I’m Ba-a-ack – Not Quite from the Dead, but Almost!

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

Sorry for the prolonged absence of late. I’ll spare you the gruesome details of a medical issue that finally kept the entire gastroenterology department of a major New York City hospital in high gear for one long day. I’m on the road to recovery now, thanks to a team of superb doctors, one guardian angel nurse and one magnificent husband, and happy to be back at the keyboard.

Through it all, I continued to watch soaps, of course.  All of you would have done the same, n’est pas?  We can’t let a little pain in the gut stand between us and our shows, now can we? So let’s play a little catch up:

The Young and the Restless.  I am not surprised that Nick and Sharon are not married yet. If they did succeed, there wouldn’t be much of a soap opera would there?  After all, they’ve been breaking up and making up for twenty years! …  Gina Tognoni has made an auspicious debut as Phyllis.  Many of her scenes have little dialogue, yet Tognoni can express a variety of fearful ad particularly bewildered expressions well. …  I have no doubt Victoria will deliver her baby soon; I don’t know how she can go on not knowing who the biological  father is (Billy her ex, or maybe Stitch, in my view her one true love). … Because Niki isn’t as strong as she thinks she is, she’s fallen off the wagon occasionally.  … I particularly like Meredith Baxter as her friend Maureen. She has a certain vivaciousness and intelligence that adds a lot to Y&R.  I think it has been particularly wise that they have made her the mother to Stitch and Kelly.

The Bold and the Beautiful carries on with the most consistent storylines on soaps.  It was finally revealed — much to my surprise – that Hope’s true love is Liam, although she can’t have him because she’s married to Wyatt, by whom she is already pregnant by him.  Liam to me has always been very spoiled and full of himself.  I’ve much preferred Wyatt’s boyish charm.  Wyatt’s biggest problem is his mother Quinn. To me, Rena Sofer is the most charming performer on soaps right now as Quinn has a bit of the devil in her and will never change. … Speaking of never changing, do you think Brooke and Bill will ever get married? They come near Liam and Hope for number of weddings that almost happened but never really did.

General Hospital really disappoints me.  The show seems to write for characters it cares about and leaves many others idle and undeveloped. …  Nina is way overdone, although I think Michelle Stafford is definitely giving an Emmy-winning performance. … Sonny and Carly continue to cheat behind Franco’s back, making him seem like a total fool.  … Although I like Billy Miller, I’m not crazy that Jason is back. He never paid for anything he did on the show, ever. … I like the romance between Maxie and Nathan. Kirsten Storms is adorable and Ryan Peavey is by far the most attractive male on the show. …  All in all, G&H off its game is interfering with my convalescence. It’s always been the stellar attraction of my afternoon, and I want it to be so again.

By the way, illness makes one reflect a lot more than one would otherwise. So lately I’ve been thinking about how much it means to me that I’ve spent nearly twenty-five years as Marlena De Lacroix. First, I’d like to thank all off you out there for your loyalty and steady and always thoughtful correspondence.   I’ve gotten to know so many of you well over the years.

 As the twenty-fifth anniversary of Marlena is coming up at the end of November I have a special request of all of you.  Help me think of a special way to celebrate!   Send me your ideas and wishes and we’ll come up with a remarkable way to mark the anniversary. Meanwhile, I’ll try to feel better and I hope you’ll be thinking and praying for me as I think about you. 

General Hospital: The Antics of the Fiercely Driven Nina Clay

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

Michelle Stafford: Her Nina has scores aplenty to settle (photo from michaelfairmansoaps.com)

For the last year, General Hospital has certainly been a place for strong women.  The free-wheeling and combative Carly Jacks (Laura Wright), who will take no lip from the bullying Sonny, is a longtime resident. She’s been joined of late by shoot-from-the-hip Ava Jerome (Maura West), who came to town and took no prisoners.

Even stronger is the town’s newest resident, the vengeful shrew Nina Clay (played by soap superstar Michelle Stafford, who originated the role of Phyllis Summers Newman on The Young and the Restless.)

The roots of her relentless quest for comeuppance run deep. Twenty years ago, she was carrying her husband Silas’ baby when she discovered that he was cheating on her with Ava.  Nina’s mother forced a miscarriage by tricking her into taking a big dose of antidepressants, putting Nina into a coma that lasted 20 years.  After waking up this year, her hunger for revenge has been insatiable. She demands nothing less than the return of everything that was hers, and tin the process exact justice on everyone who comes into her path.

Her first order of business was to separate Silas from his current love, private investigator Sam Morgan.  She did this by drugging Silas and having Sam see him making out with her on a couch in their apartment.  Later she managed to sleep with Silas.  All along, Sam has felt Nina is somehow misleading Silas and she’s right. Nina has been faking the paralysis that supposedly has relegated her to a wheelchair.  Only her loyal nurse Rosalie knows it is all a fake.

At the same time, Nina has worked at getting involved with other Port Charles residents.  She befriended art therapist Franco on her visits to General Hospital for physical therapy, all the better to tell Franco she overheard Carly and Sonny discussing a kiss he had bestowed on her.  Of course, Carly later cheated on Franco with Sonny but got away with it.

Nina is among the most determined characters ever to appear on soap opera.  What an agenda she has! She says she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “can’t.” Right now, she’s maintaining a list of people she’d like to harm or get back at.  On that list is the pregnant Ava (whose baby she would eventually like to kidnap) and also Ava and Silas’s daughter Kiki.  Recently, Nina made Rosalie vow that she would wrest Michael, Kiki’s fiancé away from Kiki.

Will Nina Clay get all she wants?  Most likely.

Stafford plays her with a fierce determination that veers close to but never crosses into the realm of camp.  As Nina, Stafford is a cinch for another Emmy, an award she has already won for playing Phyllis on Y&R.   All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the antics of Nina Clay, the strongest woman in Port Charles and perhaps all of daytime soap opera history.

The Young and the Restless: And They Call the Double Mariah

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

Camryn Grimes: Mariah, or the ghost of Cassie?

Bringing back an actor who played a character now dead can be tricky.  The options are to bring the character back from the dead or create a double, commonly in the person of a long lost twin.

On The Young and the Restless, the dead character of Cassie, the daughter of Nick and Sharon, has been “resurrected” over the last year as Mariah, who this month, among several awkward plot twists,  has been revealed to be Cassie’s twin.  (Both Cassie and Mariah have been played by Camryn Grimes).

Mariah first came to town hired by Victor to impersonate the late Cassie and thus spook Sharon, and to get her to disclose her long buried secret that Summer is really Nick’s daughter, not Jack’s.  In an unintended consequence, Sharon went into a motherly swoon over her dead daughter’s doppelganger and adopted her to be her own, taking her home to live with her and Nick.

Mariah repaid Sharon’s affection by betraying her. In a very icky twist, Mariah developed a crush on Nick and one afternoon came down the stairs in lingerie, expecting him but finding Sharon instead. The disillusioned Sharon threw Mariah out, but too late!  Nick had just found out through some investigative work that Mariah was indeed Cassie’s twin, born to 16-year-old Sharon while she was unconscious.  Mariah was brought up by an unloving baby nurse named Helen Copeland and her father figure, cult leader Ian Ward.

Back in up a bit, when Victor hired Mariah, she was still in the clutches of the evil Ian and Helen. Ian had been out to get possession of Mariah and her grandmother Nikki since he seduced Nikki as a young cult follower.  So last week he kidnapped Mariah, and in another icky twist dressed her in a wedding gown, got her drunk and married her.  An inebriated Mariah even signed wedding papers.  Meanwhile Nick and Sharon found Mariah in Ian’s storage unit.  When last seen, Ian was headed to Nikki’s to either harm her or pick up a pay-off.

This tangled plot has been suspenseful if only to answer the question of why Mariah has Cassie’s face.  As the creepy Ian ward, Ray Wise has managed to be both conciliatory and creepy. And as always Sharon and Nick have had something big to fret over.

Will Mariah escaped all this unscathed and will she be able to be successfully reunited with her natural parents?  Will Sharon’s secret be exposed?   Can this storyline get any more complicated? My guess is, of course it can.

Charm, Romance or Not

Very rarely does a couple come forward who are truly charming whether they are romantically involved or not.  On The Bold and the Beautiful, not romantically involved but charmingly up to no good are Quinn Fuller (Rena Sofer) and Deacon Sharpe (Sean Kanan). Their scheme is to pul apart the engaged couple Bill and Brooke, who each wants for their own.

The actors, Sofer and Kanan are quite good together and are incidentally both veterans of General Hospital where Sofer played Lois and Kanan played A.J. Quartermaine. Carrying on admirably on B&B, their chemistry is true and they are always entertaining.

Oh No, Not Again! On General Hospital, Sonny and Carly Redux

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

Carly and Sonny: The heart wants what the heart wants, with pepperoni and extra cheese

Soaps rarely go backward.  So it was a big surprise this week on General Hospital when resident baddies Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Carly Jacks (Laura Wright) slept together again. Carly’s love Franco was stuck for the night in a hospital elevator with Nina when Sonny showed up at Carly’s house with a pizza — and so much more.

Carly and Sonny’s history stretches back nearly twenty years. They have been married to each other four times and have two sons — Michael (whose biological father is the late A.J. Quatermaine, but was raised by Sonny) and Morgan. In between marriages and other periods of togetherness, both Carly and Sonny have been involved with others.

Sonny went with Connie Falconeri before she was murdered and was last seen with her cousin Olivia, before the two amicably broke up just last week.

Meanwhile, Carly has been involved with Franco, who had a long sociopathic past all his own before he was operated on recently for a brain tumor, which suddenly transformed him into a benign art therapist at the hospital. Sonny’s irresistible late night pizza delivery notwithstanding, Carly still claims to love Franco, who came home from being stuck in the elevator and almost found Sonny in bed with Carly. But through a series of improbably lucky circumstances  Carly got away with it. But still …

Is there an ulterior motive in this sudden Sonny-Carly rematch?  After all, Franco knows the secret that Sonny murdered A.J. and if Franco turns him in, Sonny could go to jail. This being a soap with Sonny a central character, taking him out of the action for a long time seems highly unlikely.

But in the interim, the latest Carly-Sonny rematch is underway. Is this good news or bad? What do you think?  

Too-sweet Young Love on The Young and the Restless

The most sickeningly sweet new couple daytime are the newly married Summer Newman (Hunter King)  and Austin Travers (Matthew Atkinson). I simply can’t stand their fake billing and cooing and endless making eyes at each other.

Summer met Austin when he was a cameraman on Summer’s Aunt Avery’s cooking show.  At the time Austin was planning to kidnap and kill Avery, an attorney who had gotten Austin’s mother’s killer off a previous jail stint.  Austin and Summer fell in love, but not before Austin mistakenly shot Paul the police captain in the kidnapping attempt.

Serious business, kidnapping and attempted murder. But never fear, young lovers. The generous Paul agreed to a plea deal in which Austin doesn’t have to go to jail for his evil deeds. Not in any real court, of course, but this is soap opera. We get it. Our problem is, now we’re stuck with this cloying couple, probably for the duration. Ick!

Wacky Weddings on The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital

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

Kirsten Storms’ Maxie: betrothed to a would-be jewel thief

What a week of wacky weddings on The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital! Both Wyatt and Hope’s on B&B and Maxie and Levi’s on GH were entertaining enough, but when you come down to it, one was sillier and more inconclusive than the other.

On B&B, Liam was supposed to meet up with Hope on the plaza by the Eiffel Tower, all the better to pursue their nuptials, but missed her when he got distracted rescuing Ivy, who had been pushed off a bridge into Seine River by Quinn.

