Tale of three Romans

Roman Brady, played by Wayne Northrup, was introduced in late 1981 as the detective assigned to protect Marlena.  I watched Wayne Northrup’s version of Roman when I was a child, but I don’t remember him very well. Just about the only thing I remember clearly is that when he and Marlena kissed, he used to grab the back of her head in a way that I felt would pull her hair. Ha ha. In general, it was played as an “opposites attract” type of story, the classy psychiatrist and the rough and tumble cop.

romanmarlena-376x376

I also remember that Wayne’s Roman and Bo had a really good, conflicted, adversarial relationship. Drake’s Roman and Bo mostly resolved those differences in the mid-80’s. I loved their dynamic too, but it was friendly rather than prickly.

Roman’s popularity ushered in a new era of male heroes:  the blue collar, rough-around-the-edges alpha male, distinct from the lawyers and doctors like Neil Curtis and Don Craig that had previously dominated the show. After Roman came Bo, Pete Jannings, and Steve Johnson. The show gradually brought on an entire family for Roman. Bo, Kayla, Shawn, Caroline, and Kim soon followed him onscreen. It’s easy to forget now that Roman has faded into such a secondary role, but were it not for Wayne Northrup’s popularity, the Bradys would not be the second major family in Salem. That boggles my mind!

After Roman died in 1984, he came back in 1985 in the form of Drake Hogestyn. This was a very successful recast, from the mystery of “the Pawn,” the exciting reveal that John Black was Roman Brady, and his chemistry with Marlena and his family. Drake, Peter, Mary Beth, and Patsy made a fantastic Brady foursome that in my opinion has never been matched before or since. After Deidre Hall left the show, Drake’s Roman went on to popular pairings with Diana and Isabella.

In 1991, Days brought back Marlena from the dead, followed just a few months later by Wayne Northrup’s Roman. In hindsight, I really wish they had not done this story. Drake was too established as Roman. He had played him for 5-6 years, had recovered his memories of being Roman, and was fully integrated into the Brady clan. To upend all that for what ends up happening (Wayne leaves again in 3 years, John’s past is retconned again and again, Josh Taylor) doesn’t seem worth it to me.

But, since I had never seen the story, I was really curious about how this plot would play out. One thing I really appreciate is that we get to see everyone’s reactions to Roman being alive. Marlena, Shane, Abe, all the Bradys. I know this is standard for soaps at the time, but it’s something that is often sadly lacking nowadays, since things often happen too fast and they don’t milk the drama out of it. The show also drew out the suspense of the final determination of which one of these men was the real Roman, when they sent Kayla off with the tissue samples to DC, only to have her get kidnapped by Cal Winters en route. In the meantime both John and Roman were both terribly hurt by the rest of the family waffling about who the real Roman was.

Here’s a taste, where Roman is re-introduced to the rest of the Bradys:

(Starts around 8:30.)

And then, there is this great scene, probably my favorite in the whole storyline. It is a perfect example of milking the drama of Roman’s return, when Roman finds out that Victor is Bo’s father:

Roman confronts Caroline

First of all, as I pointed out above, Wayne and Peter have a very interesting prickly chemistry. All the progress that Bo made with his brother was actually with an imposter! That plus the fact that they haven’t seen each other in 7 years, and he’s still not 100% sure which man is his brother, makes for a chilly dynamic which I find fascinating. Then, I like how Roman goes to confront Caroline about her affair, which everyone else dealt with years ago. I love when she points that out, that the family has gotten past it and forgiven her. “Oh, so now it’s my turn?” Roman says coldly. Great moment.

The show would never in a million years have the patience or attention to write a scene like this today. Back when Steve came back from the dead in 2006, we on the boards discussed all the things that had changed while he was “dead” — John not being Roman among them! — but the show seldom took the trouble to have him react to them.

Also, I would say that even back then, this scene is the exception rather than the rule. Roman’s return, after the initial shock, feels mostly like fuel for a triangle with John and Marlena, rather than an exploration of what it would be like to come back and find that someone had been living your life for 6 years and was accepted by all of your family and friends. Generally speaking, the Bradys and Marlena seem more concerned with John’s angst at finding out he’s NOT Roman, than celebrating Roman’s return from his imprisonment. (Or guilt at accepting another man in his stead for so many years.) There was a lot of potential material here that feels glossed over, and signals the show’s investment in Drake over Wayne.

A few years later, after Isabella’s death, the show went with John and Marlena in a big way when they had their famous affair. Roman left town and was later killed offscreen. Then, Roman returned again in 1997, now played by Josh Taylor. His return was dramatic, just when John and Marlena were about to get married. I haven’t seen this storyline, but I did find these return scenes on YouTube:

(This is part 1. It continues through part 6.) Looks like high drama, which I’m sure was fun. I’m not sure, though, why they decided on Josh Taylor as the recast. He already played a perfectly viable character, Chris Kositchek, who was a fine addition to the show — lawyer, bar owner, Kayla’s ex-boyfriend, all around supporting player. I know he is friends with Ken Corday, and that might be part of it — Ken wanted him to have a featured role and meaty material. Josh Taylor probably has the highest job security of anyone on the show! But, to me that means he didn’t need to be pimped into this role — just make the role he already had bigger and better!

