Soaps

‘Days of our Lives’ Week in Review: All The Right Moves

Abigail and Theo race against the clock to protect Chad. Courtesy JPI

This last week on Days of Our Lives marked the very first full week of head writer Ron Carlivati’s material. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of fans were pleased – for once. Since reviewing DAYS, I don’t think I’ve seen the soap community so energetic about the show. Fans of other soaps are joining in on the live tweeting, complaints have been cut down incredibly and in turn, being a DAYS fan doesn’t feel quite as bad anymore.

However, there will always be people who aren’t pleased, complaining about this and that but instead of complaining, look back and study the bigger picture. Carlivati inherited these uninventive stories and made them his own, made them entertaining and watchable where before they weren’t. Hard resets have a history of not working very well for this show, especially in recent years so let’s work through this transitional period together. With the way many of these stories kicked into overdrive just this week alone, it’s clear that the writing team is ready to move passed these stories as well while still doing them some kind of justice. I can appreciate that.

Watching a show that remembers legacy characters and draws upon history too, it’s hard to not appreciate that. For weeks I wondered why people were so angry about fabulous Andre Dimera gallivanting around Salem – and then this week, Abe Carver’s fury over his son working together with the uncle that directly caused his mother’s fatal cancer (who also killed Theo’s other uncle and aunt), reminded me. It’s so easy to forget these things when the writers themselves had forgotten. Kudos to Carlivati, Sheri Anderson and Ryan Quan for acknowledging the wealth of Salem history so often neglected.

As you can see, I enjoyed this last week in Salem! It was actually hard to pick out some major pans of the week – for once! Let’s check out some of my picks and pans from this last week on Days of Our Lives!

Picks of the Week

Change of Pace

The biggest winner in this new head writer change has to be the overall pacing of the show, hands down. This last week flew by – and I loved it! But I also hated how much I loved the new quick pace to DAYS because it left me wanting more or wishing for another weekday to at least give me just one more episode. It’s incredible to think that while the stories are still Dena Higley’s just with a new pilot at the helm, they’re much more enjoyable now because they’re moving. No more painfully slow trickling toward a nonsensical end but actual progression that builds excitement and suspense.

I only got into General Hospital when Ron Carlivati began writing. At the time, I remember thinking the show was so frenetic with what felt like seconds long scenes zipping ahead into the next one with seemingly random characters and scenarios in one episode. Now I know I can look back to see it was a part of a bigger plan, a woven web of an umbrella story here or merging of another story there, but back then I was just so used to the molasses pace of DAYS. I never thought GH’s pace could work on DAYS but I was wrong and I’m so happy I was wrong.

It’s double trouble when a pair of mischief-makers devises a plan for revenge. Courtesy JPI

TVSource Editor in Chief, Ryan Nobles made a comment during one of our most recent podcasts – and I will paraphrase here – that with a good head writer, the breakdown writers can better do their jobs. It’s extremely apparent that that’s the case at DAYS now. Scenes now have clear endings, don’t run for too long and even transition into the next one in a smart way. It’s hard to believe that I’ve become a fan of scene transitions, but I have! Transitioning from a Hattie Adams scene about Marlena Evans, to a Marlena scene is always done in this tongue in cheek way where you’re not even sure if it’ll be Marlena. We might get a familiar glimpse of a pantsuit or bouncy blonde girls then a head turn that makes you wonder if Hattie had actually made the switch yet. It’s such a neat but simple addition to this show that had for so long felt flat and uninspired.

Friday’s episode was one of my favorite episodes in a very long time. The whole episode was packed with drama, romance and suspense but with the new pacing of the show, we got to see it all happen to everyone in Salem at the same time. One of my biggest gripes about the show was how it only knew how to cater to one story at a time. Carlivati is a master at umbrella stories and weaving characters together. Abigail Deveraux setting to run away with Dario Hernandez may have been one of the biggest stories of that episode, but there was also family drama with Abe and Theo Carver that bled into his relationship woes with Claire Brady that bled into her giving Steve Johnson clues on who might be setting up Kayla Johnson. There was such a precision to the flow of it all that it just felt natural but for this show, it’s totally unnatural and unusual. But it’s definitely not unwelcome.

