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Strange Days Vol. 3: My Say in Salem; Ratings doomsday for DAYS?
Topic Started: Sep 28 2007, 09:36 PM (634 Views)
IMissAremid
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After all... tomorrow is another day!

What is the cause of this ratings doomsday for “DAYS”?

One-point-eight.

Despite “Days of our Lives” producing some truly outstanding episodes this week, most “Days” fans can’t help but be a bit apoplectic over the 1.8 rating the show pulled in last week and its last place finish yet again. I know I am one of them.

No one can say with certainty how we got here – how “Days” went from a 2.5 rating tied for third place in the rankings at this time last year to the bottom of the barrel with a 1.8, tying its lowest rating ever, but I think I have a pretty good idea how and when this disaster was set in motion.

Sure, all of daytime is struggling somewhat with a loss of viewers, but that doesn’t explain it all given this soap’s fall from grace while other soaps are exactly where they were last year. In the case of “General Hospital” for example, the ratings are exactly where they were this time last year – 2.5 and third place.

While some fans like to point fingers at this couple or that actor for getting too much or too little screen time as the cause of it all, I don’t think that’s the whole story. Nor do I think the looming possibility of cancellation or “Passions” leaving NBC is the culprit.

I think the biggest cause of this show’s struggles is simply the incompetence and lack of creative vision of Hogan Sheffer, Ken Corday and the since departed Stephen Wyman. And I think you can trace it all back to the fateful last week of December, where all of the 2006 stories were finally wrapped up (or as wrapped up as they’ll ever be) and “Days” launched into the dismal stories that alternately repulsed and bored to tears the vast majority of its audience, especially through bland February and May sweeps periods, during the first months of the year.

If “Days” is cancelled due to its poor ratings, I think the place where you will point to the show going off the tracks irrevocably will be the events of that last week of December.

I don’t know if what we saw on screen from January to April is what Hogan had in mind all along for what he set in motion back then or the stories were somehow diluted or distorted by interference from Corday, Wyman or someone else. I just know the show sucked. Hard. As a result of that last week in December.

Shooting John and putting him in a coma was a huge mistake. Really, what did it accomplish? Lexie and Tek disappeared because of it, but she came back and Tek was forgotten. Marlena didn't change in any way from being without John and she didn't pursue any sort of romance in his absence. It had essentially no effect on Belle because she was gone in Tinda Lao the whole time. John came out of the coma with no ill health effects. No one was arrested or went to trial or jailed because of the shooting. John doesn't seem that pissed about it and isn't trying to get revenge. It just doesn't make a lick of sense whatsoever. I wonder if Hogan initially did want to kill John off but Corday was afraid so he wanted the shooting to be non-fatal because he was afraid of the fan backlash. Another theory I have is maybe they noticed EJ's popularity and were afraid what it would mean for his character if he killed John. Because somewhere along the way “Days” just blew it. Rather than having the balls to just straight up kill John Black last winter in a dramatic and emotional way and perhaps out of fear that another soap would snap Drake up, they decided to put him in a coma and give fans more time to get used to the idea of John-less “Days” and just phase him out it seems. What a tragic mistake.

Of course the other major mistake that week was the rape/sextortion of Sami. Tainting one of the show’s best potential romantic leads while relying on a melodramatic stunt like this to try to stamp out support for EJami and cement Lumi was a mistake, and though TPTB seems to have realized that and that is why we are getting the storyline we are now and more of a real EJ/Sami/Lucas triangle, the problem is it's way too late for many viewers, who are in most cases so invested in one pair over the other they just want to see Sami with that man now in their own story at this point, or they are not invested in either pairing and in many cases just so bored that they wish the three of them would all jump off a cliff like Colleen. Besides the events of the last week of December and what was set in motion from them ruining the character of EJ for a sizable contingent of viewers, those events also hurt the character of Sami because she acted so illogically in the event’s aftermath and wasn't really even given a chance to engender sympathy because she was never shown upset or traumatized by what happened to her, but only freaking out about how Lucas would react. The fact that we had it drilled into us four days a week for four months that Sami thought so little of Lucas and his love for her that she thought he'd dump her for getting raped/being emotional blackmailed into sleeping with another guy to save his life made it difficult for people who weren't already invested in Lumi or didn't like Lucas to begin with to get invested in that pairing and want them to work when the show gave us “the most anticipated wedding in daytime.” And the show making the decision to continue to put EJ and Sami still in scenes together after what happened, not only was insensitive and stupid if they truly thought they were telling a story of rape and pissed off Lumi fans for no reason, but only served to build up more and more support for the EJami pairing as the appealing chemistry between Alison Sweeney and James Scott continued to be on display.

