What DAYS Needs to Do If It Wants to Stay on Past 2010 Pt. I: The Hortons and Bradys Generation Next

It’s no secret Days of Our Lives is my heart. Like Tara to Scarlett, Llanfair to Viki and the Promises Treatment Center in Malibu to Lindsay Lohan, DAYS is home to me, which is why it pains me to find the land of my childhood, fanboy dreams war-ravaged, and overrun with some strange cow wandering about chewing cud.
I wrote last week how the show was actually watchable again, well, watchable won’t keep DAYS on the air past 2010. In years past I never worried about whether NBC-U-Later-Soaps would kill Days of Our Lives, because I knew CBS or ABC would readily fight to the death grab up the most buzzed about soap in the last 20 years of daytime television. Thanks to the woeful state of the U.S. economy, coupled with DAYS being written by someone who would make the top brass at AIG shake their heads and go "tsk, tsk, tsk", I no longer have the quiet comfort that Frons or Bloom will pick up DAYS once it’s cut by NBC. Hell, Mickey Mouse and Tiffany are having a hard enough times keeping the soaps already on their network lineups afloat, why would they consider bringing DAYS to the table in the shape its in? 

Horton Hears a Higley

It’s time for DAYS to re-establish its core, and sorry folks, that ain’t the Kiriakis family vs. The DiMeras— it’s the Hortons. The DiMera and the Kiriakis families respectively were two of DAYS great, villainous dynasties of the 80’s and 90’s, but they are basically interchangeable. There is no long term drama or inherent conflict to be derived from focusing a soap opera around two mustache-twirling Euro trash crime dynasties.

The saving grace of this disastrous set up has been the Nicole/EJ/Sami dynamic, however, this aspect of the show isn’t interesting or far-reaching enough to anchor a soap opera. The best soap triangles, i.e. Rachel/Steve/Alice on Another World, Erica/Phil/Tara on All My Children, etc. worked because they had two unique female archetypes— one principled and noble, the other methodical, scheming and on the make— vying for the man of every housewife and future Broadway season ticket holder’s dreams. How exactly does DAYS plan to build long term story out of two bitches fighting for a rapist?

When Days of Our Lives premiered, it was considered highly-unique for its time, because it combined the tried and true tenets of serial dramas like Guiding Light and As The World Turns— which focused on family— with that of General Hospital, which focused on the workplace. Fans were able to see good Doctor Tom Horton (the late MacDonald Carey) head home after a hard day at the hospital to face a myriad of familial dramas, brought on by one or more of his five children and grandchildren, meanwhile his doting wife Alice (Frances Reid) offered sage counsel and one bitchin’ donut recipe!

Now before we go any further, I am not suggesting DAYS pull a Guiding Light circa 2007 and try to recreate some faux-wholesome yesteryear feel for the show. I don’t want EJ to suddenly become a doctor—or worse, a preacher— and move himself, Sami, Nicole and their Springer Show kids fest into Horton House, however I am suggesting DAYS take drastic and calculated steps to recreate the Horton family for a new generation.

As it stands now, the members of Salem’s first family have no cohesive unit. Because of the advanced age and rumored failing health of Frances Reid, Alice is understandably no longer a presence; one bad Mickey recast too many has left that character irrelevant; meanwhile the soap’s first supercouple, Doug and Julie (Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes) are only trumpeted out for under five work.

The few Hortons with viable presences in Salem are Hope (Kristian Alfonso), who let’s face it, is more identifiable with the Bradys after almost 30 years of loving and leaving Bo (Peter Reckell); Lucas (Bryan Datillo), the illegitimate offspring of a long-absent Horton son, who is more associated with the Robert-Kiriakis family; and Maggie (Suzanne Rogers), Lucas and Hope’s aunt-by-marriage.

 DC’s Mike pointed out recently that Emmy-winner Rogers is managing to provide some semblance of familiarity and comfort as DAYS brutally slashes through its veteran cast, as well as much of its storied history. Rogers somehow figures out how to sell even the most forced and contrived of connections. Her chemistry with Blake Berris (ex-Nick) and Datillo have been notable highlights over the past few trying years for the Horton clan and DAYS as a whole, but having this character be used to invoke sympathy for Melanie (Molly Burnett) is beyond disrespectful to Rogers’ legacy and fans’ patience.

