That Was the Week That Was

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

I can barely remember a daytime soap week that had as much breaking news as this one.  Here’s a peek into Marlena’s reporting notebook:

Ian Buchanan

Monday

I am stunned that General Hospital (Frank Valentini, executive producer; Ron Carlivati, headwriter)  has  fired Ian Buchanan (Duke Lavery).  It is just so wrong!  Ian is … Ian!  What a magnificent  actor he is, not to mention that he is a soap icon.  He and the equally magnificent  Finola Hughes (Anna Devane) comprise one of the greatest soap couples of  all time. Their story of conflicted love has always been a total winner.  The role of Duke was briefly played by a badly miscast Greg Beecroft (Guiding Light, One Life to Live) during a  23-year break Ian took from the show when  Duke was believed dead.  I .sincerely  hope they don’t kill Duke off for good this time!  Ian is so valuable to GH  and so  beloved by the fans.

Tuesday

Today I learned  the news that Wally Kurth, who has done double duty recurring on both  General Hospital as Ned Ashton and  Days of Our Lives as Justin Kiriakis, has been given a contract on Days. (Justin left Salem again just a month ago.)  I love Wally the Great and  will miss him terribly on GH.  Days is very smart to snap up Kurth.

More Tuesday

It’s Daytime Emmy time again. Oy!  The nominees were announced today.  The awards  will be presented April 26th on POP. That it’s back on TV after last year’s online  debacle  is great!

The nominations were announced  on CBS’ The Talk (I’m a View girl myself ).   They devoted only the first twenty minutes of the show to rattling off the noms, and it was done  in the studio.  Couldn’t they at least have done a remote to the announcement ceremonies themselves?  Remember the days when all three major networks covered the announcement ceremony live?  Doesn’t  daytime  deserve  better?

As you know, Emmy judgment isn’t based on an actor’s overall work, but rather on a reel of scenes from the last year that each actor and show  submit to a panel of judges at ATAS, the organization that administers the Daytime Emmys.  Great care goes into selecting these scenes; they are chosen by the actors themselves, and naturally they  are the best  scenes of the year.

So far I have only seen one reel for Best Actress and it left me totally  exasperated.  It’s well known that the Emmy  judges usually select  a winner  who cries and carries on in the scenes on their reel.  On the reel I saw, the actress certainly did cry and carry on from start to finish.  We all  know hysterics aren’t  all there is to soap acting, and not always soap acting at its best. The great weeping and gnashing of teeth scenes alone are not representative of the varied and truly excellent  work we see on our  screen five days a week.

Much more on the nominations themselves  and the Daytime Emmys in this column as Emmy day approaches.

Tony Geary in Luke’s moment of truth (Photo from MichaelFairmanSoaps)

Wednesday

I cried and screamed  and carried on  myself today during GH’s gala  52nd anniversary show. Incroyable!   What a shocker or should I say a roller coaster ride of shocks this episode was.  During today’s episode, it was revealed that as a teenager, Luke  murdered both his mother and super abusive  father. The story was told in Luke’s flashbacks and through sister Pat’s (Dee Wallace) narration.  The flashbacks were wonderfully rendered in silvery black and white  (the way TV was back then). The day the murders happened in Port Charles coincides with the date of  the GH’s premiere, April 1, 1963.  The details in the early Spencer story were accurate to 1963 in the most minute ways — sets, costumes, hairdos, even the attitudes of men toward women.

In a sublime touch, all the main characters were played by current GH current cast members amongst those  Jason Thompson (Patrick) as Dr. Steve Hardy, originally played by John Beradino, and Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) as Nurse Jessie Brewer, the role played by Emily McLaughlin.  What wonderful performances all gave!  I hardly recognized Laura Wright (Carly) as Luke, Bobbie and Pat’s mother Lena. She was just amazing in this episode.

Speaking of amazing, there is only one word for our medium right now, and that is “Tony,” as in Tony Geary.  He was genius in this episode, but when isn’t he?

Two Tony scenes that stand out this week literally broke my heart.  The first one was set in the hospital room of Luke’s long lost sister Patricia. Luke  hadn’t seen her in decades.  In this scene he saw her for the first time.  The look on Luke’s face at that moment was such a mix of wonder, incredulity and love!  Geary embodies natural acting.

In the second, Fluke was holding Luke’s wife Tracy (the always brilliant Jane Elliot) his daughter  Lulu (Emme Rylan) and sister Patricia hostage in Pat’s hospital room, pointing  a gun at the three.  To save their lives Tracy slowly talked  Fluke  down, reminding  him how  much he loves  his family.  The strategy worked:    Fluke  turned back into Luke in mid conversation.  What a relief when he dropped the gun!   How harrowing Geary made Luke here!  From menace to angel in a few seconds!

As illustrated in this scene, Geary and Elliot continue to be the best acting duo on daytime television today after so many years on the show together.

Many fans are saying this is the best soap episode they’ve ever seen.  I think it it’s one of many in our long and distinguished daytime drama history.   What do you think? The comments section below awaits.

Comments

  1. westvirginiafan says:

    The tableau of the two spencer siblings plus their 1960s counterparts surrounding Luke in love and support at the end of the episode was as powerful an image as I have seen in soaps. right up there with maeve singing dannyboy one last time the last episode of Ryan’s Hope and a handful of Erika Slezak’s key moments as Niki/Vickie (Dorian comforting her when she remembered being sexually abused, but I also go back to moments of Niki being vulnerable with the original Clint back in the 80s).
    There are times that soaps are as powerful as any storytelling medium–that all the holes in the plots, occasional scenery chewing, and rushed scripts are worth it because we witness iconic moments with actors and characters that we have grown to know more intimately than those in any prime time, cinema or theater. The looks between Patricia and Luke as he recognized her, as he remembered were incredible–and the moment that he saw his mother’s resemblence in present day Carly. Sure parts of Fluke were over the top cartoon–but with the portrayal of his father Tim, you saw what deranged Luke was aping. And there was nothing over the top or campy about Geary’s performance in the anniversary episode and the day after. The moment that he described how his mother was knocked around by Tim reminded me of a scene in Nobody’s Fool where Paul Newman looks across the home he grew up in (and has allowed to deteriorate) and remembers how his father beat his mother in that room. Comparing Geary’s haunted eyes with Newman’s is not inappropriate (and that is my favorite moment in Newman’s entire career).
    Valenti excels in these quieter moments and it is a shame that the pace of the day to day soap doesn’t allow for more of them.
    Makes me want to see a time where there is an evolution of soaps to include short term arcs and mini series. Valenti could revisit some unresolved arc’s of One Life to Live. Or, for that matter, commission Clair Labine or Michael Malone to do single plot lines of One Life, Ryan’s or spins on GH (remember Night shift?)

  2. SteveS says:

    I might need to check this out on Hulu over the weekend. I haven’t tried to watch a network daytime drama since the disappointing OLTL finale (and I’ll always miss AMC). I was not a fan of Ron Carlivati’s writing on OLTL where he reminded me of Charles Pratt with all the over-the-top revelations that upon further reflection never made any sense (Tea didn’t die, Destiny’s brother is actually her father, Todd has a twin and their mother is alive). My question is, if Luke had a multiple personality for years, is this going to be used as an excuse for every despicable deed the character did over the years? Did Fluke rape Laura? I hope this doesn’t destroy a once complex character by making him the victim of his alter.

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