A “Bah Humbug” Christmas … Plus, The Borg is Back!

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

Oh how I miss soap Christmases the way they used to be. Today, all soaps have been scrubbed of religion. This year only two of the four soaps — Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful — continued with at least some of the traditions that made the holiday a really special time to watch daytime drama.  

The Horton Ornaments

On the soaps of old (actually, not even so old), every soap gathered its central families together at a family party.  On cue, a leading cast member broke the fourth wall at the end of the holiday show to wish the cherished viewers: “From our family to your family … Merry Christmas.”  Thus viewers felt particularly bonded with their other “family” — their soap family.Plus, I really missed those Christmas traditions particular to each soap! Remember all those years Dr. Steve Hardy told the Christmas story to all the kids at the hospital on General Hospital? When Mike Bauer sang Christmas carols in the Bauer living room on Guiding Light?  When all the characters of Passions, religious or not, turned out for one of Jim Reilly’s crazy midnight Christmas Eve masses?

Well, it was mostly “Bah Humbug” to Christmas on half of our surviving soaps in 2012 – a most peculiar choice, given the medium’s on-going race to stay in business. Instead of a gathering together en famille on Christmas week The Young and the Restless, Jack’s son Kyle and business associates Phyllis and Neil staged an intervention for pill-popping Jack. Peter Bergman brilliantly fired all rockets in these scenes in which obstinate Jack managed to give in to no one.    On General Hospital on Christmas Eve, surrogate mother Maxie had cramps and found out that she was indeed pregnant with Dante and Lulu’s baby.  Please oh please, tell me this wasn’t supposed to be symbolic of another Christmas pregnancy.

Thankfully, Days and B&B celebrated Christmas the old fashion way. Days offered warm family gathering, and as they do every year, rolled out the Horton family ornaments engraved with character names. B&B assembled the Forresters in a lovely tribute to the recently deceased Stephanie, as Eric (the talented John McCook) beautifully played the piano. And indeed B&B honored the old soap tradition as executive producer Bradley Bell broke the fourth wall to wish the audience a good holiday at the end of the Christmas episode. It made me feel extra good.   Happy holidays right back to everyone at B&B from Marlena!

The Young and the Restless:  On an up note, however, how unexpected is it that mega-popular Steve Burton (formerly Jason on GH) is joining Y&R?  He’ll certainly bring many of his fans with him.  I think the kind of role that’s written for him (as yet undisclosed) should have a lot to do with the actor’s success.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if his new character is on the right side of the law, unlike his unrepentant hitman Jason (nicknamed “The Borg” by the audience) on GH?

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Have you heard that Prospect Park has signed former AMC producer and writer Ginger Smith to EP of AMC 2.0 and signed Vincent Irizarry (Dr. David Hayward, AMC) and Lindsay Hartley (Dr. Cara Castillo, AMC) to AMC 2.0, and former daytime emmy award winning ATWT and OLTL director Jennifer Pepperman was named EP to OLTL 2.0 yet? PP has also contacted the WGA (the writers’ guild) to begin to work out a deal between them after they couldn’t find any finacial core writers that were capable of writing for the soaps. Thoughts on this latest development of the ongoing PP saga, Marlena?

    Marlena says: Well you are right–the saga of Prospect Park is exactly that and I said last week I’ll believe it when I see first see AMC and OLTL on-line. But many positive steps towards the goal of premieres seem to be happening right now! Let’s hope there are even more very soon!

  2. Kevin says:

    Not all of us are rejoicing in the news that Steve Burton will be coming to Genoa City.
    At least those of us that have some resemblance of sanity and good taste.

  3. Diana says:

    I agree, on GH the telling of the Christmas story was passed down from Steve to Alan, all the cast showed up including their real life children playing the hospital children, we watched some of the young stars grow up as Christmas elves. GH still had family gathering but it didn’t have the same feel. The fans of Y&R should be very pleased to get Steve Burton, he is a great actor and is greatly missed on GH.

  4. DS0816 says:

    Dear Connie/Marlena,

    I hope it is [has been] a good holiday period for you, for everyone posting here, and I wish all a pleasant Happy New Year.