39 Responses

  1. Profile photo of THEBEST

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jamey! :)
    Now, this would be a show I would break my neck to see everyday. It could easily rival Y&R in the ratings department and at least get back to a 4.0! Days is also close to my heart, and the fans of this show are loyal. Look at the trash that they continue to endure now and the numbers still hit or get close to 3.0…
    Imagine how they will react to a better show, rich with history & character-driven storylines?

    I absolutely LOVE your soap-saving tip posts, Jamey! Can’t wait for Pt. 2…

    If you could, B&B, AMC, & GH need a slew of tips, as well. ;)

  2. Profile photo of Johnathon

    Okay I only skimmed this post because well I am supposed to be studying and WOW that is long lol.

    I do agree with a lot of what you said, but instead of listing the problems i have with it (the whole not wanting to spend a lot of time on this post thing lol), Do you think that any network would really let the #3 rated soap die? I mean Dena has kept it pretty stable at #3 and it wouldn’t really surprise me if it took over B&B’s spot before soon. So would the industry really let it die? 

    I guess i am just being hopeful here, but I do think going back to your ‘roots’ and bringing back core family is a good move, they are currently doing this in Australia to get the ratings for Neighbours up a little by bringing back the Ramsey’s to Ramsey street :).

    I am interested in reading part 2 (and rereading part 1)

    Keep up the good work Jamey.

  3. Profile photo of SoapSnob

    Why are you not head-writing a daytime drama? Like GH, I have never been able to consistently watch DAYS. But, as I was riveted to every word you wrote, I would definitely watch the Jamey Giddens version of DAYS.

    I know that it will be VERY difficult to get it out of its current AWFUL state, but can you give us your take on B&B?

  4. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    SoapsSnob, thanks so much! I would love to be writing for daytime, but all any agent will tell me is "the industry is dying, the industry is dying, only a fool would want to write for daytime, spare yourself the headache". That is almost verbatim of what a top soap agent told me just yesterday! LOL I sort of posted this out of frustration. Ha!

  5. Profile photo of siomonstuart2003

    Soaps can be fixed if the industry start listening to the fans and not the bs focus groups and youth that ain’t watching anyway. I don’t want any talk show and reality show, the industry can be saved if they get good writers, budget the sets and balance the vets and newbies and the internet is any way to get revenue for shows and be a product placement to get money for the show that way. And last and not least, cut the execs pay, too.

  6. Profile photo of SoapSnob

    Jamey, thank you for responding to my post. And thank you even more so for remaining so positive, upbeat and creative in the face of industry insiders telling you that the daytime serial is a dying genre. With your connections, thus the sturm und drang you obviously hear often, it must be hard to soldier on. But I am so very glad that you do. I enjoy reading your posts and your insight, rants and humor on the podcasts always give me something about which to think or something at which to howl with laughter.

    Keep up the great work. And never give up.

  7. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Yeah SoapSnob, it’s funny, a lot of readers take us to task for "being negative", but high level people in soaps, several who actually RUN soaps are telling people its over and that they are just "riding it out". All you have to do is think about which soaps are fighting for survival, and which aren’t to figure out who feels which way abou the industry. All of daypart is shrinking, but if one soap actually took the country by storm again, just one, it could buy the industry another decade, in my opinion. Either way, those of us who love it, are in it together!

  8. Profile photo of dmfj

    It would be great to have Laura back. They could use her and Kate in a decent story. The main problem I have with your ideas is the SOARSing of all the stupid kids. They are seriously daytime’s biggest liablity and they should be cut back on every show. The writers can’t resist piling the entire show on the kids when they are there. So they can’t be given that option.

  9. Profile photo of SonnySprocket

    Now that would be a great story! I have always been jealous when I see how some other soaps invite former characters back for special occasions. Days rarely has done this. Tom Horton’s funeral was a big deal because so many characters returned and storylines continued to progress during that time. Mickey dying could really drive some great story and reestablish the Horton family as core. There are other possible family members to bring back as well. Rehire Stephen Schnetzer as Steven Olson. He was a ne’er do well back in the 70s who would be a great match for Kate. Dr Sandy Horton is another possibility. She could be paired with Daniel or someone else. Melissa has offscreen kids that would be teens by now as well. They could come back with their mom after she divorces. I always thought it was dumb that Marie or Jessica didn’t visit when Nick was on the show. Would love to see them as well. And somewhere down the line, after Maggie has properly grieved for Mickey, I would love to see her break thru with Victor and break him from his angry bitter mode he has been in. That would be a couple worth exploring as well.

