When Days of Our Lives brings it, it really brings it.
DAYS offered a beautiful tribute to the iconic Julie Williams during the week of 12-10-18 that was filled with the love, family support, and general warmth that was once the backbone of this soap.
It was so good that even having to share the screen with the ridiculous Sonny/Leo storyline couldn't ruin it.
No one deserved this tribute more than Julie.
She is the only character left from the original set back in 1965, and Susan Seaforth Hayes has played her to perfection for half a century. Julie has grown from a troublemaking teenager to a kind-hearted if overly opinionated grandmother, and she and Doug epitomize the true love and romance that used to be a hallmark of this show.
The tribute was combined with pre-Christmas scenes and a heartfelt goodbye to Lucas, who is leaving Salem to offer guidance to a teenage Allie. I was thrilled to see Christmas treated as a real holiday and glad to see Lucas given a proper send-off.
Bonus points for not gratuitously killing off yet another character just to get him off canvas!
I loved how Doug affectionately acknowledged Julie's foibles, rushing to get the Christmas tree up before she could show up to give her opinion of how it should go.
That was such a realistic moment and it showed why their relationship has lasted so long. They've learned to accept and work with each other's imperfections and it's only made their love stronger.
Let's get this Christmas tree up before Julie comes back and starts micromanaging.Doug
I also loved the way history was used to make connections between the generations.
The flashbacks of Tom and Alice were beautiful on their own -- I've long wished the show would use flashbacks of their relationship more often -- but Julie connecting her running away after giving her son up for adoption to her desire to help Abigail get her baby back made them even more powerful.
I also always love when Doug and JJ share scenes. Doug always treats JJ as an important member of the family rather than as the black sheep who had been cursed with getting too many of Jack's genes.
It's refreshing to see someone treat JJ with the love and respect he deserves, and this time was no exception. Doug is the only member of the family to date who seems to remember or care that JJ was suicidal a year ago and be concerned about him.
I only wish Doug hadn't brought up that nonsense about JJ not being over Lani. It would have made more sense to suggest that he never really got over Paige's death and that's why he's bounced from one woman to another since.
The scenes were so good that even that couldn't bother me too much, though. Honest, loving conversations between older and younger family members is what made Days of Our Lives a standout show for over 50 years and it was wonderful to get a little taste of that.
And of course, there were the loving, romantic remarks both Doug and Julie made to one another when Doug brought out the cake at the end of the hour. It almost felt like they were renewing their wedding vows as they told each other how much they meant to one another.
The sad thing is that the Julie scenes were meant to be a special episode.
While I'm glad there was a tribute to her, family and love should be the backbone of the show like it used to be. If we have to have a story like the Sonny/Leo catastrophe, it shouldn't be about Sonny's family reluctantly going along with a stupid blackmail plot so he can marry the wrong guy.
I'm not sure who I'm the most disappointed in with this silly story.
Sonny kept saying that he had no choice but to marry Leo, but that's only if you ignore the giant sized holes in the plot.
Victor shouldn't have found out because he walked in on the wedding. Going to him should have been Sonny's first line of defense. Victor is a former mob boss who Maggie is always getting upset with because he does underhanded things to protect his family, for goodness sake!
If you're going to kill someone, make sure he's really dead.Victor
And if not Victor, why not Justin? I know he's shown himself to be a terrible lawyer, but Sonny extols his virtues in the courtroom anyway, and he is Sonny's father!
All of these people found out when they walked in on Sonny about to marry Leo in their living room -- which somehow the all-knowing Victor didn't realize was happening in his house.
It's a good thing Chad and Gabi weren't discussing the Abigail situation right then or they would have been taking up space in the living room that Leo wanted and also been cowed into silence.
Seriously, I found it disturbing that everyone's answer to Leo blackmailing Sonny was to go along with the plan. Victor shouldn't be afraid of a nobody like Leo. He has a billion goons at his disposal who could torment Leo while an IT guy edits the security tapes to make it appear that Leo's photos were doctored.
Xander is supposedly dead, but I have my doubts about that since he always turns up alive, and I could see Victor blackmailing him into helping resolve this situation.
Instead, Victor told Sonny that he had to appease Leo until they resolved the situation, including sleeping with him!
This storyline has now gone from the absurd to yet another case of someone being forced into sex. It's just as gross for Leo to first file a false sexual harassment suit and then return to force Sonny to sleep with him as it is for Abby to pretend to be Gabby and pretend to be in love with her rapist.
With the Abby storyline coming to a head, did we really need to replace it with a different rape-y story?
Even leaving the poor messaging aside, this storyline is a bad idea.
John just got out of a sham marriage that Hattie blackmailed him into and that Abe officiated.
Now Sonny is being blackmailed into a similar marriage and Abe's assistant is officiating.
I know there's only a limited number of plots out there, but surely the writers can do better than repeating a story from the previous month with different characters!
I don't like Abby living with Stefan, especially since this is another story that requires all the characters to become incredibly stupid in order to work.
The Abby/Julie alliance is great. Julie used to be a schemer in her younger years, and it's about time she did something other than put her nose into everyone's love life.
But surely there had to be another way to get here.
Chad's been a lost cause for months. The official reason seems to be that when he put on Stefano's ring, he turned into Stefano. Or something like that.
Whatever the reason is, it's irritating to see him believe super-obvious lies and fall for ridiculous manipulations, and it's making it hard to keep rooting for Chad and Abby when he's so oblivious and willing to believe his wife's enemy.
Jennifer is also written unevenly for the sake of this storyline.
