My Life with Days

This won’t be an in-depth blog entry, because I’m devoting all my energy (and time) for in-depth analysis to the next chapter in the Steve and Kayla story. But I can’t let a week go by without a post! On TWoP this past weekend, we were talking about the possible impending cancellation and how we feel about it, and it led me to reflect a little bit about Days and what it has meant to me.

Since my mother has watched Days since before I was born, I’m like one of those babies born crack-addicted. At the tender age of four, I remember trying to follow the stories, and I still have fond memories of Julie and Doug especially. I remember the Salem Strangler storyline and a wonderful sequence with Marlena in full-on psychiatrist mode, trying to help the Salem Strangler even as he stalked her. I remember Marie and her forbidden love for Alex Marshall, and Chris and Kayla #1 (Josh Taylor, how far you’ve fallen). Going off to school put a crimp in my Days watching, but throughout elementary school I would watch during the summer. I remember the introduction of Roman Brady, Stefano on his first go-round, Anna and Carrie’s first appearance, and Renee and Tony falling in love only to find out they were brother and sister.

I always say I’ve never watched any soap but Days, but that’s not strictly true. When I was 10 or 11 some of my friends began to watch soaps, and I watched As the World Turns for one summer when Steve and Betsy (Meg Ryan) were a big couple. And one summer I devotedly watched both Days and Guiding Light, and when school started I defected to GL for the year (taping it on our first-ever VCR), making me miss, to my regret, the beginning of Bo and Hope. I did get to see, however, Judi Evans as Beth Raines on GL, and adored Beth and bad-boy Lujack. Oh, those bad boys.

In 1987, when the mysterious woman who was following Steve on Days was finally revealed, I was watching with the friend who’d gotten me hooked on GL, just as I had gotten her hooked on Days. I still remember how we turned to each other and squealed, “It’s Beth!”

It wasn’t hard to suck me in, in those days. I remember easily slipping into rooting for couples and being brokenhearted when they were inevitably unhappy. At age 11, I wrote a letter to myself to open when I was 21. When I opened it, I was in college, and found this question from my former self: “On GL, are Tony and Annabelle happily married?” Sadly, I didn’t know, but I suspect the answer was no.

In 1986, when I was 14, my mom was back on Days again because of Drake Hogestyn, and that summer when school ended I watched with her. That’s when Steve sucked me in. I missed the Cleveland stalking scenes but saw Kayla’s arrival in Salem, and watched devotedly (okay, obsessively) up until their yacht wedding. By that time I was 16 and had a boyfriend and started living a little mini-soap opera of my own, and I started to drift away. I caught most of the Marina/key storyline, missed most of patchless Patch, loved Jack and Jennifer and Isabella and Roman, and still remember the indignity of Adrienne’s affair with Emilio. I missed Steve’s death.

In college I’m sorry to say I became something of an entertainment snob, and I never thought I would watch Days again. Still, I was always interested in what was going on in Salem, and whatever information floated my way I filed away in the Salem database in my head. And very occasionally, I would turn on the TV and watch for a few minutes. I remember once being utterly delighted to see the grown-up Christie Clark still playing Carrie, but utterly bewildered to see her addressing Chris Kositchek as “Dad.” And I pondered what soapy plot twist could possibly have brought this about.

And here I must make a confession, one I’m not proud of. What made Days blip more strongly on my radar again was the Salem Serial Killer storyline. My mom was watching again due to her retirement, and she kept me updated on the story. After that I would turn on the show occasionally when I happened to be home from work. So it was that a couple of years later when I was on maternity leave (November 2005), I decided to tune in for the duration.

I didn’t realize, at first, how much the show had deteriorated. I recognized it as bad, but I thought I had changed, not the show. I thought I was seeing what soaps had always been like, and I just didn’t realize it when I was 4, or 10, or 14. Still it was fun to talk it over with my mom every week, and watch it with her when she came to visit, so I stuck it out. I went back to work in March last year with no intention of watching it again, though my mom would tell me what was happening in the storylines (nothing).

But then she told me Steve was back. And I just had to see that. Then I found a Days message board. Then I heard there were Steve and Kayla clips online. I debated for several weeks, not wanting to watch and possibly destroy the wonderful memories I had in my head. But I gave in. I went on YouTube, watched “Steve tells Kayla Jack is Billy,” and it was a revelation. Out of context, on my computer, mullets, 80’s perms, and all, twenty years later, the quality shone through.

