Vintage Suds: Days Rings in 1989
What better than a late-1980s holiday episode of Days of Our Lives to kick off our Vintage Suds feature? If you loved Days in its heyday, or aren't a Days viewer but want to remember what soaps were like when they weren't mind-numblingly boring/awful and you weren't ashamed to tell your friends you watched them, read on.
Steve and Kayla run down from the loft's bedroom to the living area and banter/frolick as they were always known to do. (Kayla, by the way, is in a peignoir and strappy nightgown. From watching soaps, I thought every woman had dozens of those, and wondered why my mom was so unglamorous.) Steve knows there's something Kayla wants to tell him, so she drops a mini-bomb: "I want us to have a baby." Steve looks shocked, then dubious, then happy. Over the span of three seconds. Because Stephen Nichols has never not kicked ass, you guys.
DETOUR: I know I've mentioned this before, but I spent a decent part of the 1980s coveting Mary Beth Evans' hair. Her bangs, at least as Kayla, were spectacular. In this scene they aren't that high, but they're still amazing in their improbability (since she was supposed to have just rolled out of bed).
Also, it is worth noting that I could post current screencaps of Steve and Kayla and you'd have trouble distinguishing them from these. I don't know what deity or gene pool or surgeon Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols have to thank for that, and I don't care. It's just further evidence of their awesomeness.
Enough fawning; back to the show: April is at the community center (man, I miss that set!) with her younger brother Julio when Mike arrives. Michael Weiss as Mike, to be specific. To me, even though he was Mike Horton #73, he is the Real Mike. Anyway, he greets her:
Mike: It takes your breath away: April "Boom-Boom" Ramirez, in all her resplendent glory.
I found him totally charming at the time, but now with some distance, doesn't that line sound a bit Spinelli-ish? Oh god, I can't believe I just typed that. Erase-erase-erase.
(I had forgotten that Mike ever had an acid-washed denim overcoat, but since I got past the fish ties, I suppose I can get past this too.) Mike gets progressively more charming as he convinces April to go to the Kiriakis New Year's party later that evening (although it turns out he didn't even need to turn on the charm, because contrary to what he thought, she's actually happy to go). Swoon, a big party! Why don't soaps do those as much anymore? That is a soapy staple I truly miss.
DETOUR: You'll start to get sick of this, but I was in awe of April's hair.
At some point after this Lisa Howard got a cut with layers around her face. In a fit of boredom resulting from the biology class I had to take at effing summer school to avoid having to take driver's ed at 7am in the fall semester (unnecessary additional evidence that a teenager will do anything to avoid getting up early in the morning), I tried to give myself that haircut with my mother's sewing scissors. I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that it did not turn out well.
Back to the show. Jennifer is on the pier and runs into April's brother Emilio.
DETOUR: Ew, Emilio. God, I thought he was so gross. Billy Hufsey was not so much with the acting talent, and Emilio was one reason my favorite couple (Jen and Frankie 4evah!!1!1!!) weren't together. And my god, that mullet. It wasn't even a little one, like Mike's. It was a full-on, cringe-inducing (even at the time!) example of the "business up front, party in the back" 'do that stood out as heinous even in a decade filled with outrageously awful fashion and hair. But lest you think all I hated was Emilio's hair (because I know I am shallow and it's possible that was the sole reason for my dislike)...no. I hated pretty much everything about that character. Evidence of this broad-spectrum hatred:
- I was so excited when Jack kidnapped Jennifer from her wedding to Emilio, even though it was pretty much a rip-off of Bo and Hope's old storyline.
- I was repulsed by Emilio's affair with Adrienne. (Although that led to a Justin/Adrienne fight over her secret birth control pills, and you can't get much more soapily dramatic than that.) But I mean seriously, who cheats on Justin with Emilio?! That just would not happen. Wally Kurth would have been more than entitled to wear a "WTF?!" expression on his face whenever he had a scene in which Justin had to acknowledge that Adrienne sexed up Emilio in the stables. Ew.
