written by Jason Bonderoff
Whether we're laughing at Lucy Ricardo's battle with a 200-pound loaf of bread, or cringing at the sight of crime boss Tony Soprano mopping up the bloody remnants of a mutilated corpse on the kitchen floor, one thing never changes: All great TV shows depend on the same power source of top-notch writing. During its long run as NBC's flagship daytime drama, Days of our Lives has benefited from the storytelling talents of some of the sharpest imaginations in the business. Irna Phillips, William J. Bell, Pat Falken Smith, Margaret DePriest, Sheri Anderson, Ann Marcus and James E. Reilly have all left their unique imprint on the Salem infrastructure.
In forty years, Days of our Lives has cooked up more stunning surprises than Scheherazade, O. Henry, the Grimm brothers and the Brontë sisters put together. This show manages to walk a fine line between tragedy and farce without ever losing its powerful, cathartic grip on our emotions. One day, it's Homer's Iliad; the next day, it's Homer Simpson on steroids. But through it all, whether Days is shocking us, scaring us, questioning our deepest faith or lighting our way in the darkness, the show never fails to entertain.
In honor of Salem's fortieth anniversary, here are 40 Days of our Lives storylines that have been truly unforgettable:
The Salem Strangler: Back in 1982, Jake the Ripper prowled the streets of Salem at night, attacking innocent women and killing them. Marlena was slated to be his final victim, but Roman saved her just in time. Cornered, Jake died in a shootout, leaving only his brother, Chris Kositchek, to mourn him.
The Cruise of Deception: Madman Ernesto Toscanno invited all his enemies aboard the S.S. Loretta and held them captive. Bo watched helplessly as his beloved Hope dangled over a vat of boiling acid and fell to her "death." She was engulfed in flames when the vat exploded.
Salem's Lot: In 1994, the town Christmas tree burned down. Marlena was possessed by the devil and her eyes started glowing like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist. She levitated, morphed into Kristen, torched a church and seduced John (who was now a priest). A heat wave, a swarm of bees and several other weird unnatural phenomena hit Salem. Ultimately, John fought Satan (who was disguised as his sweet, dead wife Isabella) and returned things to normalcy. God restored Marlena to her usual self.
The Coronation Massacre: If you think Charles and Camilla had it rough, think again. Believing she was Princess Gina, the heir to an important European fiefdom, Hope invited the Bradys, Hortons and tons of jaded, titled jet-setters to her coronation in Paris. She even validated parking. Things got out of hand when a band of roving terrorists opened fire on the guests.
Melaswen: In 2003, good folks like Abe and Maggie started dying off; then Jack and Grandma Alice keeled over, too – all killed by a masked psycho. Ten victims piled up. Marlena (drugged and brainwashed) believed she was the killer, but Tony DiMera (suffering from a bad case of papa envy) was actually behind it. In the biggest shocker ever pulled off on soaps, Days later revealed that all the victims were really alive and trapped on Tony's secret island, Melaswen (New Salem spelled backwards). Even with their frequent flyer miles intact, it took them all a while to get home.
STOP THAT WEDDING!
Hope Williams & Larry Welch: Just before her forced wedding to the dastardly D.A, Bo kidnapped his true love Hope. Meanwhile, cigar-smoking gumshoe Howie Hoffstedder dressed up as the bride and clomped down the aisle. When Larry gently lifted her veil, Howie howled, "Forget Hope, it's you and me, baby!"
Jennifer Horton & Emilio Ramirez: Determined to stop Jennifer from marrying the wrong guy, Jack Deveraux charged into Salem Presbyterian Church disguised as a fireman, yelled "smoke!", and whisked Jen off in the ensuing pandemonium. The carefree duo tooled around town on his fire engine, while "Rescue Me" played in the background.
Kate Kiriakis & Roman Brady: This reception went sour when psychic Celeste started seeing chopped limbs among the chopped liver, and blood oozed out of the wedding cake. Ten seconds later, a shadowy figure wearing a hockey mask stabbed Roman to death.
Sami Brady & Austin Reed: Knowing that Sami had falsified baby Will's paternity records, big sister Carrie stopped her wedding to Austin the old-fashioned way: She punched the bride in the face! Then Austin married Carrie instead.