Then I heard a new headwriter was coming on, and I just had to see what he could do with these characters, these actors.

So here I am. One blog, several message boards, one, two times through the Steve and Kayla clips online, a quality show again, and I’m hopelessly addicted. Everything old is new again.


31 thoughts on “My Life with Days

  1. I pretty much quit watching after I was disappointed in the return of Real Roman and Marlena. I thought that would be an interesting storyline but wound up getting disappointed.

    I kept up with it through SOD but the devil possession storyline turned me off. I had it thumbs up on my Tivo so occasionally I would catch an episode but be disappointed. Seeing SN and MB were being brought back is what brought me back.

    And here I am again. In love with the show and really addicted to S&K, Chick, Sami, Bope & company. I really look forward to next week’s scenes with the return of…well I won’t say but I’m excited about that too.

  2. This is really interesting maryp. I can see why we agree on so many things: our Days experience is very similar. We also appear to be the same age. I started watching a bit after you – though it was also thanks to my Mum’s now long abandoned viewing habits – but our Days viewing pattern over the last 20 odd years has been pretty similar. I just happen to have watched a bunch of other shows over the years, before, after and at the same time as watching Days.

  3. Wow maryp! That read nearly identicle to my relationship with Days. My recollection of when I started watching is more vague, however, because I didn’t really have someone to watch the show with, so I sorta fell into it gradually as the S&K’s story started to pick-up.

    I also regretted missing the genesis of B&H’s story, but somehow knew about them before actually watching. It probably had to do with hair worship as I idolized KA’s beauty and always had an awareness of pop culture early on. Luckily, I’ve since made up those early B&H years through clips. They were great.

    It’s so funny that you mention being an entertainment snob when you grew up. I can totally relate. I even went to college to be an educated snob and now find that I’m using that expensive education to critique Days. The irony.

    My long-term relationship with the show was probably more schizophrenic than yours, though. I also wondered off during the same time as you and missed Steve’s death…on purpose. (I still haven’t seen it to this day. Yes, I’m a big freakn’ baby. I’M SCARED! Okay?) But I did return with Bo and Hope and was traumatized by her death. I wondered off, again (but always managed to keep one disapproving eye on the show throughout my absences–therefore subconciously knowing the happenings of Salem), and came back when Hope returned from the dead. This is when my bitterness toward Days began–I just wasn’t fully aware of it at the time. Needless to say I wondered off again, and like you, was horrified and embarassed to see the joke that the show, I had once loved, had settled into during the Dark Ages.

    I wasn’t interested in watching Days again, until I stumbled upon THE CLIPS. I was looking for old B&H clips and wham! I ran into S&K clips. It took me looking back (for many hours on end) to get excited about the potential of S&K with a new HW. I thought “OMG, could it possibly be half this great again?”

    I’m not quite a slave to Days, yet. But I want to be. I really, really do. I’m always looking to recapture that feeling I had when I was 10 and totally taken with the sense of magic that the show produced. It’s tough though, because nostalgia’s a bitch.

    Jeeze, I’m sorry…I used your blog, to post my own blog-length post. I got carried away reminiscing. Great blog, though. See ya back on TWoP!

  4. Crap…just realized I misspelled wandered about a hundred times. I’m an idiot. Wondered could work there, too, though. This is Days I’m talking about, after all.

  5. Maryp, we have many similar experiences. My mom was a faithful Days watcher (now she watches AMC, and it takes every effort not to yell at her “Zarf! Unaborted fetus! What are you thinking?”). When I was a kid, we would fight over what to watch when I came home for lunch, Mom’s Days or my Underdog. Then my hormones kicked in and I was just as interested as she was. My first love was the Roman1 and Marlena love story.

    I keep hoping for the show to be awesome again because now I’m older and I can appreciate so much more.

  6. I love hearing all your Days stories—thanks for sharing them! Soaps really are unique in the long-term investment people are willing to make. I know viewership has been down, down, down for the last several years and we’re probably living on borrowed time. Still, I’m glad to have this little last hurrah.

    I don’t have the bitterness that many people (understandably) have, because I got out at just the right time. Hearing about it, and seeing it for 10 months, just gives me more appreciation for what we have now. I know it isn’t perfect, but even in the slowdown for February, March, and April, it was still better then JER any day, in my opinion. I want it to be awesome again, but I don’t know if it ever will be. I just enjoy what I can and hope for better for the rest.

