James E. Reilly's Greatest Hits
Here's a clip from the infamous "Buried Alive" storyline from Days of Our Lives. The Reilly-penned tale, featuring Crystal Chappell (Olivia, Guiding Light) as Dr. Carly Manning, Robert Kelker-Kelly as Bo Brady, Michael Sabatino (Vince, Guiding Light) as Lawrence Alamain, Erik Von Detten as a young Nicky Alamain and the incomparable Louise Sorel as Vivian Alamain, helped catapult Days from Number 7 to Number 2 in the Nielsen Household ratings where it stayed for much of Reilly's first run as head writer of the NBC soap. The storyline saw heroine Carly being buried alive by a psychotic Vivian to prevent Carly from "stealing" Vivian's nephews Lawrence and Nicky away from her. It was also the culmination of the wildly popular Bo/Carly/Lawrence triangle that carried Days of Our Lives during the early 90's.
Something wicked came to Salem in the form of Satan himself, make that herself, as Days of Our Lives' most popular heroine Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) found herself possessed. Marlena's arch enemy Stefano DiMera (Joe Mascolo) unwittingly opened up the doorway to hell for his beloved "Queen of the Night" when he started hypnotizing her.Only Marlena's true love, the Jason Bourne-esque John Black (Drake Hogestyn) could save her soul from the fires of hell. Lucky for a Bedeviled Doc, John was once a priest. Well, they do say women like a man in a uniform!
It's a sister thang. James E. Reilly didn't create the characters of Carrie (Christie Clark) and Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney), but it was his keyboard strokes that made the half-sister act two of the most popular rivals in daytime history. By having Carrie and Sami fall for the same piano-playing boxer, Austin Reed, (Patrick Muldoon, Austin Peck) and adding Austin's jealous, newly-discovered younger brother Lucas (Bryan Datillo) to the already volatile mix, Reilly created a classic quadrangle that drove storyline for well over a decade. This scene, brougt to us courtesy of Celebrating the Soaps, is from the climax of the long-running "Who Fathered Will?" storyline. Ironically it was Sami's twin brother and best friend Eric (Jensen Ackles) who helped their big sis finally catch a clue and prove that Lucas, not the dim-witted Austin fathered Sami's first born son.
On the heels of his phenomenal Days run, Reilly was offered the chance to create his own unique NBC soap opera. While Passions, with its over-the-top storylines, supernatural turns and the occasional squeamish plot twist (Julian fathering a child with his own hermaphrodite offspring) wasn't for every soap fan. There's no denying the soap's impact on pop culture or its legions of diehard fans. Here's a scene with the brilliant Juliet Mills as Harmony's century's old witch Tabitha Lenox, remembering her dear friend and ours, Timmy the Living Doll, played by the late Josh Ryan Evans. Here's to hoping Reilly and Evans are entertaining the hosts of heaven with their wacky goodness.