Happy New Year from Marlena, Moose and Nigel

Nigel

Connie, Anna and the late real Mr. Moose at the Museum of Natural History (above); The Nige (right)

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Happy New Year 2010, everyone!  Hope you had as joyous a holiday season with your family and friends as Moose and I (a.k.a. Connie and Ed) did. My beloved step-daughter Laura and step-granddaughter Anna visited us here in Manhattan for a few days around Christmas from their home in Michigan.  They loved our seven month old beagle Nigel.Nigrlnigel  Our Nige has become quite a character, as we used to say very affectionately in the Queens of my youth.

As I served my Italian grandmother Concetta’s manicotti to Laura and Anna for Christmas dinner, I said, ”Mange figlias, mangia figlia” (“eat daughter, eat.”).  That is

Only stories that are about love — and tell logical emotional truth about the characters we have long known and loved – can save daytime soap opera now.

what was my late grandma and father Cosmo always said to me as a girl.  Having the love and continuity of family around me really did a lot to soothe a difficult year and renew my spirit and hope.  (Originally, soaps taught me that!)  

I want to wish you, my beloved readers, a renewed spirit and much joy as we enter 2010.  Although I haven’t been posting a lot lately, I want you to know I am still here, thinking about you and grateful as always for your continued interest. And yes, I’m still watching soaps.  It’s a lifetime passion for me.  But its very hard to do so  lately, because I feel such sadness at watching the swift, choatic implosion of what was for most of my life our safe, comforting little world.   

Of course there were  still some wonderful stories and plots about love and truth  in 2009. From One Life to Live came Kish, a story of the universal reality of true love.  From The Bold and the Beautiful,  Stephanie and Pam, who had been so emotionally abused by their mother Ann,  surrounding her with love and forgiveness as she lay dying of a fast-moving cancer. Millennia ago, a prophet once said, “Return ill treatment with love.”  Bravo, Bradley Bell, for your expression of faith and goodness.

But back to soap reality. Every other week these least few months or so came stories that were so dishonest, such outrageous lies, such a violation of the human spirit they  shocked  me — Marlena De Lacroix, soap mouth of 30 years – into bitter silence.    

Well, mostly. You know moi.  In just the last few months, I have literally struggled not to scream when characters I know and love are dissed or suddenly become characters other than themselves. On one show, a long time professional woman was called a “whore” by her husband who would never do such a thing.  On another, a woman was “justifiably” murdered  because she was a “crazy bitch.” On that same show, a long term hit man who has murdered dozens of people over the years was set up slowly over this year  to be redeemed (the  insulting gall of the headwriter!)  First, he finally (after a dozen years!)  saw the error of his ways when a teen he loved also became a murderer.  Then, he was given the renewed  love of a good(?) woman.    Now, he’s suddenly about to be made a  life-saving hero.  Pul–eeze! How gullible, unprincipled and stupid does this show think I am?  The character is STILL  a multiple murderer! Murder is always wrong!family   

After watching soaps for decades, perhaps I am too tired (and definitely way too smart)  to have my head twisted around any more by headwriters and networks who think I am so desperate to keep watching soaps that I will believe anything.   I am — and have always been, like all of you — a Thinking Soap Fan.

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In Rockefeller Center (from left):  Anna, Laura, Ed

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Only stories that are about love — and tell logical emotional truth about the characters we have long known and loved – can save daytime soap opera now.

And so we sail into 2010.  I mourn this year’s tragic soap cancellations of As the World Turns and Guiding Light, shows I adored.  May the soaps still on the air survive.  No matter what,  I know the our friendships will.  And I promise you this:  Marlena and Connie have not finished writing about daytime soap opera yet.             

Comments

  1. Dave F says:

    Happy New Year Connie. 2009 has been a depressing year for soaps. The only show that gave me the feel of a soap fix this year was Glee, a show that was uneven but at its best, it gave the depth of feeling that only the best soaps display: longing; passion; weakness; mistakes; humor; conflict. For once, daytime serials could learn lessons from a nighttime show.

    Marlena says: Dave! Have been wondering how you have been! I agree totally about the soap year. And I just watched my first two episodes of Glee, which I loved, adored and went totally crazy for. I know many of the actors (Lea Michele, Michael Morrison) from the New York theater. And although I have long been a Jane Lynch fan, her Sue Sylvester is not only my new role model as a teacher (“You gotta keep those kids terrified!”) but a new reason to actually watch prime time TV (which I usually don’t.) I love all the little soapy things in the plots like the fake pregnancy and the fake pregnancy pads, etc. Anything that winks at the audience, has kids and singing and dancing in it, makes me want to shout … Glee!

  2. SallyV says:

    Happy New year to you, too! I enjoy reading your columns very much and hope you will post more often in the new year. Thanks.

