Stay Tuned
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Days of Our Lives": Hooked All Over Again

When I was a kid, I used to stay with my grandmother a lot.

She had cable (which I didn’t), but I could only watch what she wanted to. And at one o’clock, that meant her “stories,” i.e. her soaps.

One of her stories featured a super-cool villain (I’ve always liked the bad guys.) with an awesome nickname (“The Phoenix”) and a great evil laugh. His good-guy son was a dashing Count with a glamorous wife, AND an evil twin, who was even more dashing. It wasn’t long before I was hooked and watching the show at my own house.

But over time, these characters that got me so hooked began to disappear. The villain left and came back several times, becoming more ruined each time. The evil twin died, the glamorous wife left and the dashing Count left and came back with a totally different personality.

But now, “Days of Our Lives” has brought them all back. And I am hooked all over again…

After a year of financially dictated storylines, Hogan Sheffer has finally started to deliver, giving the show a sense of history it had long been missing. It’s obvious that Sheffer has been watching those episodes from the 80s and I love seeing how he incorporates them into the current story.

But most importantly, Sheffer found a way to bring back my favorite characters of Stefano, Tony, Anna and Andre DiMera and actually give them something decent to do.

It almost makes me forgive him for killing my all-time favorite soap character, Jake McKinnon (“Another World”/“As the World Turns”). Almost…

For those of you who have only been watching “Days” in the last ten years or so, you may think that the “Andre has been Tony for the past 20 years” story is stupid and totally illogical. But for those of us who remember the old Tony, it makes perfect sense. In fact, just before the big reveal, I was talking with a friend about how I couldn’t understand how Tony could become evil incarnate after shunning Stefano all those years ago. Now, it makes perfect sense. So perfect, in fact, it’s hard not to think that this story was in the plans all along.

Of course, Sheffer wasn’t the head writer then, so it couldn’t have been, but it sure seems like it.
To tell you the truth, it had been so long, I had forgotten what the old Tony was like. But the brilliant Thaao Penghlis (Tony/Andre) has reminded me. As soon as it was revealed that Tony was Andre, I could totally see it. Andre was always more harsh and spoke at a faster pace. Tony paused more with his speech and had that elegant air about him. If ever anyone at “Days” deserved an Emmy nomination (They rarely get any.), it’s Penghlis for his brilliant tour de force.
But Tony isn’t the only character acting like his old self again. Sheffer has managed to bring all the characters back as they were. Anna is as self-absorbed as she ever was. She and Marlena still don’t get along that well and Lee-Ann Hunley (Anna) and Drake Hogestyn (John) still have that same crackling chemistry they had when they toyed with getting his Roman and Anna together before she disappeared from the show.

And Stefano. Ah, my beloved villain. After all of the stupid stories they have given him over the years, the true Stefano is finally getting back to what originally made him a bad guy to start with—his vendetta with the Bradys. And now, we’re actually finding out why that vendetta started—something no other writer attempted to do. Granted, I get a little bored with watching the cast sit around and read love letters, but Allison Sweeney (Sami/Colleen) and James Scott (E.J./Santo) are doing a great job in the flashbacks. Even their accents are convincing (although Scott’s is a little scary at times).

And speaking of Scott, who could possibly resist that gorgeous British accent? I know E.J. has done horrible things but that was with a different writer. Sheffer’s going to fix all of that now, so I won’t feel guilty for liking him…

In the interest of fairness, I have to confess that I only watch the DiMera-related scenes, so I can’t tell you whether any of the other stories are any good or not (although I suspect they’re not since I can’t believe that guys that young own their own airline), but as far as I’m concerned, Sheffer has the show back on track…

And it couldn’t come at a better time, since NBC has already said it probably won’t continue the show past 2009. If “Days” can get its act together now, it will look mighty attractive to everyone else. I just hope Ken Corday keeps giving Sheffer all of the resources he needs to make it work—including letting him stay in his job.

On second thought, Hogan, if you let Tony impersonate Andre (my dream storyline), I will TOTALLY forgive you for killing off Jake. It’s been seven years. It’s about time I made piece with that anyway…