Marlena to One Life to Live: “I Hate Todd”

Tervor St. JohnBy Marlena De Lacroix

I never liked the character of Todd Manning on One Life to Live.  I never understood him.   After he was introduced in 1992 as one of three gang rapists of college coed Marty Saybrooke, the character skyrocketed to become one of most popular characters on OLTL, if not all of soaps, and has stayed that way until today.

Why? Why have millions of soap viewers been obsessed — enamored — with this convicted rapist for the last 16 years (with hiatuses, as when the character left town and returned)?  Why has the show devoted years of storyline time to and all but made a hero out of … a criminal?

Perhaps now, the mystery of Todd will be fully unraveled.  After years of endless storylines meant to redeem him (which I will recount below), OLTL looks like it may finally explore and perhaps unlock the psyche that should have been explored long ago.  Last week,Todd became violent for the first time since the rape, seriously beating young Cole (son of his rape victim Marty) after he caught him in bed (possibly) deflowering his daughter Starr.  Earlier he had slapped Starr’s friends Markko and Langston when he thought they were hiding Cole and Starr’s whereabouts.

Finally, finally, a watershed moment for myself and other Todd haters!  He is a brute after all!  Is this the beginning of a storyline which will delve into Todd’s mind, and interestingly enlighten viewers as to the complexities of a character who is mentally ill … a man who is suffering perhaps from psychosis?  Or will it just be another springboard to build sympathy for Todd, daytime’s favorite rapist?

Of course, that’s up to the current headwriter of OLTL.  Just by insightfully making Todd violent again, Ron Carlivati has kicked off what could be the most memorable OLTL story of all, if done with intelligence, compassion and logic.  Let’s see.Roger Howarth

As OLTL viewers know, much of the credit for Todd’s early popularity went to Roger Howarth, the Emmy-winning actor who first played him.  Brooding, bitter and downright nasty, this character was an odd pick for audience favorite.  Eventually, Howarth disagreed with the direction the character was going in and left the show. (He now plays Paul Ryan on OLTL timeslot competitor As the World Turns.)  Trevor St. John, who has played the role since 2003, has made Todd a mix of arrogance, belligerence and dark blonde good looks.

The show has given Todd endless stories to redeem him after the rape:  On the way back from a very short jail term, he saved the lives of two adorable children in an train accident … he was given two beautiful women, Blair and Tea, to marry and love … a rich family life with Blair resulted in two children, including Starr, the daughter who worshipped him.  Recently he was raped by a woman (!) who secretly gave birth to his son.  That son was given up to adoption without his knowledge and he recently got the son back.

All the while Todd has lived on the $27 million he inherited right after the rape (around the time his character grew popular with the audience) from his biological father, Victor Lord.  He’s became a newspaper publisher and enjoyed the unquestioning love of his  half-sister, Viki, the show’s main heroine and figure of good.

Now that Todd has become violent again by attacking his daughter’s friends, will One Life to Live adequately explain what is going on in his head, and what has been going on for the last 16 years?  If I understood him — and Todd finally understood himself and all of his actions — maybe I’d stop hating him.  It’s all up to the writers of OLTL now! 

Comments

  1. DS0816 says:

    Marlena,

    Isn’t it interesting how the soaps’ writers have been attracted to having some of their pivotal characters commit “criminal” behavior — “One Life to Live’s” Todd for raping Marty in 1993, “Guiding Light’s” Alan for attempting to kill Jonathan but for Tammy’s homicide instead in 2007, and “General Hospital’s” Sonny, Jason, and somewhere close to one-fourth of the soap’s characters however many years ago — only to later prop them and treat them as if they’re anti-heroes who are “complex” characters to whom viewers should be attracted and that the audience will and should understand, accept, and embrace?

    I did not watch “OLTL’s” Todd’s latest — I heard a couple podcasts, including “In the Zone” (on which you have kindly put in a few guest appearances, including one from last Wednesday, March 5, 2008), and have reached a conclusion that the rule book was thrown out a long time ago and that the scribes (and producers) just don’t care. Like they figure there’s such audience loyalty, and those devoted viewers will put up with “anything.” Obviously, they haven’t taken a look at the conspicuous ratings decline over the past generation. Or, I can correct myself: They have, but they still don’t care. This is the soaps’ idea of pushing the envelope. Have two men on “As the World Turns” lust after one another? Not like their heterosexual counterparts (especially lusty duo Brad and Katie). Have criminal behavior run rampant on nearly every soap? Oh, yes! Please do. It’s such a dramatic highpoint.

    Marlena says: Here’s my version, dear DSO. The networks are desperate for better numbers, so every week soap writers send up their plans for “big” or eye-catching events. Fires, rapes, explosions, a suffocation death from a plane crash … anything but character/emotional scenes which the network thinks are a waste of time because they don’t shock people into watching soaps. Meanwhile the poor writers have to redeem all the “villains” who caused last week’s big events, and often they can’t offer the audience a logical explanation. So they forget it or fudge it.

