Welcome to my new website! Many of you already know me from my 11 years of weekly critical columns in Soap Opera Weekly and more recently from my “Savoring Soaps” blog on Jack Myers MediaVillage (http://www.jackmyers.com/). Now that I have my own fabulouso internet space (plus a whole new wardrobe!) my posts will run several times a week, covering ALL the shows. In addition, once a week a wonderful young newspaperman named Patrick Erwin will post his opinions too, particularly on the P&G shows.
There’s scads of room here — cyberspace seems to know no end — so I’d love to hear from all of you, too. We soap fans love to exchange opinions, and this will be a highly interactive site! And because so many of you, like moi, are longtime soap fans, we’ll soon add a nostalgia section called “Yearning for Yesterday.”
Again, welcome, my darlings! Isn’t it grand we can start off by spending the holiday season together?
General Hospital’s Black and White Ball Turns Black and Blue!
By Marlena De Lacroix
About the second week of the General Hospital Black and White Ball, I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t just watching a take-off on an old Hollywood horror movie. What I had initially thought was The Three Stooges Go to the Haunted House wearing Phantom of the Opera costumes was really a video game disguised as an afternoon soap opera. Call it General Hospital: Gotcha!
If you were a main GH character like Rick or Lulu or Elizabeth, you turned your back and a silly old man you’d never seen before popped out of the shadows and stabbed you with a sword or pointed a gun at you and tried to make you jump off a parapet. At random, by surprise and quickly, it was as if the one of the four bad “ghosts” in Pac Man suddenly appear from a corner, give you a token chase and gobble you up. Automatically annihilate you! Even if they never knew or even saw you before.
Certainly, it wasn’t the kind of soap opera drama we like or are used to, the kind that features villains as complex, intelligent characters who feel and express all kind of emotions and ruminate mightly before they strike (think Days of Our Lives‘ Stefano di Mera), or better yet, GH‘s own villainess manqué, Helena Cassidine). Motivation-less (oh, yes) “insane” Anthony Zacchara (played by Emmy winner Bruce Weitz, and what a waste of a first class actor) was nothing but The Terminator, Guza style.
Fast, anonymous death coming out of nowhere! Just junk! That’s what General Hospital‘s Black and White ball mostly turned out to be!
Take the sequence’s centerpiece murder: the offing of Emily Quartermaine by her fiancé Nikolas Cassadine . Was the murder a result of psychological conflict, crossed romantic emotions, pathological jealousy? We were led to believe that Nickolas, who earlier this year had been given a serum which turned him into Dr. Jekyl and Mr, Hyde, murdered his fiancé Emily in fit of unconscious Mr. Hyde-ness. Our beloved Emily had succumbed not to the complex Nikolas we all know but to some monster who had been drugged. Mr. Anonymous! It might as well have been one of the killer “ghosts” of PacMan.
What kind of creative, layered daytime drama is this, to lock up 20 characters in an island prison over night and have a demented old guy in a tux (“Pyscho Pop” as Luke tagged Anthony Zacchara) kill them randomly? What does it all mean? It means absolutely nothing beyond four weeks of sweeps stunt entertainment that was given not one second of mature writing thought or sophisticated scribing skill! Soap operas are not video games! They should be about complex human behavior, not cheap kills.
And seriously, darlings, would you die for love? I wouldn’t, but if someone I had watched grow up on screen and become a woman over a 13-year period on a soap opera — namely Emily Quartermaine — was going to be killed, I’d like it to be for a good, psychologically complex or romantic reason, not as a mindless, momentary sweeps month thrill kill.
Of course, about ten thousand other things happened during the four weeks we viewers were stranded at the Black and White Ball on Spoon Island with almost the entire cast of General Hospital. (What do you mean The Black and White Ball was only one night?) A heart attack, a case of appendicitis, a reported drowning, various shootings, sex and declarations of love, verbal cat fighting: in essence everything but the GH studio sink was included in a month of drama.
Come back later this week, mon chers, and I’ll review the good scenes and things that were salvaged from this abysmally scripted mess by some of the show’s veteran actors. Believe it or not, some of the year’s finest acting moments by actors like Anthony Geary, Jane Elliot and John Ingle were mined from this sequence.
Mean GH‘s scriptwriters however, should be sentenced to a screening of Ed Wood, the 1994 Johnny Depp film about the famously bad 50s movie director/cross dresser Ed Wood of Plan Nine From Outer Space fame, if they really want to know how a proper schlock horror movie should be constructed. And they should remember to bring their angora sweaters.
Marlena’s Top 10 B&W Questions:
1. Isn’t Brandon Barash (Johnny Zacchara) just strikingly handsome to die for? All he has to do is strike a pose for camera — which is pretty much all he did throughout the B&W ball. Actually, that’s good enough for moi.
2. Whose do you think was the best dress? I like Sam’s black 40s dress with the diamond clips. Was it vintage? She looked not only unusually tasteful, but almost elegant.
3. Beautiful Becky Herbst (Elizabeth) in the cream spaghetti stapped gown — implants or no? You decide!
4. Why didn’t whoever strangled the ever-screaming, over-the-top Carly do us all a favor and finish the job?
5. Speaking of Carly, do the writers think ol’ Marlena’s really gonna be interested in something called “The Text Messenger Murderer”? Pu-leeze!
6. Marlena lives to be the smart, elegant, ladylike magazine executrix Kate Howard! But isn’t the fabuloso actress Megan Ward loosing too much weight? Editors don’t have to be as thin as supermodels.
7. What was that gigantic spit curl doing on the side of poor Robin’s chignon? Poor Kimberly McCollough, having to wear that monstrosity for a month!
8. Wasn’t the scene in which Robin bonded with a newly shot Leyla over their mutual love Patrick at the ball very well acted by Kimberly McCollough and Nazanin Boniadi?
9. Wasn’t it typical of Tracy to taunt Luke about his drinking habit just after he had his first heart attack?
10. If you had your choice of which executive producer or headwriter to hold hostage on a parapet? Don’t answer that!