I posted awhile back that in their current storyline, I was enjoying John and Marlena more than I ever had since I came back to Days, and that is still true. In fact, I will venture even further out onto the limb and say that it is one of the better storylines on the whole show right now.

This is partly because it is a better version of the NickNotSteve storyline from two years ago. And now, with the introduction of Ava into the equation, it resembles that storyline more than ever. Two years ago, when Billie and Nick were making time together, we Steve and Kayla fans were forced to fanwank that that Nick was jealous of “Steve” and Kayla’s feelings for him, and that any feelings Kayla had for him (Nick) were in direct proportion to how much she reminded him of Steve. Consequently, Nick felt more comfortable with Billie, the only person in Salem who didn’t know him before.

I still maintain it could have been a great storyline. Nick would be drawn to Kayla but afraid of measuring up to her memories, Kayla would attempt to put her feelings for Steve aside and get to know Nick, possibly with limited success. Steve would run to Billie, who would be the default, safe choice. Steve and Kayla would be thrown together because of a mystery associated with Steve’s missing years, perhaps. Lots of eyesnogging and sexual tension would ensue.

The John/Marlena/Ava storyline isn’t exactly what I envisioned for Steve/Kayla/Billie, but it’s a lot closer than what we got. The Thursday and Friday scenes were a perfect example. When Marlena showed up with that silly disk, delighted it might contain the secret to unlocking “her” John, John’s reaction was nearly perfect. He was clearly hurt and disappointed that Marlena is only interested in him because the old John is somewhere locked inside. The more she waved that disk around, the more hurt and disappointed, and consequently the more angry, he became.

I think John genuinely likes Ava, but I also think he is using her to get back at Marlena. This was very clear on Friday, with his insistence that Ava stick around and offer her insights into the situation. We were reminded of exactly what he gets from her after Marlena left (which would have been so nice to hear when Steve was with Billie), when Ava said that she doesn’t want the old John back.

But, maybe because I am comparing so much to the NickNotSteve storyline, I can see that Days is making the same mistake with Marlena that it made with Kayla. The whole triangle is presented almost exclusively from John’s point of view. We’re seeing a lot more of Marlena than we ever saw of Kayla then, but she is still basically stuck in reactive mode, as Wife. There have been moments where Marlena seems prepared to let go of the old John and try to accept the new one, but she never follows through. Which could be great, actually—but we have to be shown that Marlena tries and fails to get past seeing the old John. Instead, she just seems to constantly change her mind. And lately, she isn’t even doing that, she just repeatedly points out how great the old John was, so John can be shown reacting to it.

Similarly, there are moments where she seems prepared to renounce him and move on with her life, but that never lasts long either. This storyline is crying out for a big explosion where Marlena calls John out for keeping her dangling on a string—whether intentional or not—and says that she isn’t going to do it anymore. And then of course she has to really move on, and John has to be shown to really miss her. As it is now, no matter how he treats her, no matter what she says she’s going to do, Marlena just keeps hanging around, waiting hopefully in the wings.

All this definitely serves, as I noted last time, to scrub some of the glitter off of Marlena, which is a good thing. But it also weakens the storyline, because it makes it more one-sided than it should be.

screencap NBC

42 thoughts on “JohnNotJohn

  1. Wow. Excellent analysis. You’ve described the story (and the ways to improve it) perfectly. The only thing I’d add is that many fans are disappointed (as I know S&K fans were with the Nick story) that the story has taken a wrong turn or has been written this way in the first place. There is so much to say for a simple love story – two people meet, they have a past together, one of the people doesn’t remember that, but he’s inexplicably drawn to the other person anyway. That’s how the J&M story was originally promoted this past winter. We’ve now gone from that to a third party and a computer disk. I can’t even imagine what’s going to come next. I have a feeling it will have nothing to do with the improvements you suggest.😦

  2. Thanks, Ellie!

    I think that, unfortunately for all of us, Days has a problem with falling in love stories in general these days. Another thing that Days used to be very good at is maintaining the balance of power. I think that’s really important for writing good love stories, so we want them to get together (or back together). Days just can’t seem to get it right.

  3. Excellent analysis, MP. The parallels to the NicknotSteve storyline just keep piling up, particularly with Ava’s participation.

    They’ve made several improvements in version 2.0, however. They’ve done a much better job of establishing John as a character than they ever really did with Nick. That, in turn, makes it easier to see and understand his motivations than it ever was with NicknotSteve.

