As yet unconfirmed by NBC, SoapOperaCentral.com is reporting the ousting of Dena Higley as Days of our Lives head writer.
Former Days of our Lives cast member, Mark Hapka, reportedly tweeted his approval of the news. Current Days of our Lives cast members have also been active on twitter lately, releasing photos, and script pages trying to garner interest in the last of Higley’s storylines to be seen on our screens, before Days of our Lives too becomes a cancellation victim.
Ironically, the writing team, headed by Higley, garnered one of Days of our Lives mere five nominations for this year’s 38th annual Daytime Emmy Awards. That nomination in itself must be difficult to comprehend for Days of our Lives fans that have been vocal about their dislike of Dena Higley’s hurried and patchwork storytelling.
The most recent example being the wrapping up of the whodunit storyline related to Arianna Hernandez’s death. Killed by a hit and run driver last year, Arianna’s death (murder?) became a cold case that the combined savvy of the Salem PD couldn’t’ solve. And the violent exit written for Lindsay Hartley’s Days of our Lives exit faded into the soap operas history annals.
Months later, when viewers had lost interest in the six month old storyline, which really only served to delay the revelation that Sami was the one that shot EJ (Arianna knew and was unable to tell EJ taking the secret to her grave), enter Dario Hernandez.
Arianna’s brother, the black sheep of the Hernandez clan came to Salem to solve Arianna’s murder, despite the fact that his former FBI agent big brother, Rafe, hadn’t been able to.
Again, the storyline, really only served to bring a new love interest for Melanie Layton onto the Salem canvas. The young Hernandez claimed to be the only one who cares about seeing the Arianna’s murder solved and guilt’s Melanie, Arianna’s best friend, into putting up a reward when he discovered she’d just received a large divorce settlement. Dario used guilt to manipulate Melanie (he tried it on with Brady but it didn’t fly) when he didn’t even turn up to his sister’s funeral.
Two hurried attacks on Melanie, and a pepper spray incident later, the case is solved with little drama or suspense. The drug dealer, Troy, who worked for EJ, was the culprit, and the storyline is dropped again. Though spoilers for next month indicate, the thread will be picked up again when Brady finds out EJ was responsible for Ari’s death.
And does anyone care for Dario and Melanie as a couple? The jury is still out on that one, though sentiment on fan boards seems to indicate that the pairing has support as it keeps Melanie’s relationship with Brady Black platonic.
The announcement of Dena Higley’s departure as days of our Lives’ Head Writer comes hot on the heels that ABC too is shaking up their writing line-up on their remaining un-cancelled soap opera, General Hospital. Robert Guza, Jr has been let go as head writer of that soap as the few remaining soap operas re-vamp to duke it out in the ratings war against CBS’s successful soaps The Young and The Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Dena Higley is being replaced on Days of our Lives by two co-head writers, Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas, Jr who worked together on Passions garnering many Daytime Emmy nods, and have also both held associate head writer positions on Days of our Lives during the 90’s, a successful ratings period for the soap opera where it inched up in the ratings from 6th place to 2nd and 3rd positions in a line-up of 11 daytime soap operas.
Let’s hope Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas Jr can emulate their successes from that time period and on Passions and save Days of our Lives from the continual specter of cancellation.