Bonjour, Mes Amis!

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? 

                                                                                 XXOO,

                                                                                 Marlena

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         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 Hospitals 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!

Comments

  1. blake says:

    Love the new website Marlena! And so glad you are still writing your opinions on the soaps!
    I barely watch GH (watching Guiding Light more now that Edmund and Bill are back!!!), but now that I have read what happened on there I am glad I haven’t been watching! How sad that the producers think that us viewers want to see the characters we love killed in such tragic ways! It was bad enough to see the daddy Quatermaine slowly die of a heart attack for like a week!!!

  2. blake says:

    Oh and to your answer to Question 10:

    Exec Producer Ellen Wheeler!!!

    Head Writer: David Kreizman!!!

  3. Alice says:

    I’m sorry…did I hear you say “well-acted” in the same breath as Nazanin Boniadi? You, Marlena, have lost all credibility.

  4. Pixie says:

    1. Brandon Barash just has such a striking screen presence.
    2. I didn’t like Sam’s dress, but she pulled it off well. I actually liked Nadine/Lulu and Robin’s dress.
    3. Definitely implants! When did she get those done?
    4. I wish the killer succeeded with Carly also. Darn.
    5. The Text Messaging thing is dumb.
    6. Megan Ward looked fabulous. I also liked her dress and hair!
    7. I actually Liked Kimberly McCullough’s hairdo. I her whole ensemble.
    8. I thought Kimberly did well in that scene, but it was one of the most contrived things at the ball. Leyla fell in “love” with Patrick after 2 dates and one lay?! Spare me. I thought the scene with Georgie, Maxie, and Robin was the scene that stood above that one. You saw the chemistry and connection between all competent actresses. And would you look it at that, it actually made some sense!
    9. Tracy and Luke can always be counted for comedic relief.
    10. ::lips sealed::

  5. aquart says:

    Kate the snotty mag exec was vaguely interesting…but she isn’t anymore, is she? Doesn’t have one damn thing to do with her time but wait on Sonny. Doesn’t have a friend or contact or acquaintance left, except Sonny and Trevor.

    Losing her position as “most powerful woman in America” hasn’t bothered her a bit. Because she has regained the love of the guy she dumped without a backward glance at 16.

    Haven’t you noticed these two have NOTHING to talk about except Coney Island? They have no desire to do or be anything in the future. They are perfectly satisfied endlessly rehashing the past.

    Marlena says: I agree that Kate hasn’t been given much of a life beyond Sonny. Now that Jax is financing her new magazine that should change. Perhaps Jax will realize that classy Kate is a lot more his style than his shrewish wife Carly.

  6. Rashad Khan says:

    As usual, Marlena, your words tickled and delighted the heck outta me!

  7. Torsten says:

    As so often, great column and shame that it is “negelected” to the net these days.

  8. nicollette says:

    #8: Are you crazy?? Well acted?? By Kimberly McCullough, yes, as usual. But that other woman ( I can’t call her an “actress”, I just can’t) isn’t even capable of laying there and acting like she’s in pain. She’s awful. Kimberly carried her in those scenes. And LOL to the “mutual love”. Robin had a two year relationship with Patrick. Leyla had three dates, the second of which ended with a nooner on his couch and then him immediately going back to the hospital and getting all up in Robin’s business. It’s so laughable, really. The Leyla character is the biggest waste on GH.

  9. Leona says:

    Love the new site, Marlena. And looking forward to reading about the good ol’ days!

  10. Bonnie says:

    Good review and I agree with most of your comments – especially about lovely Johnny!

    I didn’t care about most of the event – it was definitely a Keystone Comedy. And so stupid that no one could stop AZ.

  11. Hey Marlena!

    Old friend! How good to see you on the net!! It’s been a long time since we’ve been in touch.

    LOVE your first column on the GH Black and White Ball (which in my twisted head I always think of as the Black and Blue Ball). You’ve summed it up quite nicely and gave me some lovely laughs!

    Welcome to your cyber home! I’m putting a link up right away and also making sure Karen at wubs.net knows you are here! She runs the old Gedstern site now and does a way more fabulous job than I ever could! I just blog about whatever….

    Laura
    happy dance- marlena’s here!

  12. I like the video game analogy, it did rather have that feel especially with the random and really unexplained mercenaries.

    And one does have to wonder whether one second of the goings on at the ball other than perhaps Luke’s heart attack will have any impact going forward. Even Emily’s death – pointless thrill kill that I agree it was – doesn’t appear likely to stick in the traditional sense.

    I look forward to reading your blog, and as for which EP or HW I’d like to hold hostage on a parapet? Please don’t make me choose, I can have both, right?

