When All Soaps Are In Lockstep, Is Improvement Possible?

By Marlena De Lacroix

What’s a soap critic to do?  There are only six soaps.  I have a long memory and remember the very early 90s, when Bill Bell originated the homeless storyline with Stephanie, which way proceeded the current one.  Ken Corday is an enemy of free speech; he sought to destroy the critical arm of Soap Opera Weekly years ago. But alas.  The great and ultra creative Jim Reilly is dead and cursed now by Ken and followers.   All that is long ago and distant — to some and those who were not in the daytime world long ago in the first place.

The root of criticism in daytime is executive change.  You call for an executive change when you see a bad soap, a soap that is marked by cronyism, a soap that doesn’t  move, or centers too long on one character or is marked by favoritism or sexism or inside politics.  Yet, all the current headwriters and producers at daytime, as if in a time warp, seem locked into place.  We have Ken, enemy of the First Amendment at Days of Our Lives.  Fronsie eternal at ABC.  All the Bells and the bravura Rauch at Y&RJill and Bob at General Hospital.  They all seem to be [Read more...]

Wrong is Right

By Marlena De Lacroix

I have to say I almost choked when I heard that Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati were re-signed to One Life to Live.  Isn’t this show dead last in the ratings and going even further south?  Aren’t they the duo that made Dorian a Valley of the Dolls shrew, had Todd sleep with Marty his prior rape victim, exiled the only gay couple given a major sex scene?  It just blows my mind that these two have been rewarded with another two years of the show.  At least someone thinks there are two years of the show left.

I guess we should all heave a sigh of relief that these guys, these sexist, misogynistic  executives haven’t pulled an anti-feminine stunt in the last six months.  Can the mysterious presence of ghost headwriter Jeanne Passanante have had some influence here?  Of course, sticking up for Passanante, who gave away [Read more...]

What’s to Watch Now?

By Marlena De Lacroix

As the World Turns was over on Friday and at least two dozen of my old soap pals all called or wrote. But what to watch now? If you are still around to watch afternoons, it’s slim pickings.ATWT Days is way too juvenile even to contemplate. Young and Restless is very competent soap opera. But someone help! We’re left with the ABC Daytime line up. Admiring my dog Nigel sleeping on the couch seems to look like better entertainment after a while.

All My Children is boring. Who ever heard of a soap opera without a villain? What happened to Vincent Irizarry (David, who is now really, truly dead). Did he want too

Goodbye, As the Word Turns. But … One Life to Live is boring … General Hospital is boring … All My Children is boring … So what’s to watch now?

much money? No Adam, no David, and JR does not cut it as a first class villain. I could care less about Rebecca Budig. What puzzles me is that a network that is obsessed with shirtless boys (like the indistinguishable Ford boys on One Life to Live) should foist such a middle age frump as Caleb Cooney (the I’m-so-bored-please-pay-me Michael Nouri) on me. Why, Lord, why? By the time Susan Lucci arrives back in town as [Read more...]

As the World Turns Stops: Sobs! All Those Afternoons!

ATWT lgo

By Marlena De Lacroix

When I was in high school I was noted for spending my afternoons watching soap operas and eating cole slaw. Decades later, I am sobbing … and I mean real big salty tears … into my slaw as As the World Turns is drawing to a close, heading to 

With the end of As the World Turns, let’s celebrate soaps. Our memories of As the World Turns will never fade, nor will our belief that the strength of the American family will never end.

its final episode Friday, Sept. 17. Last week, I even lay awake worrying about Chris Hughes and whether Reid’s transplanted heart would save his life. I know ATWT‘s life is over.

Sob! All those afternoons … I remember in 1970 when Irna Phillips punished Jane House by having her Elizabeth Stewart fall up the stairs and die because the actress old ATWT 1was appearing nude in the original production of Lenny on Broadway! Who can remember the afternoon when Iva came after Josh when her daughter Lily found out Lily’s father was really her rapist Josh … How come I sob whenever magnificent Kathy Hays as Kim is in a scene advising a younger Oakdaler or hugs Bob over another tragedy (like Nancy’s sudden death last week and the fittingly modest service that didn’t last for weeks). And the always modest but bravura Don Hastings, too. Were you there last week when Chris told Bob he was the finest man he ever knew? Sob! [Read more...]

Ban James Franco from Daytime!

James Franco

By Marlena De Lacroix 

Publicity whores! Marlena hates them! I’m so sorry that my otherwise carefree, wonderful summer was interrupted by my rants to friends visiting our summer cabin about how James Franco has taken over the daytime world this year. Not just with his repeated visits to General Hospital as Franco, but his egotistical appearances on soap covers, every blog on earth and every TV magazine show. He’d give an interview to my left (newly healed) broken left elbow!

