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Death of Daytime's Superman - R.I.P. John Black; Strange Days Vol. 6: My Say in Salem
Topic Started: Oct 20 2007, 12:30 AM (1,011 Views)
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After all... tomorrow is another day!

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The Death of Daytime’s Superman: R.I.P. John Black

“Do you want to fly with me, Lois?”

“I’m your girl, Clark.”

Last week, when John and Marlena traded those lines in Friday’s show, I must admit I thought it was a little cheesy.

But watching this week’s shows and especially the funeral episode with John's casket draped in the American flag and everyone talking about everything John had done in his life and thinking about all of the adventures this character had over the years, something occurred to me as I tried to make sense of why this was all affecting me so deeply and personally as the pile of wadded up Kleenexes mounted higher and higher in my wastebasket as the week wore on.

What I realized is that John Black truly was daytime’s Superman. Never did he stop fighting for truth, justice and the Salem way of life. Because he was Superman.

He came to “Days of our Lives” from a strange place with a mysterious past and survived by assuming more than one identity, but became more human through the redemptive love of women, especially Marlena. He battled the diabolical Stefano DiMera and other foes throughout the years and even with the close calls with disaster including the guillotine, the death chamber and a stare down with Satan himself, there was never any doubt John would prevail. Because he was Superman.

Even when familiar faces came and went and came back (and sometimes went and came back again) John Black was the steadying force on this show for the last two decades. Unlike Marlena and Hope and Steve and Isabella and Stefano and Tony and Maggie and Alice and Roman and Doug and Victor and all of the rest, he would not die. He could not be killed. Because he was Superman.

I remember when I first read the spoilers that said that John would be killed in a hit-and-run accident rather than him falling gallantly in battle with the DiMeras, I was outraged. John Black is a hero, I thought, and should die a hero’s death. Because he was Superman.

But now I realize that had he died in any other way, I really don’t think it would have affected me as much. Because it’s not just the character or Drake Hogestyn’s eyebrow I mourn. It’s the death of the idea that John Black is Superman that gets me – the realization that he is not invincible, as Sami pointed out at the funeral.

And it was seeing the characters on the show also mourn the loss of their Superman just as much as the loss of the man, John Black, which moved me the most.

As difficult as this week has been, I have to say I’m very curious to see how this storyline moves forward and especially how John’s death will affect Stefano and Marlena.

What happens to Salem’s version of Lex Luthor when his fiercest foe is vanquished by fate rather than falling at his sword? Will being evil become a lot less exciting for Stefano without John around to try to stop him from doing it?

It seems we’re already starting to see glimpses of what Salem’s Lois Lane will be like without the superhero half of her supercouple and it’s truly compelling and heart wrenching stuff. Never have I wanted to be able to climb through my T.V. set and hug someone more than when I saw that tiny women in her black suit rocking in her chair with grief over her lost husband. The loneliness of Dr. Marlena Evans was just so heartbreaking and so real. Not that different from Florida Evans when she dropped that punch bowl following the death of James on “Good Times,” I thought.

I guess there’s no way of getting around it. Salem’s Superman is dead.

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Damn! Damn! Damn!


Performers of the week – Drake Hogestyn (John), Deidre Hall (Marlena), Martha Madison (Belle) … Everyone in the cast kicked it up a notch this week but these three had me crying buckets whenever they were on screen. I expected Deidre to bring the heat and hoped Drake would, but I have to admit I am someone who was never that enamored of Martha Madison before, but she gained a fan of me this week for her portrayal of Belle’s grief. These three made me care much more than I’ve cared about this soap in quite a while and I can't believe it, but I'm sort of a Marlena and Belle fan now/again. Who knew?

Episode of the week – Thursday … If not for the darn Lucas and Sami ending to the Wednesday show that could have edged this one out, but because of that sour note to an otherwise flawless show I have to go with the funeral episode instead because of the way it assembled all the people of Salem to mourn John, the pleasant uses of flashbacks and history, the amazing performances by all of the eulogists, the drama of Victor and Stefano’s entrances and simply for the fact that the name of the great Vivian Alamain was spoken for the first time in years. Could have done without the EJamicas drama of the sucker punch and Sami telling us that this episode shouldn’t be about them. I already knew that without you telling me, Sami!

Scene of the week – Marlena coming home to her bedroom alone. So moving. So simple. So perfect. So Emmy-worthy.

Couple of the week – John and Marlena … “I’ll see you in forever.” Oh so heartbreaking folks. You don’t see a supercouple die before your eyes everyday.

Salem stooge of the week – E.J. … Sure he may have Sami finally agreeing to marry him, but it appears unlikely he’ll ever win her heart, Kate is mocking him, apparently his father is keeping secrets about Sami’s twins from him and to top it all off he tries to be nice and gets sucker punched by Lucas once again. Why the boring as hell “redeemed” version of Sami Brady is worth all this trouble, I have no idea.

