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« General Hospital: 2008 In Review | Main | The Young and the Restless: 2008 In Review »

January 02, 2009

Days of Our Lives: 2008 In Review

I really hope I'm wrong, but I fear 2008 was the year Days of Our Lives' chances of sticking around for more than a couple years slowly went down a non-soapy drain.  I know that sounds awful, especially compared to how optimistic I was a year ago.  2008 started off pretty well on Days!  I was all optimistic, writing in our Soap Opera Digest column about all my silly hopes for the coming 12 months:

DAYS has some overexposed characters, too.  Take Sami, for example.  I think Allison Sweeney is great, but I wouldn’t be disappointed to see Sami onscreen a bit less.  She’s really the only character in town in her generation, the one between the sorority girls and their moms, so she ends up involved in too many stories.  On the guys’ side, DAYS doesn’t have a hired killer with an alleged heart of gold, but they do have a redemption-of-EJ arc underway that seems promising.  (Of course, the storyline has involved James Scott being shirtless, so it’s entirely possible my judgment is clouded.)  The DAYS powers-that-be need to develop younger leading men beyond Scott, though – maybe pair them up with new contemporaries of Sami.  Salem needs couples in the 20s- and early-30s-range that viewers can root for.  Here’s hoping that in 2008, DAYS really focuses on the younger set and gets them into some chemistry-filled pairings, because right now the best couples are the same ones I was picking that lock to watch in the 80s.

Let's break down in detail just how stupid I look now, shall we?

I wouldn’t be disappointed to see Sami onscreen a bit less.

I was disappointed, especially now that she's spent like 17 months in a condo -- I refuse to call something a safe house when it doesn't even have a deadbolt -- with the [admittedly quite yummy] dude from Passions.  Also, I think I might actually hate Sami now.  I know my eardrums do.

they do have a redemption-of-EJ arc underway that seems promising

No they didn't, and no it wasn't.

Salem needs couples in the 20s- and early-30s-range that viewers can root for.


Looking back, I'm not even sure why I was that optimistic.  In January, Salemites wore really ugly scarves (oh, and John came back from the dead).  The writing became relatively crappy, but Mrs. Partridge showed up as John's long-lost mom for like five minutes, and I became focused on the stupidity of the show firing the only halfway decent writing team it had had in more than a decade and I kind of forgot how much the show was annoying me.  Then February kicked up the annoyance factor again with horrible dialogue and yet another Marlena-OD, but then, bless its solid wooden heart, The Door happened

Be my BFF, Door.

We soon learned Belle and Shawn would soon be headed out of town because Martha Madison and Brandon Beemer got canned.  I was fine with those exits, both because the characters got on my last nerve, and because I had spent my righteous indignation bitching about this dumb show letting the awesome Julie Pinson go.  Now she's on As the World Turns, almost single-handedly turning it into a non-Grandma soap I'm sure, and I'm stuck watching the idiot Days writers give Billie's love interests to her daughter and mother.  Blech.  And to make matters worse, at the same time Days gave Judi Evans her walking papers, depriving me of more Steve/Adrienne nostalgia.  Well, it would have deprived me of that if Steve himself had been on for more than maybe a combined five hours for the rest of the year.

Steve and Kayla were featured in that whole plane crash dealie that was pretty good soap.  Somehow I let my optimism get the best of me again, especially after Salem's send-off of Shawn Brady was a well-done tearjerker.  (Of course, I still managed to be super pissy and bitch about Kimberly Brady.  Not like that's hard.)

In early March, coming out of February sweeps, the soapy components were firing on all cylinders, or some less mixed metaphor.  But then the rest of March was boring.  April was too.  Though I did go all recap-crazy on the one decent episode I could identify in April.  I wonder why I picked that show?  I was probably drunk.

Shortly thereafter, I began my cringing over barely legal Chelsea Brady and overgrown surfer-dude Dr. Daniel Jonas. I became increasingly concerned about their hair.  Okay, truth be told, maybe my concern was a bit about their totally inappropriate and thoroughly disturbing relationship.  It's possible.  Thankfully, Rachel Melvin soon got a haircut, and eventually, thank the [James Scott when he's not growing out his hair], Chelsea and Daniel finally broke up.

The month of May had enough awesome moments that I actually broke out my trusty Awesome Alert Scale.  (Side note:  I believe this may have been the last time in 2008 that I really enjoyed Sami and EJ.)