- I thought he was SO STUPID! Seriously, how dumb was this character?! Remember when he dove off a cliff after a ring? He's so special. (P.S. Who is that woman in that clip? This is something I should know because I was watching the show then, but I can't remember who she is. And why is her left nostril collapsed? Did I miss an envelope-pushing storyline about late-80s cocaine abuse?)
- The only way in which Emilio was not awful is when he would demonstrate his hilarious dancing. Since Billy Hufsey had been on Fame and was I guess a "good" dancer, and I suppose because of his aforementioned lack of talent in the acting area, Emilio would frequently just bust out with a dance. It made me giggle uncontrollably. Remember the Dirty Dancing rip-off with Jen?! It was hysterically so-bad-it's-good. Someone was kind enough to make an earnest tribute (!) to that storyline and the Jennifer/Emilio relationship in general: My gift to you. Sharing is caring.
Back on the show I'm supposed to be recapping, Jen and Emilio are all in a tizzy because they both bought the same supplies for the community center New Year's party. The horror! They decide to work together instead of duplicating efforts. Melissa then-Brennan, BTW, was one of my fashion and hair-icons. Her hair was yet another Days-based source of follicular envy for me.
And not only did Jennifer have a wardrobe I coveted, but Melissa Brennan was in a Trident commercial wearing, I believe, a pink denim bubble skirt, and that convinced me that she herself was stylish and it wasn't just a Days thing, so I kind of became a fangirl. Then Jennifer fell for Jack and I loved them so much, I was almost a Soap Crazy. But I digress.
Justin and Adrienne are at the Kiriakis mansion. Justin, in a storyline I had forgotten, is wheelchair-bound. Adrienne, in a ongoing horror will never forget, has the wardrobe and hairstyle of an elementary school teacher 30 years her senior.
(Judi Evans is 24 years old in this scene! What the hell?!) Adrienne is pressuring Justin to do more physical therapy, but Victor -- in his 80s villainous glory -- interrupts and wants to talk to Adrienne in the hall. Turns out that the Kiriakis party that Mike and probably scores of other Salemites are looking forward to attending is news to Victor. Adrienne's all gee, "I hope you can make it." Victor is angry, which you can tell by his scowl.
John Aniston is a genius and I will hear nothing to the contrary. I don't know why he doesn't have a higher profile on Days to this day, because he is soapy perfection.
Back from commercials -- which I must say are almost as entertaining as the show, dated as they are -- Victor is appalled that Adrienne is throwing the party, which it turns out is a surprise for Justin. The dude in a wheelchair with a bad attitude. That sounds like a great idea. Anyway, Adrienne is like, my mustachioed opponent, Justin and I are married and you need to get over it. Justin needs to see people and not be cooped up, being a grouchy wheelchair dude. Justin overhears the argument and intervenes to tell them to chill, that he knows what's best for him and they need to back off. I wish he would talk forcefully like that to his wife about her hair
but Dimples, even when he's bitter, is too classy for that. Sigh.
Back on the pier, Jennifer proposes a truce. I can't remember why Emilio and Jennifer hated each other at this point, and...well let's face it, I don't care.
At the community center, April tells Mike that there is a catch to her attending the Kiriakis party; they have to finish the evening at the community center one. He agrees, and they make out. Betsy, one of the kids from the center, interrupts to thank April for her help (?) and say that a social worker wants her to attend Al-Anon meetings. April says that sounds like a good idea. April and Emilio's dad was an alcoholic, right? Anyway, Betsy wants April to go to the meeting with her but April says she can't. Betsy really wants April to come along, but April is emphatic that she can't. Mike looks at April like a realization is dawning. (So we didn't yet know at this point about Mr. Ramirez?)
At the loft, Steve tells Kayla that she already knows this, but for the benefit of forgetful fans who will be re-watching 20 years in the future, explains that he is not ready for a baby.
Kayla: But you were ready to adopt Benji.
I loved the Benji storyline. Then last year they brought him back as an adult and had him murdered. Way to stomp on my junior high memories, assholes. Anyway, Steve thinks it's different, and that if he brings a child into the world he wants to actually be able to provide for it. (Remember the reveals about Steve's awful childhood, and finding out Jack was actually Billy? Good soapy times.) Kayla does her usual supportive wife thing and says he's great and will be an amazing father, but Steve wants time to think it over, and to, like, get a job and stuff. Steve leaves to take a walk.
