Buried Alive: Carly vs. Sheridan
Days' definitive and most controversial head writer James E. Reilly buried Carly alive in 1993 in one of Days' most shocking and popular stories of all time. Of course, JER wasn't the first head writer to bury someone alive---I believe that would be Bill Bell with Lauren on Y&R--but he was the first writer to make it a major and sensational story. Seven years later, he took the basic "buried alive" story and spun it on its head when Sheridan was buried alive on Passions. Let's look at both stories.
-Vivian hated Carly and was addicted to Chinese herbs after breaking her back. She devised a plot to frame Carly for murder, but when Carly caught Vivian attempting to kill Caroline, Aunt Viv injected Carly with an herb making her appear to be dead. Crazed by the herbs, Vivian decided to torment Carly even further by burying her alive and making her suffer. Everyone in Salem believed Carly was dead, but the audience was in it from the get-go, because Carly listened to her entire funeral in her coffin, unable to move. Vivian rigged the coffin with lights, oxygen, and a walkie-talkie so Vivian could torment Carly. After being buried under six feet of dirt, Carly woke up! If I recall correctly, there was even a recording device at Carly's tombstone, allowing her to listen to those who came to visit, such as Bo. Unable to escape, Carly was forced to suffer Vivian's taunts and torture. As Carly's oxygen ran out, the herbs wore off and Vivian confessed her evil deeds to Lawrence. Lawrence, Ivan, and Vivian dug up Carly, but the oxygen deprivation left Carly with amnesia. Outside the three of them, no one knew Carly was alive for several more weeks. Eventually Carly got her memories back and decided to leave town with Lawrence and Nikki,
This story was thrilling and had me glued to the tube throughout the summer of 1993. Carly was my favourite heroine at the time, and I remember turning the TV on, seeing Carly at her funeral and being so upset that I ran upstairs to ask my mother what had happened. My mom told me Vivian had made it look like Carly had died, and once I saw Carly wake up in her coffin underground, I could not stop watching. So intense!
-Sheridan was wanted dead by a French drug cartel because she was a witness to their crimes. They blackmailed Hank Bennett into killing her, and Hank shot her dead in her cottage. Or so we thought. Sheridan started twitching in her coffin, and once she was buried, lights turned on in the coffin and she opened her eyes! Hank had gone to the FBI and they devised a scheme to fake her death, safely putting her out of harm's way as they busted the drug cartel by putting her underground. Sheridan woke up too soon and found herself buried alive! Unfortunately, oxygen was running out and everyone who was in on the ruse ended up preoccupied with the drug cartel. Timmy and Tabitha believed Sheridan was dead and needed something for their latest spell from a recently-dead person. So they dug up Sheridan's grave. Timmy thought Sheridan was beautiful even in death and kissed her. Sheridan woke up. Soon Julian arrived and found the mess at the grave. Believing it to be the work of grave robbers, Julian had cement poured on Sheridan's coffin to keep criminals out! When the drug cartel was busted, Luis learned the truth about Sheridan being alive and dug her up. Unfortunately, they had to blast through concrete in order to save her! Sheridan was unconscious and flatlined at the hospital. That night happened to be Christmas Eve, and as Luis prayed for Sheridan's soul at Midnight Mass, Sheridan appeared behind him, alive and well. They admitted their love for one another and kissed.
Now this story was entirely different from Carly's. For one thing, the audience believed Sheridan had actually been murdered. On top of that, the drama was upped by having Tabitha and Timmy dig up her grave and then having Julian cover the coffin in cement. One of the eeriest moments was a montage showing various Christmas scenes in Harmony, like the Bennetts decorating their tree while The First Noel played while Sheridan screamed and banged on the coffin, trying to escape. This story also resolved the drug cartel storyline that had been part of the show since it began and paid off the Sheridan/Luis romance by giving them a Christmas miracle and allowing them to finally come together as a couple.
Both stories were brilliant, in my opinion. Yes, both Carly and Sheridan were buried alive, but the circumstances were different enough that it made each story distinct. If soap stories were released on DVD, these two would be must-owns.