Do You Root For or Against Them?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Hunter King’s Summer Newman: good intentions, bad choices

Soap roles can conform strictly to type: heroes and heroines we root for and villains and villainesses we root against.  Happily, however, most soap casts are big enough to include characters who do not conform to type. These off-beat characters have personalities drawn in various shades of gray, and as such make their soaps immensely more vivid and engaging.

Here’s a quartet of soap characters who defy who defy clear “good guy” and “bad guy” labels. Do you root for or against them?

Summer Newman, The Young and the Restless (played by Hunter King).  Depending on how you look at her, Summer is either a sweet young heroine or a mixed up young girl who is dumber than a box of rocks.  As the biological daughter of Nick (Jack thinks wrongfully he is her father) she always finds herself in lots of trouble. Last summer she came under the influence of con man Ian. Recently she bailed out and married Austin, a young man who mistakenly shot Chief of Police Paul while trying to kidnap Avery.  She means well, but do good intentions always excuse bad choices? Will Summer be left alone while Austin goes to jail?

Hilary Curtis, Y&R, The Young and the Restless (played by Mishael Morgan).     Hilary originally appeared as a villainess who tried to come between Lily and Cain.  Then, Devon fell in love with her as did his father Neil, who managed to marry her.  Recently newlywed Hilary and Devon were caught by Cain as they were about to make love in the laundry closet.   Now, do you root for or against Hilary?

Maya Avant, The Bold and the Beautiful (played by Karla Mosley).    Is Maya a hero or a villainess?.  She came to town and was engaged to Rick but broke that off and he married Caroline. Meanwhile, she became engaged to Carter.  Recently, she unsuccessfully propositioned Rick in the steam room  and tape recorded Oliver’s confession that he initially was attracted to Aly because of her Forrester name.   Is Maya to be trusted?

Maxie Jones, General Hospital (played by Kirsten Storms).  Maxie was born on the show, and we’re supposed to root for her.  However, it’s hard because she has done many stupid things, like pass off her own biological daughter as Lula and Dante’s.  Recently Maxie has gotten herself all involved with muscle bound Aussie Levi, although she clearly is falling in love with Nathan. Isn’t Maxie making it harder and harder to root for her?

 

Character Actors Add Much Needed Character To Soaps

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Bergen Williams as truth-telling Alice Gunderson on General Hospital

Soap stories, most of which are about romance and love triangles, do tend to get repetitive.  Adding variety and spice to this formula are character roles, which do a lot to make soaps more interesting.  These characters often provide comic relief and serve as “talk tos” for the main characters.

Colorful and amusing character parts have enriched soaps since the beginning.

On Another World in the 70s, Anne Meacham as Iris’s assistant Louise Goddard always drew laughs when she talked to plants about  the show’s tangled plots, “confiding” in the greenery in a deep, soothing voice. In the 80s, Brent Collins on AW  was memorable as Felicia Gallant’s wise-cracking sidekick.  (A versatile actor, he also played the evil, unfunny Mr. Big on As the World Turns.)  At the same time on Days of Our Lives,  Arleen Sorkin and  John DeLancie served as comic foils to leads Marlena and Roman – Arleen as the ditzy blond  Calliope and John as the stuffed shirt Eugene.  Meanwhile, on All My Children, the country-fried Opal (Dorothy Lyman, Jill  Larson) was the talk-to for Erica, and was so popular she became a main character.

Now more than ever, today’s meager menu of four soaps needs to be made tastier by the addition of the adroit services of stellar character actors:

All the goings-on at The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations are comically commented on by Pam (Ally Mills) and her boyfriend Charlie (Dick Christie), turning the office staff into an irreverent Greek chorus. Often they “get” what’s happening before the main characters do. Pam, you may recall, was first to catch on to how crazy Quinn is.

A fine example of comic acting was on display just this month as Ilene Kristen guested on General Hospital as her old  Ryan’s Hope character Delia Reid Ryan, her patented kookiness undiminished by the passing years,  Delia, in a real stroke of writing brilliance, was revealed to be the mother of  Ava (Maura West).  Like mother like daughter — both are conniving  and mocking. This time Delia came to stay with pregnant Ava and her baby daddy Sonny and wound up busting into Sonny’s safe before she was escorted out of town by Sean.

Another comic character that is much beloved by the GH audience is Alice Gunderson (Bergen Williams), the truth-telling wrestler and former Quartermaine maid who is now a real thorn in the side of Tracy.  Alice is on to the fact that Tracy is trying to secretly take over ELQ, the family business.  Recently Alice proved she really does have a heart by having a heart attack, and now needs a heart transplant to save her life.

