I read with some regularity a soap opera blog. In fact, the comments on that blog are some of the best comments on the internet. Not only are they spirited and fun commenters, but they often spill more tea than the bloggers themselves.
But recently, I’ve noticed that many of those commenters absolutely hate what has happened to my beloved Days of Our Lives since (and including) the 50th anniversary.
Now for me, the 50th anniversary of Days of Our Lives was a transcendent experience. I bought the book. I went to the book signing where I met members of the cast and crew. Most importantly, I actually started watching the show again! Recorded it and everything! I didn’t know what I was getting into, but Soap Opera Digest had been teasing big stories via Executive Producer Ken Corday.
What I experienced, in addition to the anniversary fever itself, was months of rich storytelling that honored the past history of the show while taking bold moves for its future. I was glued to the television every say to see what would happen next. The writing was dope–I mean literally the best writing I think I’d ever seen on Days. The actors really stepped it up, too. The pacing was great, as well. Neither too slow nor too fast. And for good measure, Days brought back one plot device that has always worked in its favor: a serial killer.
Now I’m not a big time Hollywood soap writer, but I am pretty sure that they wheel in the serial killers when it’s time for budget cuts. I don’t know what the directive was at Days, but damn, they spared no family. It’s almost like Joseline Hernandez came up in the writer’s room in a blind fury saying “WHO ELSE WANT SOME?!”
So to recap the past several months: They killed off
some girl whose name I don’t remember (sorry lady, you were pretty though) Serena Mason, and then they killed off Paige (who is the daughter of Eve Donovan, a legacy character they brought back with a new actress and inexplicable southern accent). Okay, whatever, later for them.
But then they killed off Will Horton. Luckily, they didn’t kill off the actor we all know and love as Will Horton, but his recast. I mean, the character is still dead, but it didn’t have the emotional oomph because it wasn’t the actor who we saw through Will’s coming out story.
When I tell you I boo-hooed. I was a wreck. No more good.
Chad DiMera was framed for the murders (if you don’t know who he is, your break from Days was too long) but it was really this dude named Ben Weston WHO IS HOT BY THE WAY.
Anyway, blah blah blah, yackity smackity, Bo Brady came back only to die of a brain tumor and really be dead. Then Hope Brady killed Stefano DiMera in retaliation and he is really dead. Then Eric Brady went drunk driving on New Year’s night and killed Dr. Daniel Jonas and he is really dead.
Then Ciara got raped! Then the Salem teens literally rounded up the rapist–lynch mob style–and took him to a warehouse so Ciara could get her revenge!
Most recently, and most satisfyingly (aside from the for-real death of Stefano DiMera), they finally gave my boy John Black a complete story. It turns out his real father is the leader of an international spy/assassin ring called the Phantom Alliance. This shit is like the Deadly Vipers from Kill Bill had a baby with Cobra-La from G.I. Joe and it was Jigsaw from Saw! No, really guys. John Black’s father is Jigsaw, actor Tobin Bell!
Honorable mentions: Theo
Huxtable Carver, as portrayed by Kyler Pettis, is excellent as the autistic son of Abe Carver and would-be boyfriend of Ciara Brady. His half-sister, Detective Lani Price joined the cast during the 50th anniversary celebrations as well and it’s so nice seeing Abe’s family grow again. I am glad that Rafe Hernandez and the rest of his family have more to do and are finally starting to feel like an independent crew, not just love interests for the other characters (although they are still that). And generally speaking, shout out to keeping the elder/senior actors working in significant ways. I adore seeing Victor, Caroline, Maggie, Doug, and Julie drive story.
But let me focus for just a moment about the feel of the show. Many long time fans felt that the show was entirely too depressing for the 50th, and I totally understand where they are coming from. You didn’t really expect a core character to come back only to die, and Bo Brady was certainly a favorite.
But the writer in me wants you all to know that Ken Corday was right when he told the media “The show is going to be the best it’s ever been and I defy anyone to prove me wrong.”
Rather than keeping us in a holding pattern about Peter Reckell’s status, they let him retire. The fans have never taken well to Bo recasts, so let him go. And let his departure drive story for years to come.
Same with retiring Joe Mascolo as Stefano. We all love Stefano, but for how much longer could we really believe that this one man cause this much havoc at this age, especially when almost all his children are dead, too? Days artfully, respectfully, and realistically sent Stefano out. Artful in the irony of it all–getting killed when he didn’t even do what they thought he did. Respectfully in that his enemies came together to recall their shared trauma–and his son Chad truly being the only person to grieve (well, not counting the crazed Andre). And realistically in that his body was indeed recovered with no real room for error.
Stefano’s death, however, did create an artistic void. Who would be the next “Big Bad?” There is only one DiMera heir in the running and he’s not interested in the mantle. And Andre is too crazed. Also, the DiMeras are broke because Sami stole all their money. (sidenote: HAHAHAHAHHA)
So enter John Black’s father, as stated above. Watching that episode today had me laid out on the ground like I do after watching an exceptionally good episode of Scandal. It was dark. It was scary. It was mysterious. Learning about this new entity, the Phantom Alliance, after years and years of growing used to Stefano, the ISA, and the Kiriakis dynasty, made me feel like I stumbled onto that good shit!
Yes, it’s campy, but only a tad! It’s adventure! It’s intrigue! It makes me feel like how I felt back in the 80s when I first began watching! I like seeing my old favorites in new adventures, and seeing the teenagers mirror their parents’ best and worst qualities.
Thank you Ken Corday, the writers, and the cast. I know this industry is not easy, but you do it so gracefully. I appreciate that you breathed life back into “my stories” and have made it the most unique show on daytime right now. Kudos, snaps, and keep up the good work.