DAYS felt almost James E. Reilly-esque with the inclusion of Theo’s laptop being confiscated by Abe (Your son is an adult now, let go Abe!) and everyone fretting over him finding the picture of Chad with the knife. For once, there were high stakes brought back into this show. Anything could have happened – but in a sweet twist, Valerie Grant talked Abe down. She basically told the usually stubborn mayor that he had to cut the umbilical cord at some point. His concerns with Theo being roped into the Dimera brood make sense and Abe truly is the only one showing caution about Andre Dimera being “reformed” but it’s not up to him to dictate Theo’s life anymore. Theo may be on the spectrum, but he’s fully functional adult who can make his own choices. But unlike a Reilly story, all of this drama happened over the course of just a few days and didn’t drag on so the suspense waned and felt tired. There’s an added sense of realism with the inclusion of this new pacing to more character based stories that makes Salem feel alive again.

Also, can I get an amen for the return of Cliffhanger Fridays? DAYS is finally feeling like a soap opera again.

Lovers In the Parking Lot

A fight erupts between Chad and Gabi. Courtesy JPI

Billy Flynn and Marci Miller deserve multiple rounds of applause for their work this last week. These two actors had been saddled with a poorly planned and executed love quadrangle for weeks now, but they made it work as best as they could. Now that Higley is gone, the writing has notably turned back Abigail and Chad coming together again. It’s evident in the writing but I think other than just writing them to get back together, Carlivati is using history to justify why they should be together or at least give it another shot. Higley created history to try and make Chad and Gabi Hernandez viable – but it miserably failed, even turning the actors away from the pairing. Chad and Abigail have a lot to work through together, but I cannot wait to see how it plays out following this last week.

The angst levels were cranked all the way up with Chabby. Though this story isn’t that different from the last villain to come in between their love two years prior, I’d have to say this time around it’s a lot more enjoyable. There are so many stakes in this story, so much for each character to lose, thus making it less of a one dimensional good guys vs bad guy plot that the Ben saga turned out to be. Dario was set to win one way or another – either by sending Chad down or taking Abigail away, both of which would harm innocent little Thomas. There was this true sense of urgency in Friday’s episode especially as characters for once behaved accordingly, understanding that the matters at hand needed to be fixed and fast. I really love having suspense back on this show especially in the face of villains. I was so tired of everything being done at coffee shop pace.

I think my only complaint is that Abigail originally left Chad to find her independence – instead she was roped in by a not so great manipulator and used as a tool for a sick scheme. Watching her continue to go along with it too just didn’t make much sense. Granted, that scene in the Martin House parking lot with Marci Miller’s Abigail and Billy Flynn’s Chad was spectacular; I couldn’t help but want her to fill Chad in. Having her continue to hide and then run away from the problem, irresponsibly leaving her family again just felt like a cop out. I know they’re probably trying to make this a recurring theme for her and it’s good for the drama, but I desperately want to see Abigail find herself again.

During the major scene between Chad and Abigail, I was praying that maybe she’d let it slip out that she was doing this all to protect him from being implicated in Deimos Kiriakis’ murder. It doesn’t make much sense that she’d keep it from him (most soap opera secret withholdings don’t, to be honest) when Andre and Kate Dimera would probably dig him right out of jail themselves. Besides, how much can a photo from a known con man prove anyway? I think Abigail letting that info slip could have led to a really great moment of the two of them working side by side to take down Dario. Abigail would obviously be at the helm and using all the knowledge she’s gained on her fake husband to finish him off.

But even with all of that said, how gripping were those scenes with Abigail and Chad? Flynn and Miller finally got some incredible dialogue to build on both of their incredible emotional depth as actors, breaking hearts and leaving not a single eye dry in the process. The best part about their tiff is that neither one of them is right. Chad thinks Abigail is running away because he thinks she wants an easy life while Abigail believes she’s being a martyr. Both of their thinking is flawed and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful? Over the last few months, there has been so much miscommunication between the former couple, so many missed connections that I was so happy to see them just have this conversation. A full on conversation that let them air out most of their grievances with each other.

Flynn recently answered a fan on Twitter about whether or not the show will touch base on Abigail’s mental illness again, to which he agreed they would. But I truly hope everyone involved will get some psych help. Chad to grieve and fight for his child all at the same time and God knows, Gabi could use some therapy too. I am just thrilled to see their issues – their actual issues, not the silly green card marriages and Jungle Madness – put on the table to be hashed out. That’s what is going to make this couple solid and rootable for the viewers. Especially now that Abigail threw herself in front of a car to save Chad’s life!

Flynn and Miller can handle it though.

About the author

Coryon Gray

Coryon Gray joined as Staff Writer for Soaps at TVSource Magazine in October 2014. Prior to TVSource Magazine, he's written for and moderated Asian entertainment blogs all while staying updated with his multiple "stories" like the elderly person in his soul. TV is a big part of his life, and it shows as he has been known to try to incorporate TV hijinks into his life with varying results. Follow him at @sourcecoryon for soapy soap reactions and more!