The 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards are being presented this Sunday, April 30th, most likely in the mother-in-law suite at Ken Corday’s home (and broadcast via a series of courtroom sketches placed in front of someone’s webcam they installed to watch the dog while they’re at work), and SoapCentral has the breakdown of which episodes every series submitted for consideration in the Outstanding Daytime Drama Series category.
For Days, the two submitted episodes are as follows:
Episodes #12807 and #12811
Air Dates: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 and Monday, March 28, 2016
Episode 1 Synopsis: Rafe and Steve are determined to rescue John. Marlena unexpectedly joins them. Paul continues to be brainwashed. When it looks like Yo Ling is about to be captured, he bites down on his ring and ingests a lethal poison.
Episode 2 Synopsis: On a dark and stormy night, Abigail believes she sees Ben staring in the window at her. J.J. and Chad assure her that Ben is nowhere near the house. J.J. comforts Abigail with a story from their childhood…then reassures her that they will catch Ben. Just as Abigail starts to relax, one of the guards reports something on the perimeter, and J.J. rushes out. Alone, Abigail sees a dark figure darting into the tunnels and sends Chad after him. She then returns to the living room, finds Thomas gone from his carrier…and turns and sees Ben holding her son.
As a viewer who has seen 99% of the episodes that aired during the eligibility period, I would say these are… interesting choices. From the perspective of a producer looking to win an Emmy, or a voter basing my decision on the two episodes submitted for viewing, I’d have to call these tactical, even smart, picks. Do they represent what Days of Our Lives looked and felt like on a daily basis during the period being considered? Not really, except that they’re both dark as hell (literally and figuratively). Do they look as if Days were taking risks within the medium, attempting to innovate and do some interesting things? Absolutely.
Back when that first episode aired, I found it narratively unsatisfying as the “final” big reveal of John Black’s origins — but it was also cinematic and engaging as a standalone piece. Tobin Bell (who’s nominated as Guest Star for his turn as Yo Ling) was a great bit of casting and also scary as hell. I could completely see this working as Emmy bait, and it’s cool that it features vets like John, Marlena, Steve, and, uh, Rafe.
As for the second submission, it was a little more traditional soap, although they really went above and beyond in creating a creepy ambiance that we don’t get to see much these Days. The centerpiece of the entire thing, aside from the mood, was Kate Mansi’s itchy, unraveling Abigail, and it was some of the best work she did during her five-year run. I get why they went with the standalone episode set at the mansion, but I felt then, and still feel now — just as with a lot of those singularly focused experimental episodes they tried in 2015-16 — that they were struggling to fill the hour with content. I kind of wish they’d gone with a subsequent episode in which Abigail tied Ben to the bed and lit him on fire, but maybe they felt that was too dark for a heroine (although Mansi was electric then), or maybe there were other storylines going on in the same episode that they felt dragged down the pace — think about being an Emmy voter, being caught up in the fascinating Abigail/Ben stuff, and then having to cut to Summer’s useless ass or Ciara trying to speak Human.
All things considered, these are, on their own, fairly strong submissions, and they show Days making a real play for the prize instead of just going with some ho-hum, middle-of-the-road stuff. It’ll be interesting to see how voters respond.