning a new life, we are quickly heading back to the old...again.

The big reveal of the week was Dean Robbins coming out and admitting that he was Max's father. Although there are some very serious weaknesses in this plot, I'm just happy to see Roscoe Born on the screen. He's long been one of my favorite soap actors and I'm glad to see him do anything. It's unfortunate that he tends to be typecast, but he's so very good at being nasty. To put the icing on the cake, he's got a past with Nicole, a nasty past. Does she know anything about the lost sister Max is looking for? Will she turn out to be his long lost sister or mother? Are these two plots completely unrelated? The less intriguing aspect of the story is actually Max and Stephanie. They've quickly come to suggest a deranged version of an aging and miserable married couple. Is this because they were both pushed into early retirement from their careers? For months Max has been trying to be a little old man; perhaps Shawn's soul jumped into his body and possessed him? He seems to be reacting to reuniting with his past much the same way Shawn did when the Colleen-Santo thing was dug up. I guess they deserve credit for pulling a radical SORAS without actually aging the actors, just their personalities.

Slightly less inspiring this week: Phillip and Chloe continue their "arrangement" although she has feelings for him. He says he has feelings for her but obviously has feelings for Morgan as well. Daniel finally asked Chelsea out. Kate is appalled and refuses to let him operate on her. Is there something she knows that no one's saying. Didn't she tell him that he would have to tell Chelsea the truth about something?

Lines of the Week:
Chelsea: Daniel is a gentleman, but a girl can dream.

John: (offering Marlena dinner) What would you like: French? Italian? Inuit?

EJ: I don't know why I want to be around here anyway. She infuriates me. If she wasn't the mother of my child I'd wring her bloody neck.
Lucas: Yeah, I know exactly how you feel.

Marlena: I know John is capable of bad decisions.

 

June 6, 2008
Most of this week seemed redundant. Even when trying to collect my thoughts, they keep getting mixed up with past weeks or past plots. Lucas is back, but now in an odd position as the odd man out, living down the hall from Sami. Something is seriously missing though. He's as bitter, paranoid and repetitive as ever, Sami is as whiny, needy and defensive, EJ is as smarmy, obvious and manipulative - watching them interact, it's almost as if these three characters actually know each other less well than they did before. Maybe they do... maybe Sami's bouts of amnesia, Lucas' alcoholic blackouts and EJ's recent drunken blackout don't have anything to do with booze or mental instability but are merely essential parts of their characters that allow them to tolerate themselves and others by never developing anything more than the most superficial relationship with anything. I wasn't a fan of this triangle the first time around. The only thing I enjoyed about it previously was watching Kate cringe at her son's stupidity and Lucas' continual vows to change his name. At least Kate stuck her head in this week, albeit briefly. Even for a perpetual troublemaker, Kate seemed bored.

EJ and Nicole are getting closer, which is swell, because, unless he's drunk, he's a lot less entertaining. "Lucas is a boy," says EJ, "He doesn't know how to look after a woman. He put a bullet in my back like a coward. I haven't forgotten about that. I told Sami I forgave him just to woo her." That's the old EJ, the one who obviously went to school reading Jacobean tragedies and knows the value of hypocrisy. This is the real EJ and love has nothing to do with his motives. It's spite and loathing; everything else is just theatre. At least, for the moment, the character is getting back to his old consistency. That's not exactly true for Nicole unfortunately who, when she isn't pouting or making jokes about alcohol, seems quite lost. I know that's part of her position right now, allowing her the opportunity to jump into one of the several plots she's peripherally involved in, I just wish she would get a little more focus. With focus, she might actually be dangerous and that's what the show needs right now.

The lack of real threats was obvious this week in the little Joe episode. Sick babies are always an easy ploy, but this one vanished almost as soon as it came. This has been a consistent problem with Kayla's character ever since she wanted to get pregnant. There has been a desperate attempt to give her drama and despite throwing a series of melodramatic standbys like abduction and a troubled, premature labor at her, nothing seems to materialize. Plots just keep dying around the woman.