    So many great characters have been ruined this way. Look at Rick on GH, who was made a criminal early on by locking Elizabeth away in a room. Adam Chandler of All My Children has committed how many zillions of crimes? And his son JR? Since crimes are needed every week on every show, not many characters are trustworthy anymore. It used to be you can slime a character once a year — but now new “criminals” are needed in new plots every week. Thus, your canvas eventually becomes completely corrupted. What? Erica is going to jail again…..?

  2. Daniel says:

    I think Rick locked away Carly so he could kill her and give her baby to Elizabeth, but what I really wanted to say is that GH makes me so depressed when thinking about it. It has no joy. It was once fun and people had friendships! When people died it meant something, it wasn’t just to give more mob related airtime, as in Steve Burton making sad robot faces when his “sister” was killed. Does anyone remember Lynn Herring? She was so fun and had depth. She was allowed to give her character depth. She wasn’t involved that much with the mobsters, then she was sent to PC to be a vampire slayer(?) and then, well, that was that. They should clean house on this show and bring back characters that longtime fans love! Make the last, what, 10 years all a bad dream?

  3. Barb says:

    I suspect we won’t see nearly as much of Todd’s psyche as we should under these circumstances. Todd may be the far more interesting story. I see the physical beatings of Markko and Cole, and the threatening of Langston, more as a ploy to build sympathy for the teens in yet another standard Romeo and Juliet-esque story. .

  4. Carmen says:

    I am tired of Todd and his endless excuses for the way he acts. I’m tired of the writers attempting to come up with new reasons to feel sorry for him. I’m tired of other characters being eaten up and chewed out at all cost all so Todd can stay on the canvas. Todd Manning is a disgusting rapist and murderer add that to the fact that he tried to kill his own child, Gave away Blair’s child and now beats up on kids. He is a coward and a unredeemable creature.

    Thank You Marlena for touching on this subject.

  5. MsT says:

    Hopefully, they will truly explore Todd.

    Just one thing. His attack on Cole was not the first time he was violent since the rape. I distinctly remember Todd punching his wife, Tea, in the face.

    Marlena says: I didn’t see that but I remember there was a lot of complaints about it at the time. I liked Tea as well as Blair, and well remember the board wars that went on endlessly between the Todd and Blair fans and the Todd and Tea fans. Oy!

  6. Julie says:

    TSJ has brought much more to Todd Manning than that. RH was great at his Todd and TSJ is also great. Both bring different things. How anyone who has seen TSJ in earlier scenes with KA, and REG showing the more human side of Todd can dismiss his acting by claiming a mix of arrogance, belligerence and dark blonde good looks is all he brings is beyond me. However the only thing I will agree with it is about time OLTL did this story and I hope they do it right

  7. Fabobug says:

    People, People, did anyone watch during RH’s umpteeth dramatic exit in 1998? It was kinda sorta explained in a court trial that Todd had been repeatedly raped by his adopted father. I can’t exactly remember why he was on trial, but that’s not the point. I think Sam Rappaport knew about the abuse, and we were given a new perspective about Todd and his violent actions through Sam’s eyes.

    After the trial, Todd told everyone that the abuse was all a lie. But Viki told him she knew it was true, since she is the final word on abuse survivors in Llanview. In his final scene in 1998, it was inferred that Todd had actually suffered from D.I.D. (like Viki) and that could partially explain how he could be so violent.

    As far as I know, that angle to the story was never picked up when RH returned, or with TSJ.

    For the record — I think TSJ if far sexier than RH. But he seemed a lot more at ease playing Mitch Lawrence’s long lost brother than he ever did playing Todd.

    Hi Fabs: I said the very same thing about TSJ being better as Walker in an answer to another reader a few columns ago. Thanks for recalling those little details about the “possible” cause of Todd’s disorder. So like a soap to never mention them again.

  8. Cherry Ames says:

    Once again, you’ve given us the right stuff! I have never been able to abide Todd no matter which actor played him. He is a character who, in the best of all possible scenarios, would be in prison engraving license plates and hopefully receiving some intensive therapy.

    I think soaps began to fail for me when characters that were evil began to the “root” for guys and gals. There is something there that defines our society but I won’t belabor the point and it is JMO.

    The event rather than character driven material most of the soaps now resort to is what I call the “Springerization” of the soap opera. Anything goes. Mother sleeping with tgheir daughters boyfriends, who’s the daddy, ad nauseum on every talk show. Soaps have got to compete but if these are truly who they believe their fans to be…God help them. It ain’t working, so fix it!

    I have no answers. I do know that I agree with the recent article in Newsweek that said many inside the industry see soaps heading for the internet rather than network TV. Not a bad thing, IMO.

