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Article on Days' Brash&Cwikly era


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Yep another article written by Smith this time reviewing some of Brash&Cwikly's early work of the imfamous Vegas wedding between Austin and Sami.

LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS...

written by Tom Smith, April 29, 2002

...DAYS moves slowly. And there are few things more agonizing than watching DAYS attempt to pull itself out of the mire it’s been stuck since at least 1998. The sad thing is that, in most cases, the recently installed Head Writers Paula Cwikly and Peter Brash aren’t screwing up. In fact, they are doing extremely well at improving the show, and getting it flowing again. (Though, in one case, they’re moving a bit too slow, and I’ll get to that later.) What’s really bugging me is that they continue to be plagued by storylines and plot twists they didn’t create. While I applaud the skill of writing and acting that is occurring these days on DAYS, I can’t forget what brought us here.

Case in Point: Earlier this month, in a lavish week-long dénouement, DAYS viewers were treated to Sami finally getting some payback for the years of Hell she’s unleashed on various members of Salem. Most recently, Sami blackmailed Victor into giving Austin a job in Hawaii, and then coerced Austin to marry her in a Las Vegas setting, after which she, Austin, and Will would move to Hawaii. It seemed that Sami was going to get everything she wanted. Then, two things happened.

1) Moments before the wedding, Austin overheard Victor and Kate discussing Sami’s latest blackmail threat, and went off to confront Sami about it.

2) Austin’s brother (and Will’s father) Lucas arrived at Sami’s hotel room. Lucas has been feuding with Sami for years over custody of Will, not to mention several other things. Lucas spent several months in physical therapy after being caught in a house fire last year, and ever since he returned to Salem, he’s turned over a non-vengeful new leaf. Only he and his mother Kate know for sure that it was all a facade. Lucas went to Sami’s room under the guise of arranging some sort of visitation, but, in reality was planning to trick Sami into admitting some of her wicked deeds, like framing a drunken Lucas for hitting Will. Lucas hoped to catch her admission on tape, thanks to a hidden recorder. Not only did Lucas get Sami “caught on tape”, but Austin ended up overhearing her admission, torpedoing the wedding.

After getting rid of Lucas, Sami and Austin had it out one more time. And it was very well played. Allison Sweeney captured Sami’s utter humiliation and desperation perfectly. And unlike many other actors who play Austin-types, Austin Peck actually got Austin right. Let’s face it: In order for characters like Sami’s schemes to actually work, guys like Austin have to be thudering lunkheads. But, often when a scheming female’s big secret is revealed, the guys act like they’ve been in on it the whole time. “Yeah, I knew you were nothing but a snake in the grass! Get away from me, bitch!” No “hindsight is 20/20” for Austin. He was truly angry and bitter at coming this close to being scammed all over again.

And, what happened next? Sami played her last card, and declared that Austin couldn’t leave her--because she was pregnant by him! Austin looked like he was about to buy into it--until he told her he was going out to buy a pregnancy test. Already demoralized, Sami had to admit that she was busted again. Austin admitted that Sami almost had him feeling sorry for her--until she pretended she was pregnant. In attempting to salvage this “relationship”, Sami buried it for good. I don’t know which hurt Sami more: That she was being ripped apart by the love of her life, or that she was being ripped apart by the idiot whom she routinely hoodwinked for years?

Austin forced Sami to tell all the guests that she and Austin would not be getting married. Sami seemed that she was about to confess her sins, but ended up giving out some tripe about how she was screwed up, because Marlena wasn’t around when she was a kid. Austin ended up having to tell everyone himself that the wedding was over, though he didn’t reveal why. Austin quickly took a job in New York City, and exited the show.

It was good stuff. In fact, this was the first time I was consistently entertained by DAYS over an extended period of time since last Summer’s “Last Blast” dance where Chloe got humiliated by that phony picture. But, I can’t help but think that as good as it was, it wasn’t worth all the garbage we’ve gone through.

