I got my first taste at age 17.
It was the Spring of my Junior year of high school, and twice a week I surrendered my 6th period study hall to go down to one of the Home Ec labs and sew costumes for the massive dance production my high school staged each year.
The brand-new, ten million dollar auditorium was not the only recent effort to make the school as high-tech and up-to-date as possible for 1997, and so each classroom had a very nice television mounted in a corner near the front. There were several of us sewing costumes, and as we sat at our surgers running pastel jersey under the needles, we were allowed to watch TV to amuse ourselves.
That's how it started.
There were two Seniors down there with me, and each day they would tune the TV to Channel 7, and there it would be...
Days of Our Lives.
Stephano, played by Joe Masocolo, still reined supreme in Salem. Kristen had Marlena locked in that basement room of the DiMera Mansion. I couldn't understand what on earth Kristen saw in John, but I hated Marlena for being such a goody-goody stick-in-the-mud, and so I cheered Kristen on at every interval, even as she used the crazy, Elvis-loving nanny Susan to further her schemes.
Summer arrived and each day at 1:00pm I was glued to the television. When school began again, I only saw the show once in a blue moon, when I was home sick, or when I skipped school to go stay at High School Boyfriend's house--letting me watch Days was always part and partial to the deal. Fortunately Soaps move at such a retarded pace that the plot can be followed even with sporadic viewing.
Then came college, and my own tv/vcr which I knew how to program. I taped it each day and would take one or two evenings a week to watch the shows that I had taped. When I went abroad for a year--where they are several years behind on all the American soaps--I found a wesbite (surprisingly run by a man!) that gave a daily synopsis so detailed it was like watching the show yourself.* Yet I still regret missing the massacre at Greta's coronation.
After college I moved to New York. It was a bit shaky for the first few months when I was living with Cambodia (aka, "The One That Got Away"), but then I moved and found a new job and fell into a groove. Wake up, watch Days, go to work... rinse, repeat. My roommate even got to the point where she knew the characters and their backstory.
And then, as so often happens in the Soap Opera world... I slowly fell out of love. The stories weren't as good. My favourite characters were all gone. Kristen and Stephano were both now on The Young and the Restless (not the characters, of course, but the actors--Eileen Davidson and Joseph Masocolo). And I got bored. And eventually... I stopped watching.
I broke up with Days of Our Lives.
About a month ago, I was piddling around with my DVR and suddenly I thought... "Hey, I wonder what's going on on Days these days..."
So I set my DVR to record. And I started watching.
And it's not as good as it used to be. Not by a long shot.
And yet I was still intrigued.
You see... I have always had a soft-spot for Magical Realism, which is a trademark of Mexican and Chicano literature and theatre. But it is also a trademark of a Soap Opera.
In any other genre, if you lose an actor, the character is gone. In a soap, you simply re-cast. The only exception to this rule of which I am aware is the original Tom Horton from Days, whose voice is still used for the famous voiceover during the opening credits. Otherwise, any role is open game.
I love the fact that a single day can span two weeks, but children can age decades over a single episode.
I love that nobody is ever dead--not really. As they so clearly illustrated in the movie "Soapdish" (one of my favourites), anybody can come back from the dead.
I love that the acting is fabulously terrible--though I still maintain that Days has the best actors of any Soap currently on the air.
But most of all I love that I could stop watching for three years, turn on my TV, and within three episodes figure out what's going on--who had died, who is back from the dead, who is dating, who is divorced, who are friends, and who are enemies--and I already have predictions as to where the show will go.
Don't get me wrong, it's not the same as it used to be. When they dramatically aged Belle and Shawn (formerly Shawn D), I fell in love with Kirsten Storms and Jason Cook--no other replacements will ever do those roles justice. Then again, they've brought back the original rapidly-aged Phillip, and got rid of that jarhead moron who had no chemistry with ANYBODY, least of all Belle who was supposed to be his wife.
So, much like Marlena is having difficulty reconciling herself to this "new" John, I found myself having difficulty reconciling myself to this "new" Days, which is not necessarily the show I fell in love with well over a decade ago. Yet I think Marlena should take a page out of my book. Because this new version? It may not be as good as the old, not by a looooong shot... but it has its merits. And I'm willing to see where it leads.
For the time being... I shall follow.
*To those few of you who know my real name: if you Google it, I believe you will stil find a link to a version of a Days drinking game that I updated, still posted on that site.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I got my first taste at age 17.
Posted by the frog princess at 1:01 AM