‘Days of Our Lives’ move to Peacock irks fans: ‘It’s unfair’

For 57 years and more than 14,000 episodes, Days of Our Lives fans have tuned in every day of the week to see what tragedy will befall the small but unusually eventful Midwestern town of Salem.

There was a time when Carly Manning was buried alive by her romantic rival Vivian Alamain.

The time Stefano DiMera microchipped Hope Brady’s brain to trick her into believing she was an international art thief named Princess Gina.

And the time – sorry, two Times – Dr. Marlena Evans was possessed by the devil.

But last week, the daytime drama took a leap that many longtime viewers may never accept: NBC moved the soap, a daytime fixture since 1965, to Peacock, NBC Universal’s streaming service, and replaced it with a daily newscast. From now on, new episodes of Days are available on demand every weekday at 6am. (In a final outrage for some East Coast viewers, NBC cut the final two minutes of the show’s final linear broadcast on Sept. 9 to air a pre-taped address by King Charles III on the death of his mother, the British Queen Elizabeth II, the day before.)

The news, announced with little fanfare last month, wasn’t so surprising that “Days” would live on as a streaming exclusive, such as the time when a completely unrecognizable Roman Brady returned to Salem years after he was presumed dead showed up.

“Days” was the least viewed of the four daytime soaps still airing on television, and it has endured numerous budget cuts as its ratings dwindled. Still, its audience is loyal and, by 2022’s fragmented standards, significant: It drew around 1.7 million viewers to NBC each day (roughly the same number of people who tuned into the Season 3 finale of HBO’s much-vaunted “Succession.” ” switched on). on the day it ran). Peacock had already tested the digital waters with two episodes of a spinoff, Beyond Salem, which proved that at least some of the Days fanbase could be lured to a new platform.

“It’s been on the wall for quite some time, at least two years, that the future of dramatic television will lie behind the paywall of streaming venues,” said executive producer Ken Corday, whose parents Betty and Ted Corday founded Days ‘, one of the first soaps to be broadcast in color and expanded to a 60-minute format.

He sees the transition to digital as the most recent development for a medium that began with radio before moving on to television. “When things change, you either adapt or you stay behind,” he says. “And ‘Days’ has always been good at driving change.”

While some fans are hailing the move as a vital lifeline for their beloved soap, many other longtime viewers, particularly older ones, are outraged. They balk at the idea of ​​paying for something that was once available over the airwaves for free. You may be intimidated by new technology or don’t have the funds for a smart TV or tablet. They feel that after decades of unwavering loyalty, they are being let down by entertainment conglomerates desperate to woo an elusive younger audience. And perhaps most of all, they resent the disruption of a cherished daily ritual at a time of dizzying change.

Trish Hobbs, 60, has been watching Days since she was 9 years old. (Her German grandmother, a soap fanatic, got her hooked.) As a stay-at-home mom, she timed her kids’ naps so she was free to tune in every afternoon to hear Macdonald Carey’s voice in the iconic intro : “Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Up until September 9, Hobbs, who lives in North Carolina, continued to schedule her days around “days.”

“I’m divorced. I live alone. It’s like friends coming over,” she said, comparing the show to a comforting plate of macaroni and cheese. She was able to get a free Peacock subscription through her cable provider and has the show in her on her desktop computer the past few days — “but it’s not the same,” she said wearily.Hobbs, a cancer survivor, is unfit to work and can barely afford to see her doctor, so she’s not sure what they’re doing will when the free subscription has expired.

“I already have to pay for cable to get my TV. Now you want me to pay to watch my show on an app that I don’t fully understand, don’t have the money for and probably won’t watch anything else? She said. “They ignore the people who made the show what it is.”

Yolanda Viviani, 83, has been watching Days since she was a new mom in New York City in the 1960s. When she and her husband eventually moved north and opened a bar, she sometimes switched the TV to “Days,” which irritated customers who preferred sports.

“I’m really disappointed with what they did. It’s unfair,” said Viviani, who now relies on her daughter or grandchildren to turn on Peacock with multiple different remotes. “Taken away a little more independence.”

Producers promoted the move with short clips on social media featuring favorite cast members. one, with 97-year-old Bill Hayes and his 79-year-old wife Susan Seaforth Hayesaimed squarely at older, tech-shy viewers.

