With PASSIONS ending it’s relatively brief and definitely bizarre run later this year, DAYS OF OUR LIVES fans can’t help but wonder if their soap will be next. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that NBC has indicated that the long-running sudser may not be safe beyond 2009 as well as declining ratings and the fact that current storylines are… well, in a word, bad.
Fortunately, executive producer Ken Corday seems well aware that the residents of Salem are endangered and, according to interviews he’s been giving, is doing everything within his power to save the troubled show. Figuring that the poor guy can use all the help he can get, we decided to offer up a few helpful tips. So here’s what we believe needs to be done – pronto! – if the serial is going to return to its glory DAYS.
Focus on characters fans love: Why have John and Marlena been relegated to the sidelines for months? When Emmy-winning writer Hogan Sheffer took over from infamous scribe James E. Reilly, there was much talk of returning beloved characters – including John, Marlena, Bo and Hope – to the forefront, and yet all four have been personas non grata for most of 2007!
Bring back Stefano: Yes, DiMera’s son, EJ, has been stirring up trouble all over town, but it’s time to show junior that father knows best. Joseph Mascolo (ex-Massimo, THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL) is ready, willing and able to step back into the role of Salem’s #1 bad guy. Get him on air – at any price – pronto!
Bring the kids home: Why are Belle and Shawn on an island interacting with people we don’t know or care about? The last time DAYS sent everyone to an island – remember Melaswen, aka Land Of The Living Dead? – ratings took a nose dive. No man is an island… and no soap story should take place on one.
Trim the cast: Want to help convince the network that the show is viable? Cut costs. How best to do that? Get rid of the dead weight. Bye-bye, Abe. See ya, Max. Hey, could you guys give Willow a ride? And maybe Nick? It wouldn’t hurt if NuShawn were to have the same operation as Philip recent did and miraculously re-appear in the form of Jason Cook.
Let SoapNet help: Nobody does better soap-oriented advertising campaigns and promotions than SoapNet. Take advantage of the fact that you’re now partners with a cable network whose entire goal in life is to celebrate the medium. Want to remind fans of the glory days? Arrange for SoapNet to re-air the Cruise of Deception storyline over the summer and during commercial breaks, bombard viewers with ads making it clear that the soap they loved is on the rebound.
It’s all about the stories: Why is Philip so desperate to claim a child he knows isn’t his? Why are Sami and Lucas endlessly talking about their “environmentally friendly” wedding? Most importantly, where’s the love? Enough with Kayla stealing kidneys, Patch being in a mental institution and day after day of talk about that damned hairbrush! The show needs to get back to basics ASAP. And again, not to put too fine a point on things, but by bringing Stefano back to town, all of the loose ends could be nicely tied together. He represents a threat to the characters we care about – Bo, Hope, John, Marlena, Roman, Kate – and, by extension, their offspring. DAYS is never better than when telling an umbrella story focusing on good vs evil with couples uniting to prove that love saves the day.
Our dream scenario: Given how many people in Salem have been hurt and/or manipulated by EJ, someone in town tries to off the bad guy. Furious that the residents of Salem would try and do away with his son, Stefano comes roaring back to town with a vengeance. He immediately creates havoc by revealing that EJ and Sami slept together, causing Lucas to dump his fiance (again!). DiMera then threatens to frame Lucas for the attempted murder of EJ unless Kate becomes his lover and co-conspirator. Desperate to protect her son – having always been a woman who puts family first – she agrees. Determined to find out once and for all what Stefano has against the Brady clan unites John, Marlena, Bo and Hope in a quest for the long-hidden truth. Furious at the way Shawn and Belle hurt Philip, Victor joins forces with Stefano in attempting to destroy their parents. Along the way, the easily manipulated and oh-so-vulnerable (when she’s not being shrewish) Chelsea could find herself attracted to the recovering EJ, who strings her along in an effort to drive yet another wedge between Bo and Hope. Notice how suddenly, everything is tied together and everyone on the canvas has a purpose? That’s how you tell a good soap story.
In the final analysis, DAYS is a show with some of the most loyal and vocal fans around. And perhaps the folks behind the scenes got complacent and mistakenly believed “if we tape it, they will come.” Unfortunately, eroding ratings have proven that’s not the case. But there’s still plenty of time to turn things around. Bring back the DAYS fans loved, and they’ll come running. Guaranteed.