Cold weather is here, and with it comes a million great shows to watch. But if you're looking for something uplifting, inspiring, and full of familiar faces from daytime, then you'll definitely want to add the new Pure Flix series Saved by Grace to your list.
The feel-good show, which stars The Young and the Restless alum Jennifer Taylor (ex-Rebekah Barlow) in a leading role, centers on two angels who answer people's prayers and help them find hope again. Longtime soap opera favorite Melissa Archer (ex-Serena Mason, Days of our Lives; ex-Natalie Buchanan) guest-stars in the first episode of the show, which is currently streaming on Pure Flix. The actress plays a character named Sarah, who's involved in a love story opposite actor Richard Blake.
"She's a divorcée, and she's got a lot of fear and shame from that," Archer teases of her character. "But she has this really cool little love story; it's one of those things where everything is great, and then she finds out something about Richard's character and is like, 'Aaaggghh, I'm so mad!' And then the angels work with Sarah and Richard's character, helping them work through the issues that they have and the trigger that they have that caused the falling-out."
As for any real-life situations in which Archer thought an angel was looking out for her, she enthuses that it happens "all the freaking time!"
"I could give you so many stories in my life where I know I was being looked after, whether it was an angel or God or all of the above," she shares. "They were just situations where it absolutely could have gone the opposite direction really easily, really fast -- countless times. And most of the time, it was something stupid that I was doing, and having that angel, if you will, stopped it from going into something horrible."
She continues, "It's also happened a lot in direction and stuff like that in my life -- there have been times when I have been really, really confused or looking for some direction, and I'll pray about it, like, 'I kind of have the feeling I want to do this, and I want to do what's right, so I'm going to need some help here!' And I always feel like I get some kind of push toward a certain direction, and then when I follow that, I'm like, 'Okay, now I see why I was nudged this way. Thank you!'"
One of those instances was when she realized that her time as Days of our Lives' Serena Mason, a role she played from 2014 to 2017, was coming to a close. As fans may recall, Serena came to town innocently enough, hoping to rekindle an old romance with Eric Brady (Greg Vaughan). However, the storyline took a dark turn when it was revealed that Serena was actually hoping to swap out an elephant statue of Eric's that was secretly filled with blood diamonds she had smuggled out of Africa.
Archer recalls that it didn't take her long to realize that Serena was being written into a corner and that her job probably wasn't going to last much longer.
"I didn't know that Serena was bad when I signed on to the show -- I might have gathered at some point that she was up to something, but I wasn't really sure what for quite a while. But then, after carrying around the elephant statue for every scene for like, ever, I was like, 'Where is this going?! What is this statue?'" she says with a laugh. "So, I went to one of the producers, and I was like, 'Heyyy, do you know what's up with this statue? What's going on here?' And then she told me it was blood diamonds, and I had to prepare myself for the fact that the job probably wasn't going to be a long-term thing -- it's hard to come back from blood diamonds!"
Archer's gut feeling was right, and not long after, Serena was written off the soap in a very dramatic fashion: she was strangled by the Necktie Killer (later revealed to be Ben Weston). Archer reveals that while being a murder victim was a fun way to exit the canvas, she initially didn't handle the news very well.
"When they told me that they were going to kill off the character, I was sad, but more so because I had never been let go before, so I had to deal with the moment of, 'This isn't you, Melissa. You're not getting fired because you suck; this is just part of the story,'" she shares. "I knew that all logically, it just hadn't happened to me yet [in the business], so I was like, 'Ugh, that hurt!' I was okay, but it was a weird feeling, even though I understood a thousand percent. I mean, as I said, I had already expected it -- I'd been waiting for it -- but I still had that one moment of sadness."
However, once she got over that sadness, she realized that getting slayed by a serial killer was probably a lot more fun than, say, getting shipped off to prison.
"Once I got over the sad moment, I was like, 'So, how is it going to happen?' And they said I was going to be strangled, and I said, 'Okay, I have one request: Can you do it on-screen so I get to have a death scene?'" she says with a laugh. "And they did it, and I was so happy! It was so fun to do a death scene."
Archer has been lucky in that she's been able to do quite a few really fun soap opera staple storylines in her career, mostly during her 2001-2013 run on One Life to Live.
"One of my favorite storylines was the love affair between John [Michael Easton] and Natalie... We were not together most of the time, but I felt like it was a great love story, anyway," she shares. "I also really loved the stuff with Roscoe [Born, ex-Mitch Laurence], especially toward the end; he kidnapped me a few times, but the last time that he kidnapped me, we were in an abandoned church or something, and that was one of my favorite sets of scenes. A lot of the stuff I did with Bree [Williamson, ex-Jessica Buchanan] and a lot of the stuff I did with Erika [Slezak, ex-Victoria Lord] when they had their DID [dissociative identity disorder] storylines was really fun, as well. And I also think back to the stuff I did with John Brotherton [ex-Jared Banks] and how fun that was -- there are so many that are my favorites!"
As for a soap opera storyline she hasn't played yet but would love to at some point in the future, Archer says that having alter egos like OLTL's Viki and Jessica would be a blast.
"It definitely would have been to do the DID thing -- although I thought it was cool that Natalie didn't have that because it definitely brought this difference in how the two sisters handled their issues. But for fun's sake, that would have been great! Other than that, I almost feel like I've done so many soap staple stories, I can't think of any more I'd like to do, other than maybe just being super villainous without any redeeming side, like just a murderous person who comes into town or something. That would be fun!"
Fans of the actress will have to keep their fingers crossed for that for now, but at least Archer's got the opposite thing going in Saved by Grace, which she says has been one of her most fulfilling projects in quite some time.
"It was honestly the most fun I've had on set in ages. The people were great, and we all clicked well and had a really good time together," she enthuses. "It's a wholesome show -- obviously -- and we had so much pure fun with it; it was something different, and I just think I needed that so much. It got me excited about acting again."
Saved by Grace is currently streaming on Pure Flix with a new episode being released each Sunday. Check out the teaser trailer below, and for more information, visit www.pureflix.com.
What do you think about our interview with Melissa Archer? How do you feel about her starring in the Pure Flix series Saved by Grace? What are your favorite moments from Archer's time on DAYS and OLTL? Would you like to see the actress return to soaps? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.