    They had a slower build to the big break. They didn’t go from “I’m not going anywhere” to “I can’t be around you and I want to mack on this other woman” in the course of a couple of episodes.

    But, they have made the same mistake with Marlena as they did with Kayla. They’ve taken away much of her POV and weakened the character as a result. I think they also weakened both characters (Kayla and Marlena) by making them so obsessed with the past that they can’t even contemplate anything else. It’s a little more understandable in Marlena’s case because the past is more recent AND John is so very different. But, in both cases, I think they did a disservice to the characters by making them turn into harpys about “Do you remember?” and “you can be that man again” stuff.

    In any case, I understand the J&M fans frustration with the whole thing, I really do. But, from my perspective, it’s been handled decently (not well, but Days doesn’t do “well” anymore) and given that it has many things that I would have killed for during the NicknotSteve era, I’m just a little jealous.

    Of course, S&K are still living with an elephant in their room, so maybe I’m just bitter in general.😉

  4. The major difference I see between Nick/Kayla/Steve and Jawn/Marlena/John is that nuJohn is so very different from oldJohn. “Nick” was not markedly different in his personality, as I recall. The issue, at least it seemed to me, was more the missing years in which Nick had built a life that didn’t include Kayla.

    Whereas with John, his change is not only very recent, he’s a completely different person, with apparently few morals. He doesn’t live his life for Marlena and that alone has made this storyline enjoyable for me. You’re right that Marlena’s reaction should be more complex and more visible to us. However, I think the show boxed itself in long ago with “John and Marlena, greatest love story of all time”, and I think a lot of their fans simply would not accept a Marlena who saw any option other than a single-minded determination to get her John back, no matter how badly he treats her (because he’s not “really” John).

  5. Very good analysis, MP. I am enjoying the John part of the story at least. But then the writers have Marlena tell John that the old John was the best man ever and they lose me. I get that she loves him and it’s the greatest love that ever loved, but she comes across terribly when she gasps things like this.

    What I’d truly like to happen is to have John choose to remain NuJohn, tell her to live with it or not and move on. I’d like to see her struggle with seeing the guy she loved like no other every day and not liking him. I don’t get why these two are even coming together right now. She doesn’t like the man that he is and I don’t understand why he wants her when all she does is harp on him.

    It is being handled better than S&K was, but there’s still so many more interesting ways they could go than to bring back old John and have love reignite. I hope they do something more interesting.

  6. I don’t get why these two are even coming together right now. She doesn’t like the man that he is and I don’t understand why he wants her when all she does is harp on him.

    I can’t speak for the writers (and I can’t believe I’m even trying to, lol) but in my opinion, the writers are doing this because they’re trying to have it both ways. They’re trying to write the story as Mary describes, while also trying to show the underlying J&M connection that I mentioned in my post. The result of this combination is kind of a mess. It really makes no sense to the viewers this way.

  7. I think a lot of their fans simply would not accept a Marlena who saw any option other than a single-minded determination to get her John back

    Whether or not that’s true (and I can’t speak for all fans, but it’s not true for me personally), the issue I have is that Marlena isn’t even trying to get him back at all. She hypnotized him once. Other than that, she’s tried nothing. If she had the single-minded determination you mention, I’d be thrilled. Instead, with the way she’s written now, she just comes off as stubborn and ineffective.

  8. Ellie, I guess for me (and bear in mind I am not a John and Marlena fan, so that colors how I feel about this), I’m just not sure what else Marlena could, or perhaps even should, do. In a way, I think this really is John’s story, not Marlena’s or even John and Marlena’s, in the sense that John has a gigantic free will issue: does he choose to try to regain the personality and life he doesn’t remember and doesn’t know if he wants? Can he trust the people who tell him they want “the real John” back? Or does he stick with what he’s got, which probably looks pretty good to him? I guess it’s sort of a “Matrix” choice: whether to live in blissful ignorance, which in a sense is what he’ll be doing as new John, or to gamble that what he could become if the disk works is really the John he wants to be.

    Like I say, though, I don’t frankly know what else Marlena could do. She’s made her position clear. She’s told him repeatedly about their past life and the man he was. She’s even had some success in shaping his behavior. Now, I could find it interesting if we switch focus to Marlena, with John (perhaps just temporarily) deciding to stay as he is, and have her decide to try things the new John’s way. Or to have her move on completely, again probably just temporarily. I don’t mind the story unfolding slowly, although with Dena we definitely have to worry that she doesn’t know the difference between “unfolding slowly” and “deciding to just drop everything.”