    I do know I will tune out and never even look behind me as I walk away if the soaps(esp. ABC) continue to produce garbage. Gotta respect myself, after all. It is becoming clear that the people in charge have no respect for the dwindling audience. If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. BTW, I think TSJ is a terrific actor and plays bad really good. But Todd is beyond beyond.

    Marlena says: Thanks for your constant support, Cherry. Maybe some soap historian out there can recall the first story in which the audience was asked to love a criminal. Luke and the rape of Laura on GH? Nah, the show tried to take that one back and call it a “seduction.”

    I think when Michael Malone created Todd he had no idea that this then minor character would take off like a rocket. Why? That was the point of this column. Do soap viewers love criminals because they are manipulated into by the writers, or because there is something very dark in human nature? Some love the darkness, others like you, Cherry, turn away. Perhaps the whole subject is better handled in classic literature like Crime and Punishment than on soaps. At least in that novel, there was Punishment at the end.

  9. Kade says:

    The UK soaps have a habit of creating amazing villians and then when they’ve run their course they actually kill them off (FOR GOOD) or lock them away in prison and then (gasp!) create NEW bad guys that don’t wind up being turned into future heroes and romantic leads…

  10. This whole thing started when GH turned Luke Spencer into an anti-hero redeemed by the love of Laura Spencer after his rape of her on the floor of the campus disco. However, none of the writers since then have had the brilliance of Luke’s creator. We viewers knew that Luke raped Laura out of his desperate love for her, thinking that he was going to die after fulfilling Frank Smith’s orders to kill Tracy’s husband Mitch. Although the rape was despicable, he truly was sorry for how he treated Laura. Todd, however, at the time of Marty’s rape was protrayed as just drunken frat guy who wanted to pay Marty back for rejecting him. I never bought redeeming him by having him rescue two children, particularly after he terrorized Nora while she was blind.

    I might be able to tolerate Todd if it did turn out that he was abused by his adopted father and the writers delved into that, hopefully with the help of a good therapist. Sonny ended up in a life of crime to escape his neighborhood and the abuse of his step-father, Jason has brain damage, Rick’s daddy didn’t love him and his mother abandoned him for Sonny. All these men need some therapy to be redeemed stat. I’m a little tired of all this violence towards women that ABC insists on perpetuating.

  11. Desertrose says:

    Thanks for addressing this Marlena. I have to say this whole Todd stuff has been bothering me for quite sometime.

    I remember well when Roger Howarth’s Todd first appeared and then the traumatic gang rape of Marty. Knowing that his was to be only a short term appearance but he was kept on by “popularity” was a step down the road to trying to play to the audience, IMHO.
    I wonder how it would have been to follow the plan and be finished with Todd and then had RH return as a cousin or an entirely different actor in an entirely different role…ah, but we will never know, will we?

    I have no problem with a character going dark- that is life, but what I want and maybe need to see is some balance. Please, give me an explanation or reasons as to this character’s motivation. They are surely hinting that Todd is reliving the rape of Marty only from a different perspective. He is assuming that Cole is the same twisted soul that he was/is and wants to defend his daughter from that dark part of himself, and yet here he is, showing her nothing but the darkest deepest rage. I really hope they take this farther and have Todd get some help.

    As to TSJ…he seems to have his teeth in this part. His barely contained and recently unleashed violence is truly disturbing. I am crossing my fingers that he is doing this because TPTB have told him they are going to delve into his past …..and yes, I do live in a world of endless hopefulness. LOL

    Dark is OK if it eventually is balanced by the light- and by light I mean understanding oneself and growth. In other words…character driven stories. Can Todd be redeemed? Well, it would surely take a lot at this point, perhaps either way, the character is past redemption. If the reason he is so twisted is that horrendous, that could also destroy him .

    OLTL could have quite a story if they choose to take that path….and give it the writing it deserves……or they could just kill the character for good this time and cut their losses. (OK OK, I know that’ll never happen….and I can hear the fan bases beginning their roar now.)

    My wish is that they give us some answers to so many “whys” about Todd…time will tell….

    Marlena says: Here! Here! to your last line. This is the kind of story Ron Carlivati could really make a permanent mark on daytime with should he choose to do it. I certainly would love thim to do this!

  12. Kade C says:

    In his fifteen years on OLTL, Todd is always a hot topic whether you love him or hate him. I’ve watched more or less since Todd was introduced – and I can distinctly remember my twelve-year-old self saying in 1994 that they should kill off Todd and bring on his twin brother Rod. Because at his core, Todd is (and should be) too dark of a character to sustain.

    Marlena, I must admit I counted myself as a Todd fan until recent years. Though it sounds silly after listing off his misdeeds (my inner know-it-all would like to point out that Todd saved young CJ and Jess after a van accident, not a train accident) it is true. I think the reason that the character caught on the way he did is because of that age-old struggle between light and dark – watching Todd struggle within himself to do the right thing, the good thing.

