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After all... tomorrow is another day!

Strange Days: My Say on Salem
By: IMissAremid
Volume No. 2

Ed. Note: Some spoilers for the week of Sept. 24 discussed.

“My love-hate (but mostly hate) relationship with Hogan Sheffer”

Perusing the various soap boards this evening, I’m noticing that hostility toward “Days of our Lives” Head Writer Hogan Sheffer is at a fever pitch.

A confluence of factors has contributed to this latest storm of criticism, perhaps the biggest catalyst for this vitriol being the release of last week’s ratings showing “Days” in dead last in the soap standings, below even “Guiding Light,” now that “Passions” has gone to that great DirecTV in the sky.

To some gloating John and Marlena fans this is vindication that the show has ignored their pleas for more screentime for their faves at its own peril, while to some bitter Lucas and Sami fans fearful that their couple is slipping away this provides an opportunity for them to once again lay blame for the show’s woes on “the rapist.” (Me: Which one?)

But for me, it’s not the ratings that have me frustrated with Hogan – it’s the show he’s putting on the screen. It’s the missed opportunities in his stories. It’s the lack of variety and balance to his canvas. It’s the dearth of romance and overabundance of melodrama. It’s the lack of respect for the integrity of the characters and their histories.

And it’s the despair in the knowledge that it doesn’t have to be this way.

You see, the truth is I want to love Hogan Sheffer. For whatever reason, and surely Hogan has to have something to do with it, I am more invested in this soap than I have been at any time during my life. Just about every “Days” character I’ve ever cared deeply about save Vivian Alamain is on the canvas right now and the current characters I like best, E.J. and Sami, are leading in the episode counts and I have even been treated to their look-alike ancestors this summer. I feel like I should be extremely happy with the show right now and its Brady-DiMera focus.

But I’m not. Because I don’t trust Hogan Sheffer to keep me consistently happy given the way he has burned me in the past and given all the times I’ve gotten my hopes up about a promising spoiler or curious twist that just fizzled with no payoff in the end. Especially after this generally mediocre, bland week that seemed to have squandered all the excitement and tension built up over the past several weeks in the Brady-DiMera feud storyline, I feel like I am justified in expecting little from him.

There’s also the way that he always seems to find a new way to tweak me when I hear him speak.

First, there were his comments on this week’s episode of “I Wanna Be A Soap Star” where he was trying to determine whether to eliminate Travis or Yves from the slew of reality show contestants vying for a 13-week contract on “Days.”

In the end, Hogan decided it best to eliminate Travis despite the fact he thought him a more gifted actor and despite the fact he would rather write a character taking advantage of his talents. He kept Yves, he said, because “I know” that “Days” viewers would rather see the model-looking guy than the best possible actor. I simply don’t believe that’s true, and if it was I think “Days” would have a much larger audience and less fan antipathy for its stories centered around the exploits of characters portrayed by an ex-Abercrombie and Fitch model and Playgirl centerfold moonlighting as a stripper.

Then there were his infuriating remarks in the “Days” cover story on the feud storyline resolution published in this week’s Soap Opera Digest.

At the end of the article, Hogan speculated on the undetermined future of Lucas and Sami and in doing so tossed out the spurious claim that Sami and Lucas “always seem to end up right back where they started – blissfully together.”

Give me a break! When have Sami and Lucas ever been “blissful” during their years on the show? And even if they’ve been “together” off and on over the past few years, they certainly didn’t “start” out that way.

If Hogan really thinks Lucas and Sami are the couple this show should feature then the very least he could do is write both characters true to whom they actually are, with angst and dysfunction and a volatile relationship that is honest to their history rather than trying to manufacture some cookie cutter happily ever after relationship for them.

Hogan also acknowledged in the SOD article that Lumi fans “will be livid” by the latest developments in their couple’s story. Well, duh. Did he think that simply acknowledging their outrage was going to make Lumi fans happy? Did he think giving them a shoutout would pacify them? It won’t. And it’s just pathetic that a head writer who should care about all fans of the show would single out any fan base this way or so brazenly acknowledge the way that fan base reaction apparently figures into his writing.

But perhaps that explains why this Brady-DiMera feud storyline in the end is being revealed now when all is said and done as nothing more than an extremely unsatisfying attempt at multi-generational EJami fan fiction masquerading as an all-encompassing umbrella story using 25 years of “Days” history as window-dressing to quickly pave the way for an E.J. and Sami pairing rather than actually address the mistakes the show has made in the couple’s story of the past year and fix them.

In the article, Hogan says:

“If I’d chosen to put something else in the folio, the stakes would have changed drastically. The vendetta might still have ended, but the vendetta is not really important at the end of the day. What’s important is that Sami, married to, and in love with, Lucas, now has to face the possibility of marrying EJ, her nemesis and most tantalizing temptation, in order to stop the violence against her family.”
(SOD Oct. 2)

So the vendetta storyline, featured in blaring promos as a “big summer story” is apparently “not really important at the end of the day” to the head writer who penned it. If the person writing the show doesn’t find the storyline “really important at the end of the day,” why should any of the show’s viewers? I mean, I’ve felt like the fact that Hogan didn’t think this storyline was all that important did show through in his careless writing at times, but I never expected to see him admit it in print.

Is it any wonder if “Days” fans are wishing that SoapNet was airing “I Wanna Be A Soap Head Writer” instead of “I Wanna Be A Soap Star” this season?


This week in Salem:

Performer of the week – Mary Beth Evans (Kayla) … I loved her tough love for Jeremy and Stephanie. The intensity she brought to her scenes brought out the best in young actors, Trevor Donovan and Shelley Hennig, who are stuck playing somewhat less than likable characters a lot of the time. She also really struck all the right notes in Pocket’s health scare and handling Steve’s guilt over that. Kayla just rocks so hard right now.

Script Writer of the week – Jodie Scholz (Monday) … I admit this is mostly just by default as none of the other episodes this week really caught my attention.

Scene of the week – EJ/Sami/Lucas at the hospital (Monday) … I can’t help it. The “she loves me, she loves me not” fiddling with the rose petals before the love declaration that was quickly taken back as just a joke after Sami scolded E.J. was the highlight of the week for me.

Couple of the week – Steve and Stefano … That alternately humorous and menacing confrontation between the two of them in Thursday’s episode was some pretty good stuff. Too bad the rest of this week didn’t hold the same appeal.

Salem stooge of the week #1 – Shawn … While you aren’t suppose to put fire extinguishers in freezers, I guess it’s a good thing some other stooge did it for Shawn’s sake after he got punch-drunk on his Molotov cocktail and started a fire in the locked room holding him and his fiancé after a psycho twice his age kicked his ass. But at least Shawn didn’t have the humiliation of Andre being in drag or a clown suit when he was laying the smackdown on him, I guess.

Salem stooge of the week #2 – Steve … It’s hard to hand out only one of these awards this week (OK I admit most weeks on DOOL) when a baby at Patch’s daycare got poisoned and he got stabbed as the result of his rash decision to participate in Bo’s stupid scheme to try to entrap Andre so I’ll go with him this week, too.

Scene-stealer of the week – Andre’s disembodied voice (Monday) … If only they would let Andre start killing people again for real. *sigh*

Line of the week – “Well, I don't see why I have to leave just because Lucas here insists on acting like a child.” (E.J. - Monday)
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Strange Days Vol. 2 · Y&R & B&B: News, Spoilers & Discussion