    ElementaryDays, I loved your long comment! I too use my English major skillz on this blog and on TWoP. It’s a great outlet, but the irony has not escaped me.

    I’m afraid to ask, because my Days plate is already full, but are B&H clips available online anywhere?

  7. Why yes, they are available, maryp. Simply Irresistible { } has the most B&H clips, but they aren’t permanent uploads like olab or S& Plus, they aren’t totally complete clips in chronological order like S&K’s. I’m very anal about going in order to get the intended effect and catching off-beat nuances that contribute to the overall story. But someone has recently uploaded their complete 1983 edits (the beginning) and will being following with ’84, which I’m looking forward to.

    The Dimera Den { } is another great site for old 80’s clips that includes many storylines and different characters. Of course, this is when SLs interconnected, as did characters, and the scope of the show was much larger and well-rounded. You can find some B&H there in the great Island SL when Roman dies (Stephano!Cliff!Tony&Anna!, etc.). It also has some great stuff when Bad!Steve first came to Salem. The site is well done as are all the clips.

    Both sites require registration, but are well worth it and a lot of fun. Hope to see you over there!

  8. Thank you Tripp, on both counts. I hope the comments are working now.

    I’ve got my hands full watching S&K clips so I’m almost afraid to start with B&H. But I’ve always wanted to see their beginnings.

  9. AhHa! There it is. My second post will probably show up saying the exact same thing. Feel free to delete it, maryp.

  10. Oh, damn it. 1983-4 Bope in order? And here I am still trying to watch the D2D clips. I’m never going to leave the house again. (I hope I’m not the only one who broke down and bought an external HD because of this hobby.)

    I love hearing everyone’s stories about how they started watching soaps with their families. Mine is a little different — I started watching Days because I knew my mother would hate it. And she still would, if she knew. *g* I gave it up cold turkey at 16, too, only to get sucked back in around the time Zach died. We had just gotten SoapNet then, but I was also working at a job where I could use headphones in the afternoon. My walkman had a TV tuner in it, so I spent many hours listening to Days and GH in the afternoons. (It’s amazing how visual soaps are now, compared to how the old radio dramas must have played. Especially with SN and MBE, you miss a lot if you’re just listening.) I was probably the only one who appreciated JER’s characters talking to themselves during those long months last spring. *g*

  11. lska, hee … I’m glad JER’s character monologues were serving some good purpose.

    I love that story about watching soaps because your mom would disapprove. Totally the opposite of most people.

  12. I know I’m late to the party (what’s new?)… I enjoyed reading your ‘Days’ experiences marypickford! I feel I have expressed my feelings on Days’ past an’ present ad nauseam at TWoP, so I wont take up your blog space. Suffice to say, I am of an apparent minority (at least amongst current ‘returned fans’) who does not feel switching off (be it literally, or figuratively) before 1990 was the best thing! (nor do I think Kayla was terribly mistreated in that time, but that’s another topic!!). Quite the opposite. I feel 1990/1991 was the last of the best of Days, before you know what, you know who, you know when! I thank the show for it’s balance then…. Where they broke my heart — they filled it up in equal measure!

    And suffice to say, of now, I’m not there yet. I was at the point I never thought I’d ever watch a soap again, that I’d simply ‘grown out of them’! (like you, I also became something of an “entertainment snob” lol! ) … And I’m still at the point where I’m struggling to sit through an episode. Since I had the capacity way back when all those years ago after by beloved Days family members Hope and Steve were killed to stick with, stay involved, stay right in there with the show and be open to embracing new characters, new couples, new stories, I believe I could be there again today if the show really was very good again. Maybe. But, I’m not there yet.

    Btw, my mother also disapproved heh!

  13. Iwanttobelieve, I completely agree that 90/91 was the last of the best of Days. I really think the downhill turn was marked by the firing of Matt Ashford and then, of course, the demon possession, as much campy fun as that may have been, it was the prospect of that that had me turning off.

  14. Oh, my clip obsession. Anyone else run their clips on a separate computer running as a server in their house and stream it to their living room PC via a wireless connection?

    Just me then? Okay.

  15. IwanttoBelieve2, thanks for commenting!

    I’m sure there were good things going on in 90/91. I went off to college in the fall of 90 so that was the main reason I tuned out entirely then.

    We’re in a situation now where we’re getting a lot of new characters, just like you say it was then. That doesn’t bother me. Since I just tuned back in not too long ago I feel like (nearly) everyone is new to me, some are just newer than others! You haven’t gotten to Hogan’s writing yet, but I’ve liked most of his new characters. (And his reinvented old ones like Phillip.)

