It’s A Very Salem Christmas for Days of Our Lives fans, but if you’re looking to go spoiler-free until you watch it, then I suggest you save this review for later.
First off, this Days of Our Lives holiday special is on Peacock Premium, not the free version (at least not yet.)
Being a big fan of Beyond Salem and hoping we get more of these soapy special events, I sprung for the annual Peacock Premium membership. (The yearly seemed like the better deal.)
I’m not telling anyone else what to buy. There are so many streaming services now that they can be overwhelming and expensive. I will say I haven’t regretted this purchase as Peacock Premium has lots of old TV favorites to go along with movies and new content.
(Case in point, my husband is already binging The Rockford Files, I’m eyeing Miami Vice, and then there are the first three seasons of Yellowstone. So Peacock Premium’s got our January pretty wrapped up.)
But on to our review…
The Set-Up: Will Horton has a script due at midnight, and he hasn’t written a word. He’s about to blow it off until Sonny convinces him that they can get it done in the few hours they have on Christmas Eve.
As a writer, I’m a little disturbed by Will’s nonchalance over missing a deadline, but I digress…
Will’s fantasy movie version of Christmas in Salem is surprisingly sweet and just twisted enough to keep things interesting.
To start with, Roman is dead because there has to be a tragic back story. He died years ago at Christmas, which is why Sami and Marlena (Roman’s widow) now run the Brady Pub.
In this version of Salem, Sami is sweet and kind, and empathetic. She thinks before she speaks and doesn’t fly off the handle. But what really threw me was that when wicked Nicole bashed Sami, Marlena came to her defense.
Someone remind me of the last time that happened in regular Salem because I’m drawing a blank.
John Black is married to Kristen, and they run the Salem Inn in matching ugly Christmas sweaters.
This was my least favorite part of the story. I’m not sure, which made me cringe more. John begging for Kristen’s attention or Kristen’s sexcapades with Brady behind her husband’s back.
Brady is an arrogant jerk, which I’m still trying to decide if that’s unlike normal Brady or entirely on the nose.
The one upside was his Love Actually-inspired flashcards. The one that said, “I know I’m hot,” made me laugh out loud. But Brady is sleeping with his father’s wife, eating all the Sweet Bits samples, and schmoozing a smitten Gabi for clothing freebies.
Speaking of Gabi, not only is she a nice human too, but she’s working with her best friend, Nick. Yes, Nick is back and in love with an oblivious Gabi.
This isn’t evil, abusive Nick, nor zombie Nick, and once again, I’m reminded of how much I miss Blake Berris.
As Will points out, Nick was once a nice guy until the show decided to have him turn to the dark side. I’m more than a little worried that they’re taking the same turn with Philip back in real Salem.
There are also other mismatched pairings in this Salem, like Tripp and Chanel. However, I love it when Johnny calls out Allie for pining over her best friend’s beau but then admits he’s got the same issue, which leads Allie to ask if he’s in love with Tripp too.
Now there’s a pairing I never considered.
But the main plot has to do with Paulina, in full Cruella de Vil mode, including the hair, evicting all of the Horton Square businesses to build her new big-box discount store. Enter her new assistant, Leo Stark.
Personally, I just love Leo, so I was thrilled to see him a part of these Days of Our Lives specials once again. Paulina keeps calling him Mary, which is a funny homage to Jackée Harry’s 227 sitcom days.
Leo gets to play the unexpected hero, and he gets to ogle Xander, who, even in an argyle sweater vest, suspenders, and nerdy glasses, is still the hottest thing in any version of Salem.
Xander: Is there something I can do for you?
Leo: I want to answer that in so many ways.
I appreciated the photos of Caroline and Shawn Brady and the Tom and Alice Horton plaque being shown while Xander gave his sincere speech of why Horton Square is important to Salem.
Back at the Brady Pub, Sami is hating Christmas. Her father died at Christmas. Lucas took off with Chloe Lane at Christmas. And Nicole comes parading around with her husband EJ and their daughter Sydney, reminding Sami of Grace, the daughter she and EJ lost years ago.
It’s a nice piece of Days’ history at play here that pulls at the heartstrings just enough to make this feel like a Hallmarky holiday movie.
That is until Sami learns that Sydney is really hers and goes all slap fest on Nicole for stealing her child all of these years.
And what kind of horrible mother has Nicole been to Sydney to practically have the child jumping for joy to find out she and Nikki aren’t biologically connected? Yikes!
The reunion of the nicer, kinder EJ with the nicer, kinder Sami feels like foreshadowing for the regular Salem (likely minus the nicer, kinder parts), or maybe I’m just reading too much into this.
Of course, if we’re talking about foreshadowing, there’s always homeless Eric sleeping under that bench. Can Eric be far behind in actual Salem?
Then we get to the real fun.
Will and Sonny in drag are just okay. I think it’s the literal beards that don’t work for me. But I still can’t get over Chad in drag! Who knew Billy Flynn could be transformed into such an amazing woman?
And then there’s the best part of this holiday special. The Santa group striptease. Take all of Salem’s hottest men, and have them dance their stockings off down to their holiday-inspired boxer briefs to save Horton Square.
It’s funny and sexy, and best of all, everyone from the actors involved to the actors in the audience looked like they were having a hell of a time.
So if you’re looking for some campy, soapy fun mixed with holiday cheer plus Marlena without those devil eyes, then A Very Salem Christmas is the holiday special you won’t want to miss.
Hit that SHOW COMMENTS button to share what you think about A Very Salem Christmas. Loved it? Hated it? Looking forward to more? And don’t forget to check out all of our Days of Our Lives coverage here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.