|Viewing Single Post From: Australia's Channel 9 to drop 'Days'|
|TreasureCove||Apr 14 2013, 04:40 PM|
It appears the sand has finally slipped through the hourglass and no longer will free-to-air audiences hear the words "these are the days of our lives".
Like sands through the hourglass, so is Channel Nine's commitment to a decades-old audience.
Back in 2007 an older, flabbier Nine made the line call to ditch the long-running soap The Young and The Restless for a new talk show, The Catch-Up. We all know how that ended.
Now, in a decision that will bruise soap fans badly, the leaner, meaner Nine is to ditch Days of our Lives, the US daily soap opera which has been cemented into its daytime schedule for 45 years.
Days of our Lives first aired on Nine in 1968.
Australia then was a very different place: Elizabeth II was on the throne, there was a leadership battle within the Australian Labor Party and there was a referendum to decide if Australia needed its first casino.
Looking back from the safety of 2013, it's like an alien landscape.
Into this unfamiliar world came Days of our Lives, a dose of small-town America, pitched at small-town Australia and parked in a time-slot that would form cobwebs, and eventually rust, on the then-titanic Channel Nine.
Originally it was just a half-hour. It starred dashing Dr Tom Horton (Macdonald Carey), his son Mickey (John Clarke), troubled daughter Marie (Maree Cheatham), who became the show's obligatory nun, and Tom's wife, the omnipresent, always understanding Alice Horton (Frances Reid).
DOOL, as it became known, evolved over time. From the homely 1970s, with plot-lines about infidelity and illegitimate children (and nuns), to the international intrigue of the 1970s, in which characters like super-villain Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) rose to giddy cultural heights.
In the 1980s, along with the rest of television, DOOL applied its mascara heavily, and plumped up the shoulder pads, pushing a pantheon of glamorous women to the front line, notably Anna DiMera (Leann Hunley), Hope Brady (Kristian Alfonso) and the luminous, immortal Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall).
Days of our Lives also defined the soap opera super-couple: "Bo and Hope", "Patch and Kayla", "Roman and Marlena" chief among them long before the media discovered Bennifer, TomKat and Brangelina.
There is no doubt that, along with the prime-time super-soaps of the day, such as Dynasty, Dallas, Knots Landing and Falcon Crest, the 1980s was the cultural zenith of the daytime soap opera. Not just because, for most shows, that was the last time they spruced up the sets.
Since then, in different ways, the genre has been in slow decline.
DOOL, nonetheless, has gone down with a fight. Notable storylines in the last two decades include the show's first gay romance, between Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) and Will Horton (Chandler Massey) and another in which the town's good doctor, Marlena Brady (nee Evans) was possessed by the devil.
For some fans, the torch of DOOL was extinguished in 2010 when Alice Horton, and the actress who played her, Frances Reid, passed away.
In the US, the daytime soap genre has been seriously depleted, thanks to commercial pressures and, with respect, a deplorable lack of creative renewal.
Shows like As The World Turns and Guiding Light have been axed and followed earlier long-running classics such as Search for Tomorrow and Another World into the bin. Two others, One Life to Live and All My Children, were axed but web-based continuations were in development.
Days of our Lives is aired in the US by NBC, but owned by the studio Sony Pictures. Sony's television arm sells the series worldwide. Any deal to save it for Australian viewers would be negotiated with them.
NBC has commissioned the show through to September 2014.
A spokesman for Nine said the network had not renewed its deal for DOOL "for commercial reasons". Translation: budget cuts. The GFC may have passed the rest of Australia by, but it has hit our commercial networks hard.
Sony has advised Nine it is working to find a "new partner" for the show but it has not confirmed a new deal. Long-term fans will be hoping for a reprieve like the one The Young and The Restless got. It was snapped up by the pay TV platform Foxtel.
Nine's final episode of Days of our Lives will air on Friday, April 26.
Thanks also to We Love Soaps
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