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THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 2007
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CULTURE SHOCK
Franklin Harris

Soap opera physics could destroy the universe

You think about strange things when you’re stuck at home with a 103-degree fever and the room is spinning.

Did you know that the laws of physics don’t apply to soap operas? It’s true. For one thing, time in soap operas isn’t a constant.

One character can start the day on the other side of the world, hop on a jet and arrive home hours later. Meanwhile, another couple of characters can have a conversation over drinks. All the while, the soap opera cuts back and forth between the two scenes as if they’re taking place over the same period of time. Clearly, something isn’t right. Time is moving more quickly for some characters than it does for others.

It isn’t widely known, but this is the problem Albert Einstein was trying to solve when he formulated his theory of special relativity. It goes something like this: For any child separated from his or her parents on a soap opera, time will speed up by a factor of 10 until child and parents are reunited.

As a result, any child sent to boarding school for two years of Earth Standard Time will return 20 years older than when he or she left. Because of this, lots of 5-year-olds have left for kindergarten only to return a short time later, ready to produce children of their own.

Of course, if you fool around with the time stream as often as soap operas do, it’s inevitable that you’ll accidentally create alternate timelines, which are bound to give you lots of evil twins. That’s the real reason so many evil twins are on daytime TV.

No daytime drama is a greater threat to the space-time continuum than “Days of Our Lives.” This, after all, is the soap that once had a major character possessed by the devil. Every time I accidentally watch an episode of “Days,” I’m confused. People who are supposed to be dead aren’t, and people who are supposed to be good have gone bad.

For example, Thaao Penghlis has been playing “Days” character Tony DiMera on and off since the early 1980s. In that time, Tony has been good, evil, alive and dead more times than I can count.

While waiting on my meds to kick in, I learned Tony is once again alive and apparently evil. Then I went to the drug store for more meds and saw a soap-opera tabloid that claimed Tony is his own evil twin. Or maybe he’s the good twin. Who can keep up? Probably Einstein could if he weren’t dead.

My fever finally broke, but not before I had a flashback to a confusing period when “Days” featured three actors all of whom had, at one time or another, played the same character. At that time, two of them were playing different roles, and the actor playing the part all three had in common was the one who had started his “Days” career as yet someone else.

Those “Days” folks sure do play fast and loose with the laws of the universe. It’ll be their fault when reality starts to unravel.

Franklin Harris, fharris@decaturdaily.com, is assistant metro editor.

Franklin Harris Franklin Harris
DAILY Asst. Metro Editor

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