Exiting Days of Our Lives actor Thaao Penghlis recentlyspoke out about his firing from Days of Our Lives to Michael Fairman for MichaelFairmanSoaps.com. The veteran actor revealed how he got the call about being tossed from the soap while doing mission work in Cuba—nice job Kenny—. He also talked about the state of the once-great Days of Our Lives and daytime as a whole.
When you look at Days now, with the departure of so many long time veterans and icons of the genre, what do you think?
Days is not "Days" anymore. It’s an extension of what it was; it’s not the body or the heart of what it was. We were all part of that, especially those that just left and I think we were the best of daytime. I think, hands down, the James Reilly’s of the world have destroyed daytime. They took the thing that people watched, which was great reality and passions, and made it into somewhat of a joke and cartoons. However, I must say, the fact that “DAYS” has remained on so long is a credit to the show. It has such a wonderful history and I will miss it."
As much as I respect Penghlis, I beg to differ concerning his take on the late James E. Reilly's impact on daytime. If you've ever listening to a CBS/Days podcast you know how I feel about the writer. I was a fan of Days long before Reilly came onboard, and adored the romance novel-come-to-life storytelling of the 80's, but there's no denying Reilly helped save this soap when he took the reins in the early 90's. Reilly took Days from Number 7 to Number 2 in households and kept it at Number 1 among women 18-49 for much of his original stint with the show, so I fail to see how he hepled "destroy daytime".
When Reilly took over Days in 1992, NBC was already about to cancel the stellar Santa Barbara and Another World had been on borrowed time since the end of the 80's. Meanwhile Days under Reilly ended up getting two-page spreads in Entertainment Weekly and coming thisclose to knocking Y&R off as the top soap during the Devil Possession storyline. I firmly believe Days would have been cancelled well over a decade ago and NBC would long be out of the soap game without benefiit of Reilly's larger-than-life storytelling and juggernaut ratings, however, I do believe Reilly wannabes like Gary Tomlin and Dena Higley, who never possessed even so much as a trace of the late writer's vision or passion for that type of pop fizz storytelling, have helped put another couple of nails or 300 in the industry's coffin.
What made Reilly successful was that he genuinely, wholeheartedly believed in the stories he was spinning. The rest of daytime trying to mimic that (Guiding Light cloning Reva and sending her back in time, ABC turning it's first General Hospital spinoff into a poor soap fan's Dark Shadows) was the problem, not Reilly. No one asked the rest of the industry to play copy cat. As for Penghlis, he is much too talented for the current state of Days. Maybe he can go to All My Children as a recast for Dimitri?