The truth is that we basically got an updated replay of what happened in September 1997, when Sami was about to marry Austin, only to have her sister Carrie reveal that Lucas, not Austin, was Will’s biological father. Since then, we’ve had Sami’s various attempts at reforming, which we were never quite sure how to take. Depending on who was writing, Sami seemed to be genuinely trying to get better, or totally faking it. Obviously, they eventually decided on faking it. Sami and Austin idiotically reunited after Austin’s subsequent marriage to Carrie went south. But, outside of Austin’s devotion to Will, and uncanny ability to be fooled by Sami, there was nothing there. Sami is obsessed with Austin; Austin seemed to feel some sort of duty to Sami.

Once the writers took the painful leap of getting Sami and Austin back in each other’s sphere, they got bored themselves. Sami became consumed with proving that Lucas and Kate set her up for killing Franco, and we all know how good that was. (I was actually in the hospital the week that DAYS ripped off Dynasty’s Molvadian Massacre; the morphine didn’t make it any better.) Worse, the writers seemed to tease us with the possibilities that Sami and Austin might dump each other. Will Sami choose Brandon? Will Austin choose Greta? Or maybe Nicole? Was I supposed to give a damn? Why did Cwikly and Brash have to waste so much time wrapping up a story that was effectively ended four and a half years ago?! But, that’s the problem with DAYS! They’ve been coasting off the Reilly era resurrecting and replaying old storylines, while never letting new ones end. Throw in a ton of awful gimmicks and you have the creative mess the show’s in today.

Cwikly and Brash fight bravely onward, but I wonder how long it will take to fully pull DAYS back from the brink--if at all. I respect them for finally giving the teenage storylines some actual meat. Previously, ex-Head Writer Tom Langan and Executive Producer Ken Corday seemed to think that introducing a gaggle of teens and having them endlessly moon over and about each other equaled story. Worse, they seemed to think they could build the majority of the show around it, five days a week! At least, there is some plot here these days, with Phillip’s infidelity, Chloe’s impending mystery disease, Jan blaming Belle for her miscarriage, etc. Yes, all the stories are utterly cliched, but at least they’re there. And the teens dominating the show anymore, which is good, because the increased dramatic content is rapidly proving which members of the younger set can roll with the punches, and which are being knocked out. (After the April 22’nd confrontation scenes, Kirsten Storms is going to have to play Belle with a little more depth than the title character of her Disney Channel’s Zenon movies; and Jason Cook may want to look further into his writing/directing aspirations he’s previously mentioned.)

One story that must go is the never-ending baby switch saga. Give Cwikly and Brash points for doing the best job so far of turning this mountain of plot devices into an emotional, realistic storyline. On the surface, the story seems like this: Hope accidentally got another kid, while hers was adopted by friend Lexie. Now, Hope has to give back the child she raised to his rightful parents, while getting her child back from Lexie, who has gone from buddy to bitch on wheels, ready to fight dirty to keep her child.

I had to laugh this weekend when I read a dissatisfied ATWT viewer proclaim how wonderful it is that this Wednesday’s episode of DAYS which is solely devoted to the baby switch, and will have limited commercial interruptions, all of which will apparently be sponsored by Kleenex. The viewer said that DAYS must be doing something right, and this is apparently a very popular story with the fans! HA! Fans will never forget the microchips, mistaken identities, switched identities, submarine sex, bogus blood tests, and other plot disasters used to give the DAYS viewers a storyline that they weren’t interested in, which nearly destroyed the two biggest couples on the show. To their credit, Cwikly and Brash are having fun with the backstory, such as the recent sequence in which John suggested that implanting a microchip in Hope’s brain would reveal who the father of Hope’s baby is. Bo took the microchip and stomped on it, proclaiming “No more microchips!” And they’re even using Robo Bo, the amazing mime, to give the possibility that Bo could be the father, the only possibility that most DAYS fans wanted when this mess started two years ago. Still, the whole story still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so it’s best for them to wrap it up as quickly and happily as possible, and not linger.

I guess I’m not criticizing Cwikly and Brash as much as I am the idiots that came before them. Still, the sooner they can wrap up all remnants of recent DAYS the better. I’ll be watching--something I haven’t said about DAYS in months.

