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Days of our Lives is an Americanmarker soap opera which has aired nearly every weekday since November 8, 1965 on the NBC network in the United Statesmarker, and has since been syndicated to many countries around the world. It also broadcasts on SOAPnet weeknights at 6PM and 11PM ET/PT. The series was created by husband-and-wife team Ted Corday and Betty Corday along with Irna Phillips in 1964, and many of the first stories were written by William J. Bell.

Days is the only remaining serial on NBC's daytime schedule, and the only daytime program other than the Today Show and Early Today, both NBC News productions.

With the cancellation of Guiding Light which aired its scheduled final episode on CBS on September 18, 2009, Days of our Lives became the third longest-running soap opera in the United States, after General Hospital, which premiered April 1, 1963 followed by As the World Turns, which premiered on April 2, 1956.

Overview

The Cordays and Bell combined the "hospital soap" idea with the tradition of centering a series on a family, by making the show about a family of doctors, including one who worked in a mental hospital. Storylines in the show follow the lives of middle and upper-class professionals in Salem, a middle-America town, with the usual threads of love, marriage, divorce, and family life, plus the medical storylines and character studies of individuals with psychological problems. Former executive producer Al Rabin took pride in the characters' passion, saying that the characters were not shy about "sharing what's in their gut."

Critics originally praised the show for its non-reliance on nostalgia (in contrast to shows such as As the World Turns) and its portrayal of "real American contemporary families." By the 1970s, critics deemed Days to be the most daring daytime drama, leading the way in using themes other shows of the period would not dare touch, such as artificial insemination and interracial romance. The January 12, 1976 cover of Time magazine featured Days of our Lives Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes, the first daytime actors to ever appear on its cover. The Hayeses themselves were a couple whose onscreen and real-life romance (they met on the series in 1970 and married in 1974) was widely covered by both the soap opera magazines and the mainstream press.

In the 1990s, the show branched out into supernatural storylines, which critics immediately panned, as it was seen as a departure from more realistic storylines for which the show had originally become known. In 2006, when asked about his character, Jack Deveraux, "coming back from the dead"—for the third time—actor Matthew Ashford responded, "It is hard to play that because at a certain point it becomes too unreal...actors look at that and think, 'What is this — the Cartoon Network'?"

Days, in addition to receiving critical acclaim in print journalism, has won a number of awards, including a Daytime Emmy for Best Drama in 1978 and a Writers Guild of America, East Award for Best Drama in 2000. Days actors have also won awards: Macdonald Carey (Dr. Tom Horton) won Best Actor in 1974 and 1975, Susan Flannery (Laura Horton) won Best Actress in 1975, Suzanne Rogers (Maggie Horton), Leann Hunley (Anna DiMera), and Tamara Braun (Ava Vitali) won Best Supporting Actress for respectively 1979, 1986, and 2009 and Billy Warlock (Frankie Brady) won Best Younger Actor for 1988.. In 2009, Darin Brooks (Max Brady) took home the Emmy for Best Younger Actor<="">ref> The Delaware County Daily Times, and Tamara Braun (Ava Vitali) won for Best Supporting Actress, the show's first acting victories in over 21 and 23 years, respectively Newsday - The Long Island and New York City News Source

As with other soap operas, Days ratings have declined since the 1990s. In January 2007 it was suggested by NBC that the show "is unlikely to continue [on NBC] past 2009." In November 2008, in an eleventh-hour decision, it was announced the show had been renewed and now will be on the air through September 2010. The 18-month renewal was down from its previous renewal, which was for five years. The show has made somewhat of a come back in 2009, with ratings increasing that have continued as the year progressed. This year has been a pretty wonderful year, the ratings have really increased and DAYS Reached 5 Month 18-34 High; 11 Month 18-49 High.

Storyline

When Days of our Lives premiered in 1965, the show revolved around the tragedies and triumphs of the suburban Horton family. Over time, additional families were brought to the show to interact with the Hortons and serve as springboards for more dramatic storylines. Originally led by patriarch Dr. Tom Horton and his wife, homemaker Alice, the Hortons remain a prominent fixture in current continuity.

