Losing “The Natural” — An Appreciation of Beth Ehlers, Guiding Light’s Irreplaceable Harley

By Patrick Erwin

Beth Ehlers is on her way to ABC and All My Children‘s Pine Valley, and they’re all damn lucky to have her. But for the second time in just a few months, P&G and CBS have made the boneheaded move of allowing someone who was woven deeply into the tapestry of a show to walk away. P&G clearly hasn’t learned from the loss of As the World Turns‘ Martha Byrne (the definitive Lily) and made the same mistake twice! They’ve let another beloved performer walk away with the audience’s heart and a big chunk of the tapestry of the show with all of the history and memories attached. This is something few recasts can ever replace, no matter how hard they try!

It’s hard to not be nostalgic and mournful. How do you let years of history and connections walk away? Harley — and Ehlers — had a connection with nearly everyone on the Guiding Light canvas.

Harley was one of the most complex [Read more...]

General Hospital’s Monstrous Lies, All My Children’s Truthful Memories

By Marlena De Lacroix

Yesterday, I was trying to write my long promised column against the most perversely inhuman, possibly most disturbing soap storyline of all time, but the words just would not come out.  I’m talking about the General Hospital storyline written by Bob Guza that began with 12-year-old Michael getting shot in the head and climaxed with his parents Sonny and Carly screwing in the back seat of a limo after delivering their comatose son  toAMC trio a long-term care facility. That I felt paralyzed and couldn’t write was very odd because I’d been angrily “writing” the words of the column every day in my head since that day six weeks ago when a shot meant for Sonny rang out in the coffee warehouse and mistakenly hit Michael.

Still searching for my muse, I decided to switch gears and tune in to All My Children.  And there was Larry Lau as Greg Nelson, returning after nearly 25 years for the wedding of Angie and Jesse. Great friends during their days as high school students,   Greg and Angie and Jesse reminisced about the very, very sweet love story of Greg and his now long-dead wife, Jenny, who [Read more...]

10 Merry Mid-Month of May Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix and Patrick Erwin

1.  When you saw John-Paul Lavoisier as Rex in his recent pre-wedding scenes on One Life to Live, wandering around a bar drunk, shirtless, and disheveled with a wild head of hair, didn’t he remind you just a little of Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones?

2.  Have you been lost in the maze of brunettes on As The World Turns? When we watched Noelle Beck as nuLily, she looked a lot like Marie Wilson (Meg). Who also looks a lot like Julie Pinson (Janet).  Janet also has a [Read more...]

Daytime Emmy Noms 2008: The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

emmyBy Marlena De Lacroix

I first attended and wrote about the Daytime Emmys in 1980 and I should be over them by now.  But I continue, year after year, to be exasperated by the fact that two things never change.  1) No matter how many times they have been revised or have been updated over the years, the nomination and award processes are still inequitable and unfair.  2) There is always one irritating thing that happens along the way with either the nominations or awards that’s so egregious, Marlena explodes with rage!

This year it happened right away, as the nominations were announced on The View.  The person interviewed on the show as a daytime awards expert/prognosticator wasn’t anyone from the soap press or a soap publication or blog.  Instead, he was a senior writer from People magazine.  I’m sure Marc D’Agostino is a capable  guy, but does he dedicate 100% of his working time and career to the soaps, the way soap journalists do, day after day, year after year, decade after decade?  Marlena, who has moved on to teaching, was born and bred in the soap press and has great respect for young soap magazine writers and editors who have full-time jobs doing interviews and other reporting on soaps. They deserve the spotlight!

This is not the first time ABC has gone for a big time magazine writer over a poor soap press scribe in publicizing its show.  Years ago [Read more...]

When Cliché Stories Go Startlingly … Right!

By Patrick Erwin

Soap fans and critics alike complain loudly when we encounter the overused soap plotline. We can see most of them coming from a mile away!

We know, for example, that one woman, plus two men, multiplied by a short period of time = ”Who’s the daddy” story. It seems like a good third of all soap characters have discovered heretofore unknown children, and some lucky lottery winners (Guiding Light‘s Reva, One Life To Live‘s Viki, All My Children‘s Erica and As the World Turns‘  John Dixon) have found more than one along the way!

And yet, every once in a while, even the oldest cliché in the book really works as a story. Recently a  few shows have put a new shine on old chestnuts, with entertaining results.

Back from the Dead: Jesse, AMC. Characters coming back from the dead is one of the oldest soap clichés, and one that often doesn’t work. AMC tried to revive the formerly-dead Maria, then Dixie, with far less success. And I couldn’t imagine a character less likely to be revived than Jesse, who had been “dead” for more than 20 years.  We saw die on screen!  And yet, despite all those potential negatives, this story just worked beautifully  for several reasons. One, of course, was the great performances by Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan. The writing was also beautiful and historically accurate (and as Marlena has theorized, was perhaps guided by [Read more...]

Who Created All My Children’s Erica and Sugar on the Run?