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I loved B&C's run at DAYS. Can't believe Corday fired them for Higley. :rolleyes:

That was the the dumbest change of HW regime Corday has ever made - yes even worse than bringing in Hogan Sheffer. Why? Because Corday had no reason to demote B&C. The show was finally good again, most fans and critics were the praising the show, and the ratings were stable (the ratings weren't low to justify the change). It was a huge shock when it was announce Dena Higley would be taking over HW duties - it made no sense. Everyone was like, "WHAT?!" LOL This was a major turning point in DAYS' history because of what followd afterwards - Higley's record low ratings which I believe played a part in NBC wanting Reilly to return, then Reilly not getting along with Corday/Wyman, then Sheffer being brought in. It was 6 years of instability. Oh what could've been if B&C were truly given a chance.

<b>Interview with Days of Our Lives Head Writers </b>

Soap Opera Digest recently conducted an interview with Days of Our Lives head writers, Peter Brash and Paula Cwikly.

Dateline: 04/30/02

Last December, Days of Our Lives's Peter Brash and Paula Cwikly were promoted from staff writers to head writers after Tom Langan was axed. Here, they share their thoughts about soaps, cast changes and the Internet.

<b>Digest: How long have you been watching the show?</b>

<b>Paula Cwikly:</b> Probably for 25 years.

<b>Peter Brash:</b> She remembers, too. She's like my encyclopedia.

<b>Cwikly:</b> I started watching in late grade school. I'm not that old, but there still weren't VCRs when I was in grade school and junior high. I do have lapses, because I would have to go to school. Growing up in a little town outside of Pittsburgh, PA, no one I knew even worked in a movie theater - forget about the entertainment business - and I just fell in love with this soap opera thing. It never ended - and there weren't even remote controls back then! I would literally sit in front of the TV so I could watch multiple shows at the same time and switch back and forth. I was in junior high, and my mother came home from work and said, "We spent all that money to put a pool in the backyard and you sit and watch soap operas all day." I did. I watched The Secret Storm and Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life and General Hospital. GH and Guiding Light were both on at 3 o' clock and that was the big back and forth. Totally the Luke and Laura stuff. When I was younger, I thought "I want to do this," but that was really, "I want to write a soap opera for a living." I didn't know how to get there and the fact that I'm doing it. When I got my first writing job, that was amazing, but this is beyond amazing.

<b>Brash:</b> You do, Paula, bring a lot to the table. I've worked with a lot of writers, almost every writer in the business at one time or another. Paula brings for me the encyclopedic knowledge of soap opera and storytelling, that to me is a blessing, because it's a resource. Especially for our show, because she knows so much about it. The writing is just written off. The best writers steal, like Shakespeare, we're always finding scenes and moments... we steal from everything. We’re also frustrated musical comedy writers. There are a lot of songs in our scenes that are just not sung.

<b>Digest: Are there any characters you want to bring back? </b>

<b>Brash:</b> It came down to all of us pitching ideas and it was kind of like a laundry list, because DAYS has such a rich history and wonderful characters in the past who can resurface.

<b>Cwikly:</b> Also being careful not to bring someone back at the expense of someone else. And not being able to tell a story for everyone the way it should be told... that was a consideration, too. I guess what we're saying, we had a wish list and maybe [Executive Producers] Ken [Corday] and Steve [Wyman] brought to that wish list, too. We kind of brought it all together and prioritized. A lot of it, a lot of our long term story for the fall is waiting on certain contract negotiations and whether this character is going to remain with us. Those things we can't talk about... we tend to bite our fingernails and hope a lot.

<b>Digest:</b> Will you be making other cast changes?

<b>Cwikly:</b> Sometimes, through no fault of anybody, somebody chooses to move on. It makes me crazy to read in a magazine or on the Internet or whatever, on whatever soap opera, "You should've done anything to keep this character." You know what? We did. I've said this to fans and they've said, "I've never thought about it that way." What if you're in a job and I say to you, "You can never leave that job. If there's a promotion, there's another opportunity, you can never leave the job you have right now for the rest of your lives. What would you say to me?" That's what this is to these people - it's their job. Maybe they want a new challenge, maybe they want to work for a different company, maybe they want to change careers. There are times when there's nothing we can do to keep somebody. If they come to you and they say, "I don't want to act anymore," or "I want to do this, I want to try this opportunity," we can't tie them up and put them in a closet.

<b>Brash: </b>We can't? [laughs]

<b>Digest: Do you pay attention to the Internet? </b>

<b>Cwikly:</b> We get a kick out of it.

