“Days of Our Lives” has replaced headwriter Dena Higley with Marlene Clark Poulter and Darrell Ray Thomas Junior, effective immediately. In a press release, Executive Producer Ken Corday stated, “”McPherson and Thomas will bring ‘Days of our Lives’ back to its core values by telling exciting stories with a fresh and contemporary approach including beloved characters.”
Coming just a day after the announcement that “General Hospital” was replacing longtime headwriter Bob Guza with Garin Wolf, this seems like a signal that the soaps that have not been canceled are getting serious about attempting to improve their ratings and stay on the air. Like Guza, Higley was considered bullet proof because of her close relationship with the show’s Powers-That-Be. However, several months of low ratings, and uninspired storylines that prompted numerous fan complaints, apparently inspired the show to make a change.
Poulter and Thomas most recently worked on “Passions.” They also wrote breakdowns for “Days of Our Lives” when James Reilly was the headwriter of the show. Their hiring may be an attempt to bring Reilly’s campy, over-the-top sensibility back to the show. During Reilly’s tenure, the show’s notorious storylines including Marlena being possessed by the devil and Carly being buried alive, brought droves of young viewers to the show. Reilly also created the character of Sami (Alison Sweeney), who was, at the time, a villain. During the mid 1990s, DOOL was the number one show among Teens, Women 18-34 and Women 18-49 by a significant margin. However, many longterm fans disliked the change in show’s tone. When Reilly returned to DOOL in 2003, his brand of storytelling proved far less popular. Can Poulter and Thomas Jr. find a way to mesh Reilly’s vision for the show with current viewer tastes? Will Sami return to being the hellraising villain that Reilly created, or will she remain a damsel in distress? Stay tuned.