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Arianne Zucker
THAT was it!
by Tony
For the Week of November 23, 2009
Everyone should stand up and give a special ovation to Arianne Zuker, who has carried the baby-swap storyline from day one -- whether you love Nicole or love to hate her, Ari's been amazing to watch.
Laurisa ended her last Two Scoops column with a wish. She hoped that last week in Salem would be a little less sucky than the one before. I crossed my fingers as soon as I read her words because I fully agree with my partner -- the first part of the baby-swap reveal was a little anticlimactic. Okay , fine, it was a lot anticlimactic. And Laurisa nailed the tone of that week perfectly be entitling her column, "That Was It?"

But that was two weeks ago and, last week DAYS righted a lot of wrongs. Now, instead of a question, we can exclaim, "THAT was it!" "That" being totally amazing performances by the cast. I'll wait while everyone applauds. And don't worry, you won't look silly sitting in front of your computer clapping.

So now that we have a reason to celebrate why DAYS is, in fact, "Must-See TV," we should celebrate, right? Right! But that doesn't mean we can't be a little picky as to who we invite to the party. After all, last week was an improvement, but there were still a few people that aren't going to be asked to join in the festivities. Let's get cracking on the invite list :

THE BABY-SWAP CREW

Wow - simply wow! All of the actors involved with the Baby-Swap storyline deserve one more thundering round of cyber applause for last week's performances. I'll wait while everyone claps again. Actually, I think everyone should stand up and give a special ovation to Arianne Zuker, who carried this storyline from day one -- whether you love Nicole or love to hate her, Ari's been all shades of amazing to watch.

Ok, now that we're all back in our seats, it's easy to point out what the flaws have been with this storyline, and I will in a bit, but when people ask why I watch DAYS , I'd have to say last week's performances would be a great example of why I tune in day after day. Yes, indeed, I was very proud to wear my I "Heart" DAYS button. In fact, I'm so impressed by the cast, I don't know where to begin. Ok, the beginning would be a great place to start...

Ari Zucker and Alison Sweeney just blew me away! They brought such a raw, all-encompassing fury to their scenes that made it impossible to look away. And those slaps! Those two harsh slaps only catapulted the scenes further and further into crazy brilliance. At times, I actually had to remember that Nicole was the "bad guy," as Ari's performance was downright moving. The look of heartbreak in her eyes when Rafe walked in with Sydney just screamed "Emmy!"

Of course, Ali Sweeney has already been gunning for the Emmy ever since Grace's death scenes, and last week was another prime example of why she deserves the gold, too. The writers also get a nod of approval for this part. The script was great. There were details they remembered which only twisted the knife deeper. Sami bringing up the christening was a great example of how deep Nicole cut Sami. And, back to the acting aspect, Ali's rage as Sami warned Nicole not to say Grace's name, and when Sami asked Nicole if she was stupid enough to blame her -- A+, Ali. A+! Finally, back to the writers, it was a classy touch that Sami let Nicole hold Sydney one last time. Sami's come a long way in a very short time. I'm interested to see where she goes from here.

Then, of course, there was James Scott. His scenes with Ari were also spot-on. Even with E.J. having outbursts every five minutes this year, James still managed to make it have an impact this go-around. Amazing!

Also amazing was the fact the writers didn't drag out E.J.'s "Sami and Roman are out to get me" attitude. Instead, they let E.J. realize his "loving father" sold him out -- he was in on the lie, and there's no denying it. James rocked the moment E.J. figured that out. And, just like with Ari Zuker, it was hard to remember that Stefano was the bad guy, as Joseph Mascolo played the part with such vulnerability that you just knew the Phoenix's heart hard been torn out, just like his son's. Let's just hope E.J. doesn't go running back to daddy anytime soon, or else it might tarnish last week a bit. Yes, that was a hint to my pal, Higs.