And now to another character whose plots quickly go nowhere: Chelsea seems to have realized she's made a horrible mistake by dumping Nick for Daniel the non-committal surfer. "I'm not discussing this with you. It just seems sneaky and weird not to tell you," was what the doctor offered as his non-explanation in addition to saying that he was seeing someone he couldn't see but isn't really seeing her... at least not anymore, if he was in the first place. I might have missed a nuance that would have made it all make sense; I was continually distracted by him making bedroom eyes at Lexi. That's a pairing that I could stomach. Poor Lexi has been in just as much of a black hole since they pulled her out of the basement as she was when she was down there. At least an affair would be better than her and Abe bickering about their Mohawked child. All of the actors have been sleepwalking through this plot. It's like watching an episode of the "Twilight Zone" where the "mentally ill" child turns out to be the sane one and everyone else is really crazy.

Max moved closer to the end of his tether this week. He had a few outbursts, finally violent ones towards the end, attacking his docks supervisor and nearly coming to fisticuffs with John. The reasons for all of this will soon be apparent. He revealed a few details this week, particularly when he was discussing his "Rain Man" type skill with numbers. "Genetics and sweat" is what he kept repeating and that's all I'm going to say.

John, as usual lately, had the more interesting moments of the week. His conversation with Ava, though somewhat labored, was enjoyable and they played off each other well. His confrontations with Phillip are also a pleasure to watch. If they'd only give Philly the kind of air time they give EJ, or to Bo talking about going green, they could really develop him into a more complicated and mischievous character.

Lines of the Week:
Victor: "The Salem cops were just here sniffing around about the cocaine on John's ship."

Lucas: "So I'm your lab rat?"
Chloe: "More like a guinea pig."

Phillip: "Nice to see you too."
Victor: "You want nice teach kindergarten."

Ava: "I know a fellow mental case when I see one."

Ava: "Are you married?"
John: "More or less"

Hope: "I'm married to the Jolly Green Giant."

 

May 23, 2008
"It's not the 80's anymore," Tony tells Anna as he proposes to her. Of course it's not, so why does it feel like show seems so confused about it? From the 80's and onward, soaps have essentially been slow paced ultra-softcore porn for housewives. And while, since the turn of the millennium the sex scenes on most series have dwindled and don't come anywhere near to the lengthy soft focus romps of yesteryear, many viewers watch daily in giddy anticipation that a little more flesh will once again
fill their screen. That's what most of this week was about, or what it danced around. There were more double-entendres and lewd suggestions this week than in most of the past month. A nice sleazy time all around.

The centerpiece of the week was the sex scene between EJ and Sami. It was graphic enough to give Ejami fans something to oooh about and Lumi fans something to ewww about and everyone else something to shrug about or a chance to see what was on the other channels. After the two rapists got
together in a little ab and cleavage fury, Lucas arrived and quickly blew his stack at them. I can't claim that I missed Lucas and I can't even claim that his surprise return was particularly surprising or exciting. It was more like a pilot for a TV sitcom that doesn't get picked up. At least John got a few laughs at everyone else's expense. The only surprising thing was that Lucas didn't react more. By Lucas standards, the shouting and stomping was pretty mild. After bedding Sami, EJ got the bright idea to sneak away and avoid another tongue lashing. He went out to find a dank bar to think about his feelings. Is this what the DiMeras have sunk to? How I miss Stefano... not that the other members of the family are fairing much better. For example: Poor Tony and Anna. It's not the 80's anymore, it's not even the 90's, so what are she and Tony doing? While I enjoy them, I'm bewildered as to what to do with them and I don't know how much longer they can keep using them as filler between other things.