    Unfortunately, in recent years Todd has shifted from the troubled man trying to be a better person to a strictly hero/villain kind of guy. What’s worse, Todd is written as a despicable villain while far too many characters (and viewers) treat him as a hero. For instance, four solid months of Todd daily calling Marcie a crazy bitch while showing less concern for his missing son than many people show for a pair of missing sunglasses is not entertainment in my book.

    I think Todd’s decline as a character started during the Higley years, specifically with Mad Mags, and has continued to this day. And what really sucks is that Todd has taken Blair and Starr with him on this downward spiral. (What happened to scheming hellcat Blair? She would have never rolled over and taken this much crap from Todd! She would have cooked up a plan to get the kids away from him and probably institutionalized him for good measure!)

    What I think would have been a far better story, instead of the Mad Mags/Spencer/Baby Tommy-go-round we’ve been on for three years, is the following: Zach Rosen comes back to town. Remember him, the third rapist? The only one to serve full jail-time for the crime? How much more interesting would it have been to have him return to Llanview, looking for help getting back on his feet from old frat buddy-turned millionaire Todd. Todd wouldn’t have wanted to have anything to do with Zach, wanting to distance himself from his past. But Zach wouldn’t leave him alone, and ingratiated himself into Todd’s life. Young Starr and Jack could have idolized their “uncle Zach”. Todd could eventually realize that Zach hasn’t learned anything, that he is still an immature, troubled frat boy at heart – and that Todd genuinely enjoys Zach’s company despite his obvious problems. This also could have led to a rape reveal with Starr that would have been far more interesting than the one we watched with a recast Marty, a recast Todd, and a very green Cole. (Yes, I know I put way too much thought into that, but isn’t that what we Thinking Fans do?)

    The other problem I’ve had with Todd recently is that TSJ appears to be doing the exact same thing that bothered me about RH – phoning it in and making poor acting choices that just bring down every scene he is in (such as his pleased smile when confessing to young Jack that he sold him on the Black Market). Presumably this is his way of making his dissastisfaction with the character’s direction known – just like RH. Not only is it disrespectful to the fans, but it is especially apparent in scenes with Kassie DePaiva, who gives 150% in every scene, every time, no matter how inane the story or dialogue. If TSJ is this unhappy with the character, then I think he and the show will be much better off without Todd.

    The upshot is that with the fallout from Starr and Cole’s “last night together,” TPTB had better delve deep into Todd’s troubled pysche and not shy away from the fact that he is a very sick man. I’ve been ready for Todd to be off this show for months now, and if this story isn’t going to be told well, then it’s time for Todd to go. After all, OLTL managed just fine without Todd for 25 years – I think it can do the same again.

    Marlena says: I’ve followed one rule I’ve made for myself all my soap life: I never play soap headwriter. But I can see why you think Todd should be gone! Also, I’ve tried to stay away in this column from discussing Howarth’s and St. John’s acting because I want readers to mull why Todd has dominated the show so for the last decade and a few years. But I will admit that TSJ (as fans call him) did seem to me to be asleep at the wheel in way too many OLTL scenes these last few years. I’ve always wondered why Viki didn’t give Todd the good slap in the kisser he deserved.

  13. DS0816 says:

    This all reminds me of an interview cultural critic Camille Paglia — who writes a column for Salon.com (and teaches at University of the Arts in Philadelphia) — gave to “TV Guide” Soaps columnist Michael Logan in 1994.

    Paglia said that “soaps [are] going in completely the wrong direction,” refering to their developing and ongoing cheap theatrics of “aping for prime-time shoot-em-ups” that the daytime dramas were reflecting in their content even then.

    That interview took place 14 years ago. We could round it out to 15, if we’d like. That’s because this nature of storytelling has been brewing on all daytime dramas for at least that long. (Romance is apparengly dead, I guess.

    Marlena says: I interviewed Paglia about the same time for Newsday. I remember she was a big, big Young and Restless fan. I never heard anyone speak that quickly my whole life. Moose maintains that Paglia is the smartest person in the world. Well, her foresight of how our wonderful genre would be ultimately destroyed may prove that.

  14. Julie says:

    I agree Fabobug and while the in thing is to bash TSJ and claim oh he should be Walker, wasn’t Walker a complicated dark and light character who became popular on his own due to warm scenes with Jess, Starr and yet his matching up with DG’s Kevin. So much for the TSJ only plays smug. Most of the anti Todd stuff these days is nothing more than a clever way to bash the actor. who is most likely one of the few in daytime who could make it outside daytime, where out of the box acting choices are the stuff of great acting

  15. Mary says:

    I sometimes hate Todd, but I love to watch him. More often than not he’s extremely interesting and richly drawn – depending on if the headwriter “gets” him. Dena Higley turned him into a one-dimensional snot-nosed school boy who had a crush on his boring saintly lawyer Evangeline. It all depends on who is writing Todd. Ron Carlivati is doing the character justice by not sugar-coating him and by letting the audience make up their own minds about him. Ron doesn’t try to train us into liking him. I loved Roger’s portrayal of Todd, but I think Trevor is doing a good job, considering what he stepped into. He’s made Todd his own.

