I love baseball. I can remember summer nights, sitting on the back porch with my Grandpa, listening to Jack Buck call Cardinals games. My husband and I went to Busch Stadium to take wedding pictures. (Yup, I was in full dress and makeup, carrying a #1 foam finger.) And to this day I still keep score by hand when we go to a game.
Soaps and baseball have a lot in common. They're marathon dramas that really don't ever end. There are polarizing villains that have both swarms of fans and legions of haters. Stefano, naturally, has to have a Yankees hat.
Since last week was the MLB All-Star game, I thought we'd talk a bit about what storylines are succeeding on the DAYS field. I'm happy to report, that's a pretty long list. I'm having a hard time remembering a better summer in Salem. The storylines are tight. There's a good mix of veteran and young characters. The acting is superb. And there's an abundance of displays of awesome fashion -- a personal favorite soap quality of mine.
So, what does DAYS have to do to continue this momentum? That's easy. I titled this column "The Natural" one, because of the whole baseball reference. Two, because keeping things natural is the essential ingredient for success. Always opt for characters with organic motivations, not plot points. Three storylines are All-Stars. Two of them need some batting practice. Let's break down the stats.
All-Star #1: Danifer
Don't get me wrong, not every character is likeable every minute that they're on-screen. J.J.'s emotional blackmail of his mother is reaching stratospheric levels of annoying, possibly only eclipsed by Jennifer's complete inability to follow through on any kind of productive parenting. And I know that a chunk of people that don't want Daniel and Jen to be a couple, so seeing them together is like doing shots of nails and vinegar.
But none of those things are flaws in storytelling. I have no problem buying that Jennifer would hire Kayla's niece as a personal favor to Kayla. I get why J.J. is acting out. I think Daniel was right for telling Jen that she needs to quit playing games with his Backstreet Boy heart. I've seen the prior action (note -- the English dork in me wanted to say "rising action") that got these characters to where they are now. Thus, there's a solid level of believability for all four characters.
Additionally, we saw another tiny sliver of a soft spot in Theresa when she talked about Grandpa Shawn and approved of the new school. Both were very nice touches to distinguish Theresa from your traditional, mouthy, rebel-without-a-cause youngster that soaps like to trot out way too much. Clearly, Kim and Shane sent Theresa to live with her auntie and uncle in Bel Air. I'm intrigued to see what unfolds now that she's here.
All-Star #2: E.J.'s takeover
There's been an opening for a friend/mentor role in E.J.'s life since Tony's death. Justin fits that role brilliantly, since he also is a lawyer who has had to deal with a shady family and their business. This type of character history use makes fans like me go gaga!
Furthermore, Nicole may have hit the bull's-eye when she said that any ounce of decency that Stefano had died with Lexie. That makes so much sense, especially since we know that Stefano felt at least partially responsible for Lexie's death.
Then there are the ever-predicable hypocritical Brady-in-laws. Love them as I do, I have to wonder what exactly Marlena and Hope want from E.J. For years, they've pelted him with accusations of being under his father's complete influence. They've also spent the majority of their lives trying (and failing) to drive Stefano out of town. Yet E.J. executed an unassisted double play, and he's still a bad guy?
Marlena's stance really puzzled me. This is the woman who snuck into Stefano's jail cell, looked him in the eye, and injected him with a coma-inducing drug. She had zero qualms about gloating to Kristen when she showed Brady the picture. Who is she to judge someone for putting loved ones in DiMera danger?
The answer is simple. She's a concerned mother. And thanks to the real efforts that Marlena is making to reconcile with Sami (footwear selection is a vastly underrated form of therapy), I'm okay with her taking a Mama Bear stance. Plus, her slight ego is constant with the Bradys' past behavior. And like I said at the beginning, consistency = win.
Example 3: Kristen's revenge
Kristen gets a lot of leeway in the believability department because virtually nothing is off the table for her. So while I don't condone her actions, I certainly appreciate them for moving this storyline along! And I really can't shake the feeling that we're heading for a Kristen pregnancy.
First, Kristen had visions of Brady Black Jr. Visions of babies are right up there with fainting spells as a pregnancy indicator.
Second, thanks to Daniel's persistence on the medical side of things (a valuable distraction from his relationship drama too), there's evidence that Eric was poisoned. So since it can easily be proved that Father Eric was the victim of a crime, Kristen's video, while shocking, doesn't appear to have the potential for any real lasting effects.
That is, unless she's pregnant. And lucky for her, she'll have her pick of baby daddies. Both Brady and Eric strike me as the kind of guys who would insist that their baby mama not give birth in Statesville. And Brady himself is teetering on falling back in love with the gal. We all know that prison orange is a beast to light for Skype purposes. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Finally, throwing Nicole into this mix is the literary equivalent of putting bacon on pretty much anything. Nicole's got an established love for both men, and has been brewing a not-so secret crush on Father Eric for months now. Their relationship is very Cinderella -- charming prince picks lowly peasant girl. But, Nicole, guuurl, I don't know what you're going to do. There's no way that you can have Eric look at you that way -- probably the absolute furthest he can go -- and have it not drive you nutso.
While we're on the topic, Greg Vaughn has been impressive in this role. Yes, I'd been cheering for Eric Brady to return for years, so he had a running start with me. But then they went and made Eric a priest, charging Greg with the role of "smoldering, yet totally believable man of God." That can't have been easy. Yet, he's managed to play Eric with a simultaneous inner peace and inner struggle that are both palpable and believable. Well done, sir.
Strike-Out Victim #1: Sami vs. Adrienne
Alas, there had to be some holes in the line-up. Much as I do love the job that Judi Evans is doing with this role, Adrienne's actions are anything but natural.