Meanwhile, Wyatt, who had been lurking nearby, whisked Hope off to Monaco, where Bill keeps the Spencer yacht fully manned and ready for adventure. Wyatt proposed to the indecisive Hope, who had managed to duck the wedding she had promised Liam, and now found herself trapped in a similar promise to Wyatt. She appeared in the next scene in a mini bridal gown, all set  to start the ceremony.  But once it was underway, she dashed to the bow of the boat, reached out to Wyatt and the two leapt inexplicably into the sea, where they were pronounced man and wife while treading water.

But this is a soap, so how legitimate was this ceremony?  Neither Wyatt nor Hope are residents of Monaco and neither wedding vows nor rings were exchanged. Are Wyatt and Hope legally wed? Or did Hope, the girl who can’t say no (well, she tries, but neither of her ardent suitors will listen) escape again?

Back in Paris, Liam took the news of his half-brother’s wedding rather badly and confided his misgivings about Hope’s true feelings to Ivy. Feigning sympathy, Ivy took this sharing as good news indeed, and started making eyes at Liam. We know what that means.

So is the Wyatt-Hope-Liam love triangle over? Will the dueling horn-dogs ever give up? Will Hope ever make up her mind? This is a soap, after all, so we know the answer.

On General Hospital, the nuptials of Levi and Maxie provided a week’s worth of nonstop action. Moose’s reaction, “Holy cow!” heard from the kitchen, says it best.

Prior to the ceremony on the Haunted Star, policeman Nathan (who is in love with Maxie, who is in love with him but doesn’t realize it ) exposed that Levi was a fake who was marrying Maxie so he could steal Maxie’s mother  Felicia’s Aztec necklace.  After Nathan found Levi with the necklace, Levi drew a gun and knocked Nathan out, tying him up.  Dante, who had excused himself from the ceremony, rescued Nathan, and the two proceeded to stop the wedding.

At that point, Maxie had already stopped the ceremony with her doubts about her love for Levi.  Suddenly, after Dante and Nathan burst in, Levi and an accomplice who had been masquerading as an immigration agent took Lulu and Maxie as hostages as Felicia handed over her Aztec earrings to Levi.   Then Levi, for no apparent reason at all, shot Maxie’s step-father Mac at point blank range.  When last seen on Thursday, Levi and his accomplice escaped the Haunted Star with Maxie and Lulu at gunpoint.  Will Maxi and Lulu be rescued? 

This was certainly one event-filled wedding, with a good cliff-hanger at the end. Levi, whose Australian accent is a fake, was exposed to be a con man and vows were never taken.  Nathan and Maxie were revealed to love one another.

What happens next? I’d bet on more “Holy cow!” weeks. 

The Young and the Restless: Can Nikki Resist Falling Off the Wagon Again?

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

Melody Thomas Scott: Will Nikki stay sober?

The vodka martini stands alone at the bar waiting to be sipped.  The well-dressed older blonde woman stands next to it, looking hard at the beguiling beverage. Her face tells us she’s fighting the fight every recovering alcoholic fights countless times. She wins  this round, walking away, leaving the martini untouched.

But how much longer can The Young and the Restless’  Nikki Newman resist the siren song of alcohol? The classic Alcoholics Anonymous slogan “One Day at a Time” could have been written for her. A lifelong alcoholic, she is always vulnerable to drink, and falls off the wagon when the pressure is strong enough.

Lately, the pressure has been very strong — the public revelation that she mothered Dylan McAvoy as a young girl when she was a member of a cult led by Ian Ward. Although she was having an affair with Ian, her baby turned out to be fathered by her friend Paul Williams.  Ian even sued Nikki for emotional distress for passing off  Dylan as his son.  Although the case was dismissed, the trauma sent Nikki to an AA meeting, where she told her story to sympathetic ears. Ian swore that getting Nikki back on the sauce would be his revenge.

As portrayed with tenderness and torment by Melody Thomas Scott, Nikki’s great vulnerability to the temptation to drink under pressure has made her a very popular character over the last 30 years.  Will Nikki’s  inner strength be great enough to carry her over the hurdles of temptation that keep on coming? 

