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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Straw Too Many - The Second-to-Last Days Blog

I've never really had a plan when it comes to the blog.

Sometimes, it's a critique... other times, it's therapy. Occasionally I feel like I'm on a pedestal, and sometimes I feel like I'm in a ditch. Although it seems like the last few times I've made mention of Days of Our Lives in this blog, it's like a re-opened wound. There's a personal edge, a lack of objectivity, a razor-sharp slice through my creativity and integrity that almost always draws the equivalent of blood in my soul.

And frankly, I'm tired of it.

Last night, I took part in another round-table discussion with the guys over at Daytime Confidential about the firings of Drake Hogestyn and Deidre Hall. It just went up online (follow the above link), and you'll listen to it and hear the usual stuff - Jamey and Luke are excellent moderators, Mike was a welcome addition, Nelson is sarcastic and blunt... and I'm kinda sullen. I just don't have any rant left in me. I'm not calling for anybody's head on a platter, and I'm calling anybody any names. The whole scenario has a feeling of "Been there, done that" to the nth degree.

So this is my last Days blog. Well, almost my last Days blog. It just seems like an exercise in futility to question where the business acumen is, or common sense... the respect for your audience, and the artistic skill to inspire fans to return to their television sets in the afternoon. Other shows are trying things - and sure, they're failling a lot of the time, but occasionally they're succeeding. And at least they haven't given up. But Days - I just feel like it's existing from day to day with no real drive. And why bother analyzing it, or studying the situation, or questioning how to fix it? It's Soap-By-Numbers - a renewal fans received, but at what cost? (Talk to Guiding Light fans - they'll tell you)

One of two things will happen in eighteen months - a miracle will occur and the show will feel like home again for millions of fans, or it will shrivel up on the vine and disappear from our lives forever. Once that final decision is made, then I'll come back and revisit Days one last time - I'll look at everything that's transpired and give my thoughts on it.

But in the meantime, I'm tired of devoting this much energy, this much thought, this much typing, and this much caring into a show that's more concerned with hiding its desperation and masking its more-than-apparent behind-the-scenes politics by pretending it's just "business as usual". This isn't business as usual. This is scraping and clawing your way to an inevitable cancellation.

I wish nothing but the best for Days. I grew up on this show, I was thrilled and inspired by so many of its stories. But this is like that insane ex whose antics you get wrapped up in for too many years, and one day you just realize, "Enough. I have better things to do with my time." It should make you sad. But it doesn't. You just don't care anymore.

I look at Marlena Delacroix's latest OLTL blog and I am so moved by the passion she has for the abomination that was Todd and Marty's "love-making" on One Life to Live. In the midst of typing this about Days, I am so touched by the drive she has to right this wrong. There was a time not too long ago I had that same cry for change when it came to the residents of Salem. But they do not welcome it, nor do they agree with me, in terms of that change. They do not learn from their mistakes, nor do they learn from the mistakes of other shows that air around them.

I pray One Life to Live... and All My Children and General Hospital and As the World Turns and Guiding Light and Bold and the Beautiful and Young and the Restless, for that matter... all take a moment and realize that in their quest to lower costs and anticipate which action sequence will thrill their fans more or which shocking headline in the press will bring in more ratings, realize that as they build up new characters played by younger actors struggling to make it through an episode in this fast-paced machine... they're alienating the people who indirectly keep them employed.

I continue to root for the genre. I will go on to write much, both positive and negative, about what's transpiring out there. But Days - there's nothing more to say.

Drake and Dee - I wish you nothing but the best. And I hope to see you back on our screens soon. Days will continue on the path its on - it's time to focus on other shows that aren't repeating the mistakes of the past.

This twenty-five year viewer? He's just not that into you anymore...

(Special thanks to Daytime Royalty and Daytime Confidential for alerting me to this video clip!)


rashad khan said...

Dude. It's just a soap opera. ;-)

Natalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well this 25 year viewer will watch her favs Drake, Dee, Peter, Kristian, Stephen, and MaryBeth but when they are gone I am too...

Anonymous said...

Can I just say that I enjoy reading your blog and I'm always interested in what you have to say on all things soaps, including DOOL? As for Nelson Branco, I've always found his columns to be too salacious, full of himself and always self-promoting, and he comes across as some horny teen the way he drools over the male stars.
You're the thinking soap fan's blogger. :)

Anonymous said...

I am a recent viewer compared to some of the people who watched this show for 20-30 years. I feel sad for them. But this recent cast cuts are only one of the few problems this show has. In a way I feel that the 18 month extension contract is just delaying the inevitable. It will be a long and brutal death to the end of DAYS.

zarathelawyer said...

I like you're description that Days now seems just to be existing from day to day with no drive. I've been trying to put my finger on why I'm so uninterested in watching in recent months, and it's exactly that.

lascuba said...

