The Young and the Restless’ Victor Newman In Crisis: Our Soap Shrink To the Rescue!

Thinking Fans Comment Update October 10: Matthew Cormier argues for more long-term, in-depth character development instead of  ”crazy plot-driven one-day-at-a-time crap.” See Comments below.

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By Damon L. Jacobs

It’s not easy being The Young and the Restless’  Victor Newman.  Finding love with a woman half his age and somehow getting her pregnant after two vasectomies were initially happy occurrences for this mustachioed maverick.  But when his young bride Sabrina perished in a tragic car crash along with their unborn child, Victor slid into a downward spiral of anger, depression, and even a near suicide attempt.  He made a mysterious trip to Mexico, shunned the family members who were trying to help him, stopped eating, and began having visions of his deceased wife.  

And this was all before the Stock Market crashed! 

Indeed, Victor (played since 1980 by Eric Braeden) may be having his hardest year ever.  But how do you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped?  Perhaps we would be assisted by [Read more...]

A General Hospital (Bang Bang!) Double Header

Thinking Fans Comment Update October 2:  Lois chronicles soaps’  long history of bloody brides (who knew?) … Cat complains that The Shooting was ripped off from The Godfather Part III … while Cyber is just tired of bad, repetitive writing … and more. See Comments below. 

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Sonny and Kate

The occasion of yet another one of Sonny’s love interests being shot by a Mafia enemy, this time right before the wedding ceremony of Kate (a.k.a. Connie Falconeri) and Sonny started, triggered a high decibel  phone call between my friend Ed Martin and me.  As we have both watched General Hospital forever, we were furious with yet another cliche Guza plot,  which is an insult to our joint intelligence.  Ed bitched the circumstances of the shooting, and I bitched about how sick I am of Italians being portrayed as stupid mob stereotypes.  You see I’m really Italian and really a Connie …

                                                                                                                   Marlena

                                                                                                                    XXXOOO

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GENERAL HOSPITAL GUNS DOWN KATE — AGAIN!

By Ed MartinSonny

No soap opera exasperates me quite as much as General Hospital. Latest case in point: The shooting of Kate Howard.

I haven’t been paying much attention to GH of late, largely because I find the mobsters and their ladies to be increasingly uninteresting, and also because — after too many years of withdrawal — I am finally getting a very satisfying classic GH fix from Night Shift on SOAPnet.

But I did tune in Friday for the wedding of Sonny and Kate, and here’s what I saw: Kate and her cousin Olivia, with whom she was recently reunited after a separation of twenty years, engaged in a loud, embarrassing argument in the back room of the church, with Kate unaware that she was humiliating herself for the enjoyment of her two nemeses, Carly (who had threatened to kill Kate just a few days earlier) and Claudia (who menaced Kate months ago when she lay helpless in a hospital bed). In a telling closeup,

This isn’t simply repetitive storytelling, or storytelling that I don’t find appealing. This is bad soap writing, plain and simple.

Carly was the picture of crude contentment listening to Kate, likely realizing how humiliated she would be when she later learned that everyone in the church heard all the ugly details of her battle with Olivia.

I was waiting for the ferocious spat between Kate and Olivia to degenerate into a clawing catfight. Mercifully, that did not occur. But then [Read more...]

A Soap Shrink Special: The Valuable Lesson You Can Learn From The Bold and the Beautiful’s Stephanie Forrester

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 30:  Matthew Cormier wonders why Stephanie is so jealous of Brooke … jefhamlin says it all started with Beth Logan … and Cherry Ames says the marvelous Susan Flannery almost makes her want to watch B&B, but not quite. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

Soap operas are unique in their ability to slowly portray a character’s bad behaviors, tragic downfall, and ultimate redemption.  But lately I’ve been troubled by the vehemence of the anger, blame, and finger-pointing OFF screen.  We have all recently seen actors, producers, anonymous bloggers and even journalists engage in attack, blame, and judging.  My feeling is that many are ignoring the most consistent and essential thread in the soaps’ history:  Good people do messed up things when they are afraid.  If someone is in pain or insecure, they are more likely to lash out at others than to ask for help.  They deserve empathy and understanding, not attack.  Case in point: Stephanie Forrester.

