He's gone. But, is he really gone? Will he be back? That, I don't know. What I do know is Salem has lost an amazing character. I'm not sure how the show will ever fill such a huge void. He was heroic at times, a rebel on occasion, and shirtless a lot. Yes, I will miss Jeremy Horton.
Ok, I kid! I kid! Of course I'm going to address the "black" elephant in the room and talk about John foremost. I just wanted to attempt to lighten the mood to begin with as things in the world of Salem are pretty bleak. As Dolly Parton's character Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." And let's face it, the waterworks overflowing this week!
Before I begin commenting on the actual show, I'd like to talk about the entire John/Drake situation first. Ironically, I started my first official column off by stating, "Wow! What a great week to become a Two Scoops Columnist!" Now, I'm writing this piece with a certain amount of apprehension as most Days fans' nerves are pretty raw right now. I couldn't possibly soothe all of them, but I'll try my best to be diplomatic and offer some comfort.
My first reaction to hearing about John/Drake's departure was simply a shocked, "huh?" Like many of you out there, I was sad, mad, and very disappointed. He is a beloved character and, up until last year, a face we saw almost every episode for twenty-one years. That's a long time and it's justified to be upset. At Two Scoops we received many emails from John/Drake supporters stating they are going to stop watching the show because of his exit. I sympathize and support personal decisions, but I would also like to make a few points to possibly persuade distressed fans to stay tuned.
The most optimistic approach is to look at the show's track record of "deaths." Baby Georgia/Chelsea was still born and buried in a swamp. Jack has "died" several times and even had his organs donated. Hope dropped into a vat of acid. Marlena has been lost in an airplane crash and gunned down among other "fatalities." Alice chocked on a doughnut. And, do I really have to tally all of Stefano's resurrections? You see my point. So perhaps the Phoenix's pawn will rise from the ashes like his "creator."
Next, we could look at this simply as Drake's decision to move on, support him, and wish him all the best despite our emotions. I couldn't argue that the writers and suites at NBC aren't exactly listening to their fans, so it's easy to blame them, but acting is a rough job, especially in daytime. Soap actors work just like most of us - all year long with little vacation time. The only big difference between their jobs and mine is that if I'm having a bad day I can hide in my office behind a computer, but they still have to get up at the crack of dawn, remember/practice lines, put on makeup, and be in front of a camera on a hot soundstage full of crew members who are hoping they don't mess up because re-shooting a scene countless times puts everything behind. I'd be stressed out and tired after a day of that, so anyone who could do that for twenty plus years has my respect and appreciation to pack it up despite my personal desire to see them stay.
My final spin is to look at the date of January 12, 1976. Days was privileged with an honor that very few soap operas have ever gotten when Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Doug and Julie) made it onto the cover of TIME magazine. That's huge! What I'm getting at is that they were the "it" couple back then, yet newer viewers probably only recognize them as Hope's parents despite their rich history with the show. Sure, to the long time fans they still hold a special place, but those viewers also stuck with the show when things changed because there's more then one or two characters that make Salem a magical place we tune into every weekday.
People who remember back that far probably felt the same way a lot of us do now about the younger set. "Who are all these new characters we hardly care about?" "Why waste time on them when the veterans should be on screen?" some might ask. Well, those youngsters, as grating as they may be at times, are the Bos, Hopes, and Jennifers of the future. Just like we fell in love with them in the '80s and '90s, there are viewers out there who relate to Chelsea, Stephanie, Belle, and Shawn, etc. I do think the writers need to find a better balance of new and "older" characters, but I urge viewers to let the dust settle before totally throwing in the towel. Marlena herself knew it was time to let go, so maybe this is the proverbial window closing so another one will open. I don't know, just my optimistic way of trying to look at this transformation the show is going through.
Whew! Ok, I'm spent. I'm off my soap box so let's move onto some of the highlights of the actual show …
Beloved Citizen Killed(The Blacks, Bradys and Friends of John)
There have been a lot of times over the years when John's "that's a fact" or eyebrow raises made me groan, but this week I remembered how much I liked him. I confess, I had a few wet tissues beside me as I watched the hospital scenes and funeral. For the most part, I thought all of them, as well as the actors' portrayals, were done respectively and in good taste. The entire situation had an eerily realistic feel to it … or as realistic as you can get on TV. I was thrilled to the umpteenth degree that they frequently mentioned Brady, Eric, and even Vivian (more on that later). That was a huge bright spot to loyal fans in a somewhat dark situation. However, I can't even begin to tell you which scene I thought was the most touching.
First, there were the tearful goodbyes of Marlena and Belle. Those were amazing and Deidre Hall played the part so stoically. I loved the small touches after it was all over and she walked into their bedroom and saw his daily belongings scattered about. Her tears during that scene were definitely contagious. However poor Martha Madison! I think in her entire tenure as Belle I've only seen the girl smile once or twice, the rest of the time she's either crying or shouting. The character needs a vacation or at least a night out with the girls to a comedy club. Ok, moving on.
As much as I was touched by all of the farewells, it was really the little things that struck me the most - I even gave Kate a free pass for showing up as she had every right to pay her respects to John. His request to see Claire, joking with Caroline about chowder, and Bo and Steve telling him it was on his way along with a cold one were classic John Black moments. He was a hero in the face of death and worried more about everyone else's wellbeing then his own suffering.
