The Bold and the Beautiful’s Most Excellent 7000th Episode Celebration

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

l

The late Darlene Conley

I remember it well.  It was in early March 1987 and I was visiting the office of the late Bill Bell Senior, the stupendously successful executive producer/headwriter of the The Young and the Restless at CBS Television City in Hollywood.  Mr. Bell (“call me Bill”) was gloating because the failed soap Capitol had just been cancelled, leaving way for his new half-hour soap to debut in the afternoon line-up. The date, March 23rd, would become a milestone in soap history: The new show, The Bold and the Beautiful, the story of a fashion empire run by the Forrester family, would go on to become a crashing success over the next 27 years.

In the last year or so, B&B has become the best soap on the air. It celebrated its 7000th  episode Friday  with a superb documentary style show, the like of which I can’t remember ever seeing in daytime.  The episode featured all the current cast, a backstage view of the making of the show, memorable scenes and great personalities from the past.

I teared up at the sight of the late, fabulous Darlene Conley, who played the one and only diva fashion designer, Sally Spectra. Like so many first rate soap actors, her roots were in the theater, and she never forgot that era of her life. Once I shared a cab with her through the New York City theater district. Stepping away from la Darlene for a moment, she was wistful and almost worshipful as she reminisced about her theater days in the 60s and 70s, when she played small roles in so many big shows.

There are many reasons why B&B is so successful.  Tightly focused on the fortunes and misfortunes of two families, the Forresters and the Spencers, B&B is chock full of love stories and romantic triangles.   It’s the only half hour soap and it offers a fast, easy viewing experience.   The show, as executive-produced and head-written by Bill Bell’s son Bradley Jr. (after whom a studio is dedicated in this documentary) is consistently well written, and sumptuously produced.

B&B is unique in its international appeal: it is most viewed soap opera worldwide. The documentary shows screaming foreign crowds and  fans on the street and  in filled up stadiums greeting the B&B cast.   The show spares little expense in doing frequent location shoots in such places as Paris, Amsterdam, Monaco and Dubai.

Right now, the Rick-Caroline-Ridge-Maya triangle is the storyline in the forefront. The day before the special anniversary episode, Rick, who is shacking up with Maya at the Forrester mansion, was shown firing a pistol at Ridge and Rick’s legal wife Caroline when he discovered them kissing. Was the shooting scene a fantasy or was it real?  Was the gun even loaded?  We’ll find out Monday.

The only regret I have about the 7,000th episode is that more was not shown or made of the show’s backbone of 25 years, namely the great Susan Flannery, who played the late Stephanie Forrester and retired about a year and a half ago.  Stephanie was the show’s true matriarch.  Of course Maya thinks she’s the new Forrester matriarch now, but we’ll have to see about that. 

Many Questions As a New Headwriter Comes to The Young and the Restless

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

Christian LeBlanc, too good to waste

The Young and the Restless is getting a new headwriter. He is veteran Chuck Pratt, who wrote for Santa Barbara, General Hospital, and All My Children, amassing an uneven record with enough successes to give Y&R fans hope for improvement of their show. Anything is likely to be better than what has been happening on Y&R.  To put it mildly, the show hasn’t been very entertaining lately because so many storylines have left viewers scratching their heads. I count four ill-conceived tangles in the plot department that desperately need to be fixed.

Whose idea was it to stage a gigantic weeks-long catfight between Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Kelly (Cady McClain) over Jack (Peter Bergman)?   As you know, Kelly was living with Jack when Phyllis came out of her year-long hospital stay in a coma in France, came back to Genoa City and  promptly reclaimed her man.  Since then Phyllis has done all sorts of crazy things to torture and trick Kelly, including slapping her and luring her into a hotel room ambush while Jack, that wimp, stood passively by. It’s just a garden variety clichéd exercise in two women clawing at each other over a man – a storyline is so sexist it’s offensive to any thinking woman.

