On the Bridge: A Most Confusing General Hospital Dream Sequence

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

It’s a soap’s absolute responsibility to be clear about what’s going on.  Last week General Hospital presented a mess of a dream sequence about two possible Francos that was so confusing, I couldn’t figure out what supposed to be real and what was not. I’ve rarely been so bewildered in many decades of watching soaps.

Pistol-packing Sam (Kelly Monaco) faces off with delusional Franco (Roger Howarth)

The sequence occurred on a bridge in Port Charles. That much is certain. The rest … well, not so much. Here’s what we were shown:

Franco, who thought he was Jason, had just kidnapped terminally ill (with leukemia) baby Daniel from the hospital. The baby’s mother, Sam, had tried to prevent the kidnapping, producing a gun and firing it at Franco. Evidently she missed, and somehow wound up unconscious on the floor. Meanwhile, Franco had escaped with the child. He took up a position at the railing of the bridge, properly wild-eyed and crazy-acting, and holding the baby as it to drop him over the side.

By this time, we viewers were beside ourselves with fear for the baby’s life. Amid all this alarm, Elizabeth appeared in her hospital uniform.  She stared in horrified disbelief, and then we saw what she was staring at: not one, but TWO Francos, one ostensibly Jason, and the other the real Franco — or was he? There ensued a debate between the two (courageously acted by Roger Howarth) about what to do with the baby. Franco won, but instead of deep-sixing the infant, he ordered Jason to shoot Elizabeth. Jason inexplicably complied, then helpfully took possession of the child as Franco dumped Elizabeth’s lifeless body over the side of the bridge.

Quelle horreur! But not to worry. Cut quickly to Elizabeth, very much alive and carrying out her duties at the front desk of the hospital.  Presumably, some or all of what had just transpired was intended as a dream sequence. But whose dream? And how much of it? Was the baby really kidnapped? What was up with the two Francos? Was the person who was claiming to be Jason the real Jason, who had ostensibly been killed off when Steve Burton left the show last year?   Was the real Jason still alive? If so, this would be a key fact in the ongoing GH narrative. Nous avons été très confus. To put it mildly.

And we weren’t finished. Before the episode ended, the presumed dream sequence resumed. Franco decided to jump off the side of the bridge, his last vile directive urging Jason to dump Danny over the side also.  This was truly scary!  Finally, just as Jason was about to commit this dastardly deed, Carly appeared.  Slowly but surely, Carly talked Franco (calling him” Jason”) out of killing the baby and talked him down from the bridge.

What was the explanation for this muddled exercise?  GH’s creative team actually offered one. Seems Franco had a brain tumor, and thought he was Jason. The dream was his, in which he appeared as both Jason and himself. Later in the week, Patrick operated on him for this tumor.  As the week ended, we assume the operation was successful. Better yet, it had just been discovered Franco is a match for Danny’s bone marrow, thus saving him from leukemia.

At last, a happy ending for the saga of Franco and some semblance of clarity. Maybe. Can we be sure, given the week of clumsy storytelling we had just endured? If only the writers of General Hospital had made clear all along what was really happening during this dream (or was it reality) sequence, maybe the viewers would be happier, too.    

The Young and the Restless’ Monster Plot Twist

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

Soap plot twists are usually small and un-undoable. This week, The Young and the Restless let lose a monster that is neither.

Sharon Case: Her Sharon is sweet but sneaky.

As you know, most of the show over the last couple of months has revolved around the fact that Nick (Joshua Morrow)  found out from a paternity test that he is not Summer’s biological father. He thought Jack was.    This week, Sharon (Sharon Case) disclosed to her dead daughter Cassie that she changed the tests and that Nick  is Summer’s father after all.

That sneaky deed might seem out of character for Sharon, who on the surface is sweet and good.  But underneath she is insecure and lonely.  She longs for the life she used to have with first love and husband  Nick, before Cassie died and he deserted her for Phyllis.  She has also proven to be unstable in the past, having set fire to the Newman ranch last year.

The show had already been terribly shaken up when Nick revealed he is not Summer’s father.  This revelation elicited some great acting, particularly from Peter Bergman, who played instant father Jack, and Michelle Stafford, who plays Summer’s mother, Phyllis.  Hunter Hailey King as Summer had many excellent tear-drenched scenes when she found out about her paternity, and those with Bergman’s Jack  were particularly moving.

Michelle Stafford: Leaving a big hole to fill.

It also broke up Summer’s romance with sudden brother Kyle, who is Jack’s son. Harley Sawyer, whose acting has not impressed in the past, rose to the occasion in these melodramatic circumstances. His scenes with the stressed-out Summer were surprisingly good.

And of course, these plot twists will lead to even bigger plot twists.  On Friday, we saw Phyllis overhearing Sharon’s confession to Cassie about switching paternity tests.  That incident promises to lead to violence and we know Stafford is leaving the show.  The departure of the dynamic veteran Emmy-winning  Stafford will leave a big hole to fill.  But the show’s imaginative writers, who invented all these unexpected paternity switches, have demonstrated that they are up to the challenge.

