NBC renewed Days of Our Lives through the fall of 2017. Will the sand stop flowing through the hour glass, thereafter? As NBC’s last daytime soap, DOOL is in a precarious position and not immune to being cancelled. It is often the lowest rated of the four remaining US broadcast network daytime dramas. The budget cuts it has endured (and camouflaged) for years are now obvious on-screen. The show has experienced a few years of writing regime Russian Roulette, which may not yet be over. Some actors Days hasn’t chosen to write off are leaving of their own accord.
Days of Our Lives star, Jen Lilley, is the latest actor to quit the long-running daytime drama. She plays Theresa Donovan, daughter of Days‘ one-time super-couple, Shane Donovan (Charles Shaughnessy) and Kimberly Brady (Patsy Pease). As Kim’s daughter, Theresa is granddaughter to Shawn (ex- Frank Parker) and Caroline Brady (Peggy McCay). She is considered a “legacy character” by soap opera fans and was born on-screen, in September 1990, in a sudsy Who’s-the-Daddy storyline.
The Theresa character grew up off-screen. Lilley was cast in the role in 2013, which brought the young adult version of Theresa to Salem from L.A. Shane and Kim’s bouncing baby girl grew up to be a substance-abusing, gold-digging bad girl, with a history of legal problems.
Theresa has undergone some character rehabilitation, largely thankful to a fetus-napping storyline which is too convoluted to go into here. Suffice it to say it was the work of Brady’s ex, Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson).
The big-eyed beauty, fairly firmly on the road to redemption, is now engaged to the well-meaning (if not sharp-minded) shirtless wonder, Brady Black (Eric Martsolf), the father of her infant son, Tate. This is no small wonder, as Theresa once hit Brady’s dad, John Black (Drake Hogestyn), over the head with a fire iron, nearly killed him, and let a black-out drunken Brady take the fall.
As of late, their storyline has suffered from an ill-conceived wannabe love-triangle, featuring DOOL newcomer, Summer/Cindy (Marie Wilson), who has reportedly already been fired, although thanks to Days‘ production schedule, she’ll remain on screen for a little longer.
Jen Lilley and Eric Martsolf performed “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” for Hallmark Channel‘s Home & Family. Watch it, now. The song starts at about the 3.55 mark.
Daytime Confidential‘s Jamey Giddens broke the news about Jen Lilley’s plans over the holiday weekend.
I thought it was strange when Lilley’s name was the first I heard mentioned, once I started snooping into who would replace Kirsten Storms at General Hospital. I couldn’t imagine Lilley leaving a full-time gig at DAYS for another temp assignment at GH. As it turns out, Lilley gave her notice to DAYS a while back. In the end, her former DAYS castmate [sic] Molly Burnett was cast as Maxie. It’s just as well. I hear Lilley wants a break from the daily suds grind.
Look for Lilley’s TV parents, Patsy Pease and Charles Shaughnessy, to reprise their iconic roles as Kimberly Brady and Shane Donovan as part of Theresa’s exit storyline later this year.
Days has taken some casting blows in the past couple of years. When the popular and heavily-featured James Scott (EJ DiMera) and Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady) decided not to renew their contracts, EJ was murdered and Samantha Gene (not a typo) was written off. Lilley has filled the vixen void in Sweeney’s absence.
Since Peter Reckell made it clear he had no plans to ever return to the soap on a longtime basis, DOOL brought him back for a limited run and killed off the ever-popular Bo Brady, during the show’s 50th anniversary “celebration” (it was a bloodbath baked despair donut of doom) in the fall of 2015. Bo died of a brain tumor, in the arms of his beloved Hope Williams Brady (Kristian Alfonso).
Kate Mansi, who has played Abigail Deveraux since 2011, is exiting the series. Her role has been recast, after some time and difficulty, with soap newbie, Marci Miller, according to EW. Mansi’s last airdate should be June 24, 2016. As Abigail, Mansi has handled some hefty storylines. It remains to be seen what Miller can bring to the role and what the writers will give her to work with.
Last fall was quite a deadly season for Days, but it wasn’t always an actor’s choice to leave the series. A serial killer, Ben (Robert Scott Wilson), took out Will Horton (Guy Wilson), Paige Larson (True O’Brien), and Serena Mason (Melissa Archer). Before that, Ben’s sister, Jordan Ridgeway (Chrishell Stause), left town, because the character labored too long under a non-mysterious mystery, and failed to gel.