It’s an ongoing question that will get a powerful challenge in the upcoming fall season. A new cast member will be joining Y&R. She is primetime star Meredith Baxter, who will play Nikki’s “drinking buddy” Maureen for a few months. Is Maureen also the mother of Kelly and Stich? Can Nikki survive a major dose of this alcohol-soaked “friendship”?

General Hospital’s Chemistry Tests

You never know when two actors are going to hit it off.  General Hospital has been experimenting with several interesting pairs lately.

Lisa LoCicero and Wally Kurth are being paired as Olivia and Ned to quite the charming effect.  Recently after some drinks they watched TV in a hotel room, where Ned had to warn Olivia against a very bad joke — drunk-dialing an animal shelter to inquire about an adoption. Happily, when she sobered up she was mortified that she’d done something stupid.

Another attention-getting couple is Michelle Stafford and Roger Howarth, who have been given a few funny and charming scenes lately in which the unlikely couple Nina Clay and Franco build a friendship.   Both Stafford and Howarth are noted for playing bad characters and their pairing is an interesting face off.  Of course Franco’s girlfriend Carly doesn’t like it.

Most enjoyable, too, are Maura West as Ava  and Tony Geary as Luke, seen skyping Carly’s bid for the job of evil drug-dealing Luke’s underboss. What a treat it is to watch two soap superstars at work and play. Or perhaps I should say, work they make look like play!

The Bold and the Beautiful: Matrimonium Interruptus

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

Eternal triangle: Scott Clifton’s Liam, Kim Matula’s Hope, Darin Brooks’ Wyatt (photo from michaelfairmansoaps.com)

Getting married is easy unless you’re on a soap.

In real life, there’s a ceremony in a church or back yard or judge’s chambers, followed by a reception, followed by a honeymoon, followed by living happily ever after (in the beginning, at least, that’s the plan).

But in the Soap Universe, nuptials are commonly interrupted by exes back from the dead or guilty secrets revealed or whatever. It’s worse on The Bold and the Beautiful, where weddings usually don’t happen at all. Most B&B couples haven’t been able to make it to the altar no matter how many times they’ve tried.

Consider Liam and Hope.  They’ve had half a dozen almost-weddings.  At first Stephie announced her pregnancy (she miscarried), and later Hope’s long lost father Deacon showed up out of nowhere to break up the couple. The biggest obstacle to Liam and Hope’s happiness has been Wyatt, Liam’s half-brother, whom Hope also happens to love.  Recently after Liam and Hope reconciled, Wyatt presented the Hope of the Future Diamond to Hope, causing another schism in the romance.  The Liam-Hope-Wyatt triangle is never ending. (My Moose, always listening from the kitchen, likens this story line to the saga of Spin and Marty from The Mickey Mouse Club days. How’s that for dating himself?)

Then there’s Brooke and Bill. They fell in love when Bill was married to Katie and planned to get married after the divorce. But then Ridge broke up the wedding Bill had elaborately planned in Abu Dhabi by falling out of a helicopter into the ocean. Bill took responsibility for that accident and Brooke put him off again. And yet again when Deacon tried to sidle back up to Brooke – the mother of his child, Hope —  and reclaim her as his old love.

Hold on. Interruptus et necdum completum est. Another couple that hasn’t made it to the altar yet is Ridge and Katie.  They fell in love quickly after Katie broke up with Bill and of course Ridge was married to Brooke many times. Will they wed again? First, Ridge has to recover from the brain damage he suffered when he fell out of the helicopter.

The rest of the B&B cast also remains unmarried. Eric is still Stephanie’s widower, despite his flirtation with his ex-wife Donna. Comic sidekicks Pam and Charlie remain involved but are unengaged as of late. Young Aly and Oliver haven’t enough experience under their belts to get engaged but it could happen.

But  I remain optimistic. The year is barely half over. Perhaps there will be a completed wedding on B&B in 2014 after all.

