Sunday Reflections 12: Young and Restless’ Blah 10,000th Episode … General Hospital’s Sabrina and Her Fantasies, and Connie and Her Body Shot

By Marlena De Lacroix, a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

The Young and the Restless: So, what did you think of Y&R’s 10,000th episode, aired Thursday?  This was the one in which a “dead” character came back for his own funeral. In this case, it was Victor Newman, in what seemed to be his 438th resurrection.   (It was actually his third).  Well, in the episode’s defense, it did feature the entire cast, including characters like Esther, Traci and Danny, albeit in overcrowded group scenes.  The relief at seeing Victor alive (in a $10,000 suit, after months of grimy togs) along with such Newman family characters as Victor’s daughter Abby was kind of sweet.    And Victor and Nikki had an episode-ending reunion love scene, a rarity in the history of soaps:  a scene where a couple actually ends up happy.

Victor and Nikki, together again
Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott

This celebratory episode was a treat for viewers who have never seen a soap before, but longtimers who had seen it all before were probably left feeling blasé.  For some, it may even have bordered on soap self-parody, as was accurately predicted by former Marlena contributor Patrick Erwin in a letter last week.  The over-arching problem with the episode was that it was pedestrian soap opera.  And a Y&R special shouldn’t be that un-special after 10,000 episodes!  The episode was also emblematic of the last two years or so of the inexplicably top-rated Y&R, which may be summed up with one word:  blah.  Both the show and the special episode were produced and co-written by the recently fired Maria Arena Bell. [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 11: Mucho Macho Man on Bold and Beautiful … Victor Lives Again on Young and Restless … Mourning a Great Actor from General Hospital

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

The Bold and the Beautiful: I’m not going to apologize or use nice words.   My favorite character on B&B is “Dollar” Bill Spencer because he has balls, something almost all the men on this show in its 25-year history have lacked.  Unlike the romantic ping pong balls that have been Ridge and Bill’s son Liam (the biggest wuss of all) Bill has strength and is aggressive.  He’s a manipulator.   Lately, he’s been taking his poor excuse for a son (who spends all his time on earth bouncing between Steffy and  Hope) and trying to make him into a man.  Sure, it’s been weird — he’s forced Liam eat steak and smoke cigars.  But at least someone’s been trying to make Liam strong enough to choose between his two young women and determine his own fate.  Will Bill succeed?  In real life he probably would, but since the ratings are so high for the interminable young triangle, Bill will probably be force-feeding  spinach to Liam in perpetuity.

Don Diamont

With his silver jewelry, sexual swagger and often bared chest, you’d think Bill was a soap joke.   But Don Diamont, who started soap life as Liz’s (Glorina Loring) boytoy on Days of Our Lives three decades ago, makes Bill’s ever-aggressive nervous energy seem quite real.  Let’s face it — soaps are still a women’s medium, (go ahead and write me) and uber strong masculine men are few and far between.  Think usually liberated Marlena is being a bit backward here?  No — forceful people (men and women) make the world go round.   And the soap world too!

The last man of this strength on B&B  was Bill’s father, Bill Spencer Sr., as played  by James Storm at the beginning of the show.   He was the only figure in the show’s history to match la Stephanie in the cojones department. (They were friends.)   It puzzles me, however, how Katie, one of the most intelligent women in soaps, stays married to [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 10: Katie Couric’s Talk Show is So-So … GH’s Fast Wrapping Up Remote … Y&R: Why did “Red”’s Hair Suddenly Turn Brown?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

So what did you think of Katie, Ms. Couric’s new talk show?  I have mixed feelings about it.

Couric herself doesn’t bother me.  Au contraire – we should be proud that daytime television, which marginalizes older women, is spotlighting a 55-year-old.  Katie’s usual intelligence does shine through on the show.  Plus she’s the real deal as a journalist, a terrific interviewer.  She has the professional acumen to ask the difficult questions — on her first show she asked Sheryl Crow if she knew about Lance Armstrong’s drug use while she was dating him. (Crow copped out and said she doesn’t talk to him much anymore.)

Katie Couric

One of the show’s main problems, though, is that so far it hasn’t measured up to the Couric intelligence.   It’s been focused too much on what I call the girly-girl lightweight subjects, like weight and romance.  Wasn’t the interview with shallow Jessica Simpson just a bore?  Who needs yet another recommendation for Weight Watchers, as Simpson went on about her weight loss and even brought on her WW counselor.  Katie gave over an entire show to a feel-good author named B’rene Brown who just burbled on for endless segments about how beneficial it is to make yourself vulnerable to romance and all in life. She was so New Age-ish and so full of hot air that the show just went on interminably.

As I’ve written, a daytime talk show shouldn’t appeal only to women. It should appeal to all people who have brains, as The View does.  Katie herself seems [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 9: On General Hospital,Your Emotions Are Played With as Sam and Jason Ask “What If?” … On The Young and the Restless, Sharon Heads Off to the Sanitarium

By Marlena De Lacroix. a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Ever wonder how your emotions are expertly manipulated by soaps? A great example was Thursday’s very unusual General Hospitalepisode in which Sam and Jason wondered what could have been had they made different decisions in their relationship. It had me screaming at the screen in anger at the beginning, but by its conclusion I was having a good cry.

Jason (Steve Burton) and Sam (Kelly Monaco)
What might have been …

The episode was set in the hospital, as sick Sam and a wounded Jason faced “death,” poisoned by the water almost all Port Charles-ites had drunk which had a fatal element added to it by crazy Jerry Jacks.  Sam was the reflective one, as the show introduced imaginary flashbacks of the story of the birth of her healthy baby boy, who in soap reality had supposedly died shortly after birth. (He was given to Tea instead by Todd.)  What the hell is this, I shouted at the screen, as the scenes labeled “April”  “June” etc. seemed totally out the context of the regular running GH.  The scenes felt very strange to watch. Plus, the flashbacks were obviously new scenes shot just for this episode.  You know they were new because, just returned from a year’s absence, Kirsten Storms was playing [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 8: On General Hospital, Jason as an Empty Vessel? … A Great Week for Older Women … A Most Confusing Friday Episode

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

General Hospital: Last Tuesday came word that Steve Burton is leaving General Hospitalafter 21 years playing Jason (Quartermaine) Morgan.  You’d think I’d be happy because I have always disliked Jason, the hitman who was the central “hero” of the show.  But as Burton leaves I have changing feelings.

Steve Burton
Striving to make a bad guy look good

In the past I’ve called Burton a “limited” actor because, for one thing, he lacked training. But Burton did arguably stand fast all those years, playing a character absurdly written to be some sort of daytime icon:  a murderer who usually saved everyone in town, and was viewed by former headwriter Bob Guza as a living saint.   With his trademark black tee-shirt, bulging muscles and gun frequently in hand, Jason as written by Guza was the ultimate hero as he murdered at least nine people over the years.

Guza gave him what was supposed to be an understandable motive for being an unapologetic killer: his “conscience” screw was loose or missing altogether from his brain, ostensibly having been knocked out years ago when the former good guy/med student was in an automobile crash. And being the mob enforcer for GH’s other anti-hero, the murderer Sonny, his boss and closest friend in one of the most remarkable bromances in daytime history, always gave [Read more...]