Justin tells Victor he wants to have the party, that he needs to get on with his life. Victor departs with a little slam on Adrienne for not telling him about the party (it does sound kind of shitty on her part). Justin thanks Adrienne for planning the party.
Mike and April bicker a bit about the Al-Anon meeting, which leads April to bail on the Kiriakis party. Mike is bummed but leaves her, telling her she knows where she can find him if she changes her mind.
On his walk, Steve (of course) heads to the pier, where he runs into Marcus. Oh, Marcus! I loved him and his friendship with Steve. RIP, Richard Biggs. I wish Marcus had been given a chance to be something other than the professional supportive friend and that Biggs had become a big soap star.
Anyway, Marcus has a fancy new invention called a mountain bike (Steve repeats the term like it's a complicated math formula) and he's all dressed up in biking gear and the whole deal. Steve remembers that when they were kids Marcus loved bikes, but Marcus points out that those were always borrowed, whereas this bike is bought and paid for, because now he's a hot doctor. He might not have said that last bit. Marcus wants Steve to get a bike so they can hit the mountains together, but Steve points out that that would be a purchase made with money from nonexistent paychecks, since his current occupation is hustling pool. (Current-day Steve doesn't seem to worry as much about unemployment, but maybe that's because Kayla moved on up the income ladder when he was fake-dead.) Steve gets down to what's really bothering him, that Kayla wants a baby. Steve says he has nothing to give a kid, and really has nothing period, but Marcus rains on self-pity parade by pointing out that Steve has Kayla, a "lady" he wouldn't even have the nerve to dream about." Aw. (Remember when Kayla met Marcus? Sniffle!) Marcus reminds Steve that the last time he was talking like this, it was when he was freaking out about marrying Kayla, and look how well that turned out.
Julio excitedly tells April that the band they had scheduled can't make it, so thanks to some super convenient set of coincidences, he is going to get to "spin some records" and DJ the community center party. April convinces him to also play the piano, which obviously has something to do with a sub-story I have zero recollection of. Julio was a cutie, by the way.
His mullet was thankfully nowhere near the severity of his on-screen big brother's.
Emilio pulls up to the community center on his motorcycle with a complaining Jennifer on the back. She's peeved because she almost fell off the motorcycle, which leads to what I imagine was envisioned as a sexy interaction in which he shows her "how to hold on" but which -- because under virtually all circumstances Emilio skeeved me the hell out -- I find icky. Of course, with diologue like "if you want to have a good time, you gotta feel like you're in good hands, you know?," I have no idea how anyone could feel anything but icky about that scene. Anyway, two of Jen's friends show up and she's a bit uncomfortable, from which Emilio takes a cue to act like a total dickhead and throw the bags of party supplies at Jen while referring to her friends as Muffy and Buffy. You stay classy, Emilio!
Mike shows up at the Kiriakis party and pissily informs his grandparents, in response to Tom's query about April's whereabouts, that he and April had one of their "run of the mill misunderstandings" and she is stubborn and therefore likely won't show up. Alice, bless her heart, is all "Um, pot? Meet kettle." Except more politely, but not by much. Random aside: I remember being so sad when MacDonald Carey died.
Adrienne greets Anjelica and Dr. Neil Curtis, a couple I'd forgotten was ever involved let alone married. (Younger viewers: Dr. Curtis and his former wife owned the nightclub under which Lexie dwelled and hissed for months before cartwheeling and karate-chopping her way to freedom!) Anjelica at this point is played by the ever-fierce Jane Elliot. (I loved her as Anjelica, but that random actress who followed was bizarre casting, and then Judith Chapman was way too OTT for my taste. I understand from Mallory's Y&R posts that time has not dimmed Ms. Chapman's "intensity.") Anjelica is dressed head-to-toe in silver, including an enormous shoulder-padded silver sequined coat-dress. It is insane and brilliant at the same time and I'm sorry that this screencap doesn't let you see the whole thing.
