Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Hell is New Salem

I don’t watch Days of Our Lives most years. Soaps in general tend to be too repetitious for me. (That comment isn’t meant to be seen as a shot at the genre, which I appreciate. I have the same problem with police dramas, no matter how critically acclaimed.) The turmoil and strife among a group of familiar characters — trapped in a isolated setting and in a claustrophobic loop of repeating plotlines — just doesn’t hold my interest for more than a couple of episodes.

However, Days has a habit of doing something big, weird, and interesting every once in a while, and this is one of those years. Let’s see if we can recap so far:

  1. Serial killer stalks Salem.
  2. Serial killers kills beloved characters.
  3. Serial killer eventually kills so many beloved characters that he/she/they has to start in on the not-so-loved characters. The town begins to seem depopulated.
  4. Killer turns out to be Marlena, the most beloved character.
  5. Marlena dies.
  6. Marlena wakes up on an island and finds out all of the people who have died in the past few months are actually alive and there with her.
  7. Marlena dies at the hands of the mob. Marlena is welcomed by the people she killed, who let her know she was under mind control.
  8. All of these people are in a town called New Salem, which is an exact replica of the original Salem, except for the palm trees, sand, an electrified force field, and what seems to be a slightly higher population count.
  9. New Salem is Hell, because the trapped characters are separated from their loved ones, who think they are dead and will move on with their lives. (This point is reiterated many times by a man named Abe, who really didn’t have anything else to say for a couple of weeks.)
  10. Beloved, but boring, character Jack shows up to get abused. (This is Jack’s only function.) He disappears again.
  11. Apparently Abe has a good sense of their loved ones’ fickleness, because the folks left behind in Salem start hooking up almost immediately.
  12. Not to be outdone, the New Salem folks hook up as well.
  13. Various plane crashes occur, dumping new people from Salem into New Salem.
  14. Abe’s vision of Hell seems to become less vibrant, given the fact that their loved ones are all showing up as well. (Only the innocent, who haven’t been hooking up. The fickle are now showing up in Hell…er…New Salem.

And that’s about it. You wouldn’t think you could pack all that into over 100 episodes. 😉

So, what makes me write about it now? After all, I’ve been fascinated with the mystery/sheer gall of the program for a few months now. Well, as you look at previews from this week indicating that yet more people will be crashing on the island — further giving the lie to Abe’s concept of the Island as Hell — you realize that this could be a defining moment in soaps. What if they can’t figure it all out? What is they can’t get off the island and others just keep crashing? Days would have successfully pulled off a piece-by-piece move from one geographical setting to another without having to change a single indoor set, and the soap would finally admit that Salem was really completely cut off from the rest of the world, instead of pretending that the townsfolk were free to come and go as they pleased.

They won’t do it, though, so I guess the only thing I’m watching for is the inevitable revelation of the all-too-rare-for-Salem brains behind the operation, along with the simple pleasures of John‘s incongruous facial expressions and Bo’s redneck lack-of-fit among the hoi polloi of Salem. (That, and the fact Bo calls his missing wife “Fancy Face,” which comes out as “Fancy Feast” every time to my ears.)

Anyway, if you watch it, tape it or DVR it. Like I said, over 100 episodes at least, and many are just packed with filler. (The most egregious habit recently has been the wholesale copying of previous scenes. At least 35 minutes of a recent episode were scene-by-scene remakes of the previous episode, with tiny bits of new information tacked on. In fact, they didn’t even use the footage from the day before. They actually reshot the scenes. Some of the dialogue is different.) We’ve discovered that, if you can’t get through an episode in 15 minutes, you aren’t really trying.


  1. Lorrie

    The intellectualism of Days of Our Lives. Only you, my love, only you.

  2. Shane

    Intellectualism? The show has taken away my ability to intellectual…uh…ize. My reaction to questions now is to wrinkle up my face like I smell something, much like John Black, rather than try to hold a cogent conversation. 🙂

Leave a Reply

© 2021 The Phantom City

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