Game, set, match: Head writer roulette

"We can't return we can only look // Behind from where we came" But where are these shows going next?

“We can’t return we can only look // Behind from where we came”  But where are these shows going next? Round and round, nobody knows for sure……

I meant to comment on the latest Plan to Save Days ™ sooner, but really, what is there to say?

For whatever reason, both NBC and Corday Productions thinks Dena Higley has the magic touch, that she’s the only one they can trust (or afford) to lead the show and crank out the very specific action-adventure hybrid stories that DAYS requires.

It doesn’t matter who her co-writer is or what else is happening. As long as Dena’s at DAYS, it will continue to be an unwatchable mess.

We also heard that Y&R will soon have a new headwriter.  This announcement is THE most curious announcement I’ve ever heard, because it was enveloped, like a rain-wrapped tornado, in the news that Chuck Pratt will be headed to another job with a primetime show.

Interesting that the spin machine worked so well for Pratt, as all of the media outlets covering him – save Daytime Confidential – framed it with the focus on his new job.

Of course, fans knew what time it was, and didn’t restrain themselves in the comments.

Pratt was utterly bad news for All My Children. I don’t know if he was an utter disaster at Y&R overall. I didn’t see a huge difference for some key characters during his regime. Aside from the Marco/Jack debacle, the repercussions from the various explosions and disasters never seemed to last.

But then again, there was the whole shady Avery story, where she was originally supposed to cry rape and falsely accuse her ex, Joe Clark. There was the murder of Sage, and the decimation and murder of Kelly. Perhaps Pratt has issues with blondes, a la Alfred Hitchcock?

The longer I sit in the peanut gallery, watching and thinking about shows past and present, the more I understand that as much as we love to reach for the “X has ruined the show!” narrative, fans seldom see the whole story. One person simply doesn’t have that kind of power, at least not these days.

What we see on the screen is the result of so many fingers in the pie: writers, the network, the advertisers, the production company, and so on.

Which makes you wonder: why do they think we want to see stories like this?

Why does Corday Productions still hire Dena Higley, a writer I’ve seen referenced in public several times as “Dena F*^&%ng Higley?” Why hire a writer who was universally loathed for her turn at One Life to Live?

It may just be a case of The Devil You Know. I saw a script from the 80s a few weeks back, and there was Dena’s name (her maiden name) right there on the script.

Perhaps there’s a side to all of this we’re just not seeing. Maybe she’s affordable. Maybe she speaks the big picture, splashy plot language that advertisers, Sony and NBC need to hear.

They may all be patting themselves on the back for a choice well made, a job well done. Everyone is happy – that is, except for the fans and the viewers, who watch as yet more characters are killed, either by violent means or metaphorically via character assassination. Who watch as yet another set of young women are raped, or physically attacked, with no real repercussions or remorse, with no resonance beyond the next sweeps period.

The Bell soaps have been moribund for years, with Y&R in a purgatory between its past and future, and B&B in a weird hamster wheel of triangles and quasi-incestuous relationships that never, ever seems to change (not for long, anyway) and is so predictable at this point as to render actual watching of the show unnecessary.

Of the remaining four shows, Y&R has taken the biggest risk in the last few months, hiring British soap vet Mal Young as executive producer. Will they take another risk with a writer? Will they reach back to their past, as is rumored? Will they bring on someone with new blood?

Or will the Head Writer Roulette just pick from the remains bin, as it so often does, and select another familiar face, praying that somehow, lightning with strike this time?

As they say, tune in tomorrow…….

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