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The End of ‘Days of our Lives’?

When an already struggling show like Days of our Lives decides that its two biggest assets aren’t worth keeping, or even firing in person and not over the phone, they are basically pulling the trigger on a symbolic gun that’s fully loaded. It’s the end of “DAYS” indeed…

I remember clearly the first time I watched “Days of our Lives.” It was back in 1987 and I was just five years old. I had been sick with a stomach bug and my mother had me out in the living room with her on the couch so she could keep an eye on me.  She turned to “Days” during the wedding of Steve and Kayla. I remember feeling excited that I was sick on that day, of all days, because all my mother did was go on and on about “Patch” and how romantic and how beautiful the coupling was. Apparently, others agreed as this particular episode garnered the show a large enough audience to be number one in daytime that week.

Being as I was just five, I didn’t really get the whole emotion of the episode, however I felt for my mother as she cried when Kayla regained her hearing and recited her wedding vows to Steve. The only thing that caught my attention was a young Christie Clark. I was instantly smitten, and from that moment, my two decades and counting love for Ms. Clark was spawned, and I insisted on watching as often as I could to catch a glimpse of her, even though most of the storylines were so far over my head it left me bewildered for hours afterward.

A funny thing happened though. As I got older and was able to comprehend more, I truly started to love the show. I appreciated its balance of sweeping romance crossed with devilish menace. Damsels were in distress, affairs were committed, kidnappings were solved, and rapists got theirs. I grew to hate Sami Brady for messing with my Carrie, but secretly found myself enjoying all her machinations because it put Christie, and other talented actors, like Allison Sweeney, Lisa Rinna, Bryan Dattilo and Patrick Muldoon on the map in ways never before seen. During a particularly rough time in my youth, when I had friends that were few and far between, these people who I invited into my home every day became my acquaintances, and Deidre Hall was on my screen so much she practically became a second mother. I can honestly say that Days helped me through one of the darkest eras of personal growth anyone can imagine.

I became fiercely loyal, and defended it to anyone that dared badmouth it because I stuck by it through thick and thin, therefore earning the right to stand up for it. Sure there were major duds over the years in terms of story. Take for instance the Possession storyline, which I abhorred with every fiber of my being. In my eyes, that was the beginning of the end in terms of overall quality. Equally ridiculous storylines that stand out during my viewing years include Virtual Eden, the Saved By the Belle Teen Power Hour. The writers almost always seemed to balance out the bad with the great, though. The Killing Pool and the astounding Eileen Davidson, Sami’s wedding day punch heard ‘round the world, and the shocking Coronation massacre that was reminiscent of the Moldavi Massacre on Dynasty. I even excused Ken Corday for breaking promise after promise to viewers because I felt he had enough to deal with, and would soon make it up to Salem’s loyal fans. I was wrong.

When Hogan Sheffer and Ed Scott were brought on board, I couldn’t be happier. Finally, the show would return to its classic and Emmy award winning roots that it had abandoned with the appointment of James Reilly as head writer in 1993. The long and agonizing wait for this return to glory was almost over! The however elation was short lived..

Killing off John Black was perhaps the gutsiest move I’d ever seen up to that point. True, the killing of Zach a year prior was heartbreaking in its own right (and yes, it STILL repulses me that Kristian Alfonso wasn’t nominated for an Emmy for her stellar work as a grieving mother), but John was a core character on a classic soap, one of the most popular characters in daytime history. Add in the incredibly loyal John and Marlena fans (believe me, I know), and you had a recipe that would either result in a feast that would rival even that of Julia Childs, or a complete disaster that was the equivalent of a spam casserole.

With careful writing, and performances that were heart wrenching, the storyline was an incredible success, proving to newer viewers why Deidre Hall was an Emmy nominated superstar, and Hogan’s track record continued throughout his all too brief tenure on the show. Mix that in with Ed Scott’s ingenious producing skills (there has not been a better produced episode in 2008, on ANY soap than the plane crash episode that ended with the death of Shawn Brady) and you have a bona fide daytime comeback.

Then everything changed during the writer’s strike. Dena Higley was in, Hogan Sheffer was out. To add salt to the wound, Ed Scott followed Sheffer out the door, and in his place, well, like my mother always says, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Personally, I’m more in line with the variation “if you can’t say anything nice, come sit by me.”

The changes weren’t over though. Shawn and Belle were out. Morgan was in. Grandmother and granddaughter bed the same man. A classic soap hero turned into Medium. And the travesty that shook daytime – the firing of Deidre and Drake. When an already struggling show decides that its two biggest assets aren’t worth keeping, or even firing in person and not over the phone, they are basically pulling the trigger on a symbolic gun that’s fully loaded. The last straw was officially drawn for me. I give major kudos to the heads of All My Children for going to Susan Lucci personally and asking that she take a pay cut, which she agreed to in the best interest of the show. At least they know who their assets are.

I don’t know what Ken Corday was thinking when he decided to betray both his two most loyal actors and his millions of repeatedly forgiving fans, but this decision was the final nail in the coffin of Days of our Lives. I keep telling myself that I will watch Dee and Drake’s last episode, but I’m going to save myself the torture. It will hurt more to see them get a send off that not even a day player deserves rather than the royal send off that they so earned during their multiple decades on the canvas. I know for a fact that they will be snatched up soon, and deservedly so.

As for the future of Days, frankly, I don’t care, just as the powers that be so blatantly don’t care what the fans think. I don’t wish anyone to be out of a job, but the fact of the matter is that Days has used all of its time outs. Now is not a time to rock the boat, especially with the worsening economy and the increasingly fickle soap viewing population. But rock the boat they continue to do, and unfortunately one day, and I truly believe it will come rather soon, Corday is going to rock the boat so hard it will capsize. In doing so, he will drown the very legacy that his parents created so many years ago, and all that will remain in the wreckage of the Ship of Salem will be the fading memories of the show’s golden days, and the beat less hearts of all of the fans he so callously abused during its final end of Days.