One of the longest-running storylines involved the rape of Mickey Horton's wife Laura by Mickey's brother Bill. Laura confides in her father-in-law Dr. Tom, and the two agree that her husband Mickey should never know. The secret, involving the true parentage of Michael Horton (a product of the rape) and Mickey's subsequent health issues as a result of the revelation, spanned episodes from 1968 to 1975. The storyline was the first to bring the show to prominence, and put it near the top of the Nielsen daytime ratings. Another love triangle, between lounge singer Doug Williams, Tom and Alice's daughter Addie, and Addie's own daughter, Julie, proved to be very popular around the same time. The storyline culminated in the death of Addie in 1974 and the marriage of Doug and Julie in 1976.

In the 1980s, the Brady and DiMera families were introduced, and their rivalry quickly cemented their places as core families in Salem beside the Hortons. Around the same time, with the help of head writers Sheri Anderson, Thom Racina and Leah Laiman, action/adventure storylines and supercoupling such as Bo and Hope, Shane and Kimberly and Patch and Kayla reinvigorated the show, previously focused primarily on the domestic troubles of the Hortons.

Since the 1990s, with the introduction of writer James E. Reilly, Days of our Lives has moved from traditional plots to supernatural and science-fiction-themed stories, in conjunction with the rivalry of good vs. evil, in a Hatfield/McCoy feud style the Bradys verses the DiMeras. Under the tenure of Reilly, ratings first rose and then fell dramatically. Despite the introduction of new head writer Hogan Sheffer in 2006, ratings failed to revive, which led the show's producers to hire a few past fan favorites to stop the ratings hemorrhage.

Best-remembered stories

In addition to the love triangles of Bill/Mickey/Laura and Doug/Julie/Addie, other memorable storylines include the 1968 story of amnesiac Tom Horton, Jr., who returns from Koreamarker believing he is someone else and then proceeds to romance his younger sister Marie; the twenty-year tragic love triangle when John Black steals Marlena Brady from her husband Roman; the 1982 "Salem Strangler" (Jake Kositchek, who was nicknamed "Jake the Ripper") who stalks and murders women; the 1984 Gone with the Wind storyline in which Hope Williams Brady and Bo Brady hide out on a Southern plantation and dress up as Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler (devised to keep viewers tuned in while rival network ABC's soaps were preempted due to the 1984 Summer Olympics); "The Cruise of Deception" in 1990, when madman Ernesto Toscano invites all his enemies aboard a ship, the S.S. Loretta, and holds them captive; the 1994–1995 storyline in which the town's Christmas tree burns down and Marlena becomes possessed in Exorcist fashion; the 2003–2004 "Melaswen", when several characters purportedly die at the hands of a masked psychopath, but are later revealed to have been kidnapped to the secret island of Melaswen (New Salem spelled backwards); and the 2007 "Bradys and DiMeras: The Reveal," which told the story regarding how the infamous Brady/DiMera feud started.

Cast

When Days of our Lives debuted the cast consisted of seven main characters (Tom Horton, Alice Horton, Mickey Horton, Marie Horton, Julie Olson, Tony Merritt and Craig Merritt). When the show expanded to one-hour in April 1975, the cast increased to 27 actors. By the 25th anniversary in 1990, 40 actors appeared on the show in contract or recurring roles, which is the approximate number of actors the show has used since then.Of all the current cast members, only Frances Reid, who plays Alice Horton, has been on contract with Days of our Lives since it began, appearing since the very first episode in 1965. Original cast member John Clarke, who played Mickey Horton, left the series in 2004. Suzanne Rogers, who plays Maggie Horton has been on the show since 1973, and Susan Seaforth Hayes has played Julie Olson Williams since 1968 with a few breaks in between.