    Before I sign off with this, I will salute one daytime soaps player who stood out in 2012. That was actress Heather Tom. In 2012, she became the first daytime regular to win the Triple Crown in dramatic-acting categorical levels at the Daytime Emmys. She began with winning outstanding younger actress back in 1993 and 1999 for playing Victoria Newman on “The Young and the Restless.” (That role is now played by Amelia Heinle.) The last two years were highlighted with Tom winning even more gold—as outstanding supporting actress in 2011 and outstanding lead actress in 2012—for her current Katie Logan on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” The Chicago-area-born actress also became a first-time mother—to a son. So, 2012 must have been both a professionally and personally memorable year for her. So, once more, congratulations to Heather Tom!

    Marlena says: Happy New Year to you too DSO, xo I admire the greatness of Heather Tom too.

  5. Chris says:

    Dearest Marlena;

    I know this is going way off what you wrote but I wanted to give my quick opinion on Y&R.

    We are reaching the 3 month mark that Y&R’s regime of Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffiths work first aired. I think 3 months is fair amount of time to give a thoughtful examination of what they have done and where it looks like they are headed.

    As you may recall I was thrilled at the firing of Maria Bell. She (along with Hogan Sheffer) spent years aiming their wrecking ball at Y&R’s infrastructure. The show desperately needed fixing. When the news of Phelps and Griffith was announced I was thrilled. She is a seasoned producer and he had familiarity with the show. Their changes have been swift and drastic, perhaps at times too drastic.

    From a producing standpoint some of the necessary changes have been positive and some not so much. I love that Phelps has brought glamour back to the show. I can’t remember when the cast as a whole looked more beautiful? Certainly not since Kay Alden and Jack Smith were penning it. The residents of Genoa City look like people of money and power again. I have also loved the choices she has made in regards to directing. They are experimenting with camera angles that give interesting perspective to sets we have seen for decades. Some of the new sets are also lovely. Avery’s apartment sparks! As does the new Newman Penthouse! The new restaurant, On The Boulevard, is hip but I would have rather seen a re-introduction of the Colonnade Room. An elite restaurant the mighty and powerful residents of Genoa City used to frequent. Fans would have loved it and it would have tempered the over abundance of new sets we’ve been subjected too. On the flip side, I am not digging how they re-arranged the furniture in Katherine’s house. That set-up does nothing for me and has not enhanced that set in any way positive. There was a scene that aired several weeks back where Lauren and Chloe were sitting on the sofa and Jill was in one of the chairs. During the entire scene Lauren’s face was hidden as the cameras seemed unable to get a good shot of Tracy Bregman’s face as the women conversed. We either got the back of her head or her profile where her hair was covering her face. It was so uninspired and so not becoming of a show that has been decorated with as many Emmys as Y&R has. It’s just a blah re-imagining of this classic set. The music has also left me a bit miffed. I hate that Phelps has all but abandoned the classic scores Y&R was known for. I am all for new material but when it comes at the expense of all that was before it, it does not work. Y&R’s music was every bit as important as the rest of the show. I would say more than any other soap, ever, this shows music was unique and part of it’s charm. Find almost any You Tube clip of Y&R in its heyday and you’re sure to see comments on how good the music was. To dismiss that is a big mistake on Phelps part. With all due respect to her, Bill Bell knew how to make soaps that people wanted to watch. His shows were big ratings grabbers. She should be studying all he did and emulating that with her own touches. Phelps told Michael Logan she would be going in with a scalpel instead of a hatchet. I’m afraid the hatchet has been in her hands more than the scalpel. The shows feeling very un-Y&R to me and I ride a fine line between loving and hating it.