Finally, there's Taylor Spreitler. Laurisa once made the following statement about Rachel Melvin, and I think it applies to Taylor, too -- "It's really a special thing when viewers get to watch an actress develop along with the character." Agreed! And last week, Taylor proved just how far she's come over the past year. I'll be honest, I was eager to see how she would handle the heaviest of the heavy material she's gotten so far. And you know what? I wasn't disappointed at all. The gal's performance simply broke my heart -- exactly what it should have been. Bravo, Taylor! Double bravo for her intense scenes with Ari Zuker!

Now, I hate to spoil a gush-fest with negativity, but, whereas the actors hit acting home runs, the writers should have spent some more time in the batting cages. My biggest beef with this storyline is what Laurisa picked as her "Not" last week -- there wasn't any grand finale. Nope, not even a big booming fireworks display involving most of the cast finding out at an event where they can clutch their chests, faint, and "Oh my God" themselves into a frenzy. Considering this storyline somehow affected nearly everyone in Salem, that was a letdown.

Ironically, I wouldn't have minded the writer's decision to let the big reveal trickle out slowly from character to character, it could've been powerful, but they mishandled it -- big time. There were three examples that pop into my head immediately. The first, Chloe.

Bless Ms. Lane for trying, but the girl's destined for a gold medal at the Idiot Olympics. Upon hearing of Nicole's latest treachery, did she really say, "What!? That's crazy! [Nicole] wouldn't do something like that." Let me remind you that this is the girl who once said to Brady about Nicole's hankering for vengeance, "Do the words 'flesh-eating bacteria' ring a bell?" I can kind of see forgiving, but nearly having your face eaten off by flesh-eating bacteria would be a little hard to forget.

However, I can almost give Chloe a pass -- I'd be defensive and skeptical, too, if some idiot rushed into my bedroom claiming he's taking my "best friend's" baby. That "idiot" would be Rafe, by the way. I feel a little queasy saying this, but Dr. Dan actually saved that scene by breathing a little sense into it. He filled Chloe in on what Nicole did and, poof, all the silliness that was Rafe barging in like a maniac was gone.

The thing is, I honestly do get Rafe's reasoning for barging in. He didn't know whether Chloe was a Nicole operative or not. Sure, I get that, but a little tact from him would be a nice treat once in a while. Sorry, but Rafe hasn't earned his "John Black: Hero with an Edge" badge yet. Therefore his caveman actions aren't as excusable in the name of saving his lady -- a lady he didn't even rush to see after fighting his way back from the brink of death. Aren't close calls supposed to make one want to reach out and touch someone? Just checking.

The second mishandling -- how Mia found out. I thought it was lame. I won't even get into the lameness of Chloe telling off Nicole via voicemail, which was downright tacky. Nor will I mention how dumb Chloe was for going to Will for a favor. He promptly said no, no, no to her request to get Lucas' number in rehab. But I will admit there was some great irony in having Chloe inadvertently tell the last key player the truth. Side note, I'm not counting Chad at the moment -- mostly because it's better for my point, but also because we've "known" Mia longer.

Anyway, Chloe's slip was ironic -- it was her big mouth that kicked off the chain of events in the first place. No, I'm not blaming Chloe. Nicole's craziness is all hers to own, but Chloe did divulge a secret she wasn't supposed to. Not surprising, as Chloe seems to have a problem with keeping things to herself. But, I digress.

By having Mia find out from someone other than Sami or Nicole sort of seemed wrong. I was glad Maggie was there, and thrilled when Big Red didn't take things at face value and checked with Roman, but it was a letdown nonetheless. I think it would have been more powerful to watch Sami tell Mia, perhaps. Sami thought she was Grace's mother and just learned her baby is alive -- Sami was happy, sad, angry, astonished, and so on all at once, and watching her pull out the strength to support Mia would have put it at a different level. A level without Chloe's use of Steve Urkel's catchphrase, "Did I do that?"

Third, Brady. He found out from a text. A text. Whoops, sorry, no, he didn't find out. Einstein Chloe only said Nicole had been arrested. I think it's time to bring back an old favorite -- extend arm, palm up, and slap the forehead. Oh, gosh, there are so many levels this hurts on.

