DOASKDOTELL TV REVIEWs of The Apprentice, The Starlet, The Beauty and the Geek, Days of our Lives, Passions, Dante's Cove, Peter Jennings: Health Care , The Book of Daniel , John Stossel: Stupid in America ; Dr. Phil ; 20/20: A Country Divided; Live to Be 150

 

Title:  Days of our Lives

Release Date:  1965-2005

Nationality and Language: USA English

Running time:

MPAA Rating:

Distributor and Production Company  NBC, Corday

Director; Writer:

Producer:

Cast:  

Technical:

Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:

 

Some Tidbit Television Reviews    (The Apprentice    Days of our Lives)

 

The Apprentice  (NBC, Winter and Spring, 2004, to be renewed in fall, 2004, produced by Mark Burnett, “reality tv”)

 

So, what if you could have it all? Money, …  Well, Donald Trump becomes a media star, along with all sixteen of his apprentices. Omarosa will star on the soap Passions (the show with the fetus swapping) later, and Bill Rancic finishes off with the top job. Which in hindsight seems right. Bill was rather the Clark Kent of the program: like the Smallville hero, he was kind of a mystery at the beginning, and gradually increased his socialization with the group to the point that the others become loyal to him, as he would be protective of them.  I thought that Kwame would actually win until the final boardroom. Now, I don’t know about all the catty backstabbing and all, I think that is a lot of hype. I do know that it would be stressful to live with other people in close quarters for fifteen weeks without outside access, rather like the military. (So will there be gays on The Apprentice next year? The question presents itself.)  There were other great moments, mostly early. Troy’s leg wax, for the sake of the team; Sammy’s chess game, Jason’s finding Sammy in the fetal position, Troy’s ploy “I want what you want.”  (When will Jason have his first building in NYC?) It’s great the The Donald will pay for Troy’s college education. I’ll pass myself on applying, partly for the reasons noted above, or maybe because I don’t like to sell other people’s stuff.  But, of course, business is about bringing a provider and a customer together in mutual interest, right? I could do that. I like the comment by Donald after the art show: you have to believe in what you sell. And a great appearance by the Fab Five for the pediatric AIDS auction benefit.

 

Oh, OKAY, “you’re fired.”  Then “you’re hired.”

 

For more on some special quirky episodes and the Boardroom #2 in Season #2 where one of the candidates touches a “third rail” to taking a needless risk with a presumptive statement, see note 18a, near the end of the note, at http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/wchap1.htm  One thing of interest is that Mr. Trump was extremely offended by voluntary statements that appear to be self-incriminatory or insubordinate, even if made for “Socratic” reasons to “test the waters.”

 

The third season was “Book Smarts v. Street Smarts.”  The fourth had an openly gay male candidate, who lasted for most of the competition. There were no problems with the group accepting him in the Trump living quarters, which raises an interesting point when compared to the military objections to gays in the barracks, leading to the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.

 

It’s also interesting that on the Dec 15 finale in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Trump “your’re hired!”  the African American candidate Randall, and then asked Randall a question that probed whether Randall would be diluted if he also hired Rebecca. Randall said that there should be only one Apprentice. Don’t share the joys.

 

In the 2006 season, a 22-year-old, Lee, has made it to the last five, and could raise the question as to whether Donald really would hire someone that young to run one of his companies. Lee, winning the "two out of three ain't bad" tasks that he has led, had avoided the snakelike behavior of other contestants and escaped the boardrooms by trying to heal conflicts. Perhaps he learned those people skills as a fourth-grade inner city school teacher, or as a soup kitchen volunteer, according to the bios and the nbc.com apprentice website. It does seem that "people skills" are what it takes to win the whole thing.

 

Martha Stewart is hosting a second version of The Apprentice in the fall of 2005. In the first challenge, the teams had to take a fairy tale, write and illustrate a children’s book and present it to elementary school children in somewhat intimate fashion, the kids seated on rugs as often done in grade school. The tales were “Hansel and Gretel” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The point was made that the writer and presenter must connect with her customer. Writing here is seen as meeting the needs of specific customers. (One team wrote one of the stories in verse.) In may case, writing is much more a matter of presenting complete content for all readers and “connecting the dots.”