Speaking of thorns, a shining example of tour de force character acting is now being offered by Ray Wise, whose seductive con man Ian Ward is now a thorn in the sides of many Genoa City residents on The Young and the Restless.   Right now, he’s suing Nikki for emotional disturbance (!) because she lied and told him he was Dylan’s biological father. In this storyline, Wise has been particularly well paired with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Eric Braeden, who plays Nikki’s exasperated and combative  husband Victor.

 These are some of my faves. Who are yours?

Daytime’s Most Famous “Love to Hate” Characters

By Marlena Delacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Eric Braeden as Victor Newman: Still Machiavellian after all these years

For any soap opera, a “love to hate” character is money in the bank.  Fascinated by their endless power to manipulate other characters and instigate interesting plots, these diabolical characters are adored by audiences who avidly follow all that they do. 

“Love to hate” characters dot soap opera history and frequently have long lives.  One of the first “love to hate” females was Lisa on As the World Turns, played by Eileen Fulton. Lisa drove her husband Bob and other ATWT characters crazy for decades.  On Another World, the original Rachel, played by Robin Strasser, was a “love to hate” character who evolved into a heroine, subsequently played by Victoria Wyndham. Stasser went on to play another and more famous “love to hate” character, Dorian Lord, on One Life to Live for decades.  Another iconic “love to hate” character, All My Children’s Erica Kane, made famous by Susan Lucci, quickly became the heroine of her show and was beloved for four decades as she stirred up trouble for generations of characters in Pine Valley.

“Love to hate” characters are usually played by women, but there have been some notable exceptions.  On AMC, James Mitchell’s Palmer Cortlandt caused trouble for his daughter Nina for years.   On TheYoung and the Restless, Eric Braeden’s conniving Victor Newman has been the catalyst of many twisted plots for 30 years. And he’s still going strong,mastermindinglots of problems for his children Adam, Nick and Victoria, and causing his wife Nikki to leave him over and over again. (They recently reconciled after Nikki forgave him for hiring a Cassie lookalike to frighten Sharon. But does anyone believe Victor is properly repentant and will change his Machiavellian ways? )

Right now, there are two “love to hate” characters on soaps who are relatively new and fascinating:

Spunky Quinn Fuller (Rena Sofer) came to The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations as a jewelry designer along with her illegitimate son Wyatt.  Since arriving Quinn will do anything to help Wyatt win over the love of Hope Logan, including threatening and torturing Wyatt’s brother Liam, who is also in love with Hope.  This week Quinn even threatened to kill both Wyatt and Hope.  Quinn is so delicious as a “love to hate” character, she’s sure to be with us for a long time.

And on General Hospital, Nina Clay, as played  by Michelle Stafford (who originated and played another “love to hate” character Phyllis Summers Newman on The Young and Restless) has turned out to be a real terror since she came to Port Charles to bust up the romance of her husband Silas and Sam Morgan.  She has even resorted to faking paralysis to get her husband to feel sorry for her and stay with her. In interviews, Stafford has stated that Nina is a sociopath – great news for connoisseurs of “love to hate” characters.   She certainly has a long future ahead as a troublemaker on GH.

So, do you have a favorite baddie, past or present? Please share.

The Young and the Restless and General Hospital: Unanswered Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Doug Davidson: His Paul Williams isn’t likely to expire

Soaps are often very logical, with storyline happenings and conclusions ironed out well in advance. Even so, for many veteran soap watchers it’s hard not to second guess the logic of soap writers.

For example, we can see exactly why The Young and the Restless recently decided to make Paul Williams (Doug Davidson) the biological father to Dylan McAvoy (Steve Burton).  Both are heroic characters and Davidson and Burton are unquestioned stars of the show. But did they have to do it in a storyline that engendered absolutely no suspense?

Specifically, Paul was shot and lingered near death for many weeks.  Dylan, suddenly informed he was not Ian Ward’s son but Dylan’s, decided to give Paul part of his liver in a transplant operation, even though it meant endangering his own life because of old war injuries. Would Paul and/ or Dylan die? Really, this is supposed to be a mystery. Viewers know that  Davidson has been on the show for 35 years, and Burton has been its big deal star since coming over from General Hospital last year.  Come on, nobody in this storyline  is going to die!

