Friday, March 4, 2011

Days Don't Know Jack

“Ask anyone in this town!  Ask them who I am!  They’ll say I’m Jack Deveraux – Harper’s son!”

"You are not –!"

"Jack Deveraux – Harper’s son!  One wields a pen, the other wields a sword, but deep down it's all the same!”

“You’re wrong!”

“No, I’m not wrong!”

“I don’t believe what anybody says!  I don’t even believe you!  I believe in you.  And I believe what I feel…with my whole heart.”

Before there was EJ DiMera, there was Jack Deveraux – a character that got his real start as a villain but slowly became one of the most beloved Days characters of all time.  Like EJ, whether you loved Jack or you hated Jack, the show just wouldn’t be the same without him, and right now Days really isn’t.  It hadn’t been so glaringly obvious until Jennifer returned to Salem without him.

 Jack kidnaps Jen on her wedding day.

If you aren’t familiar with Jack’s history (both familial and personal), it’s sordid to say the least.  Again, like EJ, his past misdeeds and those of his family followed him around like deadheads followed Garcia. Among his sins is the rape of Kayla. But through a combination of amazing, well-paced storytelling, and the incredible talent of Matt Ashford, Jack was not only redeemed, he also became one half of one of the greatest Days supercouples of all-time.

 Jennifer asks a nervous Jack to help her with the buttons of her wedding dress

Jack and Jennifer weren’t your average supercouple (although “average supercouple” is a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it?).  Jennifer was adorable, and feisty, and – and I say this without even a drop of sarcasm or trace of irony – spunky.  Yes.  Jennifer was spunky – Paperbag Princess spunky.  Jack was this fantastic combination of Jack Tripper from Three’s Company and Peter Warne from It Happened One Night.  But as funny as Jack was, he was also his own worst enemy and his own harshest critic, which led to many a  psychological  wedge between our heroine and anti-hero.  And Matt Ashford could do drama and romantic angst just as well as he could do comedy, sometimes juggling all three within the same scene.

 "I can't believe I had to fall off a cliff to hear you say you care about me!"

Because of Jack’s rather severe case of perpetual self-loathing, he’s pushed Jennifer away several times, always believing she was deserving of someone much better than him.  Jennifer had a hell of a time finally convincing him otherwise.  Days decided that with his penchant for giving in to his inferiority complex and leaving Jennifer in the lurch, it would be an easy way to explain why Jennifer returned to Salem without him.

So if Jack has left Jennifer so often in the past, why shouldn’t we consider this just business as usual?  Well, a few reasons.

  Jack makes a surprise appearance at Jennifer and Frankie Brady's wedding.
“What are you doing standing here?  My God, you’re dead!  Your car slid off that bridge!  The divers searched and searched, and there was no body!  They said there was no way that anyone could survive that cold water!”
 “Well…I guess I’m not just anyone.”

In any good story on Days, the event was always the backdrop for the real story, which was how the characters interacted with each other to overcome obstacles and win or lose the desired conclusion.  The characters were what drove the story forward.

 Jack, Jennifer and Abby

I’ve mentioned in the past that one of Days’ huge problems where writing is concerned is that when you’re playing connect-the-plot-points without taking the character and his/her development over the years into consideration, you get what amounts to a series of comedy sketches (in Days’ current state, the comedy is almost always unintentional).  Yes, the actors are all there, but they’re playing completely different characters each time you see them.  

 Jennifer tries to seduce Jack in an effort to get him to admit he has feelings for her.

Okay, yes.  Jack would leave.  But it always made sense.  He was always running from the ghosts of his past.  As misguided as his methods were, his intentions were pure - he was doing what he thought was best for his wife and children.  Jack running off to Australia makes no bloody sense unless there’s a backstory, and in this case the writers couldn’t be bothered to come up with one.  Jack doesn’t just leave town “to find himself” like some kid who wants to spend his year before starting college bumming around Europe.  He always had motivation, and that motivation usually centred on his undying love for his family and his often wavering feelings of self-worth.  Viewers understand Jack well enough to know that he’d find a way to return to Salem the moment he found out that Jennifer had been clumsily butterflied like a tiger shrimp by a prison inmate if he had to build the plane to get him there himself.  

 Lawrence forces Jennifer/Katarina to break things off with Jack.  Jack ain't havin' it.