 

I've noticed the "Old Navy" (designer clothing) ads recently. They have large dancing casts. In one ad the music (singing "Daddio") is invigorating and really helps sell the clothes. The other ad takes place on a roottop with a matte painting of NYC and looks lifeless. Could these ads have been designed by a future episode of "The Apprentice" that we haven't seen? It's easy to see, from the tasks that we have had (with Donny Deutsch, especially) which ad executives would pick on The Apprentice. Maybe Mr. Trump will look at Old Navy for a future episode if he hasn't already. The ads need some work.

 

A Spanish filmmaker has taken this concept to independent film with "The Gronholm Method" (link below).

 

The Apprentice returns in 2007 with "The Apprentice LA".  Yup, New York and LA. This time, losing teams sleep in tents, but with a warm climate.

 

The Starlet

 

TheWB, weekly (one series in 2005)

In 2005 TheWB offered a single reality show series where a number of young women compete for a slot in the network’s hit One Tree Hell. Each week there would be a different acting challenge. The series also showed a glimpse of the acting world, with classes in how to evince “emotion.” One week the competition was a screen test for a scene in “Smallville.” Faye Dunaway was the lead running the thing, and the catch phrase for “firing” someone was “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

 

The Beauty and the Geek

 

TheWB weekly, two series starting in 2005

All of this is from the devious mind of Ashton Kutcher, who would like to become a producer and probably director as well as lovable comedy figure (“punked”). This reality series has had two sequences so far. Eight male geeks are paired up with eight “beauties” and put through a rank-and-yank elimination with tasks and then a quiz. Unfortunately the series tends to pander to gender and social stereotyping, but the geeks especially are quite likeable. There was particularly silly episode, inspired by the “man-o-lantern” scene from Universal’s “The Forty Year Old Virgin” where two of the geeks really “got it” in whole body makeovers.

 

On October 17, 2007, they pulled the depilation act again, on camera,  on one hapless geek. The sight was humiliating. But the same show had the girls competing as substitute teachers. The program has had one episode where the geeks were the girls and the beauties were the voys,

 

Days of our Lives (NBC, Corday Productions)

 

Okay, during my days of retirement, between jobs, or self-employment at home as a writer, whatever you call it, I’ve actually gotten hooked on this silly soap opera. I worked as a scab (boom operator) on Somerset (no longer on the air) in 1976 during the NABET strike while an NBC employee (more at this link) and I think another crew did Days at the Brooklyn studio then. I remember the directors of Somerset: Bruce Minnix (the mayor of Cape May) and Jack Coffey. Well, back to Days. First, for very detailed synopses, go to Dustin’s site. I’ll go on here ad hoc.

 

So why the hook? The show keeps you on edge, prolonging one violent or provocative and bizarre confrontation after another. And the characters are vivid, if stereotypical. Marlena is the Salem serial killer, but in Massachusetts she could not get the death penalty. (So where ids Salem?) But the most wicked of all is “black widow” Nicole; she is the most evil character in all of entertainment. I want to see her get it. I think maybe she has possessed Marlena. That’s my working theory now (4/22/2004). Jan is so singled minded in her desire to trap Shawn in an S&M love ritual that she will do anything—including killing. She should get it too. As for the men, from a gay man’s perspective: Shawn is the best looking, Brady is the finest, and then there is Rex and Lucas (Philip is up to no good, I think, and so certainly is Patrick.) Ever notice how most male soap stars have such hairless chests? (Remember David Skinner’s June 1999 Weekly Standard article about the example set by Marky Mark?) But let’s get back to the truth serum. Yup, Nicole is eventually the root of all evil. Victor is right.

 

One other thing I’ve noticed: the characters are so emotional about family. Sami goes into rages over her mom, and Belle lies to protect mama Marlena. The younger characters don’t seem to have jobs or lives of their own. (Brady is waiting around for Nicole to make a mistake. Does Shawn actually work at the police station?)  As a kind of Asperger’s type myself, I find the simple emotions over family and lineage rather off-putting. But when the boy Will (who will probably be very tall when a grown man) begs for Lucas and Sami to love each other again, he is indeed speaking for “family values” the way Maggie Gallagher means. 