  13. WriterGuy says:

    And the post-B&W party scene where Jason tells Monica about Emily’s death… so short, shallow and sad. Monica scolds Jason! Must the writers make EVERYTHING center on Jason, Sonny and Carly? Sigh.
    (P.S. Love the new site, mon amie!)

  14. Dale says:

    Marlena, I did not know where to leave this comment, so I hope this is OK.

    I am SO excited about your website!!! This is too good to be true!

    You are already bookmarked. Much success and traffic to you!!!

    Dale

  15. James says:

    Chere Marlena!!!!

    Mon Dieu!! Merci!. Merci!

    Despite registering several times at the Jake Myers site, I could never post a comment to your columns. It never would give me a comment box to let me leave my words of praise. And I couldn;t find an email address for you to tell you the comment function wasn’t working properly.

    Thanks for leaving Jake’s site behind and starting your own so I can comment away once again. .

    I too was underwhelmed by the B&W ball. Yawn inducing save for a few good scenes here and there — mostly Luke and Scotty bickering and Luke and Tracey bonding.

    Can’t believe they killed off Emily. What a waste. If you don’t have anything for a core character to do, then send them out of town for a little wile rather than killing them off.

    Guza really has been using the Qs for target practice in the past few years. I imagine by this time next year, Tracey will be the only Quartermain left on the show. But if Tony Geary quits at the end of this season as has been rumored, I’d day Jane Elliot can start packing up her dressing room.

  16. Corinne says:

    1. Thanks to whoever gave me the link to this site.

    2. I laughed pretty hard when I read this. I would have to say I agree with 98% of what you were saying.

    But, Emily isn’t my beloved anything, I don’t care why she’s dead, I’m just glad she is.
    I’m still a Carly fan, so I’m glad she’s not dead. But, if only someone offed the other annoying, self-righteous, phony, skank of a character Elizabeth “Liar” Webber, I would be thrilled.

  17. Fabobug says:

    Marlena — I am thrilled you have your own website now!
    I can’t add much to this discussion because:
    1. Your comments are already so very well articulated and accurate
    2. The feedback comments are also so very well expressed
    3. I can’s seem to muster any enthusiasm or interest at all in GH anymore.

    What I find most agonizing about this awful storyline is the slaying of Emily. Much like ATWTS’s Jennifer or GL’s Tammy, it seems to be simply bad business to kill of an ingenue who is tied to a major family, ESPECIALLY when the audience has seen this young woman grow up, fight cancer, rape, drug addiction, Tom Pelphery’s hair, what have you. It’s like a big middle finger to the faithful viewers who have invested so many years. And to kill off most of the Q’s in less than four years? It’s insulting, and worse, simply unrealistic.

    Sorry for my first comment to be such a bummer, but I greatly look forward to reading your future columns and agreeing / disagreeing with the comments that are shared.

  18. BL says:

    Very glad you got a home of your own.

    At least when Emily died we didn’t have to see it prolonged over episodes of her struggling and pleading for her life. That was the one saving grace beyond some of the performances.

    What gets to me about GH (and a lot of the soaps these days) is how they off characters that have storyline potential for years to come. Some have watched Emily since she was a little kid, and while it is more dramatic to lose a character one has become invested in, getting rid of core families in the long run is kind of crazy. Emily while a Q wasn’t blood related to anyone on canvas, so it wasn’t as if there was a lack of pairings the character could have.

    I don’t want to choose what EXP or HW would get the parapet treatment…that’s too hard as most do at least one shameful thing every few months.

  19. Pamela says:

    I really enjoyed your review, there is nothing like getting a really good laugh ear;y in the morning, and it was about 95% on target. I truly agreed about Carly (I would have added Lulu), she makes me tired, and Brandon Baraush he is a cutie. I disagree about Sam she looked like a dominatrix looking for a gig and I don’t understand the fascination with RH’s boobs-if they don’t look like Pam Andersons then why care. Robin was perfect.
    Scott, Tracey and Luke made it all worth while. While it did seem like a month it was really only two (very long) weeks

  20. Puck says:

    I’m laughing at work, thanks to you.

    Carly has become a shrieking harpee. I miss sarah brown. Hell, I’d even take tamara braun back at this point. Carly used to be spunky and fun. Now she’s just selfish. And do they know how old she is? Cripes. Put on some clothes.

    Liz. I used to like her when she was with Jonathan Jackson Lucky. Now, I find her annoying. She has a pretty face, I must admit. And I vote a huge yes on her newfound bewbies. Yeah. Those grew overnight, I think. But at least they aren’t unbelievably huge. Hey, the woman has had kids… I don’t blame her at all.

