B&B: Does One Show-Eating Storyline Work?

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

Bradley Bell has been trying a bold soap experiment the last three quarters of a year on The Bold and Beautiful, featuring one storyline, the Hope-Liam-Steffy triangle, almost to the exclusion of most others.  And he’s been succeeding — the ratings are still comparatively healthy. So I ask B&B viewers: are you smothered by this storyline?

I’ve always said you can watch this story with the sound turned off, the soap “types” are so obvious. There’s the blond heroine, Hope (Kim Matula); the dark (and sexy) villainess, Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), and the boy, er, I mean man they
both love — LiamScott Clifton(Scott Clifton).  Does anyone ever remember a soap character who has been more of a wuss?  (Write in, darlings.)  It’s too bad, because while  Clifton delivers nicely here, he’s an excellent actor who is capable of so much more.

Of course Liam has to be a wuss to swing back and forth between the two women so easily.  But Bell has also done some nice things with this story — the recent beautiful Italian remote, and Steffy’s  scenes full of hot vibes with Liam’s scheming, villainous father (and future lover?)  Bill Spencer. Jr.  (Don Diamont).  Veteran B&B viewers, do you [Read more...]

The Mega-successful, Classy World of Bill Bell

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

When I was a girl soap reporter, I called him “Mr. Bell” during interviews because of Bill Bell’s exalted status in the soap industry.  And Bill Bell (1927-2005) would just laugh and go ahead to speak about Bill Bellwhat one always talked to him about: the work.  He was the only person I ever interviewed who hardly ever promoted himself personally.  And he was in show business!   Bell, a true gentleman, preferred to have his work speak for itself.

So I’m glad there’s a new biography that both examines Bell’s personal life story and takes a comprehensive look at his always top-rated soaps. The book, published by Sourcebooks, is titled The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell, Creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful and written by veteran soap journalist Michael Maloney and Lee Phillip Bell, Bell’s wife, who also co-created both soaps.

Bill Bell had a wonderful life, told in this book with same kind of class that helped make him such a remarkable person in life and in television history.

There was never a day in his 40-plus years in the soaps when Bell’s writing wasn’t excellent and his soaps engrossing and entertainingly and intelligently done.. He, his soaps, his family and his organization were  always all about class — and success.  And on top of all this, he was a genuinely nice man.

Bill Bell really was the prototypical American success story of a man who started humbly and worked his way to the top.  He came from a Midwest middle class family, served stateside during World War II, and [Read more...]

The Young and the Restless: When a Good Cliffhanger is Far From Enough

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

I just finished watching Friday’s episode of The Young and the Restless.  Paul discovered  Ricky holding  Eden in his bathroom, his son’s bloody knife held firmly to her throat.  She had  passed out due to hitting her head on the bathtub. When Ricky wouldn’t drop the knife, a shocked  P.I. Paul tearfully aimed his gun at his son, as Ricky

Y&R has been rudderless and boring since Paul Rauch left as co-executive producer. It’s been stuck with an uncreative writing team that should have been sent packing long ago.   Does the perpetual number one soap really have to be so bad, especially now that the death of soaps is in the air?

confessed also to the recent murder of Daisy. Rotten Ricky carried on that Paul was never there for him when he was growing up.  The episode ended as a conflicted-to- the-core Paul was ready to fire.

Pretty good suspense and not bad for a Friday cliffhanger, no? Will the guilt-ridden perpetual good guy Paul really shoot his own son?

But, I know already Paul is going to blow Ricky away, as a cautionary shot to his shoulder accidentally sends Ricky tumbling out the window to his death. You see, last night I read the detailed spoiler for this [Read more...]

Daytime Emmys 2012: Respect Was Surprisingly Shown

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

Today I’m going to use a word I’ve never used in a decade of viewing the Daytime Emmys (but nearly always used when I attended the 22 years previously).  I actually “enjoyed” Saturday night’s Daytime Emmys on HLN.Don’t freak out — there are “excepts” which I’ll get into later.  You see, Marlena is a great admirer of the traditional award show format on TV.

“Marlena,” Moose exclaimed during the show, “this show really knows how to play to its own community, like the Tonys (and theater).  And you’d never even know that soaps were dying!”  He didn’t even seem to mind forgoing the competing Yankee-Mets baseball game, clicking over only during commercials.