 

The “most shocking plot twist in daytime television history” of course has to do with reproducing Salem in Purgatory (just for Marlena’s benefit—eventually her coffin will have to continue its descent into the flames). You know, the g-minor “In Purgatorio” scherzo of Mahler’s Symphony # 10.  It’s kind of interesting to anticipate what will happen when you are living in a closed parallel world against your will. I’ve been to the town of Salem, New Jersey, near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and maybe that’s the closest approximation to the Salem of this show—it brings business to the town. (In 2007, there is a concrete suggestion that the soap opera takes place in Ohio, with references for Shawn and Belle to escape to Canada across Lake Erie. There is a town of Salem, Ohio, not too far from Youngstown, near the PA border.)

 

While I first interpreted the island replica of Salem as a kind of purgatory in another dimension, it seems like the outcome is more like that of the story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell (which became a film in 1932). Soap operas, however, have no denouement. 

 

Okay, now in September 2004 another revelation proves me wrong. The murders were faked, bodies stolen and brought back to life. All to give this old man puppetmeister Stefano the chance to manipulate the heterosexual jealousies of the Brady family et al.

 

Maybe the whole show is an attack on people who live for “family” but who don’t seem to have self-defined purposes of their own. Like Jan, who commits multiple felonies and kidnaps her Shawnie for three months and keeps him in a cage, her “nest of love.” All she wants is Shawn. If she gets caught, the whole show falls apart.

 

As Mrs. H. says, maybe “Sammy’s” (aka Stan) troubles are just starting. 

 

For my discussion of TheWB “Frog” shows (like Smallville) go to http://www.doaskdotell.com/movies/mpotter.htm and http://www.doaskdotell.com/smallville.htm  also http://www.doaskdotell.com/jake.htm

 

Early Jan 2005—Well, it looks like the New Salem thing fizzled out—it wasn’t Purgatory after all, just an island with a volcano controlled by a mean old man. Now the characters are just meddling with each other to see who gets to reproduce himself or herself with the best possible gene pairings. So Jan (after a summer of S&M) drugs Shawn, who crashes the wedding of Phillip and Belle #3. It’s all so heterosexual. Shawn used to be a good guy, but now he is ruined for a while. The whole thing is about the stakes for most people: you get married and continue the family with children and continue the family honor, or you are a zero. That’s how these people feel, and you see it in the writing. 

 

Now Mimi has lost Rex because of a lie over her abortion, and Belle, Shawn and Phillip are caught in a triangle over lies. And they all have nothing else but conventional jealousies to live for. Mimi uttered a great line, “Payback’s a bitch!”

 

In 2005, people come back from the “purgatory” island and Marlena is chased by a psychiatrist who claims to be her real husband. The soap opera here plays on the fear that the most emasculating thing that can happen to a straight man is to have his wife (or intended spouse for bearing children) taken away from him by another man.

 

Jan. 2006: One other observation keeps coming back. Remember that in 2004, Belle lies to protect her mother, Marlena, leading to disaster in her relationship with Shawn. In 2006, Billie takes the rap for her forlorn daughter Chelsea’s hit and run that kills Zack. That is to “protect” her daughter, although Billie had forsaken her. We see characters in this soap opera doing horribly wrong things out of “love” and emotion for family, out of loyalty to blood. When is there a contradiction between the rightness of emotion and rightness of actions? One problem with some of the characters is that they have little going for them in their lives that is their own, outside of their family connections. Especially Sami. Her great line to Lexie (should it be Lex?) on April 24: "You are forcing me to become a monster."  (Later, "All I wanted was to be happy and have a family!")In June, the likeable male entrepreneur character Austin says, "I want a wife and children. I want a future." What a telling metaphor. Welcome to the thinking of George Gilder's "Men and Marriage."

 

In the summer of 2006, there is a hopeless mess of deliberately incorrect inseminations and female characters bearing babies by the wrong sperm, sometimes because of Kate's (Katrina) scheming. Legacy is everything to them, that is all that makes them worth anything as people. One thing: Philip doesn't know that Claire is Shawn's child and not his; but that means that Belle was no longer a virgin, so Philip should have known. Plot flaw?