Adrienne keeps bringing up her "dear friend" Marge Bernardi (you remember, the one who Adrienne had to remind of her name) and championing how Sami shot a decorated cop. I'm okay with Bernardi being the bit role of DiMera soldier/dead body. But this malarkey about how Adrienne has to defend the honor of the Family Bernardi is silly. We've hardly gotten to know Adrienne since she's been back in Salem, much less any of her "dear friends."
If this has more to do with Adrienne not liking Will and his crazy pants family, that's a completely fair point. But this is Salem. Fans remember character history. Adrienne would get a lot further if she'd approach Sonny from the position of someone whose own family came from the wrong side of the tracks and since gained personal experience by marrying into a powerful family. She could even bond with Sonny over raising someone else's child. But nope, instead we have her issuing out moral citations on behalf of the fun police, deeming that Will is the gateway to all corruption in Salem, and ignoring possibly all aspects of her own character history.
Oh, and Adrienne also said that she'd fight this hard for any of Sonny's other brothers, but I'll believe that when I see
Strike-Out Victim #2: Wilson
I can see how Will would be nervous about saddling Sonny with a kid and a totally new life. It's actually a pretty self-aware realization on Mr. Horton's part. But the whole Brent part makes me groan. Nice as he seems to be, Brent is a plot point with little substance. He could just as easily been replaced with a sign that said, "I'm here to make Will doubt his relationship with Sonny."
At the very least, they could have used Bryan Hottie McBlueeyes to come in between Sonny and Will, since Bryan had an established history of trying to do so before. Furthermore, maybe Bryan could have been Anne's son with Peter Blake. That would explain why Anne really hates Jennifer, give Bryan fun ties to Kristen and the DiMera family, and produce a possible Kiriakis/Brady/DiMera love triangle.
Kate's worried that Rafe wouldn't remember their special time together. Please, oh please, let this be true. Rafe doesn't work with bad girls. And I've been desperately missing Kate's awesome Kateness since she's been with Rafe.
Gabi and Rafe reuniting were all shades of adorable. The fact that Gabi put a new picture of Arianna Grace in Rafe's room every day was really sweet. I enjoyed seeing how overcome with emotion Rafe was when he learned of his new niece. The guy really does love other men's children. (Dang it, Smirkerella! You were supposed to stay hidden for one paragraph!)
I fully comprehend that I'm supposed to feel sorry for them that their marriage is ending. But, outside of Blake Berris' always heart-tugging performance, Nick and Gabi went cold. The problem was that soap couples have to deal with brainwashing, manipulations, interlopers, evil twins, or a huge bevy of other outside forces acting specifically to break up said relationship. Yet Nick and Gabi had none of those. So if they couldn't make it work, it's probably best that they split.
Besides, if Theresa is into druggies with a dark side, Nick would make a much more age-appropriate option. I'm still eager to see another Gabi and Cameron scene. And perhaps a good way to irritate Danifer would be for J.J. to take up with Daniel's ex sister-in-law, Joy Wesley. Little sisters tend to be much more lethal than their older siblings, amiright, Sami and Julie?
"You will be Mrs. Samantha Gene Brady-DiMera. I will be Mr. E.J. DiMera, and together we will rule my father's former empire. Muh hahaha!" Yes, yes, and yes! Nail, meet head. This is how I've always wanted to see E.J. and Sami. They're a marvelously dangerous duo, just on this side of dastardly. Sami's happy to stand by E.J. but insists that her name be part of it too. E.J. would do anything for her. And I don't care what anyone says, I love the new picture. It's dipped in delicious campy soap goodness.
John isn't my favorite character ever, but I completely appreciate his importance and history with the show. So if the intention is to have John on a hiatus -- temporarily or permanently -- then he should at least be given a proper exit. He's an ISA agent whose criminal half-brother is on the run somewhere in the world. His nephew just took over the company and is actively looking to promote people that Stefano can't control to powerful positions. Pick a storyline. Any storyline. Do something other than have him be the Punxsutawney Phil of Salem.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Eric (joking about the group of church dignitaries gathering at the new school): "Looks like a curtain call for 'The Sound of Music' " Musical references will with this award from me every week. Sorry, everything anyone else said at all.
It was not a good week to be a flower arrangement in the DiMera mansion.
I need to report a crime. Someone stole Maxine's real personality. We've got Kayla for the....wait for it...sweetness. Maxine needs to bring the sass.
Whose phone just immediately plays the next video? Is that a real thing?
Chandler Massey and I both think that Will should be recast. The show did the same with Belle and Shawn. It could work with Will too!
When Adrienne's screen went dark, she shook her phone like it was an Etch A Sketch. LOL! Adults these days!
I was fully expecting an afterparty at the Brady Pub where everyone talked about it. Instead, they actually built a set for St. Luke's Academy. Good job, DAYS!
Whatever happened to Ian's money in Sonny's coffee shop?
Dang, E.J! Why'd you have to go gossip to Eric about who Nicole likes? That was a classic Mean Girl move!
I love Will and Marlena's relationship, but her throwing her leg on his lap while he rubbed it was a bit strange.
Do high school teachers really cancel class when they get the flu?
Isn't it kind of dangerous for Brady to be running and swimming alone in the dark?
You can tell how much Evan and Luke Kruntchev like Shawn Christian.
Style Breakdown of Wonder and Praise:
That's it for this week. Tony_S_Days will be back next week for what appears to be a Kristen extravaganza. I swear, all Kristen-centered weeks coincide with his turn to write Two Scoops. But since I can't be mad at him, I'll just whip up a martini and sit next to him. I hope you join us!
What are your thoughts on Days of our Lives? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.