  10. Profile photo of daysfan65

    Ugh! This just made me sad, thinking about the 90s. Laura Horton was my favorite! Instead of bringing on these random Melanie Layton’s, why not branch out Julie’s family. She has that son Scotty, who had David, who could return with a teen daughter for Max or something along the lines.

    Kudos to you Jamey Giddens.

  11. Profile photo of Bangel Angle
    Bangel Angle

    Thank you Jamey!

    This is what I’ve been saying forever! Why is this show, which is supposed to be about good triumphing over evil, being built on evil characters constantly winning.

    A Dimera male is supposed to be the top catch in Salem? Seriously? A Kirikis is supposed to be the next most important guy in town?

    We have all these characters that don’t mean anything to the show, getting all this time. Yet the core characters just drift along.

    Dena has taken the only Horton, whose in his 30s that left in town, and put him in a storyline where he’s not even headlining. None of Lucas’ history is being used. Lucas is a schemer, who was always missplaced in that family. But instead of growing the character, they’ve rewritten him so that Dena can use him like they use Frank on GL.

    When was the last time Sami even had a real scene with the Brady. I’ve always seen Sami as on the line when it comes to a Brady. Well, not anymore. They’ve totally had her cross over. This fake Sami, I could actually see betraying her family and handing them over to the Dimeras.

    DOOL is only #3 because its fans will put up with anything and the other shows are so horrible. Days fans are so used to crap that they flock to mediocre.

    The main set on the show is the Dimera’s mansion. WTF!

    DOOL need to focus back on its good guys. You can only go so far with the bad guys before you end up just going in circles.

    The hero is what drives the story. Not the villain that sometimes feels guilty that he did bad.

  12. Profile photo of gush900

    Jamey i dont see eden taking up residence in salem under higley.And i was a huge fan of passions were danica stewart played pure and innocent jessica bennett who turned tricks on the side,Im not a fan of Danica’s work.Days is no better than amc.I dont see missy reeves ever comingback to salem.Jamey those good ol days died with our beloved jimmy e reilly

  13. Profile photo of KidYandR

    DAYS isn’t my show (as the name implies :)), but I found your ideas to be very insightful and they really reflect what EVERY show should be doing: Focusing on the core families. Forget the fact that it’s what viewers want. Forget the fact that character-driven storytelling (basis for all DRAMA, soap or otherwise) emerges from the struggles of core characters rooted in the tapestry of the show; it seems to me the idea of reintroducing characters with history would be EASIER than trying to garner interest in a new character. Again, I don’t watch DAYS, but if Higley is as lazy and inept a writer as I hear, then why would she or any of the other “bad show” writers not take the aforementioned approach. And while I realize that some core characters who have returned are often hastily written in, Higley and others could save valuable time (precious thing in the soap world these days) by simply doing a little research and finding a previous character that fits the particular archetype he or she has conceptualized. Jamey, can you help me understand the mentality of writers like Higley?

  14. Profile photo of Mrs Adam Carrington
    Mrs Adam Carrington


    Jamey you are the man Bill Bell would be proud, this is the version of Days I’d love to watch. Bringing the Hortons back is a dream I have been harbouring for a long time, I love the DiMeras but am willing to sacrifice them for the Hortons returning to the canvas. If I ever find a genie Jamey I wish that you become Days’ new head writer.

  15. Profile photo of Damon Jacobs
    Damon Jacobs

    Jamey you are amazing. Incorporating the much forgotten Sara/Neil/Maggie twist into today’s show would be nothing short of brilliant. I agree with every thing you have said. Unfortunately, I think it is way too intelligent and sharp for NBC to air.

  16. Profile photo of minipitbull007

    Your version of Salem just flat out rocks and reminds me why I ever loved Days of our Lives in the first place. Its such a shame that Dena Higley has an entire fantasy world with such lush beautiful history at her fingers but still goes with garbage. It’s to hard to even watch anymore not to mention depressing I see a whole treasure trove of actors who are more then capable of pulling off great material being forced to pull off one stupid obvious act after another.

    Why aren’t you the head writer? Days needs a decent head writer with great ideas.