 

In the summer of 2006, it's becoming the catfights of the Old Maids club. Watch those girls squirm. Mimi and Sami are desperate. Mimi tells Belle "it takes a better bitch than you to take my husband." All because Mimi and Belle have switched-sperm pregnancies (Katrina's doing?) Belle and Shawn (Jason Cook) were meant for each other, and Belle lied to Shawn in 2004 to protect her mother Marlena when the latter was the Salem stalker--then they did the undoredo. (Oh, Mimi (and Mom Bonnie) read Belle's computer diary -- did Belle place it on myspace.com? She might as well have. And remember, Shawn and Belle were in love, but not Mimi and Philip) ---  And because Mimi had an abortion, lied to wonderful Rex (the best character on the show) and lost him into oblivion. And because Sami plots against everyone to take their husbands. Don't these girls have anything better to do? No, they don't. Baby-making, having the right children is all there is.  I was sitting in a sports bar at KCI (Kansas City International) waiting for an ATC delayed flight, and they show this infamous soap opera--in a sports bar!!-- and all the waitresses know the story. Welcome to the old fashioned straight world, which this show pillories.

 

Brandon Beemer (who wears some leather on imdb) has replaced Jason Cook as Shawn. Mimi has "lost" Shawn in more than one way. In the blinking of an eye, Shawn has been "changed."

 

It looks like EJ and Patrick are working for the "Irish Catholic Mafia" (if there is such a thing) after all. Yet Patrick was always a "good guy" who was never modest about his hairless body. This show ought to bring on those conservative columnists and give them plenty of "family" to pontificate about.

 

In November 2006 the show took on the interesting plot twist in that the Salem police find Tarot cards in EJ Wells 's safe, and Celeste (examining the 56 + 22 cards, with the missing death card) determines that the Tarot cards are being used for steganographic purposes, to signal an attack by the De Miras.

 

In December 2006, Shawn's prostitute live-in girl friend burns his apartment when he kicks her out, and the landlord evicts and threatens to sue Shawn. The renter liability for attracting danger or nuisance and insurance risk is actually a real issue.

 

Now we find out that E. J. Wells is Stefano's son, and again, "everybody in Salem is going to die."

 

Singer Clay Aiken appeared on the show December 26, singing for Steve and wife. It seems that if Clay became a regular character, all the blood loyalty squabbles that drive the show would fall apart, and Stefano and EJ would have nothing on them. Sad to say, Clay looked a trifle chubby in the chin and love handle area through his business clothes, even a bit sloppy. I was surprised and disappointed to see that. Maybe Rosie O'Donnell and Donal Trump should make appearances on Days of our Lives as characters. But what would become of Sami? Without being happy and having a family, maybe she could become The Apprentice.

 

Max seems like the good guy now (Mimi and Max, yes), but handsome geek Nick Fallon is a little cheesy trying to get Chelsea, willing to impersonate his boss and use his boss's medical research computer for improper purposes. 

 

The show has also make mincemeat of "The Beauty and the Geek" idea by college grad geek Nick Fallon (Blake Berris), who plays good guy with his knowledge of barstool physics but then wants Chelsea because he's never had a bad girl (headed for jail) before. He winds up with her mother Billie. His vocab is pretty good and natural ("plastered").  Of course, a good guy role model doesn't impersonate his boss on the Internet or myspace (with company computers, in direct HIPAA violation!) to win a bad girl (Chelsea wants older men, and Nick, like Ephram for a while on Everwood, may want older women.)

 

Victor, murdered once by Jan (electrocution in the bathtub) but resurrected by all that Island Shangri La stuff, pulls off a blood feud in 2007, when he bribes the court system to get Philip custody of Claire; but then Shawn and Belle (with the help of Max and Mimi) take Claire to Canada. Then Victor tries to force Lucas to go to Canada to get them back. When Lucas refuses, Victor fires and blackballs Lucas for "family disloyalty." Victor is indeed like a Roman patriarch. 

