The Hit List

For better or worse, another head writing regime — and, with it, probably a change in direction for the show — is inbound. When Higley and Tomlin left in mid-2011, we saw quick exits for a whole crew of characters: Carly, Vivian, Quinn, Taylor, and Chloe. They were replaced by John, Marlena, Carrie, Austin, Jack, and Madison. Then, when “MarDar” were out the following summer, we swiftly lost Carrie, Austin, Jack, Madison, and Ian, plus Melanie and Bo, whose actors chose to exit. And then Kristen and Nick joined the show as Tomlin and Whitesell set up their material. Point being, there tends to be cast turnover at a juncture like this, and since new/old writer Dena Higley has history with the show, why not speculate about what that might look like?

Putting this behind a cut for the (moderate casting) spoiler-averse…


We all know that Chrishell Stause (Jordan “Tammy Sue” Ridgeway) exits next month, and by all accounts, the role is not being recast. It seems as though James Read (Clyde) and Robert Scott Wilson (Ben) are still shooting, so perhaps by the time Higley and Josh Griffith’s material kicks in, the Saga of Poplar Bluff will actually be working onscreen. If not, I could definitely see Jordan’s brother and stepdaddy being shown the door, too.

During Higley’s last reign, she wrote out JohnMarlenaKayla (along with Steve), and Lucas — but there are some big caveats here. She was actually writing for all those characters for close to a year or more before they exited. The budget adjustment and accompanying cast cuts came when Gary Tomlin took over for Ed Scott as EP, and axing some expensive players seemed to be necessary. All four of these characters are now firmly settled into supporting roles; Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn clearly have lower guarantees than before, and Mary Beth Evans and Bryan Dattilo are both on recurring, so if you ask me, all four are probably safe.

She also brought in Shawn Christian as Daniel (blech) and Molly Burnett as Melanie. Given that history and the overall show’s apparent obsession with him, I’ll be pessimistic and venture that we’re probably stuck with Daniel. As for Mel, the facts that Burnett just returned and that Higley wrote heavily for her before and that there’s now a Sami-sized hole in the canvas all seem to add up to her being in the clear, too. Tomlin and Whitesell’s newest addition/obsession, Serena (played by Melissa Archer), is a total wild card: on one hand, the story she’s been thrust into clearly isn’t working, and Higley seemed to love Nicole during her 2008-11 run, but on the other hand, Higley wrote heavily for Archer when she was at One Life to Live. Maybe she can find something palatable to do with her, at least.

I will dare to dream and offer up a prayer that True O’Brien (Paige) is also on the chopping block. The character is weak, and the actress hasn’t been able to elevate the writing; Paige has dragged down both JJ and Eve, characters with historical use on the show portrayed by talented performers who have been subjected to months of utter crap. The way they’ve drawn out the JJ/Eve thing into an affair suggests that they know the young romance of JJ and Paige is dead in the water, so with any luck, Higley will put the final bullets in it. Kassie dePaiva’s Eve can stay, provided they find an actual story with grown-ups for her.

Who else? As I said above, Nicole (Arianne Zucker) should be safe, since Higley seemed to love writing for her; I hope she picks up the thread of Nicole’s desire to be a mother. I’m a little concerned about Jennifer, whose role has been weirdly minimized of late, but it also occurs to me that if Melissa Reeves signed a four-year contract when she returned in 2010, it was probably just up for renegotiation, so maybe she took a lower guarantee. Still weird. Kate Mansi (Abigail) could be out of her own volition, since her original contract from 2011 would be up soon, but if she stays, Higley and Griffith would be wise to invest in Abigail as a next-generation lead. After a promising setup with the EJ affair, she’s been cast back into supporting territory, lost in this whole Poplar Bluff storyline. There’s also Rafe (Galen Gering), who has sort of been adrift since he and Sami split up; he had the affair with Kate (which was really part of the larger Sami-centric story), then that long coma, and the relationship with Jordan, which flopped. Plugging him into Victor’s world has been interesting but hasn’t amounted to much yet. If any writer is going to find something to do with him, it’ll be Higley — a pairing with Nicole, perhaps?

No one else is jumping out at me as being decidedly not safe. Some people online seem to have the idea that the gay story is going to be wiped away, since “Tomlin brought in Sonny,” but I haven’t seen much indication of that — especially since Will’s coming-out was clearly being set up by Higley and Tomlin before MarDar came in. Christopher Sean (Paul) is too good a find to cut loose. If anything, I hope they find a way to recast Will with an actor stronger than Guy Wilson, who’s had his opportunity and hasn’t shined.

And, finally, there’s the matter of who could return. The most obvious one is Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), around whom Higley previously centered a lot of story, though I’m not sure Bjorlin wants to be tied down to Days at the moment. I’m mostly fearful that we’re going to excise a bunch of crappy newer characters and then just replace them with different, newer, crappier characters.