So far, however, the acting alone has carried the storyline. Davidson, whose character is the chief of police, is usually used just for background, but here he’s getting a real chance to shine. He really delivered when Paul woke up from surgery and hallucinated that son Dylan was really his dead son Ricky who Paul shot two years ago.  Davidson won a Daytime Emmy for Best Actor for that storyline.  As I write this, Dylan has just passed out in the hospital after his operation and his life is very much in danger.  But is he going to die?  I don’t think so.

General Hospital offers another unanswered question concerning plot logic:   One of the nice things about soaps is that men and women can develop a platonic relationship like the one shared by Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco) and Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson).  He recently consoled her when Silas left Sam alone in the park during a date so he could tend to his wife Nina, who had faked having an accident.   Sam is also investigating a different car accident in which someone (probably Rafe) ran Patrick and Sabrina off the road, forcing the premature birth (and subsequent death) of their baby Gabriel.

All of this begs the question: if Patrick and Sam are such good friends, why hasn’t Patrick told Sam that her husband Jason is alive?  Patrick’s wife Dr. Robin left him so she could find a solution to bringing Jason out of some kind of vegetative state.  It’s a puzzle to logical viewers why Patrick still  hasn’t disclosed the big storyline secret that Jason is still alive to his wife.  What gives?

The 2014 Daytime Emmys: A Pleasant Evening Online

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Amelia Heinle, Best Supporting Actress

This year’s Daytime Emmys – for the first time, streamed live  online but not televised — they turned out to be relatively painless.  Without commercials, the show flowed nicely, and was capably produced. Hostess Kathy Griffin was funny and full of salt and vinegar as always. The absence of television cameras did not discourage the celebrities and glitterati of the daytime world from showing up, including everyone from legendary  game show host Monty Hall to plenty of nominees plus Best Show presenter Donna Mills, who entered to the theme from Knots Landing.

The big winner was The Young and the Restless, which won for Best Show.   A win for Best Writing (picked up by Shelly Altman) set the tone for Y&R’s winning night. Amelia Heinle (Victoria) won for Best Supporting Actress.  Billy Miller, who had the storyline of the year with his character Billy’s daughter’s death in an automobile accident, won Best Actor.  Hunter King (who plays Summer) won for starring in a storyline which centered on the identity of her biological father.  A most pleasant win was for Special Episode in which the late Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine for decades, was honored posthumously. Executive  Producer Jill Farren Phelps gave a very gracious acceptance speech. She attempted to give another for Y&R ’s win as Best Show, but was interrupted by Griffin, who was hurriedly trying to close the webcast.

It was a very good year, too, for Days of Our Lives which won Best Younger Actor for Chandler Massey (ex-Will) and Best Supporting Actor for Eric Martsolf (Brady). Martsolf heartily thanked co-star Eileen Davidson, who won for Best Actress.  She kiddingly thanked frequent winner and fellow nominee  Heather Tom (Katie, The Bold and the Beautiful) for “sharing” the award.  Davidson finally got the award she deserves for creating the iconic daytime character Kristen DiMera.

There were echoes of cancelled soaps: One Life to Live won Best Direction. Venice, an online soap, won for Best Limited Series soap. The statuette was picked up by one of its stars, an emotional Crystal Chappell.

The Red Carpet Show was thorough, interviewing everyone from soap stars to soap bloggers, but marred somewhat by the flat jokes of inexperienced nonsoap hostesses.

But all in all, the Daytime Emmys 2014, the first to be streamed online, weren’t bad at all.   As a matter of fact, they deserved to be televised.  

Daytime Emmys Tonight! Posting Tomorrow

 

Marlena says: We’ll be watching the Daytime Emmys online tonight and posting tomorrow.   The Daytime Emmys can be seen at 8PM EST at www.daytimeemmys.net, preceded by red carpet festivities beginning at 6:00. 

Jusqu’à demain, mes chers …

Should Children and Babies Be Killed off on Soap Operas?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Jason Thompson and Teresa Castillo as grieving parents

Back in the day … way back, actually … it was unheard of to kill off children, especially babies, on soaps. The traditional audience was, after all, stay at home moms who watched or listened to their soaps while rolling out pie crust or ironing the family laundry.

Today, the taboo has long since been abandoned, though such storylines are still distasteful to many viewers. Thus the dilemma lingers. Though this high stakes plotting has engendered much good drama, some of it award-winning, it’s done at the cost of making at least part of the audience queasy.     