 

Later, Shawn and Belle will play Fantasy Island again, geek Nick Fallon starts to melt into Chelsea (after trying to teach Chelsea the chain rule for differentiation in calculus with silly slogans), while EJ claims that he is concluding World War I, and that his family descends from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand or whatever. He shows the pistol that Gavrilo Princip used for the assassination in 1914. It seems that Sami is going to bear Rosemary's Baby (that is, Elvis 's baby, or Satan's baby). That is, so that Stefano can harvest some stem cells to save his own life (the old "Clonus" factor where the privileged clone their own drones). Sami's troubles, as Mrs. H says, have just begun.  

 

Does anybody believe that a guy like Nick Fallon would really let bad girls Chelsea and Willow (the prostitute whom Shawn impregnated) manipulate him into "protecting" them to prove that he is a "man"? The whole idea would be offensive if it were not just comical -- as in the "Blue Velvet" scene in Nick's bedroom on May 15 where he keeps the girls apart. Blake Berris does look like a male model himself. "He can do better than that!"

 

On June 5, 2007 Nick Fallon accidentally killed Willow Stark in a fight when he tried to take the "hairbrush" back by force after Willow kept on trying to blackmail him to protect her baby (note: Nick is not the father, Shawn is). She fell on a rock in the park. That sounds like involuntary manslaughter. It will be a feast to see what Days writers will do with the idea of Nickie in jail, in orange jumpers, as prey. (OKay, the next day, Roman seem to let Nickie off the hook.) Willow has pretty much gotten "the death penalty."  Later, Blake inadvertently shows his ankle tattoo in an Ohio beach scene with "Chelsea." Compare him to Justin Timberlake.

 

Later, in Las Vegas, Nick Fallon "Carraway," having been rolled by Willow and lost his job and hit by a bomb at Sami's apartment, wins $50000 at blackjack when a visitor (trying to pick him up) lets him use a mysterious eye to count cards. Without a job he secretly gives the money to an undeserving Chelsea through Kate and starts to assert himself. But, while dazed from the concussion in an unbelievable sequence, he gets duped into a phony marriage with "China Lee" and winds up being responsible for her two bratty kids (of the opposite race), who have been trained to scream "Daddy." No kidding. Women try to tame men and trick them into being fathers to kids that they did not even "procreate."  A recent episode also had some heterosexual S&M in an elevator if beefcake actor Darin Brooks (Max Brady).

 

Characters on "Days" tend to fit into categories of good and evil. The writers try to make you like Nick, Max, Shawn, and Jett among the younger men as "virtuous", and Belle among the women; but many of the women ("Katrina" and Bonnie, as well as the departed Nicole the deceased Willow and Jan) come across as villains; EJ is a likeable villain, and Stefano as a crime family boss is no Marlon Brando, and lawyer Victor as cold, greedy and manipulative and sometimes criminal himself.

 

Before his fake murder, Stefano says "family conquers all." Or is it "love conquers all"?

 

On 9/11/2007, Nick's mandatory "children" (they aren't feline) get to play chess and mention the Sicilian Defense. (Okay, Stefano is Sicilian.) On 9/18 they mention the "Queen's Gambit Declined" and China Lee tells Nick that he'll keep the kids permanently. Talk about mandatory fatherhood without procreation first.

 

In October, John (Drake Hogestyn) is hit by a car and killed as part of the vendetta, to get the actor fired after a dispute with Corday.  Sami is forced to annul her marriage with Lucas and marry EJ and bear his children in order to end a fifty year old vendetta caused by a tragedy in Ireland. Imagine that, you end a family feud by forcing a woman to bear someone else's children against her will. Even if Sami is the "bad girl."

 

In November 2007 EJ is shot (by wild man Steve) in the spine and paralyzed at his vendetta-ending wedding with Sami, and Sami lectures him on the morality of "fighting for himself". "I wasn't attracted to your legs."  EJ would have to swallow his pride and be cared for. At the same time, Bo lectures Shawn that if you're a police officer, you stay at your beat until relieved, regardless of the needs of your family.