Then, at the funeral, one of the things that made me gush the most is when Caroline quietly went to his casket and said goodbye to her "son." It was such an honest, tender portrayal of maternal love. Of course, all of the eulogies were so heartfelt. Hope's especially got to me as she and John were both victims of the DiMera's mind control and always had a special bond over that. Victor's and Anna's were a bit confusing at first, but poignant in the end. Abe's was moving as well as Sami's. The best one, perhaps, had to be Roman's. It was another great nod to fans for him to give such a heartfelt tribute as they truly did share their lives in a way no one else could ever possibly understand.
Yet the real question remains … who was driving the car that killed John? I hope, hope, hope they don't make it Will as I heard that rumor once or twice. That would totally irk me! I think the only possibly outcome that I wouldn't be disappointed with is if Kristen Blake did it. I know that's random and would be kind of a rip off of Dallas which had a similar occurrence, but that would be a great twist! Unfortunately, Eileen Davidson is on another show, so I'm back to square one hoping that it's not Will. I could suck it up if they pin it on a DiMera, but the irresponsible teen driver hit and run scenario wasn't even cute the first time. I'll pass on the second helpings of that.
Red Tape (Lucas, Sami, and E.J.)
I love Elvis J, more so love to hate him, but he really ticked me off this week by lurking around the hospital and eventually the Brady Pub. I mean really! After Sami taped the annulment papers together and she and Lucas both signed them, everyone knew he was getting what he wanted, so he should have just given it a rest and gloated in private. Lucas was so justified in punching him! What else is there to say about these three … if this was an audio commentary I would just have it play in a loop with the same frustrating thoughts repeating time and time again. On the upside at least we're getting closer to the birth of the twins! From the previews on NBC.com, things are going to get pretty crazy when the paternity of the babies is questioned - again! As long as the rest of the family sticks around for support, I won't mind watching the Lucas/Sami/E.J. show as the other characters typically add depth to those somewhat tiring scenes.
The Dating Game (Stephanie, Max, Morgan, and Chelsea)
Despite how odd I thought all of these scenes were amidst what was going on with John, let's talk about Stephanie and company for a second. Actually, first, let's discuss Chelsea whom I totally loved last week! This girl needs more comedic lines because she delivers them so effortlessly. She basically told Stephanie exactly what I would have - you're acting like a pathetic stalker. Steph even called herself that! Right. I don't feel bad for her. At all. She doesn't have any right to act so committed to Max's best interest when she basically tossed him aside to run back to Jeremy. Where did this great love *cough* obsession come from? Sure Max is a great guy, but she made her bed … Maybe its out of allegiance to Steve and Kayla, but I like Steph for the most part, but feel if the writers are going to bring on more young men like Ford they need to at least give one to poor Steph or Chelsea as their dating pool in Salem is very, very limited and grossly incestuous.
Now, I even shocked myself when I decided to confess this, but for some reason I like Morgan. I didn't want to, yet I do. Perhaps it's her Southern charm. Like Chelsea's first impressions, I found myself rolling my eyes and thought Morgan was a stereotypical spoiled sorority girl, but I think she has the potential to be an interesting character. Even the fact that she's never had chili fries didn't bother me as I thought it was refreshing to have some continuity in a character's behavior … unlike someone else who shall remain nameless, but when from a strong, compassionate female race car driver to a "chick" who's afraid to break a nail. I'm totally jumping on the Morgan and Max bandwagon for now as I thought they had a cute, believable first date and it's seemed as if things were progressing nicely until he had to end it.
However, the real story being set up is the attempted rape on campus. I have a horribly bad feeling about this! If I was a betting man I'd say it could play out like this: Morgan and Max get close then Stephanie gets attacked and she "needs" him OR Stephanie fakes an attack, Max and everyone else falls all over her with support, then someone like Morgan or Chelsea really gets attacked or Steph really does and has to pretend it didn't happen to cover her earlier lie. Just my crystal ball predictions, but I hope I'm wrong. This COULD be an interesting storyline if writers stay away from clichés.
Uncle Jeremy Has Left the Building (The Horton Gang and Wonder Kids)
Jeremy with the kids was very cute! Jeremy leaving … umm, *shrugs my shoulders.* Seeing Big Red - priceless! Really my only thoughts on this were more Maggie please and knowing that he'll probably be back to wreak shirtless havoc on Stephanie's life someday. I think it would be so funny if they eventually recast him as a good natured, round cheeked redhead kind of like teenaged Stephanie, Part 1. That would be greatly ironic!
Hot and Not
Hot: SO hot was that the writers remembered Vivian! No only did they mention her, but she made and paid for all of the funeral arrangements. That was an awesome nod to viewers! I totally miss loony Aunt Viv and, whereas I doubt that she'll be back, it was nice that they remembered her!
Not: Cordy's beauty and the geek routine was downright bogus verging on insulting. Even with the "nerd" glasses on she is gorgeous, so it was a little ridiculous that they acted like she is this hopeless hunchback who is too ugly to live without a burlap sack covering her head.
Line of the Week: "I hear your daughter Chelsea is a real hell on wheels." - Stefano's comeback after Bo questioned him about John's hit and run. And I thought Anna and Kate's lines to each other were catty!
So friends and Days fans, that's "Two Scoops" for the week of October 15th, and, as John Black would say, "That's a fact."