  16. esther says:

    I have actually started watching OLTL regularly again for the first time since Nora slept with Sam to give Bo a baby (too stupid for words — or for me to watch) because ATWT got soooooooooo bad (final straw was firing Scott Bryce). This whole thing with Starr has actually interested me. I find it compelling. I find Todd disgusting and vile, but I’m watching. Of course, I’d like to see John McBain continue to give him a problem but it is sickly fascinating to see Todd go into robot-mode with his anger. I keep calling him Terminator around my house. I would like to think they’d delve into Todd’s guilt about Marty with this story but alas, I don’t have the confidence that will happen. THAT would be interesting. But I’m afraid Barb’s take on this story turn is right on the money.

  17. marceline says:

    I agree with Barb. The show won’t examine Todd’s issues. His rapist past is too convenient. It makes all the other characters *good* by comparison no matter how hypocritical, giving them a free pass at bad behavior. It makes him a perfect target for every new villain du jour like Margaret or Spencer. It gives the show the perfect excuse to keep him shackled in a tired relationship with a woman who routinely humiliates and betrays him rather than have the character go through the complicated processes of entering and leaving relationships like every other character. Todd Manning is the perfect prop and they’re using him to specifications now, to tee up a teen Love on the Run story.

    I wanted to address one other thing. I hated Todd as much as anyone when he first appeared and I grew fascinated by him but not because of the hero/money stuff. I still remember the scenes of Todd in sex offender counseling when he was in jail. We got to see his humanity and his pain. As much as people want to paint Todd as the soul of evil, he’s always taken responsibility for being a rapist and he’s always shown genuine remorse. That’s two things real soap villains – think Mitch Laurence or Carlo Hesser – never do. Todd Manning became popular due to the talent of three men Michael Malone, Roger Howarth and Trevor St. John.

  18. Fabobug says:

    Oh, you want to know WHY we Love/Hate Todd after 15 years?

    Why do we love Hamlet? Othello? The Phantom of the Opera?

    Art and Literature have classically brought us tortured men who have the capacity to be brutally violent and then sensitive and loving.

    Because our society conditions us to dichotomize these “good” and “bad” parts within ourselves, we are more readily able to recognize and respect these parts in others. It’s easier (and more fun) for people to love and hate Todd than to respect and integrate these qualities within themselves.

    This is just as true for Todd as it is for GH’s Luke, GL’s Roger, DAYS’ Jack Deveraux, AW’s Jake, and even going way back to DAYS’ Bill Horton in the 70′s.

    In women, we have embraced this dichotomy in AMC’s Erica, OLTL’s Dorian, RH’s Delia.

    True, I think Shakespeare and even Claire Labine wrote these characters better. But the human tendency to project the “Light” and “Dark” on others seems to be timeless.

    Marlena says: Grade: A++ Fabs, you well know that Marlena teaches in her other professional life. Go to the head of the class, darling!

  19. EricMontreal22 says:

    Great piece. I agree that this could finally be a breakthrough story for the character–what I find most interesting is that he seems unable to see Starr sleepign with Cole as anything but rape. Does something in his brain see sex as *always* a rape, in some sort, against a woman? I know he’s had “loving” sex with Blair and others since, but maybe he always sees it as a sort of violation of the woman partner, or a power trip and he finally snaps when he sees it happening to his daughter? Obviously Todd’s a very screwed up person–I watched most of the first Malone era (though I never really got the Todd love) but don’t even remember too many heavy therapy scenes.

    (Tangent, I never get why more soaps don’t have a regular shrink character–a therapist office seems like such a natural way to show and deal with stories in a great and realistic way on soap operas…)

    Marlena says: There have been therapists on soaps as regular character but I think, dear Eric, you may be too young to remember them. Susan Flannery started her soap career playing shrink Laura Horton on Days Of Our Lives for years. Courtney Simon, now a distinguished soap writer, played a pop-in shrink named Lynn for years on either As the World Turns or Guiding Light. (Help me. I’m in school on a break and I can’t get to my soap history books!)

    And yours truly interviewed the greatest shrink of all (LOL) Dr. Joyce Brothers years after she played herself on One Life to Live (late 60s — early 70s) For Ladies Home Journal, I had to ask her why people like soaps. And she answered, “Because people who are at home all day are lonely and they need friends.” Duh. Duh.

