Deep Soap: A Case of Two Missing Identities

Sarah Brown on Days of Our Lives (NBC)

Characters In Search of Personalities

There are two characters on daytime right now whose personalities, though they have been on their respective shows for months right now, remain mysteries to me. Though they have had numerous scenes, love interests, and have been parts of major storylines, they remain, at least to me, undefined. It’s not the actors’ fault. These are performers who shined in other roles. It’s the writing that has never given them a clear identity.

I know that “The Young & the Restless” Avery (Jessica Collins) is an excellent attorney who is angry at her older sister Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) because she cut ties to her family when Avery was a child. Avery and Phyllis disagree about whether their father was a crook. That’s all I know after months of watching Avery successfully get Sharon acquitted of murder and have a fling with Phyllis’s on-again, off-again love interest Nick (Josh Morrow). I can’t tell whether she’s good or evil or funny or greedy. At first it seemed like she might be out to wreck Phyllis’s life to get revenge on her for not calling or e-mailing. (As soap reasons to harbor a grudge, a sibling who distances herelf from her family after she goes to college does not even register. It’s also the exact same reason that Kevin was initially at odds with Michael, except that Kevin was left behind with a physically abusive parent, which is a lot worse.) Now it seems like she was just involved with Nick because she liked him. I can’t be sure because I have no idea who Avery is or what she wants. Why is she still in Genoa City now that Sharon’s case is over and she’s no longer seeing Nick? Why is she so bent out of shape about not having a relationship with her sister? Perhaps meeting Avery’s father, George, will help define her. Soap Opera Digest reports that “Dynasty” alumnus Ken Howard has been cast in the role, though he is only scheduled to appear for four episodes. I am still waiting for there to be one scene that will make me say, “-ha, this is who Avery is and what she wants.”

Watch the Latest Episode Of “The Young & The Restless”:

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I feel the same way about “Days of Our Lives” Madison, played by one of soapdoms biggest stars, Sarah Brown. She’s a tough executive who grew up fast because her father abandoned here. Yes, and? I have no idea who She is on several times a week. She and Brady (Eric Martsolf) are falling in love, a relationship that seems to be based only on them both being attractive, single and spending a lot of time in close proximity to each other. It was established that Madison and Sami (Alison Sweeney) were childhood friends, which seemed like it was going to lead to some tantalizing revelation about the two of them. Then it was never mentioned again. There is something wrong with the writing when I don’t feel like I know anything about a character played by an actress with a shelf full of Daytime Emmys.Madison just seems like a generic ambitious business woman, plucked from a 1980s movie. I have no reason to root for or against her company Mad World in its bizarre duel with Countess Wilhemina over which brand will be the preference of the few thousand people who live in Salem. Months ago, it was announced that Ian Buchanan will be playing a mysterious man who will explain a lot about Madison. I hope so, and I really wish that he had appeared much sooner so I could emotionally invest in her character.

Defining a character for an audience when they first appear is Television 101. For example, this week “General Hospital” introduced T.J. By the end of his first episode I knew exactly who he was (angry teen who blames Sean for the death of his father, even though he ran away to live with him), and what he wanted (to avoid military school, vent his anger at Sean). He’s not a character that I find particularly intriguing, though I think young Krys Meyer did a good job in his debut scenes, but I understand him and how he fits into the GH universe. Soap characters are usually more clearly defined than those in primetime because viewers spend five hours a week with them. I could write a 25 page essay about most of the characters on Y&R. I hope that the writers will decide who Avery and Madison are soon so that I can muster up some sort of interest — positive or negative — in them.

Bizarre Plot Twist of The Week

I try not to pre-judge stories based on spoilers, but I have to make an exception in this case. Soap Opera Weekly is reporting that “General Hospital” is about to reveal that the deceased Claudia (Sarah Brown) was not Johnny’s (Brandon Barash) sister. She was his mother. No word on who his father is — hopefully it’s not still Anthony (Bruce Weitz). That incestuous plot only worked in “Chinatown.” Not only is this plot twist stupid, it is illogical. There is no way that Claudia is old enough to be Johnny’s mother. The actors are only four years apart. Does GH think that because Claudia is no longer on the show, everybody will forget that Claudia and Johnny looked like they were the same age? Without Claudia on the canvas, what’s the point of this revelation? If Brown were still in the role, her performance could have been enough to overlook the logic problems in the stories. Without her, it’s not going to have any impact. Is this the storyline that got headwriter Garin Wolf replaced? Whatever the case, I hope that Johnny’s parentage is quickly forgotten when the new regime takes over.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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