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.

The whole 10,000th episode just made me all the more anxious to see the work of new headwriter Josh Griffith and new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, which debuts later this month.  Phelps has done some pretty spectacular special episodes in her three-decade soap career, especially on Guiding Lightin the 80s.  Remember the real creativity and production smarts shown on the all-female character episode and in Ross’ dream, the episode which was almost psychedelic?  Now that’s the kind of original and entertaining soap opera longtime and Thinking Fans deserve. Will we be getting it?  We can only hope.

General Hospital:  Just as I am supposed to, I really like GH’s new young prim (for now) character, Nurse Sabrina (Teresa Castillo) and really hate her romantic adversary, that soap cliché of a villainess, Dr. Britt (Kelly Thiebaud). Both characters came out of nowhere and instantly fell under the great charms of widower Dr. Patrick, who hadn’t stepped out with anyone following his saintly wife Robin died about a year ago.  What I didn’t expect was the great and instant charm of the Sabrina character, who habitually has momentary humorous fantasies (such as pulling Britt’s hair when the doctor was bitchy to her).  These fantasies can offer the writers many creative possibilities — or they can get really annoying after a while.  Do they bother you yet?  But Sabrina already has a touch of the freshness and charming innocence of her movie inspiration, the Sabrina played by Audrey Hepburn in the film of the same name (1954).  Cheers to GH casting director Mark Teschner for finding Castillo and the GH writers for coming up with such a refreshing new character.

Also on GH this week:  Wasn’t Kate/Connie’s bachelorette party a hoot, with Sonny’s henchman Milo (a nicely buff Drew Cheetwood) filling in as a last minute male stripper?  Can you believe that Ms. Marlena has never seen anyone do a body shot before, let alone one off of a stripper?  (I learned exactly what one was when Connie slurped booze and whipped cream off of Milo’s exposed chest)  You have to just adore the mad abandon in which Kelly Sullivan got into Connie’s low-class enthusiasm here. Go (crazy) girl!  And Milo’s strip wasn’t bad, either. Marlena’s blushing …

Comments

  1. SZima says:

    I agree with you about the Y&R episode…no great shakes there. I’m not sure what I expected, or even if I expected anything, but it was just another episode in my book. Oh well…

    RE: Sabrina & Dr. Britt…I might have liked Sabrina if that bitch-on-wheels Britt hadn’t been introduced at the same time. And these two newbies, plus Ellie the lab tech just a few days earlier, just came out of nowhere. I’m liking Ellie the best and hope she gives Maxie a run for her money with Spinelli. Sabrina does show promise, but I absolutely hated her fantasy scenes with Patrick. I hope Britt isn’t long for this show. We’ve had enough crazy, obsessed doctors on the show to last for years…(Dr. Lisa Niles anyone?)

    “Konnie’s” party was fun for the most part, but it’s driving me F-ing nuts that no one has caught on that this is Connie and not Kate. WTH? Are these people all blind and deaf? And how stupid is Sonny that he doesn’t even recognize that his own fiancé is whacked out?

    It really is time for this whole Kate/Connie/Johnny/Todd “Blackmail, Secrets & Lies” story to end. Let the truth come out and let the fall-out begin.

    Marlena says: I knew many people wouldn’t cotton to Sabrina’s continuing fantasies. I agree with you–why couldn’t partygoers tell that Connie was out. What especially is weird is that Sonny–who is pretty smart–doesn’t know either.

  2. Chris Silva says:

    Dearest Marlena;

    You so eloquently summed up my feelings about Y&R’s 10,000 episode. I had no expectations given Maria Bells track record. Plus this is a story we’ve seen under her reign more times than any viewer should have to tolerate.

    Maria Bell is the epitome one trick pony. We either get back from the dead plots, rushed sex masquerading as romance, quickie marriages or murder mysteries. That’s been most of her run. Add to that the breakneck speeds in which she tells her stories and what you get is a lot of repetitive plots deprived of genuine emotion.