Anjelica and Adrienne appear to be past their intense hatred of each other, the basis of which was, of course, Justin sleeping with Anjelica (then Jack's bitchy stepmother, I believe) while Justin and Adrienne were on one of their many breaks. (Anjelica had a baby with Justin, Alexander, who is one of the totally invisible Kiriakis offspring that we never see despite there being no good reason for them not to be back on the canvas.) I feel the need to also mention here how completely creeped out I was when I later started watching GH and Jane Elliot and Wally Kurth were mother and son! Ew! But they are both awesome, so I got past it. Aaaanyway, Neil heads into the party and Anjelica asks Adrienne if everything is all set, but Adrienne says no because Steve and Kayla aren't there yet. Jane Elliot, because she's awesome, has this fantastically bitchy look on her face in response. (If you are looking for a way to kill a little time -- and who isn't? -- you should read this summary of the character of Anjelica. It's so soapy, you can almost see bubbles. I must warn the uninitiated, though, that you will be hard-pressed to find worse writing on a professionally produced website than you will encounter in SoapCentral's character summaries. It's actually laughable.)
Steve arrives back at the loft and informs "Sweetness" (swoon!) that he's home. Kayla comes out and twirls around in this hideous 80s gown, the awesomeness of which my shitty screencap could not begin to capture, but let's try:
I hope you enjoyed that, because -- in what was possibly a reaction to that sartorial disaster -- at this point in the episode my DVD became completely fakakta and there will therefore be no more screencaps in this post. I know, it hardly seems worth continuing to read on. For those who never saw it or don't remember which of Kayla's parade of 80s fashion mishaps this was, I know that screencap is crappy, so in more detail: The gown has a full skirt of green satin, and is long-sleeved and crew-necked with a top that is solid multi-colored sequins. It's something you'd see on an episode of The Love Boat if the ship took a special cruise to Antarctica and therefore warmth was the top priority for formal wear.
DETOUR: The following tribute to the hideousness of Kayla Brady's 1980s wardrobe made my year. It's easily the best thing I've seen on the internet in months that isn't handbag-related.
wilkat99, you are brilliant. Mallory and I are still laughing over that video and will neither confirm nor deny having watched it repeatedly. Okay, I will confirm that, and add that the end gets me every single time, inducing unladylike fits of guffaws. (Major thanks to longtime reader Erica for bringing this brilliant compilation into our lives.)
ANYWAY, back to the show. Steve reacts to Kayla twirling around in her gown like she's in the hottest lingerie ever, adjusting his patch and saying that if he "had two" he'd "be on overload right now." Man, Stephen Nichols can sell any dialogue. They make out. Kayla then wants to talk about the baby discussion earlier (man, Kayla, way not to read a room), but Steve says they'll talk about it later. They discuss some plan they have to help Adrienne with the party. They continue to be adorable, and when Steve heads upstairs to get dressed for the party, he throws confetti all over Kayla from the stairs. These two are soap couple perfection.
The community center party is underway. Julio DJs and "dances" while Carrie arrives. The two of them make googoo eyes at each other, though in truth most of the goo is on Carrie's side. Christie Clark is working the lovesickness angle like nobody's business. She is also sporting one of the most 80s-ish hairstyles this episode, which is saying a lot. This was during her Marcia Brady hair phase, except she has a side part and has pulled just the front of the left side into a ponytail which is then braided with a red ribbon weaved throughout it. There is a smaller version of the same thing on her right side, only lower. She looks a bit like a better looking but drunk Pippy Longstocking. I am so pissed I can't screencap this for you.
Elsewhere in the community center, Marcus is, as always, playing the supportive friend role, this time to April. She whines about the stuff Mike said to her, and Marcus is all, jeez, suck it up and get to the Kirakis shindig because the pity party you're throwing is lame. (But in a supportive friend kind of way.)
Mike, still at the Kiriakis party, recounts to his grandparents the Al Anon conversation with April. Tom thinks Mike said the right things, but Alice understands a bit more about women and says maybe Mike stepped out of bounds a bit. Alice is, like Kayla and Anjelica, being smothered by sequins.