  9. Now, I could find it interesting if we switch focus to Marlena, with John (perhaps just temporarily) deciding to stay as he is, and have her decide to try things the new John’s way.

    This is what I want, a turn to the story that shows Marlena’s point of view. This is John’s story, and I’m finding it pretty engaging on that level. When Steve and Kayla had their version of this story, we didn’t even get Steve’s point of view, let alone Kayla’s! So I agree with esp above, I think this story has been done decently—comparatively, anyway.

    But it is totally true that from a pure love story standpoint, Days keeps making the same mistake. There’s really no reason for us to be rooting for John to be with Marlena (unless we’re shippers, of course). S&K had the same problem. The only people rooting for S&K to be together were shippers already. By the time the reunion happened, the story hadn’t earned it. A shift to Marlena’s point of view, and a shift in the balance of power (she moves on, he realizes he doesn’t want her to), would remedy the problem nicely.

  10. I think they had an interesting opportunity, with Steve and Kayla, to do a Steve/Kayla/Nick triangle. He clearly was attracted to her, and felt drawn to her. But as they started their relationship over, maybe the fact that he still wasn’t really Steve could come between us—Kayla trying to move on with Nick but missing Steve, and Nick feeling he didn’t stack up to the man she remembered (and frankly, the real Steve couldn’t have stacked up to her hagiography of him). Then he could have ended it and started seeing Billie in order to convince Kayla it was really over, only to be constantly drawn back into Kayla’s orbit. And Billie could have been the one to end the relationship because she respects herself too much to once again be second best.

    Then you could have had something to throw S & K together in a danger situation and, just as Kayla starts falling in love with this someone less complicated version of the old Steve, they come across a way to get Steve’s memory back. And then maybe they could conflict over that—Kayla realizing how much he’s missing by not remembering his past, versus Nick who finally has the girl in love with him as himself, and now she’s saying he’d be better off remembering being someone else.

    ::sigh:: Why do I torment myself this way?

  11. Paula, what you describe is exactly what I wanted. And it’s sad to look back on my naive faith, but it’s what I was expecting when Billie was first introduced into their story. Sigh indeed.

  12. Paxton, I understand what you’re saying. Regarding “What else could Marlena try”, my issue is that she keeps repeating the same line, which is that she’s tried desperately to get the old John back. And the writers have hinted that there is something there. Little hints, like John’s ‘headache’ when looking at a photo album with Marlena, or his dizziness when seeing the Roman Brady nameplate at the police station, or his momentary pause when little Claire said “That’s a fact.” But Marlena hasn’t responded to any of these! Show him more photos, take him to places of the past, try again to hypnotize him. Anything except just telling him that he used to be a really great guy.

    And regarding the ‘Matrix’ choice – that’s a very apt description. Except it’s not being written that way. The writers really are not allowing us inside John’s head to see that conflict. imo all of the angst and struggle we are seeing is coming from Drake himself and what he is adding to the performance. But the writing isn’t there. That’s one reason I agree with Mary that it’s time to shift the focus. Let’s see what Marlena’s thinking. How is she dealing with this? She kind of likes the new guy despite herself, doesn’t she? I agree Mary that they’re just dancing around the issue of a love story at this point. Unless we get inside either of these character’s heads, it’s going to go nowhere fast.

  13. Great points, Ellie, about using physical objects (pictures, landscapes) to try to get John to recall something–as you note, he clearly does have at least momentary and occasional glimpses into his past. He’s drawn to Marlena, that much is certain. Of course, we’d have to have more than two sets in order to allow her to take him anywhere.

    I think the real solution is right here on this blog: Ellie, you take over writing J & M’s story, and Paula, esp and mp can write for S & K. I know it doesn’t help the past missteps with S & K’s story, but I’m sure if y’all were in charge we would get much better stuff and S & K finally could get that missing conversation–and it might even last more than one or two scenes.

  14. Ellie, you take over writing J & M’s story, and Paula, esp and mp can write for S & K.

    lol! Thanks! I’m in.🙂

  15. This is what I want, a turn to the story that shows Marlena’s point of view.

    You know, I was just thinking about this on my drive home from work. (Quiet, I’m as obsessed as the rest of you. :p) MP, I think you’ve uncovered a basic flaw in Dena’s writing regarding point of view. Some ways to establish POV are: show a character alone, show a character discussing his/her feelings with another character, show a character dreaming, or (the ‘JER method’), show a character thinking out loud or talking to him/herself. Has Dena done any of these, with any storyline?? I don’t think so. I think that’s a basic problem with her writing, and that might be a reason (even a subconscious one) that so many viewers are feeling alienated. POV aligns the viewers with a certain character, and without it, viewers are left feeling stranded.

