In life, I’m an optimist.
But, when it comes to Days, I’m a worrier. I worry about the ratings. I worry the show will be cancelled. I worry whether my favorite characters will airtime.
And, if they do get airtime … that’s where my worries really explode.
For Steve and Kayla, I worry they won’t get their own story, just support another people. I worry they’ll be too happy, thrown together again with no angst. Or they’ll have angst, but it will be badly done angst. No attention to Kayla’s point of view. Yet another triangle with Steve in the middle – with Eve, maybe, or some new character. Kayla being too forgiving. Saintly Kayla. Steve being too mean. Both of them being idiots. Infidelity stories. Character assassination of all kinds.
I’m starting to worry about Ericole, too. I spent last night watching clips of them on YouTube, and I think I’ve fallen in love. And if anything I am more worried about them than I am about Steve and Kayla, who at least I know will end up together, even if it’s badly done. I worry that the plan is put Nicole with Daniel instead of Eric. That they’ll turn Eric into a judgmental tool (again). I worry Nicole will be never find her backbone. Or they’ll make her keep a stupid secret because she’s afraid of losing him. Or she’ll lose another baby. I worry that Ericole aren’t even on the new writers’ radar, and they’ll be written out. Or they have different plans for the characters. They’ll put Nicole with Lucas, and Eric with, let’s see, Melanie?
I worry about Dena Higley, the new headwriter (co-headwriter with Josh Griffith). She has been headwriter before, and is actually what drove me away from Days in 2009.* She gave Steve and Kayla a big frontburner story but it was a triangle featuring a woman from Steve’s past, Ava. Basically, it was a lesser version of the Marina story from 1989. Kayla was given nothing to do except cramp up at key moments with her problem pregnancy. Ava was really the focus. Higley turned Stephanie, Steve and Kayla’s daughter, into a satellite of Melanie and then wrote her out. Higley also destroyed my favorite younger couple on the show, Chelsea and Nick, by bringing on Dr. Daniel Jonas and pairing him with the much-younger Chelsea (ew, still grosses me out!). Oh, and she turned the character of Nick in a psychopath, too, for good measure.
What I remember is that I found her stories were full of incident but no depth; they gave me nothing to sink my teeth into. Big events would happen and then the story would just end, with no fallout. We Steve and Kayla fans actually had to do a write-in campaign for a hash-it-out conversation between Steve and Kayla after the events of the Ava storyline. (When we finally got it, though, it was very good.)
On the bright side, she was good at creating a balanced canvas, with a interesting mix of characters of different ages and types, and having everyone involved in some story of their own. (I didn’t always like a lot of the stories, but everyone had one.) Her big story from that era, the babyswitch, was fairly well executed. And — this is really what really makes me optimistic — I have heard good things about Josh Griffith. He has never written for Days before, but is reportedly good at writing for vets (!) and writing romance (!!!!). I’ve also heard good things about the new EP, Albert Alarr. He’s a Days alum and is popular with the cast.
What I’ve realized from watching Days in the modern era is that there is not ONE thing wrong with the show, where if we fixed it, there would be a second golden age. There is no magic bullet. It’s too easy to say that this headwriter sucks and this one is great. Tomlin and Whitesell, the current writing team, have truly written some terrible stories based on what I’ve seen this summer. (Ken Corday is busy throwing them under the bus in this week’s Soap Opera Digest.) But as far as I can tell, they managed to write two successful slow-burn romantic stories during their run: Ericole, and Will and Sonny. (Then they proceeded to ruin them both, but that’s another story.) That was more than I saw Hogan Sheffer or Higley able to do. I used to enjoy demonizing James E. Reilly, who wrote the Marlena possession story and Melaswen, but he wrote a great little story arc for Steve and Kayla, right before he was fired last time – when Steve and Kayla went to Cincinnati. It was nothing to win a Daytime Emmy, but it actually had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and more importantly showed Steve longing for Kayla, but scared of living up to her expectations – exactly how it should have been played all along.
So, what does all this mean? Essentially, that we know nothing. 🙂 And, despite my worries, I know that there will be some good things to watch. And probably the bad things that happen will be the things that didn’t occur to me to worry about.
Yes, I worry about that too.
* For what it’s worth, this is a post I wrote back in 2008, comparing Higley with Hogan Sheffer, who preceded her as headwriter.