How Do You Solve a Problem Like EJ DiMera?

-NBC/DAYS

-NBC/DAYS

I’ve recently come back to Days of our Lives after a several-year hiatus. In a sea of new faces, there are still the familiar characters. Jennifer Horton. Hope Brady. Marlena. Sami. My geriatric Greek tycoon boyfriend, Victor Kiriakis. And Elvis “EJ” DiMera. To my dismay, it appears absence has made my heart grow fonder…because I’m having a difficult time holding onto the giant grudge I have against the character.

Make no mistake: I have successfully hated EJ for seven years. Ever since his introduction as a race-car driver/shady character in 2006. It did not matter to me one whit that actor James Scott is tall, dark and handsome. And when EJ raped Sami in a car in exchange for saving Lucas Horton’s life — and then still left Sami and Lucas to die — I was done with him. Of course, the Powers That Be at DAYS were not. And they continued to develop him as the son of legendary villain Stefano DiMera and a leading man…going so far as to have his rape of Sami hand-waved away so the characters could fall in love.

Hell. To. The. No. I’ve said it before: Falling in love with your rapist is a one-trick pony, a gun you only fire once, and daytime’s been there and done that. General Hospital’s Luke and Laura. There is no need to try and recreate that “magic.” EJ and Sami’s “rapemance” is as deplorable as that of OLTL’s Todd and Marty in 2009 and GH’s Carly currently falling in love with the man who engineered her son’s rape and raped her best friend’s wife.  There are some things no amount of retconning (aka “retroactive continuity”) will fix, because viewers don’t forget. You can erase it from the timeline, but you can’t wipe a mind.

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Toddpocalypse Now (I love the smell of retcons in the morning)

-ABC

Given my fairly public “I hate them with a fiery passion” stance on rapists and rape stories in daytime, you’d think I wouldn’t be compelled by the tale of a serial rapist trying to reclaim “his” life from a sociopath. But OLTL’s “Tale of Two Todds” has been riveting.  The truth is, I don’t have to like, or respect, a character to find their journey interesting. Over the past 18-19 years, Todd Manning has been a great example of that.

From his 1993 rape of Marty Saybrooke onward, Todd was a character to fear and to be disgusted by, but you could not take your eyes from him. How do you make a twisted asshole watchable? Between the writing and Roger Howarth‘s portrayal, OLTL was practically a blueprint. It actually worked too well, considering how popular Todd still is with the audience. When Trevor St. John brought Walker Laurence onto the OLTL canvas in 2003 and we learned that he was now Todd, I actually thought it was a great twist. There was angst, there was struggle. Despite the fact that, 90 percent of the time, I root for Todd to end up in a wood chipper, I rooted for him to reunite with Blair and Starr. I was on board with the recast, full-throttle, and convinced that Todd was getting a fresh start.

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Delhi Belly Offers Up Belly Laughs!

Last night I had the chance to see the rollicking Indian comedy Delhi Belly for the second time, and the only stomach pains I came away with were ones from laughter! The story of three slacker friends unwittingly getting involved with a smuggling ring, Delhi Belly is very much a film about young Indians doing what 20-somethings all over the world do: swear, drink, have sex, get into trouble… and fall in love along the way! It stars Imran Khan (Kidnap, Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na), Kunaal Roy Kapur, Vir Das, Poorna Jagannathan (Royal Pains), Shenaz Treasury (Rama, OLTL) and Vijay Raaz (Monsoon Wedding) — with a special cameo appearance by producer and uber-star Aamir Khan (Lagaan, Ghajini, et al). I spoke with both Jagannathan and Treasury some weeks ago, and you can read the resulting article here.