 

Too bad that beefcake actor Matthew Florida has to play such a villainous character (Ford Decker, the Salem campus rapist, who is supposedly dead at the hands of the four sorority sisters, but on DOOL you never know. Remember Marlena?

 

Also (12/17/2007), Nicky to Matt: "If you're such a ladies' man, why are you hangin' out with me?" Best line on the show recently. On 12/18, in the midst of investigations for the shooting of EJ (maybe he wasn't hit at all), and the "disappearance" of Ford, Chelsea comes on to Nickie to distract him from being suspicious. In an hour long episode, very curiously directed (I worked on the set for "Somerset" in 1976 and have seen soaps directed by Bruce Minnix and Jack Coffey) that builds up their chemistry occasionally, Nick finally goes shirtless, and show Chelsea that he has a hairy chest after all. It's like Nick believes that Chelsea has the power to decide if Nick can "make it." She doesn't. (Why would somebody like Nick, suddenly in the situation of Samson in the Old Testament, want a spoiled tramp like Chelsea, instead of another contemporary from his own college environment?) Oh, Billie (Chelsea's mom and a CIA agent and a real "Delilah") already "knew" him. Oh well, DOOL may run out of episodes soon if WGA doesn't get back to work from the strike. This sounds like a good last hurrah (as does Stefano's cloning himself for spare parts).

 

12/26  Nick (Blake Berris)  is in "drag" as a gnome (with lots of embarrassing facial makeup and red hair dye), and so is Max (Darin Brooks) as Santa at the DOOL Christmas Party.

 

Remember that three years ago (2004) Marlena let a tiger out of a circus cage in one of her escapades as the non-volitional Salem Stalker. It seems as though that crime may have been repeated Christmas Day 2007 in the San Francisco Zoo, with tragic results. Police treat it as a crime scene. Of course, I remember when a stray cat adopted me, he (a real He) could jump maybe five feet. Proportions, maybe? Here is the ABC News story. Dec 27 CNN was reporting that one of the victims could have taunted the cat and started to climb into the space, story. More recent stories say that the habitat wall was not as high as standards require.

 

In some cases, art can anticipate real life. I don't know whether a Mafia-like vendetta (forcing Sami to marry and bear children by someone she doesn't want) would happen today in this country, but it happens all the time in other cultures.  

 

The latest is that Stefano's "clone" is really John, brought back to life as a zombie, or a potential assassin. Marlena finds him, and he does look wasted. That hospital phot-op of his balding legs makes him really look pathetic.    

 

1/2008: Marlena is pretty good at giving shots (she's suddenly back in her Salem-serial-killer mode), and she has made Stefano a vegetable. Chelsea, at Nicky's do-the-right-thing urging, has "confessed" to killing Ford in self-defense, and Max is on the hook for hiding the body. Belle has (or used to have) two men, with a total number of chest hairs between them adding up to zero. Sami has had two men, too, but it's harder to do the math.  

 

3/6/2008: Sami tells a government immigration investigator trying to get E-J deported that he (the investigator) has no idea what it is like to be "in love." "Haven't you ever been married?" she asks. Not if he's queer. I felt like that passage was written just for me. Of course, Sami is putting on an act. Lucas couldn't stay out of jail. Welcome to comedy club.

 

Later in March, ah, Chelsea is so attached to her "Dad" Bo, whose chest now has been mauled by Holter monitoring. In the meantime, someone (who looks like Willow again) mixes up Hope with Steve's wife and kidnaps her to get "Patch" back.

 

In August, Stefano comes out of his Marlena-induced coma and turns the tables. No hospital would let this go on. And it seems that EJ (Tony Scott)'s chest (when Sami is around) is as variable as Penn Badgley's in Gossip Girl. John, brought back from his firing, remains an insensitive robot and Marlena's lost husband.