    From a writing standpoint, I think the stories have become more grounded but still feel choppy. They are not as silly and Passion-esq as Bells were (although, Sheffer’s influence seems to be rearing its ugly head as I will get to shortly) but they suffer from the same problems hers did. They move too fast. Jack’s storyline is a perfect example. There is nothing believable about someone developing a drug habit on prescription pills and hitting rock bottom as quickly as Jack did. That is just so false. A story told at this speed only serves to cheat the viewer out of that intimate experience that we watch soaps for. Now things have gotten so bad for Jack that a woman has dropped dead in his living room. Really? Is this just not a re-telling of the same garbage we sat through when Maria was writing the show? Of course in a matter of a few commercial breaks Jack faked heart problems, was admitted and released from the hospital while Adam held a news conference, disposed of the body and laid down the law with Jack. Yawn!!!! Here we go again, telling stories in 3rd person at breakneck speeds where major plot points are merely told to the viewer and not seen. Where we are left filling in the blanks. It so reeks of Sheffer’s unimaginative talents as a writer. It’s a story that’s already been told unsuccessfully in the past, so why are we re-visiting it? This is not the recipe for successful soap opera, at least not on this show. Same goes for the Chloe/Kevin storyline. Yesterday she stole money, off camera, and here we go again with another caper storyline. Why not just tell a mature story about a young couple trying to make it in these economically troubled times? Most of the audience can probably identify with that. Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t we promised a return to character driven stories? This entire plot driven drivel is what ruined the show in the first place. Chloe grew up privileged but alone and Kevin is emotionally damaged from his abusive upbringing. Can we not think of better stories for these two? Someone should remind Griffith that Kevin once lured and locked Colleen in a freezer then burned Gina’s down in hopes of killing her and covering his tracks. When that didn’t work he lit himself on fire in his hospital room to keep from going back to jail where he had just been brutally beaten. All elements the audience witnessed in careful detail. It was riveting to watch. Greg Rikkart was fierce early on in his role as Kevin and has an Emmy to prove it. If you’re going to make Kevin bad again, go for the gusto! Enough with these lame antics. I’m also having a hard time with the cyber-bullying story. It’s an interesting concept but this kid Jamie is being afflicted off camera by off camera bullies and I don’t really care. Like Ricky, I don’t know why Fen is bad and just want someone to kick him in the crotch already. If you’re not going to take the viewer on a carefully executed and sensitive in-depth journey then why bother? The same goes for Noah. Other than a few nice scenes he has had with Sharon, his story is building little to no excitement. I don’t care about the money and his relation to this cop and Adrianna. Nothing about Noah’s story is rooted in history with characters the audience loves. There are certainly more compelling stories the writers can and should be telling for Noah. He is a Newman for crying out loud. Noah has every reason in the world to be damaged given who his family is. Imagine if Noah had come back hooked on drugs and Jack was buying off him? Holy cow that could be good stuff!! Then there is Jess Walton. She has been mostly wasted since her return. Why bother bringing her back if we are only going to see once or twice every two weeks?

    On a positive note, I do like the romance between Nick and Avery. It’s mature and refreshing. Summers developing relationship with Avery is also promising. Phyllis is also being written smarter under the new regime. Same goes for Billy and Victoria. I also like that Leslie has a bigger story. I saw star power in that actress when Maria introduced her. The introduction of Tyler as a catalyst to Cane/Lily is also promising. Personally I don’t like Daniel Goddard’s character. Cane could very well be the most undefined and rectoned character in the history of soaps that took off with the majority of the audience. I dislike the character for that reason. He’s too manipulative and not the good guy the writers keep making him out to be. Sharon has also been improved but I don’t like her classification as having bi-polar disorder, especially in light of the fact that she burned down the Newman Ranch. I think a complete emotional breakdown, a-la Ashley Abbott circa ’86-87, would have been more compelling and in line with the behavior we have witnessed out of Sharon. Not at all a truthful telling of bi-polar disorder. I like that we are seeing more of the Winters but I’m not buying Lily and Devon as junior executives at Jabot. Why didn’t they hire Lily to run the modeling division of Jabot? That would make more sense given her background and that Dru was also a successful model. Devon being an artist, could have been brought on to work in advertising under Tyler perhaps? I would buy Devon and Lily in those roles more than I buy them talking spreadsheets and sales figures with Neil as executives.

    Overall I think there have been improvements but the show still does not feel well thought out and plotted. I easily gave Maria Bells Y&R an F. I would give Jill and Josh’s Y&R a C. I still pray they can and will do better.

    Marlena says: Fantastic and well-written review of Y&R, Chris!! I’ll be doing one of my own soon, I will try to discuss some of your points.

  6. SZima says:

    I’ll keep this short since I’m already over a week late…

    Bah Humbug to Steve Burton going to Y&R.

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