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Fred's Views


My wife likes to watch the soaps: Days of Our Lives and Passions to be specific. Now, we practically live in our family room. It's a theoretically roomy 20 feet by 30 feet, but once you figure in my office space and her sewing area and everything else, there's not a lot of room. Point is, however, that my "office" is in the same room as our major TV, so I pretty much keep up to date on the soaps whether I want to or not. (Course, I could take a trip to China for a month and still be pretty much up to date when I got back!)

Now every type of entertainment or literature (I guess that implies that not all literature is entertaining)takes some licence with the truth and reality, but soaps, of course, push this beyond belief. Passions, in particular, plays it fast and loose with reality. It has a resident witch who has just regained her powers. Before that, there was this zombie-demon that held a young girl frozen in a block of ice. We've witnessed various trips into hell and back.

First, let me digress, slightly, just in case you missed the news. The witch(Juliet Mills) had a doll who, Pinnochio-like wished for and became a real boy. Unlike his witch-creator, he had a spot of goodness in him and eventually, sacrificed himself to save the girl trapped in the ice. As I write this, the girl is undergoing a heart-transplant operation that will place the doll's (Timmy) heart in her (Charity). In real life, Timmy (just twenty years old) underwent a heart operation last week and unfortunately died. He has a history of health problems, so he no doubt knew he might not make it, but it is still quite a shock when someone so young, that you see nearly every day, dies. He is currently making his last appearances on the show as an angel.

Passions is one bizarre show. It takes place in the New England town of "Harmony" which, it seems unmistakable, is really Salem (though not the Salem of history, the Salem of myth). Witchcraft and the Supernatural pervade this show. The show also features a blind priest and, it would seem, borrows heavily from the worst of Catholic theology. We have the powers of evil being fought off with "Holy water" and all kinds of what I would term "bad theology". But I found it most ironic, even for a soap, when one of the characters could assure her former lover that he could not be the father of her child because, when they made love, she was on birth control. However, a few weeks later, when she got drunk and married the man her lover once thought was his father, she apparently was not using birth control. With me so far? Remember, these are good, Catholic people.

Now I'm not knocking the Catholic Church. I'm not Catholic, and there is much about the Catholic faith that I could not agree with, but to each his own. My problem is with the way Catholicism and Christianity in general is being distorted in programs such as Passions.

But enough of the religious overtones. Passions in its short two-year (I think) run, has already gone through many of the tried and trite soap conventions: identical twins, amnesia, dead but not dead (several times), as well as all the usual fare: old love thwarted, devious schemes to win love, power, money. Besides the witch, there is the resident evil in the personage of Alistair Crane who we have never completely seen - sort of a dark side Charlie of Charlie's Angels - and his incompetent subordinate, his son, Julien, who not only supplies the comic relief, but is also the current husband of the girl (Theresa) with the new baby.

Then there's the white sheep in the family: Sheridan, who has just recovered from amnesia only to discover that she is engaged to two brothers, both of a family that works for and loathes the Cranes.

But that's not all. We have a would-be tennis champion, fulfilling the broken dreams of her father, who has fallen in love with a boy her sister thinks is her boyfriend, but, who, in all likelihood, will turn out to be their long-lost half-brother. And let's not leave out their mother, a former torch-singer turned general practitioner doctor with a secret (their half-brother - who is also, possibly, the half-brother of Theresa's child [In other words, Julien is the father of both, but not the father of the boy he raised as his son.]), but who also performs the aforementioned heart transplant.

And I haven't hardly even mentioned the Bennetts - apart from the twin thing.

Are you confused? Then you have not been watching enough soaps! This is all pretty basic stuff.

Days of Our Lives has been on the air since the early sixties, so it has had time to get all these standard plot twists down to a science. My wife watched it sporadically since its inception, but, when we acquired a VCR in the early eighties, has been a regular viewer (time-delayed) since then. And yes! We have figured out how to program a VCR! Of the two, Days is easily the more believable, but that's not saying much. The resident villains have changed over the years, but, off and on, over the last 20 years the main villain has been the recently deceased, (not likely) Stefano Demara. He has been replaced (for contractual disagreement reasons) by his long lost and supposedly dead son, Tony. Sharing the big villain role has been Victor Kiriakis (I don't know how to spell it). Although always a dangerous man to cross, he has not always been an open villain. Lately, he's been pretty above board. Then there are the vixens you love to hate and hate to love. First, the hate to love pair: the power-grubbing up from the ghetto crawling ex-model career girl, Nicole. You want to believe that under her brazen, often rude exterior there beats a heart of gold - and now and then you catch glimpses. But she's been hurt and abused so much, she can't leave herself open to any human compassion, even to the extent of being civil to an employee. Sharing this spotlight is the recently returned Billy. She's a bad girl turned good girl turned bad girl turned who knows yet? Her vivacious personality makes it almost impossible to dislike her, no matter what she does. On the other hand, there's Sammi. She is her own worst enemy. And she provides the comic relief as she digs herself into bigger and bigger holes. On one level, you ought to feel sorry for her, but you don't. Every time she gets caught in a lie or other deception, you want to cheer.

However, recently Days or "DOOL" as it's popularly known, has fallen under Passions' influence. The latest addition is a pair of scantily clothed teenagers who arrived, supposedly in a space capsule, during the "Gemini meteor showers". These "aliens" look exactly like human beings although they are just beginning to learn English and have a deathly fear of keys.

I could go on and tell you the whole story of DOOL over the last twenty years, but let's just say that everybody has been married and divorced from everybody else, those who haven't had amnesia have died and been re-born, so to speak. Actors who leave after playing one character may come back as the same or another character. And, of course, Babes in arms who leave the show for a few mouths suddenly reappear as nearly-full grown teenagers. Only on the soaps.

Copyright © 2003 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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