Oh, and Days finally got nominated for some Emmys!  But of course the actors got shut out and the poor souls had to suffer through that horrendous pre-show and ceremony, with only the hilarious reality that their show won the award for best hair (!!!!!) to bring a smile to their otherwise faux-grinning faces.

So things were still going pretty well on the actual show, but then June and early July happened, and Days burst my bubble in a big way.  Which is a bad thing, in case that imagery is unclear.  Maybe I was just grumpy, and should have taken some Midol!  Wherever would I get an idea like that, though?

In July, I watched an AWESOME episode of DaysFrom 1988.  I also wish blogs were around back then because the fashion posts, at least, would have been like shooting shoulder-padded fish in a sequined barrel:

I briefly saw light at the end of the tunnel when it looked like Dena Higley was kicked to the curb (I'm trying to fit as many euphemisms for "fired" into this post as possible), but instead showru[i/n]ner/ Ken Corday canned Ed Scott, the guy who had seemed to be responsible for the few noticeable improvements on the show.

August was insomnia-inducing and inspired me to post a word cloud.  A freaking word cloud!  I must have been drunk again.  I also came to realization that I basically hate every couple on the show.  And

This fall the frequency of our Days blogs was directly proportional to the level of interesting things happening on the show.  Yeah...

In September, Mallory pointed out that the show can't even get the little things right, and I didn't give the dual pregnancies caper much of a chance of being decent.  Note:  We were both right.

Then, um, I had an incident.

I bounced back because truly, someone had to address the vital issue of the men of Salem's awful, awful hair.

Virtually every storyline during November "sweeps" (seriously, did anyone explain that concept to Higley and her crew?) was soooo boring (or weirdly nonsensical), but Stephanie did get a cute haircut.  So it was kind of a draw.

Then, just as I went public with my love for NewRoboJohn, we found out Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn got shitcanned.  Since I'm not a fan of Deidre's recent acting choices or Marlena's tendency to eat the show, I was pretty okay with that decision, actually.  When I start to get even a little mopey about the decision and what it means for the future of the show, I watch this, and I feel better:

Dr. Daniel Jonas was determined to ruin Christmas, because even though he initially seemed to have been created in a soapy laboratory to appeal to women just like me, he rang in the holiday season by groping his patient, who is also the current bone-marrow donor and future daughter-in-law of the grandmother he is schtupping.  The grandmother, to be specific, of his ex-girlfriend, the one with the again-tragic hair.  It's all very difficult to process.  But Chloe did slam his knuckles in a door, so that was
fun to watch.

The Days writers decided to wish me a happy new year by turning their unskilled pencils to to the destruction of Victor.  If I had an awesome mustache like John Aniston, I would stroke it evilly and plot their demise.

But remember, Days is going to be around for a couple more years!  Woo...hoo?


Ahh yes, the year that was Days. Isn't it funny how the two best scenes involved "Door" as the main character? Though the Daniel handslam just lead to more Dan/Chloe ickitude, so I don't know that I should count that one. Door for MVP for the Marlena scene alone though.

It's pathetic that I cannot even think of one storyline on this show that I even like right now. Could have gotten behind EJ/Nicole had it not been for the baby hijinks, but no. Philip/Stephanie could be okay if it weren't going all be about Melanie. So...I've got nothing.

How could you forget Lucas in prison for like half the year? 2008 rocked for that reason alone. The first half of the year really wasn't that bad. It's funny how everything went to crap around June/July.

Nick/Chelsea had a fun odd couple vibe but that was scrapped in favor of the creepy and weird 40ish doctor and patient pairing, Dan/Chelsea. Bonus points for Chelsea going on a date with Dan while still with Nick.

John's return with funny one liners, J&M focus and Marlena fighting for her true love became John is just one-note annoying and banging Ava for no reason. Marlena fades in and out of story visiting relatives and being bitchy.

Sami and EJ got together and it looked like they were finally going somewhere but no. They had to write in Ali's pregnancy and eff everything up. There are no words for the horror of Nicole screaming OUR BABY and Sami downing pickles in between sobfests.

Philip was OK the first part of the year letting go of Belle and falling for Chloe again. Phloe have history and are a great looking couple but somehow Philip dumped Chloe for coed Morgan and Chloe ended up naked in an elevator with Lucas.