By the time Jack and the Deveraux clan had said their final goodbyes to Salem, Jack had come full circle.  He was a devoted husband and father without losing his spark – the thing that made Jack who he was.  He maintained his shades of grey, his wicked sense of humour, and his habit of sometimes saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, but occasionally stumbling on just the perfect words at just the right time.  Married life and fatherhood never made Jack dull.

 "I hope this isn't a bad time."

But in one fell swoop, without even needing access to the character on screen, Days wiped out years of character development, cutting Jack’s personal growth at the knees.  They reduced his years of running from his demons to “Haha!  Oh, that crazy Jack!  Will he never learn?”

 While kissing Jack, Jennifer flashes back to being raped by Lawrence. Without meaning to,
Jennifer slaps Jack and calls him a rapist. Jack, knowing nothing about Jennifer's rape,
thinks she is referring to his past with Kayla. 
Matthew and Melissa kill these scenes.

To further the damage, Abigail – the daughter who adored Jack through thick and thin and was always up in her mother’s business about giving up on her father – is suddenly going to be championing a possible love connection between Jennifer and Daniel.

 Jack and Abby

What the what?

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I can’t really enjoy Jennifer’s return to Salem unless Jack is right behind her.  Don’t get me wrong – I love Jennifer.  And it’s because I love the character so much that I want what’s best for her, and for Melissa Reeves.  Jack/Matt Ashford brings out the best in them.

  After Firefighter Jack kidnaps Jennifer from her wedding, she sees his "little snake". 
Days comedic chemistry at its best.

TPTB haven’t yet learned that you can’t fabricate chemistry between characters.  It has to be a natural occurrence.  This is evidenced by the sloppily patched together “budding romance” between Jennifer and Ben (which ended before it even began), and now early, not-so-subtle hints that the light-hearted bickering between Jennifer and Dr. Daniel “Making a Housecall” Jonas will lead to some sweet, sweet lovin’.  You can already see that the writers are trying to recreate the same dynamic between Jen and Dan that she had with Jack.  But why recreate it when you can have the real thing?  That’s like boiling up some water for a package of Mr. Noodle when you’re living in an apartment above the best Chinese restaurant in the city.

Double Nosebleeds 
"You know, this could be a really lovely memory one day."

There are campaigns out there to bring Matt Ashford back, and I encourage you to join the fight, as it were.  Whether or not you’re a fan of Jack and Jennifer (and how could you not be?), another crime against good soap is being committed and viewers should all be banding together.  Bad writing, character-decimation, and overall bad decision-making are sinking this show.  If Days can bring back people from the dead and hatch Hernandezes out of eggs laid by invisible chickens, then Days can bring back Matt Ashford and other much-loved characters.  

Jennifer Horton isn’t officially back until there’s Jack.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is just how I feel. It wasn't bad enough that Higley and co. have been writing EJ doing things that are making me want to throw tomatoes at my TV---no, they had to start messing with my other favorite, Jack, as well. Since Abby came home acting completely out of character and got on the Jack bashing train, yet another pawn in these writers' attempts to make Jennifer and another love interest acceptable to "Days" viewers, I got depressed and started watching old Jack and Jen clips on Youtube, and it made me remember how good this show used to be. I watched Jack and Jen for the first time back in the day during my tween years. I fell in love with them then. I remain in love with them now. Theirs has been one of the best stories ever told on a soap---it has what you really need: excellent characters (who progress believably); plenty of angst; a hefty dose of humor; and oh-so-much yummy, tension-filled build up from one thing to the next. I hope to see writing like that again before "Days" is gone for good. I was happy enough with Jack and Jennifer happily together in England, but bringing Jennifer and Abby back this way and tossing Jack aside with this ridiculous walkabout excuse (aside from not being a Jack-like reason to leave Jennifer, who buys that a walkabout sounds like something Jack would enjoy?) has got my dander up, and I need Jack to come home and save his own character as well as that of his wife and daughter.

  2. Wow! Thank-you for posting this article. I have been watching Days since I was since months old about 30 years now and when Bo and Hope got back together I could not have been happier. It is time now to bring Jack back to be with Jennifer! EJ is a good actor but he is no Jack. Jack had this zaniness about him that just made you want to love him/hate him at times. That is what a soap should be. I actually named 3 out of my 4 children after characters on the show cause I love DAYS! To the writers, please listen to what the people are telling you and put Jack and Jennifer back together!