Then there’s the yucky storyline in which Devon (Bryton James) is romancing his blind father Neil’s wife Hilary (Mishael Morgan), and has had sex more than once with her. All the while, Devon is  telling his father stories of a made-up girlfriend.  Neil (Kristoff St. John) was blinded by electrocution while renovating the house he bought to surprise Hilary. But Devon and Hilary’s deception may be undone: lately, Neal is seeing beams of light and is beginning to doubt his son’s accounts of the pretend squeeze. Whose twisted idea was this, anyway? This storyline can only end badly, perhaps in tragedy.

Then there’s Michael, who got a diagnosis of prostate cancer and withheld the knowledge of it for weeks from his wife Lauren, confiding only in his brother Kevin.  What kind of man does this?  Christian LeBlanc plays this sensitive soul masterfully and is wasted on this kind of folly. Michael is very much in love with and close to Lauren (Tracy Bregman). But having him keep this secret from her is jarringly out of character.   I guess you have to give Y&R points for doing a prostate cancer storyline (which I can’t recall ever being done on daytime before).  But how will this storyline end?  Will Michael die because the cancer has spread because of his failure to take action?  Yikes!  Many times Emmy nominated Leblanc is too valuable to Y&R to lose him.

Then there’s perennially alcoholic Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) who is proud of the fact that she hasn’t had a drink since Thanksgiving.  So, why, why, why does she keep a bottle of liquor and a glass permanently on display in the Newman living room?  All she does is endlessly stare at it. No real recovering alcoholic would do this. Of course, husband Victor (Eric Braeden) is obnoxious enough to drive any woman to drink, but Nikki has put up with him through all these years and through many marriages. Just for the heck of it,  (“It’s business’) Victor has seized control of the district which houses Nikki’s son Dylan’s (Steve Burton) coffee house Crimson Lights and wants to tear it down.   Nikki is furious at him. But will she leave Victor once again? Will she again succumb to the bottle’s lure? What do you think?

We’re rooting for you, Chuck. Get this once reliable vehicle out of the mud and on the road again. 

 

The Bold and the Beautiful: A Rare Magnificent Storyline

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

Linsey Godfrey, stellar as Caroline

In decades, I’ve rarely raved about a single storyline.   But the Rick-Maya-Caroline imbroglio that has played out over the last month or so has just been superb.  It’s a can’t-miss-a-day  tale of betrayal, ambition, narcissism and, above all, surprise.

Eric Forrester decided he wanted to take a year off and wanted Rick to take over as CEO of Forrester Creations.  But he would only give Rick the reigns if Rick would reconcile with his wife Caroline. Rick complied, nominally, even though he had caught Caroline sharing a few innocent kisses with his brother Ridge. However, unbeknownst to anyone, Rick was carrying on an affair with his ex, Maya, Forrester’s lead model who is an ex-con and a major, major gold digger.

Rick had the company ownership transfer papers drawn up and just after Eric signed them, Rick revealed to everyone — especially a stunned Caroline — that he was still carrying on with Maya and wanted to run the company with her as his partner. Newly in power, Rick moved Maya into the Forrester mansion, replacing Stephanie’s over-the-mantle portrait with one of Maya.  Caroline was left reeling, and so far has not stopped begging Rick to come back to her.

The real appeal of this story is that it was produced with something rare on today’s soap operas: genuine surprise. Caroline and Ridge — and the audience — were shocked during the revealing scene in which Rick announced he was going to run the company openly with his mistress.   Caroline’s surprise and anguish were especially poignant.  And the betrayed father Eric lit into son Rick with a fury.

Of course the success of a storyline like this has a lot to do with the acting. I’ve always thought of Karla Mosley (Maya) as a good to average actress, but she has been wonderful here, the kind of wonderful that invites an acting award nomination. Jacob Young has been great as always as the scheming, betraying husband.  But the superstar among stars here is Linsey Godfrey as the betrayed wife Caroline.  Beneath the grief and the shock, Godfrey finds strength that is as touching as it is admirable, and you can’t help but to root for her to get her husband back.

And the fun of this storyline isn’t nearly over. There’s still lots to play.  Will Caroline persist in her efforts to get Rick back or just give up?   Can Maya live peacefully with her conscience? Will she ever develop a sense of guilt out of stealing another woman’s husband?  Will Rick stay with Maya or, underneath it all, does he still love his legal wife Caroline?  It’s a great story, and I’m staying tuned.