She keeps going back and forth between being mad at Chad and believing Abby needs to be institutionalized, and she should have better instincts both because she knows her daughter and because she is an investigative reporter!
But the most disappointing is JJ. JJ is a smart character who has great instincts. He often picks up on things that other characters don't notice and is ideally suited for either investigative reporting or detective work.
It would make sense for him to be working undercover to try to prove Gabi wrong by pretending to her that he is on her side. I know he's grateful she saved his life when he was suicidal, but that's no reason for him to refuse to believe that she set Abby up.
The writers always either ignore JJ altogether or twist him out of shape for some stupid storyline that is beneath him, and it seems like they're at it again with this nonsense.
JJ didn't offer any explanation for why he didn't believe Abby other than "she's sick so I don't buy it." He knows Gabi pretended to be his wife in order to get to Abby but that doesn't seem to be bothering him.
This plot driven writing needs to go and the characters need to start being themselves, including having the intelligence levels they used to have.
Abigail: Can you meet me in the park in a few minutes?
Julie: Are you kidding? Wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Gabi Hernandez is a cold-hearted little witch and I can't wait to see her get what she deserves.
The good news is that this mess seems to be coming to a head.
I'm sure it isn't as close to over yet as it seems -- the writers are probably waiting for February sweeps for that -- but Julie getting involved was a smart move, and I loved the twin cliffhangers of Kayla catching "Gabby" in the act of trying to break into her records and Julie finding the envelope with the true paternity results.
I really hope Kayla sees through the Gabby act. She already has her suspicions about the real Gabi's behavior, and I'd love to see another veteran character involved in this and backing Julie's claims up. Everyone knows Julie hates Gabi so Abby will need someone more objective on her side to get anyone to listen.
I liked Kayla talking to Sarah about her feelings about Rex and Eric, too. Kayla has become the voice of reason, and it's wonderful to see.
I wasn't entirely happy with her scenes with Tripp.
Kayla should have enough confidence in her relationship with Steve to know that he isn't staying away because he's mad at her. Considering how hard Steve fought to get Kayla to take him back after his last ISA adventure, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Besides, isn't there a simple solution?
Kayla could go to DC to try to help Steve and try to talk to him face-to-face. Problem solved. Of course, that only works if Stephen Nichols returns to the show, but still. This storyline is silly and not very respectful to Steve's legacy and there has to be a better way to deal with Steve's absence than this.
Anyway, this custody battle storyline for Sarah/Eric/Brady/Chloe/Maggie is strong drama, but there are also some problems with it.
For one thing, I don't like the way Sarah has suddenly attached herself to Eric. Eric dropped Jennifer after promising over and over that Nicole was his past, only to come home broken-hearted because Nicole died. I'm getting dizzy from this relationship merry-go-round!
It doesn't do either Eric or Sarah any favors for the two of them to move on together so quickly, which is where this seems to be headed. Plus, this would have been more dramatic had Eric and Jennifer stayed together.
Jennifer is Maggie's niece and Brady's best friend, and Holly's father was her boyfriend for a long time. So she would truly be caught in the middle and whatever stance she took would actually make sense.
Sarah is a newcomer who seems to have fallen for Eric thirty seconds after breaking up with his half-brother. While she is Maggie's daughter, the whole set-up isn't dramatic because she doesn't have enough of a stake in this.
The letter from Nicole has not been authenticated. Just because it was sent in an envelope purporting to be from an attorney doesn't prove it is legitimate. Was it even notarized? And if Nicole wrote it while being held captive by Xander, where's the proof that she was not forced to write it?
And why is it first showing up now?
You gonna lie to me? You gonna look me in the eye and deny it?Eric
On top of that, it's hard to swallow the idea that Chloe is a wonderful mother when she does not spend any time with the child she has. Even if DAYS doesn't want to pay for a child actor to play Parker, it could use dialogue effectively to show Chloe spending time with him.
Instead, Chloe is always talking about him being at Maggie's, a babysitter's, or a friend's. When she found out she was getting custody of Holly, her first comment was she needs to arrange child care just like she has for Parker.
That suggests that Chloe spends very little, if any, time with her son. I know she's a working mother but the way it's written, she's an absentee mother!
All the writers would have to do to fix that is have her thank Julie for letting Parker do his homework in the back room at Doug's Place so that Chloe can spend her breaks with him, or have a one-sided phone call between mother and son, but they don't even do that much.
Since Maggie is taking care of Parker more often than not, why not have her be Holly's guardian? That would allow Holly and Parker to be raised together like Nicole wanted.
There's also an awful lot of selfishness going on in this storyline. The main argument for Eric to get custody seems to be that he's sad and Holly makes him feel better. That's no reason to award him custody of a child!
And Eric has decided he's going to court rather than working something out with Chloe because Brady won't take his side, which is nothing but petty.
This Rafe/Hope/Ted storyline has got out of hand very quickly.
I didn't like Rafe's punch first, ask questions later attitude. I don't know why the writers think it's entertaining to write all the men this way. It's not, and it needs to stop.
Also, there is no reason for Rafe and Hope to be the ones protecting Ted.There's an entire police force; dispatch some uniforms to be his security detail until he gets into Witness Protection and be done with it.
The bottom line is that Hope's obsession with getting Ben arrested is an abuse of police power that makes her more and more unlikeable every time she's on. Whever this is leading can't be anyplace good, and I hope that it ends with her getting her comeuppance.
So what did you think, DAYS fanatics? What was your favorite storyline during the week of 12-10-18, and which story do you wish they would hurry up and get rid of?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion!
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.