When we first met Stephanie in 1987, we were introduced to a stylistic, calm, rational business woman (played from the start by Susan Flannery) who had a tendency to meddle a bit too much in her children’s love lives, especially [Read more...]

General Hospital: Night Shift Pulls a Stunner!

GHNS

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 26: pjs reports that his tear ducts got a work-out … Nancy wishes Night Shift could become home to neglected soap veterans … Marilyn Henry reflects on other great soap scenes … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Last night I unexpectedly saw the best soap opera scenes of the year.  They were in, of all places, General Hospital: Night Shift! They came from the heart and the head. They were thoroughly human. I could relate to them perfectly.  And I was so stunned to see authentic drama on my screen, I almost couldn’t fall asleep afterward.

As you know, those doctor brothers Kyle and Leo Julian have been on each other, arguing and disagreeing about everything since the beginning of the show.  They couldn’t be more opposite. Kyle looks like a Nordic god and has innate elegance (he’s also gay).  Leo looks like Epstein, the Puerto Rican street kid (Sweat Hog) from Welcome Back, Kotter and is dark, nervous and brash.  Kyle is the biological  

It’s amazing what actors can do given good quality material.  Think of the hundreds of other actors in daytime who would kill to play real drama instead of the usual gimmicks and lies.

son of the Julians, while Leo, who is adopted by them, came from Iran as a child. Leo acted out big time recently by secretly sleeping with Kyle’s best friend and roommate Dr. Claire, even though he has been lucky enough to date [Read more...]

He’s Back: Paul Rauch for Real!

Y&R

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 20:  Christian in Boston loved Rauch’s OLTL except for the lighting (bring sunglasses!) … James expresses respect … but Cherry Ames lists Rauch’s soap sins, chapter and verse … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Paul Rauch. That name may send you screaming from the room if you ever worked for him unsuccessfully, if you judge a man in totality by his bad soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light) or if you are a typical internet poster who relies on rumors, innuendo and chapters of  tell-all memoirs.

But now that Rauch is back as co-executive producer of The Young and the Restless (at the age of 74, after recovering from a heart attack) I’d like to offer some first person testimony. And I can do it freely and ethically because I am a journalist, and don’t have to work  for him.  I knew and interviewed Rauch regularly from 1980-2001

I’ve always maintained that despite his stormy temperament and the people he is said to have hurt, Paul is a genius.

when he was in New York executive-producing Another World, TexasOne Life to Live and Guiding Light.  Like everyone, I had terrible, terrible times with him (I have stories — let’s just say [Read more...]

A Descent into Prime Time: 90210 and Gossip Girl

Marlena has always looked down her nose at prime time soaps (at least those post-Dynasty and Knots Landing.)  Years ago at SOW I even wrote a column called “Who Needs Beverly Hills 90210?” and to my surrpise,  thousand of young fans wrote in and said, “We do! We do!” So although the new 90210 and Gossip Girl are not theoretically fodder for my Thinking Fans, I thought you all might enjoy a thoughtful, funny and intelligent read by my TV critic friend Ed Martin, on the season kickoffs of each show.  Aw come on, TFs, slum it!

                                                                                    Marlena

                                                                                    XXXOOO

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90210

By Ed Martin 

I figure the reason why The CW chose not to provide advance review copies of the 90210 two-hour premiere is because, right at the start, one of the main characters was shown getting a hummer in the high school parking lot.

Can’t you imagine the headlines? “90210 Blows!” “90210 Sucks!”

Come to think of it, the comments that would have followed in dozens of reviews might have drawn even more young viewers to the show.

As it happens, the contemporary continuation of the hot 90s phenom that began as Class of Beverly Hills, then became Beverly Hills, 90210 and was eventually known simply as 90210 isn’t half bad. It’s going to take more than a discrete scene of oral sex [Read more...]