Bo Brady & Billie Reed: It may be traditional to break glass at a Jewish wedding, but who says you have to be Jewish to do it? While possessed by the devil, Marlena tampered with the glass ceiling chandelier in St. Luke's Catholic Church, and the unbolted fixture came crashing down on the bride and groom, knocking them out.
THE CRADLE WILL ROCK
Marlena's Tragedy: While married to attorney Don Craig, Marlena gave birth prematurely to a son, Don Jr. At the age of three months, the baby died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Days' exploration of S.I.D.S., and its post-traumatic effect on new parents was groundbreaking.
Kayla's Trial: While standing trial for the murder of Marina Toscanno, Kayla went into labor. She gave birth in jail, with Patch helping to deliver their daughter Stephanie.
Vivian's Treachery: Desperate to have total access to Victor's big old heart – and his even bigger bank accounts – Vivian stole Kate's fertilized egg, had it implanted in her uterus and gave birth to their son Philip.
Isabella's Little Interruption: It's hard to concentrate on your wedding vows when your water breaks. So John and his very pregnant bride-to-be Isabella told the guests to mingle while they retreated to a back room in the church where Isabella gave birth to little Brady. Then they finished the ceremony.
Nancy's Courage: When their daughter Chloe was diagnosed with leukemia, Nancy convinced hubby Craig they should have a second child, who might be a potential bone-marrow donor. The result was a daugher, Joy.
Bill/Laura/Mickey: More than a decade before General Hospital's Luke raped Laura on the disco floor, Days soared in the ratings with an even more electrifying story. A drunken Bill Horton forced himself on his brother's wife, Laura then fought to earn her love and forgiveness while she struggled to stay true to hubby Mickey. The paternity of Laura's son, Mike Horton, still ranks as one of the hottest soap secrets of the 1960s.
Julie/Doug/Addie: Julie threw away her marriage and nearly lost custody of her son just to be with con-man-turned-cabaret-singer Doug Williams. But Julie needed to learn the 3 R's, so Doug gladly taught them to her by reforming, rejecting her and running off with her widowed mom Addie.
Shawn/Caroline/Victor: Bo was an adult when he learned that he was conceived during his mother's youthful affair with Victor Kiriakis. When Victor deserted her, Caroline married Shawn Brady, a poor but honest fisherman, who raised Bo as his own son. Bo's hatred of Victor's ruthless tactics is what motivates his heroic character.
Sami/Austin/Carrie: Two sisters, one man, and over the years he's been a savior to them both. Good guy Austin stayed loyal to Carrie when she was brutally disfigured in a mob hit intended for him then he put his life on the line to get Sami off death row. His toughest job, of course, is keeping these two sisters from killing each other.
John/Marlena/Roman: Marlena loved Roman. But he disappeared - and was presumed dead - so Marlena weighed her options and fell for John, who somehow thought he was Roman. Then Marlena died, too leaving a grieving John to find happiness with Isabella. Of course, that's just when Marlena and the real Roman woke up from their respective comas because they weren't dead after all and well…you get the picture. Days has kept this on-and-off-again triangle simmering for nearly 20 years – a flabbergasting record even by daytime standards.
Brady Bunch: As babies, Marlena and Roman's twins, Sami and Eric, were kidnapped by Stefano DiMera. Luckily, Uncle Bo retrieved them en route to Caracas, but infant Sami must having been taking notes. Years later, she kidnapped her own kid sister, Belle.
The Evans Gals: Twisted twin sister Samantha stashed Marlena in a loony bin so she could put the moves on Marlena's clueless fiancé Don Craig. Eventually, she was done-in by the Salem strangler. Then, years later, a sad-sack Samantha look-alike named Hattie came to town and haunted Roman.
The Banks Quads: These quads started out in life with bad teeth and an uncanny resemblance to crafty Kristen Blake. When they grew up, Mary Moira joined a convent, Thomas joined the mob, Penelope had her teeth fixed, and loopy Susan thought that Elvis fathered her baby. Surprise! The Elvia impersonator was just pompadour-able Stefano in a velvet jumpsuit.
