‘Days of our Lives’ 2015 Year In Review: The Comeback Kid

DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 50 -- Pictured: (l-r) Eric Martsolf as Brady Black, Judie Evans as Adrien Kiriakis, Jen Lilley as Thersea Donovan, John Aniston as Victor Kiriakis, Meredith Scott Lynn as Anne Milbauer, Josh Taylor as Roman Brady, Peggy McCay as Caroline Brady, Stephen Nichols as Steven Johnson, Mary Beth Evans as Kayla Brady, Greg Vaughan as Eric Brady, Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady, Drake Hogestyn as John Black, Christopher Sean as Paul Narita, Deidre Hall as Dr. Marlena Evans, Bill Hayes as Doug Williams, Susan Hayes as Julie Willimas, Kate Mansi as Abigail Deveraux, Robert Scott Wilson as Ben Rogers, Kristian Alfonso as Hope Brady, Missy Reeves as Jennifer Horton, Suzanne Rogers as Maggie Horton, Casey Moss as JJ Deveraux, Camila Banus as Gabi Hernandez, James Reynolds as Abe Carver, Sal Stowers as Lani, A. Martinez as Eduardo, Thaao Penghlis as Tony DiMera, Bryan Dattilo as Lucas Roberts, Lauren Koslow as Kate Roberts, Joe Mascolo as Stefano DiMero, Billy Flynn as Chad DiMero -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

The Stories That Defined the Year

Storylines were up and down in 2015 – then down and up again; Days of our Lives’ year was the textbook definition of yo-yoing, bordering on ridiculous. Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell’s stories all had great potential on paper, but the execution was botched and never made the final push to be interesting. Enter Josh Griffith and Dena Higley (again) who had great ideas, but seemed to want to push them onto us viewers at a rapid pace. And then there was just a lot of story that just wasn’t really story at all. For better or worse, there were definite standouts when it came to stories in Salem this last year.

Adventures in Embryo-napping

Eric Martsolf, Eileen Davidson "Days of our Lives" Set NBC Studios Burbank 11/17/14 © sean smith/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661 Episode # 12575 U.S.Airdate 04/22/15
Brady (Eric Martsolf) confronts Kristen (Eileen Davidson) about her baby scheme. Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI Studios.

One of my favorite stories from 2014 carried over into early 2015. Kristen Dimera returned to the fray and, though de-clawed for a while, she was acting up in grand fashion. After waking John Black from his coma with a miracle DiMera drug, Kristen set her sights on Theresa Donovan, who’d taken Brady Black in her absence. Hoping to keep a piece of her former love with her forever, she had a DiMmera family doctor operate on an unknowningTheresa, removing her unborn child from her womb to implant into Kristen’s before she fled the country and wiped her memory. In 2015, she was discovered to be hiding out in a castle in Italy with Brady and Theresa’s biological son. The baby was in need of bone marrow so Kristen had Theresa kidnapped to save him, but soon Brady and Melanie Jonas came looking for her.

After Brady and company were thrown in the dungeon for their cartoonish plots to get the baby, Marlena Evans saved the day and there was a final standoff that ended with Kristen plummeting from a window (No body was ever found so Kristen can pop up in Salem later without a single broken bone or scar).

The climax fell a little flat. The focus fell too heavily on Melanie, touting her heroism that lead to saving the baby and the slaying of the evil witch. Blah, blah, blah. Having revisited the overall story now, when I look back it wasn’t that bad compared to the other tales. There were great moments, like Theresa breaking down around babies spliced with shots of a mysterious hand rocking a cradle. It was all very reminiscent of a story James E. Reilly might have told but instead of going full force like he would have done, the story ended a little dissatisfying.

May-December Heat

JJ (Casey Moss), Eve (Kassie DePaiva) and Paige (True O'Brien). Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios
JJ (Casey Moss), Eve (Kassie DePaiva) and Paige (True O’Brien). Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios

Eve Donovan and JJ Devereaux could have been scandalously good. After all, saddling Jennifer Horton’s spitfire son up with her lonely enemy’s bore of a daughter so that he could grow close to her mother and reignited her spark should have set the canvas on fire! But no, the writers actually wanted us to buy into the JJ and Paige couple as if they were interesting together! Paige was smart and pretty, two facts that every character made sure to drill into the viewers’ heads every time she was mentioned. There was just nothing special about Paige, no spark that brought her to life for the cameras and soon enough she’d drained the same from JJ. So no matter the immense age gap, JJ hopping into bed with Eve in late 2014 was very much welcomed by many fans.

