Following a successful first season run, Days of our Lives’ spin-off Beyond Salem is back for an action-packed second season that will premiere on September 4 on W Network in Canada.
“[Co-Executive Producer] Albert Alarr came on set one day and said, “Hey, they love us on streaming. [The first season] was a big hit!” reflects star Deidre Hall who has portrayed Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives since 1976 and has played heavily in both seasons of Beyond Salem and its 2021 Christmas special.
“Marlena is a calming force [on the show]. Years ago, when we did our first gay story, I had so many people – including kids – write in and say, ‘Oh, if I could just get my mom to Marlena! She’d make it okay. I just don’t know how to come out,’ or ‘I’m so nervous about it!’ The storyline of Will Horton (Chandler Massey) coming out gave young gay people some sort of a road map on how to do it.”
Following the success of Beyond Salem’s first season in September 2021, NBC-Universal’s streaming service Peacock commissioned A Very Salem Christmas in time for the holidays, where Marlena’s grandson Will had to write a Christmas movie for a Hollywood studio. Will’s story was set in an alternate reality of sorts where some Salemites had different occupations and romantic pairings. “You know, [Head Writer] Ron Carlivati is such a clever genius about doing [things like that], shared Hall during a phone conversation earlier this month. “I read it and thought, ‘What? Wait, wait, what? Oh, John (Drake Hogestyn) aren’t married in this?’ Drake and I had such fun shooting that because you know, we’ve spent 40 years being married and to be able to pretend that we weren’t or that I didn’t hate Kristen (who is still played by Eileen Davidson in the spin-offs). It was just delicious to play. To me, that’s Ron’s genius – that he’s taking these same characters and just tweaking them a bit. It’s like a prism – it’s all the same, but they’re not together!”
Speaking of prisms, three magical prisms from an ‘80s storyline play heavily into the second season of Beyond Salem as beloved characters travel across the globe, including Montreal, Monte Carlo, and Hong Kong, to try to track them down before they fall into the wrong hands. The new 5-part series, which premiered in the U.S. on July 11, not only features supercouples John and Marlena, Patch (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) but also reunites Hope (Kristian Alfonso) with Bo (Peter Reckell)!
“You forgot to say Ben (Robert Scott Wilson) and Ciara (Victoria Konefal)!” reminds Hall. “We love our Ben and Ciara too!” And she’s right – with all the turmoil the young couple has faced in the past few years, one could argue that they are up there in the upper echelons of Days of our Lives iconic supercouples, which many have survived decades of scandals, interlopers, and even death!
What has made these supercouples endure Days of our Lives’ 57 years on air? “I think daytime is a medium for love stories and supercouples. We’ve had Macdonald Carrey and Francis Reid’s Tom and Alice Horton [from the start]. We’ve always needed that stability to let everybody else spread their wings a little bit.”
“John is Marlena’s life-long partner, and they get to be smart, romantic, fun, and go on these capers! I think they’re good role models. It’s the same thing with Patch and Kayla. She’s our smart doctor at the hospital. If you’ve got a problem, you go to her. And of course, with Patch, he’s John’s business partner.”
Beyond Salem’s second chapter will feature some heartwarming family reunions and will re-introduce viewers to Patch and Kayla’s children, Stephanie and Joey Johnson, who’ll be played by Abigail Klein and Tanner Stein. Fans will also finally get to meet an adult Andrew Donovan (son of another supercouple, Shane and Kimberly), who’ll be played by Colton Little.
“We usher them in,” says Hall about the new cast members. “Our writers over the years have understood that you don’t toss a character in. You usher them in as part of a family. So yeah, we get to be introduced to new characters through the people that we know already.”
“Daytime is famous for gorgeous people,” gushes Hall. “Abigail Klein who plays Stephanie [who has since crossed over to the main show], and a young man named Remington Hoffman who plays Li Shin, are two of the most beautiful human beings that ever stepped on a sound stage! I was literally walking down the hall and they were separately walking the other way. I stopped in my tracks and asked, ‘Who is that?’ Oh my gosh! So, you’ve got more and more gorgeous, gorgeous people [on this show].”
“As I understand it, Beyond Salem and A Very Salem Christmas have been fan favourites,” says Hall and she’s hopeful that more fans will find it and love it as much as they love the “mothership.”
“The things we get to do on Peacock are [so much more] freeing,” says Hall about Days’ digital home, before recalling one of her favourite scenes for A Very Salem Christmas. “You remember that Santa Claus Strip?” she says before laughing. “It’s such a different thing to be sitting with these men that you love and have been working with for so long [and seeing them strip!]. They had been working on that dance for four or five days, practicing the choreography together. Some of them are dancers and some of them aren’t! Eric Martsolf, who plays Brady, is a seasoned stage professional. Ages ago, I flew to Vegas to see his show and he’s just extraordinary! So, seeing them up there and while I get to be part of the audience as an actor and their friend, I went, ‘You got this, guys!’ It was so much fun. I was so proud of them all.
As streaming reaches a more modern audience, there’s also less network interference. Peacock seems to give them “permission,” says Hall. “Years ago, when you were just a pup, there used to be notes from the network and somebody would be watching and say, ‘Oh, you better button up or you better watch the way you say that!’ But with my experience with streaming, we don’t have any engagement with notes like that!”
“I sat down in the first Beyond Salem to do a scene with Christie Clark, who plays my daughter Carrie, and we were rehearsing a scene and when we began, I said to her, ‘Psst! Don’t you want to button that top button?’ And she said, ‘No! We’re on streaming’ [Laughs] Oh my goodness, I thought, ‘They’re so far ahead of me, these kids!’”
The change in viewership patterns and interest in these streaming spin-offs led NBC to announce earlier this month that its last remaining soap opera will be moving off broadcast in the U.S. and stream exclusively on Peacock beginning September 12, 2022. “I know we’re in good hands,” says Hall about the move. “[They] make good, smart decisions. Corday and Sony have been doing this for 57 years,” she continued.”
September 12 also marks Days of our Lives move from Global TV to W Network in Canada as Corus Entertainment re-evaluated where the soap aired on their networks following the U.S. move and felt that W Network would be a much better fit for the program. The soap will continue to stream on the Global app and STACKTV
Hall teases that the show is doing great and that everyone is excited for what’s to come. “One thing that I will say, is that Days of our Lives is always known for ‘firsts.’ Ron is never one to shy away from that sort of storyline. We had the first gay wedding, the first crib death – as far as I know, the only crib death ever on television – and of course, you know, we are famous for the possession storylines. So, whatever we do, Ron Carlivati is going to give us something new, fresh, and unexpected. That, I can assure!”
The second season of Beyond Salem premieres all five episodes as a marathon beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, September 4, on W Network in Canada. Canadians can catch up with season one and A Very Salem Christmas on STACKTV. Days of our Lives moves from Global to W Network beginning Monday, September 12, 2022, at 1 p.m. ET/PT. Canadian viewers can also stream the show on STACKTV, the Global TV app, and online at GlobalTV.com.