Across town, a hospital locker room got it's fair share of traditional sexual farce. Chelsea continues to corner Daniel, left in nothing but a towel, ready to be exploited by the wandering hands and lips of whoever drifts into the steamy co-ed locker room. The doctor is intimidated by her "vitality" as he puts it. After they start kissing, he shoves her in a locker and leaves her there while a woman with the scintillating name of Amber Cress comes in to make some lascivious offers to him. I wonder what
her medical specialty is? The writers are obviously playing with the age thing, ratcheting it up ridiculously. Although some people are put off by the perversity of the whole thing, but it's hard to decide if Chelsea lusting after someone old enough to be her father is more disturbing than
Daniel's thing – lusting after someone because of her sickliness. The most perverse thing about it is still, of course, the surfer talk. I can't wait for Chelsea to get an Annette Funicello hairstyle and start dancing the Luau Cha-Cha-Chá.

The other big theme of the week was whether there is more to something than meets the eye. Lexi worries that there is more to Theo being un-talkative than meets the eye and wonders if, like she and Abe, the boy needs therapy. I guess the Travis Bickle haircut she gave him didn't really register. Apparently there is also more to Max than meets the eye. At least this is the conclusion we're supposed to reach after they played variations on that line nearly half a dozen times in the past week. It seems like Max is hiding his prodigious science talents so that he can stick around the pub and help Caroline, at least that's what his grave side conversations with his father would indicate, but there must be more
to this, though I shudder to imagine what it could be. Even in a different part of the city, Nicole was playing with the same line, suggesting she was just as shallow as everyone thinks she is. EJ insists that can't be the case. He should know, he's been flipping from depravity to saintliness ever since he came on. It's the fact that characters aren't what they seem
to be that makes them so easy to change. And that's the secret to soap opera writing: The more vacuous a character is, the more plot potential they have.

Lines of the Week:

Sami (after sex with EJ): "I can't believe we just did that... but Nicole upset me."

EJ (after sex with Sami): "Were you just marking your territory?"

Bo (on violence): "Killing a guy sticks with you. Even a dirt bag like him."

Tony (proposing to Anna): "We're not the same people we were when we were young. It's not the 80's anymore. We're mature now."

Daniel (to Lexi): "I bet Abe thinks you are all that and a bag of chips,
so just go see the psychiatrist."

Sami: "That slut!"
Lucas: "Are you talking about Nicole?"
Sami: "What gave it away? "The word 'slut'?"

Lucas: "You had sex didn't you?"
Sami: "Yes, but I didn't know you were coming home."

Chloe (to Philip about Morgan): "I'd like to get to know your little girlfriend. Oooohhhh... Look! She's a college girl. Have you been trolling the campus for freshman coeds?"

Marlena: "I'm going to go up and check on Sami."
John: "Knock first. She might be 'entertaining.'"

Philip: "Friends with benefits can be tough to pull off. I don't have time for drama. But what the hell – You can be just the medicine I need."
Chloe: "The best part is it goes down really easy.

Nicole (after hearing that Lucas caught Sami in bed with EJ): "Holy mackerel! That was some welcome home."
EJ: "Actually, it was a bit of a mess."

May 9, 2008
Mob boss and all around ubergoon Martino Vitali came to town and very soon he will be gone. I'm unsure if this is a shame or not. With Stefano gone and Victor back, a good feud among rival crime families would be welcome, especially when you throw a loose cannon like John into the mix. But perhaps the writers quickly realized that they've been down similar avenues before and the mob is best left to "General Hospital", where there isn't much of anything else. In the process, everything's changed for Ava pretty quickly. It's an easy trick to blame drugs for everything and suddenly transform a character into someone else. So who is Ava going to be now and will we get a chance to see much of her? I find it terribly hard to dislike someone who would level a shot at Hope, so, hopefully, there will be something else worthwhile for her to do.

As for the other newer characters: We discovered Daniel's secret, which was that, apparently,  his wife was a terminally ill patient and she died. Not a terribly impressive secret, so I hope there will be more to it. The fact that he took her down to die by the waves makes a rather tidy excuse for his surferisms and explains why he refuses to hook up with Chelsea... for now anyway. He'd be better with Kate, I think. He would even be better with Lexi, and considering how much trouble she thinks her marriage is in, she might be priming herself for a fling. Meanwhile, Chelsea is going back to her old self, brutally dumping Nick, who also seems to be getting screwed over by Max who is slowly acquiring a new and strange personality. The irony of this is that Chelsea seems to once again be chasing a phantom. Nick seduced Chelsea from afar by pretending to be a handsome doctor. She discovered this lie and found the "real" doctor who turned out to be a creep. Nick saved her from the doctor and she discovered that Nick was who she really wanted. This fantasy now seems to have returned in the person of Daniel, but it's far from clear who he will turn out to be.  