Elizabeth Rodrigues

By Marlena De Lacroix

You ever think you’re going to hate something and you wind up liking it?  I certainly chortled when I heard jail-bound Erica Kane on All My Children was going to escape  from the cops during a  police van crash and go on the run handcuffed to a  bank robber named … Sugar.

Susan LucciSome AMC writer has to be an old movie fan, I thought!   The Defiant Ones is a 1958 movie in which convicts Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis go on the run chained  to one another after escaping following a train crash).  And Sugar?  Darlings, how many times we all seen Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis in the 1959 drag comedy classic  Some Like it Hot, in which Marilyn Monroe plays a sexy/sweet band singer named … Sugar.

I have a theory who that 1950s movie fan/AMC writer might be … but more on that shortly.

I actually thought Erica and Sugar were quite fun together all of last week. The Rosie Perez-flavored Sugar (whose given name is Carmen Morales) is a real shot of energy for AMC and the debuting Elizabeth Rodriguez a refreshing acting partner for Susan Lucci.  Anyone who thought [Read more...]

The Daring and the Cowardly: Four Sweeps Surprises

By Marlena De Lacroix

With spoilers, there are no storyline surprises on soaps anymore.  That’s not to say that the ways in which storylines are presented can really come as shockers — especially in the February sweeps that just wrapped up, the sweeps in which we expected little to nothing interesting because of the Writers Strike.  So here are four soap stories/sweeps events which really shocked moi this month, either because they were so daring … or so cowardly!Ameera

Daring — As the World Turns Introduces an Iraqi character:  When Ameera, the hijab-wearing newly arrived ward of Colonel Mayer (Noah’s murderer father) turned up at the Snyder farm to get to know Noah and Luke, I was truly shocked.  A Muslim woman on daytime! We’ve never seen that before!  I usually like social issue stories and this could either turn out to be wonderfully humanitarian (demonstrating how hard it is for a Muslim woman to blend in to the U.S. in this time of war) or it could merely be a device to further a writer or producer’s liberal political agenda.  How long will it be until Bill O’Reilly is on to this?

Attaching Ameera into a story with fellow “societal outcasts” Luke and Noah can [Read more...]

All My Children’s Angie and Jesse: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing!

By Marlena De LacroixDebbi Morgan

All My Children‘s newly revived characters Angie and Jesse are causing me pain.  At the end of every scene they are in, I start to hurt, because I have to watch so many scenes of the rest of the storylines on AMC until I see them in their next scene.  These characters (and actors Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams) are so good and so real and so what soap opera used to be all about — love, romance, authentic human beings experiencing authentic human emotions — that they blot out the rest the show.

Did you see Jesse and Angie’s  actual reunion clinch during the reunion episode?  Specially shot outdoors trackside near a train station, with some very interesting camera angles by guest director Andrew Lee, the sequence was really terrific! 

Jesse A moment full of joy, full of the release of years of buried pain, full of love.  Marlena was blubbering so much, I finally stopped shouting, “It’s modeled after Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton’s famous trackside reunion embrace in the film Reds!”  (It takes a lot of shut Marlena up in the middle of making a movie reference during a soap.)

Since there is little magic these days happening on daytime soaps, you can bet the PTB upstairs are analyzing what has made the Angie and Jesse character return so special.  Is it the actors? Certainly, that’s the huge part of it.  Morgan and Williams, Emmy winners both, have always been extraordinary actors and AMC should thank its very lucky stars that they were available.  Both are seasoned by years of movies, TV movies, series and theater, and their ripe maturity as human beings is [Read more...]

For Valentine’s Day, 5 Soap Couples Who Were Really Super

By Patrick Erwin

I  want to observe Valentine’s Day by discussing some of my favorite soap couples. I know soaps are famous for their “supercouples,” those pairs that keep coming back to each other through sleet, snow, and psychotic ex-spouses. Most shows have had these grand couples:  Luke and Laura,  Bo and Hope, Josh and Reva, and so on. But I’d like to honor Another Worldfive couples that had the most impact on me — the ones that moved me, made me laugh, made me sigh and made me believe in love — or as Marlena would say, l’amour!

Rachel and Mac, Another World:  Mac and Rachel were one of the most believable stories ever to play out on our screens. A theater director I worked with once said the magic of any performance was when you really believed, and I really believed that Mac [Read more...]

10 Sweet and Soapy Valentine’s Day Questions

By Marlena De LacroixSarah Brown

1.  Is it my imagination or did bravura actress Sarah Brown return to General Hospital (as Claudia Zacchara) with a little something extra under the signature slutty red wrap dress?  And isn’t fierce mob princess Claudia very similar to Maerose Prizzi (Oscar winner Anjelica Huston) the fierce mob princess who wants to take control of her mob family in the 1985 hit movie Prizzi’s Honor?  Is there a mob movie that Bob Guza has  failed to rip off?

2.  Indeed, is there any Hollywood movie that Guza hasn’t ripped off? Last night I watched 1983′s War Games, about a nerdy but lovable teenage computer hacker [Read more...]