This rule was first broken in the early 60s, when As the World Turns killed off Chucky, Lisa’s son, in a car accident. Others followed. In the late 80s, Laura, Brooke’s daughter, was similarly killed in a very affecting storyline All My Children. Just this year, young Delia also was killed in a car accident on The Young and the Restless, bringing about many nominations for the show in next week’s Daytime Emmys.

The controversy sharpened this month when General Hospital chose for a premature baby, Patrick and Sabrina’s son Gabriel Drake Santiago, to die at the age of barely six months.  The baby was born prematurely after Sabrina and Patrick were run off the road by a bad driver, who this week was revealed to be young Rafe. Sam, a private investigator, is currently investigating to find out who caused the accident.

The storyline has been given lots of time by GH.  Sabrina and Patrick were seen tending to their baby in the ICU for over a month.  The baby’s death led to many dramatic moments, such as when grieving mother Sabrina developed temporary amnesia, not even remembering the death of the baby, and planning her “wedding” to Patrick  (which had taken place seven months prior) the day of the funeral.   The baby’s real funeral is scheduled to take place this week.

Storylines like these, controversial or not, certainly bring out the best in the actors involved.  Jason Thompson, who is always excellent as Patrick, was so good he frequently upstaged Teresa Castillo as Sabrina – quite a feat since she, too, was in top form.  Also excellent in this storyline has been Marc Samuel who plays Teresa’s best friend and moral support Felix.

Yes, yes, I know times have changed. Graphic violence, grisly death and raw treatment of life’s calamities in general, once confined largely to pulp fiction and film noir, now are standard fare on television drama. I get it. Even so, when children are involved … count me among the queasy.

So what do you think?  Is it okay to kill off babies and children on soap operas, or are these storylines just too hard to take?  Drop me a line.

Daytime Emmy Hostess Announced

The hostess of next week’s Daytime Emmys will be Kathy Griffin.  She’s fast and funny should certainly keep the proceedings moving and most entertaining. Indeed, Ms. Griffin is such a draw, she may help the ceremony recoup a good portion of the audience it is certain to lose by moving from television to internet broadcast. I’ll be watching on www.daytimeemmys.org next Saturday, June 21 at 8PM EST. 

This Week in Soaps: A Terrible Tragedy and a Stunning Debut

Katherine Kelly Lang and Don Diamont on location in Dubai

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman         

The Bold and the Beautiful just finished two weeks of exciting drama centered around the soap’s on-location trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Brooke and Bill’s aborted wedding.  The sequences featured great scenery and exciting action footage.

As you know, Bill planned a memorable elopement for himself and Brooke to the Middle East.  Unfortunately, Quinn sent a photo of herself and Bill in bed to Ridge, and Ridge immediately  jumped on a plane to the glitzy emirates to stop the wedding.

The wedding ceremony held on the beach, and was as beautiful as could be in this stunning setting.  But Ridge arrived, halted the ceremony and absconded with the bride, dragging her off to a waiting helicopter.  Then Ridge, shocked to observe that the helicopter was being piloted by one of Bill’s men, Justin, actually fell out of the flying chopper! It was a spectacular fall and as of now it’s unclear whether Ridge survived.

It’s also unclear whether or not Thorsten Kaye did his own stunt work in this sequence. (As a longtime fan of Thorsten’s, I’d like to think so.)

In any event, Kaye’s new Ridge is too strong a character for the show to lose, though chances are Kaye just won’t be seen on screen for a few weeks.  This is a shame since his performances have become one of the great highlights of B&B over the last few months.  We have a feeling he’ll be back.

A Promising Debut on General Hospital

Also spectacular this week was the debut of Michelle Stafford on General Hospital as Nina Clay, Silas’ wife, who had been in a coma for twenty years.  She showed up all full of sweetness and clinginess at little Danny’s birthday party. Only the day before, Silas and Sam had declared their love for each other.   Stafford of course  played the show-stopping role of Phyllis Summers Newman  on The Young and the Restless for fourteen years.   Her strong performances in her first GH scenes show great promise for a Nina-Silas-Sam triangle, which should make quite a strong story for a long time to come.

Daytime Emmy Broadcast

The Daytime Emmys, which for the first time in decades will not be shown on television, will be streamed live at www.daytimeemmys.net on June 22nd at 8PM EST. This should be an interesting show and we’ll be watching!