In other news, EJ and Nicole are in cahoots after all. He's paid her to lie to Immigration and it's unclear exactly what else they will get up to together. It's very nice. Finally a little more of the evil EJ, even if it's evil of the boring variety. Using Nicole to make Sami jealous is cringe-worthy on many levels, but Nicole still makes the pair more amusing than they are on their own. To be honest, I could care less what he does to Sami, as long as he does it in an underhanded and evil way. Why can't he just get Rolf to reprogram her or stick Kate's brain in her body? Instead, Sami continues to move toward a Lucas level of blatant stupidity. If the flashbacks this week reminded us of anything other than John and Marlena's old hairstyles, they should have reminded us of what a devious and vindictive creature Sami is. What happened to the cruel and scheming Sami of old? When they magically aged Will did they accidentally start aging her backwards? Beneath her thin maternal veneer, she seems less mature now than she did when she was teenager.

The strange central scene of this week was when Sami, wearing a pair of large monkey slippers, sat down to psychoanalyse both herself and John. I'm not sure if she got her lessons from her mother or Dr. Nussbaum, I'm not even sure which would be worse, but Sami passes the test as a daytime shrink, handing out the regular advice and excuses; they even gave her glasses to do it with. But the whole conversation between them was an important one, not just for John but for "DOOL" itself. After all, if you keep bringing back the past in flashbacks, how do you move on? Isn't it better to forget and abandon the past, something the show always tries to do but never completely manages. Some soap operas don't require a suspension of disbelief, they require recurring amnesia. That's the thing that makes John's role so interesting now. Not only is he Mr. Amnesia, he also serves to center everything around him. In spite of the fact that, as a person, he's completely inconsistent, it's only his present which changes dramatically as he re-imagines himself, whereas everyone's past continues to change. Up until now, this has always made him easy to manipulate, whether by Stefano, Victor or Marlena. Now he's become far more creative. Maybe Sami, also a remarkably inconsistent character and frequent amnesiac, could learn a few things from this.

Lines of the Week:
Nicole: "I don't know what I'll do if Pookie leaves me."

EJ: "Then you will have me."

Victor: "Daniel told me he was going to marry her in the hospital. That night she took a turn for the worse."

John: "Look at this place. There is no sign of forced entry. Either a professional or a freeloading relative robbed me."

Nicole: (to Sami) "I can't just exchange Pookie like you do husbands."

Sami: (imitating Charlton Heston) "You can have it when you rip it from my cold, dead hands."

 

April 25, 2008
The highlight of the week was Sami punching Nicole. Not that Nicole isn't swell, but it's so nice to see Sami get aggressive. It was also good to see the possibility of a Morgan/Philip pairing continue to blossom. Philly needs some love, or, at the very least, some non-Chloe-related lust, and it should be fascinating to watch him get involved with a woman who isn't a flake or a bimbo for once. Two other romances continued to percolate at different speeds. Stephanie is doing her best to get over her problems and move on with Max. Nothing new was revealed about Max's recent odd behavior, but Stephanie certainly seems sexually frustrated. What else could explain her wearing those white socks with that all black outfit the other day? The Chelsea/Dr. Jonas thing also moved on. I'm afraid it will develop into a story instead of staying in Chelsea's drug induced haze where it belongs. The most ominous sign of the week was seeing Rolf holding John's ID disc in his hands. Why isn't he destroying that thing? Please Rolf, before it's too late!