First, it's a text! I personally think people need to reel it in with texting in general, but that's a different argument for a different day. Point being -- you text when you're going to be late, not when letting someone know someone they care about is in jail. It's downright dumb and downright sloppy on the writers' part, hence why letting it trickle out was a bad idea.

And, second, it made Brady look like a complete bumbling idiot. I think most of us have wondered from time to time why he's so nice to Nicole. The answer -- he's a good guy. I'll buy that. But even good guys ask questions. The son of super sleuth John Black would know to ask a guard what the charges are before writing out a bail check. Heck, Brady had just hacked into his grandfather's laptop, tracked down deleted files, and deciphered Greek encoding. He's not stupid, but now, thanks to him paying Nicole's bail with no questions asked, he looks just as dumb as, say, a guy who didn't know his wife was faking her pregnancy for several months. Ugh.

There is a fourth example of why the trickle out reveal bothered me, but I'll rant about that later. Right now, I need to re-find my happy place. And I know just where to look!

VIVIAN & COMPANY

Campy? Crazy? Slightly over-the-top? Yes, yes, and yes. Welcome to the wonderful world of Vivian Alamain!

Ah, it felt nice to see Vivian in Salem once again. I mean officially in Salem and not hanging in Alamain Land. But I'm a little confused about her first scene in town. Why was she wandering around the woods? My best guess is she was hunting for a bird to make another hat. But, again, that's just a guess. What I do know -- Viv wasn't in town for a minute before she was up to no good -- just as it should be.

Auntie Viv first found Mia thanks to Gus. Naturally, Viv went in for the scoop. She didn't get much other than creeping out Mia a bit, but all extravagant revenge plots begin with baby steps. And, speaking of baby -- um, babies, minus the steps -- I'm going to second Laurisa's bet last week. I also think Carly's back in town because of a child. Is it Mia? They did bond rather quickly, but that might be too obvious. There are other contenders, but we'll start playing the guessing game another time, because last week was all about Vivian and Carly coming face-to-face. Huh? Oh, right, and the fallout of the Baby-Swap reveal.

Viv vs. Carly didn't disappoint. Louise and Crystal were all shades of brilliant. If more of these two going head-to-head is what we have to look forward to in the wake of the Baby-Swap reveal, I'm all for it. In fact, I think I'm officially off the fence when it comes to Carly's return. Now I'm firmly planted in Camp Happy-She's-Back. Crystal really brought a new oomph to Carly this time around that I don't remember seeing before. I loved it - more, please!

CARLY, BO, HOPE, & JUSTIN

Please raise your hand if you thought Hope telling Bo he was making a mountain out of a molehill was the most ironic statement in months. Um, yeah, I don't even know what to do with that. Considering Hope moved out over unresolved issues that by all accounts were resolved, I'm really not sure she should be throwing stones in a glass house. And I'm pretty sure her stating she's losing Bo to Carly is not only a little premature, but an overly dramatic declaration. Dare I say she made a mountain out of a molehill?

But I will give Hope some backup. I do think Bo needs to share Carly's secret with her. It's honorable for him to keep it in order to "protect" everyone, but Laurisa made a string of great points last week that I'm fully backing up - Hope's his wife and she's a detective. Bo knows Hope. He knows he can trust her. He should know she'll butt into the case and try to help whether he likes it or not. Therefore, why not work together? At least she could rest easier, which could lead them to a reconciliation and could provide double protection of Carly. Yeah, that would probably make too much sense.

Carly bonding with Mia was all fine and dandy. Both of them are damaged goods and need a friend. I didn't mind that at all, but I wish Carly and Hope would sit down for a chat on the pier. On one hand, I don't blame Carly for not rushing to Hope, a practical stranger who seems to be a little off her rocker. On the other, Hope is a mother and the wife of the man Carly's staying with (and the man who she "married" in a romantic-though-not-legal ceremony on top of an ancient Mayan temple). If Carly doesn't tell her for that reason, then there's the fact that Hope's a detective - she could help. There's also the fact they share a best friend - Jennifer Horton! That could add some serious bonding points. And, with Vivian back, Carly needs all the friends she can get.