Exciting GH or Humdrum Y&R: Which is Your Choice?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

This week General Hospital was very exciting as it was revealed that the  “Luke” walking around as a criminal in Port Charles is a fake, with the fake visiting the real Luke who is drugged and out of it in the Miscavage asylum.  Also, Ava announced she was pregnant with Sonny’s baby when he wanted to shoot her after he discovered she had murdered his old and true love, Connie.

      And although the show is stylistically different from GH,  Y&R is relatively unexciting with several insipid triangles and other not very interesting stories.  Billy found out that Victoria is pregnant with a baby who may be Stitch’s and may be his.  He did not react badly at all, vowing to raise the baby no matter who the father is.  Why was a married woman like Victoria making love to Stitch without protection?   Also Billy is too whiny to be felt sorry for and his portrayer David Tom is being replaced by primetime actor Burgess Jenkins.

        Lily objected to the romance between her father  Neil and the untrustworthy Hilary.  So she tried to interest brother Devon  into making love to Hilary to break up the romance between Hilary and Neil.   The thought of Devon   making love to his father’s girlfriend is repulsive.

            Elsewhere the boring reunion romance of Sharon and Neil goes on.  At the anniversary of Cassie’s death Sharon remembered details of the fact that she is covering up the fact that Nick is Summer’s biological father, not Jack.  It’s hard to root for a liar like Sharon and her secret has been hung onto way too long.

           Jack and Kelly were luxuriating in the fact that they had made love for the first time.  Of course,  Jack is engaged to Phyllis, who has long been comatose.  The romance is hard to believe as the characters are played by actors who were icons on their last show All My Children.  Peter Bergman, who played Cliff plays Jack on Y&R and Cade McClain who plays Kelly played Dixie on AMC.   On top of it, the actors have no sexual chemistry.

         Elsewhere, Victor Newman continues to get away with all his wrongdoings.  Even though Nikki left him (for the millionth time) he was not prosecuted for hiring a lookalike to impersonate Cassie and drive Sharon crazy.   Now, he and Dylan have engaged into an unholy alliance to drive Ian  out of town.  Will Victor get caught?  Probably not.  Because he’s untouchable, Victor’s crimes carry no suspense.

        Which show would you rather spend the hour with. Exciting GH or unexciting Y&R?    Write me with your choice and an explanation. 

Don Diamont’s “Dollar” Bill Spencer Is Worth a Lot More Than a Buck

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Don Diamont — His “Dollar” Bill deserves a nomination

Right now, The Bold and the Beautiful’s “Dollar” Bill Spencer is on top of the world:  He’s standing on a balcony in a hotel in Dubai about to marry the current love of his life, Brooke Logan.  He’s also the CEO of Spencer Publications.  But can Bill keep having it all?

Of course he thinks he can.  Bill is the epitome of self-confidence to the point of arrogance.  He is mucho macho.  He habitually wears skin tight shirts and sports bling, including a sword necklace which all the Spencer men wear.  This includes his two illegitimate sons Liam and Wyatt and his soon to be step-son R.J. Forrester.  He also has a baby son named Will with his ex-wife Katie Logan.

Bill was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth.  He is the son of nasty, obnoxiously self-confident Bill Spencer Sr., mogul and friend to Stephanie Forrester. His sisters are the late Caroline Spencer and Karen Spencer, the latter a lesbian whose lifestyle Bill Jr. approves of in one of his most positive aspects.

When Bill first came to Los Angeles he married Katie, a woman who is the most opposite of him in many ways.   She is gentle and kind and not pushy.  Katie and Bill’s marriage broke up, some say, because in a post-partum depression Katie pushed him away. But undoubtedly the real cause was the fact that Bill started a torrid affair with his sister-in-law Brooke.

In Brooke he met his perfect match.  Brooke is as self-centered as Bill and believes love is all and that her whole life is based on love.  Bill lost Brooke for a while but through his own steadfast belief got her back.   The two finally found the opportunity to get married and will do so — unless someone (like Bill’s enemy Ridge Forrester) comes to break up the wedding.

What makes Bill Spencer work is the vastly underrated actor who plays him: Don Diamont, who once played Brad Carlton on The Young and the Restless.  He plays the role with tremendous energy and edge and thus brings out the best in his scene partners.  This year three of them have been nominated for Emmys, including  Heather Tom for Best Lead Actress as Katie the wife Bill wronged; Scott Clifton as Liam Spencer, Bill’s new found son as Best Supporting Actor and Katherine Kelly Lang, Best Lead actress nominee  as Brooke,  Bill’s love.

But there’s no nomination for the excellent  Don Diamont – and that’s a tremendous oversight.