General Hospital’s Outstanding Young Thesp

Young Nicholas Bechtel is achieving star status as the smart and determined Spencer Cassadine on General Hospital. Nicholashas been excellent, especially recently as Spencer has run away.  He is funny and spunky and has had several compelling scenes with Roger Howarth who plays Franco and of course many with Tyler Christopher who plays his father Nicholas.

Usually, child actors on soaps are fillers or background. Newcomer Nicholas is a notable and most welcome exception.

Smart or Strange, Casting Makes a Big Difference

 

Michael Easton and Kelly Monaco: Supercouple in action

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

Sometimes even the smallest thing can throw off a soap opera. For example:

Consider the miscasting of the central role of Billy Abbott on The Young and the Restless. He’s the bad boy who lost his daughter Delia to a drunk driver and who may or may not have impregnated his estranged wife Victoria.  Powerhouse Billy Miller had been playing the role, but when he left the show mistakenly miscast the role with David Tom, who had played Billy as a young man. Tom seemed too young to play the grown-up Billy. Worse, Tom made him a whiner.

Happily, Y&R corrected its mistake with one of the best recasts of the soap year: primetime actor Burgess Jenkins.  Jenkins is the right age for the role and looks like his Abbott  brother Jack, as played by Peter Bergman. Moreover, he makes a good leading man for Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) with whom he has become involved.  Their sex scenes have been sizzling. Cheers to Y&R for such a successful recast.

Look-alikes on The Bold and the Beautiful

Nothing good can ever come of confusing your audience. But that’s just what has happened on The Bold and the Beautiful where two actresses who could pass for look-alike twins have been cast recently as unrelated characters who aren’t necessarily supposed to look alike.

What? Well, there they are. One of them is Ashleigh Brewer, who plays new Forrester jewelry designer Ivy, a cousin of the show’s main family.  The other, who plays Alyson, a young woman assistant in the Spencer organization, is the real-life Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, an actual member of European royalty.

Given B&B ’s vast international audience, casting a real princess known to viewers on the Continent probably is a cool move. But why do Ashleigh and Alyson appear to be twins? Is there a nifty plot twist in the offing? Or did B&B just screw up? If the latter is the case, neither the worthy young actresses nor the viewers are being well served.

Good Chemistry on General Hospital

In the 80s they were celebrated as supercouples – lovers played by actors who had such powerful chemistry, their popularity was unshakable no matter how many times they split up and reconciled.

General Hospital has such a supercouple right now in Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco) and Silas Clay (Michael Easton), veterans both.  So potent is their chemistry that it is portable: Eason and Monaco have played against each other on Port Charles in the past, he was Caleb and she was Livvie.  They really demonstrated that chemistry last week in a tear-laden break-up scene. Seems the love of Silas and Sam may not be strong enough to survive the interference of Nina Clay, played by the forceful and sensational Michelle Stafford.

Boo hoo   But does anyone really believe these two magnetic and highly bankable sizzlers are finished with each other? Surely GH will invent yet another pairing for them.       

Do You Root For or Against Them?

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

Hunter King’s Summer Newman: good intentions, bad choices

Soap roles can conform strictly to type: heroes and heroines we root for and villains and villainesses we root against.  Happily, however, most soap casts are big enough to include characters who do not conform to type. These off-beat characters have personalities drawn in various shades of gray, and as such make their soaps immensely more vivid and engaging.

Here’s a quartet of soap characters who defy who defy clear “good guy” and “bad guy” labels. Do you root for or against them?

Summer Newman, The Young and the Restless (played by Hunter King).  Depending on how you look at her, Summer is either a sweet young heroine or a mixed up young girl who is dumber than a box of rocks.  As the biological daughter of Nick (Jack thinks wrongfully he is her father) she always finds herself in lots of trouble. Last summer she came under the influence of con man Ian. Recently she bailed out and married Austin, a young man who mistakenly shot Chief of Police Paul while trying to kidnap Avery.  She means well, but do good intentions always excuse bad choices? Will Summer be left alone while Austin goes to jail?