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll mention it again. Once, after not watching Days for many years, I turned on the TV and saw Christie Clark and Josh Taylor discussing her upcoming wedding to Austin. I was delighted to see the grown up Christie Clark still playing Carrie, who I remembered playing Carrie as a child, but I was mystified when she called Chris Kositchek “dad.” What plot point had brought that about?

Because the thing is, although Josh Taylor has played the role far longer than either of the other Romans — 19 years (!) to Wayne’s 6 and Drake’s 5 — he will always be “Fauxman” to me. He has never made the role his own. He’s fine as a supporting player, but when the story calls back to Roman’s rich history, Josh Taylor cannot bring the weight and gravitas that the character needs. We saw that just recently, in a major way, with Orpheus’s return. Roman was always his target, his original grudge, the man who changed him from a good man to a bad one obsessed with revenge. Yes, we saw Orpheus battle it out with other people in 1986 and it’s natural he would want revenge on them too, but there is no way that Roman should have been forgotten. At the same time, do I want to see more Josh? No. And that weakens the story, which is a shame.

 

18 thoughts on “Tale of three Romans

  1. I’m glad you’re jumping into this storyline. The early 90s was when I quit watching Days because of the Hawk grifter nonsense with Jack and Jennifer, so I also missed this entirely. I have it in my “to watch” list, so this is a good teaser of what’s to come.

    I loved Drake as Roman. One of my all-time favorite Days pairings was Roman and Diana and I agree with you that I wish they had just left him as Roman. I liked Wayne a lot in his first run, but he just never seemed to click during this second run and the many subsequent rewrites of John’s history are just exhausting.

    I will never understand why it was necessary to bring back Josh Taylor as Roman. I’ve been watching some 80s stuff and Chris is a good character. They never figured out exactly what do with him as he bounced from job to job, but I thought his pairing with Savannah was a good one and he did well as a supporting player when he was an attorney. Even though he isn’t tied to any core family, Chris Kositchek was established enough that he could have come back.

    As a side note, I laughed out loud when I pulled up the clip of Bo and Roman and they were wearing matching leather jackets. So early 90s and so Bo and Roman. Love it.

    • Well, Steve and John were wearing matching black leather jackets this week so everything old is new again.🙂

      I am glad I was able to watch this, at least the beginning of it. (My DVDs ended just as John found out he was Forrest Alamain.) In hindsight I have always wished they didn’t do this story, but I was curious whether the story itself was good. And the answer seems to be — sort of.🙂

      Chris was a good character. It seems like there were quite a few unattached, young male characters floating around in the early 80’s, and he seemed like one of the better ones. His pairing with Kayla #1 was the only one that was really popular, but he was a big part of the show besides that. Later as the show became more supercouple oriented he was more of a supporting player, but I still thought he was good — the Savannah pairing was unique and kind of a cool counterpoint to the supercouple stories. And we can always use a lawyer on the show!

  2. I find Josh to be either kinda odd, or a really good actor. Don’t know which. Do you think he had fun being the one no one wanted Kayla to be with? When Kayla first came on the scene, he was all over her, and then crazy Steve starts messing with her, and us viewers at the time didn’t know it was a couple in the making. But the actors knew that, so Josh had to play the guy no one was rooting for. I sometimes wondered if he liked or disliked that. Who wouldn’t want to play the guy who gets the girl? And a hot, slow burning romantic storyline? He had been on a lot longer than this new Nichols guy, but Nichols get the leading role. I guess when you are a working actor and making good money, is all that a non-issue?
    Sometimes I feel “dumb” for not getting it – for not getting that we were being set up for the “unexpected” storyline to come, that S&K would be a supercouple. Here I thought Steve didn’t stand a SINGLE chance with Kayla when things were tight with Kosicheck. It really and truly seemed impossible and entirely unlikely. Some truly great writing and acting there.

    • It is funny looking back that it wasn’t clear whether Steve and Kayla were going to be THE couple, when we know now that it was planned. I suspect they were keeping some options open in the early going, and pairing Kayla with Chris was one of those options.

      I’ve always wondered the same thing: if actors care if they are playing the also-ran versus the lead who gets the girl (or the girl who gets the boy). I think probably work is work, for the most part, though I imagine you probably feel a little identification/sympathy with your character and want them to “win” sometimes. And a lead role and the stardom that goes with it seems like something most actors would aspire to.