  16. I think Dena has shown certain POV’s within storylines, but usually only one character when we need both (or more sometimes). And, interestingly enough, it seems to be the women that get forgotten. I think we’ve gotten John’s POV. I think we got Steve’s POV at least until he showed up at the ViMansion. I think we know how EJ feels about Sami.

    But, Marlena’s POV has been largely ignored except the one constant that she wants her husband back. Kayla’s POV about the ViMansion antics has been completely ignored (aside from the touches SN and MBE have added), and nobody seems to have any clue as to what Sami feels about anything.

    I do agree that it is a reason fans are feeling alienated. Those emotional beats and character moments are integral to the connection between the fans and the characters. Without them, it’s like watching strangers.

  17. esp13, I do see your point. I hope this makes sense, but I think the POV that Higley is showing us seems “weaker” in a way than the POVs we saw from previous writers. But you’re right, we have seen some of what John and Steve are thinking, though I’m wondering again how much of that is due to the actors.

    And, interestingly enough, it seems to be the women that get forgotten.

    Absolutely. Of course, though, we must keep in mind that Higley “understands… the female point of view and what the women out there want to see”.

  18. It makes sense, Ellie. I understand what you are saying and I certainly don’t think that Dena has done well with showing the POV’s she does choose to show. With John, I admit that some of my belief that they’ve done a decent job of showing his POV might be projection because the things they have shown are so much more than anything we got with NicknotSteve. So maybe I see more than is really there because of that. And I do agree that the actors add to it, but John has had dialogue that has reflected his fears, confusion, anger, et. al.

    But, John has been the exception rather than the rule. To the extent other characters POV are shown, it’s been done more through repetition than anything else. I’m pretty sure Hope really wanted Bo to fight since she said it 20 times a day for 5 or 6 weeks. I’m pretty sure Max is mad about his father since he’s been made every day for 5 or 6 weeks.

    Even with Marlena, to the extent we’ve seen her POV, it’s been limited to “I want my husband back.” But, there hasn’t been anything showing why. Well, let me rephrase. We know she wants OldJohn back because she loves him. But why is she so unwilling to give NuJohn a chance. Is it because he’s mean and snarky? Because he’s on a power trip? Because accepting NuJohn means saying goodbye to OldJohn? Because she doesn’t like his Mr. Beeker hair? You’d think that would be something somebody would want to explore.

    And if Higley understands the female point of view, then its a portion of the female population I’ve never me.

  19. Great post, esp13. Excellent point about the repetition… that is definitely a Higley issue. And ditto about that mystery female population her writing appeals to.

  20. Aw, I go out for the evening and you guys have this great discussion without me!

    I agree that with Higley the women get forgotten, but I think it is more the heroines, the “good girls,” who have this problem. I think we’ve seen Nicole’s POV, and Ava’s POV, more than we’ve seen Kayla, Marlena, Sami, or Stephanie.

    Stephanie’s case is a bit like Marlena’s. We know that Marlena wants her husband back and she loves him, but like you say, esp, we don’t know the details, we don’t know the specifics of what she’s thinking. We just see it from the outside. With Stephanie, it’s the same. We know she wants Max to open up to her, but we never see her struggling with her choice to stand by him. Instead it’s just a given. We never see her interior thought process. It flattens the situation and makes it more generic.

    Ellie, you mentioned some techniques for how the show can show what characters are thinking and feeling, like dreams, talking out loud to themselves, flashbacks, etc. It made me remember a scene that struck me (for how well it was done) during my last S&K clip watching.

    Soon after Steve’s abusive dad, Duke, came back to town, Kayla is trying to convince Steve that they can be together, that he won’t be like his father. She tells him he’s “a good man,” and in voiceover we hear Jo, Steve’s mother, say that Duke was “a good man” too at one time. It was very powerful and made Steve’s subsequent rejection of Kayla very understandable.

    After she leaves, Steve has another flashback, to himself as a child, telling Duke he’ll never be like him. And that makes him run over to Kayla’s apartment after all. It was very well done, giving us the reason for the rejection, and the reason he changed his mind.