Thoughts? Fears? Anything I missed?

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11 Comments on “The Hit List”

  1. Max Says:

    Nice roundup! Thanks. I put all the current main cast and important recurring characters into three lists. Those I think are 100% safe, those I like but are slightly worried for, and those who can go any day now. The characters I’m iffy about are for all different reasons with Kate being the most prominent. I just don’t see where the show has to go with her they haven’t gone already. With Sami gone and her kids mostly gone what is Kate’s role on the show now?

    Characters who I think are safe: Hope, Daniel, JJ, Eve, Nicole, Chad, Melanie, Will, Sonny, Brady, Marlena, Victor, Maggie, Theresa, Roman

    Characters I’m iffy about: Kate, Aiden, Eric, Kayla, John, Jennifer, Stefano, Lucas, Paul, Abe, Rafe, Abigail, Adrienne, Serena

    Characters who can go: Paige, Jordan, Ben, Clyde

    • mykleraus Says:

      I hear you on Kate. One thing that heartens me is that the show seems to know what a valuable player she is, and they’re constantly finding new ways to involve her in things. Playing up her pre-existing bond with Chad was smart, and continuing to use her in Will’s story also works. Higley (well, and Tomlin) was also the one who came up with the idea of stitching her into the DiMera orbit, which gave Kate a new life on the show, so I’m hopeful they’ll find something like that for her.

      While we’re on the subject of Kate: what we could also use is Philip Kiriakis. I know Jay Kenneth Johnson probably won’t return, but the role can be recast. He could be useful with Melanie, Abigail, Theresa, Nicole… there’s lots to do there, plus it would keep Kate AND Victor busy.

  2. Jamie Says:

    My hit list:

    Daniel. I know it won’t happen, but a boy can dream…

    Paige! She must go and she must go soon!

    Guy Wilson. Can’t we get Chandler Massey back, plllleeeaaaassseeeee?!

    Serena. I love Melissa Archer, but Serena isn’t working…

    Eric. Poor, sweet, sexy, dull as dishwater Eric. I almost fall asleep just typing his name.

    This sad, apologetic version of Nicole. I don’t want Nicole gone, just this version of her, a shadow of who she once was.

    My wish list:

    I want to see a Lucas/Adrienne/Justin love triangle. I want to see if they will continue the Lucas & Adrienne flirtation and just how far they will go with it. Hopefully, they won’t drop it like a hot potato, a la Kayla and Abe…

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this….Clyde sticks around minus Tammy Sue. Here’s why…I like how Clyde is bringing out a side of Victor that we haven’t seen in a long, long time. Victor has become lovable/grumpy grandpa. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen him as “Don Kiriakis”, and t’s interesting to see him back in that light. Especially if we get to see Maggie’s response and reaction to his continued slide back into the dark side. That would really work for me. The DiMera’s are played out, I’m tired of seeing Stefano sitting in an airplane talking to people on the phone…and Chad is too doe-eyed and pretty to take too seriously as a villian..we need someone in town that Victor can go to war with, and if it’s Clyde, then that works for me. Just, he needs to focus on that and not on his “youngin’s”

    • mykleraus Says:

      I hear you on Clyde. I don’t think he’s totally useless, and I admire the positioning of this current story (pitting him against Victor; the entire messy thing with him, Kate, Chad, Abigail, Ben, and Tammy Sue). He just has the stink of Jordan on him, and I’m not sure I can get over that. Plus, Higley & Griffith’s work won’t be airing for like six months, so in that time, maybe they can use him as a foe for Victor and then kick him the hell out of town. If they come up with a way to use him that’s compelling, though, I’m not opposed to him sticking around — with the caveat that I am never going to buy a real romance between him and Kate (or any other Salem woman) because of what he did to Jordan, so that needs to turn around.

      I love(d) Greg Vaughn’s Eric, and it makes me sad what they’ve turned him into. I actually like GV more for speaking out about how the sudden love story with Serena makes no sense given what they set up with him and Nicole. I think/hope Eric can be rehabbed, but this current version gotta go.

      • Dylan Says:

        I LOVED Eric’s original story with Nicole – with her working with him in the church, and her blossoming feelings for him.. That was really cool. And tying in Kristen and Brady made that storyline very compelling. But then the drugging/rape thing happened and I would not have minded, except that was dragged on for months (Eric flashing back, not really remembering, soap staring constantly), and then we had him accusing Nicole of the rape which was horrifying but brought out some great acting.. But then we had Taniel and Nicole hunting down Chyka, and then her hiding the evidence which totally trashed the story in my opinion. I guess it would have been OK if it didn’t end with Eric yelling at Nicole all the time and saying how he hated her.. It just didn’t work. There was nowhere to go.

