I miss the Spectator.
When people remember the Spectator now, they rightly remember Jack and Jennifer and all their His Girl Friday antics. But the Spectator was more than that. The show successfully used it as a setting and vehicle for many different characters and storylines—disproving the idea that in Salem you have to be either a cop or a doctor if you want to work onscreen.
It was introduced when Diana Colville (played by Genie Francis) bought the paper. Facing financial difficulties, she planned to get back in the black by breaking a big story exposing corrupt Assemblyman Jack Deveraux and his shady dealings. Jack, however, caught wind of her plans, and was able to kill the story by buying 51% of the paper from her through a third party.
I always got the impression that Genie Francis was having a lot of fun playing Diana. After her Very Serious introduction as a mysterious, secretive assault victim who was tangled up with a big conspiracy, the show hit its stride by lightening the tone considerably. She was presented as an ambitious, no-bullshit investigative reporter. Days used to do great heroines, and she was one of them.
I’m a little fuzzy on the details because this story is just getting going on my DVDs, but this was the beginning of a rivalry between Jack and Diana, as each struggled to wrest control of the paper from the other. There is a mystery and mini-umbrella story, involving more of Jack’s shadiness, local kids getting a mysterious rash, and Diana enlisting Steve and Kayla, and Alice Horton, to help her investigate the story. (No doubt I’ll be posting more on this as it unfolds.)
I give Higley credit (no, really!) for introducing the workplace back into Days, but as always the execution leaves something to be desired. When Anna went to work for Tony’s rival instead of Tony, she said it was because she wanted to prove herself to him—so that’s what I was rooting for her to do. But like so many things, it all just petered out with no payoff whatsoever. Anna eventually gets fired and goes to work for Tony after all. Huh? When Diana buys the Spectator, she also has something to prove. She’s just lost the fortune she inherited from her father, and she wants to make it on her own. We are rooting for her to succeed because she wants to succeed. When Jack foils her, it’s maddening. But when she succeeds, it’s wonderful. This is how you do work-related storylines, by using existing relationships (Jack with Steve and Kayla), and creating new ones (Jack and Diana), and giving the characters something to work for and care about.
Matt Ashford is delightful as always as villainous Jack. And even when he outmaneuvers her Diana doesn’t back down. Here’s the scene where Diana finds out just who her new partner is: