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.
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 …