<b>Brash:</b> What's surprising is that a lot of the stuff we see in the Internet, we were thinking of anyway. We kind of wink of each other and say "Oh wow, they're on to us," or "Oh, wow, won't they be surprised." Or, "Oh, if that's what you want, you'd better stay tuned, because you might see that and then something else." It's interesting. You also sometimes read some things... it's an anonymous venue and you read things that make you wince sometimes. It's okay. It's a free country and I think that's a great thing about soap operas. Everyone has a say and everybody has a take and like Paula said, you can't please all the people all the time, so we're gonna tick them off.

<b>Cwikly:</b> I have those moments where if I didn't have any self control, my fingers would fly on that keyboard. People put stuff on the Internet like it's fact. "I know this is true," and it's so far from being true. I just want to... even if I went on, nobody would believe me. Not that I would do it anyway. I'm sure... the one thing we haven't had yet that will happen is the impersonators on the Internet. We haven't had people go on and say they're us, but that will happen.

<b>Brash:</b> Our stuff just started airing, so we haven't gone on the Internet and seen "That was the worst episode I've ever watched." That might hurt. We hope they'll never say that.

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I get what Tom Smith was saying but that is one of the reasons I loved C&B. Most writers that come on usually drop the storylines from the previous writers. C&B didn't do that, they instead worked on Langan's stories and made them better before ending them. Then they tied them into their own new stories, like Hope and Zack's kidnapping later that year.

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I remember being shocked when B&C were fired. I thought they were doing a good job as a HW team. It was just another sign of Corday's incompetence. Its amazing Days has lasted as long as it has with Corday running things. Although it seems as if presently he is letting Tomlin and the HW team have control. The less involvement from Corday the better.

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I remember being shocked when B&C were fired. I thought they were doing a good job as a HW team. It was just another sign of Corday's incompetence. Its amazing Days has lasted as long as it has with Corday running things. Although it seems as if presently he is letting Tomlin and the HW team have control. The less involvement from Corday the better.

Less interference, things get better. Frons could take a cue from that...........

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Am I remembering right that B&C were fired because Higley presented a story bible to Corday that he thought would be less expensive to produce? Why were B&C's stories so expensive to tell?

Maybe Cassie and Rex's spaceship and mystery keys cost alot :)

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I get what Tom Smith was saying but that is one of the reasons I loved C&B. Most writers that come on usually drop the storylines from the previous writers. C&B didn't do that, they instead worked on Langan's stories and made them better before ending them. Then they tied them into their own new stories, like Hope and Zack's kidnapping later that year.

I agree! I didn't want everything dropped and abruptly changed -- I wanted to finally get some stories out of all of Langan's random setups that went nowhere. And we did.

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Maybe Cassie and Rex's spaceship and mystery keys cost alot :)

Heh, that was Brash&Cwikly's low point because they were trying to get Days to be normal again, yet they had an alien spaceship land. Then we also had John and Marlena of all people dismiss aliens as crazy talk. I liked the idea the twins were the children of Tony and Marlena, what Higley did to them was just stupid and irresponsible. B&C's other low point was Lisa Rinna in a blond wig, utterly pointless. Julie Pinson truly saved the role of Billie after that mess.

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I quit watching Days in summer 2001 when Philip and Chloe broke up and it became clear they were pairing her with Brady. At that point, Tom Langan had alienated me with his terrible writing (the most insulting being the Marlena/Brady rivalry).

When the new writers were announced, I tuned back in to see what they were like. I liked seeing Sami get busted, but they weren't able to fully hook me.

I returned in the summer for the returns of Tony and Billie and the debut of the Gemini Twins. I love when Days does outrageous things like alien spaceships, but B&C lacked the Reilly flair to pull it off. By mid-July, I was back to not watching.

When Dena Higley was announced as head writer, I wasn't angry. In fact, I thought she'd be good since she'd been a staff writer for so long. I didn't tune back in, but I followed spoilers closely and nothing seemed interesting. Finally, I tuned in for the week or so in June when Sami and Jack were trapped at that crazy inn in the woods.

This was around the time JER was announced as returning and I jumped for joy. I immediately began watching full time in August when he returned. August 2003-August 2004 was my favourite 12-month period of Days of Our Lives in the 2000s. Unfortunately, the Olympics cliffhanger where Kate and John, and Marlena and Roman, hooked up turned me off. I tuned back in for the end of Melaswen, but even that didn't do much for me.

