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Chapter 6

The Story Line

29 years' worth of Days story line from Nov. 8, 1965 through Dec. 31, 1994

(Tommy Horton lives in the Horton attic.)

(Don Craig went to mail a letter in Santa Barbara.)

(Susan Seaforth Hayes teased at the Days 26th anniversary party, "Many die, but few are buried.")

Salem, USA is our beginning. Its "bible" explains 1910, Salem is a sleepy little midwestern community 40 miles from a large midwestern city. County Seat, County Medical Center, University, ... Horton residence is at 280 Harris Avenue.

In the premier episode Julie had been caught shoplifting, a bid for attention. She was being brought up by her grandparents, Tom & Alice. She was in love with the older David Martin & they were secretly engaged. Unfortunately he had gotten her best friend Susan pregnant. Susan pretended she would divorce him after the child was born, but it was a lie. David was watching the infant, while he was on a swing. Richard, the infant fell and died. Susan shot David and killed him.

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Meanwhile Bill Horton had fallen in love with a fellow intern, psychiatrist Dr. Laura Spencer. Their joy was cut short when Bill developed tuberculosis of the hand. Fearing he would be unable to remain a surgeon and feeling unworthy of Laura, Bill left Salem and moved to Pine Grove. While in Pine Grove, Bill met Mark Brooks, the town doctor. Mark recommended the surgery and therapy that eventually saved Bill's hand. Bill knew he was cured when his surgical skills saved a young boy from death. Bill's confidence was restored, and he and Mark returned to Salem.

Edited by Donna B
cut

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      When Susan went on trial for David's murder she was defended by Mickey Horton. Mickey soon found himself falling in love with Susan's psychiatrist, Dr. Laura Spencer. Susan was acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity, and the bond that Mickey and Laura had formed in their common defense of Susan led to their marriage.

       When Bill returned to Salem, he was shocked to discover that his brother was married to the woman he loved. Working together at the hospital only increased the tension between Bill and Laura, and one night, in a drunken stupor, Bill raped Laura. Laura soon discovered she was pregnant., and a horrified Tom confronted her with the news that the child she was carrying could not be Mickey's. Unbeknownst to everyone save Tom, Mickey was sterile. Laura told Tom of the rape, and they vowed to keep their secret. Mickey was thrilled when "his" son, Michael was born.

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Apologies if it's been shared already, but found a treat on the Internet Archive yesterday:

A rare episode from the Nina Laemmle period. Looks like Sony isn't pulling episodes from Internet Archive (so far), but I'll remove the direct link, it's the 8/12/80 episode 

I find it interesting how, despite folks' complaints about the excess of new faces introduced at this point, the focus is very clearly on the vets here. Any regular viewers from that era know whether this episode is an anomaly, or if Laemmle's changes at the show were more of a simple refocusing of the show around a slimmed down core of characters?

ETA: My apologies, just realized the infamous series of deaths in 1980 occurred under Ruth Brooks Flippen, not Nina Laemmle. Oops!

Edited by beebs

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I've always wondered whether the quality of the writing itself was the real issue and that the exodus of longtime favorites merely magnified the problem.

 

Putting it another way...

 

If the writing had stayed crappy throughout that period, but Ruth Brooks Flippen and Nina Laemmle had managed NOT to write anyone off who had been crucial to the show, would DAYS have been in better shape if/when Pat Falken Smith had returned?

 

Similarly, if the writing somehow had improved during Flippen's or Laemmle's tenure, would the audience have been in a better position to accept the loss of certain characters?

Edited by Khan

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15 hours ago, Khan said:

I've always wondered whether the quality of the writing itself was the real issue and that the exodus of longtime favorites merely magnified the problem.

 

Putting it another way...

 

If the writing had stayed crappy throughout that period, but Ruth Brooks Flippen and Nina Laemmle had managed NOT to write anyone off who had been crucial to the show, would DAYS have been in better shape if/when Pat Falken Smith had returned?

 

Similarly, if the writing somehow had improved during Flippen's or Laemmle's tenure, would the audience have been in a better position to accept the loss of certain characters?

It's almost impossible to say, in retrospect. Watching this episode, the stories seem to be...okay, though not especially exciting. The big drama being Julie being shot at Doug's Club, and her friends and family being torn about whether it was a good idea for her to be there with Doug or not, and whether that put her at risk (wasn't this the riverboat club on the river or something? My memory for those details is a bit patchy), and the fire at Anderson that's suspicious and setting the business up to be ripe to be sold off for parts to Kellam Chandler & Co., who is also running for office at this time.

That, and, if I remember correctly, Margo Horton's slow death from cancer were the three big stories at this time. It's relatively grounded in reality, of course, but it certainly isn't anything that would excite viewers when you consider what timeslot competitors like AMC, in particular, was putting out at that time.

So, fan anger may have been strong at the slew of deaths during this period, but Bob's death certainly drove story at this time, so it was hardly a pointless death. I also think Bill and Laura leaving was for the best at that point, considering Laura's mental state by that time. But no, I don't think the stories were particularly bad during this period, though not exactly lighting the world on fire.

Long story short, I think the deaths may not have hit as hard if there was strong enough story to fill that void, and, from the looks of things, there really wasn't, especially when you consider how shows like GH were making huge gains in this era with far more new faces than DAYS had at this point.

Edited by beebs

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If anybody's interested, the 8/12/80 episodes of Another World and Texas are uploaded on Youtube. I watched them along with the episode of DAYS one day just for fun, and IMO, on that particular day, DAYS was the most interesting. 

8 hours ago, Khan said:

I've always wondered whether the quality of the writing itself was the real issue and that the exodus of longtime favorites merely magnified the problem.

I think it may have had something to do with the writer and the network. The consensus was that Nina Laemmle didn't know how to write for a soap, plus it's clear NBC execs were stupid in the late 70's and early 80's. But also, I have to ask, had the fans changed that much already around that time? Were they so crazy for the action/adventure stories that GH was doing that they didn't care for the character studies/melodramatic storylines anymore?

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6 hours ago, AbcNbc247 said:

I think it may have had something to do with the writer and the network. The consensus was that Nina Laemmle didn't know how to write for a soap, plus it's clear NBC execs were stupid in the late 70's and early 80's. But also, I have to ask, had the fans changed that much already around that time? Were they so crazy for the action/adventure stories that GH was doing that they didn't care for the character studies/melodramatic storylines anymore?

I find this interesting since she's listed as being a story editor for Peyton Place, so it's obvious she did indeed have experience in writing soaps. I suspect she would've benefitted from a co-head writer of more experience, considering I believe Michelle Poteet Lisanti and Gary Tomlin were both relatively fresh writers themselves at the time.

Edited by beebs

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Interesting that they were able to post that considering Corday has expressed interest in using the large library Days has - it was even a part of the lawsuit. Maybe something is moving on that front?

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