Of course, this isn’t even getting into the subsequent unmitigated disasters not necessarily related to that last week in December that were Hairbrushgate, Shelligan’s Island and One Flew Over A Payla’s Nest.

Sadly, there isn’t much the show can do about these things now except try to move on and learn from past mistakes. I do ask them to stop making promises they can’t keep. I will root for them to give up the melodramatic stunts to draw viewers without considering their long-term impact on characters. I will long for them to give up the reliance on so many newly introduced short-term characters while so many talented veterans in the show’s stable languish in the backburner. I will hope the writing staff provides viewers with stories as compelling as Ed Scott has made the acting and aesthetics of the show brilliant during his short time as co-executive producer. I will pray that they are rewarded with returning viewers for doing these things.

Because a daytime landscape without “Days of our Lives” is a barren one – 1.8 or not.

-Mary

...

This week in Salem:

Performer of the week – Alison Sweeney (Sami/Colleen) … Whether I was cheering Sami as she kicked the shit out of Andre, sympathizing with Sami as she tried to deal with her complicated situation with Lucas and EJ, amused as Sami was beaten but refusing to be bowed in her dealings with Stefano or having my heart broken along with Colleen’s as I watched her find out about Santo’s lie and take her vows, Alison Sweeney made this week for me.

Episode of the week – Thursday … Now THAT was some soapy goodness.

Scene of the week – Andre/Sami/Lucas/EJ (Wednesday) … The Sami’s choice scenes were my top choice.

Couple of the week – Nick and Chelsea … It’s amazing how much more I love these two when Jett is nowhere in sight.

Salem stooge of the week #1 – Sami … Move over Cleopatra, because Samantha Gene Brady is the new Queen of Denial. She’s in denial about her feelings for EJ, in denial about how marrying EJ will ruin her relationship with Lucas and I think in denial about how unlikely it is that Stefano will somehow leave her family alone forever if she just agrees to marry EJ.

Salem stooge of the week #2 – Santo … Besides the whole idiocy of the situation with Colleen… a gold watch to bribe Young Old Man Brady? Couldn’t he have a least brought him a shiny, new lorry in his desperate plea for help in winning back Colleen?

Scene-stealer of the week – Trevor Donovan (Jeremy) … This guy just grows on me more and more each episode. I loved his performance Wednesday in stepping in to save Nick’s children and send that bad man in the Panama hat packing.

Line of the week – “Isn't it just like a Brady, huh? Sweep the past right under the rug. God forbid you should face something unpleasant head on.” (Stefano, Thursday)
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psychofan
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#1 Fan of Daytime Psychos!

Wow....that is a great column. When I saw the thread I was afraid I wouldn't agree with anything and afraid that it would be a complete Days rules...Days is the best....nothing is bad about Days....thing since there've been a few lately (not from you I don't think). Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised. Great job. :)
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Steve Frame
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I can't tell you how much I loved that column. You were right on with every thing you said.

Bravo.
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Mason
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DAYS is good. Certainly not perfect, and maybe not even great all the time. But pretty damn good, if you ask me/in my opinion/etc.

Good column though!
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IMissAremid
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After all... tomorrow is another day!

Thanks for your comments guys.

While I am glad that you agreed with me Psychofan, I would hope even if you hadn't agreed with me or you ever read my columns in the future and you disagree with them that you will say how and why you disagree because I truly welcome any and all feedback and I hope that at one point or another one of my columns will actually provoke discussion rather than just be me blathering for 1,000 words and a couple people letting me know they read it. LOL.

And Mason, I do agree with you that DAYS is pretty good right now. So much so I almost wound up doing a column on something else this week, but I just had to get this off my chest right now since the ratings issue is such a big topic.

Hopefully Days can gain some new viewers next week. I actually bought SOD at the supermarket today (why? I don't know. Guess I'm just a sucker) and wound up talking to the clerk about DOOL a little bit while he was ringing me up. He said he used to watch DOOL back in high school and asked me if Bo and Hope were still together. LOL. I mentioned something about getting hooked on it again thanks to SoapNet and he asked me what time it comes on because maybe he'd give it another try. Even though he was probably just making conversation, that was still just a reminder for me of how many people know DOOL even if they aren't watching it right now and a little more hopeful that maybe if DOOL could come up with some miracle of an awesome story maybe people would tune back in again at a respectable level. Also, it made feel good that as much as I bitch about this show on message boards I can say I am doing my part to try to improve ratings I swear. LOL.
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MichaelGL
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Sexy Jew

Excellent column. I always find myself agreeing with you and now is no different. Thursday was a fantastic episode, classic DAYS.
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px780
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Streetcorner Philosopher

Excellent post, yo! And I love the word "sextortion" so much that I half-wish I could use it in my daily life.