      • The way I understood it and thought to be true, was that SN was of course already on the show, and they started to audition for his new love interest, Kayla. He was in on the decision to go with MBE – so that should mean that it was intended from the beginning for them to be a couple – not Kosicheck. I don’t think there was any options being kept open for Kosicheck at all. The producers liked SN’s work and thought they had themselves a great op for a crazy romance, and Kosicheck ain’t nothin crazy!

        With Josh Taylor, I don’t think he minded because that was getting close to his Valerie days wasn’t it? He probably thought, who needs Kayla – I’m on primetime now!

  3. Oooh, I’m really glad you’re delving into this. It’s one of the storylines that I read about when I started watching the show several years afterward, and I found it so interesting and trippy in concept (I was just getting into soaps!). But now, it really does seem so messy and weird, considering how Wayne’s Roman fell away and then Josh’s Roman became such a secondary presence. So I’m curious to read about it in a more detailed way.

    • I’d have to get more DVDs to watch all of Wayne’s second run, but I did really enjoy seeing this part of it. It is a really famous story that still resonates to this day (good and bad) so it was fascinating to get to see it. I will definitely post some more on it.

  4. I fell in love with Days while watching Roman and Marlena fall in love in the early 80s. (It’s interesting to me that I find Wayne Northrup unattractive and to have zero sex appeal but even as a youngster watching that story unfold I was crushing on his Roman character big time! It’s the exact opposite of how I feel about Eric Marstolf…who I think is very attractive but I find his Brady character to have zero sex appeal??) But because the Roman and Marlena romance was THE reason I started watching Days, I have a preference for Wayne’s version of Roman over the others. I also loved the Roman/Bo relationship with Wayne and Peter.

    I will say that I accepted Drake in the role of Roman and I considered it a very strong recast. At the time when it aired the revelation that John was not Roman (and the affair and the aftermath…) was well written and very well portrayed. All of the actors handled the material very well including Allison Sweeney (and that might be the only time I compliment her for any of her work on Days). The problem as I see it is that the writing since has not been strong enough to support the story in the way that a story this complicated would have to be supported. In retrospect I wish they had never changed it and just kept Drake as Roman but at the very least they should have just let Roman die when Wayne left again and let the Brady family still embrace John as a son and brother instead of ignoring that history.

  5. I never saw Wayne Northrup as Roman originally. So to me, Drake is Roman. But since watching Wayne’s version, I still prefer Drake! He just fit. Especially when all the Bradys were together. One of Kayla’s first scenes after Mary Beth first came to the show was with Roman, Kim, Kayla and Bo. I think Hope too…They just seemed like siblings! They fit. And Drake played a great older brother! Protective of his sisters, harder on his brother. Drake makes such a good leading man too! I love him with Deidra of course, but I also enjoyed Roman with Diana and Isabella. And that’s because of Drake. To this day, when I watch Josh as Roman, I’m like nope. Doesn’t work for me. The actor is great but was never right for Roman.

  6. Great character played by some great actors. But I am like most of you; Josh Taylor’s Roman just doesn’t do it for me. When I started watching Days (on the day Bo kidnapped Hope from her wedding to Larry) another actor I really liked and remember to this day is Wayne Northrop. Even though after I started watching he was ‘killed’ by Stefano on the island I clearly to this day remember that scene vividly between Peter and Wayne. They paired together so well as siblings with the older brother and baby brother issues. And Wayne’s Roman just seemed so genuine. When Drake was cast it took me a while to ease into that transition but I got there. Sadly I had stopped watching after Steve ‘died’ so some of this other I’ve only seen clips of. (like I never knew until now Roman had been killed offscreen?!?! can somebody help me with that?!?) But I do remember tuning in briefly when Wayne was brought back. Even though I do like John and Marlena together, I will always remember when Doc was a Brady lady and the wonderful scenes she had with Kim, Kayla, Hope and Bo. And I know its petty of me but it kinda irks my nerves that John calls Marlena “Doc” Sorry dude, but Roman was calling her that way before you ever did. Oh well. I am glad to know that Drake is back on the set after his injury and is taping again. And as for Josh, to me he will always and forever be Chris with that god awful Shenanigans music playing in the background!!

  7. I watched that clip. Got such a kick out of that guy (I blush, MP, but I have no idea who he is) – anyway, when he was having all that trouble with the phone. Bet he was wishing they’d come up with phones that are smaller and easier to handle.😉

    • Which clip? I want to identify the man for you.🙂

      It’s really fun watching clips for the clunky phones and things. I got a big kick out of a Jack and Jen clip where she was wearing a walkman.

  8. Well now I can’t find it back, but I thought it was the one starting with Kim carrying Jeannie. The guy was hiding in the bushes and went into the house after Kim, Kayla and the third one (forgot who) left because they were summoned – by Caroline I think. Sorry to be so vague?

    • Oh, that is Cal Winters. He is obsessed with Kim. She got involved with him when Shane was presumed dead and then they thought Jeannie was his daughter (he threatened the doctor into saying so — of course! 😂). Here he is plotting to kidnap Kim.

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