Head Writer Switcheroo

Hot on the heels of Days’ latest renewal comes word of another shake-up, this time (yet again) amongst the head writers. From Soap Opera Digest:

Co-Head Writer Josh Griffith has left the soap he joined in 2015 as part of a Salem overhaul and staff writer Ryan Quan has been bumped up to co-head writer, along with Dena Higley, who remains in her post.

I’m not particularly surprised that Griffith is out, given that it sounds like NBC had some strong conditions in order to grant a renewal. Makes you wonder if Higley’s leave of absence had something to do with working with Griffith, eh? There doesn’t seem to be any mention of Beth Milstein, who had stepped in to work with Griffith while Higley was on leave. The Griffith/Milstein material should be kicking in right around now — not sure if it’s officially airing yet (and if Ciara’s rape was their joint doing) — but it’ll be quite a while until the Higley/Quan work is onscreen.

As for Ryan Quan, who it sounds like is the first Asian head writer of a U.S. daytime soap ever, Jason47 has put together a press release on him. The broad strokes:

He joined “Days of Our Lives” on April 3, 2007 as the show’s writers’ assistant. He started doing double duty as a dialogue writer from September 2008-November 2008 and September 2009-March 2011. Quan has been doing double duty as both a breakdown writer and writers’ assistant since September 2011.

I’m a major advocate of promoting from within, especially on shows with this much history and this many moving parts. And I’m genuinely not enjoying the show (or even the vision for it) much at the moment, so I’m eager to see what this new combination of head writers plans to do.

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11 Comments on “Head Writer Switcheroo”

  1. Shea Says:

    I honestly think the behind the scenes soap opera between the writers might have been more entertaining that the actual show any of them have written.

  2. marypickford Says:

    I can’t celebrate Dena being back in charge. I think Josh Griffith was behind the stuff we got that was actually good last fall. Let’s hope Quan is a good influence, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Damon L. Jacobs Says:

    I truly hope this new writer is the beginning of a new era for DAYS – one in which the history of the show and relationships are truly interwoven into the story.

    At the same time, I still can’t help but wish Ron Carlivati is someday given a stab at this material. His brand of camp and over-the-top shenanigans could be a perfect fit for Salem.

    • mykleraus Says:

      We can hope.

      I felt the same about Carlivati when OLTL ended. He did some really interesting umbrella storytelling but seemed to embrace what is now Days’ trademark over-the-top-ness, too. But his GH became a trainwreck egofest. I wouldn’t want him anywhere near Days now.

  4. underyourwing Says:

    i have no idea who these people are and have no interest in them except when they write totally stupid shit…….

  5. Dan Says:

    Josh Griffith and Dena Higley didn’t mesh. I felt like you could see the disjointedness onscreen more so than with Higley and Tomlin and Whitsell.

    I’m also not surprised Griffith is gone. The show is a completely different show than it was last year. I’m not invested in any of the characters because they are all new. Belle, Shawn, Phillip, Lani, and Fynn all represent a new orbit of characters. Steve, Kayla, Joey, and Ava all represent a new story orbit. Chase, Ciara, and Theo represent a new unit of characters. The last time I saw a show attempt this kind of overhaul was Josh Griffith and Michael Malone’s return to “One Life to Live.”

    And, to be fair, this might have worked if any of these characters had depth from their previous rounds. Only now are Shawn and Belle becoming interesting now that Martha Madison is embracing Belle as cold, self-centered woman-child who uses people in her world to get what she wants. It would be interesting to see her interact more with her mother, Marlena, who is also cold, but in a completely different way. Shawn’s relationship with Claire is sweet, but would have been more effective with Ciara. Sixteen year old Ciara makes Beemer and Madison look out of place while Shawn gets involved with Lani and befriends Fynn.

    The stuff with Phillip had been ineffective because there is no depth. The Belle / Phillip stuff is played as if this is the first time Phillip has loved Belle, but that’s not true to history. There is too much history there not to play.

    The other issue with the Belle, Phillip, and Shawn set is they aren’t playing the connections. Phillip’s role in the material with his parents has been mainly with his father when the natural tension would be with Kate and her involvement with Basic Black and Brady, Nicole, and Theresa as Brady is Phillip’s rival for successor to the Kiriakis throne. The Deimos material has all come out too quickly and is unnecessary given what we already know about the characters. Shawn and Phillip are nephew/uncle. It would be nice see that angle played given Bo’s death and more interaction between Shawn / Hope, but then we would have to admit that Grandma Hope is dating childless Rafe Hernandez.

    The Rafe / Hope / Andre story is the weakest thread that has developed out of what already existed in Salem. Andre is a disaster of a character in terms of backstory. The latest rewrite, Stefano’s son, doesn’t help. Hope and Rafe setting up Andre switches the villain / hero role while not providing the necessary emotions or justification for doing so. The Chase / Andre bonding was effective until we hit the rape, but I don’t have the energy to deal with that now.

    In my opinion, the more effective pieces have been from the existing story structures (Eric / Jennifer, Brady / Theresa / Nicole / Daniel, Abigail / Ben, Eve / Justin / Adrienne / Lucas, J.J. / Gabi). Looking over the list, it’s quite possible they were most effective because they were B and C stories.

    The arrival of Eduardo and his two families was a brilliant twist terribly executed. Eve could caused shit for J.J. and Gabi for months while keeping Kate in the Horton orbit, which is always interesting. Adrienne and Justin would eventually have united which should have forced Eve and Lucas to join forces to separate them. And, if Eve was bonding with Gabi, a dead ringer for her own daughter, Eve and Lucas would have a natural connection with baby Arianna. None of this was played effectively.