The Horton Twins: Tom and Alice's oldest kids, Tom Jr. and Addie, were the show's first of twins. Actually, they were triplets of a sort, if you count the fact that combat-weary amnesiac Tom Jr. came home from the Korean War believing he was Dr. Mark Brooks and started romancing his own sister Marie!
Kim & Company: After being run over by a drunk driver, Kimberly Donovan developed a multiple-personality disorder. One alter, Lacy, was partial to red wigs and roadhouse encounters with trashy guys. She wound up killing one of them in self-defense. Kim's other alter, Clare, merely shot her brother Roman.
Pete Jannings & Melissa Anderson: She was Mickey Horton's sheltered stepdaughter; he was a Vipers gang member, moonlighting as a male stripper. To make matters worse, Pete accidentally shot Mickey in a rumble (don't ask!). But all's well that ends well. On Valentine's Day 1985, Pete and Melissa exchanged vows in a double wedding ceremony with Maggie and a fully recovered Mickey.
Brady Black & Chloe Lane: Unpopular girl Chloe was drawn to B.M.O.C. Philip, but it was obvious from day one that she and fellow loner Brady really belonged together. They both felt alienated, loved opera, and were saddled with troubled home lives. Brady hated his stepmother Marlena; Chloe was perpetually embarrassed by all-thumbs mom Nancy. Later, they'd face even tougher hurdles: Chloe's illness, Brady's car crash, and the worst obstacle of all – Nicole!
Shawn-Douglas Brady & Belle Black: He's Bo and Hope's son; she's John and Marlena's daughter. Could any match be more perfect? Indeed, it seemed like Shawn and Belle were destined to be soul mates from the time they first went ice-skating on Salem Pond. But they've been skating on thin ice ever since with both of them rushing into bad relationships because they can't share their true feelings.
Alan Harris & Sami Brady: Alan was obsessed with Carrie Brady but since he couldn't have her, he set his sights on Carrie's troubled sister, Sami. Pretending to befriend her, he lured Sami to his apartment and raped her.
Bo Brady & Hope Williams: Twenty-one years later, the saga of young Bo and Hope still remains the greatest teen love story ever told on soaps. Who could forget the night of Hope's eighteenth birthday when she and Bo were about to make love for the first time, and her father caught them? Doug was so enraged, he had a heart attack!
STEFANO'S GREATEST MOMENTS…
- Browbeating his mad scientist flunky Rolf into speeding up the manufacture of a crucial micro-chip that Stefano wanted to implant in John's brain.
- Sitting at his chessboard, listening to opera and mourning the loss of his children.
- Making love to Lee Dumonde, remembering making love to Celeste, fantasizing about making love to Marlena.
- Escaping by boat with a mystery woman while Maison Blanch burned.
- Revealing himself as "The Phoenix."
Mickey & Maggie: Rejected by his wife Laura and son Mike, Mickey suffered a stroke then developed amnesia and left town. Eventually, he found his way to a lonely farmhouse and was taken in by a crippled young woman named Maggie. With Mickey's support and encouragement, Maggie overcame her disability, and her love helped him regain his memory.
Eugene & Calliope: This zany odd couple survived more misadventures than Dharma & Greg. Leave it to Calliope to stage a shotgun wedding when her pet pooch, Martha, came down with morning sickness. Martha may have been the first (and only) dog to be married on a soap! Calliope was famous for her clunky earrings and outrageous hats. Eugene wore a few hats, too. Remember when he moonlighted as Bettina Lovecraft, the worst advice columnist in Salem history?
Justin & Adrienne: This couple disproved the rule that love can't last under the Kiriakis roof. Despite Victor's meddling and Anjelica's machinations, these kids eventually found happiness – and found out they were having twins.
Vivian & Ivan: Time and again, Ivan was willing to break the law just to help Madame carry out one of her hare-brained schemes. Either this guy loved his boss or the job came with incredible medical benefits.
Tom & Alice: After 50 years of marriage, Alice began to worry that Tom was cheating on her. He'd sneak out of the house every night and stay out late. Turns out, he was giving poetry readings at a hippie hangout under his pen name, Norm de Plumme. Most of his offerings were love poems he'd written and dedicated to Alice!