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‘Days of our Lives’ Creative Course Correction is off to a Great Start

James Lastovic, Olivia Keegan, Vivian Jovanni
Pictured (L-R): James Lastovic (Joey), Olivia Keegan (Claire), Jonathon McClendon (Chase), Vivian Jovanni (Ciara) and Kyler Pettis (Theo) on the “Days of our Lives” Set at NBC Studios in Burbank, CA. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com

Bringing forth the next generation of Bradys, Hortons, DiMeras is the smartest way to go about balancing new with the familiar, while maintaining the through line for the future. Viewers were introduced to Steve and Kayla’s newly SORASed (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) son Joey Johnson (James Lastovic) at the end of August. In the coming months, you’ll see more aged teens from legacy families including Bo and Hope’s daughter Ciara Brady (Vivian Jovanni) on October 30; Abe and Lexie’s son Theo Carver (Kyler Pettis) on November 3; and Belle and Shawn’s daughter Claire Brady (Olivia Rose Keegan) on November 25. Joining them in the new teen scene is Jonathon McLendon as Chase Jennings, the son of Aiden Jennings, also debuting October 30.

Joey’s return to Salem has given Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) a greater purpose and more attention in just a few short weeks than the four years since she returned to the show. Her conflict with ex-husband Steve over prioritizing his work with the ISA over their family is one of the many branching story arcs that arose from the aging of Joey. Joey’s rebellious attitude and want to be heard in the middle of his parents’ battles will certainly be a point of concern for Kayla going forward. That’s smart planning. That’s smart creative.

I can barely contain my excitement over the story potential of a teenage Ciara, very much her mother’s daughter, and how the absence of Bo in her life has impacted her. Will the materialistic, blunt and adventurous characteristics exhibited as a child continue into her formative years? Will she follow in the footsteps of her cousin Sami, whom she idolized? Will she suffer from abandonment issues? Will her relationship with best friend Theo be as strong as a teen as it was when they were children? Will Theo want to become more involved in his uncle Chad and grandfather Stefano’s lives against Abe’s wishes? I may be 29, but I’m a fan the multi-generational aspect of the continuing narrative.

Fan favorites are returning for storylines leading into and through the 50th anniversary, including Jason Cook (Shawn), Martha Madison (Belle), Thaoo Penghlis (Andre), Alison Sweeney (Sami), Tamara Braun (Ava), and the recently returned Nichols and Reckell.

Kate (Lauren Koslow) and Theresa (Jen Lilley) plan to re-establish Basic Black as a fashion powerhouse. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com. U.S.Airdate 09/10/15
Kate (Lauren Koslow) and Theresa (Jen Lilley) plan to re-establish Basic Black as a fashion powerhouse. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com. U.S.Airdate 09/10/15

Characters already on canvas such as Hope, Kayla, Rafe (Galen Gering) and Justin (Wally Kurth) have seen their roles expanded as their stories take center stage. Justin was recently named Salem’s new district attorney; Rafe, who spent the better part of a year as a glorified bartender, was reinstated with the Salem Police Department.

Kate (Lauren Koslow) has a renewed purpose after being wasted for the better part of a year and a half; Nicole (Arianne Zuker) and Theresa (Jen Lilley) are no longer content with letting their heart live in their lady parts, opting to refocus on career aspirations first. Kate dumped good for nothing Clyde and admitted she needed a professional challenge; Nicole quit her job as a tabloid journalist and Theresa revisited her childhood dream of being a fashion designer. What do these ladies have in common? An interest in acquiring John Black’s company Basic Black.

Balancing the old with the new is America’s Next Top Model winner and All My Children alum Saleisha Stowers debuting later this month as Lani. Santa Barbara alum and Daytime Emmy winner A Martinez debuts September 21 as Eduardo, Eve’s ex-husband and the father of Rafe and Gabi Hernandez. One Life to Live alum John-Paul Lavoisier takes over the role of legacy character Phillip Kiriakis, son of Victor Kiriakis and Kate Roberts, this winter.

A longtime Days of our Lives staple, a serial killer, is being used to usher out the exits of some characters. Though the new writers inherited the idea, they’ve used it thus far to bring about the end to ill-received Serena Mason and Paige Larson as the first victims of the ‘Necktie Killer’. More are expected to meet their end in the coming months. As good as Days of our Lives is, it’s not perfect, and I don’t expect it to be. There are some clunky leftover storylines – the 21 Jump Street inspired JJ goes undercover and failed supervillain Clyde Weston for example – that’ll hopefully meet their end soon. There’s roles in desperate need of recasting and/or rethinking; and the production schedule remains a hindrance in terms of being able to adapt positively or negatively to what is and isn’t working.

It’s still too soon to tell if Days of our Lives can sustain the momentum its built in such a short time, and I reserve the right to change my opinion about the creative if they fail to live up to expectations. But for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about the show again.

This magazine will continue to offer praise and criticism in our commentary, long after the ‘new regime bloom’ has worn off.

Tell us your thoughts on Days of our Lives’ recent creative change. We want to know what you’re enjoying, and not enjoying about the show.

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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  • I disagree. Fan favorites coming back is what caused an increase in the ratings, specifically the character of Bo. Killing him off will also be the kiss of death for DOOL. I have been watching this show for 50 years and I am truly disgusted with the direction the writers have taken. Killing off Days favorite son is just wrong. Fans waited three long years for his return, just to watch a brain tumor take him away. I truly believe the fans have had enough and will bail. What could have been a great 50th year turned into the beginning of the end.