    Marlena says: Thanks Sally! Happy New Year to you too. And I will post when what I have to say about soaps is….printable. There is life outside of soaps, and I may write about that too…

  3. Vince says:

    Happy New Year, Marlena! Buon Anno!

    I totally agree with you that only compelling stories of the heart that are true to the characters we know and love can save soaps now. Let’s hope that the network execs, writers, and producers finally get that this year, and apply it to their product as well and as consistently as they used to.

    I haven’t had much time to comment or e-mail this past year, but I do read all of your columns, and I still try to keep up with some of the soaps whenever I can (as difficult as it is to want to watch today)! Thank you for continuing your wonderful column online. You are truly the best!

    And, I wish you all the best in 2010!! May it be a terrific year!!

    Vince

    Marlena says: Vince, buon anno to you! Thanks so much for your sweet note! We have one of those wonderful friendships that go on and on despite the state of the medium and I cherish that you always keep in touch. I look forward to talking to you about our old favorite mutual shows! Love to see you here in NYC again in 2010. Happy New Year, xxoo

  4. DS0816 says:

    Dear Connie/Marlena,

    Good to read your latest. And I wish you a Happy New Year. In fact, I hope it’s a good one for all—and that would certainly include there being no more daytime soaps cancellations in the year of 2010.

    —DS0816

    Marlena says: Thanks DSO! Happy New Year to you too, and thanks for always keeping in touch.

  5. Giada says:

    Buon anno Marlena! Excellent colum, sad but still warm, like the state of the soaps.

    Marlena says: Giada, my mainstay! How do you say that in Italian? Happy New Year! xxoo

  6. Brandon says:

    Happy new year, mon cherie. One of the great thrills of my life this past year was the glorious opportunity to have multiple engrossing conversations with you, one of my lifelong inspirations. You’re a class act and a national treasure, Connie, and we all continue to hang on every word!

    Marlena says: Brandon, love you and always so proud of you! In a field of so-called young radio ‘journalists,’ you are true pro! And thanks for continuing to invite me to periodically guest on your Brandon’s Buzz internet radio show (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/brandonsbuzz) so that Connie’s and Marlena’s real voices can always be heard!

  7. Beth says:

    Happy New Year to you Connie/Marlena! May 2010 be a better one to us soap watchers than 2009 was. And as a Glee fan I must say….if you love the little soapy touches now…wait till you see the last two episodes of the fall run…EPICALLY soapy. While another daytime fan and I watched we kept saying over and over “This is SO something we used to see all the time on daytime! We could see it today!!!”

    Marlena says: Yowsah! Sue Sylvester forever!

  8. Marilyn Henry says:

    Happy New Year, Connie!
    It seems to me that TPTB NEVER listen to viewers or seem aware of the fate of their shows if they don’t listen. Sad. Soaps are such a strong habit with me and there isn’t much in primetime I watch or care to watch (just Castle, Bones…), so seeing the numbers continue to drop and the cancellations pile up makes me wonder if I’ll need to turn on my TV at all in another year.

    You have obviously noticed GH went from #3 a year ago to #6–the bottom–this December. All the hoopla about Franco guesting just shot them straight down. Not so much the actor’s fault perhaps–but what a fiasco. Guza gave him the worst story possible: creepy, sick, dark, choppy, indecipherable. And repellent, making the actor repellent. Impossible to care about. And if they continue to seek out movie or TV star guests to do this kind of crap as Guza says they will–well, the evidence is there. Why can’t Guza go away and write those horror movies or that sick thriller novel crying to get out?? He isn’t tuned to daytime at all.

    Now they are talking about bringing back Vanessa Marcel. I liked Brenda and Vanessa, but her return would mean more Sonny and Sonny is SO over. We really don’t need a new Sonny story; they have all been done to a repetitious snore. Sonny and the mob need to be shipped to the back burner–way back.
    And I’d bet if Vanessa did come back, it would be for a short term thing. It is nearly impossible to invest in these short term stories and characters when you know they will be gone soon. We want to see the characters we already love and are invested in, with stories that carry through, with romance and emotion.

    The character they do need to bring back is Laura. That character has heart which is so sorely needed on this black show. She has a family already in place: Lulu (so like her mother) about to fall in love, Lucky facing heartbreak, Luke so sad and boozy and so unlike his witty lively self. Find a way to explain away Ethan and bring back Laura!

    I’d like to see her start up her old cosmetic business again, and using a bit of guile, decide to win back Luke. (I NEVER believed in Luke and Tracy, NEVER.) Courtship is always fun to watch, and these two do it best.

