Dear Mr. Corday

Note: On the TWoP boards, in light of recent comments Corday made in Soap Opera Digest, we were discussing how it might be a good idea to start a letter writing campaign from people who are fans of the whole show, who want to see quality stories across the board. This is my attempt at just such a letter. Feel free to use it or adapt it or change it in writing a letter of your own.

3400 W. Olive St., Suite 170
Burbank, CA 91505

With the recent ratings drop, you must be wondering what to do to fix it. I’m sure you’ve been hearing lots of complaints from fans about airtime and particular storylines. It’s laudable to try to respond to fans’ concerns about airtime and other issues. But in order to create a quality show, it’s important to tell good stories above all.

Couples have their fanbases and naturally those fans want to see their favorites. But a balance is called for. Steve and Kayla shouldn’t be sacrificed for John and Marlena, just as John and Marlena shouldn’t be sacrificed for Steve and Kayla. This goes for all the characters on the show, young and old, couples and singles. Characters can cycle to the backburner for a time when the story calls for it, but one character or couple should not be sacrificed for the sake of another. A balance in airtime makes the most sense.

Striking a balance among the types of stories being told is also crucial to the show’s success. Dark, unhappy stories should be balanced with light, happy ones. Romances are important, but other types of relationships—siblings, parent/child, friends—can be explored and developed. Mysteries and adventures can incorporate many different characters and storylines.

One thing I loved about the show last fall, when Hogan Sheffer first started writing, was how the storylines intersected and different characters interacted. When characters interact outside of their circles, it makes all the storylines more interesting and enriches the canvas of relationships. I’d really like to see more of this.

I also love to see romance on the show. Love scenes have been missing in action lately. Even when a couple is apart, longing glances across the room go a long way. One thing I would love for the younger set is to see romances develop slowly, over time. Some of the recent pairings, especially Max and Abby, seem rushed. I don’t enjoy hearing in the dialogue of the show that a couple is “meant to be.” Show us, don’t tell us, that a couple is meant to be. And there’s no shame in admitting that a coupling isn’t working, and trying something else.

I’d like to see some of these younger characters established and grounded as well-rounded individuals, before they get paired off. Integrating them into the rest of the canvas, with the older generation, their families, and friends, and showing them at their jobs or at school, is a good way to establish character.

Which brings me to my most important point. Above all what I like to see are character-based conflicts and stories. Soaps have always played with extreme situations, but those situations need to be grounded by real, multi-faceted characters who react believably. Chelsea’s story is a wonderful example of a character working toward redemption, not always succeeding but always striving. I’d like to see characters taking control of their own lives, trying to do the right thing but failing occasionally, and facing the consequences when they make mistakes.

Good guys don’t have to always be good, but their poor choices should be believable and their motivations explained. Bad guys don’t have to be all bad, in fact they’re far more interesting when they’re not. James Scott, for example, is capable of giving EJ layers—let the writing help him out.

Please try to remember that there will never be a story that will please all the fans. People will write to complain whenever their favorites are not being featured, or when their favorites are split up or unhappy. And it’s good to respond to fan concerns. But if you have faith in your story and know that it will pay off in a way that most fans will like, I think it’s better not to change horses in midstream.

How do you think all those fanatical fans were created to begin with? By developing consistent, layered, active characters and putting them in long-term story arcs that challenged them and forced them to grow. There was suffering and angst, yes, but always leavened with romance and fun, and the payoffs made the suffering worth it.

It’s not a quick fix to the ratings problem. But the fans thus created are far more loyal than those who tune in for one shocking storyline. Hogan Sheffer has a good grasp of character and writes smart, quality dialogue. He’s demonstrated that. Won’t you trust him to develop some long term story arcs and let them play out?

Downloadable version in Microsoft Word

Click here to see a letter from another fan

14 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Corday

  1. thanks for this template! i’m going to rework it a bit and add some thoughts of my own, but this is such a great letter that i hope you don’t mind i ripped bits of it off. 🙂

  2. Thanks, you two! Yes, please feel free to rip it off and change it and personalize it. I kept it general on purpose so people could do that.

    I really think Corday needs to hear from the voice of reason!

  3. I love it! I really do. It’s actually a great general statement of what’s right and wrong with current fanbases. If it’s all right, I did point the SKork board over here to it.

    I wish I could point the Sony board over here but then you would get…well, I won’t do that to you.😀

  4. hi – just posted this to your about page when i should’ve posted here. sort of a call to action. it fits with your criticism. thanks for reading! stephanie.