Adrienne tells Anjelica that's she's really worried Steve and Kayla haven't arrived yet, and as if on cue -- OMG, wait, they are actually on cue! see how that works? -- Steve and Kayla show up. Anjelica distracts Victor, and Steve and Kayla sneak off with Adrienne's blessing. Cut to the two of them greeting Justin in his room, then kidnapping him by rolling him off to parts unknown.
Jennifer listens to some do-gooder brag about her sorority's Safe Ride Home program when Emilio arrives and totally distracts her. Other than puzzling over the why and how of that mullet, I don't know why he's captured her attention, but whatever. Across the room, April tells Marcus how she needs to stop getting in her own way, and that she still has time to make the Kiriakis party to be with Mike. Marcus gives her a friendly hug, because he is a supportive friend.
Anjelica continues to distract Victor, poorly, saying she was just kidding about needing to talk about her baby. I didn't really pay much attention to the rest of this scene because I was pondering the combined awesomeness of John Aniston and Jane Elliot.
The parts unknown to which Steve and Kayla were rolling Justin is a romantic candlelit locale (one of the Kiriakis guest houses, I suppose?) where Adrienne is waiting for him, dressed and made up as a 65-year-old New Year's Eve reveler.
Anjelica continues her pathetic attempt to distract Victor and he finally is like, I am out of here, weirdo, so she plants this overly enthusiastic fake kiss on him. But then, of course, because this is a soap, it becomes a real kiss.
Justin fends off Adrienne's romantic advances, because he says "things can't suddenly be the way they used to be." But she says they want each other, and why is he pushing her away? Um, because it's a soap. Are you new? Anyway, they kiss.
Steve and Kayla stroll on the pier (it's this scene) and he tells her again that he's just not ready for a baby. She is disappointed, but says she's never been happier in her life than she is now with him. He says he hasn't either, and fake snow romantically begins to fall as they kiss.
April walks out of the community center into that same snow just as Mike walks around the corner with flowers and balloons for her. She tries to apologize for "before" but he pretends this is the first time he's seen her all day. April, though I liked her, is basically humorous, so she isn't having this cute faux-denial routine, and he says fine, if they had seen each other earlier he's sorry they fought. They decide to make the most of what's left of the evening by making out in the snow in a bad neighborhood. As you do.
Inside the community center, Emilio and his 72-inch-rise jeans demand that Julio play something on the piano and Julio relents and tells everyone to grab a dance partner. So Emilio, of course, asks Jennifer to get her "blood flowing" by dancing with him. Ew. Carrie gives Julio the OTT googoo eyes while Emilio and Jennifer and their enormous piles of curly hair dance tentatively.
Victor and Anjelica are making out like teenagers when her husband has the audacity to come find her so that they can kiss at midnight. They do, but she's totally still thinking of Victor, who is all dapper and uses his hankerchief to dab her lipstick off his face. Victor hurries to Justin's room (Why? I don't know) and throws open the door to find Justin not there. Justin is with Adrienne, so of course we cut to them and because it's a New Year's episode, he gets over whatever his issue was and they say woohoo it's a new year, let's get it on. Or something. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm finding these two less charming on the second go-around.
At the community center, Julio chastely kisses Carrie on her cheek (Carrie did EVERYTHING chastely for at least a decade and was therefore uber-boring, in case you weren't watching then). Emilio and Jennifer awkwardly hug. Mike wishes Boom-Boom a happy new year and she tells him he talks too much and shuts him up with a kiss. Steve and Kayla are already kissing on the pier when the bell tolls midnight and Steve says "We missed it, Sweetness."
Then my tape cuts out, so I hope that was the end of the episode. God, VCRs sucked. See, there is something about soap-watching in the 80s that I will admit is less than awesome. I know my overly rosy nostalgia can be incredibly annoying, but I must caution you against expressing any such sentiment. I may retaliate with a 10,000 word essay extolling the virtues of big bangs. You know I'm just crazy enough to be able to do that; you've seen how verbose I can be about a single episode of 80s Days.
P.S. Don't forget to submit your suggestions for future Vintage Suds recaps.