    No comments on Jason’s hair? Is he going for a mullet or something? Cut. Your. Hair. Please. And beg Sam to take you back. Please.

    And I think I might be the only Spinelli fan in the whole world. Are there any others out there? He’s just adorable. And I dig the pac sun wardrobe.

    Marlena says: Oh no–I love Spinelli; live for Spinelli! His idiosyncratic speeches are often the only sophisticated and witty words I hear on soaps all day. That Bradford Anderson can deliver his complicated lines so well is a daily miracle. I agree that Spinelli truly is adorable, and Anderson is a great actor too!

  21. AngelFace says:

    Marlena,
    So, so happy to find your cyber neighborhood. I stopped watching GH on November 1 to boycott how dismal the show has become. Tired of the gratuitous violence and tired, overused sweeps.

    I’d love to go back to having “Love in the Afternoon”! It’s so difficult to believe that this once great show has bascially become a toilet that desperately needs to be cleaned.

    I wish so much that they would return Genie Francis to this show. What a light she would be in this dark, dark world.

    Tony Geary’s Luke has become a sad, sad shell of a character. Nothing about him rings true any longer. Who ever would have thought this once great character could be reduced to a shadow of his glorious self? Such a tragic waste…

    I think the main problem with this show is their failure to respect its veterans and use the rich history that garned such respect and so many Emmies. Guza is to blame for a good part of that in my opinion. He seems to love to de-construct history.

    So, to answer question 10:

    Most definitely: Jill Farren Phelps, EP

    And Bob Guza, Head Writer.

    Although, I’d like to see them banished to that island for eternity.

    This show needs a serious management change! Thanks for letting me vent. Love your site, Darling!

    Most sincerely,
    AngelFace

  22. Dede says:

    Hi Marlena
    Loved your views of G.H. I used to love this show. Now it should be called General Trash— no love, no romance, no families. If Tony (Geary) does leave I am gone. He is good for a laugh with Tracy but love, please. Last November with Genie now that is romance! It ‘s all about the mob Jason, Sonny, and eye candy. What the heck happen to acting and love in the afternoon? It shouldn’t be a throw down on top a desk.

    Marlena says: Thanks! In Part 2 of my “GH Black and White Ball Turns Black and Blue” column, up later today or tomorrow, I’ll comment on the sudden deep love that has developed between Luke and Tracy–oh, let me tell you right now–middle-aged moi adores it! Do you agree with me–or not? Read the column!

  23. SIPort says:

    My name is SIP. I have a confession. I broke my GH boycott because I heard that Emily was going to be killed. I’m also a sucker for formal balls. I liked Emily’s dress. I liked Lulu’s dress. And Georgie.

    Outside of the death of Emily, the lack of SEEING Lucky’s reaction to her death = TOTAL ROBBERY BY GUZA et al.

    Lucky is only Emily’s oldest friend in Port Charles. I’m (angry) about it.

  24. James says:

    Snce a couple of others have mentioned Spinelli, I’ll weigh in on him as well.

    Spinelli is the best thing to hit GH in ages. A fun character with heart and soul. And his wonderfully complicated speeches force me to pay attention when he’s on.

    Spinelli often makes me think of Timmy on Passions, another character conceived just as a talk to who ultimately stole the show. And incidently, to my knowledge Timmy and Spinelli are the only soap characters ever to refer to themselves in third person consistently.

    I was liking Spinelli’s pairing with Georgie. Too bad (it is rumored) they’re killing her off, thus quashing that romance.

    Marlena says: James, you are brilliant–I never made that correlation between Timmy and Spinelli before. Years ago, all soaps were filled with unusual comic talk-to characters–remember Wallingford on Another World?–that fans like you and I were crazy about. Gunther on Edge of Night and Passions’ Timmy have always been Marlena’s dearest soap loves. Soaps need comic relief, and at times we all identify with the underdog. It’s too bad most of these lovable supporting characters have been mainly done away with in the last decade in the name of economy and emphasis on young, story-action oriented characters. Soaps need texture!

  25. Lee says:

    The Black and White Ball was a huge downer of a sweeps stunt following February’s blowout hostage crisis. Whereas with the hostage crisis we got tons and tons of character development, raw emotion and phenomenal suspense, this event was nothing more than an adult version of the Quartermaine serial killer Mary from years ago. The difference here is that instead of a pointless character like Sage, Guza has chosen to murder a character we watched grow up. After Emily’s bravura scenes from the hostage crisis it was a real shame to watch it end so abruptly and cruelly.