    We’re not yet at the point of everything firing on all cylinders (when they “break your heart and fill it up again in equal measure,” love that)—stories, characters, actors, writing—and maybe we never will be again. Sometimes I think the whole genre has been damaged beyond repair. But then, a good week happens like last week, and I get hopeful again.

    I tend to be an optimist, I can’t help it!

    ETA: I’m definitely not as technologically sophisticated as you all are. But the prospect of being able to watch the OLAB clips did tip me over the edge to getting DSL last summer.

  16. Thanks for the response maryp! I love your optimism and the way you seem to appreciate the little things that imo, make all the difference (and I’m not talking about Marlena’s hair πŸ˜‰ ).

    I sometimes wonder has the whole genre been damaged beyond repair, although it puzzles me why it has to be that way. Soaps have made a resurgence in primetime, so what’s the problem with the oldest genre with all the history? (I know, I know, the techno age of 500 channels and nothing on! Demographic charts! And blasted budget cuts!) .

    I was absurdly ‘hopeful’ and ‘optimistic’ when I first heard this new swanky award winning writer was taking the place of he whom I hate with the fury of a thousand blazing suns! But, my question is , why can’t we have both top cast AND top writer? (that is, of course, if indeed Hogan really IS a top writer, which seems to be a point of contention!). I’ve currently got the better overall cast (from 2006), but crapolla writing! Now, the show has better writing, but a number of that (superior) cast have gone. Is it really too much to ask that good cast AND good writing coincide? It just irks me is all! The ‘new age’ casting was a large factor in causing me to give up.

    Funny thing is maryp, I think I may be looking forward more to Beth Milstein’s ‘interum period’ writing than Hogans! (Plus, the ‘new HW cast exodus’ hadn’t happened yet! … Why must that happen? Why?)

    zarathelawyer , I’m so glad to come across another soul who loved 1990/91! I would say the downhill ‘turn’ came a bit before, but certainly was given it’s final stamp with the firings of Matt Ashford as well as Crystal Chappell (and Michael Sabatino). I didn’t make it as far as the demon possession… I saw clips, that was enough! (There were atrocities that went on behind the scenes maryp, I’m not sure you are aware of…. and it’s these that leave me with a lingering bitterness toward TPTB!).

    I am not technologically sophisticated at all! I just pine away at all the stuff I can’t watch LOL!

    …. and here I am taking up your blog space!

  17. I have heard rumors here and there about some behind the scenes shenanigans back in the early 90s. I heard that Matt Ashford was basically thrown out and his character trashed, just because he wouldn’t kowtow to TPTB. Sheri Anderson (HW often credited with inventing the adventure/supercouple formula) was brought back briefly then demoted to work under JERk, then was fired or quit. And I know that between 89 and 93 the show cycled through a lot of writers. I’m sure there’s more.

    As for why we can’t have a top writer and a top cast at the same time … well, money, I suppose. I think our boy Kenny is constantly searching for the magic bullet that will make the ratings go up, so he keeps trying things and then trying more things before he’s given the first thing a chance to work. That’s my take, anyway.

  18. Marypickford,

    I couldn’t agree with you more on your last point. I really wish kenny would just leave the cast and writers alone for a year, other than to go out and support them publicly,a nd deal with any casting related crises that come up (hiring for a particular storyline, losing an actor due to unforeseen circumstances). Then reevaluate.

    The problem, of course, is that it’s gotten into such a state with NBC that the clock is ticking.

  19. julianscat, I totally agree that would be a good strategy. Let the quality of show SLOWLY woo viewers back. Let the buzz build, like it was last fall. Realize that different fans like different characters and stories on the show, and aim for balance. And commit to it for a year.

    Hasn’t Kenny tried everything else?

  20. I couldn’t agree more!
    That’s what they need, put their heads down and commit to making a quality show. Forget the magic bullets. The ratings are as low as ever anyway, so what have they got to loose?

    But, this of course, is assuming Corday is all to blame. Now while I myself have stood up for Hogan (on principle) and been more than happy to continue my long standing hate for DorkDay, the more I think about it (while sitting at the Zen table!), the more I’m coming to the conclusion that Corday’s one big fault all these years is maybe not that he interferes too much, but perhaps that due to his own utter lack of creative vision, he hands altogether way too much power over to whom ever the HW he has brought in to “save” things may be.