In 2005, I came back for the return of Frankie Brady and the reunion of John and Marlena. I stayed for the return of Wayne Northrop, but I got busy with school and tuned out. The return of Carrie brought me back at the end of the year, but by early 2006, the stories were so dull that I couldn't keep watching.

Then I came back for the return of Patch and Kayla, but the firing of JER upset me and I ended up tuning out, only tuning in to see Carrie and Austin get married and ride off into the sunset.

I tuned out Sheffer's run except if I were at home and it was on in the house.

The writer's strike/return of John brought me back. Say what you want about the scabs, but they wrote an entertaining month (February 2008). Plus, Marlena and John were being set up with a really great story: John has amnesia and falls in love with Marlena again. Bfter trying to watch for a little bit and seeing that story go nowhere, coupled with the official return of Higley, I gave up. The firing of John and Marlena made me realize I'd never watch Days ever again.

I did try the show for the return of Carly, but it fell flat. I loved Carly in the early 90s, but this was an entirely different character. Not even Vivian intrigued me anymore.

Now, I will tune back in for the Alice Horton tributes and special returns, but my time as a faithful Days viewer is over.

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I have just seen Brash & Cwikly era in France and I don't understand what was supposed to be so good about it. Okay there were some good points: Tony DiMera's return mainly but the twins from the space totally alienated me. I only like Cassie as a vixen (it's more Dena Highley's era). Billie and Larry Welch were blah. Colin Murphy's murder was not bad but it didn't excite me. After what I had heard, I expected much more.

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I returned in the summer for the returns of Tony and Billie and the debut of the Gemini Twins. I love when Days does outrageous things like alien spaceships, but B&C lacked the Reilly flair to pull it off. By mid-July, I was back to not watching.

If you quit watching in by mid-July you missed some of their best stuff which happened during the fall and winter.

Finally, I tuned in for the week or so in June when Sami and Jack were trapped at that crazy inn in the woods.

That was C&B's stuff that aired in June 2002. Not June 2003, Higley had nothing to do with it.

The writer's strike/return of John brought me back. Say what you want about the scabs, but they wrote an entertaining month (February 2008). Plus, Marlena and John were being set up with a really great story: John has amnesia and falls in love with Marlena again. Bfter trying to watch for a little bit and seeing that story go nowhere, coupled with the official return of Higley, I gave up. The firing of John and Marlena made me realize I'd never watch Days ever again.

Higley was one of the scabs!

I have just seen Brash & Cwikly era in France and I don't understand what was supposed to be so good about it. Okay there were some good points: Tony DiMera's return mainly but the twins from the space totally alienated me. I only like Cassie as a vixen (it's more Dena Highley's era). Billie and Larry Welch were blah. Colin Murphy's murder was not bad but it didn't excite me. After what I had heard, I expected much more.

But they weren't even from the space. If you watched the whole story you should know that.

Higley didn't really write Cassie as a vixen, she just wrote her as a girl that was flirting and making out with every man she met, and half of them were (thanks to Higely's rewrite) related to her.

Billie was blah but the return of Larry Welch was awesome. The story had so many twists and turns. During the entire summer we saw a man spy/stalk Bo and Hope. Then Hope and Zack were kidnapped by the mystery man. Everyone in Salem thought the DiMeras were behind it, but we saw Billie on the phone with the mystery man. Then it was revealed that the man was Larry Welch, a character that was last seen in 1985 when Victor blackmailed him to prison. He framed Lexie and she went to jail. Andre came up with a plan to break Lexie out but then Bo killed her. At the same time Billie found out from Shane that Larry wasn't an ISA agent and Larry shot her. Larry then tried to leave Salem with Hope when Bo showed up and saved Hope. We found out that both Lexie and Billie were alive and in on the plan to catch Larry. This storyline tied in to all the others on the show at the time. John/Marlena/Andre, Jack/Jennifer/Colin, Sami/Brandon. Now that is how you write an umbrella storyline.

Colin's murder is my favorite murder storyline. Great build-up, many different suspects that had real motives for killing him. This story also had some good twists on the way.

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