All the Days of Our Lives
I’m bummed lately that it seems like my soap opera, Days of Our Lives, may be facing extinction. It’s been an endangered species for a long time. The final tolling of the bell seemed to come a few months ago with the firing of the principal diva of the soap opera, Deidre Hall, who played Marlena Evans off and on, but mostly on, for over thirty years. When they fired her they also fired the man who played her principal love interest, Drake Hogestyn, a former baseball player turned bad actor from the Heavy Breathing School of Acting. It seems the soap couldn’t afford to pay their salaries any longer. It’s not a good sign.
My idea of a dream job is to be a staff writer for Days of Our Lives. I think those writers must do nothing but laugh their asses off all day long, which is the main reason why I think it would be a great job. Also, any old writer can write realistic crap, but a writer who can pull off the kind of crap that defies verisimilitude and makes it both entertaining and sometimes compelling, is a writer indeed. It’s a remarkable feat of accomplishment. All Days of Our Lives staff writers deserve Emmys, in my humble opinion.
My grandmother watched Days of Our Lives for many years. I never was into soap operas in my childhood years, probably appropriate. My mother never watched soaps. In the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years, my best friend introduced me to the guilty pleasure of Days. The biggest storyline of the time involved legendary supercouple Bo Brady and Hope Williams. Their eventual wedding rivaled the popularity of the uber-impressive Luke and Laura from General Hospital. The summer I first started watching Hope was about to be married off to evil lawyer Larry Welch. To save her from that fate worse than death, Bo had a middle aged man named Howie stand in for the bride while he kidnapped Hope on the back of his bad ass motorcycle. I was immediately hooked and smitten with the handsome Bo.
Over the years that I watched Days of Our Lives has had some fantastic storylines. There are the requisite evil twins and returns from death, revisionist history and children who age from eight to sixteen in a day, of course. There were also fantastic adventures involving cops, detectives, and international spies. There were villains like Stefano DiMera and Victor Kiriakis, men who controlled vast empires of legitimate business and organized crime. There was travel, there was humor. There were fantasy storylines and sub-plots where your favorite supercouples portrayed other couples from another historical time and place. For a time, there was even a time machine. There were death scenes that involved falls from cliffs and giant vats of acid.
In the nineties Days got a head writer named James C. Reilly, who was one evil son of a bitch. In my opinion, he ruined my favorite show and went too far. The ratings increased substantially, however, and even I watched faithfully through a good deal of this. A woman was buried alive in a coffin for weeks while the woman who buried her tortured her with the speakers she had built into the coffin to taunt her. The woman’s name was Carly. She was Bo’s first girlfriend after Hope’s “death” in the vat of acid. During the time that she was buried Carly didn’t need food or water or apparently need to pee or poop, either. Amazing!
Marlena’s daughter, Sami, became obsessed with her half-sister Carrie’s boyfriend, Austin. To trick him into making love to her she drugged him with over the counter cold medicine and then snuck into his room at night, and he had sex with her, thinking that he was with Carrie instead. That was some cold medicine. The actresses who played the two women varied in weight by at least fifty pounds. I always thought this was one of the more unrealistic occurrences on Days until those women came forward about Bill Cosby years later.
Then Marlena was possessed by the devil, and John, played by the previously mentioned Drake Hogestyn, eventually managed to exorcise the demons from her. John, you see, along with his many other alternative identities, was once a Roman Catholic priest.
Years later, there was another storyline that involved Marlena “killing” virtually all of the characters in Salem whose portrayers were over the age of forty. Eventually, all the “old” people were found on an island that was like Salem: The Alternative Universe. It looked just like Salem, only it wasn’t! No doubt this saved on the cost of sets. Ingenius! Everyone was eventually rescued and returned to the real Salem, but only after Kate, who was married to Marlena’s second husband, Roman Brady, hooked up with John. And Roman and Marlena enjoyed a night of passion in Alternative Salem.
After they were rescued, Roman and Marlena returned to Real Salem to find their respective spouses cohabiting and engaged to each other! And then Marlena turned out to be pregnant with Roman’s baby! Dum-dum-dum. Let the drama ensue. Marlena eventually lost the baby, which was not surprising since the surprising aspect of the scenario is that Marlena was a psychiatrist on the show who showed up in Salem in the mid 1970s. Unless she was some sort of child prodigy, which seems unlikely, Marlena would be incapable of conceiving a baby without the help of some miraculous fertility treatments. I don’t put this past Days, but said fertility treatments were never mentioned.
Then there was the pies de resistance for me. They brought back Wayne Northrop, the man who originally portrayed Marlena’s second husband, Roman Brady, and gave him a new role as Dr. Alex North. Dr. Alex North claimed to be Marlena’s true first husband, which would make Roman her actual third husband. The thing that makes this really funny is that the man who was playing Roman at the time originally started out on the soap as a character named Chris Kositchek. Chris left the scene in the mid eighties and then the actor who played him returned years later to play Roman. The man who played John Black was originally believed to be Roman Brady, returned from the dead after suffering years of brainwashing at the hands of Stefano. For years, Drake Hogestyn was credited with playing the role of Roman Brady himself. Confused yet? You should be.
So, I’m certain that you can now see why the job of staff writer at Days of Our Lives is my life’s dream, and I mourn the passing of that dream.