Sept 19, 2007

Missing the Real Todd
By Sandi Showalter

It’s been quite a while now since Trevor St. John took over the role of Todd Manning. I think he is a pretty good actor and he had very large shoes to fill, but for some reason, even after all these years, I still miss Roger Howarth in the role. I don’t even really know if it’s Roger I miss so much or the Todd of yesteryear.  When Todd first came on the show I, of course, hated him and despised what he did to Marty.  Over the years I came to enjoy Roger’s portrayal of Todd and the characters growth. We saw him go from a bratty, rich, mean frat boy to a very tortured but redeemable human being. I know from interviews that Howarth didn’t really want Todd redeemed or forgiven for the rape, but he was so compelling to watch and made the “redemption” believable. The scenes between him and Susan Haskell when Todd finally really realized what he did Marty were beyond phenomenal. I got a chance to watch some older scenes on You Tube recently of Todd and Marty when they were stuck in a house together during a rain storm. The acting and writing was very powerful and made me long for those performances - especially the dynamic between those two actors. (After watching that again, it makes me even more  want to poke my eyes out and plug my ears when I have to watch Christina Chambers portrayal of STFUMarty! I think she is the worst recast ever and I’m sorry to all of her fans that I just offended, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!)

We saw Todd grow. We saw him evolve. He saved CJ, Sarah and Marty from a car crash when he could have ran away. We saw the slow build up of a truly great love between him and Blair and their Biggest Loser club. We saw him deal with the demons of being Victor Lord’s son.  Yes Todd continued to do despicable things like the “dead baby lie”, punching Tea, stealing Starr, but in Howarth’s hands I could never truly find myself hating Todd. I think I could always see the humanity and the insecurity under all of the bluster. I don’t know if it’s St. John’s take on this version of Todd, the way the writers are writing for the character or a combination of both, but I don’t see the humanity of Todd anymore. For some reason I can’t see Howarth’s Todd screaming at the top of his lungs, “My son! Give me my son!” and terrorizing the “son” he has been looking for for so long. I also don’t feel this version of Todd’s connection to Starr like I did with Howarth. I am not knocking St. John as an actor. I truly do think he is very good. I just don’t think that he’s Todd…not the real Todd anyway.

There are actors out there who put such an indelible stamp on a character that they never should be recast: Susan Lucci’s Erica, Erika Slezak’s Viki, Tony Geary’s Luke and I believe Roger Howarth’s Todd should have been on that list. I think they should have left St. John’s character as Walker Laurence. I liked Walker Laurence. I liked St. John’s portrayal of Walker. I know I go tired of Howarth’s revolving door, but for me he is the only true Todd. I’m sure the writers could even mess up Howarth’s version of Todd, but I think he could transcend the bad writing. This must seem like a long love letter about Howarth from one of his biggest fans, but in reality OLTL is the only thing I’ve ever seen him on. I’ve never watched his portrayal on ATWT and I couldn’t even tell you what else he’s been in without looking it up on IMDB. Lately I’ve just been asking myself “what happened to all of Todd’s growth as a character?” and I keep coming back to missing Howarth’s take on Todd.  I know it would take a miracle for Howarth to ever return to the role of Todd, but some teeny, tiny, miniscule  spec inside of me is still holding out hope that one day that miracle could happen. I know, I know, I should stop wishing and dreaming and join the land of reality.

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