My first viewing of Delhi Belly, at a press screening before the film’s July 1 release, elicited a combination of nervous giggles and pearl-clutching, so shocked was I by this brash departure from the typical “Bollywood” masala film. Even though the genre has become more and more daring over the years, a short, saucy flick with 80 percent English dialogue… at least 50 percent of which seems to be swear words… is uncharted territory! I was too busy going “Oh my God!” and hiding my eyes from the (literal!) toilet humor to really appreciate the tight writing and pacing of the film! This time around, I was able to relax and catch so many more jokes, in both English and Hindi, and really appreciate the physical comedy. There is so much to be amused by; I was very glad that the urge to crack up outweighed my “delicate sensibilities.”

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OLTL: Brody of Proof

-ABC

As I rode the subway to work this morning, Mark Lawson‘s cover of the OLTL theme song came up on my iPod Shuffle. While I hummed along, I was suddenly struck by the thought that I adore Brody Lovett. He’s just a darned good character!

It must be my week to wax poetic about guys named “Lovett,” because I can’t shake the sense that this particular one needs to end up with both Jessica and Natalie. (Sister Wives: Soap Edition!) He certainly offers a more steadfast option than whitewashed manwhore Ford or perpetual mope John. (And I actually like John… sometimes.)

The weird thing is that Brody’s one of those characters that snuck up on me. I enjoyed him and Jessica falling in love. I thought he was one of the best parts of last year’s musical episodes. I loved him joining the Llanview PD. But the fact that he’s awesome didn’t really start sinking in until this year. Watching him emerge as the “root-for” character during this Tess/Ford arc has been sort of revelatory for me.

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Canon fodder: back story and missing scenes

I have this habit of making up characters’ back story or motivation in my head, and then watching their shows with that filter in place. I can’t help it. It sticks. A great example of viewers who have done this in the past would be X-Files Mulder/Scully ‘shippers who speculated that the duo canoodled in the elevator scene in “Paper Clip” during season three. It was completely plausible; we just never saw it!

Here are five similar scenarios that I have lodged in my noggin:

-ABC

1. GH’s Jax and Carly are Morgan’s biological parents; they just don’t remember, or refuse to acknowledge, the possibility. It’s totally feasible, since the 2003 scene in which Carly went to tell Jax she saw Brenda and Sonny kissing on the pier was never shown. All we know is that Carly was later drugged by Faith Rosco’s stooge and woke up in bed with Ric. Who’s to say that she and Jax didn’t get totally plastered and have a little revenge sex they never talk about?

2. Y&R’s Rafe puts up with Billy’s shenanigans because they’ve slept together. Rafe and Billy have a great friendship, proving that a gay guy and a straight guy can be BFFs. But I can’t help it: Considering what a manwhore Billy is, I just picture them drinking a lot of Jaeger their junior year in college and experimenting a little. Billy sleeps with everything that moves, and I think Rafe wouldn’t judge if he wanted to give it a try! And it was years ago, they’ve both gotten past it, but it’s always there as this thing that keeps Rafe loyal to his baby-buying train wreck of a pal.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

Think soaps are dead? Bite me!

“I grew up watching and loving soap operas,” THE VAMPIRE DIARIES’ executive producer Julie Plec, tweeted on Thursday, April 14. “Today’s ABC news makes me sad.” That night, after the cancellation of AMC and OLTL, I went home and watched Plec’s show, taking some solace in the adventures of Elena, Damon, Stefan, Caroline, Bonnie and Jeremy. And I watched it this week, too…wincing and squealing and cheering for the entire hour.

Anyone who thinks soap operas are a dying breed needs only to look at TVD, which doesn’t just have a thriving life, it has an un-life. Making its bones on lusty love triangles and weekly cliffhangers (there are often multiple “OMG!” moments in one episode!), there is no denying that TVD is a soap. And I don’t really understand why daytime can’t find a way to adapt its soaps to a similar model, instead of tossing the baby out with the bath water.

ABC Family, ABC/Disney’s cable outpost, has teen-targeted weekly soaps, too. MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, SECRET LIFE and PRETTY LITTLE LIARS all run in 10-12 week cycles, and then stop for a few months. Why isn’t that an option for OLTL or AMC? Why put a stake in something that deserves to live on?

Originally posted on soapoperaweekly.com