RIP John Black

Today marks probably the last “mourning” day dedicated to the infamous Salemnite known as John Black/Roman Brady/Forrest Alamain. Compared to what I have seen of the show since returning as a faithful viewer, the show really did go all out for one of their most popular characters.

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I first met Drake Hogestyn while he was believing himself to be Roman Brady. I wasn’t watching until 1988 and by then he was in love with Diana Coville. In spite of Drake’s overacting (even then), I immediately took to their relationship, partly because of the chemistry, but really because Drake used to do this gimmick with her I don’t remember with anyone else. Given their height difference, he would stoop himself and hold eye contact (sometimes doing his famous brow furrowing and eyebrow arching) which inevitably led her to give a grin back at him.

After they quickly pushed Diana away (I missed the scenes of her exit) we got Isabelle. I really fell for this coupling mostly due to the Cruise of Deception. After they became established, news broke out that Deidre Hall and Wayne Northrap were returning to the show and Drake would also remain on. Thus began A Tale of Two Romans which really did excite and intrigue me at first (I began taping the show again, something I stopped doing once Stephen Nichols quit).

John and Isabelle’s Wedding What started out so promising (and that first summer it was really good) wound up becoming disappointing. Though I grew to love and appreciate the awesome acting talents of WN, I missed Drake being Roman. The story broke his connection to the Brady family and though they could say he would always be thought of as a Brady, it still changed that dynamic and we lost some of the great platonic chemistry he had with the family (especially sibling chemistry with Bo, Kayla and Kimberly).

He did marry Isabelle and they had his first child whom they named Brady. Sadly, Isabelle become a very unusual character on soaps…one that actually died on screen not to return (cancer victim). His grief over IzzyB’s death pushed him into seeing Marlena more and one thing led to another and they consumated which poor Sami was a witness too (and henceforth was the one that got screwed).

john-kristian.jpgSo skipping Marlena for now, enter Kristian Blake…a mysterious social worker who apparently has a distrust of John Black even though they have never met. I admit, I really liked John and Kristian…they started off as love/hate (well more hate on her end) and John was probably the most charming I had ever seen him. I began taping the show again and kept their first love scene which was what I thought one of the hottest I had seen.

But then…the show decided to revisit John and Marlena ship again. My memory is completely hazy but it seems this came after John and Marlena were stuck in a dungeon together (by Stefano of course) while John was forced to watch Kristian make love to her former fiancee, Tony (now known as Andre) which led to fans thinking the chemistry between J/M could not be denied anymore and my hope for a John/Kristian couple fell through. Roman found out his daughter with Marlena wasn’t his but John’s (Roman probably regretting the gesture of naming the girl Isabelle). Kristian became insane and wound up aligning herself with her adopted father, Stefano and vowed to make J/M’s life a living hell. The show didn’t seem to know what to do with Roman so WN became fed up with the show allowing John and Marlena to be the winning couple.

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And so it ends with John’s death and being known as Marlena’s “great love”. It makes me laugh a bit…the other vets on the show might have been paired with other characters (Bo/Billie, Bo/Carly, Hope/Patrick) but nothing can hide the fact Marlena has had two other husbands besides John (I refuse to count Alex) while John has bedded so many women in Salem they could start a new town. Marlena was married to John while he was Roman for less than a year and during that time she was kidnapped by Orpheus and in a coma from a car accident. Though I never saw the original Roman/Marlena pairing back in the day, I’m sure fans of that coupling who loved WN were perturbed to see their favorite was thrown over for better looking Drake (who’s acting is certainly subpar). I really didn’t care either way but I did feel sorry for the fans of WN and WN himself.

That said, today’s scenes were great and wonderful. It kills me to say it, but I felt Deidre Hall did a fairly good job overall (she limited the gasps) and today with her quiet mourning on her bed was really well done. Trust me, I never thought I would be singing any kind of praises on DH or Marlena but I want to be fair and give credit where it’s do. In addition, I feel Martha Madison has done a wonderful job as Belle’s devastation at losing her father (Shawn and Phillip aside, I believe this is the man she has really wanted to make love to). I took from her scenes in the bedroom with Marlena a girl who felt very lost but was unable to look to her normal constant support, her parents, for help.

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5 thoughts on “RIP John Black

  1. Great post. 🙂 I have not been watching the show nearly as long as you have, and I never got to see Days in the “heyday”. It’s kinda nice to get a John history lesson!

    I thought the past 2 shows have been very done and to my surprise (I’m not a Marlena/DH *person* either), Deidre did a good job. Her acting was more subtle and understated than usual. You did feel her grief. And Martha has been blowing me away recently. I think because I hate Belle so much, I never paid much attention to Martha. But she really is GOOD.

  2. Thank you, Natalie. If you have time and the bandwidth, I recommend heading over to OLAB site (it’s on my links) for classic days clips. Now, it concentrates mainly on S/K (which are awesome and you should watch) but it has some of the Bo/Hope early stuff. The Johnson section actually incorporates the entire Johnson family including Jo, Jack and Adrienne and they came into contact a lot with Roman.

    The only thing I find sad about John’s death is they didn’t mention Isabelle and though I can imagine the LF of J/M would have had a conniption over it, she was an important part of his life…someone who helped him get over the agony of finding out it doesn’t matter what his name is, but the person inside.

  3. I missed everything in the 90’s, but I agree that it’s funny that John and Marlena both were paired very successfully with others. Roman and Isabella were a wonderful couple and it’s too bad they’ve been swept under the rug.

    If we still had Wayne Northrup, the retcon would have been worth it, but as it is … I wish Drake were still Roman.

    Great tribute!

  4. I’m torn between giving showing John’s other loves while trying to give respect to Marlena (I know, I never thought I’d write that either).

    It’s just any fans of his past couplings, most specifically with Isabelle got short shafted…they were able to fit in a goodbye scene/flashback for Kate but they couldn’t fit one in with Isabelle? Maybe if Brady was still on the show we could have one.

    I miss WN.

  5. isabella was a lovely character. i really liked her. never got the appeal of john and marlena as a couple but the DH’s both did a great job with this story. i was really moved by john’s death and his funeral. terrific work all around.

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