    That’s what always strikes me whenever I watch clips, how the show was so consistently good—not with every storyline, there were definitely some duds—but with everyday mechanics like showing everyone’s POV, showing the appropriate reaction scenes, and exploring the emotional ramifications of everything. With stories that I remember as being “bad,” I am usually surprised on rewatching to find they were well put together, story-wise.

  21. Excellent point on the lack of Stephanie’s POV as well, MP. It also highlights another way that Days keeps missing the boat lately. Just think of the conversation Kayla and Stephanie could have about dealing with the man you love who is having serious issues. Kayla could show the conflict between her concern for Stephanie as a mother and understanding how hard it is to step away.

    Or, think of the conversation Kayla and Marlena could have. Kayla knows what it is like to see a stranger in the body of the man you love. Heck, she knows what it’s like to see him turn to somebody else. I would guess she might have some interesting advice for Marlena. Conversely, Marlena knows what it is like to deal with huge time gaps in a relationship and things from the past coming back to haunt them (subsex anyone?).

    The show has so much history to mine in these relationships and it makes no sense that they continue to ignore them. Use them to connect characters in a realistic and emotional way and, at the same time, to show the POV’s that are so important.

  22. That’s an interesting point about getting only the “bad girls” POVs. I think to some extent we’re also seeing Chelsea’s POV about Dan, much as I loathe it, and I do think the younger women are consistently written to discuss their lives so we get their POVs there. Again, I hated it, but Stephanie and Chelsea did talk about Dan and Max yesterday, albeit with less squee factor about Max. Although I have my vociferous complaints about the way Morgan has acted and why she feels the way she does, I do think we have her POV as well–we don’t know why she trusts Philip off and on, but we know something about her family relationship and how she’s close to her father.

    Not being a Marlena fan, not getting her POV wasn’t bothering me, but now that y’all have pointed it out she is pretty much on an island. She’s had some brief talks with Sami about oldJohn, but–and I hate to say this but, deep breath–the person who should be here is Belle. Those were some good scenes between Belle and John and Claire and while I think MM is a total flop as a leading lady, she is very good at family drama. What if Belle had even been the one to suggest that her mother let go of the real John? Just back off trying to get him to be what he’s not sure he wants to be, and just try to be with him as he is now? Obviously John is attracted to her, possibly in part without knowing why, but he does want her around. Maybe Belle could even have taken over the part about trying to get her father’s memory back, while Marlena was simply working on trying to adjust to the new guy.

    Now it seems frustratingly obvious, but mp is right, why not have Kayla discuss the similarities (not exactly the same situation but close enough)? Maybe Marlena could even apologize for the advice she gave to Billie, now that she is in the same situation with Ava.

  23. Paxton saying Belle needs to come back! I think that’s one of the signs of the approaching apocalypse. But you’re right, since Belle has as much at stake as Marlena does regarding OldJohn, she would be the perfect confidante and go-between.

    Maybe Marlena could even apologize for the advice she gave to Billie, now that she is in the same situation with Ava.

    Now that would warm the cockles of this Kayla fan’s heart. I was pretty frustrated with Marlena’s encouragement of Billie.

    Esp, you make an excellent point about mining history. I loved the conversation between John and Sami that made John realize that OldJohn wasn’t necessarily a perfect guy. The examples you mention would be a perfect way to show what Marlena or Stephanie is feeling today—more than we’re getting—while also giving Kayla some good material.

  24. I can’t remember who it was who came up with this idea; I just remember I loved it: having Stephanie’s difficulties with Max and the whole concept of loving a difficult man force Kayla to do some soul-searching about her own choice to love an even more difficult man. Kayla would have to examine just what kind of role model she’s been for her daughter in deciding to take some of the crap Steve threw her way over the past two year, what Stephanie has learned from her mother’s example. (For that matter, Steve, too, can see an example of the trials and tribulations of loving a difficult man and maybe do some of his own soul-searching about how to make it a little more worthwhile for the woman who chose to love him rather than taking her quite so much for granted).

    The parallels that they’re so clearly drawing between Steve and Kayla, and Max and Stephanie, while they might be annoying and a bit ludicrous, should at least be fully exploited by exploring the full emotional landscape.

    Alas, exploring the full emotional landscape is something that this show hasn’t done in a long, long time.

  25. Paula, you’re killing me! It would be so fabulous to see SN, MBE, and SH with that kind of material.

    As Nolebucgrl has pointed out, they could even bring up the Jeremy relationship, to show this is a pattern for Stephanie. I so wanted emotional fallout for Stephanie from that, for her to question why she stuck by him and be more reluctant to enter another relationship because of it.

