The land of Jacob Two-Two

For the Week of December 13, 2004
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DAYS Two Scoops: The land of Jacob Two-Two
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Anyone who's watched soaps is used to seeing the previous day recapped on the next; that's a given, since the show needs to bring the new viewer up to speed.

When I was a teen, the Canadian author Mordecai Richler (Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz; Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang; etc.) lived in my neighborhood, with his family. His children used the same swimming pool as we did in the summer, and since I was of an age to babysit, I'd always be on the lookout for kids of babysittable age. The boys were loud and spoiled, and little Jacob did indeed have the habit of saying everything twice. I found that habit quite annoying. Maybe that's why I'm getting so annoyed with Days - indeed soaps in general. Perhaps I never really noticed how repetitious plots, characters and dialogue were becoming, or perhaps it just snuck up on me. Whatever the case, it seems I'm being inundated with 'double talk' on a daily basis.

Anyone who's watched soaps is used to seeing the previous day recapped on the next; that's a given, since the show needs to bring the new viewer up to speed. And of course, flashbacks help more recent viewers to understand the dynamics of a current plot. I'm fine with that, it's a time honored tradition.

What I'm having the problem with is the very same flashbacks being shown over and over, dream situations being used as a way to 'telegraph' upcoming plot lines, characters repeating the very same lines over and over until all emotion is wrung from the words, and mainly, characters making the very same mistakes again and again without apparently ever learning from the past. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. So, what? Are the writers temporarily or legally insane?

Life's about learning through trial and error. People are human, they make mistakes, and with luck, they learn from those mistakes. They learn as well that their mistakes can have a terrible impact on others, and so ostensibly they learn compassion and gain insight. Not our Salem-ites!

No matter how many times Kate breaks peoples hearts with her supposedly Mama Bear need to control her children's love lifes, she never learns. How Hope can even bear to be in the same room with Kate is a mystery to me. Despite Bo and Hope's long term marriage and two children, Kate sees no reason to stop inciting Billie to claim back Bo's love. She actively pushes Billie to destroy a happily married couples life for her own selfish reasons, stopping at nothing to ensure that Billie is kept in an uncomfortably aroused state whenever Bo is in the area. Didn't both Kate and Billie learn this lesson the last hundred times around?

Kate has never watched idly as both her sons, Austin and Lucas, have fallen under Sami's manipulative spell. There have been times when viewers have rooted for Kate to sort Sami out - especially during the Carrie/Austin/Sami triangle. But this time around, Kate seems merely vindictive as she tries to separate Sami and Lucas, a pairing that viewers have clamored for for years. She has mutated from a protective, supportive Mama Bear to a kvetching, annoying, meddling annoyance. That's not growth - that's stretching a characteristic to it's illogical, cartoonish conclusion. Bad writing? That would be my feeling.

If Kate were the only character whose 'raison d'etre' (reason to be, in plain English) has been warped and overused, I could let the situation lie. But the illness is rampant, with almost every Salemite suffering from chronic two-twoism. Not only are the characters repeating themselves ad infinitum, the situations repeat as well. First Shawn has a car accident resulting in amnesia, then Belle has a car accident resulting in amnesia. Ten residents of Salem are apparently killed by Tony so that he can get them all on New Salem Island - an exact replica of Salem - so he can what? Kill them again?

You know, there are colleges and universities in North America where you can now get a degree in writing for soaps. Where are those bright young things? Are they even getting entry positions on staff, or are they pounding the pavement with their shiny new degrees, while the same tired, bored writers control the fate of their soaps and characters?

Here's what you all had to say this week:

"I just realized it's Thursday and I haven't watched Days all week. I miss the days when I looked forward to it and not just wanted to "keep up with it" in case it actually got good again. I find more enjoyment out of reading the online recaps; watching is like having teeth pulled. " from Tracy

"couldn't agree with you more about there being nothing to be happy or thankful for this holiday season in Salem. Not to mention that I am worried about Alison Sweeney's can't be good for a pregnant woman to be that emotional and crying and yelling and stuff all the time...not to mention her anger is played out on the show. I like your column and read it every week...I think the people who are in charge of casting, writing, and producing DOOL have really dropped the ball. Not only has the 'Captive Island' storyline gotten old, but the repercussions that have stemmed from it are all the stupidest things in the world. Once again, the collective Salem brain is missing..." from Matt Clark.

"Since this head writer has taken over, he really must think we are a bunch of fools to believe this mess that he started. If the executives of Days of Our Lives have any sense they would just toss this whole storyline out and start over. This was a beautiful sweet soap opera now it is just another X rated show that should be thrown in the trash can." From Camilla M.

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