 

Passions, at 2 PM, is a companion to DOOL and could produce crossovers. The town is Harmony, and it has experienced an earthquake and East Coast tsunami. There are some treats, as when the show went Bollywood; it goes off into tropical islands and places like DOOAL and Alistair Crain is the mean old man who runs everything (like Stefano). There's stuff like baby stealing, and a witch who runs things from her oracle (manipulating all the busted relationships) and who raises her granddaughter to be a witch (the little girl's speech is always in cutesy subtitles). The cutest character is ambulance driver/chaser Noah Bennett (Dylan Fergus), who brags that he started out with women early in life (probably illegally) and matured early. The why is his chest so absolutely smooth? In fact, that seems to be true these days of all of the male characters, in this particular soap. (Actually, as of early 2007, Fergus has gotten a little bit "older".) The women in the show seem to have heterosexual "passions" only for men who look biologically or developmentally a little bit immature. It seems jaded. What has happened to "real men" in the world of soap operas? It seems like they have a horrible time keeping their wives and children, doesn't it. Family seems to be taking a back seat.

 

Recently one of the female characters has tried to do penance (for supposed incest) by returning to a convent and doing business with characters who make "The Da Vinci Code" seem bland. Then patriarch Alistair Crane (aka Stefano from DOOL above) steals the Holy Grail in Rome so he can play God. But he will eventually run into the three-hundred-year-old witch Tabitha Lenox (Juliet Mills), who is making sub-witch of her mute granddaughter--they make girls into mermaids, who in turn keep the men they sleep with smooth-chested and immature. (Most of all Ethan, the lawyer whom Theresa always schemes to have.)  Justin Hartley no longer plays Foxworth Crane. (He moved on to Aquaman -- available on the Net but up in the air for release -- and Smallville.) His replacement has been gradually transformed (especially by fake chemotherapy, which, in front of Alistair, makes him puke and emasculates him). But Jesse Metcalf (John Tucker Must Die, 2006) as Miguel is changing, too. (Though the Mermaid soaps Miguel's chest, literally, in the shower, to bring him home; they even refer to him as Jesse Metcalf once. IMDB lists Metcalf as through 2004; I just see on an NBC4 expo handout that Adrian Bellani now plays the part..) And -- PLEASE -- if you peak and shave down, don't be sloppy and let it be so obvious in those shirtless scenes with the mermaid or even on the baseball diamond (where the girls beat the "boys" 5-4 in a game of kids' backyard baseball). Tabitha and her Mermaid must have their fun with physically vulnerable men, always. This soap is getting rebroadcast on the Sci-Fi channel, yet sometimes it can cross over into DOOL and seem interchangeable.  

 

Oh, Fancy (Noah's ex) is doing lap dances at a strip club, and getting into porno films for the Internet, with the indirect help of the policeman. They don't know much about COPA.  

 

Passions is a pretty silly soap, but it seems to have adherents in the sci-fi world.

 

NBC canceled "Passions" effective Sept. 2007, and it moved to Direct TV (satellite), although it is supposed to be available online for a while.

 

The ABC soap opera One Life to Live explores the idea that a woman’s suspense novel (and the high school diary notes that support it) could motivate real international crime and perhaps terrorism, an intriguing and dangerous possibility. A great quote (3/8/2008), is "you can tell a lot about someone from what he reads!"

 

Dante's Cove (2005-, Liberation / Genius / Here! / Regent / Logo, cr. Michael Costanza et al) seems a bit like a gay "Passions."   On DVD it is being packaged as a franchise of 80+ minute independent films. A California seaside hotel at "Dante's Cove" (the series is, of course, shot in Canada) seems to be haunted by an incident in 1840 (pre Gold rush) when a wealthy woman catches her beau Ambrosius Vallin having sex with his butler. She puts a curse on him and ages him in a sequence that recalls Oscar Wilde's "Picture of Dorian Gray." In modern times, Toby (a handsome Charlie David) gets Kevin (Michael George) to leave home (where his father doesn't want to live with a faggot) to move into the hotel, with an assembly of crazy characters of all kinds of sexualities. Then the supernatural stuff starts coming back. The basic structure has worked in movies before ("American Haunting") but the soap-like genre makes the story too random, and seem like an excuse for sex scenes, until it finally picks up with the ghost story stuff. This series is too mixed in its genres to quite work. Too much happens outdoors to be a soap; it doesn't look grainy or campy enough to work as an Andy Warhol like movie or series, but that approach could have been tried with this material and might actually have worked. 