  20. Oakdalian says:

    I think an element of Todd’s current story is being unmentioned. If his psyche is really going to be explored, there’s a ripe opportunity to do it through his twisted perspective on Starr’s consensual sex with her boyfriend. He insists that it’s rape while she doesn’t. The way he went into attack mode to protect her may be disturbing, but indicative of a hypocritical philosophy. I’ve seen profiles on child molesters who wouldn’t dare harm their own children. It’s interesting how a person compartmentalizes their relationships and develops different behavior depending on who they come in contact with. If Carlivati is the savior he’s touted as, maybe he’ll make that connection somehow.

  21. David says:

    There has to be an explanation as to why people do the things they do, or every show may as well be another Passions. Camp for the sake of campiness. On Days Of Our Lives the same thing is happening with Sami and EJ although the story was a bit much. Have sex with me even if you don’t want to or I won’t help you move that one ton beam off your distressed husband. Rape for the sake of storyline is pointless and demeaning not only to soaps characters but the fans as well. It has to come from a very dark place, from a very broken person, and must be depicted as the deplorable act it is. Not for the sake of the victim wondering if one of her twins is by the man who forced her into sex. OH, there’s nine months of agonizing story right there (NOT!!!).

    If a characters actions are too big for your writing chops then don’t even go there. Fans don’t forget no matter how popular a character becomes. Violence is violence and in no way should be downplayed. And please Mr.Carlivati, do not forget that Luna whacked this character into unconsciousness when he tried it “a second time”!!!! I don’t think this will be pulled off as well as you hope Marlena dear.

  22. BL says:

    The character I think you are thinking about Marlena that was played by Courtney Simon was ATWT’s Dr. Lynn Michaels.

    On the Todd topic, I never had strong feelings either way. I don’t love Todd, but I don’t loathe him either.

  23. DS0816 says:

    Dear Marlena and others,

    Writer and actress Courtney Sherman, who is married to actor Peter Simon (ex-Ed Bauer, “Guiding Light”), played psychiatrists on both “As the World Turns” and “All My Children.”

    This Internet Movie Database Board — at IMDB.com(http://us.imdb.com/Name?Sherman,+Courtney) — link should help those who are wanting to know more about Sherman: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0792404/

    Marlena says: Thanks, DSO! And I love the imdb.com, actually read it for fun! And it struck me in the middle of the night that I left out the shrinkiest shrink of them all, the other Marlena, you know, Dr. Evans on Days of Our Lives.

  24. MissD says:

    I consider myself a younger soap viewer who started watching soaps right around the time Todd came onto OLTL. What stands out to me about OLTL is that Todd being a rapist is brought up often. It is not something they try to hide in his past. I watched GH and Days, too, and for the longest time I didn’t know that Luke and Jack were rapists. I only found out Luke was when Elizabeth’s rape happened and I only learned about Jack while reading something online about his history. So, personally, I respect OLTL for not forgetting where Todd came from even if they could look deeper into the “why” he does the things he does.

  25. Marilyn Henry says:

    Marlena, don’t forget that other long-time shrink, GH’s Gail Baldwin, played by Susan Brown. And now we have Lainey. However, it never seems there were many scenes with them doing their jobs. Lainey was working with that Irag vet on Nightshift, but we haven’t really seen her in quite a while. There were some therapy scenes when Cameron (Lane Davies, sigh) was on GH but they are a long gone memory now.

    I wasn’t watching during Todd’s rape of Marty and the trial. I do not feel any sympathy whatsoever for Todd and didn’t know anyone was actually supposed to! He behaves like such a sociopath, I figured he was supposed to be despicable in our eyes. The man is totally lacking empathy—her cannot feel for what others feel, only use and manipulate others for his own agendas. I do think Roger H got to people because of the acting, and this actor is also darn good.

    Good acting had everything to do with Geary turning Luke around. But it was also in the writing. I always figured Pat Falcon Smith wrote characters with a psychology book next to her word processor. (Laura was such a typical passive character as a teen.) In scene after scene we saw Luke and Laura drawing together, saw his longing and his fantasies, his fear of and disgust for Mr Smith who had him under his thumb. So we had sympathy for him long before the rape. And the way PFS showed us Luke’s pain, his yearnings, his terrible remorse over the rape, drew us into his side of it as much as Laura’s. That was masterful. Remember the scene following that night as we saw Luke in his shabby apartment, sitting on the couch hugging a pillow, staring, tears wet on his face and the phone ringing and ringing? It was Bobby checking on him and he barely spoke to her, couldn’t. That tore it for me. They had started to save the character immediately. When he took flowers to Laura’s hospital room a day later…well you knew they expected us to care about the damage to him as well.

    Todd is so dangerously unbalanced that I cannot see how Blaire feels comfortable with him, ever. I liked Tea, but wondered why she would waste even a nice afternoon on him. Claire Labine loves to bring in animals and she gave Todd a parrot, which was fun for awhile, but even that seemed odd for Todd. He isn’t a fun character. His arrogance and lack of feeling for others is
    ripe for a padded cell and therapy. Blaire should be worried about her daughter’s safety!

