Darnell Williams

Now That The Writers Strike Is Over, Which High Profile Returnee Will Jump Ship First?

It's no big secret that the Writers Strike and the lack of primetime and film work that resulted from it helped facilitate the return of several big names to daytime this year. All My Children managed to lure back Darnell Williams and Debbie Morgan as legendary 80's supercouple Jesse and Angie, as well as more recent fan fave Rebecca Budig who reprised her role as Greenlee Smythe.

Over at sister soap General Hospital, multiple Emmy winner Sarah Brown returned to the show, but not in her signature role of Carly Corinthos, instead she created the new role of Claudia Zacharra. Days of Our Lives managed to land another GH alum who also had played the role of Carly to huge success, Tamara Braun, who they brought on as unstable mafia princess Ava. Meanwhile Guiding Light somehow managed to convince the stellar Daniel Cosgrove to return as Bill Lewis, fresh from a stint on Dirty Sexy Money.

All of these returns received heavy PR and grabbed industry headlines, but except for a brief bump for Days, the ratings haven't budged. In fact as of last week, most soaps were hitting record lows. That isn't a slam on these talented daytime returnees. They were after all dealing with soaps that for the most part were already struggling pre-strike and were by this point being written by scab writers.

The return of Williams and Morgan was one of the best reunions in soap history and as gripping as Erica Kane on the run with Maria from West Side Story has been, the Jesse and Angie redux is the only real reason to watch AMC these days. Ditto for Cosgrove's romance with Marcy Rylan's Lizzie on Guiding Light. Budig's return as the "real" Greenlee caused major backlash from fans and of her talented replacement Sabine Singh, which of course wasn't Budig's fault, but the fact that the storyline they brought her back to play out was as asinine as the one that was going strong when she left didn't help matters.

Note to writers, doing a storyline where we have to re-live the lackluster Greenlee/Ryan/Kendall triangle isn't exactly a good plan for moving forward. Rumors are buzzing that several AMC leads are on their way out, could Budig be asking for a get out of Pine Valley free card? Or maybe Williams and Morgan are already growing wearing of carrying the whole show?

Unlike the "real" Greenlee marketing nightmare, General Hospital's campaign to promote Sarah Brown's return was liquid hot. They even managed to intrigue this jaded soap fan, despite my intense loathing for actors returning to their old soaps in new roles unrelated to their original roles.

Brown and Maurice Benard crackled with chemistry and heat in those ads with both mobsters claiming they wanted to "own Port Charles". But what we got on the show wasn't a bad ass mob mama who is an equal to Sonny, instead it was much more of the same, a shallow, emotionally unstable woman who is so caught up in her quest of getting another taste of Sonny's pesto sauce that she lets it control her every move. Wouldn't it be refreshing to, I don't know, have a woman arrive in Port Chuck who can resist the Dimpled One? I can't imagine Brown, who has had moderate success in prime time, is feeling stimulated by doing the same old "You Must Love Me" song and dance from Evita  with Sonny.

Tamara Braun looks like she's having a ball as cuckoo Ava on Days of Our Lives, but given that her very first storyline on the show had her killing off the Brady patriarch, I can't imagine there's much of a future for Ava in Salem. On the other hand the show has been known to keep even the most unhinged of villains around for years (Stefano, Vivian, Kristen). The show is definitely on an upswing creatively, so maybe Tams will stick around for the ride? What do you think? Who among the recent crop of high profile returnees do you see bolting for primetime or film first?

All My Children: Wishful Casting-Davetta Sherwood as Angie's Daughter Cassie

All My Children is reportedly casting Cassie the daughter Angie (Debbie Morgan) and Jacob (Darnell Williams) adopted on the Loving spinoff The City. Who would be better to take on the role than Young and the Restless alum Davetta Sherwood (ex-Lily)?

During Sherwood's brief run replacing Christel Khalil as Lily on Y&R, Sherwood proved that original doesn't always mean "real". Sherwood's take on Lily was street smart, sassy and realistic. It was easy to believe she was the daughter of Victoria Rowell's Dru. Many fans-including this one-cried foul when Khalil decided she wanted her old role back-after having left of her own accord-and Y&R booted Sherwood.

Can't you just see Sherwood in scenes with soap legends Morgan and Williams? She would also be a great romantic interest for Dre Woods (Sterling Sulieman) and a potential rival for Pine Valley teen queen Colby Chandler (Ambyr Childers).  Then if they could only get Marcy Walker back as Colby's mom and Jesse and Angie's worst nightmare Liza Colby, I might start watching AMC more regularly again, that is unless I see someone eating pancakes.

Daytime and Seeing Ghosts

News that Cady McClain is returning as an angelic version of Dixie on AMC reminded me of how many other times a popular character's "ghost" or "angel" has unfortunately appeared only for said character to one day return on the flesh. 

When the deranged Orpheus caused the plane carrying beloved Days of Our Lives heroine Dr. Marlena Evans Brady (Deidre Hall) to crash in 1987, the character "died" instantly. Her ghost appeared to John (Drake Hogestyn) (whom she then believed to be her husband Roman) and encouraged him to let her go and get on with his life. Eventually, he did just that, with socialite Diana Colville (Genie Francis), Yvette and later Victor Kiriakis' illegitimate daughter Isabella Toscano (Staci Greason), only for Marlena to return to Salem alive and well, fresh from a coma with a rocking new hairdo in '91.

