Days: Un-booted

You might have noticed that this past Wednesday, September 26th, marked the one-year anniversary of the Horton Town Square opening.

Of course, it also marked the official debut of the writing and producing regime that would “save Days,” “bring it back to its roots,” etc. I remember how excited I was for the Reign Of Higley to be over and how delighted I was by the big party that week. The show had become fixated on random new characters, forced relationships, and terrible, character-ruining plots (see: EJ/Taylor, Quinn, Chloe the prostitute). A change was necessary. But how funny that, a year later, we’re just finishing up un-doing the results of that big “reboot.”

I truly believe that “MarDar” love this show. But they also seemed incapable, from Day One, of plotting an actual story or using history in effective ways. That Town Square party was a microcosm of what the next ten months would be: people milling around referencing historical events, familiar faces popping back into Salem with zero purpose or drive, and “stories” that ultimately went nowhere. Sure, there was some really good stuff. Their version of Days produced some great dialogue; it dug Sami out of the weeping heroine role she’d been crammed into; much of Will’s coming-out was excellently done; and they accomplished the miracle of making Marlena not only tolerable, but likable again.

But I can’t say I was sad to hear they were let go or that Tomlin & Whitesell would be back. The show we’ve seen since the Days-aster is so much more palatable to me, in terms of wanting to watch it from one day to the next. I wish MarDar’s material had worked — and I think, on paper, it probably did, like “Kate and Sami face off in a corporate rivalry,” “EJ runs against Abe for mayor, and Salem has to take sides,” “Will turns against Sami and aligns with the DiMeras.” But I can confidently say that I prefer the Days on my screen today, and it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since all of that went down.

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8 Comments on “Days: Un-booted”

  1. Joanna Says:

    I would rate my interest in all of the current story lines as at least “moderate”, which is a vast improvement from even 8 months ago. Bringing characters who have been swirling in repetitive vortexes like EJ & Rafe into new story lines with Gabi & Chad is good for all involved and for the show as a whole. Glad to see Justin taking over Carrie’s role as “resident lawyer”. I am thrilled he and Adrienne are back, and see it as another positive benefit of the long overdue Will and Sonny romance.

    • mykleraus Says:

      One of the things I’m enjoying most is that Adrienne and Justin have an expanded role (again). I love the way they use them — they don’t need to be frontburner, but they’re in Salem and we see them when appropriate.

  2. Dan Says:

    MarDar’s ultimate sin was they made “Days of our Lives” boring. If Higley 2003 taught us anything, the “Days of our Lives” audience will not accept a boring product. They’ll accept insane, they’ll accept supernatural, they’ll accept downright trash, but there better be something to make you bitch about because “Days” fans love to bitch about something. MarDar’s end product was blah and proved EXECUTION is more important than IDEAS. For whatever reason, MarDar never mastered execution whether it be internal politics or inexperience.

    Corday has always been known to make an ass out of himself, but I nearly died when he told the press he was shocked the audience hadn’t completely abandoned the show in the summer of 2011. Clearly, he didn’t understand his audience. The tone was dark, but the execution was decent, the payoff was there, and something was at stake in most of those stories. People may not have liked hooker Chloe, but they knew Chloe’s secret would come out and have an effect. Carly’s addiction may have been dark, but those scenes with Carly / Jennifer in Carly’s hotel room represented the best work of both Crystal Chappell and Melissa Reeves since they had returned to the show. There was direction, there was promise, there was hope. With MarDar, none of those elements were present except in the minds of those audience members who believed hype over what was presented to the audience in the daily storytelling.

    • mykleraus Says:

      + 1000000

      Exactly. Higley was off the rails, but I certainly was not bored. There was drive. Something needed to be done to correct the course (in retrospect, probably just canning Higley and letting Tomlin write!), but it didn’t make me come home at the end of the workday, glance at my DVR, and go “Eh” before doing something else.

  3. Dan Says:

    Seeing what we have now, Tomlin taking over the headwriting duties would have been a smart move. I think there was a lot more promise in Higley’s Salem than in MarDar’s. The potenial was there with Higley’s material to really effect the canvas. If TPTB had waited six more months, I think Higley would have rebounded back to her into 2010 material by the end of 2011.

    At the very least, the show should have realized another purge would have been destructive to the show. Tomlin’s 2008 revamp worked because there was story in place. People were leaving left and right, but the show played four A-stories while writing off half the cast. There was a sense of direction. When Hapka, Johnson, Henning, and Livingston, left within weeks of each other everything fell apart because there was no direction. Melane / Nathan / Stephanie / Phillp was a strong storyline, the Dan / Chloe story had been milked for all it was worth, and Taylor / E.J. was the original DAYSaster. The Carly / Jen / Dan stuff was entertaining, but not cohesive enough to be must see television. The show was regrouping, but then MarDar introduced a new show on September 26th and everything went out the window.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I have a feeling that a lot of what worked about Higley came from Tomlin. The baby switch and Parker’s paternity were both big stories that gave the show a real framework. Higley, left to her own devices (judging by both her 2003 DOOL stint and her time on OLTL) is very scattered and loves to tell stories about random new characters. Regardless, the show was GOOD in 2009-10.

      And you make a good point about that early 2011 cast exodus. They’d invested a year in building up Daniel, Chloe, Melanie, Philip, Nathan, and Stephanie as another very viable dramatic group, and then half of them departed almost at once. There was nothing big to take over (I still contend that Fake Rafe/Fay’s death had the bones to work, but too much of it was hung on EJ/Taylor, which was beyond a bomb).

  4. Dan Says:

    I saw only brief moments of Higley’s 2003 run. I remember some extended location sequence on the Fancy Face (probably set to a Kelly Moneymaker ballad) and some of Maya and Shawn D working together at Mickey’s law office. It was hideous.

    I thought the first year of Higley’s OLTL run was entertaining and the rest did rely a bit on new characters. The execution was slow and seemed to hit multiple beats. Things were choppy at times. The characters might have acted OOC by some fan standards, but most of Higley’s characters were motivated by understandable human emotions. I’m aware Tom Casiello has said she wrote a bulleted list, but I never got the sense that her stories were just a bunch of points. I felt like someone had a sense of story structure.

    Back to Days, if the show really wanted to change the show, they should have invested six months to a year to bring on Marlena, John, Austin, Carrie, and Jack. Jerry ver Dorn said it in one of the soap mags once: “Soaps are about evolution, not revolution.” Poo poo on Corday for not realizing that after so many years in the business.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Her 2003 run was just SO boring and pointless. If Reilly hadn’t come back at the end of that summer, I might’ve stopped watching Days. Bo and Hope sold the boat to buy an SUV to become bounty hunters; Phillip was a mystery contestant on a dating show that Belle, Mimi, and Cassie were on; Lucas worked for Tony in a “gentleman’s club” where people read books. It was just wretched. (The one thing that she did well was Sami, actually.)

      You’re right about the returns. There was no integrating. It became a different show from Friday to Monday. And every single one of those characters has a place in Salem and COULD work. But it seemed like they barely had story in place when they crammed all the returnees back into the show.


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