    Thanks for this topic. I get so fed up with GH’s criminal element, being treated as ‘bad boys’ when they are murderers and mob creeps. Viewers complain constantly about this on GH and yet nothing ever changes. The cops are always incompetent and Jason is the only one allowed to solve a crime or save anyone. Tiresome.

    Marlena says: Gail Baldwin, of course! And I really like Lainey. Marilyn, I’m so glad we agree on Todd being a sociopath. But I have a hard time comparing Todd on OLTL to Luke on GH or even Roger on GL. Even though rape is rape, each show and actor has played his rapist differently under different circumstances, I think Luke has paid and paid and paid over the years for raping Laura, but I don’t see much of that with Todd.

    Plus, it’s so hard to compare rapists on different soaps, because each was written by a series of different writers and supervised by different executive producers. Right now, the only commonality OLTL has with GH is their joint ABC network overseer, Mr. Frons (whom Marlena knew in a prior life, but that’s another story.) He’s still letting GH headwriter Bob Guza do his criminals and violence, But is he going to let Ron Carlivati (who someone on an OLTL board has dubbed “St. Ron,” LOL) write a story for Todd now that is fairly cerebral and explanatory, delving into the mind of a rapist? Or, since OLTL is at the bottom of the ratings and desperate, will Frons go for a story that’s full of cheap titillation and sensationalism? Which do you think?

    Don’t answer that personally, Marliyn. You are an author and a movie history scholar and you are too much of a lady to even have to think about all this!

  26. HunterForrester says:

    At least Todd went to jail for his crime — albeit for a short time — and did not marry his victim like Luke Spencer! NOW that was the real tragedy! Also, GH did not admit at first that Luke raped Laura, and called it a seduction! Though in recent years they clarified his criminal act. The fact is villains exist in our society and continue to exact their hatred. In a society that allows murderers to walk free based on a technicality is that so unrealistic?

    Marlena says: Believe it or not, we’ll soon have the most learned historical word by a real expert on Luke and Laura right here in a special treat on this site. Stay tuned.

  27. Mr. V says:

    As a follower of OLTL for the past 20 years I can honestly say Todd is the one character I hate the most, more so than Carlo Hesser, Mitch Laurence, Margaret Cochren, or any other villain. Why he gets away with the crimes he does is beyond me and why he constantly gets rewarded has me perplexed. The whole Tommy/Sam story line was painful to watch cause we all knew at the end of the day a good family such as the McBains would have their lives ruined and our resident rapist would get rewarded once again. To watch him beat up Markko and Cole, especially Cole so viciously was really shocking to see and why hasn’t he been arrested or anything? I’m just getting really getting frustrated by his character. Let him lose his money like Antonio did, let him lose his family like the McBains did. They cannot allow this monster to basically do whatever he wants to.

    Marlena says: I agree with you, but there are still many Todd fans throughout the land. Speaking of Carlo Hesser, I saw Thom Christopher in an off-off Broadway play this week here in New York called Another Vermeer. He played a Dutch art critic who torments a forger who sold a fake Vermeer painting to Gorring during WW II. Oh to see that sexy bald head again, the elegent curve of his eagle’s nose! Thom was always a sweet, modest man who was a prince to the press. And what a terrific. super-stylish actor!! Carlo Hesser– now there was a vicious criminal a girl like Marlena can and did love!

  28. Lena says:

    The time has come to kill off the teen abuser Todd. The character has been ruined. Trying to punch Langston in the face was the last straw. If this network thinks this will fly I don’t see it. Death becomes Todd, just keep him dead this time.

  29. George says:

    I too loath Todd. I know it’s just a soap but come on watching a soap is my way of escaping daily life and this never ending violent world. So I cringe each time violence is used to tell a story. First and foremost Todd is a rapist. I watched back then and it was for it’s day a brutal episode. Then Todd became so much the anti hero that they made him related to Landviews very own lady of goodness Vicki Lord. And some how Todd Manning (and characters like him) allow them to run unchecked. But they seem to write him into these stories where Todd is more a victim then the things has done in the past. Like Margaret raping Todd (oh please rather sad story in the first place) and we’re supposed ‘feel’ bad for Todd. I’ve never bought into the many attempts at trying to redeem Todd Manning.

    But this beating up the teens is going too far. In the real world Todd would be behind bars. While I don’t want reality invading the soap world all the time I do want just a bit more balance. I’m sick and tired of Bad people doing evil things and getting away with it if that was my thing then I’d be a Republican. Blair finally getting into Todds face is a start but I doubt it will continue. This whole storyline with Cole/Star feels really wrong especially if TPTB kill the baby. I’m hoping the pregnancy test was a false positive. If anything this is the start of Star hating her father. I find it rather sad that TPTB make Dorian a strong woman yet she allows Todd to walk all over her. Langston said it best when she told Dorian off. Why is saintly Vicki so quiet on her half brother.