Josh Lewis (Robert Newman) was devastated when the love of his life (and his brother's life and his father's life) Reva Shayne (Kim Zimmer) drove off that fateful Florida bridge in the throes of post partum psychosis in 1990. The sassy blonde's body wasn't recovered and she was declared water logged, I mean dead.

Fast forward five years later, Josh is interested in then perfectly sane nurse Annie Dutton (Cynthia Watros). Just as things are starting to heat up for the couple, the vengeful spirit of Josh's ex-wife Reva shows up to torment Bud's new lady friend! The stint proved so popular that TPTB decided to bring Zimmer back full time, explaining that Reva had actually been sick in a coma in Amish country where she lived as amnesiac Rebecca. While she was unconscious, Reva's spirit had traveled home to Springfield to visit her loved ones. Good things to know spirits don't suffer from memory loss!  

During the Writers' Strike of 1988 scab writers made the brilliant decision to kill off Jesse Hubbard (Darnell Willams) one half All My Children's groundbreaking, hugely popular supercouple-Angie and Jesse.  Angie and Jesse's best friend Tad Martin were both devastated. So much so that old Tad's mind must have been playing tricks on him when Jesse's ghost visited him in 1994 after a tornado ripped through Pine Valley, because as we all know by now, Jesse was alive and well all along. Well, Tad had bumped his head. But how does that explain Jesse being one of the friendly spirits who helped Ryan Lavery's wife Gillian make her transition from Pine Valley to the Pearlie Gates in 2001? Sounds like these stories don't stand a ghost of a chance when it comes to being credible! Can any of  you name any other instances of ghostly returns that later became the real thing?

 

AMC: Would Marcy Walker Return?

With her daughter Colby quickly headed toward a pairing with Frankie Hubbard on All My Children, the son of her teenage rivals Jesse and Angie Hubbard (Darnell Williams and Debbie Morgan) , will Liza Colby Chandler make her way back to Pine Valley? If so will beloved soap legend Marcy Walker reprise the role? 

Walker was unceremoniously bumped from AMC in 2004 despite her character's popularity with leading men David Canary (Adam) and Michael E. Knight (Tad). And although Walker made guest appearances in 2004 and 2005, she later announced she was retiring from acting to go into childrens' ministry. While I definitely respect a person's decision to listen to a Higher Calling, I would pay money to see two wildly talented vets like Marcy Walker and Debbi Morgan square off in a scene!  

Have All The Big Name Superstar Returns Been Worth The Hype?

TV Guide's Michael Logan's weekly soap column, on stands today, rated several recent high profile returns to daytime with mixed results. The returns of Debbie Morgan and Darnell Williams (Angie and Jess) over at AMC received five stars from the veteran soap columnist."It's been worth a gazillion plot contrivances to see Angie back with her "dead" Jesse after 20 long years," said Logan.

He also applauded Days on the return of it's leading man Drake Hogestyn as a snarkier, less-than-heroic version of his Jason Bourne-esque signature character John Black. According to Logan, John is now "robo-tastic".

Logan also praises the return to daytime of beloved former General Hospital mob princess Tamara Braun as...Days of Our Lives mob princess Ava! On Braun, Logan said, "She was the best and most electrifying of the four gals who have played Carly on General Hospital (truer words have never been spoken, er written!)." He went on to add that Braun had "opened up a big old can o' whoop-ass in Salem as Ava, a bodacious banana with a mad jones for Patch (Stephen Nichols)."

Logan wasn't so impressed by three other recent buzz worthy returns. Citing ABC's "Real Greenlee" campaign, coupled with cutie Rebecca Budig being stuck in stinker stories about tainted roots and amnesiac exes had all but ruined Budig's recent return engagement. "But Budig will triumph!" he predicts. It's taking weeks, but the loopy, ballsy, hot-to-trot Greens we love is slowly coming around."

The return of Brando School graduate Tom Pelphrey also didn't leave Logan with much room to praise the actor's return instead of burying it. "I'm the guy's biggest fan, but his recent comeback left me wishing he'd stayed away."

Logan, like many  of us Jonathan fans, was apparently longing for the Son o' Shayne of yesteryear, the brooding, misunderstood sociopath who carried the show during his initial run. "Instead we got Mr. Mom".

Lastly, the much anticipated return of General Hospital's original Carly (Sara Brown) as big sister mob doll Claudia on GH has also left Logan unimpressed. It's a totally brill idea," said Logan. "So how come we're so bored?"

What do you think about the latest superstar returns on your favorite soaps, have they been a hit or miss?

You bet they have! It is wonderful to see old faves like Jesse and Angie back, it takes me back to when soaps were great!
28% (52 votes)
I've enjoyed some of the returns, but most have been big, fat flops!
20% (36 votes)
If the soaps would simply write better, more engaging stories for the characters they have I'd be happy!
52% (95 votes)
Total votes: 183

All My Children: Like You'll Never See Me Again (Angie and Jesse)


Daytime Confidential reader and listener Ohwowreally sent us this great clip of All My Children's Angie and Jesse because they enjoyed it. Turns out so did we and thanks to SophiaMontgomery over on Youtube graciously turning on embedding now you can too. Shoutout to both!