Things started to get way out of hand with the "old" and the "new" this week. Perhaps a third of the conversations in the past week revolved around whether the old you was the real you and the new you was not, or whether the new you was the real you and the old one was not... or something similar. It would have been more amusing if the conversations had employed flashbacks to different actors who have played the parts (for those to which that applies). They didn't really play it that way, sadly. It will be interesting to see how far they can push this angle without resorting to the use of doppelgangers and mysteriously appearing twin--not that either of those things are objectionable. It seems to be a dwindling possibility, however, as the Ava plot loses the steam it had left and Marlena tries to embrace the new John. 

The issue in all of this is really a question of how to deal with redundancy and ambiguity and go beyond them. John Black's mysterious identity was finally solved when he discovered that he was a DiMera. Ironically, when he discovered this, he was no longer who he had been for years. This same theme finds a variation in Steve, who is also the product of other character's imaginations and machinations, though largely a cypher himself. It's a plot device they've been pulling out for years. Usually it keeps things fresh. If you can't integrate new characters, which is notoriously difficult, the least you can do is reinvent the old ones, even in a ludicrous manner because--as DOOL writers have always known--history is contingent. What's worrying is that at the moment, the show seems more intent on creating a semblance of coherency than it's ever really bothered with before. There was a time when the holes in logic could easily swallow entire storylines; now the sailing is a little too smooth. For instance, the incredibly bland problem of Ava. Patch left her, she got depressed and wanted him back... more or less. Apparently, she suffers from "brief psychotic disorder", which is something the show could use more of.

Lines of the week:
Marlena (to John): "Married people don't date."

John (to Nicole): "I lost my memory not my senses. You didn't think this tasteless dress and the painfully embarrassing come-ons would be enough to make me reveal my affairs, did you? Who are you working for, Victor or little Philip?"

Stephanie (to Max): "It's about you and me. And me and you -- and how I feel about you."

Sami: "Nicole hydrates. She drinks two quarts of something a day."

Nicole: "Juice without vodka is like a day without sunshine."

Nicole: "I don't even know which brat I was holding. EJ's baby or Lucas' baby... Good thing you didn't have triplets. Can't tell the fathers without a program."

 

April 11, 2008
Marlena is hell bent on getting the old John back. We even got a glimmer that there might be something of the old John in the new John. When he, rather gruffly and over-adamantly, asserted that he wasn't remembering anything, something seemed to be returning... but maybe he was just uncomfortable, which I guess anybody would be if they were under Marlena's hypnotic control. I suspect the old John she seeks will return eventually, under the hypnotic spell that Marlena's hair seems to cast on him, but it will be a tragedy when that happens. What's really baffling about it all is that Marlena, of all people, seems so convinced that there was some specific old John she could call back up. John, if he's had any consistency over the decades, has always been a cipher with no really stable identity, continually flirting with new personalities. Maybe the new and wonderfully laconic John is just who John has always been underneath it all and Marlena has become excessively superficial and nostalgic for a past that was about as real as the erotic fantasises she used to have about him when he was in a coma. It was rather striking that all of the moments that she used to try to make him remember their past, were moments when the old John was pretending to be someone he knew that he wasn't, simply in order to please her. It was good to see that they didn't shy away from the irony that Marlena is now taking on the role of Stefano, albeit Stefano light, and, once again, John gets be someone's pet project.  

Sami and EJ's "marriage" got a little more real thanks to Nicole waving cash in his face to help him support his martini habit. It's hard to say if Sami is jealous or just annoyed that Nicole seems so intent of getting into EJ's life. I just hope she can get rid of reformed EJ and push him back into the realm of darkness. If Chloe, Nicole and John are the most sinister people on the show right now, something is seriously wrong...beyond the bizarre pacing. The show seems to have returned to the John E. Reilly version of time. More time passed in the first few minutes of Monday's show than the entire rest of the week. Not that I'm complaining about that. I'm probably the only person in the world who would prefer it if he was still writing the show. At least it was relatively consistent, even when it was consistently bad, and it always seemed like something could happen. Now it persistently seems like, whatever is going to happen, is going to happen in some distant future and nothing much is pushing it along. Couldn't we have gotten a few more details from Ava and her shrink this week, or at least some ludicrously phoney TV psychiatrist talk. Ava should send her doctor after Hope/Kayla and have her brainwashed using all the information on her that she's culled from the internet. Then Hope could run around thinking she was some strange version of Kayla, resulting in many uncomfortable moments for both Bo and Steve. Or at least they could have Steve brainwashed again. Isn't that what soap opera psychiatrists are there for? Kayla and Bo worrying in bed is not interesting, or necessary, and the only thing exciting about Stephanie and Max's scenes this week was that pie and cake were involved.