“We have to say to our loving and loyal fans, ‘C’mon, we got you.’ Take her by the hand and bring her over,” said Deidre Hall, who began playing Marlena Evans in 1976, a psychiatrist who’s suffered enough trauma to spend a lifetime in therapy. “Nobody says it’s not change, and we’re all a little uncomfortable with change. But it’s a good thing.”

Deidre Hall as the possessed Marlena Evans and Drake Hogestyn as John Black "days of our lives"

Deidre Hall as the possessed Marlena Evans and Drake Hogestyn as John Black in Days of Our Lives

(NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Daytime television is inherently a habit “because we never give you relief,” Hall said. “There’s always something you need to know the answer to.” But Days is unique in the way it’s followed the same families — the Bradys, Hortons, Dimeras, and Kiriakises — for decades. It may be crazy, but it’s a familiar crazy.

“We’ve been having such tough years lately. So many people are stuck at home and our show is a tremendous comfort. They know us, they love us, they trust us,” Hall said.

In its early years, the series was known for its bold yet intimate storylines, including a groundbreaking interracial romance set in the 1970s. As time went on, “Days” included increasingly outrageous plots, complete with doubles, brainwashing and characters coming back from the dead with alarming regularity – a campy streak that “Friends” about Joey’s breakout role as a neurosurgeon resuscitated by a brain transplant, faked

“When you tuned into ‘Days’ it was so strikingly different from any other show. It was the eye candy of the soap genre, it was shirtless hunks, places like New Orleans, devil property and larger than life weddings. It was really on its own,” said Casey Hutchison, 22, who learned about the show’s history through memoir books he bought at thrift stores and whose love of the genre inspired him to create an audio soap called ” Forever and a Day”. “It knows what a crazy show it is and always will be.”

Even at its most exaggerated, “it still had a nuance,” a core of emotional truth that kept the madness grounded, said Troy Thompson, 36, of Milwaukee, who started watching every day after school with his mother and grandmother. “Particularly as a young black gay boy, I sometimes felt more comfortable with these characters than I did with people in my real life. I could lose myself in it.”

Thompson sympathizes with older people frustrated by the move to Peacock, but believes younger fans like him need to help out in any way they can. “Yes, inflation is high. We all have our problems. But if you can get yourself a pack of Newport 100, you can goddamn make your grandma see Marlena Evans.”

Some Days supporters are doing just that. With her Twitter account @hourglassfan, Clare Kilgallen, 52, has been trying to raise awareness among fans of how to sign up for Peacock and take advantage of a promotional offer available to new subscribers allows you to use the service for $20 for a whole month through September. She hopes NBC will make a vigorous attempt in the coming weeks to reach viewers tuned into the show’s legacy slot. “It’s really important to let people know where they went,” said Kilgallen, who even warned her local library to prepare for calls from seniors looking for tech support. “It’s like, go help your neighbor.”

Others have gone to even more extreme lengths: The weekend before Days’ final move to Peacock, Elizabeth Capobianco, 35, flew to New York from North Carolina to help her 81-year-old grandmother set up the streaming service. She worries about people in nursing homes or in rural areas without access to high-speed internet.

“You’re going to lose so many of those grandmothers who have been watching from the start,” she said. “But the flip side is, ‘Thank God they’re not cancelled.’ Because that was the alternative.”

There are other benefits of the streaming model that go beyond just survival: avoiding the constant avoidance of breaking news, the possibility of more outlandish content, longer episodes without as many commercial breaks. There might even be an opportunity to attract new fans (and delight existing ones) with access to classic episodes of “Days” from yesteryear. “While there are no plans at this time, we sincerely hope to be able to give fans access to old episodes and footage in the future,” Corday said.

But the daytime drama thrived in a cultural and social climate unrecognizable today. The remaining soap operas of American television – “Days”, “General Hospital”, “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” – face great challenges. The housewives who once made up the daytime crowd are an endangered species — and have been for decades. Her kids are addicted to TikTok, not their mother’s complicated and slow-paced “stories.”

Viewers with a penchant for family intrigue and messy love triangles have myriad other distractions at hand, including reality TV like The Real Housewives and the non-stop barrage of celebrity gossip on social media. Even brilliantly written sagas like “Yellowstone” and “The Crown” offer juicy family melodrama disguised with higher production values.

In the end, Days’ most formidable villain isn’t one of the scheming Dimeras. It’s a viewer with too many options and not enough time.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-09-20/days-of-our-lives-peacock-nbc-fans-streaming ‘Days of Our Lives’ move to Peacock irks fans: ‘It’s unfair’

Sarah Ridley

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