By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman
Days of Our Lives: “What’s that you’re watching, Marlena? That old movie Earthquake (1974)?” My husband Moose was looking at the TV screen where battered and bloodied people were climbing out of the wreckage of a ballroom that had experienced a terrific explosion.
“No, it’s not quite as cheese-tastic,” I answered. “It’s Days of Our Lives.” Actually, I thought Days this week did an entertainingly good job of digging itself out of the wreckage of the stunt explosion that had occurred just prior to its two-week Olympic hiatus. The characters reacted so pseudo-realistically! Madison was found dead, a cut on her head (!) and a pregnant Nicole moaned and groaned, being pinned under some wreckage. Abby broke down and cried like the real little girl she is when father Jack died after saving her from a 27-floor elevator plunge, and I almost shed a tear for him, as no one over the years could ever be immune to Matthew Ashford’s great charm as the character.But nothing could touch the cheese-tastic (and you know Marlena, I say that very lovingly) baddie Ian declaring his love to the corpse of Madison. How I will always love Ian Buchanan, even in this thankless, one-note role! The accent! That face! That very strong and powerful, larger than life quality he shows when sputtering sheer evil! Later he and Lauren Koslow chewed up the scenery until it fell down soap style in a long fight scene where Kate accused the newly aggrieved Ian of breaking up her marriage through their affair. In the scene’s/episode’s cliffhanger, Ian melodramatically blurted out: “I killed Stefano!” Speaking of divine cheese, next week Stefano is back from the dead for the umpteenth time. Oh how truly great Joe Mascolo has been in the role for decades!
General Hospital: Not cheese-tastic at all were two sequences on GH that showed what great producing is about, specifically coordinating the writing, direction and performances in a set of scenes or an episode to make them emotionally gripping and real. Sam and Jason’s break-up scenes were just heartbreaking, even though I have always disliked the hit man-smart gal pair. I wasn’t even nauseated by the obligatory montage of past love scenes. On Friday, fine production and direction were the stars as Jerry injected the “antidote” into Alexis and Josslyn in the hospital as relatives and friends watched over them. As the two lay near death, Sean even led a “prayer circle” in the hospital chapel. God is back on daytime TV! The prayers worked, didn’t they, as the flat-lined Alexis and Jossyln came magically back to life. Great episode!
Marlena Recommends: Can you believe the gall of ABC showing a segment on Nightline whose theme was, though daytime soaps are dying (on their own network!) telenovelas are hot and here to stay? The segment was actually a great introduction to Spanish serials, with the editor of People En Espanol explaining exactly why these shows are prospering, while ours aren’t. Check it out here … Want an interesting read? Check out Deadline Hollywood’s wonderfully insightful interview with Matthew Weiner, who explains in great detail exactly how he makes the writing of Mad Men so superb (read it here ) His process of writing is exactly the same as that of daytime soap writers! As with our shows, no advance notice of plots and events is given to the actors, which Weiner maintains makes their performances better … Also, for a great read check out accomplished actor Frank Langella’s book Dropped Names, said to be a favorite of Maurice Benard and several One Life to Live actors. In short chapter-long observations of actors (such as Rita Hayworth, Laurence Olivier and George C. Scott) Langella has known and worked with, he shows exactly how actors work and what their real attitudes toward the profession are. You’ll be surprised! Langella’s elegantly written chapters are very illuminating about the art of acting. Read what really makes great actors tick!