    If they kill off Georgie I will probably not tune in as much. I am tired of seeing women being tortured and brutalized.

  26. Dana says:

    I have not watched GH in months!

    I am glad to see you here and have bookedmarked the site! Finally a site i want to read at work while ‘on-hold’.

    I hope to DVR all my shows when i move in with a friend tomorrow; since it is her DVR i will need to be selective. I will give all three ABC daytime soaps and Y & R a chance; then once i decide which two are better i will DVR only those two.

    BTW: Love the Picture charicature, however a turban would have been most fitting.

    I really like the intelligence and thoughtfulness of your vistors/commentors here at your column/blog site.

    Hope to come back and comment on our shows/your columns real soon!

    Love, Peace & Pickle Juice

    Dana

    Marlena says: I remember you Dana! It has been a total pleasure to have had so many old Marlena fans write to me so far on my new site. Dana, the only three women whom I think have ever looked good in a turban are the late Lana Turner, Susan Lucci and Linda Dano. Marlena plans to have many costume changes here in the future

  27. JCP201 says:

    Spinelli fans are everywhere. Did you not see the response to him at SSW? He was definitely the man.

    By far my favorite character on soaps right now.

  28. Purple Haze says:

    Glad to have found your website. Thanks for reminding me of Gunther. One of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen on the soaps was Gunther asking Nora if she’d like a cognac, and her poker-faced response that she “prefers coffee in the morning.”

    The Black and White Ball was tedious and schlocky. Emily died because the actress apparently wanted “outs”. I can see TPTB making this kind of accommodation for Tony Geary, but he is a singular case. I don’t know why they couldn’t have recast the role. It’s not like they haven’t done it before! (Goodness knows, Amber Tamblyn’s portrayal of Emily wouldn’t have led to eulogies praising her lady-likeness or dignity or refinement.)

    As far as Carly goes, I have never seen a better candidate for “TIm Gunn’s Guide to Style.”

  29. duchovlet says:

    So I come back from Thanksgiving vacation and catch up on GH only to find continuity and production values on GH have sunk even lower. (I didn’t think there was a lower but I was wrong.) I would have laughed if I wasn’t crying from so much anger. TPTB ***REALLY, REALLY, REALLY*** need to do a better job. It is absolutely ridiculous and if I wasn’t convinced before then I am now — these guys do not deserve to be working in television.

    For those that watched Night Shift, you know what I mean. Night Shift storylines were supposed to be separate from GH — each show in its own little universe. OK, I can get behind that in order for the Hollywood machine to make itself more money by producing another show. Yet NS and GH quickly combined (already weak) storylines into a mess of “what the heck is happening” for viewers. (Ex. Leyla and Patrick sleep together in one universe and don’t yet in another. Spinelli shots himself in the foot, he doesn’t in another.) In some ways, I think it was better for those who only watched one show or the other because for those of us who watched both TPTB really tested our suspension of reality that occurs in the soap world.

    If that was a test, however, what Guza ; co. did after the B&W ball was beyond words. I thought I had witnessed it all but Guza trumped Guza. I am now utterly convinced, completely and most assuredly, that none of the GH characters live on earth, in this universe, or adhere to any sense of what we homosapiens call reality. Yes, I know they LOOK the same, things SEEM the same, but TRUST ME — they aren’t! THIS WAS THE GUZA KICKER ….

    Any saving grace was the 15 +/- minutes of Sebastian Roche screentime (yeah I counted) and some stuff by veteran actors who are far more talented than any of the material they are asked to perform nowadays. I’m talking Geary, Elliott, McCollugh. The only new bright spots on the GH verizon are Anderson as Spinelli and Roche as Jerry. Roche has such wit and charm about him you can’t help but love him or love to hate him ala like Lynn Herring’s Lucy Coe. And Spinelli is a tough role to convincingly pull off yet Anderson does it with ease.

    I don’t know if I should be futher saddened by the ongoing writers strike or encouraged by it and what it might mean for storytelling on GH. (I know scab writers could do better.) All I can hope for is more than 5 minutes of Sebastian Roche in a 5 hour GH week….

    Here, here, especially on the Night Shift comparison. Sebastian Roche is just yummy (especially in tank tops) but his character is a murderer and a criminal and I can never get past that despite the quality of the actor.

  30. I was searching for ‘ear pain relief’ at google and got this your post (‘De Lacroix’) in search results. Not very relevant result, but still interesting to read :)

  31. If I were to really, really, think about it, De Lacroix is a great way to frame your point, especially when Picture Of Long Layered Hair Style is taken into account.

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