In this month's Busted to Blissful, Soapdom's Lesleyann Coker is fed up with B&B and Days, but there's also something about Days that rules! What is it about the goings on in the fashion world and in Salem that busted her bubble, and what's so wonderful on Days that has put her in bubblicious bubble bliss? Read on!
Back From the Dead on B&B and Days
I hate stories about characters that return from the dead on soaps, unless a show can put a new spin on it. I dislike it even more when the plot involves digging up a grave, something The Bold and the Beautiful just did and Days of Our Lives did last year.
On B&B, I was so disturbed by the sight of Ridge opening his “late” wife Taylor’s coffin that I had to look away. When I was finally able to sneak a peek at the screen, Ridge was staring at what he thought was Taylor’s body, until he took her out of the coffin and realized it was a dummy! I don’t know what kind of a dummy Ridge himself is to dig up a grave and open a coffin in the first place, or to think that after “years” as B&B keeps telling us, Taylor would look exactly the same as when he buried her. The scene was downright creepy on many levels.
However, the sequence then became laughable, which I don’t think the writers intended as their desired outcome. Ridge crawled out of the grave, and found himself confronted by Taylor’s former lover, Prince Omar, who suddenly appeared out of thin air in the cemetery. Prince Omar proceeded to fill in the gaps for Ridge by explaining that after Taylor had unhooked herself from the machines in the hospital “years ago,” and died in Ridge’s arms, Omar had had her spirited away and replaced with a double, so he could resuscitate her himself. While Ridge was trying to comprehend this drivel, Taylor magically materialized out of the parting fog, causing me to immediately wonder if she’d been embalmed with collagen in her absence. She didn’t look like the Taylor I remember, which was further emphasized by seeing her in flashbacks.
At least if a character dies on soaps and a body is never found, the viewer can make the safe assumption that the character will probably return at some point. I can accept this about soaps, and at times, it can even make for a good storyline, like when Macy returned from the dead on B&B. What I can’t stand is when a show gives us an open casket funeral and we watch other characters grieve for the deceased, and then it all turns out to be false a few years later.
Which brings me to another thing that bugs me about this plot. We all know Taylor has been gone for three years, because that’s how long her portrayer, Hunter Tylo, has been off the show. During Tylo’s absence, Taylor’s three kids have been SORASed (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) from children to teenagers. To compensate for the children’s sudden growth spurt, the show felt the need to remove dates from Taylor’s tombstone, and have all the characters speak ambiguous “She’s been dead years” lines. I feel like I’m being asked to suspend my intelligence on a number of different levels with this plot.
I also don’t like how Ridge forgot for almost a week’s worth of episodes that he married Brooke, not once, but twice, while Taylor was away. You would think from the way Ridge is acting that he’s going to kick Brooke out of his house and move Taylor right in. Which I suppose he could do, because now that Taylor’s alive, it means his marriage to Brooke isn’t valid. Where have we seen this one before? I’m getting deja vu from the last time Taylor “died” and came back to ruin Brooke and Ridge’s marriage several years ago.
Hopefully, this time the writers won't take the easy way out by having Ridge immediately wanting to be with Taylor over Brooke, but will instead explore the conflict Ridge faces when he unexpectedly has to choose between two wives.
On Days of Our Lives, Marlena and Roman returning from the dead didn’t destroy anyone’s marriage -- at least not yet -- but it sure was a bucket of ice water in the faces of their respective spouses, John and Kate, who had just gotten engaged that very night. Talk about an engagement present! I know I’m in the minority, but John and Kate were actually starting to grow on me as a couple. While Marlena and Roman were “getting busy” in captivity, Kate was helping John through his addiction to pain killers, and they were building a real relationship.
The moment Marlena and Roman “rose from the dead,” however, John and Kate went straight back to them, without a second thought about each other. You’d think if you just promised to spend the rest of your life with someone, it would mean something. Instead, Kate practically threw her new engagement ring in John’s face and said, “We’ll always be friends.” I wonder how that friendship is going to work? Fortunately, after several days of ignoring the situation, the writers finally gave John and Kate a tidy little scene by themselves, meant to give their relationship closer.
It also bothered me that Marlena and Roman acted condescending when they discovered John and Kate were living together and sharing a bed. Marlena of all people shouldn’t condone keeping secrets, which is exactly what she and Roman vowed to do regarding their own tryst, after much discussion where they could have easily been overheard. It’s tough to act holier-than-thou when you are guilty of extramarital activity yourself.
Thankfully, there were no graves dug up on Days to facilitate this reunion (and when John did dig up Marlena last summer, at least the coffin was empty) which made Marlena and Roman’s miraculous return easier to stomach than the unsettling mess B&B presented as entertainment.
Creative Maternity Leave on Days
Days of Our Lives’ head writer James E. Reilly has written the best maternity leave exit for an actress since Hogan Sheffer penned the famous “psycho-spa” storyline for three expecting actresses on As the World Turns several years ago. Reilly literally turned the girl everyone loves to hate into a man for a few months! Salem’s favorite villainess/victim Sami Brady, portrayed by the gifted Alison Sweeney, was replaced with her alter-ego, Stan, portrayed by talented newcomer Dan Wells.
It was a brilliant move on Reilly’s part, because not only did it keep Sami on screen, but it actually helped move storyline forward. In disguise as Stan, Sami was able to get dirt on all of her enemies, and blackmail them without them even knowing it was her!
Of course, now Sami has learned that all of her newfound information has come at a price, and that she is in bed with the devil, Tony DiMera, who was responsible for creating her Stan persona. It will be fascinating to watch Sami try and talk her way out of this one, though she has emerged relatively unscathed from far worse situations in the past.
Wells has done an amazing job of playing a woman who is pretending to be a man. I’m sure it was a challenge for the actor, and he made the transition from Sami to Stan appear seamless. It also helped story momentum and made for an easier acceptance of the new character, to hear Sweeney narrating Sami’s thoughts in Stan’s head occasionally. Wells must have done his homework on Sweeney though, because he was able to recreate most of her mannerisms, including her twitchy, nervous, shifting eyes, a Sweeney/Sami trademark showing Sami is always thinking/scheming.
Days says Wells is staying with the show for the foreseeable future, so I look forward to learning how they plan to incorporate the newly returned Sweeney with Wells. If anyone is up for the challenge, it’s these two accomplished actors.
Lesleyann Coker is a contributing columnist for Soapdom.com, and co-author of Boob Tube, a satiric novel currently being shopped to publishers that examines what really goes on behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. She is a former reporter for Soap Opera Weekly magazine, and has interviewed over 200 daytime and primetime actors during her career.
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