    But my rant is about Todd. They can kill him off. He;s the least of the cast of OLTL that I like or care about. There is nothing entertaining about a bully, rapist and abuser. A good story would be the destruction of Todd Manning.

  30. Matthew J Cormier says:

    Trevor St. John is simply out of his leaque when it comes to playing Todd. he doesn’t have as much depth or range as Rogert Howarth has and is simply not qualified to play the character. The only time i’ve ever really bought him as Todd is during the execution storyline which will probrally go down as his greatest victory ever. The problem is that St. John is limited as an actor and has yet to get to Todd’s truly dark side which Howarth was always able to do.

    I actually think todd is a good character, in terms of he’s fascinating to watch and see what he’ll do next—i like that he’s firmly planted as a villian and is not seen as a hero—people on the show acknowledge that he is wrong and a criminal—Blair has as much as said it to his face.

    I don’t think soaps would be intresting if all the characters were good, innocent people—the truth is crime and criminals exist and if we were to have soaps without them well than soaps wouldn’t be very much fun,

    I do think OLTL needs to do whatever it can to get Howarth back in the role because that is what could make this character enjoyable to watch again.

  31. Klowe says:

    I agree that Todd is a complex character, who deserves to be moved away from the constant drudging up of his rapist past. But having said that, Todd still has a major rap sheet, including the killing of 2 people, his racist comments about Rachel, his
    kidnapping of Jack and now his brutality to teenagers one being his own. I don’t find him amusing and haven’t for a long time. As a matter of fact I stopped watching the show years ago because of OLTL attempt to romanticize the character, which is the same reason RH left.

    TSJ constant campaigning for Todd to have a relationship wih Evangeline was no doubt his attempt at redemption for the character, but it turned the long time Todd and Blair fans against TSJ big time, as well as making the character of Evangeline unrecognizable. Vicki was always a strong leaning post for Todd, but the two rarely shares scenes anymore. What is really scary is the number of internet posters who try to rationalize the actions of Todd by casting tossing dirt on Blair. TSJ’s current acting choices make the only tender spot in Todd (his love for his children) a thing of the past.

    Marlena says: I always find it interesting when fans say they have stopped watching their soap but they still care about the characters. I don’t think Todd acting violently towards Starr and Cole is just a TSJ acting choice–that comes from the writing. I think Todd is on the brink of a major breakthough in his personality of the writers have the courage to write it. Plus the real Marty (as played by role orginator Susan Haskell) is coming back next month so look for something big to happen.

  32. Deb Okey says:

    Actually, I understand very well why Todd is such a popular character because I have had to wrestle with why I am so drawn to him. There is, in many of us, a certain attraction to the danger zone and teh men who inhabit it. In real life, these men are sadistic psychological predators who should be avoided at all costs. However, confined to the world of words-on-paper fiction, they are safe. We can dance with the devil without his having any effect on reality, which is infinitely preferable to knowing any of these men in the flesh.

    I also understand and am delighted with the dark turn the character has taken. Trevor St. John did what most soap actors find impossible. He stepped into the very large shoes of a powerful actor portraying an iconic character and made it work. The writing of the Walker Lawrence storyline was actually an intelligent choice. No one would have accepted St. John or anyone other than Roger Howath as Todd had the character simply appeared in new form. But by introducing Walker Lawrence and dripping hints that he may be Todd, the writers led the audience to want this new man to be that character.

    St. John’s acting is formidable. From his love scenes with Kassie DePavia to the Emmy-worth scenes leading up to the character’s execution, he has displayed incredible range.

    But St. John’s Todd has never truly visited the dark side. Yes, he wanted to kill Margaret, and he tortured Spencer Truman, but under the circumstances, these actions were justifiable in soap terms.

    It is YouTube that has made this visit to darkness necessary for St. John’s Todd. I began watching OLTL immediately after the Walker Lawrence storyline, so St. John was the only Todd I had known until YouTube. Now, I’ve seen Roger Howath’s work, and I understand why so many fans are devoted. He was very powerful and menacing in the role.

    Naturally, the resurrection of Howath’s tour de force maliciousness raises the question of whether St. John would be capable of playing the darkness of Todd as well. The current storyline provides us with an opportunity to explore that question, and as far as I can tell, St. John is meeting the challenge superbly.

  33. sandra says:

    First of all Roger Howath has little range. He did not play Paul on As the World Turns, he played Todd .His acting was the exact same for both roles. He is incapable of getting in and out of character. St. John has given the character more range and more layers. Secondly, Howath left One Life to Live because he did not want to be paired romanticly with that black women. I mean look at the evidence Howath had played Todd forever, hell Howath was Todd and all of a sudden he leaves and goes to the whitest soap on TV,AS the WORLD Turns, think about it. The man is a racist.

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