  3. Thank you fror writing this! You have taken the words right out of my mouth! I am no longer a Days viewer, and won't be til they bring back Jack, with an acceptable, I had been kidnapped or something excuse, and put him and Jennifer back together! The writing has been lousy lately, and i know this because my cousin, another big Days fan, hasn't asked me if I heard anything lately, spoiler wise, and hasn't even asked about Days! that to me says something right there, and I have also found many fans disatisfied and complaining about Dool on the many fan boards! Hopefully they will begin to listen to us!

  4. Couldn't agree with you more. Jack is one of my all time favourite characters in Days' history. I loved the Jack/Jennifer love story and it set me on the path to love the unconventional. Unfortunately, Higley and co. have slaughtered Jack's character just so that they could bring back Jennifer and Abby minus Jack. WTF? As far as I'm concerned Jennifer doesn't exist without Jack and will support none of the manufactured pairings that they try to force down my throat.
    I am so sick of this
    show ruining my favourite characters and all the things that made them unique and compelling. I can't even get started on what they've been doing to EJ . . .

    As always, you have your finger on the pulse of the intelligent viewer who can't just accept something because it is written that way. I wish that TPTB would realize that they are pushing many long-time Day's viewers away with their continued mangling of character and past to serve the almighty plot point.

  5. This is the stuff that makes one nostalgic.

    I am so pissed about this whole thing - why do they keep fucking up my boys!!!

    Hell - a phone call - anything. Waste our times bringing new characters out of the woodwork for nothing.

    I am starting to thoink they just want to destroy all that we knew Days was - history, characters, core families - and morph it into a different soap - hell then cavcell the damn thing and start new....

    Just wait until the witches, monkeys and little people start making their way to Salem....

  6. JACKED UP! Loving the vibe here...loving the vibe!

  7. I love Jack and Jen! You're so right Diggy, this whole s/l isn't true to the Jack character at all. She almost died and we're supposed to believe he wouldn't even try to contact her?! What makes me so disgusted is that this is all to prop a potential Dr. Dan/Jen pairing. Gross out! Maybe the writers will get a clue one of these days, until then it's a bummer they keep messing with all the great old characters.


  9. This whole post has been going around in my head for your page... thank you for posting. I just can't buy the whole creepy dan and Jen idea -- to be honest Jen with anyone but Jack just dosn't make sense at all. Can anyone tell me why isnt' out looking for Jack instead of listening to voicemail msgs and blogs and making goo goo eyes at dr pervy? She should be hiring the best PI in salem or at all getting Mr Sheffield on the case to track Jack down.. JMO

  10. After the way Jennifer treated Jack coldly this time I would not want Jack back with her until she falls off her pedestal realizes her mistake and going back to Daniel after Jack died that was wrong her part she is not innocent victim at all and she has been playing this game for so long it is getting ugly. I rather see Jack alive and moving on with someone else and let Jennifer have her obsession with Daniel all she wants. Jack deserves better now he may not be perfect but he is not saint either and he has his flaws that is what makes him interesting. I would rather see Jack move on with someone else than being with saint Jennifer.

  11. Jack is far too good for Jennifer. I'm sick of her and I'm sick of the way she continually derides Jack just to feel good about herself.

    I used to love Jack/Jennifer back in the day but the writers have ruined her character for me. I now want Jack to find a woman who will really and truly love him. Jennifer only seems capable of loving herself. Everything is about her. How she feels betrayed about this, or hurt about that. How about how Jack feels? Is she ever going to give that a thought! From the minute she got his ring on her finger back in 1991, she has trusted one guy after another instead of Jack (starting with Hawk directly after their honeymoon) but Jack has continually forgiven her for it.

    No more!

    I want Jack to tell Jennifer to piss off and until or unless she admits that SHE has screwed up royally, I want her to stay away from him. I stopped watching DOOL religiously when Matt left the show in 1993 because I was infuriated with the writers trying to make me believe Jack would abandon Jennifer and Abby. I didn't believe he'd do it then and I don't believe he'd do it now. Quite frankly, I'm starting to wonder if the only reason Jennifer wanted Jack in the first place, was because it would make her feel like a saint in comparison. Jack isn't a saint and he's never pretended otherwise which is why I love him. I can love and respect a character who admits to his mistakes, like Jack but I can't stand one who pretends she's never made one, like Jennifer.

    Her whole routine is as the poster said above me, getting old and ugly.