    There was no investment in the Basic Black story. A set wasn’t even erected and now we are sending Kate off in a different direction and developing a more traditional romantic triangle around Brady, Nicole, and Theresa. Let’s see how this plays out. I liked what I saw of Daniel’s death. Ariane Zucker is playing every emotional beat. I don’t think Daniel was the great love of Nicole’s life, but I believe Nicole, at this moment, does. And that’s the difference.

    The Steve / Kayla story has never caught with me. Steve’s intro was foolishly plotted investing a lot in something (Steve/Bo) that ended quickly with Bo’s death. If Kayla realized time was short and quickly married Steve, I would have enjoyed it more. Ava is an interesting element, but they haven’t incorporated her into Salem. She feels like the villain of the week rather than the long term schemer she should be. I also don’t buy the Steve / Kayla grand love story. It’s very 80s-lite without the emotional-underpinnings to make it successful.

    The best part has been Abigail and Chad, but a lot of the heavy lifting was done by Tomsell and Higley. There was a lot of history between Abigail and Chad. Tomsell delivered the angst. Ben was wonderful as the aggressive third wheel, and the serial killer element only enhanced the story. Robert Scott Wilson made Ben a viable villain, and its a shame they had him kill a series of characters in order to escalate the drama. Then again, Andre Dimera is in Salem and he was a serial killer.

    In the wake of Griffith’s departure, I hope we have some cast stability, but, given the renewal after an anniversary year, I suspect we’ll have another round of cast cuts. Anyone who watches DAYS Christmas 2014, 2015, and 2016 back to back will probably see three completely different shows.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I agree that the tug-of-war in tone and direction has been both noticeable and jarring. I know you and I are on the same page about how it never seems to work to just clear the decks and reload the show with new/returning characters as quickly as possible during a writer transition, and I really think it did the entire canvas a disservice here. You can almost see them frantically fulfilling a mandate to dump or minimize every single thing that was prominent during the last year of TomSell’s tenure. Paige was killed. WilSon/Paul were tossed out. Serena’s dead, and Eric, Nicole, and Daniel basically weren’t on for months. And on and on. The two things that were preserved were Chad/Abigail/Ben (with a major left turn in direction right when the writer transition happened — though this one was definitely for the best, because RSW became effective and “Chabby” finally clicked) and, bizarrely, Brady/Theresa (though, again, with a complete tonal change).

      I really like Steve and Kayla, and I believe their love, but I don’t think the return tour was handled well from a standalone perspective. The actual writing for them, presuming that viewers were already invested in them, was probably the best thing besides Chad/Abigail — true to character, intermediate beats actually played, etc. Most importantly, they both seemed smart throughout. I really just think they could’ve eased them back in a bit more. They already gave Kayla greater prominence over the summer because of her involvement with Abigail’s pregnancy, so they could’ve brought teen Joey on, given Kayla even a month or so of trouble with him, and THEN had Steve arise as part of the Bo thing. It definitely felt a little too “Look, a supercouple is back!!!!!” without necessarily giving viewers unfamiliar with them a chance or reason to get invested. I also think Ava is an example of how writing and shooting so far ahead shoots them in the foot. Tamara Braun is GREAT in this role, but they should’ve cultivated her to be more of an ongoing antagonist throughout Salem, not just a disposable psycho obstacle for Steve/Kayla. Ava is fun in her lunacy, and they could’ve hung years of story on this bond between her and Joey (shades of Kristen/Brady, obviously), her friendship with Nicole, her old relationship with John, and more. She hasn’t been integrated at all, and she’s gone really soon, so like… whatever.

  6. Dylan Says:

    Oh thank goodness. The show is so terrible and dark right now.. It’s painful to watch, particularly the way that they’re trashing Eric’s character more and more every day while giving him the least possible amount of screen time. I don’t think they could have done an ‘addiction’ storyline any worse. I hope when we notice the writer change in six months that they haven’t entirely run the show into the ground. I’m honestly very surprised that it has been renewed given the current state (although I’ve only been watching for three years and you guys have said that it’s been much worse before).

    On the bright side, it was funny to see Dario again, I’m happy that the writers even remember that he was in Argentina! I wonder if anyone bothered to tell him that his sister was in jail for murder? He didn’t seem too concerned about his family. This Nicole/Brady/Theresa storyline is at least quirky enough to be interesting, It’ll be interesting to hear this bizarre backstory about ‘Summer’ in Malibu (which apparently is just a five minute walk from Salem, considering how long it took Brady to get there!). I just hope that it isn’t more Daniel worship. It was also such a relief to watch something that wasn’t so dark/traumatic!

    Do you think Griffith’s been more responsible for this dark/depressing tone in the show lately? Also, what do you think this odd Malibu storyline will amount to? It’s been constant kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, and other deaths for the past seven months! Serena, Paige, Will, Aiden, Bo, Daniel, Dr Malcolm (?), Stefano. I didn’t mind the serial killer storyline but I didn’t think they would continue the parade of death afterwards!

    • mykleraus Says:

      I think the current tone is all Griffith, yeah. I’ve seen enough of Higley’s work to know that isn’t her stamp. It really is BAD. Even if I didn’t like the tone, I’d be happy to acknowledge if the storytelling itself were good. But it’s piecemeal and rushed and they’re short-handing way too much stuff. We STILL haven’t even seen Chase have one conversation with anyone (Hope, Rafe, Ciara, anyone!) about how his father wasn’t actually the Necktie Killer. It’s like they want to do all these big ideas, but they don’t want to devote screentime to the full fallout.

      I was dying at how quickly Brady got to Malibu, too. I think he managed to get there in the time that it took Andre to get to the police station! But yeah, I’m at least curious (even in a trainwreck sort of way) to see what the plan is with this Summer thing. It’s a fresh element, if nothing else.

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