By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman
The Young and the Restless: Finally a soap does what I’ve long advocated for this era of desperation: perform a radical life-saving change to save itself. Y&R has sent in then Marines in the form of new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and new headwriter Josh Griffith. And Marlena says Semper Fi! Fresh from their triumphs on Hollywood Heights and Phelps’ latest Emmy for Outstanding Show (General Hospital), these two soap vets certainly have just the skills and genuine talent needed to pull Y&R out of its deep pit of, as we French say, ennui.
And already the fans have started flinging tomatoes at the choice of Phelps, who we all took to task for her cooperation with Guza on GH and other foul acts on One Life to Live. Forgive and forget, Marlena says, because darlings, this is war! With 30 plus years of continuous executive producing service to five soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, Another World, One Life to Live, GH) Phelps certainly has the octane needed to quickly change Y&R. Similar negative things were predicted when the much skilled and experienced Paul Rauch (whose track record fans did not love) first came to produce Y&R a few years ago, and look at what an effective job he did.
General Hospital: Marlena is still swooning over the GH scene this week in which Luke and Anna were privately reunited in the hospital after Luke’s taking a bullet for Anna and his long abduction by cray-cray Heather. No crying, screaming or carrying on, it was just a conversation between two mature people revealing their deep romantic feelings for each other without words. The script said that Anna was questioning Luke about his long abduction by Heather, and later telling him that the arrested Heather said Robin was alive. Yet, bravura Tony Geary and Finola Hughes played the scenes’ subtext — two very adult people (yes!) in love — so quietly and with so much subtlety, the scene was a thing of beauty. Luke spoke slowly and clearly, and in a low voice, while Anna listened, receiving his unspoken love with just a touch of a tear in her eye. What creativity and worlds of experience these two actors bring to their work! Whoever thought we could see such adult emotion portrayed so realistically on a soap opera?
This was a wonderful couple of days this week, for we who (try to) watch GH without spoilers. The previous day, insane Heather (surprise!) appeared in the doorway of the cabin in which she held Luke, shooting Luke after Anna (yay girl!) had punched her out and had handcuffed her. Her reappearance aiming a gun at Anna was just as shocking as a Michael Meyers reappearance in the Halloween horror movie series In the episode’s cliffhanger, Heather aimed her gun at intended victim Anna, and we didn’t find out until the next day that it was Luke who had heroically stepped in front of Anna at the crucial moment to take the hit. Bull’s-eye, GH! Thanks for giving spoiler-less us the thrill of old-fashioned soap shock and surprise.
By the way, wasn’t it awesome when the show also revealed this week that Dr. Ewen is part of the mysterious cabal that’s keeping Robin hostage? That was a total shocker, too! Keep plugging up those spoiler leaks as you promised, Mr. Valentini.
Days of Our Lives: I watched the Salem explosion on Friday and they blowed the place up real good, as they used to say on the brilliant Canadian mid-70 satire show SCTV. Ratings-challenged Days needs a two weeks break from the air so that NBC can air Olympic coverage like they need a hole in the head!
Which brings up a new occasional feature here at marlenadelacroix.com. You all know I am a teacher and I love class discussion. Plus I love getting and answering your letters more than anything. So from time to time I’m going to throw out specific topics I’d like to hear you opine about. Do write me.
This week’s subject is the following quote I found on my answering machine from a good friend, an ardent soap fan who is a (non-soap) television producer, and who has watched and expertly analyzed soaps for 50 years. Even more years than Marlena! OK class, consider this:
“Marlena, I cannot believe how static Days of Our Lives is. It is visually inert. It reminds me of Oakdale (As the World Turns) before they discovered outdoor locations. The (characters) sit and sit and sit in the same location. The actors are so under-rehearsed, it’s ridiculous. The scripts are underwritten and the actors are not being served by the dialogue written for them.”
Maître Marlena says: Agree or disagree? Discuss.