By Lynette Rice
Updated September 23, 2011 at 02:32 PM EDT
Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn, ...
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
  • Movie

Monday should be a particularly bittersweet day for soap fans: All My Children will be off ABC but Days of Our Lives will begin a new chapter on NBC in hopes of fighting off the cancellation demons. In fact, the writers made sure to make the sober reality very clear in Monday’s dialogue: Hope (Kristian Alfonso) declares how “this begins a new day in Salem.” Naturally, she’s talking about the opening of the sparkly new town square named after her grandparents, but Days fans know what she’s really driving at, don’t they?

EW obtained an early peek at Monday’s episode, mostly because of who it features — Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn, as well as a few very friendly faces, return to Salem. (Was that really Matthew Ashford???) Longtime viewers should dig the new Horton Square: It’s super roomy and a welcome departure from some of the soap’s tight (see: dinky) sets. Everyone is dressed to the nines for the big celebration, which culminates with a very special visit from some old pals.

Enter Marlena and John! Hall’s dressed in a tight black dress that shows off her enviable figure, and Hogestyn is in an, um, wheelchair. (I’ll let you Days fans talk out that little detail). They don’t speak, but just stay frozen with a smile — but the moment is still pretty electric. If you exclude the random presence of The Millionaire Matchmaker — who E.J. DiMera brings as a date — and the silly reporter running around the set (I’m not the one who looks like a size 2), it’s clearly an exciting new day at Days, indeed.

The producers have been promising to “reset” the daytime drama this fall to include “more contemporary stories based on the solid foundation of the Days history of family, romance, and drama.” Translation: They’re trying to keep Days as relevant as possible to ensure that soaps continue to have a place in daytime for as long as possible. Getting Hall and Hogestyn back was definitely a step in the right direction.

Will you watch on Monday?

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  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 96 minutes
  • Woody Allen