‘Twas the night before New Year’s Eve and all through Salem,
Not a supercouple was stirring, because all the male halves were "on assignment",
When up at Horton Square there arose such a chatter,
Celeste and her tarot cards tried to determine what was the matter,
For the state of Days of Our Lives couldn’t be much sadder.
Ken Corday rushed from his golf clubs and side projects to work up an annual sweat,
And hear Celeste’s warning about mistreating his pet.
Now, Marlena! Now, John! Now, Hope and Kristen!
On, Maggie! On, Victor, Stefano and Roman!
Dear Salemites heed Celeste's warning,
For storm clouds are dawning.
In the early part of 2014, Days of Our Lives was at a creative zenith. It's main storylines featured fan favorites Alison Sweeney (Sami), James Scott (EJ), Lauren Koslow (Kate), Blake Berris (Nick) and Eileen Davidson (Kristen) in must-see TV action.
Then Nick Fallon—one of the best villains introduced on soaps in the past decade—was killed off and as a result Sonny (Freddie Smith) and Will’s (Guy Wilson) story promptly sputtered. As for the game-changing exits of Sweeney, Scott and Davidson, Corday, Greg Meng, Gary Tomlin and Chris Whitesell were given plenty of time to prepare, since DAYS tapes nearly six month in advance. So what happened?
By late summer of 2014, I told Daytime Confidential’s Jamey Giddens I was worried about where DAYS was headed. The show didn’t appear to be preparing to fill the immense vacuum Sweeney, Scott and Davidson would leave.
This fall was even worse. Since November, the quality of Days of Our Lives has fallen faster than the value of Putin’s Russian ruble.
We’ve seen this cycle before with Corday. Things become dire at DAYS and he and his employees roll up their sleeves and attempts to turn things around. Sometimes it works. This time it hasn’t.
Tuning in to an episode of Days of Our Lives is currently more boring than watching maggots mate. Do they mate? I don’t want to know.
DAYS tapes so far in advance it is impossible to quickly adapt when a storyline or couple isn't working. And much of what I see on DAYS right now just isn't working.
Ben (Robert Scott Wilson) and Abigail (Kate Mansi) do nothing but have meaningless sex and ever more meaningless conversations. Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow) and Chad DiMera (Billy Flynn) spend all of their time arguing about characters from Poplar Bluff. Nicole (Arianne Zucker) hasn't had a decent storyline since they abruptly ended her relationship with Eric (Greg Vaughan). The soap brought on One Life to Live fan favorite Melissa Archer and put her Serena Mason in a romance with Eric, before even bothering to develop the character. None of these moves are what a show desperately trying to galvanize after major exits should be doing.
There are a few bright spots. John (Drake Hogestyn) and Marlena (Deidre Hall) are finding their way back to one another. Even apart, Brady (Eric Martsolf) and Theresa (Jen Lilley) are highly root-worthy, especially with Kristen set to return again soon. Eve Donovan's (Kassie DePaiva) trashy romps with JJ Deveraux (Casey Moss), her daughter's boyfriend, are fun. The addition of closeted baseball player Paul Narita (Christopher Sean) has made WilSon's forced marital spats slightly less boring. None of this is enough to offset what isn't working, however.
Let's talk about those sets. DAYS' budget has obviously been slashed, because looking at fictional Salem U.S.A. right now gives me painful déjà vu to the final years of Guiding Light. No, they aren't to the point of filming outdoors with handheld cameras, but it feels close.
Next year is DAYS' 50th anniversary. Corday is once again promising huge things in the press. I sincerely hope he makes good on his promise. For that to happen, some of the six months worth of material already in the can had better be the kind of red-hot storytelling this soap was accomplishing in 2013 and during the first part of 2014. If not, Celeste's premonitions of ultimate doom just might come true.