Don't you DARE say it! You know what I'm talking about. Some of you are shocked that I'm spending time with an analysis of daytime television. Well, I'll tell you that soap operas, when well executed, are some of the best entertainment on the small screen. What these actors, writers and producers manage to achieve on a daily basis is truly astounding.
But I have become alarmed at the recent trend of eliminating the older, stalwart performers on several daytime dramas. It's similar to the situation faced by Michael York in the movie "Logan's Run." Remember? An idyllic existence until you're thirty. And then it's sayonara. Your killed, or worse, portrayed by Gregory Harrison in a CBS TV version.
I'll never forget watching "Days of our Lives" as a youngster in the late sixties. My mother never missed it, and it aired right after "The Dick van Dyke Show" and we'd watch a little bit over lunch. There's only one thing that I remember about the show, and that was the glowing presence of Frances Reid. "Who's that?" I asked Mom. "That's Mom," my mother replied. So I've always known the kindly patriarch of the Horton clan as "Mom." In fact, Frances Reid is one of only three people I'm allowed to call "Mom."
Well, the rumors are abounding that Alice Horton will be the final victim of the Salem serial killer, inexplicably identified last month as heroine Dr. Marlena Evans (Diedre Hall).
As expected, the fans are in an uproar. My DVR is set to record "Days" for the indefinite future to make sure that if Mom is indeed dispatched it's done with the dignity that is her due.
"Days of our Lives" has stripped away a good number of its veteran performers with this current serial killer storyline, most of whom fit in with the older demographic. But the producers should be aware that it's not the older viewers who are posting to e-mail petitions and message boards with irate disdain at this rampant insensitivity.
In February, "General Hospital" decided to do some salary cutting of its own in style by setting the Port Charles Hotel on fire. The original plan was to burn up stalwart character Edward Quartermaine (originated in 1978 by the late David Lewis; played since his retirement by John Ingle). When the fans got wind of this indiscretion, they went wild, and demanded that the character be reinstated. Fellow GH star Stuart Damon, who plays Edward's son Alan, stormed off the set when he got wind of it.
Well, the powers-that-be blinked, and Edward was hastily resurrected. But John Ingle was irked enough to jump ship to "Days of Our Lives," where he is only the second actor to portray Mickey Horton, as John Clarke retired. Edward has been recast but again as a still younger actor, "Days" veteran Jed Allan, who interestingly enough is about the same age as "son" Damon. As for Quartermaine matriarch Lila, the elegant Anna Lee has gone from recurring to fired, without so much as a warning.
The "General Hospital" situation doesn't surprise me, and doesn't really affect me either. I quit watching when John Reilly was released after a decade of playing Sean Donely. He and wife Tiffany were written out of the show because the writers couldn't come up with fresh storylines for them. Oh, and by the way, he was the police commissioner. And over 50.
Well, once "Mom" is eliminated, the only vestige of the "Days of Our Lives" that was will be the fact that the late MacDonald Carey still utters the infamous opening, "like sands in the hourglass, so are the days of our lives." I'm sure the suits at NBC are looking for a way to murder that, too.