    I’ve watched Days of Our Lives since 1981. I was 6 years old. Since tuning in, I’ve followed great couples like Bo & Hope, Steve & Kayla, John/Roman & Marlena, and Jack and Jennifer, through all of their adventures, romance, and zaniness.

    When I heard that Steve and Kayla had returned to the show in 2006, I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. A sobering second thought crossed my mind, however. I was deeply worried that the writers would not do justice to these characters that I adore. But then! I heard even better news: a new head writer would be coming in to reinvigorate the show with the sophisticated writing, storylines, comedy, DRAMA!, and prestige of that former 80s era.

    But that didn’t happen. Instead, mistake after mistake was enacted. First, one of my favorite characters Jack was written off the show for the unfounded fear that fans would not accept him without Jennifer. Second, two of my favorite couples John and Marlena and Bo and Hope were relegated to either non-existence or sideline status. Third, my favorite couple Steve and Kayla were given no build-up or back-story to fill in the gaps for new viewers and they were pushed into a horrendous front-burner storyline that has crippled the romance, adventure, and ingenuity of this couple.

    It seems my sobering second thought has not only become a reality it’s become a nightmare!

    So, why am I posting this?

    I want the show to succeed and I want the show to succeed in big way. For that to happen, the support and unity of all fan bases is crucial. We need to band together. All of us – together to bring this show back from extinction and to restore it’s former integrity and luster.

    I’m asking, pleading even, for us to all pitch in and write letters to the producers, writers, and network executives to save this show. We need to demand that the writers reinstate the integrated adventures of Bo and Hope, John and Marlena, Steve and Kayla, and Jack, and to apply the formula that worked so well in the 80s to the newer faces on the show. TPTB have allowed the show to deteriorate beyond recognition and have pitted fan bases against each other for too long.

    I do not want to be left with only old clips to watch because TPTB could not save our show.

    Please help with this campaign.

    So, who’s in?

  5. Thanks for posting, Stephanie. I totally agree with you about pitting the fanbases against each other. I’m not sure what anyone would have to gain from it—what’s the point? And yet it seems deliberate.

    I think Ken Corday is constantly seeking a magic bullet solution to the problem. What’s wrong with Days cannot be fixed overnight, but I’m afraid he’ll ruin the show trying one quick fix after another.

    Tripp, thanks for linking to me on the S&K board. I did go over there and read some responses to the Corday interview. They’re pretty fired up over there—as well they should be.

  6. Great letter mary! Perfect summary really. I had been staying away from the boards etc because I wasn’t caught up with the show, though obviously a lot of reason why I’m not caught up is the problems with the show at the moment. But I’m both glad and sad to see that a lot of other people feel the same way. God, Corday’s a moron.

  7. thanks for the response mary.

    i really appreciate your letter. it’s very well written and very fair. i especially like that you give credit to sheffer. the dialogue on the show is so much better than it was before he came. i hope people point that out when they write to corday, stressing the overall storyline problems rather than day-to-day dialogue.

    i also like your name🙂. pickford was great, although i have a particular fondness for chaplin.

  8. The best thing about Sheffer, other than the good dialogue, is that he actually seems to care about character development and consistency. There are still problems, of course, but it’s a strong contrast to Reilly, who obviously didn’t care.

    My theory, which I naturally didn’t want to get into in this letter, is that Corday is tinkering with stories, forcing changes and rewrites. I was really angry that Corday was pointing the finger at Sheffer and at Steve and Kayla as reasons for the ratings decline. Even if it were true, you don’t play the blame game in the press. You stand by your show. (Zara, I agree, Corday is a moron. I don’t know how far behind you are, but I think the show is starting to pick up again. We’ll see if it lasts.)

    I love silent films—Chaplin, Pickford, and my favorite, Buster Keaton.

  9. i agree about corday. i think sheffer was genuinely interested in bringing the show back to its roots and allowing all of the supercouples to play a big role in that. i can only suspect that the reason that didn’t happen is because of decisions made beyond sheffer’s control.

    ditto about keaton. i also like harold lloyd.

  10. I’m embarassed, I’m supposed to be silent film geek, and I’ve never seen a Harold Lloyd movie—only clips.

    I think given how Corday has cycled through writers in the past, those of us who like Sheffer should definitely write in.

  11. Just posting for those that might be interested — TWoP appears to be back up again, at least for the moment.

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