James E. Reilly’s Greatest Hits

Here’s a clip from the infamous "Buried Alive" storyline from Days of Our Lives. The Reilly-penned tale, featuring Crystal Chappell (Olivia, Guiding Light) as Dr. Carly Manning, Robert Kelker-Kelly as Bo Brady, Michael Sabatino (Vince, Guiding Light) as Lawrence Alamain, Erik Von Detten as a young Nicky Alamain and the incomparable Louise Sorel as Vivian Alamain, helped catapult Days from Number 7 to Number 2 in the Nielsen Household ratings where it stayed for much of Reilly’s first run as head writer of the NBC soap. The storyline saw heroine Carly being buried alive by a psychotic Vivian to prevent Carly from "stealing" Vivian’s nephews Lawrence and Nicky away from her. It was also the culmination of the wildly popular Bo/Carly/Lawrence triangle that carried Days of Our Lives during the early 90’s.

Something wicked came to Salem in the form of Satan himself, make that herself, as Days of Our Lives‘ most popular heroine Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) found herself possessed. Marlena’s arch enemy Stefano DiMera (Joe Mascolo) unwittingly opened up the doorway to hell for his beloved "Queen of the Night" when he started hypnotizing her.Only Marlena’s true love, the Jason Bourne-esque John Black (Drake Hogestyn) could save her soul from the fires of hell. Lucky for a Bedeviled Doc, John was once a priest. Well, they do say women like a man in a uniform!

It’s a sister thang
. James E. Reilly didn’t create the characters of  Carrie (Christie Clark) and Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney), but it was his keyboard strokes that made the half-sister act two of the most popular rivals in daytime history. By having Carrie and Sami fall for the same piano-playing boxer, Austin Reed, (Patrick Muldoon, Austin Peck) and adding Austin’s jealous, newly-discovered younger brother Lucas (Bryan Datillo) to the already volatile mix, Reilly created a classic quadrangle that drove storyline for well over a decade. This scene, brougt to us courtesy of Celebrating the Soaps, is from the climax of the long-running "Who Fathered Will?" storyline. Ironically it was Sami’s twin brother and best friend Eric (Jensen Ackles) who helped their big sis finally catch a clue and prove that Lucas, not the dim-witted Austin fathered Sami’s first born son.

On the heels of his phenomenal Days run, Reilly was offered the chance to create his own unique NBC soap opera. While Passions, with its over-the-top storylines, supernatural turns and the occasional squeamish plot twist (Julian fathering a child with his own hermaphrodite offspring) wasn’t for every soap fan. There’s no denying the soap’s impact on pop culture or its legions of diehard fans. Here’s a scene with the brilliant Juliet Mills as Harmony’s century’s old witch Tabitha Lenox, remembering her dear friend and ours, Timmy the Living Doll, played by the late Josh Ryan Evans. Here’s to hoping Reilly and Evans are entertaining the hosts of heaven with their wacky goodness.

23 Responses

  1. Profile photo of season1217

    Luke better get to it fixed quick because Tabitha reminiscing about Timmy is about the funniest thing I’ve seen! ROTFL!


    //**It’s the writing, stupid!**\\

  2. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Thanks Kidizdcchick. Relly was, in my opinion, daytime’s answer to Aaron Spelling,  his shows weren’t "critically acclaimed" but as a writer, popularity with an audience is something I aspire to much more than to please some critics.

  3. Profile photo of snowi

    I can see them now.

    Thanks Jamey, and I’m so sorry. I knew you really liked JER and it’s depressing to think that he will never write for Days again. Seeing these videos is reminding how Days was when I first became a fan. Days current head writer should take some notes……

  4. Profile photo of DramaFanatic

    Not to be a fact checker, but DAYS didn’t get to #2 until 1995 with the Possession storyline. The buried alive storyline brought DAYS back to the top 5 in the ratings, at #5. It wasn’t until Reilly went in an even more bizarre direction with the Possession storyline did DAYS shoot to #2 and stay there consistently until 1999 or so.

  5. Profile photo of SusieQ

    Good times, good times! When Reilly was at his best, Days was must-see tv. It’s a shame they can’t put these storylines on dvd or something. I love rewatching them. Thank goodness for youtube and soap fans helping this fun live on!

  6. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Yep, Days did slide a bit after Crystal left and you are also right it didn’t consistently keep the Number 2 until around 95. Sigh. AMC was SO good back then too! I wonder if any of the soaps will ever be that good again.

  7. Profile photo of SoapSlut

    Bo and Billy in their hey day(pre Hope/Gina massacre) were my favorite couple and the reason I started watching days of our lives, they were kind of opposites, but fun and lovable and just absolutely gorgeous together!!!
    I remember when Bo went out to L.A. on an undercover assignment and Billy followed him, and then had to pose as his girlfriend!Loved it

  8. Profile photo of Jon

    JER at his best was among THE best.
    I loved Carrie clocking Sami, the John/Susan teeth-flying wedding
    Salem Stalker
    early Luis & Sheridan
    Tabby & Timmy
    and so much more!
    JER gave me so many hours of entertainment!
    RIP to a soap legend!

  9. Profile photo of

    New co-head writer Marlene McPherson wrote for Days during this era and was responsible for helping tell these amazing stories. No wonder I am looking forward to her and her co-head writer’s work!

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