It's so frustrating watching this soap because it could be great and often stories start out strong but then everything just falls apart. I fear '09 will be even worse then '08. They have half the budget for actors/sets, two Passions rejects stinking things up, 4 months of pretaped scenes of Sami doing nothing etc.

First, I´m sorry you don´t like DAYS now, because I discovered this site about a year or so ago and I love all your comments. I´m very sad you are not making the post about DAYS more often anymore.

Second, I really don´t agree the show is at its worse now. Of course, if you are not willing to give the chance to the new and younger characters being on front and still cling to the vets, there is really not much to watch, because it´s clear the DAYS when the vets had FB stories (maybe except BoPe) are gone, mainly for budget reasons. But I really don´t see it as a bad thing because all the vets stories were just the rehash of the same themes again and again and not much people cared anymore.

So, yes, I think it was quite risky from Tomlin and Co. to made a leading November story about two relatively side characters (Nick was never a proper leading man and Melanie is a rookie), but the story around it was wonderfull, the acting was wonderfull, the actors really proved themselves and I enjoyed it more than let´s say another Hope´s kidnapping or John/Stefano fight fiasco. And fortunatelly, the ratings agreed with me.

I´m also very happy with the double pregnancies story, especially from the moment Nicol lost the baby. It was exactly the impuls the story needed to start work, and now the only problem is it drags a little because they have to wait till AS has her real baby to move to the next stage. But get rid of the Lucas angle completely was the best decision the show could done. The chemistry between Nicol and EJ is great, the same like between EJ and Sami, plus we have the Rafe and Brady addition to spice it up.

Another decision I really like is the pairing of Phillip and Stephanie. Now, I agree Phillip´s love life this year was very confusing, mainly because the neverending struggle, first between Corday and Sheffer and next between Dena and Ed Scott. Sheffer wanted Phillip/Belle, Corday didn´t want to lost his precious Shelle and rather let them go than give a chance to the chemistry between JKJ and MM. Next Corday pushed Dena to write for Phloe, but Dena wanted Chloe gone and Ed had a soft spot for Morgan. Nothing was ever clear or consistent up until the monent Tomlin came and finally started to make tough decision as a proper EP should. Morgan was let go almost immediatelly, Stephanie/Max split and the writers immediatelly started to make groundwork for the current pairings of Steph/Phillip and Max/Chelsie. JKJ and SH look simply amazing together and I can´t wait what the next year brings. And yes, it helps Shelley is finally allowed to show fulltime why she won the miss teen USA contest. It´s hard to believe this sofisticate, sexy, longleg goddess is the same submissive, clingy Stephanie in the big bow dress we´ve been watching during summer.

Anyway, the last thing. You praise Ed Scott and are sorry he was let go, but I think he was a real catastrophy for the show. Ok, here and there he made some amazing scenes, but besides his attempt to make the show more artistic visually, he was awfull EP, atleast for a show like DAYS. He pushed his own agenda; he tried to recreate the show into some sort of Y/R clon; he didn´t communicate with the writers; he let go most of associate headwriters responsible for the outlines, so every writer was forced to make everything and it ended in totall chaos and the episodes lost any structure; there were no proper cliffhangers during the time he was an EP; his attempt to make the characters more deep and show the motivations resulted in episodes where characters were just talking and talking with no strong plot to support, making ratings fall like never before; he had a hard time dealing with small budget, making extremely expensive shows like the plane crash on one side, but drastically restricting the number of sets used per episode on the other; he used all of the 100 episodes guarantee for SN/MBE during the first few months of the year so now the show cannot to use them at all, even as a support for Steph, unless they pay them for each added episode; and finally, he´d decided to totally sabotage the way the show production model works, started to rewrite the show with actors!!! help, forcing the show go through another abrupt change, making viewers absolutely confuse and frustrated what the direction is and where the stories are going.

On the other side, Gary Tomlin is there only a few months and he already: installed his friend and long time colleague as the co-hw for Higley to keep her and writing office completely under control; recreated the writing office again, making clear who is responsible for dialogs, for editing and writing outlines, plus reestablishing the associate writer positions; changing the production model so the show can pretape many different scenes from different episodes using the same set all together and having it build only once save the money without DAYS looking like there is only University Hospital and Brady Pub anymore; making (or forcing Corday to make) some really tough decisions, like letting Jarlena go, or making it an absolute priority to keep JKJ.