In recent years, Days has hired back many former cast members. Twenty of the current contract cast members have been with the show, off-and-on, since at least 1999. Since 2005, cast members from the 1980s, such as Christie Clark (Carrie Brady), Stephen Nichols (Steve Johnson), Austin Peck (Austin Reed), Mary Beth Evans (Kayla Brady), Joseph Mascolo (Stefano DiMera), and Thaao Penghlis (Tony DiMera) had been brought back to Days, in an attempt to reach viewers who may have quit watching the series, although several returning cast members are no longer with the show. More recent additions to the show include the returns of Crystal Chappell (Dr.Carly Manning), Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe Lane) and Arianne Zucker (Nicole Walker) as well as long-time soap veterans Shawn Christian (Daniel Jonas), Roscoe Born (Trent Robbins) and Kevin Dobson as a recasted Mickey Horton. These additions came around the same time as many cast exits, including Brandon Beemer (Shawn-Douglas Brady), Martha Madison (Belle Black), Julie Pinson (Billie Reed) and Frank Parker (Shawn Brady).

Current Cast Members

Actor Character Duration
Kristian Alfonso Hope Brady 1983-1987, 1990, 1994-
Nadia Bjorlin Chloe Lane 1999-2003, 2004-2005, 2007-
Molly Burnett Melanie Layton 2008-
Crystal Chappell Carly Manning 1990-1993, 2009-
Shawn Christian Daniel Jonas 2008-
Bryan Dattilo Lucas Roberts Horton 1993-2001, 2002-
Casey Deidrick Chad Woods 2009-
Galen Gering Rafael Hernandez 2008-
Mark Hapka Nathan Horton 2009-
Lindsay Hartley Arianna Hernandez 2009-
Shelley Hennig Stephanie Johnson 2007-
Jay Kenneth Johnson Philip Kiriakis 1999-2002, 2007-
Renée Jones Lexie Carver 1993-2007, 2007-
Lauren Koslow Kate Roberts DiMera 1996-
Wally Kurth Justin Kiriakis 1987-1991, 2009-
Eric Martsolf Brady Black 2008-
Joseph Mascolo Stefano DiMera 1982-1985, 1988, 1993-2001, 2007-2008, 2008-
Peggy McCay Caroline Brady 1983, 1985-2003, 2004-
Dylan Patton Will Horton 2009-
Peter Reckell Bo Brady 1983-1987, 1990-1992, 1995-
Frances Reid Alice Horton 1965-
James Reynolds Abe Carver 1981-1990, 1991-2003, 2004-
Gabriela Rodriguez Gabriela Hernandez 2009-
Suzanne Rogers Maggie Horton 1973-1984, 1985-2003, 2004-
James Scott E.J. DiMera 2006-
Louise Sorel Vivian Alamain 1992-2000, 2009-
Taylor Spreitler Mia McCormick 2009-
Alison Sweeney Sami Brady 1993-
Josh Taylor Roman Brady 1997-2004, 2004-
Arianne Zuker Nicole Walker DiMera 1998-2006, 2008-


Recurring Cast Members

Actor Character
John Aniston Victor Kiriakis
Jennifer Birmingham Ashley
Lauren Boles Ciara Brady
Tanya Boyd Celeste Perrault
Kevin Dobson Mickey Horton
Bill Hayes Doug Williams
Susan Seaforth Hayes Julie Williams
Ron Leath Henderson
David Leisure Charles Woods
Terrell Ransom Jr. Theo Carver
Campbell and Carolyn Rose Allie Horton
Michael Sabatino Lawrence Alamain
Hailey and Lauren Sinnema Sydney DiMera
Chad Schropp Pete


Executive producing and head writing team

The co-creator and original executive producer, Ted Corday, was only at the helm for eight months before dying of cancer in 1966. His widow, Betty, was named executive producer upon his death. She continued in that role, with the help of H. Wesley Kenney and Al Rabin as supervising producers, before she semi-retired in 1985. When Mrs. Corday semi-retired in 1985, and later died in 1987, her son, Ken, became executive producer and took over the full-time, day-to-day running of the show, a title he still holds today. The series' current co-executive producer is Gary Tomlin, who joined the series on September 17, 2008.

