When I was working respectable career jobs during the week, I never watched soaps. But after I came back to Arlington to at the start of September, 2003 and “lived with my Mother” again (when I was already 60 and she was 89, to pass in 2010) I was home during the day a lot more often (except when substitute teaching) and got to know some of the soaps, especially NBC-Corday’s “Days of our Lives” and “Passions“. In fact, in 2003, “Port Charles” was also on at 12:30 PM, just half-hour episodes, and it went off the air with a woman marrying a vampire who could disguise himself as a tiger.
Mother had watched it often and explained it as a “story of a family”. In fact, there are four main families: The Horton’s, the DiMera’s, the Black’s and the Brady’s. Behind the scenes is Stefano DiMera, the Ohio Mafia crime boss (Joseph Mascolo), ruling the world like a shiek. I say Ohio because places in the middle of the state used to be often mentioned. Salem is the site of the soap, which is actually a small town in eastern Ohio. Cleveland, Chicago, and Indianapolis often get mentioned. So does Statesville Prison, but that is in North Carolina! (although I understand there is one in Illinois,, too.)
In 2004, a lot of the storyline concerned the “Salem Stalker”, Marlena (Deidre Hall), a psychiatrist whom mother said was “off her rocker”. A favorite couple was Belle and Shawn. Another was Lucas and Sami Brady. Sami (Allison Sweeney) , known for her “selfishness”, is one of the show’s ratings-earning characters, but it has been reported that she won’t be on much longer. Suddenly, many of Marlena’s victims were resurrected and placed on a Caribbean island set up as a replica of Salem. The a plot thread developed about their escape, much of it dealing with Jack Deveraux (Matthew Ashford). A character named John Black (Drake Hogestyn) works for the “ISI” which sounds like the CIA, NSA and FBI combined, as if the CIA really did have domestic authority (an important concept in fiction, as in my own novel — it would need to if extraterrestrials were to land, for example). Jack perished and did not return, and his widow Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) has become visible as a business executive and the mother of JJ (Casey Moss), who became a total screw-up in boarding school but has turned around to become a likeable character, threatened by psychopathic ex girlfriend Theresa Donovan (Jen Lilly).
But the most recent adventure for Days (or “DOOL”) was to introduce two charismatic young male gay characters and have them marry. These are Will (now Guy Wilson) and Sonny (Freddie Smith). Will has been on the show as a teenager with several actors, and was always keeping Sami in line. While dating Gabi, he started to reveal that he thought he was gay. Over a stormy course, he and Sonny, who manages a “mixed” bar in Salem, fall in love and eventually marry. But this is not before Sonny (then played by Chandler Massey) proves himself a “man” by getting another bad girl Gabi pregnant. In one sequence, while escaping from a thug, Sonny and Gabi are running through the woods together when Gabi suddenly is ready to have her baby, and Sonny delivers it. Will and Sonny are now raising the girl as gay dads. Gabi is in jail for shooting Nick Fallon (Blake Berris).
(Published Tuesday Oct, 28, 2014 at 11:45 PM).
Nick’s story is a tragic one. He was introduced as a geeky character around 2009 (maybe earlier), but gradually became unhinged and went to jail after kidnapping Melanie. His storyline never made sense; Nick was brilliant in a manner not unlike Will’s. Nick returned in 2012, tried to reform (fighting off his opposition to gay marriage partly because he realized that, of all the characters in the show, probably only Will was as brilliant as he was, and actually playing with a precarious four-parent, three-daddy relationship to raise the daughter), but still got into trouble, when Sami et all tried to drown him after he attacked his wife (Gabi) in the woods. But he made a surprised return, only to be finally shot. The scene where he is shot is very well done and rather terrifying.
Will is a gifted writer, and has been hired by a magazine in Salem to write exposes about others in the families, and the storyline has opened a whole ethical issue about writers’ benefiting from exposing people they know — a very important issue in my own “practice”. There was an earlier series where Will manipulated EJ (British actor James Scott) recently murdered in a hit.
The show has the irritating habit of showing characters having dreams that anticipate action that gets cut off. Characters have been suddenly written out of the story (like Shawn and Belle, who have never returned).
Cosmetically, the makeup issues for some characters are provocative. Sonny seems to be unable to keep his chest hair, which disappears and grows back periodically, as with his forearm hair. A few other characters (JJ) seem to have been depilated occasionally. Maybe Will and Sonny are supposed to look alike in bed, or maybe Sonny’s appearance changes are the result of love rituals behind the scenes. Chandler Massey was let out of the role (on contract) to go back and finish college, but one wonders if he was uncomfortable with the intimacy of the part.
I’ll mention the ABC soap “One Life to Live“, which went off the air with story line merged with “General Hospital” (set in upstate NY). Around 2005, there was a storyline where a female mystery novelist found her novel being played out in “real life”, relative to the show. Again, writers can court danger.
Read “Dustin’s thoughts on Days” on Soap Opera Fan here.