    One of the problems with the MadMax storyline, other than its insane repetitiveness, is that even when Stephanie gets a “sounding board” scene that should show her questioning her decision to stick with him, it doesn’t happen. Everyone she talks to just talks about how to help Max. I was glad that Steve at least brought up the idea that maybe Stephanie should leave him, though we the viewers were obviously supposed to think he was wrong.

  26. mp, you don’t know how much I loved Steve’s talk with Stephanie about how Max was treating her. You’re right, everything is about Max’s feelings, and as Nolebucgrl has pointed out, with Stephanie’s previous borderline abusive relationship with Jeremy (at least as originally written), Stephanie should be very wary of any guy who is moody, brooding, and constantly angry. I didn’t care for the way Max was speaking to Stephanie at all and Steve seemed to be the only person who asked Stephanie to think about whether the way he was treating her was right. Of course Stephanie reflexively insisted she was in love, etc., but I so wanted to see that explored more.

  27. All of which is why that scene between Kayla and Stephanie would be so perfect (it was zenith’s idea, BTW). It would be a wonderful conversation/confrontation because Stephanie would be right to say that Kayla taught her that you don’t back down when things get tough, but Kayla would be right to say that things being tough doesn’t give the guy the right to treat you like dirt.

    SN, MBE, and SH could totally rock a set of scenes like that. And there is a lot of room for Steve and Max to have a similar type of conversation. Too bad it’s never, ever going to happen.

  28. Wow, now my turn to miss a whole discussion. MP, I’d love to see that clip you mention if it’s online anywhere. (What year was it?) Paxton and esp13, I agree about Belle and the need for interaction between the characters. So many of the ‘veteran’ characters are old friends, and that’s largely being ignored. Anna, Tony, Abe, Marlena, Steve, Kayla, Bo, Hope… as esp13 mentions, there are shared experiences among all of these characters which could be utilized so well to help them through their difficulties now. Someone on SC (might have been one of you, lol!) brought up the point a few months back that the show could even use Stockholm flashbacks at this point. What a golden opportunity! How often does a show have the same six characters on 22 years later. They’re missing the boat on this in so many ways.

  29. I think I might have been the one to mention the Stockholm flashbacks on SC—I know I mentioned them somewhere, because I was thinking how utterly cool it was that all the original players were actually on the show together at the same time–S & K, Bope and J & M. You could do some rockin’ Stockholm flashbacks. Give me time and I could probably figure out a way to connect them to all the current stories.😉

    One of my biggest regrets is that we’ve spent over two years with S & K back on canvas and we haven’t had one meaningful John and Kayla scene. For several years, they thought they were siblings, and they loved each other a lot. How could the show not give us at least one good scene between them in two years?

  30. MP, thanks for the clip! I’ll try to watch it later tonight.🙂

    Paula, can’t wait to hear your Stockholm connections! Excellent point about John/Kayla. In the recent past, Shawn Sr.’s funeral might have been a nice time for the writers to work that in. They could have done some RoJohn/Marlena flashbacks, which might have led into some John/Kayla/Kim moments. Obviously John doesn’t remember them, but we could have still had some interesting scenes with the three of them. And that would have also taken care of the “what do we do with Josh Taylor” issue that those funeral episodes presented.

  31. Watched the clip late last night. In terms of establishing POV, wow, excellent example. We really got inside Steve’s head and knew exactly what he was thinking. The flashbacks were so well done – definitely not in normal “recreated flashback” territory there.

    The clip made me realize also how far from the core of these characters (not just S&K, but most of the ‘veteran’ characters) the show has gone at this point. The real shame of it is that two of these characters (Steve and John) have been re-introduced in the past few years. It would have been such an excellent opportunity for the writers to reorient the viewers to exactly who these characters and couples are. But they didn’t really do that. The Nick/Steve story didn’t have much to do with who Steve and Kayla are and the reason for their relationship. The John story this year was originally promoted as being similar to his 1986 story, but I guess that plan went out the window. The upshot is that, like you said in an earlier post MP, viewers who have started watching since 86 don’t have any real reason to root for these couples unless they just kind of like them anyway.

  32. That’s something that always strikes me with old clips. You mentioned showing characters alone, and I think that’s really key. Flashbacks and voiceovers like in that clip, showing someone looking at a photo or another prop, music montages, even just pointing the camera at someone and letting the actor do it with his/her facial expression. Days used to routinely do a reaction shot of each character after a key scene, so we would see each of their faces and know how they felt about what just happened. Days used to do all of it so well—you’d think they actually wanted us to know what characters were feeling!