  17. Profile photo of DOOLJunkie

    I know these words have really lost their affect, but it’s much better than we’re seeing on our screens. The original Mickey was the only Mickey for me, so I’m fine with him going. The rest is gold as well. Higley seems to like stealing people’s ideas. Wish she’d steal some of yours.

    Looking forward to part two.

    By the way Jamey, what are your thoughts on a story surrounding Nick’s release from prison?

  18. Profile photo of Ryan

    Great work Jamey, I’ve wanted an Alice funeral to bring the Hortons back to town, but this Mickey storyline would work very well. All the returns are great and castings like Ben Masters to play Bill would be fantastic. The whole thing is great.

    If Jeremy retuned, I’d like Trevor Donovan to come back. I’ve never liked any of Days young adult scene, including Chelsea and Nick, but I did actually like Jeremy. If they recast Stephanie with someone like Heidi Mueller and let them create lots of Horton babies I’d be happy. The thought of the future of the Horton family lying in the hands of Sami and Lucas is scary.

    Part two, Sami’s a bitch again, right? lol

  19. Profile photo of Axl4ever

    I pretty much love everything you’ve said. I’m sure they could get Melissa Reeves back for Uncle Mickey’s funeral. If OLTL could get Nathen Fillion back for Asa’s, they could get her. I never understood why they didn’t have Abby come back by now. Never thought of bringing back JT and that would be great for him to be Mira’s baby’s daddy. Love bringing the Horton’s front and center. There are so many characters that could be brought back or like you said, aged, to breath new life into Days. The show is downright incestous the way it is now. Max went from this niece (Chelsea) to his other niece (Stephanie) back to his other niece (Chelsea). Can he get a woman who isn’t related to him even he was only adopted. Mike was alwasy a great character. And Maggie has proven that she’s still a presence on screen and able to add something more than getting people to their tables at her resturant. I really hope that Ken Corday gets a clue and gets rid of Dena and brings someone on who actually cares about Days and it’s extremely rich history.

  20. Profile photo of THEBEST

    To hell with that!
    Alice Horton should not be killed off until Frances Reid passes in real life (knock on wood). They should give her at least that much respect. Mickey would be better.

  21. Profile photo of Brian Peel
    Brian Peel

     Well done Jamey – exactly what’s been sitting on my mind for a DAYS comeback. I even have names like Marie Horton and Sandy Horton coming back to me. Could this even be DAYS’ chance to bring back Nick for good? This could even be Alice Horton’s last hurrah on screen. Imagine the possibilities…. I would really enjoy the welcoming return of Melissa, Mike and Sarah, together with Neil and Liz and play out the whole Bill, Laura storyline. Days would not only rate through the roof, but will knock Y&R off it’s perch. Guaranteed. Need a gaffer? I’m officially offering my services. 

  22. Profile photo of ConqueringBlue

    I LOVE the idea of Ben Masters as Bill Horton. How inspired! I loved a lot of your ideas for reviving the Hortons. I started watching Days back in 1990, when Jack and Jennifer were the hottest thing on the show, and fell in love with the Horton family. What has happened to them over the past few years is a real travesty (kind of like what has happened to the Quartermaines on GH). I haven’t watched Days in months. To be honest, my last day watching was the day John and Marlena left, and I haven’t missed it at all. The show had been getting increasingly crappier over two or three years and nothing has interested me at all. I would take 5 Hortons over any Dimeras, to be honest. Why are certain soaps so much more interested in hiring villains than bringing in beloved characters of past? Soaps used to be grounded in warmth and family and there was humor and light along with the dark. But Days, as well as the other soap I have watched for years, GH, are both so grounded in darkness. As a result I have been watching both less and less.

  23. Profile photo of tws1978

    I really donŕ understand the reason for this post. It´s just like a miriad other fanfictions all around the net. You are not taking in account the popularity of the characters, the logistic behind the show which itself very much limites what characters and what occupations are possible, the already going or developing stories people wants to see finish. The title suggested this will be some serious analyze of the show and what it does right and what it should do better, but what you did is just another “I hate Melanie, so she dies” kind of fantasy.