Tomlin maybe isn´t friendly with the cast the way Scott was, and he is not making empty promisses left and right, but he is a real manager, someone who is willing to make tough decisions and stand behind them. DAYS desperately needed someone like him. This is the strongest leadership I´ve seen on the show from the times of Reilly/Langan duo and I have huge faith in him.

Sorry for the long post.

I haven't really been watching since the Nicole pregnancy garbage began. What the heck are they doing to EJ? I can't even stand to watch him. I did enjoy him running off to be with Sami every five minutes, but then Nicole's weird fantasies began. Ruined the whole thing. I want to see the town of Salem go up in flames, and the very last thing we hear is Stephano's evil chuckle while the camera pans to a broken hourglass.

Ok, so I'm a little bitter...

Yeah, I gave up in August. I was home yesterday so I caught the first 20 minutes of the show, and I saw nothing that would make me want to start watching again. I lost hope with this show about halfway through Hogan's run (I'm sorry, that man was a god-awful writer. The dialogue was moderately better for Days, but from a storytelling perspective he's no better than Higley, even taking into account Corday's shitty demands). When Higley was announced as the new HW I knew this show was done, watched a while, was actually impressed with some of the improvements over Hogan, and then finally gave up when things just kept getting worse. The babies were the last straw. Knowing that Nicole miscarried would have been enough to get me watching again if she hadn't gone all Kristen and decided to fake her pregnancy.

Wow... Marlena really does have a fixation with letter openers as weapons, doesn't she?

...and a couple more things (this might be a little long but it's segmented):

1 - Steve? Calling himself "Papa" to Steph? I'm *glad* he's not on screen more, even though I love him. I cringe every time he says "Tell Papa what's wrong". Steve, though mellowed sorta, is still a "talk to your old man" kinda guy. This whole wholesome "papa" routine stinks... he is *not* the next Shawn Brady, or Tom Horton, he's *PATCH*.

2 - I think the changes that Scott was making was for the long term benefit of the show. If you look at other soaps (and I know Serial Drama does) the production values in terms of sets, scenery and even cinematography are higher in other shows. They've set a new bar, and DAYS hasn't been keeping up. It still looks like a soap filmed in the 80s, without the crazy shoulderpads and crazy hair. OH wait, I take that back about the hair.

3 - That's not to say that Tomlin isn't making good changes either, but stripping the show down to it's skivvies and getting rid of the actors who were the backbone of the series doesn't do it any good. There are people who will tune in to watch Jarlena, there are people who only started watching again for Steve and Kayla (when they came back, I tuned in again and for some strange reason, I've stayed), there are those who love Bo & Hope. Relegating these folks to the sidelines for long periods of time, or as only support characters, background filler, or completely off the radar doesn't do the show any good. Neither does introducing new characters every two months in an attempt to keep the storylines "fresh".

4 - My character critique and viewpoint for '09:
Chloe and Lucas: Go away now. We've seen enough of Chloe's troweled on makeup and big boobs. And Lucas' lusty eyebrow twitch that makes me wish for John trying to suck Marlena's brains out her mouth.
EJ/Nicole/Sami: Just get it over with already and have Sami give the baby to the convent and Nicole adopt it - we all know that's what's going to happen, right? Then you can start writing from there.
Sami & Rafe: just fall into bed already, we already know it's coming. Then let them live happily ever after, except that he remains FBI (or whatever he is), or joins the ISS and we bring back spies and intrigue that way.
The whirlwind that is Melanie: Nick should never have killed Trent, so that Trent could have wrought more havoc on Salem, since Victor is methodically being destroyed by the writers and he and his 'stache *should* plot revenge. And Melanie can continue trying to destroy Titan and Stephanie and Philip and Max and Chelsea because she's the most interesting thing that's going on right now. Except she's got to lose that pouty bratty teenager thing she's got going on.
Speaking of Max: put him back with Stephanie, please. And have him tell Melanie to jump off a cliff or something.
Stephano: Go away now. Just go. Until you have a plot that is better than trying to control the baby production model you have working right now, just go away. Come back when you have a good plan to destroy the Brady's again...
Brady: ye gods, you know that it's going to be Brady/Melanie/Philip so just bring that to a head quickly please, have her work between the two of them, sleep with them both and wreak more havoc there.
I think that's about it since everyone else is gone (like Bo, Hope, Roman, Steve, Kayla, John, Marlena, Caroline, Victor, etc)

I have watched Days for over half of my life and I had to stop during the whole Colleen/Santo storyline because I just could not stand seeing one more scene with Ali Sweeney (esp. with that TERRIBLE accent). I have tried to switch back now and then because I'm curious to see what is going on, but you are right. It's just Sami stuck on the same set screeching and pouting like a child. Not entertaining.