The first long-term head writer, William J. Bell, started writing for Days in 1966 and continued until 1975, a few years after he had created his own successful soap, The Young and the Restless. He stayed with the show as a storyline consultant until 1978. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, many writing changes occurred. In the early 1980s, Margaret DePriest helped stabilize the show with her serial killer storyline. Later head writers, such as Sheri Anderson, Thom Racina and Leah Laiman, built on that stability and crafted storylines of their own, temporarily bringing up ratings. Many writing changes occurred after Laiman left the series in 1989 and would not become stable again until James E. Reilly started with the show in 1993. His tenure, which lasted for four-and-a-half years, was credited with bringing ratings up to the second-place spot in the Nielsens. Other writers who succeeded him, such as Sally Sussman Morina and Tom Langan, failed to keep the ratings success, and another writer turnover continued until Reilly returned to the series in 2003.

Five-time Daytime Emmy winner Hogan Sheffer was named head writer with great fanfare in October 2006, but lasted less than 16 months with the show, with his last episode airing in January 2008. Current head writer Dena Higley's first episode aired on April 23, 2008. Her co-head writer is Christopher Whitesellj.

Broadcast history

During its first three years on the air, Days of our Lives was near the bottom of the daytime Nielsen ratings, and close to cancellation. However, its ascent was rapid; as the 1969 TV season ended, Days became a successful part of NBC's attempt to dethrone CBS. By 1973 the show, pitted against CBS' Guiding Light and ABC's The Newlywed Game at 2 p.m.(EST)/1 p.m.(CST), had matched the first-place ratings of As The World Turns and sister NBC serial Another World. NBC capitalized on this success with the decision to expand to one hour on April 21, 1975. This expansion had followed the lead of AW, which became TV's first-ever hour-long soap on January 6, three-and-a-half months earlier. Further, Days' new starting time of 1:30/12:30 finally solved a scheduling problem that began in 1968 when NBC lost the game Let's Make a Deal to ABC, and in its wake, eight different shows were placed into the slot (Hidden Faces,You're Putting Me On, Life with Linkletter, Words & Music, Memory Game, Three on a Match, Jeopardy!, and How to Survive a Marriage).

However, this first golden period for NBC daytime proved to be short-lived, as Days' ratings began to decline in 1977. Much of the decline was due to ABC's expansion of its popular soap All My Children to a full hour, the last half of which overlapped with the first half of Days. By January 1979, the network, in a mode of desperation more than anything else, decided to jump headlong against AMC and moved the show ahead to the same 1 p.m./12 Noon time slot. In exchange to its affiliates for taking away the old half-hour access slot at 1/Noon, NBC gave them the 4 p.m./3 slot, which many (if not most) stations had been preempting for years anyway. However this left affiliates no choice but to pre-empt Password Plus for local news, which ended up leading to several timeslot changes and its cancellation in 1982. By 1986, ABC and CBS followed suit, under the intense pressure of lucrative (and cheap) syndicated programming offered to affiliates.

By the early 1980s, Days had displaced Another World as NBC's highest-rated soap. However, the entire NBC soap lineup was in ratings trouble. In fact, by 1982, all of its shows were rated above only one ABC soap (The Edge of Night) and below all four CBS soaps. The "supercouple" era of the 1980s, however, helped bring about a ratings revival, and the 1983–1984 season saw Days experience a surge in ratings. It held onto its strong numbers for most of the 80s, only to decline again by 1990, eventually falling back into eighth place. In the mid-1990s, however, the show experienced a resurgence in popularity and the show reached number two in the ratings, where it remained for several years before experiencing another ratings decline beginning in 1999, the year that Days became NBC's longest-running daytime program (upon the cancellation of AW). Throughout the 2000s, Days and all the other remaining network daytime serials have witnessed a steady erosion of viewers, mainly due to vastly altered viewing habits induced by cable networks and alternative genres such as reality and talk shows on minor network affiliates.