    Here’s an idea–bring on Justin Deas (ex GL) as a wild and wooly business competitor of ELQ, butting heads with Tracy. He is such a fine actor and so much fun to watch and he should be where we can watch him now. He was a hoot on SB. That’s the kind of new character the show needs!

    The show has real promise with oh-so-talented Jonathan back. But we need all the Spencers. And we need to get free of this gloom and doom awful story with this free-lancing movie star.

    Thanks for sharing the family album, Connie. Many years ago I used to have a little beagle, Michael, that looked like your Nigel–so adorable.
    Marilyn

    Marlena says: Happy New Year, dear old friend Marilyn! And thank YOU for commenting on the family pictures. Aren’t beagles the best?

    Oy? Where to start. Of course the execs don’t listen, and they have persisted in not doing so the lower the ratings have dived for almost FIFTEEN years now. I just don’t get it, I just don’t. They are the captains of the Titanic.

    And GH! I was never a Vanessa Marcil fan and I agree Sonny is played out. The real person though who is really played out is Bob Guza, and he knows it. He’s proved it to me by staging this whole Jason redemption. As I wrote, Jason is a hitman, a murderer!!! If’s Guza’s penultimate try at snowing the audience– he’s convinced fans for years that killers Jason and Sonny are heroes–and I hope this his last manipulation. Notice how Franco keeps trying to snow us (a Guza manipulation!) by telling us murder is performance art? Bull Franco. Bull Guza. I’m smarter than you, Bob. You can’t lie to the audience FOREVER.

    Whether or not Guza stays , GH does need to bring back Laura, beacon of heart and truth. JJ has been so good–to me the best thing that happened to soaps in ages–that they must bring her in. All her kids need her, especially Nick who is lost at sea. I don’t mind Tracy and Luke–they make great middle-aged alcoholics together, but I think Geary’s performamces would be greatly improved by Francis’ and Laura’s return. I abhor Ethan, and don’t understand the character’s origins at all.

    Bringing Justin Deas onto this show would be superb (I wonder if he’s still close to JFP.) The only problem is Justin alwaus make his characters (on RH, SB, ATWT and GL) shine with TRUTH no matter what material is given him. With apologies to Jack Nicholson, can Guza handle the truth? I don’t think so.

    Also I didn’t like James Franco on GH, even though I love him as an actor in the movie. Boring! As a professor I am scandalized he is using this GH bomb of a story and performance for academic credit in grad school. Not in my class, buddy!

  9. chris says:

    hi connie dear! i love this ‘new’ look into your family life here on the site! please continue! love you…

    Marlena says: Love you too Chrissie dear. Without your continued friendship and support , there would have been no new Marlena column, no Soaps for the Thinking Fan…

  10. tess says:

    Hi Marlena,

    I always look forward to your articles. And Happy New Year to you. Marlena, many people say that 2009 has been the most disastrous year for soaps. I DO NOT agree.

    Admittedly, I don’t watch every single soap on the air. I’m familiar with them all, but I certainly don’t have the time to view them all.

    But back in the eighties, most soap operas were gawd-awful, with the exception of SANTA BARBARA. At some point in the mid 80′s, SANTA BARBARA was the yummiest entree on the soap opera buffet. It was fast-paced. Loaded with romance, adventure, colorful characters, humor and witty dialogue.

    2009 wasn’t a total washout. YOUNG AND RESTLESS had many watchable moments, as did AS THE WORLD TURNS.

    Recently, I watched a slew of old television, soaps and primetime stuff, GENERAL HOSPITAL when Mitch Williams, who was married to Tracy was having sex with Susan Moore. Tracy was harassing Amy because she thought Amy had some tidbits about the paternity of Monica’s baby. Rick and Monica were trysting in the afternoon and unbeknowst to them, Monica’s husband, Alan was spying on them. I like Stuart Damon, but Alan was a homicidal maniac. Luke was a rapist. Burt Ramsey, the chief of police was a crook. GENERAL HOSPITAL has a history of putting the hero name-tag on men with questionable morals.

    However, the show was FABULOUS back then. A sheer joy to watch. It’s HORRIBLE nowadays. Sure, it has its boisterous fans, but the show doesn’t have an ice cube’s chance in a hot skillet of getting large numbers of viewers to tune into the current stories.

    Also, daytime isn’t the only programming that has deteriorated. Primetime isn’t as great as it used to be. I watched DVD’s of GOLDEN GIRLS, FRASIER, THE FLYING NUN, WILD WILD WEST, THE BIG VALLEY.

    Those shows were magnificent and the writers understood storytelling and how to keep viewers mesmerized.

    But alas, it ain’t like that any longer. It is what it is, so why complain?

    Marlena says: Thanks for writing and Happy New Year Tess. Good points here–storytelling isn’t what it used to be. TV may have been dumbed down, but I haven’t. Which is why I complain!

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