I would like to see Roman around for Kate a little bit more. I like Nicole and EJ together. Max and Chelsea make sense to me but Chloe and Lucas? I just don't see it.

I must agree that killing off Trent was a mistake. He was a great creepy villain, and I miss him. Nicole deserved to be stuck with him, and I mourn the lost opportunities. They should bring him back to life or bring in his eviler twin or something. I'd tune in to watch that. Until the writers messed that up too.

Basically, if there's no EJami and no Trent, there's nothing I care to watch.

Thanks for the laughs. All those clips were my favorites from this year.

I have to disagree about August being bad. I thought it was the strongest month of the year. I loved the hospital lock down with the vets. I thought that was the beginning of good things to come, and it turned out to be the end.

Glad J&M and their face sucking is done. Glad Trent is gone. Glad Shelle is gone. ITA what a mistake it was for Judi and Julie to be let go. Ruining Nick to prop a total useless bitch like Melanie was a waste of talent.

Chloe and Dan need to die. They are ruining the show with their awesomely bad acting and pornographic fantasies. Ewwwwwwwwwww.

Major props to the clips makers for making the show enjoyable.

Thanks to the wonderfulness that is Mary Beth, I never noticed the truly horrendous clothing she was forced to wear. When it comes to the eighties the music rocked but the clothing is an embarrassment.

I think the only thing new worth watching on DAYS is that Phil and Stephanie is all about Melanie. Phil and Stephanie are flavorless. There's no spice. No wonder. No subtlety. I think we all know that Phil and Stephanie are twwuv4eva! and Melanie is the bump in the road.

I also think the wrong person was fired. I may not have liked everything ED Scott wrote, but I think that may have had more to do with Corday than ES. I thought the beginning of the year held promise and it was starting to create a direction, then Higley came on and it was haphazzard, directionless and nonsensical.

Getting rid of Ed Scott was the biggest mistake of all. The show wasn't perfect under him, but at least it was watchable. There are so many storylines that make me want to hurl right now. The year up until the end of May held so much promise. I did also enjoy the hospital madness during Olympics week. I thought those episodes were well done, and oh, yeah, they were under Ed Scott's direction. Everyone was featured and things were, dare I say it, exciting. Oh well, that's the risk you take when watching Days. Anything promising will be destroyed in no time.

Thanks for the laughs in 2008 ladies, it helped make the crapfest that was Days a little more bearable.
I look forward in 2009 to seeing the fabulous Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans more than once a month. Maybe twice a month, and sometimes in the same room.

Too funny. I remember Kayla's '80s wardrobe. Ugh. They even made fun of it in one episode in which she wore a big ol' Western shirt and Bo called her "Tex." That John & Marlena video had me cackling. Too bad we didn't get to see his nose run at the wedding, though. And then she kissed the snot.

I pretty much agree with all of that (except I'm still about a month behind, so I haven't seen the Daniel/Chloe ickiness nor the ruining of Victor), but I do have to say...

Um, you forgot about Melanie. I have been pining for a Melanie rant from you for months now. Did I miss it somewhere? Or is that by not acknowledging her existence, it's like she's not really there? That girl makes me want to throw things at the TV, bash my head into sharp objects, and do other horrible things that I normally would not. The teeth, the hair flipping, the coy act around anything male - seriously. Can not handle that girl anymore...

Oh, and the destruction of Nick - made me sad.

That's about all I noticed that was left out. =)

Maybe I'll watch in 2009...when SN and MBE are on....otherwise....why bother?

I am guilty of having some of those "embellished" sweaters in the 80's! Oh how sad!

I really enjoy the way like you redact the information, and you're a good redactor 2.0.. do you know what's a redactor 2.0? it's a journalist on-line and you're doing an important blog-job specially in this occasion because you mentioned everything about the headline, always wrote the best about it and this has been changing the style too, so let's keep it on mind, this is it.

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