Lines of the Week: 

Nicole (to Sami): "I'd cry too, if you were my mother. You know... the twins having different fathers is freakish. How does that work, anyway? You really must have been slutting around."

Sami (on Nicole): "I dislike tomatoes. I despise her."

John (on the difference between being used by Marlena and Stefano): "He didn't look half as good in a dress."

Philip (on Nicole arriving at Chez Rouge): "Maybe I should tell Maggie to hide the Crystal."

Nicole (to Sami): "You look... like you've just had twins."

Roman: "I'll lock you up."
Bo: "On what charge?"
Roman: "Reckless stupidity."

 

April 4, 2008 -
It's been bickering week on "Days". Well, that's not entirely accurate. Bickering and inappropriate flirting seem to have been the rule. Not that I'm complaining. While every woman in Chelsea's orbit noticed her obvious crush on Dr. Daniel, none of them managed to stop themselves from throwing a few double entendres his way. Kate probably has a shot with him... Chelsea has yet to share a man with her grandmother. I still don't trust him at all, by the way. I think it's the surfer talk. I also found it a little odd that, considering he's known Victor for most of his life and their families are supposedly close, he suddenly needs Chelsea to explain everything to him. Some people have suggested he may have something to do with Ava, citing the mention that he was hired to help the troubled daughter of a powerful Italian family. Maybe...but he also seems to be trying a little too hard to be ignorant about fellow world-traveler Nicole.

Having finally gotten out of the hospital, for the most part, we have instead been confined to a series of dining rooms. It's been wonderfully theatrical: just when soaps seem to be moving away from their campy phoniness, "Days" maintains the tradition. To accompany that, the chatter on the show has really been upped. My hands hurt from typing, but little has actually happened this week. Whoever is writing the dialog is really outdoing themselves. EJ somehow turned from being Hugh Grant to Cary Grant while he and Sami tried to re-enact the first half of  "His Girl Friday" for the Immigration agent. The more successful humor came from John and Rolf. I never thought Marlena, Salem's own Lady Satan, would be put in the position of straight man to John, king of the monosyllabic response. But, to me at least, this is the most fun they've ever been and listening to anyone make sardonic remarks about Sami and EJ makes me smile.

Max continues to become more mysterious, which is a relief since I often wonder what they'll do with poor Uncle Max. His efforts to keep Stephanie away from the docks and his increasingly perplexing behavior towards Nick are giving him a darker dimension. Though I doubt Max, however troubled, can make the leap into villainy, this weird side of him is, at least, more interesting that he and Steph making Little Orphan Annie eyes at each other. I suspect his working down at the docks may be more than random considering the fact that John and the Kiriakis' are currently dancing around going to war over them. 

I never realized Aunt Maggie was such a cutie until Tuesday. New, surprisingly youthful, Mickey pops up and Maggie's hair truncates in size and she suddenly becomes mischievous. Perhaps this means they'll finally get something to do, though the cynic in me assumes they'll become props in the ongoing EJami Punch N' Judy routine. This prospect is almost as exciting as Ava noticing how unbelievable it was that Hope is pregnant. Of course, that didn't last. They really have to hurry things along with this. I actually find Ava amusing, but they have repeated the exact same flashback sequences with her repeatedly and it's starting to seem like she's just a time filler to put between John's laconic remarks.

The other big excitement of the week was the return of Nicole. So far it's been fun...  though I worry it will turn into another pointless parade of cleavage a la Chloe.

More Musings: 
This year's Matt's Musings on Days of Our Lives
Matt's Musings on Days of Our Lives from 2010
Matt's Musings on Days of our Lives from 2009.

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