Monday, June 20, 2005

Let's Get Soapy

I have moved to, and i have also migrated all posts and comments. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE SO CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARLS/BLOGROLLS ACCORDINGLY!!!!
Today I watched a soap opera. Not so much out of choice, but curiosity. The hotel restaurant happens to have a TV and a desperate young lady appeared and pleaded to be allowed to switch to the DSTV channel that was showing Days Of Our Lives. Since I was the only one there, and what's more was working on my notebook I was not in a position to object too strongly.

I could see and hear the relief when the channel was changed and I found myself wondering just what could drive grown women to such lengths of desperation to do somersaults in order to watch. So i sat down for an hour and a half and gave my full unbiased attention.

As plots go, this one was simplicity in itself. A woman, call her Sharon, gave birth to a baby boy but a cartel of ruthless conspirators, unknown to her switched babies on her and took off with her baby. To this she objected to. Naturally, Sharon is also a doctor, and as a matter of fact is in pediatrics.

Why it took 90 minutes to convey that I'm hard pressed to tell, but I had the opportunity to make the following observations.

As the weather goes, Days Of Our Lives is no different from other soaps. They are untroubled by bad weather. It is always a blisteringly sunny day or a perfect moonlit night. Any other weather would not be the least bit conducive for the proliferation of romantic moments.

The entire town does not require more than three policemen. One is always uniformed and is concerned with dispensing of traffic tickets, catching speeding cars, taking statements at the police station and storming into situations that require storming into. The other two are always detectives, and are always dressed in broken suits with overcoats over one arm.

Days of Our Lives reads from the same script when it comes to health care of the populace. A staff of one nurse and two doctors is on call to attend to the entire town. One of the doctors is invariably the family doctor to the entire population and the other is the versatile surgeon who can do anything from transplant a brain to heart surgery.

When it comes to telephony there are few surprises. Calls are always answered at the second ring. If they are not, they will never be answered. The plot is generally skewed such that phone calls that could have cleared up mysteries within the first few episodes of the program are always missed by some twist of fate, such as a nefarious character answering the phone or the intended recipient being either in a noisy shower or just driving away.

Additionally, chances of a star calling and getting a busy signal are next to negligent. People on soap towns apparently do not make phone calls unless they are on camera. Cellular calls are never affected by a congested network.

The population of Soap Cities do not work, apart from the aforementioned officers of the law and medical professionals. The few who claim to only go to a mysterious place called "the office" and within no time will be receiving phone calls for the rest of the day from other members of the cast. Generally these phone calls will be of a pressing nature that will necessitate them departing the premises at once.

The few of the city's children that go to school only seem to make it as far as the halls. Whenever the scene changes to the school, the bell is conveniently ringing to signal the end of a lesson so that the cast members can fill the corridor and get on with their plot building. These youths are never actually seen to be doing their homework. They are either going to start their homework, being told to start their homework or answering that they have done their homework.

The houses of the key characters invariably have an enormous flight of steps that can be a considerable aid for plot development. More than one soap has had a key character falling down the steps and falling into a coma. Arguments between characters, one at the top of the stairs and the other at the bottom can be extremely effective. They are also useful for heartbroken maidens and suitors to run up.

Tows in soap operas have only one interior decorator who monopolizes the industry and apparently does not believe in variety. Every household in the town bears his unmistakable mark.

Characters in soap operas never watch TV. When they do, it is in preparation to receive a phone call (see above) or to watch breaking news with a crucial twist in the plot.

See TV above

People in a soap do not pay any taxes or rates. Infrastructure just magically appears

Soap cities do not have any government, unless the plot revolves around the government e.g. West Wing.

Soaps have Carte Blanche when it comes to naming characters. You will find people called Barbarita McCafferty, Luis O'Brien, Rosita Ipswitch and Xiuhang Jones. You will find characters who look like they just disembarked from the boat from Congo rejoicing under the name Tyler McDermott III A.C.E. The token indigenous blacks are either Ghanaian, Nigerian or from a mysterious country called Africa, where the language is African. They will generally be called Kwame.

Soaps generally do not have any ugly, overweight or short people. If there are any they are either (a) Token characters like delivery men or housekeepers or (b) There as part of the plot, and have come for revenge against the character that contributed to their malady by poisoning their mothers or throwing acid in their faces.

No soap is complete without a love triangle, where A loves B but B does not love A, but loves C, who does not love B but in fact loves A. The newer soap operas tend to do a thorough job and prefer to go for love rectangles, pentagons and hexagons.The lengths to which each member of the geometric structures will go to get at their beloved is generally the story of the soap.

People in soaps never shop. Their fridges and cupboards magically contain all their needs. Token attempts are at times made to carry mysterious brown paper bags called "The Shopping".

People in soaps never stub their toe or trip and fall, and they certainly never vent their agony, shattering the atmospheric pressure with their vocabulary.

Female cast members always use the same strategy when taking baths
(a) Immerse all of self except impossibly organized hairdo into soapy bath water
(b) Stick leg, from knee onwards perpendicularly out of bath water
(c) Soap leg until either phone rings, killer comes or hero asks if he can join you

(a) Step into shower
(b) Rinse hair for impossibly long time, eyes closed, face angled upwards
(c) Keep rinsing until either phone rings, killer comes or hero asks if he can join you

Though not compulsory, it always helpful to have one or the other. Invariably, one is the very milk of human kindness and the other is the devil incarnate.

Punctures are not to happen unless part of the plot, especially when beloved meet for the first time, before twin of either of the beloved shows up to muck up everything

The entire immediate family with either live in the same house or they will be neighbours.

Characters generally tend to be quite prone to overacting. After receiving shocking news they will look completely at utterly shocked, and then wait for the dramatic music to come up. There is almost always a brief pause before we return to the scene where the character will still have the shocked look. On average this is about ten to thirty seconds. Normal dialogue then resumes until another shocking statement is made, where it is all repeated.

Where tears are to be shed, they must be shed copiously. They must stream down cheeks for as long as possible. Two to three episodes is a good time period for crying. A tearful monologue is also an excellent aid to plot development. Where a fit of fainting can be slipped in, it should be, especially where there is someone standing in a strategic position to receive the fainting person.

When in doubt, use a flashback

A, I is missing you like crazy ...

Nirvanah - Smells Like Teen Spirit