Scene-stealer of the week – Morgan (Kristen Renton) … Just edging out Kristian Alfonso, who rocked Hope’s grief majorly, I have to give the nod to her. What a great casting choice and I really like this character so far. I love this girl’s accent and am very pleased that at least so far they’ve really kept the mean girls stereotypes to a minimum and allowed this love rival of Stephanie’s to show some heart and personality.

Line of the week – Stefano (Wednesday) … “I hear Chelsea is hell on wheels.”

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Streetcorner Philosopher

On point once again.

Because I like to respond and I'm...wordy...

I agree with you about Morgan. That actress gave that character promise, imho, and I'm already rooting for her. Which kind of sucks, because it means I'm invested in that part of the show when I haven't been because Chelsea and Stephanie don't draw me in, even though I like the actress who plays Chelsea. And I agree about the line of the week- that was a sweet line.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm sad that John's gone- I didn't like the actor and I never believed in the character- but I felt this death. Watching all these characters cry and give eulogies made me remember that I kind of am attached to them, even when I think the show is shit. I felt for them, I felt the acting- even when it felt like acting and not something natural, if that makes sense, I still felt it.

And part of it is that it's so odd to see Salemites grieving. All of them.

Something just hit me- these past few days weren't Days to me. I came on in the 90s, and Days has always strived for that same campy, fun, ridiculousness, and John epitomized that. I wonder if by killing John- the Superman, the Eyebrow, the man with 70 pasts- the show is making a statement. That it actually is a turning point, even though I think he'll be back at some point. Maybe that's why it got to me, too. It really could be a moment of transformation for Days from one kind of show to another. Besides Stefano, who has been reduced by the Santo/Colleen stuff to a pathetic jackass, nobody on the show really represents that era, that style, as much as John. And for now? Dead.

I wonder what would have happened had they killed John & pulled off this stuff instead of coma-fying him. Would viewers have been more willing to sit through the crap they threw out over the summer?

Finally, like you I can't wait to see where this takes people. It's shot Marlena and Belle off into unknown directions, and I want to know where they go. But I still have that skeptic and hope to the gods they don't screw this up. Crashing down from such a high would really, really suck.
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Excellent post, IMiss. And I love the Superman parallel. NEVER did I think of that.

But you're so right.
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Mary excellent recap of this extraordinary week in Salem.

I cried myself and I thought I was long over my Jarlena love. But the wonderful writing and acting got me. I have always noted that though I found him charismatic, DHe was not an exceptionally strong actor. But he played his heart out in these scenes. And Dee stepped up as I have not seen her do in quite a while.

As you noted the biggest sour note of the whole week was St. Sami and Hero Lucas. The pair being portrayed as such is totally unbelievable and just wrong. They stunk up what were some of the best and most emotional scenes I have watched on a soap in over a year. To borrow from HS...as Sami said to EJ "this in not about you EJ..." well this should NOT have been about Lumi at all. Blech!

And, much as I love EJ, despite what he does, I so wish the writer had refrained from inserting him into some of the scenes.

I will note that if the show once again resurrects John and does a "gotcha" on the viewers, I feel the manipulated viewers may revolt. And I say this not because John would not be wanted but because a show that wrings extreme grief from its audience, only to cite how clever they were in fooling said audience , is not a good thing.
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For the first time, I agree with you. In fact, I agree with every point in your column.

The Superman parallel is right on and I am glad that you see what I saw in the way John died. How it made him human to all those who looked at him as invincible.

Great work, IMA.
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Definitely your best column yet! Love all of your picks.
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Didn't expect it to hit me, but John's death did. I have never been a huge John Black fan, but this week was some of the best and most emotional stuff I have seen in a long time on Days. Martha's performances were fantastic (although based on spoilers I don't think after next week I will recognize the character anymore). I have always felt that she was a great actress but was never given the material to show her talents. The entire cast brought their A-games this week and as I fan I thank them.

What I was glad was that the producers didn't chop up the funeral. Seems like Friday's show was a past together of things that ran over from Thursday with new things that were originally going to air on Friday. Now what I will be really upset is if down the line we find out this is a hoax and John will show up alive. Again not that I want him dead, but it would completely devalue the show more than it all ready is if they turn this into a hoax to keep John Black around. No one ever really dies in Salem but I think this is one time that this isn't true in order to bring some credit back to this show.

If this turns into a "gotcha" and we come to find out John is alive, it will be just another slap in the face of viewers. I already feel that I have been smacked in the face a billion times yet continue to come in for more. What I saw this week was good storytelling....and not trying to kiss up to fanbases to make them happy. But reading next week's spoilers makes me feel like the butt kissing will continue again next week instead of the character driven good story writing we had this week. :(
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I agree with the initial post. The show has so much promise but killing off John Black if it is real is going to bite them in the butt. Any gain they make this week they're going to lose once viewers learn John is really dead. No one I talk to off the net really believes he's dead and there are a large portion who voted on Dustin board who don't believe it either.

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