Finally, there's Justin. He was served with papers. I have a bad feeling they begin with a "D" and end in viewers never seeing Adrianne again. That thought makes me sad, and I'm going to go into my happy little denial place. But, before I go, let's talk Justin and Hope.

I think Justin's a nice guy trying to help a friend. I also think he's bored in Salem. He returned for a job. That job is done. And now he basically has a ton of free time to kill. Unfortunately, the way he's choosing to kill it could get ugly. Why doesn't he just text friends and update his Facebook status like everyone else?

ARIANNA, BRADY, & VICTOR

So, Victor was a drug lord for the power, not the money. Interesting. Also interesting is that Brady and Ari are starting to figure things out. However, I suspect it will be a while before this trail of breadcrumbs leads to E.J. Now that the Baby-Swap is sort of wrapping up, DAYS will need some new storylines. Yet the writers relying on this one as the big umbrella storyline worries me a bit. It's been singing back-up for so long that I don't know if I could take it seriously as the main event. We'll see.

RAFE, ARIANNA, & GABI

I'd like to extend a big Two Scoops welcome to Gabriella Rodriguez, who premiered as Gabi Hernandez last week. Since she's a minor, we'll toast her with some cyber sparkling cider. The toast -- may Gabi be less annoying than her big brother, Rafe! If she succeeds at that, we should be good. Ok, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll be nice!

The thing is, I actually liked Gabi. Granted, there's not much to go on yet, and I'm reserving the right to change my mind later, but she impressed me. Why? Because in one day, Gabi managed to both fill in viewers on things about the Hernandez family we didn't know and expand on the bits of information it took over a year to find out from Bonehead Rafe and Elusive Arianna.

Here are some facts. The family knows about Ari's drug abuse and arrest -- it broke their mother's heart. Oh, yes, they have a mother and grandmother! It seems the mother lives in or near Salem, but the grandmother lives further away. Finally, Rafe and Ari don't keep in touch. Um, maybe Gabs should count that last one as a blessing in disguise.

All in all, Gabi managed to fill us in, and I hope that streak continues. It's amazing how much more interesting characters become when you know things about them. Had the writers used that approach with Rafe from the beginning, I know two Two Scoopers who might be a little more forgiving now.

PHILIP, MELANIE, NATHAN, & STEPHANIE

So Phil tossed around his last name to some Euro-trash and "saved" Mel. Okay, technically he did save her, but I'm not sure his heroic moment was enough to warrant a kiss from Mel. Now, I've rooted for my share of "underdog" couples, but I just can't find it in me to wave the "Phelanie" flag. Phil is coming across as a skeevy businessman who pinches his secretary's bottom then has her order flowers for his wife. Not to mention, I think obsessively calling someone is an obnoxious deal breaker and in no way, shape, or form attractive. It's a very immature thing to do -- wait! I'm beginning to think maybe they do make sense together as Phil's acting like a horny teen and Mel is a teen! Okay, got it!

As for Stephanie ogling Nathan, I'll give her that. He's a cute little soap-stud nugget. And I've come to a new conclusion of Stephanie after last week. I picked up on a self-awareness I haven't seen in her before. I think she acted like a complete backstabbing, hypocritical bitch, but I think she was finally aware of that. If that's the case, I'm fine with that because, as long as she doesn't actually think she's all goody two-shoes, I don't mind seeing Steph's bad girl-side come out. Now she just needs to learn a lesson or two from her former almost-mother-in-law, Kate, and own her bitchiness!