    I give Higley a marginal edge over Hogan for showing POV. Though it’s partly because she allows for scenes to be longer … and plot points to drag out forever …) so that the actors have a chance to do it themselves.

    And yes, it’s a shame the Steve, Kayla, and John re-introductions haven’t explored who these characters are. I think John has gotten to do it a little more, though perhaps it’s more about nuJohn than about oldJohn. There’s an interesting tension between the two that is part of why I like this story.

  33. I have to say that since Ed Scott came on board we’ve gotten at least one really nice musical montage, that being the one at the end of the Shelle wedding. I really liked it even though I don’t like Shelle and I don’t like the song they picked (“I’ll Be”). I think montages can really serve a fine purpose, linking various characters and projecting a mood. Too bad the show can’t afford to pay for songs more often.

    I too would like to know more about what the characters are thinking and why. That requires, of course, some consistency in personality makeup and character driving plot rather than vice versa. Sometimes we do get that, in a sense, it just always seems to turn out to be something I hate, like Chelsea being consistently written as an immature brat who is always looking for the next hot older guy. That personality trait and attendant plots I could dispense with. People ARE allowed to grow, which is not the same thing as getting an entire personality transplant.

    Ellie, I like your ideas about the missed opportunities with the Shawn Sr. funeral (even though I admit I thought it was done pretty well as it was). I always liked Kim and would have enjoyed seeing her used more and seeing some flashbacks as well.

  34. Wow, this thread has really generated the comments.

    In another venue, I mentioned this morning that if I were making a list of things that the show needs to do better, at the top of the list would be “slow down and let the beats play out.” They’re rushing some things entirely too fast, and other things they’re not allowing to play out at a reasonable pace. It took Steve and Kayla MONTHS to have their first kiss. But there were lots of “almosts” that sucked us in and pulled us along for the ride. Their longing became our longing. When you rush stories, there’s no time for longing, and I think stories suffer for it.

    Also, when you don’t let the natural emotional beats of the story play out–reactions to actions, consequences for choices–then the story itself becomes shallow and unrelatable. You can get away with some of the most outlandish storylines imaginable (three knife tattoos formed some sort of marker for where bonds were hidden in old town Stockholm? Ooookay, then… ) if the emotional beats are there.

    And while we’re at it—don’t reveal your secrets all at once. One of the best reveals on the show, for me, was New Year’s Eve 1986, when Kayla learned that Steve had been hired not only by Victor but by Emma to stalk her, and that he was peripherally (though unintentionally) involved in Andrew’s kidnapping. We’d waited so long for their big romantic climax (pun intended) and it got derailed by a secret from months earlier. Great timing, great emotional fallout–great all the way around.

    Is it really so hard to write like that anymore?

  35. Okay—because I was an English major and I’m slightly anal retentive, plus there’s no edit button on these comments, I must say that “along for the right” should be “along for the ride.” The winky smiley face should just be a closed parenthesis. And Andrew’s kidnapping should be singular, not plural.

    Whew. I feel better.

  36. Paula, I was an English major, too, so I feel your pain. I fixed it for you.

    I completely agree with the improvements you suggest. Implementing them across the board with make everything better, even for the stories I’m not crazy about. I’ve said this before, but it kills me to think about reaction scenes and emotional fallout being skipped on a SOAP, which basically has airtime to burn. They have no excuse for skipping anything, as far as I’m concerned.

    Side note: I started watching Days again right after the Cleveland stalking scenes, so I had no idea what Steve and Kayla were arguing about on NYE. I figured it out as they were talking, but I’ve always wondered if I would have seen their early love story differently if I had known there was The Secret hanging over them. It’s funny how they never mentioned it in the six intervening months.

    Regarding musical montages, they did a couple of mini-montages with score-type music a few months back. I thought that was an excellent idea—you avoid having to pay for music rights.

  37. Wow, agree with pretty much everything posted. MP, great point about the reaction shots. I’m not sure if you realize, but the reaction shots are actually the responsibility of the writer, not the director. They’re written in to the script. Meaning if they’re lacking, it’s just another way in which the writing is lacking. And I agree, Higley wins (marginally) over Hogan in that department.

    Paxton, completely agree about consistency in personality. Higley (and I thought Hogan did this as well) seems to just insert random characters into the storylines of her choice. She adjusts their characters to fit. The storylines should, of course, fit the characters, not the other way around.

