BUSTED: DAYS SINKS TO THE BOTTOM OF THE RATINGS
Days of Our Lives has never been at the bottom of the Nielsen ratings in its entire 41-year history. Until now, that is. For any loyal fan of the show, this unfortunate turn of events isn’t a complete surprise.
In the year since Hogan Sheffer was hired as Head Writer to return Days to its former glory, he has done everything but. The previous Head Writer, James E. Reilly, was largely held responsible for the downturn the show had taken after his ill advised Melsawen plot where he gruesomely and gleefully killed off beloved vets only to have them resurface on an island. However, when Reilly was at the helm, people were talking about the show. Now, most fans have tuned out altogether.
Sheffer has left fan favorites on the back burner for months only to introduce insipid newbies who gobble up airtime. New characters such as Willow, Jeremy and Jett have been such disasters they are no longer residents of Salem. Other new characters like Nick and Stephanie - characters fans actually like - have been isolated in ridiculous stories. The popular Nick and Chelsea pairing was broken up to give Nick a quickie Vegas marriage and instant step-kids. Strong willed race car driver Stephanie was recast and turned into a pouty sorority princess.
Highly touted comebacks for much missed characters like Steve, Kayla, Anna, and Adrienne have fizzled as they sit on the back burner. Does Adrienne even live in Salem anymore? She is seen even less than Judi Evans’ previous alter ego, Bonnie.
This new regime has not only filled the show with no talent newbies (all those dreadful college kids) and ignored long time favorite characters for months on end, but hijacked the plot with characters donning bad accents in dismal “flashbacks.” As if all these hits weren’t enough for the show to take, Sheffer made the bone-headed decision to kill off Drake Hogestyn’s character, John Black.
The show didn’t just kill John, but did it in as violent a way as possible, replaying John being slammed over the windshield of a car over and over again. Not a nice way to treat a 21-year veteran of the show. Did Sheffer just not like Hogestyn or his character?
Hogestyn - and viewers’ - agony was prolonged by the fact that John lingered gasping for breath in a hospital bed for two days. This was seemingly done for the sole purpose of allowing other cast members the chance to try and cry their best soap opera worthy tears over his bloodied and bruised body. This situation, which was obviously meant to tug at viewers heartstrings, had the opposite effect. When John choked out he wanted to see the face of the woman he married one last time, I actually laughed out loud. In order for him to do that, he would have to look in Days’ archival footage, because thanks to the modern marvels of plastic-surgery, Marlena’s face does not look the same as it did during their first marriage in the 80’s. Of course, John isn’t the same man he was then either. He still thought he was Roman Brady at the time. While Days deserves applause for acknowledging John’s complicated past, all the mourners references to his former names and identities just felt comical.
Days is known as the show that kills characters only to bring them back, so maybe we haven’t seen the last of John Black. Maybe he is only soap-dead and not dead-dead. If that’s the case, let’s hope Sheffer has one heck of a redeeming story up his sleeve for all involved in this debacle. One good story with an attention getting angle, and Days could rise Phoenix-like from the ashes again.
BLISSFUL: GREENLEE TURNS OVER A NEW LEAF ON AMC
When I first learned All My Children was recasting the role of Greenlee, originated by popular Emmy Nominee Rebecca Budig, I was skeptical. During Budig’s tenure, the character had been involved in one of the show’s greatest love stories (Greenlee and Leo) and best rivalries/friendships (Greenlee and Kendall), and been revealed as the daughter of one of the show’s beloved heroes (Jackson).
When Sabine Singh debuted, I was nervous. I didn’t think she looked enough like Budig or had the chops to channel the complicated character. However, once Singh was thrown into the deep end with the front burner story of kidnapping Spike and inadvertently causing his hearing loss, I was proven wrong. Singh has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in her own right, and in the ultimate test of a recast’s success, she has kept memories of Budig firmly at bay by making the character her own.
Singh is by turns tough, tender, vulnerable, sarcastic, bitchy and loveable. Her version of Greenlee has brought a new depth to the character. Her heartbreaking performance after Spike’s accident was Emmy worthy in its own right. She also has chemistry with Alicia Minshew’s Kendall, enough so that when recreated flashbacks of the girls after Greenlee’s miscarriage were shown, it didn’t feel the least bit odd, but rather like we were watching old friends.
The character of Greenlee has always been feisty, but Singh has injected a sense of humor into her that is showcased beautifully by her budding relationship with Aidan. Aidan has never really sparked with a woman he was paired with, though not from the show’s lack of trying. Maureen/Maria, Kendall, Mia, Anita, Erin and Di have all been romantically linked with the Aussie to no avail. He now seems to have met his match in the form of Singh’s Greenlee. Aiden Turner and Singh ooze sexual tension and chemistry in their scenes together.
While it would have been better if the friendship and romantic tension had time to build even more before they started sleeping together, their love scenes have been hot enough to make up for it. Hopefully, the writers will slow them down now and let them develop into a supercouple. They certainly rival Ryan and Annie in terms of chemistry, and are even closing in on Kendall and Zach in terms of popularity.
With Aidan now put in the position of having to rescue Greenlee from Kendall’s fabricated charges, it’s only a matter of time before they utter those three little words to each other. It’s true soap opera foreplay to watch their relationship grow to the next level through all their bickering and bantering.
Thanks to the success of the sublime Singh, next time AMC debuts a recast (i.e. the new Babe), I won’t be so quick to judge.
Lesleyann Coker is the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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