NBC’s remaining soap opera, ‘Days of Our Lives,’ escaped the cancellation wrecking ball this week, securing a 54th season.
For years now, fans of NBC’s last soap opera have worried about whether the current season of Days of Our Lives would be its last. This week, the serial was renewed for another season.
That means those ever-falling sands through the hourglass will continue for a 54th season.
Days of Our Lives is one of only four soap operas left on the air. It’s the second-oldest of the four: General Hospital, the oldest, premiered on ABC on April 1, 1963. ‘Days’ premiered on November 8, 1965.
CBS’s two soap operas, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, premiered on March 26, 1973 and March 23, 1987, respectively.
When Days of Our Lives landed on the daytime television landscape, there were plenty of soap operas crowding the airwaves. A look at soap ratings from the 1965-1966 season reveals titles that include As the World Turns, The Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, The Secret Storm, Love of Life, The Edge of Night, Another World, The Doctors, The Young Marrieds and others.
Days of Our Lives was originally built around the Horton family in the Midwestern town of Salem. Film actor MacDonald Carey played Dr. Tom Horton from the premiere until his death in 1994.
It was Carey who, shortly after the premiere episode, began voicing the show’s famous opening:
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.”
His voice can still be heard today.
Carey’s TV wife, Frances Reid, was the matriarch of the show from its premiere until her death in 2010. Actress Susan Seaforth Hayes, who has played Julie Horton, holds the distinction of being the only performer to have appeared on the program during all six decades it has been on the air, though her appearances have been few and far between over the years.
I have a special fondness for the show, even though I haven’t seen an episode of it in years, just because it was a show my grandmother would watch when she’d keep me in the afternoons after kindergarten and during the summers when I was a kid. So I’m familiar with at least some of the storylines — at least those that date back to the 1970s.
I imagine that if I were to tune in today, there’s probably not a single character I’d recognize.
Still, when you’re talking about a genre that has said to be dying for a long, long time…and when you’re talking about a fanbase that is still fiercely passionate for the few remaining shows in that genre, the renewal for a 54th season is good news.