Marlena Says: Take Me Home to Pine Valley

All My Children

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 16:  James recalls shopping and dining in old Pine Valley … Kel agrees it’s too soon to judge the new headwriter … Brandon opines even bad Pine Valley circa 1997 beats today’s incarnation …and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

All My Children was always my favorite soap, from its premiere (1970) until the time Meggie McTavish made her disastrous, gimmick-filled  return (1996-97) and later when Ryan and the Fusion girls took over the show. Bimbos! I hated them — Kendall, Greenlee, etc., etc. — girls who were obsessed with make-up and wearing sundresses year-round, who giggled about men and acted like cats while they were pretending to work. 

Intelligent women with real hearts and authentic female wisdom had been what AMC specialized in until then (best example: Brooke). Like so many Thinking Fans, I used to love AMC for its humor, heart and real intelligence (three qualities which actually belong to its creator and longtime headwriter, Agnes Nixon.)  For the last decade, however, I’ve watched the dumbed [Read more...]

Theater Review: One Life To Live’s Peter Bartlett in What’s That Smell? The Music of Jacob Sterling

Peter Bartlett

By Marlena De Lacroix

Wednesday night I LMAO and in addition laughed so often I had tears and mascara running down my face. I attended a preview of  What’s That Smell? The Music of Jacob  Sterling, a “comedy with vocal selections” starring David Pittu (Tony nominated for Is He Dead?)  and our own beloved Peter Bartlett (Nigel, One Life to Live).

It’s the life story of the fictional Jacob Sterling (Pittu), a bad, bad, very bad almost-made-it Broadway songwriter and lyricist.  In his awful, awful  oeuvre are the musical-ization of Private Benjamin and a musical version of La Femme Nikita named Madame Death. Pittu sings and [Read more...]

From Bad to Good or Good To Bad: Seven Soap Characters Who Changed Before Our Eyes

Melissa Claire Egan

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 9:  Sina nominates Maxie Jones … Greg would include Vanessa Chamberlain …  Aaron misses Annie Dutton … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Patrick Erwin

It’s been interesting to watch recent scenes with Melissa Claire Egan as Annie on All My Children. Once a good girl, Annie has turned into a manipulative witch. She may not be a nice person anymore, but Annie no longer comes off as a Greenlee-wannabe and is far more interesting to watch.
 
Most soap characters serve a purpose and stay in their designated slot: heroine, villain, rouge, or temptress. But every once in a while, a character will undergo a major metamorphosis and make a dramatic change, redeeming their wicked ways or shedding their goodness to get in touch with their inner bad seed.

Here are seven examples of characters who radically changed in front of our eyes.
 
1.  Annie Dutton, Guiding Light: Speaking of Annies, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. When she was [Read more...]

Soap Shrink: Is One Life to Live’s Blair Cramer a Tramp or an Icon of Female Empowerment?

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 4:  Matthew Cormier suggests a no sex vow might help Blair heal … Johnny, however, can’t fathom the randy Blair in therapy … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

You’ve got to hand it to Blair Cramer.  She may have grown up in foster homes, she may have a nasty temper, she may soon be one of they youngest grandmothers on daytime.  But she has more than proven her capacity to be resourceful, resilient, and to have a seriously good head for business.

Unfortunately, most would say that’s not the part of the body she’s usually thinking with.

That is because very few soap vixens match the sexual tenacity of our dear Ms. Cramer (played by Kassie DePaiva).  When it comes to notches on the bedpost, she has most of them beat.   Young or old, poor or rich, liar or upstanding citizen, these labels matter little to Blair.  She is best known for her on again / off again shenanigans with Todd Manning and Max Holden.  But her conquests also include Asa Buchanan, his grandsons Cord and Kevin, as well as heroic Patrick Thornheart, murderous Spencer Truman, virtuous Sam Rappaport, struggling Christian Vega, and now uptight John McBain.

On a sociopolitical level, I find Blair’s sexual attitude refreshing.  Male characters such as Max, John, and Christian have a new woman in their bed every year or few months, and no one seems to finds this outrageous or offensive.  Heck, Asa had at

I would encourage her to take a honest look of how she has used sex to distract herself from painful emerging feelings.

least eleven wives and was considered a Texan stud.  But when a woman sleeps with a man for no other reason than seeking sexual gratification, this sets off moral alarm bells.  It seems to me [Read more...]