Eve and JJ’s scenes weren’t so much hot and sexy as they were satisfying knowing that someone was sticking it to Paige in the worst way. For a while, it was the pair’s little secret until Jennifer found out. The fallout from that was legendary. When Jennifer caught her teenage son in bed with her enemy, she went into mother bear mode. But even all the slaps and hooting and hollering about the affair would not make Jennifer tell Paige. She shielded her son to the very end until the truth came out during Paige’s birthday party. Ties were severed, names were called and perfectly good birthday cake was ruined. Just a mere three months later after forgiving JJ (and not her mother, the woman that raised her on pennies and nickels) for his indiscretions, Paige’s light was snuffed out in her dorm bathroom by the Necktie Killer. Someone buy a fruitcake for the writers behind this story. We all thank you.

Shine Bright like an Elephant Statue

Salem newcomer Serena (Melissa Archer) spent months searching for a Dollar Tree paperweight. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios
Salem newcomer Serena (Melissa Archer) spent months searching for a Dollar Tree paperweight. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios

This storyline will easily live on in infamy as one of DAYS’ worst. There was absolutely nothing entertaining about Serena Mason in the first place, so her mission to steal diamonds from an elephant shaped hipster piggy bank from Urban Outfitters was just not fun whatsoever.

TomSell had this way of writing their female characters as super bitches, oftentimes without much of a reason; Serena was all of that and more. Arriving in Salem, she immediately clashed with Nicole Walker, whom she’d only heard stories prior to meeting. Their beef was so manufactured that after a while it hurt to watch. But for some reason Serena was still front and center, no matter how abrasive or boring.

Months were spent with her pining for a ceramic elephant, but never doing much else. The main fault in this story was that it was based on Eric’s extremely thin background in Africa as a photographer. Viewers were expected to connect to a story based around Eric, two completely new characters Xander Cook and Serena, and their shared poorly developed past. That necktie that ended Serena’s life should be framed and hailed for saving DAYS viewers from more Serena Mason.

It was a complete waste of Melissa Archer’s time as an actress and ours as viewers.

The Emancipation of Chad

The triangle between Ben (Robert Scott Wilson), Abigail (Kate Mansi) and Chad (Billy Flynn) was the highlight of DAYS' 2015. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios
The triangle between Ben (Robert Scott Wilson), Abigail (Kate Mansi) and Chad (Billy Flynn) was the highlight of DAYS’ 2015. Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios

In 2013, Chad DiMera was whisked out of town to be treated after being shot at EJ and Sami’s engagement party.  At the end of 2014 he returned with a new face, now played by Billy Flynn. It was a little slow going for the character that had a big role in the canvas but not much of a character at all.

It wasn’t until 2015 did we really see the character break through, and in turn, saw Abigail move to the forefront (with credible material), bringing about a minor rebirth of the often tried and failed formula of creating a new super couple. After spending useless time chasing Jordan Ridgeway, Chad began his 2015 attempting to win back Abigail’s heart, though he constantly lost when matched against resident hottie Ben Weston. The story dragged at numerous points throughout the year, but things kicked into overdrive once summer hit, culminating in a back and forth between the three young adults that would play out through the rest of the year.

Unable to deny her lingering feelings for her ex, Abigail succumbed to temptation and had an affair with Chad. Ben was in the bushes on the DiMera compound just in time to see the action. This was the beginning of a very harrowing summer for Chad. Serena, Paige and best friend Will were murdered one by one and all the evidence implicated young Chad Michael DiMera. Ben had been drugging Chad before setting up the crimes against him, that way there’d be no alibi for Chad and he’d get locked away from Abigail for a long time. It was the climax of this storyline that made for must see television.

Ben took a pregnant Abigail hostage after she discovered his bloody secret and it was up to Chad to rescue her. Of course, none of this went smoothly as premature labor ensued, midwives were shot and cabins set ablaze (#ChabbyRoastingInAnOpenFire) but in the end it all worked out for our charismatic protagonists. Chad and Abigail reconnected as Ben went to rot in prison for his series of crimes but that happiness was short-lived.

It’s in all that torture that Billy Flynn brought the dull character of Chad to an electrifying life; Kate Mansi followed suit and soon so did Robert Scott Wilson. The rebirth of Chad was certainly the impetus for all of the change but I think my favorite part was witnessing how all three actors played off of one another in their scenes. All I need now is a few happy months of Chabby as we know it before Kate Mansi exits her role, just simple and easy happiness. We all deserve the break.

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About the Author

Coryon Gray joined TV Source Magazine as a staff writer in October 2014. Prior to TV Source Magazine, he's written for and moderated Asian entertainment blogs and forums. On top of writing duties, Coryon is also a panelist for the TV Source Podcast, Soap Countdown Podcast and Our Take Media.