I've recently started watching Days of Our Lives again. It started when I got out of the hospital and looked up the Christmas eps online. Even if I haven't been watching the show regularly, I've kept up through the soap mags and online clips from time to time. The Horton family ornament hanging is something that I never miss!
One of the reasons I haven't been regularly following the show for a while (besides lack of time and a general disinterest in TV overall) is that it hasn't been very good for a long time. It hasn't been awful, mind you. Just kind of mediocre. Bad decisions. Bad writing. Focus on the wrong characters. Just not the kind of compelling every day watching you want from a soap.
Watching the 2012 holiday episodes, I could see that something was different. The dialogue was better. The character interplay and intermingle that I like to see was there. They took time for the little "extra beats" (smiles, side glances, winks and nods) that add so much to a scene. The show's not perfect, but it's much, much better than it was last time I watched it, during the much vaunted "reboot." Thanks to the wonders of hulu and YouTube, I've been a daily watcher again for a couple of weeks and I have been enjoying it immensely.
A couple of recent bits that show how much Days is improving are Chloe's return (which aired last week) and Nick and Gabi's busted wedding (from yesterday). The initial episodes of Chloe's return to Salem played all the soap beats just about right. Daniel opens the door to find her standing there (instead of an expected Jennifer) at the very end of an episode.
The next ep winds through the conversation, intercut with scenes involving Kayla and Caroline, to finally (again at the very end of the episode) spit out the reveal that Daniel really is the father of Chloe's son, Parker. Bringing the Brady women in was a great stroke since, besides being so under-utilized these days, they were key players in the original paternity switch fiasco.
Unfortunately, two episodes do not a whole storyline make, and the way this story is starting out highlights a lot of the weaknesses the show still needs to overcome. Did they really need to bring Chloe back? Days tends not to make the best choices when it comes to character returns. While there is a lot of potential to the story, watching Chloe using her child to play spoiler to Daniel and Jennifer is not the kind of thing that will keep me turning back in. If they play out all of the potential beats to the story, it could end up being really good. If they get lazy, it's going to be a cliched clunker.
A much better example of how good the show can be was the wedding episode. Honestly, the whole Nick-Gabi-Will baby tale fell flat for me a long time ago. But the blow up at the wedding was fantastic. Not only did it pull in just about every character in the show, but it majorly shook up all the relationships in a way that will make it very hard for things to get back to normal. This is the way it's supposed to be done, folks!
Rafe and Sami's reunion is derailed. So is Chad and Abigail's. Families are circling the wagons around their own. There could potentially be Brady-Horton conflict over this. Lucas has been jolted into action in his Dudley Do-Right mode, which is going to result in conflict with both Sami and Will. And at the center of it all, Will and Sonny's budding romance has been shattered. A big reveal should shake up the entire canvas and set things spinning in new directions, and I think this one did that in a big way.
And they didn't skimp on the little beats either, which helped to cement the tale. Billie's line to Kate about being a great-grandmother, Victor's scenes with Sonny and Maggie, the look that passed between Hope and Kate after Kate fired Nick, and that sweet, sweet scene with Caroline and Eric at the end. Those little bits are like little treats that pull the whole thing together. Sure, they don't have to be there, but the show is so much better when they are. So. Much. Better.
The only real clunker to the whole episode was that stupid deal with Doug and Julie showing up late. Really?
I've been fooled before by this show. It's hooked me with a good episode and then lost me a few weeks later. I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of daily must see TV, but I am cautiously optimistic about things and want to see where the show goes from here.
Who knows? If it stays this good, maybe I'll blog more about it.