Shawn Douglas Brady (Brandon Beemer) and Belle Black Brady (Martha Madison), who added a bit of spark to this dreary season are also reportedly out, as is Sal Stowers’ Lani Price, the only female African American contract player. That pretty much wipes out the characters in their 30s (i.e. not actors).
Days of Our Lives has been trying to re-establish its teen scene, but the characters haven’t yet caught on. That may change over the summer, with Joey Johnson (James Lastovic) and Jade (Paige Searsy) off on an old-school adventure, and Ciara Brady (Vivian Jovanni) crushing on her hospitalized second cousin’s husband.
Kyler Pettis has done a deft job with Theo Carver, a character on the Autism spectrum. Songbird actress Olivia Rose Keegan has done all right by Claire Brady, but when her character isn’t singing, she is mostly reacting to plots featuring her friends and relations.
The non-teen younger adult characters — who ought to shoulder a good amount of a soap’s storyline — have been nearly wiped out. When Will Horton was killed off, his husband Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) was written out.
Their female co-horts, the exiting Lilley and Mansi, make up two-thirds of the 20-something female characters. Camila Banus, who just returned to the Gabi Hernandez role in September 2015, is the third.
Banus was cast in John Singleton’s Snowfall pilot at FX. In April, Deadline reported the cocaine drama was being reworked. A least one role was being recast, but it was not Banus’. If that pilot is ordered to series, newcomer Miller’s Abigail could, like the cheese, stand alone.
The male characters in that age bracket are Abigail’s husband Chad DiMera (Billy Flynn), and brother JJ Deveraux (Casey Moss), who is Gabi’s boyfriend. Also in that age group is Paul Narita (Christopher Sean), John Black’s illegitimate son he never knew about, until recently.
The Paul character was introduced as the third-point in a love-triangle with Sonny and Will, who have been off the canvas for months. Reportedly, Smith will return as Sonny, in July. Rumors persist that Chandler Massey (Guy Wilson’s forerunner as Will Horton) will also return. This runs contrary to Ken Corday’s assertion that from here on out, dead is dead.
The soap recently brought back Daniel Cosgrove’s Aiden Jennings and Kassie DePaiva’s Eve Larson is supposed to return, after her character was written off in the most uneventful way since Jed Allen’s Don Craig went out to mail a letter. Eve went to New York City for a couple of days, months and months ago. That is no way to treat an actor of DePaiva’s caliber.
Shawn Christian’s Dr. Daniel Jonas was killed in a car crash, by his drunk-driving ex-priest friend, Eric Brady (Greg Vaughan, who is now in the cast of OWN‘s Queen Sugar TV series), who has been imprisoned for the crime.
We started tracking Days of Our Lives‘ ratings in September 2015. As of May 16, it was averaging a 0.73 rating in the 18-49 year old viewer demographic and drawing an average total audience size 2.488 million viewers. The 2014-15 season of Days of Our Lives averaged a 0.75 rating in the 18-49 demographic with 2.40 million total viewers.
Those numbers mean Days is the lowest rated of the four remaining soaps, by both measures. The Young and the Restless (CBS) currently has a 1.11 average in the demo and an average total audience of 4.891 million viewers.
The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS), the only 30-minute soap, which airs right after parent-series Y&R, has a 0.87 in the demo and an average total audience of 3.700 million viewers. General Hospital currently has a 0.78 in the demo and an average total audience of 2.841 million viewers. When DOOL surpasses GH in the ratings, it makes soap news headlines.
When Sony (which produces Days of Our Lives) was hacked one of the email exchanges between Jeffrey Frost (Sony VP, Business Affairs) and Steve Mosko (President, Sony Pictures Television) claimed Ted Harbert (Chairman, NBC Broadcasting) was eager to replace DOOL with a low-cost talk or information show. Days has been renewed a couple of times since that exchange, but the sets have also been down-graded and the characters are ever more isolated.
Lilley has been a fairly active presence on social media, regularly boosting Days of Our Lives and interacting with fans. Early in her tenure on the show, she and co-star Meredith Scott Lynn created this Days of Our Lives rap video (with a little help from Alison Sweeney). Check it out.
What do you think? Are you a fan of NBC’s Days of Our Lives TV show? Do you expect it to be cancelled in the next year or two, or will it be renewed?