In the beleaguered world of soap opera these days, it’s nice to have a little hope.

Why General Hospital Is So Unsatisfying to Watch Right Now

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

We had hope, didn’t we, in those heady days when General Hospital, the leading survivor among network daytime soaps, seemed to be in the ascendancy again. Alas, the good times have faded. These days, watching GH is a very frustrating experience.   Many of the storylines are unsatisfying. The characters don’t make much sense and the stories lack motivation and have holes in them. 

Roger Howarth’s Franco, dancing as fast as he can

The show still seems to still be struggling to come to terms with its three character switches, if that is fully possible.  As Franco, Roger Howarth (formerly Todd) is dancing as fast as he can, but still can’t seem to escape the character’s unseemly and criminal past, no matter how much the show “factually” absolves him of his sins — responsibility for Michael’s rape, Sam’s non-rape, etc.  Kristen Alderson (formerly Starr) is still terrible as Kiki, her eyes bulging and mouth always agape as she engages in her forbidden romance with biological cousin Michael.  As Silas, Michael Easton seems too cold as a cancer doctor, and does not even exhibit his trademark sex chemistry (from when he played John) with Kelly Monaco, who still plays Sam.

At least they have tried to cross Silas into a new story.  He seems to have a romantic past with Ava, as played by Maura West, the show’s revelation as an actress. West carries on as well as can be expected, considering that her fairly new character is so quickly saddled with the shooting of Olivia.  How can she get away with it and still be on the canvas?

Forever pregnant? Dr. Britt (Kelly Thiebaud) and Maxie (Kristen Storms)

The show has crossed Nicholas into a story with Britt, who is still – in what may be soap opera’s longest gestation period — pregnant with Patrick’s baby.   For some reason not well explained or even likely, Britt and Nicholas seem interested in each other.   Meanwhile, Patrick (supposedly the father of Britt’s baby) and Sabrina continue their romance, which lacks any kind of authentic sexual spark and is thus hard to believe.  

And speaking of endless pregnancies, what about Maxie, who is carrying her own baby, secretly fathered by Spinelli. She is the surrogate mother to what she is passing off as Lulu and Dante’s daughter, although many fans think Britt’s baby is really their transplanted embryo.  Got that?  We’re really in trouble when whole scenarios dreamed up by fans as well as the writers are equally unappealing.

Even worse, there are signs that GH may be retreating into the world of Bob Guza, with all its bad taste and silly violence! How else to explain Don Sonny ordering a compliant Shawn to beat Franco to a bloody pulp? It was uncalled for and gross.  And can’t the “creative” team do better than the creepy gay lab tech Brad trying to blackmail the straight Michael into sleeping with him to silence his knowledge that Kiki and Michael are romantically involved?

Listen up, GH! We were so happy when you seemed to leave all that shallow sleaze in the rear view mirror. Turn back at your peril.

The Bold and the Beautiful Reaches a Pinnacle of Soapy Goodness!

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

Every soap generation has its touchstone moment. It usually happens when a plot turn is so soapy good it earns your allegiance to its characters for decades.  Mine occurred on Another World in the 70s when Alice (Jacqueline Courtney), engaged to Steve (George Reinholt), found out her sister-in-law Rachel (Robin Strasser) was pregnant with Steve’s baby.  Oh, the magnificent melodramatic pain and heartbreak of it all!

Hasty horndogs Brooke and Bill

For younger soap viewers, such a touchstone moment may have occurred this week on The Bold and the Beautiful.  At Brooke’s birthday party, Taylor interrupted all the testimonials to Brooke’s virtue by blurting out the truth — that Brooke had slept with her brother-in-law Bill, getting pregnant.  At the time, wife Katie had taken off her wedding ring and lay unconscious in the hospital. Did horndogs Brooke and Bill have to hop into bed so fast? Quelle horreur!

These revelation scenes were so fantastic because they were almost a year in coming, and the actors really milked the episodes of emotions for all they were worth.  Exhibiting the talent and passion that brought Heather Tom three Best Actress Emmys, Katie wept piteously and became entirely bitter.  The excellent Katharine Kelly Lang as the cringewowrthy Brooke also cried, overwhelmed by the shame the character had truly earned. Most interestingly, Don Diamont as the ever arrogant Bill went on the defensive, saying Katie had driven him to sleep wIth Brooke by constantly throwing them together.  How could Katie – or any other woman — care for this incredible nasty bastard ever again? Playing the villainy it for all it was worth, Diamont was the perfect slime.  

Such great soap moments can only come together though the seamless work of cast, writers, producers and crew. The headwriter here was Bradley Bell, and Bell is also the show’s executive producer.   Individual episodes during the week were written by Adam Dusevoir and the great Patrick Mulcahey, an Emmy-winning veteran of Santa Barbara and General Hospital.

It was just another great week of well-acted, nicely written and hard-hitting drama on B&B — not to be forgotten, perhaps, by a new generation of viewers. And it’s not even sweeps month!