Days of Our Lives
When I started watching this in the Eighties, this was a tough show to get into. The writing was very quick paced and while the show focused on the dramatic love lives of certain couples, the direction seemed to be changing constantly. Most of the time I couldn't tell who to root for and I only watched sporadically.
That all changed in the Nineties when longtime Executive Producer hired writer James E. Reilly. He's remembered by many for his controversial possession story, but he also invigorated existing families by fleshing out new generations (particularly the conniving and tormented Sami Brady) and brought in new
families by establishing ties to others in the show. He also doubled down on his villains, particularly the ruthless DiMera clan.
|Alison Sweeney as Samantha "Sami" Brady, one of the most complicated characters on daytime television|
The lesson: strong family ties and intense relationships will keep an audience glued even when they have to suspend disbelief.
This show lasted less than fifteen years, but it had a loyal fan following. It started out focusing on four families, but by the end of the second year the action was firmly focused on the patrician Capwells, with some attention on the fallen Lockridges. The show opened with the question "who killed Channing Capwell?" years before, but the resolution of that mystery gave birth to more characters and more story lines, most famously the continuing romantic adventures of Eden Capwell and Cruz Castillo.
Almost every character was compelling (and casting Dame Judith Anderson as matriarch Minx Lockridge didn't hurt), but the story revolved around the Capwells: controlling patriarch CC, ne'er do well Mason, adventurous Eden, sweet and vulnerable Kelly and trusting Ted. The large family and the challenging dynamics were rich enough to ground the show, but even from the beginning it had trouble reining in all of its ideas. At times it seemed to suffer from an embarrassment of riches, both in cast and storylines.
|Lionel and Augusta Lockridge: best dysfunctional couple ever|
The lesson: taking chances on storylines can work- but only if it's seen all the way through.