Yup, the Daytime Emmys 2012, were very up.  No more tacky Las Vegas promotion, as in the last two years. The show felt like it was aimed at me, a soap viewer, despite the myriad of other categories (game, talk shows, etc.), Plus, it was done with — gasp — actual respect for [Read more...]

A Shout Out to Hollywood Heights

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

Although I am decades older than the target audience, I enjoyed the first four episodes of the new Hollywood Heights.  It’s the new teen soap on Nick at Nite, created, written, produced and acted by several daytime veterans.  What I really admire about this show is that it has good soap bones.

Hollywood Heights is a multi-generation show based on relationships, not on the shock and schlock plots we are so used to in daytime.  The kids and their parents actually seem to care about and even love one another, as daytime characters did in days of old.  Brittany Underwood (ex-Langston, One Life to Live) stars as high school senior and young aspiring songwriter Loren, who, along with her close friend Melissa (Ashley Holliday), really digs rock star Eddie Duran (Cody Longo), a very cute nice guy who comes to town to do a concert, and later sponsors a song-writing contest.  We meet Loren’s mom, Nora (Jama Williamson), Melissa’s family and Cody’s girlfriend, bad girl Chloe (Melissa Ordway) as they prepare for the big event.  The hour long daily show has [Read more...]

More General Hospital: Outrageously the “M” Word

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

When Moose came home from work yesterday, he thought he’d have to dump a bucket of cold water over my head.  I couldn’t stop yelling, over and over again,”No, they really didn’t do this!”  General Hospital had a scene where Carly and Todd flirted/talked, and Todd was bare-chested. 

But … but … he’s a rapist!

I’m not making a personal comment on Roger Howarth, roger howarthwho is buff enough (great arms). But to feature the man who infamously gang raped Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live  in 1994 (and “re-raped” her again two years ago when Todd and Marty “made love”) in the semi-nude was just outrageously misogynistic.

Sure, it’s been a tradition on soaps for more than 25 years that boys/men show off their pecs in the summer heat.  And I really think Todd and Carly, who are in the beginning of their “‘courtship,” make a great couple.  Les miserables deserve each other!  But still, do I really have to [Read more...]

General Hospital: Cuddly but Problematic

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

With all the cancellations these past few years, this old soap enthusiast  is thankful to have at least one soap to look forward to, and yes, cuddle up to in my afternoons. That soap is General Hospital, a doomed show I really want to see live on.  I watch

The biggest soap opera of all is the on-going cliffhanger of what will become of GH itself. I still want to have one involving  soap to look forward to every day, no matter how much I bitch about it.

every day, basically liking the day to day writing and production of the  episodes and the  performances . But of course as a critic, I still have objections to some of the overall stories.

For example:  Maxie is impulsive (such as when she slept with Franco) but she is not stupid.  She’s way too shrewd to have gone to trial and to jail for any man, let alone Matt the amnesiac killer of the long dead Lisa Niles. Except for the wonderful Spinelli-ness (fighting to clear Maxie’s name) of our adored Bradford Anderson, this story was a big, drawn out waste.  I’m so glad it’s over. Then we have Jason staying emotionally away so long and being separated  from the pregnant wife Sam, in effect blaming her for rape by his twin-brother Franco.

Do I detect misogyny in that part of the Sam pregnancy story?  Sure, I knew the separation was a plot device to give Sam more time to bond with John McBain.sam and john  And even though Jason eventually came around and told Sam he could accept the baby (after the baby was delivered and “died”) Jason distancing himself emotionally from his wife for so long  because she conceived the child (supposedly!) of his nemesis Franco, via rape, was essentially a whiff of something I never wanted to smell on an ABC soap again.

For a change, Jason is at least paying for something (as of this writing) by losing Sam after she found out that his thugs beat up McBain just after the delivery, causing, as Sam believes, the death of “her” baby. But will Jason ever be punished for his insensitivity to his pregnant wife? How long will Sam and Jason be apart?  Also, do you really think Jason will ever pay for the death of Franco?

Oh well, I can’t help asking this question even in the middle of a friendly review: Think about it — has GH really changed at its core since Guza left? Oui, mes amies, it’s better written, more entertaining and less blatantly offensive.  But Guza still casts a long shadow: witness more misogyny and the same old [Read more...]

General Hospital Update: Understanding Itself, Misunderstanding Viewers

By Ed Martin

It’s been two months since executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati took control of ABC’s General Hospital – long enough by any measure for a creative team to make its mark on a soap opera and make clear what they intend to do with it.