    I used to LOVE this show! I got so lost in these characters rivalries and romances. We saw families having breakfast for an entire episode where they’d share so intimately their lives with us. Bill Bell wrote to the heart. He had beautifully fleshed out characters. Maria in contrast never gets deep. She has her arrow pointed everywhere but the heart. She could tell a story…if you can even call some of them that…in three months start to finish. Then she’s moving on to the next rushed emotionally bankrupt storyline. None of these characters mean as much to me as they used too. Their lives have so many preposterous complications I’ve become numb to them as people. They never suffer long from anything. They break the law at will with no real consequences. It’s all “gotcha” storytelling. I got to the point where I’d laugh during the show. So much of it played corny to me. Jack recovering from paralysis is a good example. The only reason a story like this exists is to insult any viewer out there who has been affected by paralysis. I had to look away from the tv whenever Jack would take his steps because I found it insulting that she would imply it could be so easy. When giving storyline previews I read a few times where she said something to the effect of, “we’re really seeing Jack struggle right now”. Really? Is that what that is? In a single episode Jack could travel from home, the athletic club and Glo-worm if he had to. His struggles are not the least bit realistic. For awhile there I forgot about his condition because all he talked about was Beauty of Nature. I wanted Genevieve to punch him in the sac every time he dismissed her from his life as this life changing condition seemed to not change him in the least. There was zero rooting value for Jack in that storyline. Just bad TV!

    In my 26 years watching, 20 of those really entertained me. Y&R’s transition to a lesser quality soap started the day Lynn Maria Latham was made its HW and EP. Neither her nor Maria Bell really had their pulse on it’s strengths. Latham by her own admission had never seen the show and Maria reminded us at nauseam how she studied under Bill Bell while telling pedestrian stories void of heart. Both tenures were doomed to fail because the former had no knowledge of any it and the ladder did but lacked the talent. The last 2 of those years, were sadly, the most detrimental.

    But to go back to the 10,000 episode, I don’t think it could have been any more than what it was. Not with the kind of plots that have been front and center leading into it. I mean, come on! The fact that no one in LA knew who someone of Victor’s stature was just baffles me. We’re to believe that Victor is a character that is so powerful and so well connected that he can pick the phone up at will and call anyone, anytime, to carry out favors for the sole purpose of ruining lives and NO ONE in LA knew who this dude was?!?! Sadly, it was the least of that stories problems.

    Happy 10,000 Maria! I wish you had spent less time scribbling, “I Love Bill Bell Jr” in your notebook during Bill’s class. If only you had paid attention like Kay and Jack did this could have been a much different 10,000. I don’t know what kind of magic we’re going to get from Jill and Josh, but if they can get that heart beating strong again they will have my full support and admiration. I’m ready to fall in love with Y&R again.

    Chris
    Denver, CO

    Marlena says: Thanks, Chris. Great letter–you certainly are on the money about Y&R. The only thing more I can say about Ms. Bell is that she really seems heartbroken to have lost her job. The short story arc, people getting away with crimes and all that–that’s just what’s happening on all soaps. The only problem is Y&R isn’t just another soap, especially to fans who loved Bill Bell’s work. It’a hard to recreate a show where the show’s producer had absolute autonomy and could do whatever he wanted, which for Bell, was not to compete with the on-going stylistic updates of other shows. He did classic soap. I hope that the soap smarts shown in the past by Phelps and Griffith in some way measure up to the works of the Old Master.

  3. Patrick Erwin says:

    Thanks for the “shout out,” Marlena!

    I do remember Jill Farren Phelps’ work at GL….she definitely made an impact. Though a lot of it was also great timing – GL was really on fire story wise at the time – she made a difference in how the show looked. GL never looked better than when Phelps ran it, to be sure. And she was able to ramp up the tension and add a little darkness in a way that still made it GL. Whether it was network interference or just an artistic choice, her tenures at OLTL and GH led to much “darker” shows (a pet peeve of mine).

    I will have to remember to watch Ross’ election dream near our elections this year. And try to ignore the fact that *sob* it’s been twenty years since that episode….

    Marlena says: Very interesting, Patrick dear. Never thought about this before. I’d always thought the “darkness” at GH came from headwriter Bob Guza and the darkness at GL in the JFP era came from its writers, amongst them Nancy Curlee, Jim Reilly, Steve Demorest, etc. But perhaps it really was JFP after all. Y&R as darker soap–now that’s an arresting idea, isn’t it?

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