So today marks John Black’s return to Salem (or at least Drake Hogestyn). His fans are so happy and of course, this will be seen to help “save the show.” Sigh, I have so many problems with Days doing this.
Days Return from the Dead Count: The show, even by soap standards, has been seen as a joke for so many years in how no one remains dead (unless of course you lost your life accidentally by either Nick or Chelsea.) And here we go again. John Black’s death actually created press for Days, so his return just makes it look foolish and difficult to take seriously. Obviously, the show knew Drake was going to return very soon so why kill him off and make the entire hospital staff at Salem General look as incompetent as ever? Even if Stefano paid the doctor’s off, I don’t see why anyone would trust a word a doctor says at that place. Maybe that’s why Belle was the only one at the time who didn’t accept John’s condition. Dear God, is that what it has come to? Belle being right while everyone else is wrong?
John’s hardly been gone at all: The timing of this is really laughable. He’s been gone barely three months. Technically Drake’s contract only expired last month. To me, a real “return from the dead” scenario is so much more meaningful if the actor/character has been gone longer. Even when they chose to recast Roman Brady using Drake Hogestyn back in the mid 80s, it was about a year before the mysterious “pawn” was found.
It invalidates the wonderful sendoff: The funeral and “death” scenes got to me, and I’m as cynical as they come, at least when watching this show. Now with him returning, especially so soon, the whole series of scenes puts a bad taste in my mouth. It’s simply as if the show wanted to take a few episodes and “celebrate” the character of John Black, so let’s fake kill him so everyone can talk about how awesome he is. That’s the worst kind of pimping.
Drake can’t act!: This is the most important reason IMO. I have let Drake’s bad acting go in the past, hell, he was a bad actor in the 80s. But the show has really been improving in the last year, and there was a definite level of quality that Ed Scott has been infusing into the cast since taking over. Drake has a charisma and charm that has drawn viewers to become his fans over the years, but Days is actually veteran heavy (more so than other soaps). People complain they don’t use their veterans but clearly these are viewers who don’t watch any of the ABC soaps. Ed Scott said cast cutting was inevitable and I imagine that means veterans too. If any of the veterans have to be cut, I say cut the weakest link, ie, Drake Hogestyn.
Budget Cuts: This is the studio’s biggest issue. They have no money. Maybe you have read they can’t afford bagels for it’s cast and crew. (I’m shocked that didn’t start a new strike very much like the WGA.) They have let Judi Evans and Julie Pinson go (who are extremely talented, especially compared to Drake). Drake was the second highest paid actor on the show and that money could be used in so much better ways than simply having him do his “smell the fart” acting all over the scene. We could have scenes where parties/galas take place (remember those? It used not require weddings for everyone to gather.) or more cast interaction. God knows we need more sets on this show. Since Drake’s fans insist they never watch the show unless he’s on, and even when he is, they prefer to watch via Internet clips, we have to ask, is he worth the money they are paying him?
Where to go with John?: This is another bigtime issue. What story can be told about John Black that hasn’t already? In addition, what more problems can Marlena and John go through that isn’t a repeat of earlier stories. John being Stefano’s soldier is too close to him being his pawn back in 1985. And what really irritates me is if they wanted to repeat this story for us all, why didn’t they do it with Steve and explain away his missing 15+ years?
Now all of that said, if the ratings really do rise with his return and remain that way, then I’ll shut up. The show is in dire need of higher ratings and if all his fans who say they are his fans would watch like they are supposed to, we could get some great momentum. Likewise, the show could also possibly do something crazy with his return, such as say this isn’t John at all but actually his missing son Brady who was chiseled to look like his dead father (think of the consequences of that!) Or, even better, with John’s return, the show then chooses to let go the other high profile actor heavy weight thereby trading Drake in for Deidre Hall. I would choose watching John Black on my screen versus Marlena Black any day.