EXTRA SCOOPS

HOT & NOT

Hot: Amongst all of the Baby-Swap shenanigans and Vivian vs. Carly craziness was a little scene that stole my vet-loving heart -- Victor and Caroline! He sent her flowers every day when she was sick with the flu. How freaking cute is that!? And, sure, it was bittersweet as Caroline said he had to move on, they can never be together, but I'm blindly holding out for a reunion. Just the fact that they shared a scene and brought up their feelings makes me a optimistic. Plus, "no" usually means "yes" in Soap Land. Fingers are crossed!

Not: I'm fired up! I think Roman disrespect has hit an all-new low over the last few weeks, and that's saying a lot as he was Marlena's lap dog for the better part of the decade(s). Now, I realize he'll never be "the man" again. His DAYS of being the hero who saunters into his lady love's apartment and saves her from a serial strangler are over. And I accept that, but the character responsible for bringing Stefano DiMera to Salem -- yes, Roman was Stefano's initial archenemy -- deserves some respect.

Therefore, having Rafe bypass Roman's right to know about Sydney and Nicole before he went to Sami didn't sit well with me. Not only is Roman her father, but he's a cop. He knows how to handle bad guys like Nicole. But, nope, he was brushed off. And I'm sure Roman will love to get the call at the same time at the rest of the station: "Hey, random police dispatcher, this is Rafe, inform the force they need to arrest Nicole Walker for baby-swapping - ?oh, and tell Roman his granddaughter didn't die, it was a big mistake, I mean, I would've told him when I saw him, but, well, I've been spending time in Marlena's penthouse absorbing her vibes that Roman's a second-class citizen not worthy of common courtesy or my respect." Ugh! Moral of the story -- Higley, be kind to our vets, they might not be shiny and new, but there wouldn't be a show without them.

Line(s) of the Week:

Carly (to Vivian after she apologized for past indiscretions): "No, no, no -- what's a little premature burial amongst friends?" HA!

Vivian (to Bo): "I've always been able to open doors with my smiles." Double-HA!

Randomness:

I think I want Stephanie's job. Planning rooftop gardens, mixers, and getting to hang out with Big Red. Sign me up!

Does anyone else think Gabriella Rodriguez (Gabi) looks very similar to Glee's Lea Michele?

Thumbs up to Kate and E.J.'s "lap dog" exchange - touché!

Hope asked Ciara if she believes they're still a family. Little C responded, "I don't know." Aw. Get her home, Fancy Face!

I think it's ironic when characters who live in mansions yell for the maid or butler to get the door when they are a few feet away from it and then act annoyed when the said maid or butler doesn't come running. It has the same ironic annoyingness that a parent screaming at their kid to stop screaming has.

Did anyone else crack up when they saw Chloe -- CHLOE -- reading a book that didn't have pop-ups of Disney princesses on the pages? I never knew her reading level was so advanced. Laurisa also shared her thought, "Maybe she's taking my advice and looking up the definition of 'faithful' in the dictionary." Whatever the case may be -- brain-dead Chloe reading ranks right up there with demonic possessions and twins from outer space as one of the craziest things I've seen on Days.

A Programming Note and Some Shameless Promoting:

Laurisa and I have a favorite time of year to Scoop - now! There's November Sweeps, end-of-the-year Awards to hand out, blogs to write, and office mixers to mix at. To kick things off, we'll be teaming up next week for a "very special episode" of Two Scoops.

And, if you're as excited as we are about all of year-end events, be sure to check out last year's winners and losers of the Second Annual Golden Doughnut Awards and the Second Annual Alex North Memorial Awards: The Worst of Days 2008. If you're feeling really nostalgic, or just avoiding some work, you can go all the way back to our freshman best and worst awards in 2007! We'll be back in two weeks with reviews of last year's picks, and, in one month, the 2009 awards will be revealed!

Finally, don't forget to check out our 44 Reasons To Watch Days Anniversary month blog post and leave your reasons to watch Days!

Parting Thoughts …

So, friends and Days fans, that's Two Scoops for the week of November 23rd. On behalf of Laurisa, we hope that everyone in the states has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Eat, drink, and be merry, and, "That's a fact!"

Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.
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