 

ABC News Presented Peter Jenning’s last documentary, Health Care, on Dec. 15, 2005. Mr. Jennings already had symptoms of smoking-related lung cancer at the time, and could not do all the narration. The documentary explains well why our semi-private health insurance system has so many problems, as small groups can be undermined by even one employee’s claim. There is more at http://www.doaskdotell.com/controv/health.htm    

 

The Book of Daniel (2006, Universal/NBC, wr Jack Kenny/David Simkins) started a series in Jan 2006 with a two-hour movie pilot on Jan 6. The setup is a liberal Episcopal priest Daniel (Aidan Quinn) facing a financial legal scandal in his parish and two rather interesting children, including the openly gay son Peter (Christian Campbell). Daniel keeps running into Jesus (Garret Dillahunt) who comes across as a California hippy.  The script mentions the gay bishop from New Hampshire. There are other sensitive threads, as when one of the girls wants to include her friends in her blog.  The show has stirred up controversy with conservative Christians. The controversy shows how some people can be offended merely by ideas that challenge their faith ("blasphemy") and reassurances. The objection to the show raises good questions about what really is "offensive" in major media: is it subject matter, or its presentation? The show raises good issues, but the pace was somewhat plodding and slow. As for the Old Testament, Daniel is one of my favorite characters.

 

NBC discontinued the show after four episodes. Up to seven affiliates had refused to air it at this point.. The fourth episode was more interesting. Another character comes out as gay and fears being exposed publicly as "queer." Peter is seduced by a woman in the back seat of a car, his shirt removed forceably. But the other brother Adam (Ivan Shaw) gets caught in a girls’ dorm. So the Father grounds him endlessly and lectures him that he does what he pleases with no thought about the feelings of others.

 

Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids (2006) is a 20/20 documentary by John Stossel about the poor performance of American public schools. It starts off with a comparison of test scores to Belgian students, and moves on to analyze the monopolistic organization of public schools, abetted by aggressive teachers’ unions. In many European countries the money is allocated to the student and the parents can choose the school; the competition guarantees better schools in an otherwise “socialistic” European Union. In America, residential communities are geared to better school districts (as in the Dallas area with the famous Richardson school district). Charter schools offer a choice, with teachers on call at home for students. The unions make it very difficult to fire teachers, who in New York are exiled to pod buildings. In one case, a teacher could not be fired after sending sexual emails to minors (a crime of solicitation in many states). This documentary ought to be followed by Gregory Smith’s comedy film “Kids in America” about free speech in schools. (Other 20/20 shows on the tv2 file).

 

Dr. Phil is a major daily reality psychological counseling show (on NBC) in which many families with serious (to say the least) problems are presented and in which there are aggressive interventions for some problems like drugs (with pyschometricians). The April 26, 2006 episode is particularly interesting because the problem of husbands maintaining physical interests in their wives especially after pregnancy or after the wives had developed various appearance problems with age was presented.  One of the men said that he was very "visual."

 

ABC 20/20, on June 30, 2006, ran a special news segment by George Stephanopoulos, "A Country Divided," in which he showed political science experiments among different 'red" and "blue" groups around some contentious issues like gay marriage and immigration. The show suggested that pundits are tending to polarize voters more, that most elections at the district level are landslides, and even bloggers are tending to get people polarized. I don't think that my own websites or blogs are polarizing, as I try to be more objective. Mr. Stepahnopoulos was President Clinton's communications director 1993-1995, and now is an anchor for ABC and teaches political science at Columbia University.

 

ABC 20/20, on April 1, 2008, aired "Live to Be 150: Can You Do It?" with Barbara Walters (1 hr), blogger discussion.

 

Somerset (1970-1976, expired soap, along with "Port Charles" (1997-2004)) blogger entry.

 

 

Related reviews:.  NBC Dateline series; ABC Primetime Live: CNN Presents The Most Dangerous Game   Kids in America   Student Seduction  The Blair With Project   Murder by Numbers    Foreign films related to "The Apprentice": The Gronholm Method    Fear and Trembling

 

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Email me at Jboushka@aol.com