Now, I don’t want to start right in with the complaints, because entirely too many people who have read my previous columns about GH think that I’ve been too hard on the show, or that I want to see it die. So let me make clear that nobody wants GH to survive and thrive more than I do. I’ve been a loyal viewer since 1978, and I have supported this show in the television and advertising businesses for more than half

General Hospital today doesn’t play like a show that is fighting for its life. Just because ABC has cancelled The Revolution and extended GH’s stay of execution doesn’t mean that anyone should assume the show is out of danger.

of that time. We can all agree that GH in particular and the soap genre overall has been crippled by the involvement over the last ten-plus years of executives, producers and writers who either didn’t care or simply didn’t care to care. One thing is certain: They rarely listened to fans. If they did, a number of recently cancelled soap operas might still be with us and as vital as they once were, and GH wouldn’t have been allowed to deteriorate in the way it did since before the turn of the millennium. (This begs the question: Why are sports fans and sci-fi fans marketed to and catered to in ways that swell their ranks and make billions for relevant franchises, while soap fans, an equally enthusiastic and devoted group, are all-too-often spit upon? I resent it. Do you? Discuss.)

Anyway, let’s begin with some compliments. Valentini and Carlivati have demonstrated a knowledge of and laudable respect for the history of GH (something that many previous producing and writing regimes largely ignored). Port Charles feels like a community again, just as Llanview did on their previous gig, One Life to Live. The return of Finola Hughesfinola hughes as Anna Devane has been a godsend. (I would like to see Hughes have more scenes with Jane Elliott and Nancy Lee Grahn, two of the best actresses in the history of daytime drama, yet both grievously underutilized on this show.) Similarly, the return of Robin Mattson as moon-bat Heather Webber, a character who was at center stage when I first started watching GH, has been big fun. (Heather at that time was portrayed by Cher’s sister, Georgianne LaPierre!)

Meantime, two veteran cast members who never made much of an impression are turning in outstanding performances under the new regime: Jason Thompson as grief-stricken Dr. Patrick Drake, who hasn’t had much to do since saying goodbye to the wife he thinks is dead, and Brandon Barash as mobster Johnny Zacchara, also in an emotional tailspin after learning that his late sister was actually his mother. Suddenly, Johnny is multi-dimensional, oddly sympathetic, dangerously sexy and infinitely more interesting than any of the other criminals on the GH canvas.

Michael Easton as Lt. John McBain, one of the many characters from One Life to Live that have been brought onto the GH canvas, has left all of the other male actors on GH in the dust (with the exceptions of Thompson and Barash.) His chemistry with Finola Hughes, Jane Elliott and especially Kelly Monaco has been [Read more...]

General Hospital Update: Is it Still on Life Support?

By Ed Martin 

I’m not sure what to make of the big surprise on “General Hospital” this week – but then again, I haven’t known what to make of GH in a very long time (years, actually). Robin Scorpio is alive – and looking very tanned and rested, I might add, even if she is being held hostage in something resembling a hospital room.

Seeing Robin in that bed at the end of Monday’s episode was the first time GH has really “wowed” me since that unforgettable moment in May 1980 when Edward Quartermaine sprang back to life after faking a heart attack and shocked his

Even though I haven’t cared for many of executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati’s storytelling choices, it has been a sweet treat to see so many fondly remembered characters from General Hospital’s past return to its canvas.

daughter Tracy (and millions of viewers, as well) after she had refused to give him his medication because he wouldn’t change his will. Ah, sweet memories …

The Robin reveal was all the more impressive because it hadn’t been leaked. I didn’t think it was possible to keep anything from [Read more...]

General Hospital Until the Bitter End

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

Before I start my review of the new General Hospital (Frank Valentini executive producer, Ron Carlivati, headwriter) I have three things to say:

1.  I agree with everything my good friend Ed Martin says in the column below (“Can General Hospital Be Saved?”)  Do a Gloria Monty, gut the show and start all over again. Evict the mob now! Ed suggests it would be best to eliminate

What’s the new and improved GH’s future?  Who knows?  But I’ll be watching until the very end, mainly  because I enjoy classic soap opera which very nearly resembles the classic shows I grew up on, many decades and lipstick applications ago.

“the (three) characters whose storylines have brought the show to its knees.” Lock up Sonny and Jason for their list of murders and crimes.  Send Carly to “Mob Wives” where she can shriek and scream [Read more...]