There’s troubling news from the NBC soap ‘Days of our Lives,’ which reportedly released the entire cast from their contracts this week.
When reports surfaced Tuesday that the producers of Days of Our Lives had seemingly fired the entire cast, soap fans grew anxious. And the puns — “Is the sand running out?” — came out of the woodwork.
After all, the soap opera genre has been dying a slow death for decades. This blog is 15 years old. When I started, there were nine soaps on the air. In just a decade-and-a-half, that number dropped to just four.
CBS has The Young and the Restless and The Bold of the Beautiful. ABC has General Hospital. And NBC has Days of Our Lives, which premiered in 1965 and began its 55th season this year.
So it’s a little too easy to jump to the conclusion that the show is on its way out.
Maybe it is.
But there are some curiosities here that set up an intriguing mystery.
For one thing, the show has not technically been canceled. Word is NBC would like to keep it going. TVLine.com reasons that by releasing the cast, the producer could come back after a renewal is confirmed with new contracts for less money.
Would a key character really choose to not renew? Well, if the price wasn’t right, it’s a definite possibility.
If the show does end up being canceled, they’ve somehow managed to get eight months ahead of schedule. So they reportedly have enough episodes to keep going into the summer.
How they can get that far ahead on a daily serial boggles the mind.
But that amount of time also gives producers plenty of time for recasts if current actors decide not to come back.
Has a show already been taped that could serve as a proper series finale if the show were to be canceled? That we don’t know.
The fact that the show is so far ahead means it can afford to shut down production for the rest of the year, pick up production in the spring and never miss an episode on the air. (Assuming they’re renewed.)
Then there’s the strange plot twist.
Even more curious is the strange gamble the show unveiled just this week. One of the characters wakes up from a coma that she has been in for a year.
Check out this trailer about the change:
The show picked up Monday one year later than where it had been last Friday.
The unprecedented twist means that writers can, as executive producer Ken Corday says, “reset” the show. They can bring back characters or quietly push them off the canvas. And longtime viewers and even some newbies suddenly are on common ground.
Everything, to an extent, is new.
But will the plot device draw new viewers and build ratings? Or, will news of the mass firing backfire and turn people away from what seems like a sinking ship?
I’m enough of a nostalgia buff that I hate to see a show that is 54 years old come to an end. And when it comes to Days of Our Lives, I have a special connection: It was the first soap I remember because my grandmother watched it.
As someone who connects fond memories with the show, I’d hate to see it go.
But as someone who hasn’t seen it in years, I also recognize that TV is always looking for something new. If the show does go off the air, 55 years, for that genre, is still an incredible run.
So as soap fans wait for answers about the show’s future, they’ll just have to keep their eye on the hourglass and hope that there’s still plenty of sand.
UPDATE: It’s looking more likely that Days of Our Lives will be picked up for its 56th season.