Hilary Curtis, Y&R, The Young and the Restless (played by Mishael Morgan).     Hilary originally appeared as a villainess who tried to come between Lily and Cain.  Then, Devon fell in love with her as did his father Neil, who managed to marry her.  Recently newlywed Hilary and Devon were caught by Cain as they were about to make love in the laundry closet.   Now, do you root for or against Hilary?

Maya Avant, The Bold and the Beautiful (played by Karla Mosley).    Is Maya a hero or a villainess?.  She came to town and was engaged to Rick but broke that off and he married Caroline. Meanwhile, she became engaged to Carter.  Recently, she unsuccessfully propositioned Rick in the steam room  and tape recorded Oliver’s confession that he initially was attracted to Aly because of her Forrester name.   Is Maya to be trusted?

Maxie Jones, General Hospital (played by Kirsten Storms).  Maxie was born on the show, and we’re supposed to root for her.  However, it’s hard because she has done many stupid things, like pass off her own biological daughter as Lula and Dante’s.  Recently Maxie has gotten herself all involved with muscle bound Aussie Levi, although she clearly is falling in love with Nathan. Isn’t Maxie making it harder and harder to root for her?

 

Character Actors Add Much Needed Character To Soaps

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

Bergen Williams as truth-telling Alice Gunderson on General Hospital

Soap stories, most of which are about romance and love triangles, do tend to get repetitive.  Adding variety and spice to this formula are character roles, which do a lot to make soaps more interesting.  These characters often provide comic relief and serve as “talk tos” for the main characters.

Colorful and amusing character parts have enriched soaps since the beginning.

On Another World in the 70s, Anne Meacham as Iris’s assistant Louise Goddard always drew laughs when she talked to plants about  the show’s tangled plots, “confiding” in the greenery in a deep, soothing voice. In the 80s, Brent Collins on AW  was memorable as Felicia Gallant’s wise-cracking sidekick.  (A versatile actor, he also played the evil, unfunny Mr. Big on As the World Turns.)  At the same time on Days of Our Lives,  Arleen Sorkin and  John DeLancie served as comic foils to leads Marlena and Roman – Arleen as the ditzy blond  Calliope and John as the stuffed shirt Eugene.  Meanwhile, on All My Children, the country-fried Opal (Dorothy Lyman, Jill  Larson) was the talk-to for Erica, and was so popular she became a main character.

Now more than ever, today’s meager menu of four soaps needs to be made tastier by the addition of the adroit services of stellar character actors:

All the goings-on at The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations are comically commented on by Pam (Ally Mills) and her boyfriend Charlie (Dick Christie), turning the office staff into an irreverent Greek chorus. Often they “get” what’s happening before the main characters do. Pam, you may recall, was first to catch on to how crazy Quinn is.

A fine example of comic acting was on display just this month as Ilene Kristen guested on General Hospital as her old  Ryan’s Hope character Delia Reid Ryan, her patented kookiness undiminished by the passing years,  Delia, in a real stroke of writing brilliance, was revealed to be the mother of  Ava (Maura West).  Like mother like daughter — both are conniving  and mocking. This time Delia came to stay with pregnant Ava and her baby daddy Sonny and wound up busting into Sonny’s safe before she was escorted out of town by Sean.

Another comic character that is much beloved by the GH audience is Alice Gunderson (Bergen Williams), the truth-telling wrestler and former Quartermaine maid who is now a real thorn in the side of Tracy.  Alice is on to the fact that Tracy is trying to secretly take over ELQ, the family business.  Recently Alice proved she really does have a heart by having a heart attack, and now needs a heart transplant to save her life.

Speaking of thorns, a shining example of tour de force character acting is now being offered by Ray Wise, whose seductive con man Ian Ward is now a thorn in the sides of many Genoa City residents on The Young and the Restless.   Right now, he’s suing Nikki for emotional disturbance (!) because she lied and told him he was Dylan’s biological father. In this storyline, Wise has been particularly well paired with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Eric Braeden, who plays Nikki’s exasperated and combative  husband Victor.

 These are some of my faves. Who are yours?