On January 17, 2007, NBC Universal Television president Jeff Zucker remarked that Days of our Lives would not be renewed and would most likely not "continue past 2009." This contributed to an immediate ratings decline at Days. The show was averaging a 2.4 rating prior to the announcement, dropped to a 1.9 average household rating in the months after. With the 2007 cancellation of Passions by NBC, Days is now NBC's last remaining traditional daytime program (excepting The Today Show) on its mid-day schedule. Charts|url=http://members.aol.com/jason47b/pressrelease.html|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20080110144119/http://members.aol.com/jason47b/pressrelease.html|archivedate=2008-01-10|accessdate=2007-06-10}} In an April 2007 interview with Soap Opera Digest, executive producer Ken Corday remarked of the ratings decline of the previous months, "If I don't pay attention to the ratings and what the viewers are saying, I'm an ostrich. I have not seen a decline in the ratings on the show this precipitous — ever. I've never seen this much of a percentage decline." On September 10, 2007, Days moved to Passions 2 p.m. weekday timeslot in some areas, but most affiliates continue to broadcast the show at its 1 p.m. hour. WPXI-TVmarker in Pittsburgh, PAmarker currently airs Days during its 3:00 p.m. timeslot.

Days of our Lives has finished the 2008-2009 television season with substantial increases in viewers (3.0 million vs. 2.8 million) and has risen to the #3 spot behind The Young and the Restless and Bold and Beautiful respectively. It is now the #2 daytime program behind Y & R in the much coveted 18-49 demographic. In the two and a half months of the 2009-2010 season, thus far Days has increased it's average household rating to 2.3 and is averaging slightly over 3,000,000 viewers. It is only one point behind the #2 daytime drama Bold and Beautiful and has beat it on several days this season in total viewers.

External distribution

According to Variety, Days is the most widely-distributed soap opera in the United States, with episodes not just broadcast via NBC, but also via cable (SOAPnet), and as of June 2007, episodes are offered via iTunes.

Days also has an international audience. It started broadcasting locally in Australia in 1968, later moving to the Nine Network. Over time, Days ended up airing at a delay of nearly five years behind the United States due to cricket pre-emptions in the summer, so in 2004, Nine aired a special titled Days of our Lives: A New Day, which summarized four years of storyline in one hour, in an attempt to catch up to more current telecasts. This speed-up caused mixed feelings as viewers missed many vital storylines and it landed right in the middle of the Melaswen storyline. Now, episodes are ten months behind the United States. New Zealandmarker has aired Days nearly as long, debuting on Television New Zealand by 1975 at the latest, and currently running approximately five years and 3 months behind the United States on the TV ONE. Channel One will axed the show in 2010, Sky Television may pick up the long running soap opera?.

In South Africa the soap began airing on SABC 1 being a ratings hit and being the second highest international show on South African often battling with The Bold and the Beautiful for first or second spot. However in March 2006, due to ICASA (Independent Communications Authority South Africa) broadcasting regulations, SABC 1 cancelled Days of our Lives and moved over to SABC 3 where the show began 20-minutes earlier at 4:55P.M. CAT. Initially ratings dropped from 3.8 million viewers on average to around 1.7million viewers. However the show is still the second highest rated show for SABC 3, which has a lower audience rating than SABC 1. Repeats of Days of our Lives the following day on SABC 2 garners almost 1 million viewers bringing the total amount of viewer to about 2.8 million viewers on average that watch a Days of our Lives episode. Days is currently 2 and a half years behind US broadcast, but is expected to fall a few months behind in the foreseeable future due to regular pre-emptions during cricket season.

Days also airs in a number of countries across Europe, premiering in Turkeymarker on October 8, 1990, Francemarker on July 29, 1991 and since July 1998 after the end of Loving diffusion on France 2 (currently 6 years behind USA) , Germanymarker on September 6, 1993, Swedenmarker in September 1997 (currently four years behind USA), Finlandmarker on August 11, 2003, and Hungarymarker on June 14, 2004. Channel 5 aired episodes of Days in the United Kingdommarker from March 2000 until April 2001, eventually pulling it off the air; network executives deemed its audience of 200,000 viewers as too low a figure. Days had previously aired in the UK and Irelandmarker on the Sky Soap channel between 1994 and 1999; episodes were three years behind U.S. telecasts. Days became available to viewers again in the UKmarker in 2007 - CBS Drama currently broadcasts episodes at 9am and 1am weekdays, 6 years behind the United States telecasts. In Italymarker Days aired for only three months in 1985 on Rete A; in 1992 Italia 7 started to air new episodes, five years behind U.S. telecasts. In 1993, after 260 episodes, the show was cancelled.