I kind of disagree with your assessment, though, because I think the blame for the decline is clearly Sami/EJ (or Sweeney/Scott).

You rightly point out sextortion (brilliant!) as a turning point for the show. I think it was their misguided attempt to turn Sami into an insta-heroine so she could assume the central position. They had the right idea- moving Sami forward in a different way- but they did it in a stupid way.

I don't think sextortion destroyed EJ, because I think he was meant to be a hardcore-yet-charming villain. I think what destroyed him was when they softened it because they felt Sami needed to be the center of a triangle.

And then they created an entire storyline, tying in the past and promising long-term viewers that their favorites would be seen once more, to pimp Sami & EJ as a couple.

And then they had the actors play dual roles.

None of it worked, imho, and I think it turned off a lot of viewers because there really has been no escape. What's my alternative story to watch? All I seem to get is Indestructible Andre, and all he does is put the characters in dangerous situation so I can see more Sami/EJ pimping.

You can't transform a fabulous bitch into a sympathetic heroine through sextortion/rape dealt with primarily in, like, one episode and expect viewers to rally behind that. Especially with a character like Sami, since some viewers were already tired of her due to her whining about John for a solid decade.

So I agree that there is an overall lack of creative vision, but viewers stuck with it through a lot of crap. It seems to be this particular crap pushing people over the edge, and as it's very Sami-centric, I blame her. I loved her before, too, so it's hard to say that.

(Also, I'm not a Lumi fan, either, so, y'know, I don't blame Sami/EJ out of loyalty to them- I'm one who want all three to take Colleen's act as an example)

I also think the show deserves to be right where it is, ratings-wise. They've truly earned their last place finish, and if they think that making it more aesthetically appealing and improving acting is sufficient...they should share those drugs, y'know?

I can't even imagine what they could do to regain my trust as a viewer, and that's a bad place to be.
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Steve Frame
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Px those are some very good points. Add those to Mary's great points and you add up to so many of the problems.

And I agree with you 100% about the show quality wise looking better. If that is all they do it is not going to solve the problems.
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Mason
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px, I agree with many of your points, but I totally disagree that DAYS deserves to be in last place. Not by a long shot. IMO, even with its problems, DAYS is still currently one of the better soaps on right now (not that that's saying a hell of a whole lot, these days).
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IMissAremid
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After all... tomorrow is another day!

px780
Sep 29 2007, 11:21 PM
Excellent post, yo!  And I love the word "sextortion" so much that I half-wish I could use it in my daily life.

I kind of disagree with your assessment, though, because I think the blame for the decline is clearly Sami/EJ (or Sweeney/Scott). 

You rightly point out sextortion (brilliant!) as a turning point for the show. I think it was their misguided attempt to turn Sami into an insta-heroine so she could assume the central position.  They had the right idea- moving Sami forward in a different way- but they did it in a stupid way.

I don't think sextortion destroyed EJ, because I think he was meant to be a hardcore-yet-charming villain.  I think what destroyed him was when they softened it because they felt Sami needed to be the center of a triangle. 

And then they created an entire storyline, tying in the past and promising long-term viewers that their favorites would be seen once more, to pimp Sami & EJ as a couple.

And then they had the actors play dual roles. 

None of it worked, imho, and I think it turned off a lot of viewers because there really has been no escape.  What's my alternative story to watch?  All I seem to get is Indestructible Andre, and all he does is put the characters in dangerous situation so I can see more Sami/EJ pimping.

You can't transform a fabulous bitch into a sympathetic heroine through sextortion/rape dealt with primarily in, like, one episode and expect viewers to rally behind that.  Especially with a character like Sami, since some viewers were already tired of her due to her whining about John for a solid decade. 

So I agree that there is an overall lack of creative vision, but viewers stuck with it through a lot of crap.  It seems to be this particular crap pushing people over the edge, and as it's very Sami-centric, I blame her.  I loved her before, too, so it's hard to say that.

(Also, I'm not a Lumi fan, either, so, y'know, I don't blame Sami/EJ out of loyalty to them- I'm one who want all three to take Colleen's act as an example)

I also think the show deserves to be right where it is, ratings-wise.  They've truly earned their last place finish, and if they think that making it more aesthetically appealing and improving acting is sufficient...they should share those drugs, y'know? 