You pretty much explained exactly why I haven't watched the show in months. Corday and his crew don't even try to produced a decent show, they just try to come up with some ratings-grabbing gimmick that might have worked 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Loved the podcast. You guys cracked me up! LOL. Too bad they won't fire Dena, huh?

MarkH said...

"Dude. It's just a soap opera. ;-)"

Not so funny. For some of us, daytime is so much more than a trifling entertainment. Tom's blog perfectly captures that, for some of us, our soap(s) is/are the throughline that runs through our lives...a line of narrative continuity to hold onto when the REST of our lives zigs and zags.

Watching the death of a thing we have cared about....something we have spent 10,000 days or more not and should not be easy.

Soaps are not "just" a story. They are a simulated world without end in which--if you have invested--you are rewarded with something like a sense of "home".

When we watch these market forces and executive decisions foul and defile our "home", we have a right to get passionately angry.

When it has happened one time too many, as it has for Tom, we have a right to get apathetic. To cut our losses....

My show (praise be!!) is at a high point now, but I know it is a matter of time, for all the shows, that they'll go down this dark alley. For all of us, I share the pain of losing "home".

Anonymous said...

Bitter, party of one!

Seriously, I know you feel like they were unfair to you, but if you were really such a fantastic writer, wouldn't you have another job by now? Move on with your life. Maybe take up a hobby - one that doesn't involve catty bitching about people who allegedly took your job.

Rashad Khan said...

To markh (and to everyone else who might have misread my earlier comments): I said what I said in jest. (Please note the ";-)" at the end.)

Anonymous said...

Tom, I'm anxious to here your thoughts on the recent batch of Y&R episodes. It appears that's possibly the one soap that's doing a lot right at the moment.

With so many troubles in the industry, it's nice to see one soap that entertaining right now.

Anonymous said...

hey tom,
Ive been a J&M fan since i could remember i grew up watching them i learned the true meaning of love and romance threw their eyes! they are not just another cheesy soap couples they are legends from the first day they set their eyes on each other and entered fans heart in 86! i never in my wildest dream thought DEIDRE FUCKING HALL would be fired she is the diva! an icon! the face of NBC daytime! for drake as much as it hurts i wasn't surprised this time. i don't get how the hell did he fire them! the show was always based on the fabulous 4 (pet,Kris,Dee,drake) everyone who watches days watches for them not for teens and not for sami(Allison) who is now the so called "diva" of the show, she does have a fanbase but this is nothing compared to Deidre's she could never keep the ratings up(not that they are good ,anw)

i am sure dnd would have accepted to take a half pay or anything! anyway what's done now is done.

we the fans have stuck by their side since 86! we went from the wonderful affair sl to a nujohn sl ?!@?! when we were getting to see them only twice a week we never complained when we got to see john with Ava we never complained when our love story which we were promised for this year was ruined we never complained and heck when our love scenes were cut many times we never complained! but this is the last straw i hope another soap pick up dnd together, may days sink and deserve what it gets then again may corday deserve what he gets he just trashed his family's business which his parents their asses on!

love ur blog! and i do hope u continue writing about days i enjoy reading everything u say and wish u could talk more about ur experience!

thank you.

bl said...

The one way to use Days is as a potential cautionary tale. Of course, Guiding Light was the cautionary tale of cautionary tales, but no one paid attention to that nightmare. AW was less damaged at the end than GL is and that's saying a lot.

If Days ends up thriving wonderful, but in the process a lot of people will have been hurt. It won't be the show it was, and those who've been burned may not be the same again when it comes to the program.

Not caring anymore is what is killing the industry and all they have to blame is themselves. They can only push so far, before people run in the other direction.

Victoria said...

Tom, I've been watching DAYS for about 22 years and I couldn't agree with you more. It's like TPTB's are WILLING this show to end and these actor's are losing their jobs for no other reason then that. Plain and simple: Corday is working to run it to the ground, not save it.

They can find other ways of 'budget cutting' then to fire DEE HALL of all people. This just proves my point that Corday and the rest of them REALLY do not care about the show or the fans.

If DAYS only has another 18 months (as everyone truly believes), the veteran actors should be the ones to CLOSE this thing in accordance to what the fans want. It makes no sense to me why you would end a 43 year old show with a cast of characters we haven't had a chance to warm up to. Talk about kicking the fans where it hurts. It's like we are of no importance.

And to fire Drake and Dee, who in my opinion have ALWAYS been the TOP supporters to the show and their fans (both in good times and bad)....well, I have no words to describe the confusion and anger I feel.

Thank you, Tom. I've read all your blogs here and at myspace and you say everything so eloquently. I'm sorry DAYS has pretty much lost one of their most passionate fans in you.