    Of course, as you mentioned maryp, back in the early 90’s that power went to JER (btw, yes there was more!). Is it possible that the same thing happened with Hogan? Simply whatever he said went, until the damage was done and Corday had to step in and start with the “magic bullets” again? I’m just pondering of course, but maybe the only way Days could be truly “saved” and restored to former glory was if a HW who really *knew* and *cared* about the show as much as we, the long term audience, were to obtain The Power that HW’s at Day’s seem to possess. And since Dorkday seems incapable of putting the right person in that position…. well, I dunno, I’m just saying.

  21. I tend to be a Hogan defender, but you could be right. I think the reason JER had so much power is that the ratings were quite high his first time around. And the fact that the ratings went up pretty quickly after he took over is, I think, the reason Ken Corday believes in magic bullets. Sigh.

  22. Spot on! It kills me, the insane amount of power Corday gave JERk! And yes, all because those darn ratings went up with his ‘gimmicky’ formula… The change in writers that was going on for the 3 or so years before he came was certainly not, imo, due to the show having anything ‘wrong’ with it, or a reflection of quality, but sadly simply because of low ratings. That’s as you say why JERk stuck and Corday just went with HIS vision. Sigh. If only Corday could have just let the show go on , it would have rode out that downward ratings swing, I believe. There’s always peaks and valleys. Of course, I don’t know how much interference he had from the Network?!

  23. That’s something I don’t know, either. I did hear (I think?) that the last time Days was renewed by NBC it was with the stipulation that JER be brought back as HW. And that’s when we got the Salem serial killer storyline and Melaswen. And ratings did go up, primarily from the shock value, and then dropped again.

  24. IWTB2 — I think a lot of people give Hogan credit because of the vision he laid out in his initial interview. But maybe you’re right about the blame — it’s his job to work within the constraints present to produce entertaining scripts, and for large parts of Feb/Mar/Apr he wasn’t doing that.

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think it is possible to mix the slow build/magic bullet strategies. Have a slow build up to a big, integrated sweeps stunt, and let the fallout from that carry the show for a while. I’m still blown away by the (ratings) success of GH in February, and by the fall off since then. If you wave something shiny in front of people’s faces they will come back in large numbers, but you have to sustain their interest to keep them watching. (Which sounds too obvious to post now that I type it out.)

    I’m so glad I’m not alone on the new HD thing! I’m just thinking of it as a long-term investment in my personal technological infrastructure. Yup.

  25. If you wave something shiny in front of people’s faces they will come back in large numbers, but you have to sustain their interest to keep them watching.

    Not obvious to TPTB, lska.

    What kills me is that really, almost any umbrella type story that brings everyone together and has danger and romance is going to be a lot of fun (I say almost because … well, Melaswen). Hogan does produce quality day to day scripts, so if there were some big event type story—even if it wasn’t perfect—I think it would lure people back, and some people would stick around. That’s what I like to believe, anyway.

  26. Hi again!

    I did hear (I think?) that the last time Days was renewed by NBC it was with the stipulation that JER be brought back as HW.

    Yes, I heard that too. And it made me stop in my tracks for a bit and think, hmm you mean it’s possible Corday MAY have regretted his past mistakes earlier than it seems , but due to JERk being NBC’s golden boy, Corday just had to lump it and lie in the bed he made a decade earlier!!?? Hmmm

    And ratings did go up, primarily from the shock value, and then dropped again.

    HEH! That’s JERk’s legacy in a nutshell!! If only Corday The Clueless could have seen that back in 1993!!!

    What’s disheartening to me in reference to Hogan, is it appears that in addition to returning cast members, last year, in getting back two pre-JER head writers, Beth Milstein and Anne M. Schoettle (plus later, Mike Cohen returned as well) to the team, Kenny had realised what he may have had when he let all those folks go to satisfy JER’s whims back then…. Alas, evidently, due to Hogan’s vision (and the suggestion that he doesn’t like writing for the cast veterans!?) being in opposition with Anne’s, she sadly (very sadly, imo!) did not stay. Personally, I wish Corday had have put Anne and Beth as Co-Head Writers! But, I guess Hogan, with his Emmy’s or whatever, came with an impressive wrap. *Shrug*.

  27. IwanttoBelieve2, I fixed them for you. πŸ™‚ For future reference, on this site you use the > thingies instead of the ] thingies to make italics.

    I have this theory that Ken Corday doesn’t want to admit that his parents knew what they were doing and he doesn’t!

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