It’s not so much Franco’s sheer audacity as a publicity whore I detest as his story on GH. Honey, Marlena lives in Manhattan, and I don’t need I need a lesson in what “performance art” is. All art is supposed to make you think, and Franco’s mission on GH was supposed to make you think about Jason, and that he doesn’t realize how evil his life has become.

Whatever your value system, GH doesn’t need a character like Franco to TELL you that Jason is a bad boy, and has committed numerous crimes over the years. Jill, Bob, Frons, we are thinking fans and [Read more...]

What’s a Daytime Emmy Year Without Complaining? Or Even Watching?

For a full report on the Viva Las Vegas Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s friend, TV columnist Ed Martin.  But first …

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daytime emmyBy Marlena De Lacroix

Due to a car malfunction, Moose, Nigel and I had to stay away an extra day this past Sunday, (delightfully) stranded in a cabin without a TV.  (I made a fabulous salt-free dinner of Thai noodles with chicken and scallions from scratch.)

And so let it be recorded in anno domani 2010 that  moi,  Marlena De Lacroix, missed the Daytime Emmys.  Marlena, who has never missed watching or attending the daytime awards in thirty years.  Marlena, who first went to the Emmys in 1980 in the old Waldorf Astoria, and flipped when I saw that year winners, Another World‘s Doug Watson and One Life to Live‘s Judith Light, live and in the flesh?  Wow!  What an amazing moment in my career that was.    

You don’t care that I missed watching the 2010 Emmys?  Then why, when I got home, did I find 312 messages on my computer complaining about the Emmys, asking me what I felt, from friends, Romans and [Read more...]

Daytime Emmys Downplay Soaps, Celebrate Las Vegas

By Ed Martin

One could find worse ways to spend a lazy summer evening than watching a live awards show from Las Vegas featuring many current top acts from shows along the strip.

But when I sat down to watch CBS‘ presentation of the 37th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday I was looking for a celebration of daytime programming — and I didn’t get what I wanted. Nor, I suspect, did millions of soap opera and talk show enthusiasts.

Much of the first half-hour was taken up with a lengthy tribute to Dick Clark, whose iconic music series American Bandstand ran on daytime television for almost 40 years, ending its run in 1989. Frankly, I think [Read more...]

What’s That Smell?

nora green hairBy Marlena De Lacroix

On Saturday,  my husband Moose and I were driving on a back road through the Pennsylvania woods to have dinner at a very good restaurant. Suddenly a familiar tell-tale putrid smell entered the car.

Skunk!

I gasped and a few seconds later my eyes welled up in tears.  No, the tears didn’t come from the intensity of the odor entering the car. They came from the stab of pure humiliation I was suddenly feeling in my heart. That’s because my mind had immediately flashed back the sight of poor Bob Woods sitting up to his neck in a bathtub of tomato juice on One Life to Live a few days before.  This Wednesday’s or Thursday’s episode was one of a

I have watched these shows forever and have written about them … almost forever.  Unlike movies or night-time TV, the producers of these daytime shows have been known to — and are allowed to — make ‘comments’ on their actors by showing their characters in certain situations …

week-long storyline in which  supposedly amusing “mishaps” kept happening to Bo and Nora, the beleaguered couple, leading up to [Read more...]

The Sadness of the Long Running Soap Fan

By Marlena De Lacroix

When most longtime watchers get disenchanted or downright  disgusted with their old  soaps, they are usually angry.  We’ve all invested years of our lives and our deep feelings in this genre.

Now, it’s gotten to the point where I’m not angry anymore.  As we watch the final act of daytime soap opera, I just find myself very very sad to see them all so swiftly decline, and that sadness seems to make an appearance nearly every day when I

The real world could care less.  For years non-soap friends have been interested and asked me about soaps.  Well, not anymore!

watch shows or check in on news and happenings in our own little soap world.  Here’s a rundown on what gets me right in the heart:

Sadness 1 –  Of course the worst pain is seeing our shows implode in front of our eyes.  How bizarre and tragic it is that top classic shows, still so beautifully produced by solid old pros like JFP and Rauch, put all their resources into [Read more...]

All My Children: Daytime’s Brigadoon, But What Happens Next? Part 2

AMC logoBy Marlena De Lacroix

In Part 1 of this column, I used that great 1947 Broadway musical in which a mythical ancient town full of joy and real human goodness reappears and vanishes once a decade as a metaphor for the brief return of Lorraine Broderick as headwriter of All My Children.

Ms. Broderick’s self-chosen short-lived return represented a short sojourn back into a soap opera world that now exists only in memory:   What we’ve seen again in the past three months is the real All My Children – the intelligent, warm, character

My kudos go to ALL the actors of the AMC company who again got to showcase their real skills because they were given great writing.

rich soap we loved since Agnes Nixon created it in 1970 and which existed in that glorious form until 1996.  Sadly, Broderick’s new stint as writer has already ended, but she leaves AMC in [Read more...]