Days of our Lives also airs in the Middle East and the Arab World Since 2003 in the cannel MBC2 and then moved to MBC4 as a channel of American TV shows and the show is 5 years behind the USA.

Belize's Tropical Vision Limited features Days as an afternoon staple. Currently it airs at 3:00 p.m. UTC-6 (Central Time), though it previously aired as early as 1:00 p.m. or as late as 5:30 p.m. as a lead in to the news.

Opening title sequences and theme song

Original main title
Almost completely unmodified since the show's debut in 1965, the title sequence of Days of our Lives features an hourglass, with sand slowly trickling to the bottom against the backdrop of a partly cloudy sky, as well as the trademark voiceover, "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives." From the show's debut in 1965 until March 1966, announcer Ed Prentiss spoke the phrase, adding "Days of our Lives, a new dramatic serial starring Macdonald Carey." Since April 1966, the voice has been that of Macdonald Carey, who played Dr. Tom Horton from the show's premiere until the actor's 1994 death from lung cancer. From 1966 to 1994, he would add "This is Macdonald Carey, and these are the days of our lives." After Carey's death in 1994, the second part was removed out of respect for Carey and his family.

The theme that regularly accompanies each sequence was composed by Charles Albertine, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The theme has only been modified twice since Days premiered: in 1993, when the opening titles were changed to computerized visuals, and in 2004, with an orchestral arrangement that was only used in eight episodes, at which time the theme was reverted back to the 1993 arrangement, and is the one currently used.

Parodies

Days of our Lives was satirized on the hit NBC sitcom Friends when series regular Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) is cast as "Dr. Drake Ramoray" on the show, despite the fact that Joey lives in New York and Days of our Lives is shot in California. Subsequent episodes featured pseudo-Days of our Lives storylines invented for the sitcom, and included some guest appearances by real-life cast members from the soap opera. Joey's stint on the show ends when he angers its writers; his character is killed after falling down an elevator shaft. Later, his character is brought back to life thanks to a brain transplant from the character Jessica Lockhart, played by Susan Sarandon. Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady) appeared on Friends as faux Days character "Jessica Ashley," Kristian Alfonso as Hope Brady, and Roark Critchlow as Mike Horton. In an episode in which Joey hosts a "soap opera party" on the roof, Matthew Ashford and Kyle Lowder make appearances as his co-stars. In the spin-off sitcom Joey, Joey is nominated for "best death scene" after his character is stabbed while performing surgery.

Fans

The show has had many high-profile fans. In 1976, TIME magazine reported that then-Justice of the Supreme Courtmarker, Thurgood Marshall, would call a recess around the 1 p.m. hour to watch Days of our Lives. Actress Julia Roberts admitted at the 2002 People's Choice Awards that she was a fan of Days, and asked to be seated near the cast at that event as well as other award shows. In 2004, during the show's Melaswen storyline, Roberts' interest was considered notable enough that Entertainment Weekly quoted her saying that "the show has gotten a little wacko." A 1998 TIME article mentioned that Monica Lewinsky, the former White Housemarker aide who admitted to having an "inappropriate relationship" with then-president Bill Clinton, was a passionate fan of Days of our Lives, so much so that she wrote a poem about the series in her high school yearbook. The article compared her whirlwind experiences in the White House to a story on Days.

References

  1. Gilbert, Annie, All My Afternoons, p. 110.
  2. Gilbert, Annie, All My Afternoons, p. 111.
  3. Gilbert, Annie, All My Afternoons, p. 109
  4. Delaware County Daily Times
  5. NBC renews Sony TV's 'Days' - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety
  6. Gilbert, Annie, All My Afternoons, p. 112.
  7. Soap Opera Digest article, issue of February 10, 1998, page 42
  8. Soap Opera Digest. "Crisis at DAYS! The Secret Plan to Save It". April 17, 2007.
  9. NBC daytime schedule history


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