    Paula, great point about slowing down the pace and timing the ‘reveals’. I am a huge JER 90’s fan, and I think he excelled at this, and yes, to a fault. Reveals always fell during sweeps months and were enough to keep the viewer going until the next major plot point. Since Dena’s “stories” take three weeks to a month each, I guess she doesn’t feel that calculated timing is necessary.

  38. John’s return to life got me watching again after years of no soap watching at all. And while I’m kinda enjoying it, I totally agree w/the flaws you point out.

    I’d been thinking along the same lines, though coming at it from a slightly different approach. For me, the flaws come in two forms:

    1. I don’t entirely ‘get’ the motivations of the characters.

    a. We’ve seen John w/no memory in the original Pawn storyline- and the personalities are very different- why?

    b. There was the suggestion that John has lost both his memory and his- morality- for lack of a better term. I really wish they’d explore this- and tie it into ‘a’ above. I don’t think his memory is/should be synonymous w/his moral compass.

    c. Why doesn’t he want his memories back? He did the first time- and this time he knows more or less what he’d be getting. I don’t really see why remembering per se should destroy who he is now. If it will- see a&b- why?

    d. Why the heck is he taking over the Dimera empire and going to war over the docks? He already has plenty of $ as John Black- is he doing it just to screw w/folks, as a revenge scenario- what?

    And I think all of this is playing fairly well from the John perspective (I don’t know that the questions can easily be answered from strictly his POV)- but I’d like to see Marlena addressing these issues. She’s a psychiatrist! She was there and remembers ‘the Pawn’. She should have a clue that constantly saying ‘I want the old John back’ isn’t working. It would bring more balance to the story and allow them to explore some interesting stuff. And yea- Kayla (and Steve) seem natural confederates for her when it comes to figuring some of this out.

    (And on the ‘motivation’ end- I don’t quite get why Bo ‘the mime’ and Princess Hope aren’t a bit more sympathetic.)

    2. While I enjoy watching nuJohn’s scenes- it isn’t ‘must see TV’ like the original Pawn was. I loved the whole ‘on the run in WV’ bit- really upped the suspense. I think they at some point need to be ‘thrown together’ with the stakes high and the pretenses stripped. (I did like Marlena talking John down when he was getting arrested.)

    I don’t need this NOW- but I’d like to see a drawn out climax where they have to function together so we can see the push/pull of their feelings. And I think Marlena trying to track down what exactly happened to John to change him (figuring out the motivation bit)- would help as well. Give me mysteries to solve, dangers to be overcome. Rather than just ‘I want my husband back- here’s the disk.’

    On the plus side- it does have me watching again. Mostly just the J/M bits in a quick skim on the weekend. But given how many years I’ve been off soaps- that’s something.

    Glad to see you posting on J&M! I skim once a week, but this is the only storyline I follow enough to reply about.

  39. I don’t need this NOW- but I’d like to see a drawn out climax where they have to function together so we can see the push/pull of their feelings.

    rob1, thanks for commenting (and welcome back to Days!). You make great points, particularly your wish that I quote above. This is what I wanted for Steve and Kayla, and would like it for J&M now. Have Marlena step back, so the shoe is on the other foot. Then throw them together again so we can watch the undercurrents.

    You know, it’s funny I didn’t think about the fact that John and Marlena went through this exact same thing when John was “the Pawn.” I remember those days, and that was some really good soap. I could buy that Marlena can’t be as objective now that he’s her husband, rather than a mysterious stranger. Or that she’s so driven by desperation she is pushing harder than she should. But that should be explained, along with, well, anything that is going on in Marlena’s head.

    I was really disappointed with Wednesday’s scenes this week, when Marlena was presented as having zero empathy for where John might be coming from. She just showed up at the mansion and started making demands. Very one-dimensional.

  40. I started watching days again because I heard about robojohn. I LIKE him. The first time i can say i have liked john since he was the pawn and slept with princess gina (hope).

    I can not stand Marlena. She acts to this day the ingenue – hmm – shes too old to play that part – in fact from her first day on the show she was too old. Cant stand that “great wuv” crap. I mean come’on – she prances around in PINK. She is not barbie and should not act it.

    RoboJohn is interesting. I like Ava and she is hot with him.

  41. Tanya, I think the story is working as a story about John, and I admit I get a kick out of roboJohn as well. The story, though, isn’t working as a love story—and I think it’s meant to. I’m not a J&M shipper but I like to look at stories and think about how well they are working.

    Thanks for commenting!

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