I can't even imagine what they could do to regain my trust as a viewer, and that's a bad place to be.

Thank you for your response on this.

I actually agree with most of what you said even though I have loved having James Scott and Ali Sweeney frontburner as much as they have been and I have been able to tolerate the EJami pimping that was Santeen (since I saw this only as leveling the playing field after the rape/sextortion... glad you like that word, heh... happened as a way for Hogan to cement his pimping of Lumi and try to make viewers forget how ridiculously and shamelessly and haphazardly he had so quickly shoved them back together in the previous fall since they easily could have made EJ that bad guy and still the hardcore-but-charming villain by just having him seduce Sami to sleep with him without her knowing he was a DiMera and up to no good with nefarious deeds against her family, but then run back to Lucas in horror when she learned the truth of EJ's family yet while still keeping her sleeping with EJ a secret from Lucas, and it would have given us basically this same exact triangle without the issue of rape/sextortion making it all so icky and Sami's actions seem so illogical for a rape/sextortion victim).

But that doesn't mean I like that this EJami pimping has been at the expense of other storylines and as I said in last week's column I am disappointed "this Brady-DiMera feud storyline in the end is being revealed now when all is said and done as nothing more than an extremely unsatisfying attempt at multi-generational EJami fan fiction masquerading as an all-encompassing umbrella story using 25 years of “Days” history as window-dressing to quickly pave the way for an E.J. and Sami pairing rather than actually address the mistakes the show has made in the couple’s story of the past year and fix them."

So I get what you are saying about EJ and Sami killing the show for you, but I think the show would be so much different and that they wouldn't have created the Santeen storyline in the first place and been so wishywashy with EJ's character had they not made such a huge mistake with the rape/sextortion in the first place, so I still think the root cause of today's show's woes go back to that week and mistakes of TPTB rather than these characters or so much what is playing out now in the fallout of that last week in December.

And I am totally with you on hating the direction Hogan has taken Sami because his way of "redeeming" the bad girl apparently entails doing nothing to address Sami's underlying self-esteem issues that were the root of all her past mistakes as she came up with all those crazy schemes to try to make people love her, but simply making her decide that groveling for forgiveness and being some weepy, martyr heroine for Lucas and her family as penance for her past actions against them is the way toward redemption. It's insulting and annoying to see a ruthless, badass bitch like Sami reduced to this.
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pspcindy
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Great column Mary!!

I agree with so much of what you expressed.

Still there are those days on Days that just are wonderful. My best example of that is the Santeen lovemaking. It was perfect. The setting, the lighting, the music, behavior of both characters was just on point. Best of all, this scene satisfied a need most soap viewers have to see romance carried through. For all the sullying HS did with the ending of Santeen, the love was real and shined through during the revelation of the story. The expression of that love with great passion was exceptional. I still marvel that I saw it and saw Santo and Colleen, rather than EJ and Sami.

Another couple of examples are the Steffy/OMB faceoff and Steve's shock at finding BenjyMonkey dead. Both these scenes were excellent and played wonderfully.

So Days is most certainly a mixed bag for me, one of somewhat satisfaction and utter frustration.
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wickednana
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i also thought the column was great..and full of inisights this show needs..last summer when they brought on ej, and we knew he was up to something, but it was a delicious mystery that brought the show to it's 2.8 and 2.9 third place with the solid second in the sought after demographic of 18-49..(big deal, i am not in it so who cares anymore!) then we get hogan with his "grand ideas"..hey lumpo you should have just kept most of jer's outline, he also planned for ej to be a dimera..but the hints we got back then were so much more fun!

ej was still into racing..we all thought he wanted to steal shawns engine idea..ej also told shawn he had never "made his fathers acquaintance"..what a cool idea for him to discover he was really a dimera..that would have been good drama...but no..hogan and his ego could not wrap his tiny little mind around that concept..

then came the hookers and the fascination with hookers..i truly believe hogan does not talk to women on an intimate basis without first giving over his credit card number..

then the poor choices of new characters..anyone remember i think it was jed? the brother of pillow..or whatever her name was?

useless wasted time..and when i hear people jump on the ej/sami aspect of the show, i have a big problem..the vets are underutilized, but then the only story that has anyone talking or interested is the ej and sami one..the "most anticpated wedding of the decade" fell like a lead balloon..and it was green alright..a pukey pea soup green..

i could rant more, but the fact is mary is so right on, and maybe the one thing that will generate enough buzz to rekindle interest is the announcement of hogan being replaced.....as long as they put in a hw who can stand and deliver!
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