    I think what you are trying to do is desperately mold the show into the form you like, ie. more like OLTL or Y/R. But the show seems to already find a form on its own which works for it and is accepted by majority as well, as the ratings proves almost every week. I´m sorry you and some people here are not able to enjoy it, but right now there is no valid reason to try undermine the vision Higley/Tomlin/Whittesel have for the show and push it into another transition. I mean, even Corday leaves them alone.

    As for the idea, I really don´t think there is some desperate need of more Hortons. Was Jeremy more interesting character just because he had the right surname? The big soap family gatherings are thing of past anyway, it costs too much and what breaks or makes soap are the stories and characters, not how many people with the same surname is able to gather in a room around a christmas tree. I think right now DAYS has a good set of leading characters and there is no reason to change it just to push Hortons back to front.

    I do think Abby should eventually return as a replacement for Chelsea and roomate for Steph, but DB will be off most of the summer so I quess whatever idea they had for his new love interest, it will have to wait.

  24. Profile photo of petitejolie

    I’d like Carrie and Austin to stay together. As weak as their return, reunion, and quickie remarriage was, I’d like to think that they finally got their happy ending. I don’t need them broken up yet again my Mike Horton.

  25. Profile photo of minipitbull007

    tws1978 I’m glad that you are actually able to enjoy the regurgitated crap that Dena puts out weekly. Can you actually say that Bo having Visions and the possibility of Hope sleeping with Roman appealing and worth recording? Do you see Melanie and Max the future brother/sister duo of the century? And the Sami hour with her whining and crying over baby daddies and not being able to stand on her own two feet with out the help of a man riveting? I really think that Jamey’s post was meant to give ideas Dena could do to bring a new focus on the show by taking it back to where it began in the first place and the actor and actress’s he suggested for those parts would give everyone a reason to watch everyday IMO. And news flash Days will never be Y&R Dena hasn’t got it in her but she is already writing the show in another direction and focus by cutting out the sci fi stuff to which the show has been famous for 10 years or so. To add the dialogue for some of the older characters is so beneath them I mean Lucas saying stuff like kicking it with my HOMIES are you serious Dena who talks like that in their mid thirties. And Sami saying Narley I’d be happy alone if everyone talked at least half way intelligent.

  26. Profile photo of nolanspice

    Without getting too verbose, Jamey, you are a genius! I, officially, offer my services to either be a breakdown or dialogue writer for you, especially for this DAYS outline. I was riveted while reading it and getting excited over the fantasy casting!

    To TWS, I was always told that if I have nothing nice to say, to either:
    a) say nothing at all
    b) remind myself that everyone is entitled to their opinions
    c) compliment what you’re wearing and admire your haircut/hairstyle
    d) sit next to someone who disagrees too and dish on you

    Since I can’t see you, I choose B…with a shady dash of D.

  27. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    Days does need to return to the Horton family. Jamey has some great ideas, but it is up to Ken Corday to make the Horton family a priority again. Suzanne Rogers is an amazing actress who has proven over the last 35 years or so that she can make any story or scene watchable and enjoyable. Give her more of a chance to shine, DOOL. I don’t think Dena is the writer to do that! I’d love to see what Salem would like if former GH and RH head writer Claire Labine was given full control of the soap.

    Eden would make a great Sarah Horton and the return of Joe Gallison would be great, even if it was temporary. Ben Masters as Bill Horton would be interesting as well!

    DOOL was a must see show for me for over 20 years, but I took it off my DVR three weeks ago and haven’t watched an episode since! I miss the characters that feel like an extended family to me, but I don’t miss the predictable and uninspiring stories Dena is telling on the show!

  28. Profile photo of naughtytomato

    How exactly does DAYS plan to build long term story out of two bitches fighting for a rapist? LOL! yea, how? When you put it that way!
    I still can’t fully buy Sammi as a romantic herione. Last year in the middle of EJ, Lucas. Now Rafe, EJ, Nicole. yea, problem there.

    Bringing back the Hortons. The last Horton they brought back was Jeremy (June 07-Oct 07). Bad Memories! Ugg! Who was writing then- Soap writer hero Hogan Sheffer. Fitting Jeremy’s xmass ornament broke in the box that Dec.

  29. Profile photo of DOOLJunkie

    No way in Hell should Higley ever write a funeral for Alice Horton. She could never give her the respectful and meaningful exit she deserves. God forbid anything should happen to Frances Reid, I just hope Higley or whoever is trashing the show is out of the picture.

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