        And now this Serena storyline doesn’t work at all, and everyone just spends their time bashing Nicole. Ugh! Waste of the actress’ talent and I hate that she “wants Daniel back”, because that is the last thing that I want to see.

      • mykleraus Says:

        I basically could have written your entire comment myself. I feel the same way.

        The build-up for Eric and Nicole was wonderful — one of the best this show has done in years (I know they had technically been together before, but it was really a reboot because of how much time had passed and him having become a priest). I’ve been a major TomSell defender, but they almost deserve to be fired solely for how badly they fucked up what should’ve been a great story.

        Actually, you just inspired me to clean up and post a WTF Wednesday idea that I’ve had in my drafts folder forever…

  3. […] "Days of Our Lives" Commentary « The Hit List […]

  4. Dan Says:

    I think there are too many variables to play with to try to figure out who is going to stay and who is going to go.

    Both Mansi and Smith have contracts that are up or should be up soon. Guy Wilson and Billy Flynn signed two year deals I believe. This all leaves a lot of people and story up in the air depending on what happens with who. I really wouldn’t be so sure what is going to happen to any of them.

    Similarly, Moss seems loved by the higher ups because it seemed his story came to a natural end in the fall of 2013 and yet J.J. is still around. Paige should have at least started the downward descent into bitchery by now so who knows what is going to happen with True O’Brien or the number of minor characters attached to J.J. and Paige’s story. Honestly, theirs is the easiest story to eliminate from the show at the moment because it is so nuclear.

    Cosgrove’s Aiden is going to be a toss up. It helps he has a profession that lends itself to story and their is very internal conflict for Aiden and Hope to deal with based on profession alone. Also, while not acknowledging it, the Aiden / Hope conflict involving Chase / Meredith should bring up Hope’s feelings for Zack, which I suspect we will be dealing with soon. The Zack incident was the central crux of all Bope stories under Higley. Cosgrove can also play anything, which might be a plus or might be a minus. I could see him being dumped and possibly revisiting Justin / Hope or something else.

    I don’t see Ben being long for the world. Ben is only interesting if they keep Clyde, and I’m not sure that will happen. With Higley, I would hope she would unite Stefano and Victor to take Clyde down, which may happen pre-Higley since Clyde has already shot both Stefano’s son and Victor’s grandnephew. Also, we were suppose to have a new contract male in his 60s pop up soon, but I haven’t head anyone being cast for that. Hopefully, Kate the chameleon will survive. I’m just curious to see where Higley sends her.

    Like it or not, Daniel will still be around. Melanie will be too, but I don’t see Melanie and Brady being endgame. I suspect Melanie / Theresa will be pushed in another direction and Brady will be tested with someone like Serena. Honestly, a Brady / Nicole / Eric / Serena story might work. Similarly, I suspect we will end up with Eve / Daniel / Jennifer.

    Unless Rafe is thrown at someone like Theresa, I supect he will be one of the first to go since his contract will be up or there’ll be an option for an out for the fall episodes.

    Then again, we have six months of scripts to sit through to see what has already happened.

    • mykleraus Says:

      That’s what is really tough here: Higley isn’t inheriting the show we’re watching, but whatever it’s going to be six months from now. And because we had Higley-with-Tomlin, then none of them, then Tomlin-and-Whitesell, and now Higley-with-Griffith, it’s hard to tell which preferences and grudges came from whom at which point in time.

      Rafe seems incredibly cut-able to me. I don’t really love or hate him, and if he’s around, I don’t mind him, but he seems more and more like a floater these days. If we could lose a Rafe and gain a Mike or Jeremy Horton or an Alex Kiriakis, I’d take the tradeoff.

      They seem to be invested in Aiden and Cosgrove (particularly as a love interest for Hope), and Higley seemed to like writing for Hope, so I’d bet he’s safe… unless Reckell winds up returning. And if that happens, I’d prefer they play out a long story where Bo returns, Hope stays with Aiden, Bo is a pariah because of the way he abandoned Hope and Ciara… and maybe Bo bonds with fellow pariah, Eve, turning it into a messy quadrangle. Mostly I wish they’d build story out of these transitions instead of racing through the changes and wasting natural story in the process.

      Mansi’s deal should have been up recently, because she debuted on-air in February 2011, so I’m not sure if she quietly re-upped or they just got her to sign an extension or what. It’s weird, because Abigail is on a lot but does very little of consequence.

  5. Dan Says:

    I don’t know about Mansi. When given material, she brings her A – game, but she has been given so little. I would think a Melanie / Chad / Abigail story would write itself, but I just don’t know with this show anymore.

    Nothing surprises me with this show. The only thing that would surprise me is if NBC increased the licensing fee.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Mansi walks, because she’s had so little interesting material in her four years. The EJ affair really seemed like a jumpstart to make Abigail part of the adult set, but we’re sort of right back where we started now.

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